2.25.09 Reviews

On business travel this week, so reviews are a little light, but here’s what I picked up this week. Also included are my scores from sales at Hijinx Comics of San Jose and Lee’s Comics of Mountain View.

Wasteland #24 (Oni Press): Antony Johnston brings some dialogue this issue that perfectly captures the sparse attitude of Wasteland, and would also make Rorschach proud. Michael protests a decision with “don’t recall a vote.” Abi retorts with “too bad, ‘cos we had one anyway.” Michael’s only response is “hnnn” with just the hint of a wry grin courtesy of Christopher Mitten. The brilliance of the title continues with the invented linguistics of lines like “don’t mount us,” which function as slang pejoratives, unique but imbued with clarity of meaning. Ruby and Gerr’s duplicitous actions are full of suspense and continue the subtle complexity of the best book you’re not reading. Grade A.

X-Force #12 (Marvel): I’m glad to see Clayton Crain back on art duty, who is steadily losing the negative CG attributes and beginning to employ lithe figures that are actually reminiscent of Frank Quitely in places. Check out the first panel with Cyclops entering for a good example. It’s also nice to see greater editorial coordination at play here, with elements from both Uncanny X-Men and Astonishing X-Men converging here with X-Force. We’ve got a good cliffhanger here, events that set up future conflicts and just enough sub-plots (Rahne’s quest). Nice to see X-Force apparently back on track. Grade B+.

I also picked up the following titles all for .50 cents each;

X-Force: Ain’t No Dog #1, X-Force #8-9, Super Deluxe Hero Happy Hour, Unknown Soldier #1, Giant-Size Spider-Woman #1, Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1, Palookaville #18, Deep Sleeper #1-4, 30 Days of Night: Dead Space #1, 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow #1-3, 30 Days of Night: Sourcebook, Kabuki Reflections #9

I also picked up the following trades for half off;

Death by Chocolate: Redux, Antiques: The Comic Strip, Swallow Me Whole, John Constantine: Hellblazer: All His Engines


2.18.09 Reviews

Mysterius The Unfathomable #2 (DC/Wildstorm): This book shows some promise. For $2.99, Jeff Parker's script feels very dense with plenty of material to sink your teeth into. There are a smattering of funny lines, but almost too many manic ideas at play. On the continuum of inventive (on one end) to unfocused (on the polar opposite end), it leans a bit toward the latter. There are interesting bits on auctioneering and the antiquities, Wiccan wise cracks, something about summoning Odin, David Blane jabs, Bostonian pentacle crash pads, a book of worms and a homeless guy, and a magic orgy flashback, but I don't exactly have a clear idea of how they all connnect. It's really all over the place. Tom Fowler's art is fun and energetic, but leans a bit too close to pure caricature for my taste. That said, it's colored beautifully and Dave McCaig really deserves a nod for that. Were I in the financial position to be a more adventurous consumer, I'd probably ride this title out, but as is it's just not quite strong enough for me to continue to support. Grade B.

Uncanny X-Men #506 (Marvel): Like an 800 pound zookeeper trying to carry enough food to feed the lions, tiger, bears, sea otters, giraffes, rhinos, flamingos, meerkats, snakes, and lemurs - yes, don't forget the lemurs - I fear this title is starting to collapse under its own weight. It's beginning to feel pretty unwieldy as too many sub-plots are being shuffled around, slowly trickling forward but never really taking major advances forward or resolving. What happened to Magneto? What happened to the Red Queen? What happened to (insert plot thread of your choice)? There's stuff from the very first issue, and every issue since, that gets introduced and is never followed up on, while more just continues to be piled on. At the same time, it's like we're not getting enough time to dedicate to the ideas that are introduced and major plot points seem to be glossed over. How does Piotr know that the prostitutes/sex slaves were mutants? Was he just lying to Scott? Not sure, and if prior plot points are any indication, we'll never know, because some additional idea will be introduced and then abandoned next issue. Dodson's art leans a little too far toward T&A gratuity this issue, seems that every single shot of Emma needs to explicitly show her bra or her ass stuck out toward the reader. On top of that, follow Scott's visor throughout the issue and see it morph. Sometimes it looks normal, sometimes it looks big and bulbous as if he has a soda can strapped to his face, sometimes you can see two beady red eyes through the visor, sometimes the whole visor is filled in red, it's just inconsistent and stupid. Dr Nemesis has a mask on during the action sequence, yet wears no mask on the cover, despite the shots being of the same scene. Whatever-the-fuck-ever. The action feels flat and static. Is that supposed to be Fin Fang Foom? I don't know. We're 7 issues in now and I have no idea where this is going or if anything we've been exposed to will ever be resolved. Oh, and it's therapeutic, not "theraputic." If editors aren't going to edit, then c'mon, spell check at least. Grade B-.

