12.13.06 Reviews - Part 2

The Killer #1 (Archaia Studios Press): Loved it! Matz and Luc Jacamon bring this tale of an introspective hitman, originally published in France, to the US as a 10 issue series. Jacamon's art definitely has the European flair to it, with its Humanoids-style look, high quality production values, and meticulous eye for detail, where it's just as important to capture the nuances of an iron rail as it is to capture the intricacies of a facial expression. The opening monologue reminded me of Daniel Craig in Layer Cake, where essentially a bad man rationalizes, justifies, and moralizes his behavior so charmingly that you're suddenly convinced of their nobility and infatuated with the lifestyle. Matz's script builds tension so successfully by using deliberate patience as he weaves together a current assignment with previous hits and a brief origin story of the protagonist. First rate comics! Grade A+.

DMZ #14 (DC/Vertigo): Brian Wood's script is firing on all cylinders here as this issue focuses on a couple of really interesting ideas. One, terrorism is shaped a lot by perspective. If you were say... the English, the Boston Tea Party was not an act of patriotic revolutionaries, but rampant terrorism. Two, attempting to extract information from prisoners in captivity while being tortured is ultimately futile, because the prisoner can slowly build control. Burchielli has a real Eduardo Risso vibe in spots with his art, it's evolving artistically in a nice gritty way, it makes for a very visceral experience. And that's a perfect match for Wood's writing which offers equally challenging little vignettes that serve as basic morality plays. On a side note, the Scalped preview looks interesting. I was completely uninterested in writer Jason Aaron's last book The Other Side, but I'm curious about this one, R.M. Guera's art also looks intriguing. Guess the preview worked, as I'll probably give the first issue a shot. Grade A.

X-23: Target X #1 (Marvel): I have no familiarity with this property whatsoever other than reading her appearance in the original NYX run. So, why, oh why did I buy this? I guess I thought the variant cover was cool? I like Choi and Oback's art overall, it's very pretty in a homogenous Greg Land sort of way, though the photo references are far less obvious (which is a good thing), but was disappointed by their ugly rendition of Captain America and a very pretty boy manga-inspired look for Matt Murdock. I guess if you're in the mood for a slightly gothy, teen-angsty, sort of bad girl fight thang, then you'll be all over this. I just realized I'm not the right age demographic for this book though. Haha! It is what it is, and for being what it's supposed to be... Grade B.

Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason #1 (DC/Vertigo): In general, I'm happy to see any contributions towards the Sandman mythos, particularly the much lamented period piece that was Sandman Mystery Theatre. I also really enjoyed Eric Nguyen's art here, which gives a subtle nod to the sketchy style that Guy Davis employed on the original (and some Teddy Kristiansen thrown in for good measure), and takes it a step forward with kinetic energy and offbeat inking. Story-wise, I'm a little concerned though. The adventures of a deceased Wesley Dodds and long time flame Dian Belmont in *Afghanistan* certainly feels misplaced, and I'm not sure how or why in that setting Belmont would have been carrying a firearm. Those quibbles aside though, I was interested in their tale. Where I lost it was the abrupt jump-cut to the modern story. What does the modern story have to do with anything? Putting a gas mask in a couple of panels does not a Sandman story make. The only choice for a possible connection would be the reporter being an (arbitrary) choice to inherit the mantle, but doesn't Sand already occupy that space? This reminds me of the only other work I've read of his, John Ney Rieber's Captain America, where it starts out completely straightforward with no subtlety. And if you're in the mood for that, then ok. But then he hits you on the head with the "big stick of meaning" deeper in the issue. It's just not working for me. I'll give issue 2 the casual flip test in a couple weeks and think about buying it if it's a slow week just to enjoy the art... yeah, it's possible, but not likely. Grade C.

The Spirit #1 (DC): Sometimes you've just got to demonstrate a mastery of the King's English. If someone "literally disappeared," it doesn't mean they just simply left, like walked out of the room, it means they vanished like a ghost and ceased to be present in the blink of an eye, all phantasmic like. Sheesh. Anyway, there's no denying Darwyn Cooke's pencils are beautiful, but purely from the storytelling side? I gotta' admit, I was kinda' bored here man. It's just really straightforward superhero, innocuous adventure stuff with no real hook or angle other than being... ya' know, Will Eisner's The Spirit and everything. You still have to tell an engaging story and not rest on the laurels of the property you're dealing with. The "snack sized Nubian savior" and Ginger's insistent newspeak came close to fun, but repetition killed my enthusiasm. Most irritatingly, the convergence of Cooke's 1950's aesthetic and terms like "mystery men" juxtaposed against modern infusions of hip like "let's just chill here for a second," or "get up off my goodness," or "get your freak on," just don't play well together. The dichotomy is not pleasant. Grade C-.

Wonder Man #1 (Marvel): My, what a contrived premise for a story. We're clearly in LA because of the stock hollywood types and Avengers West Coast references, yet there's Carol Danvers and Hank McCoy... since when do they hang out in LA? Ladykiller just happens to stumble upon Wonder Man (random fight alert!) and conveniently fit into the director's vision of a TV show. *Yawn* *Sigh* Zzzzzzz.... And something about "anionic" energy.... ooookay. Peter David, you basically phoned this one in, bro. The dialogue is expository and there's nothing compelling about this in the slightest. I've been given no reason to be interested, much less return, except perhaps to mock the art, which is ridiculously cartoony to the point of caricature. The superhero spelling jokes and waiters as wannabe actors stereotypes illicit only blank stares, not the intended laughs. I swear the line "You die. Now." is from a movie, wish I could recall which. We all know this is just a series designed to drum up interest for Wonder Man's inclusion in the new Avengers book, so this is utterly pointless. By the way, your "superhero" who wants to commit random acts of kindness is illegally detaining a person and in no way qualified to reform her in the way proposed. Whatever-the-fuck-ever. Grade F.

I also picked up;

Breaking Up (Graphix): Regardless of the story by novelist Aimee Friedman, you can't go wrong with 190 pages of Christine Norrie art for a mere $8.99. This is truly a no-risk read.

Supreme Power: Volume 2 Hardcover (Marvel/MAX): I have really mixed emotions about the inclusion of the Hyperion mini-series in this, since I didn't read it, can't vouch for it's quality, it's from a different artist than the main series, and one that I'm not usually fond of at that (Dan Jurgens). But, it is nice to have the final issues (13-18) of the MAX run collected in one place before it turned to drivel in the regular Marvel U. My how I would have appreciated a more straightforward collection of issues 1-18 in one place. I mean, there were other mini-series associated with this property, why was this one singled out? Just doesn't make a lot of sense and shows the lack of long-term planning around the move to the regular Marvel U and the diminishing value of the MAX line to begin with.


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