1.11.06 Reviews

Desolation Jones #5 (DC/Wildstorm): Wow, I can't believe what Ellis is doing here. As he reveals more about the desolation tests in a beautifully rendered flashback sequence, we also really see him grow as a writer and show us a more sensitive side. His characters are still miserable bastards of course, "I'm going to torture some motherfucker until they tell me what I want to know," but not heartless. Troubled emotions are buried deep within them as evidenced by the line "there's a tiny little bit of conscience that sneaks up on me in the night." As the lead character is on the surface investigating Hitler's missing collection of porn, that plot deepens as does our realization that the protagonist is really atoning for his sins in a past life as a British Foreign Service Officer. A complex plot, but not one that is difficult to understand. And JH Williams III, well, he could draw just about anything and I'd probably buy it, but damn is he growing also. His use of shadows and negative space are on par with say, Eduardo Risso. His painting is on par with Dave Johnson or Alex Ross. His ethereal bits are on par with Dave Mckean, David Mack, or well, himself on Promethea. His straight, dark action sequences can hang with say, Ryan Sook. It's very powerful to witness the growth of familiar character designs, as well as the creators. Grade A.

Wildcats: Nemesis #5 (DC/Wildstorm): I have nothing interesting to say, so I will attempt to say nothing interestingly. Despite my fondness for some of these characters; Narrative disjointed. Dialogue hokey. Motivations unclear. Scenes random. Flashbacks irrelevant. Visually bland, outright awkward in spots. Grade C.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #4 (DC/Wildstorm): In my mind, this book will inevitably be compared to the one above. They feature some of the same characters and are both published by the same company simultaneously. One not-so-subtle difference, this one is great! Pfeifer and Camuncoli's adventure of DCU second-stringer Captain Atom showing up in the Wildstorm Universe is well thought out, well executed, and grows stronger every issue. Loved the one page recap that brings new readers and long time fans immediately up to speed (dare you to find something as clean in the Nemesis project). Feels almost as good as Morrison's one page origin summary in All-Star Superman, it's really that good! Everything is clicking here, the Kevin Bacon game, beautiful pencils from Cam, and the characters sound... ya' know, *in* character. I really enjoyed the way Atom was portrayed as powerful (he is nuclear powered after all) and also very calculating in the way he methodically disposed of the Wildcats one by one by basically using his brain and their powers against them. There are also some self-aware moments that hit home such as Voodoo's comments about teaming up, the character naming conventions, and the continuing comparisons of the DCU and WU. Atom's pondering about the absence of the JLA Watchtower on the moon is downright creepy. Accessible for those unfamiliar with the properties and fans alike. Really fun and enjoyable, which is largely what comics like this should be. Grade B+.

Fables #45 (DC/Vertigo): The exiled fables of our youth shacking up in a hidden section of NYC. James Jean covers. What's not to like about this title as this arc drives toward it's conclusion? One major thing jumped out at me this issue. King Cole is speaking to Sinbad in Arabic. The only witness to the conversation is Prince Charming, who doesn't speak Arabic. Cole then reveals that he inherently trusts the citizens of Fabletown, but is keeping all the "bad stuff locked away." What exactly does *that* refer to? Is Willingham trying to sneak one by on us here? Color me intrigued. Nice denoument of the plot with Sinbad becoming the dignitary of the new charter nation, Fabletown East. Good laughs with the difficult translations and Mark Buckingham's line is still really delicious, a softer verion of P. Craig Russell's. Grade B+.

DMZ #3 (DC/Vertigo): Some very strong commentary embedded in the dialogue about the media being controlld by the military/government. Seeing them tell reporters how to edit pictures, frame shots, and what their captions will say is surprisingly intimidating in a free society. Ricardo Burchielli's gritty detailed art captures the intensity of civil war in Manhattan perfectly. I really enjoyed the believable portrayal of Matt's apathy toward his old life and curiousity about this world propelling him forward. The last shot of him really drives the term "embedded journalism" home. Strong work. Grade A-.


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