Tiny Titans #13 (DC): This book is kinda' hard for me to review; I've just been buying these and stashing them away for my daughter, as I'm not exactly the target demographic. For $2.50, it certainly feels like you're getting your money's worth. There are multiple stories, games, and a huge cast of characters. Kudos to Editor Jann Jones (no relation to the Martian Manhunter) for really putting some drive into the kids line, nice to see house ads for Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam (Mike Kunkel!) and Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade. Grade N/A.

I also didn't pick up;

Comic Foundry: Winter 2008 (Comic Foundry, LLC): I really wanted to pick up the last issue of this great Tim Leong and Laura Hudson helmed magazine. I thought it was great and was sad to see it go. For me, it occupied the perfect market space somewhere in between the (at times) haughty erudition of The Comics Journal and (all the time) dick n' fart fratboy humor of Wizard. But alas, my retarded LCS experience went something like this:

Me: Did you guys order Comic Foundry this week?
Sea Donkey: No, we didn't.
Me: Really? Did you not order it because it's the last issue?
Sea Donkey: Oh... it's the last issue?
Me: Jesus...

I mean, I guess I could understand if you didn't order it because it got cancelled and you figured nobody was going to buy it. Not what I would have done as a retailer, but I can sort of follow the logic. However, if you didn't know it was the last issue, then that can't be the reason you didn't order it. Which means you just decided abruptly for no reason to stop. Umm, I bought the last four issues from you, why would you mysteriously decide to stop on the random fifth issue? Solid retailing practices at their best!

Queen & Country: Definitive Edition: Volume 4 (Oni Press): Now, this wasn't on Diamond's New Releases list for the week, but the Oni web-site still lists the available date as 2/18. Their dates just never seem to be accurate or updated regularly. I have no idea when this is actually coming out. Annoying!


2.11.09 Reviews

Scalped #25 (DC/Vertigo): Congratulations to Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera for making it to the quarter century mark, and uhh… this book is so fucking good that I can’t stand it! Aaron gives us a quick history lesson about significant Native American events in the 18th and 19th centuries and then dives right into a new arc. Aaron has taken a lot of flak online about his depiction of Native Americans, in that it only perpetuates negative stereotypes. Here, in a move that begins to counter that argument, we’re given an explanation from the Native American point of view as to why they might stay and endure, and what that means to their system of oppression. I never bought that he was perpetuating stereotypes anyway; to me, the quickest way to shatter a stereotype is to shine a big spotlight of examination on it, and that’s exactly what Aaron has been doing with Scalped every month. As a creator, he’s reached a pinnacle. He entertains. He educates. He’s adding to the rich tapestry of American Culture with this artistic creation and his unique voice. There’s a dual narrative in this issue from the protagonist that runs along with masterful style; it’s a crafty take on the sort of devil and angel on the shoulder motif that we’re all too familiar with. It manifests itself with beautifully vile lines like “I want to fuck you in the ass while your kids are home alone, crying for mommy.” Wow. “Tell me your secrets, whore, so I can steal them.” Double Wow. The duality runs throughout this issue as a theme. The protagonist here seems to think it’s sexy to be a hustler, to use people, when he’s actually the one getting used up by the world. This is a powerhouse issue complete with a surprise twist. It just doesn’t get any better than Scalped. Grade A+.

Batman #686 (DC): Here we have the long awaited initial installment of the “Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?” story, in the style of Alan Moore’s infamous “Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?” from master scribe Neil Gaiman and Kubert brother Andy. Right from jump, it just feels like a Neil Gaiman story, with lines that could be lifted right out of The Dreaming like “I was here at the start of it all, Miss Kyle. I’m not going to miss the end.” It’s very grounded in the DCU, but has a nice ethereal vibe that suits the tone of the ideas at play just fine. As soon as the narration began, I asked myself “is he talking to Death?” and Gaiman sort of begins to answer that question. While the Riddler references to the Adam West TV show are a bit too self-aware and in your face for my taste, the balance of the book is handled quite well. I liked the way the Joker is insulted at the insinuation that he’d randomly kill, since of course, he’d only kill people if it was funny. There are tons of nods to DC continuity and I’m anxiously awaiting Jess Nevins or Tim Callahan or someone to put up their annotations so I can digest the bits I missed. I enjoyed the notion that “Gotham hasn’t looked this way for the last 60 years” (2009 minus 60 = 1939, Batman’s first appearance) and that without Batman being Gotham City, things would just sort of revert back. Selina’s story is interesting, it essentially asks what’s normal, what’s real? One thing I couldn’t quite figure out was Alfred seating certain folks on the right and certain on the left, Kirk Langstrom being allowed specifically to sit on either side. Looking forward to that explanation. Really enjoyed Alfred’s story, which suggests it was all a big act, in the vein of The Truman Show or the Michael Douglas film The Game, in an effort to keep Bruce motivated and sane. Like any good Neil Gaiman story, this tale is as much about the act of storytelling itself, as it is about the ostensible story we’re being told, reminiscent of the issues of the Sandman that dealt with The Endless influence on William Shakespeare. “But what if… somewhere it’s all for real?” Grade A.

I also picked up;

All Star Superman: Volume 2 (DC)

DMZ: Volume 6: Blood in the Game (DC/Vertigo)


2.04.09 Reviews (Part 3 of 3)

Hotwire: Requiem For The Dead #1 (Radical Comics): This is by far the best book from Radical Comics that I’ve ever sampled. If you merged the sort of buddy cop dynamic with say, Ghostbusters, you might have some idea what this book is about. On second thought, that doesn’t do it justice. It’s much more serious in tone and infused with the Warren Ellis future tech vibe, all of which makes it very enjoyable. It’s hard to see where Ellis’ story concept ends and Steve Pugh’s scripting and dialogue begin, and that’s a very good thing, the two blend together seamlessly. There are a couple of minor quibbles to be found. One, I hate when people (even fictional characters – even if it’s a deliberate affectation) say “anyways.” It instantly diminishes them in my eyes and just makes them sound unintelligent. Two, if the main character is a "Detective Exorcist” why would that be shortened to “DecEx?” Wouldn’t it be “DetEx?” Minor annoyances aside, I really enjoyed the notion of a high tech limbo for lost souls, particularly when depicted in Pugh’s slick futuristic style. I’ve seen some critics say that the CG look and feel was overdone in spots, but that’s akin to saying Blade Runner is shot "too dark." I think that’s the point here and is tonally very fitting. The book is full of fun characteristics that go the extra mile to give us a little panache, whether it’s the plot all being set amid rioting, or the explanation of using scientific terminology to describe the apparitions to avoid the emotional stigma of the term “ghost.” I loved the hints about potential glitches in the system, basically suggesting a ghost in the machine. Overall, it struck me how dense this book felt, it’s 32 pages, it’s done on beautiful glossy paper, and… it’s still $2.99(!), complete with a statement of intent regarding the price. Now, this is a title I can get behind. Grade A.

Dead Irons #1 (Dynamite Entertainment): I’m not familiar with the prose or prior comic work of James Kuhoric, but Jason Shawn Alexander’s art was most certainly a big selling point ever since I saw his sequences in Dark Horse’s The Escapists. I also like that Jae Lee is on Art Direction here, using the same model that involves John Cassaday on Dynamite’s The Lone Ranger. There’s absolutely no exposition in this issue and it’s a real testament to the creative team that everything is absolutely crystal clear from the character’s actions and dialogue. This is a very fun and intriguing genre blender with a loner character right out of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, infused with supernatural elements. The idea of immortal half-demon in-fighting sibling ghostly bounty hunters in the Old West is an awkward mouthful, but when it’s depicted this beautifully and fluidly, it works quite well. This is certainly a title to watch! Grade A.

Soul Kiss #1 (Image): I remember chatting briefly with Steven T. Seagle and Joe Casey at the Man of Action booth at SDCC this year. It was nice to tell Seagle in person how much I enjoyed It’s A Bird and ask about his next project – he told me to watch out for Soul Kiss. Marco Cinello’s unconventional art plays well with this unconventional story about religion, morality, and the opposed pairing of idealism and pragmatism. It’s also interesting to note some of the common themes running through a lot of Seagle’s material, American Virgin, It’s A Bird, and this project all seem to be fascinated with creative motivations. There were a couple of small items that were distracting. A few times in the narrative, we get lines like “keep reading” or “I’ll explain later” or “wait, we’ll get to that” and then they’re never really followed up on. I’m sure that in collected form they’ll all be addressed and read as a whole, but when broken down into smaller monthly installments this tends to annoy. I also thought that the first appearance of the devil figure looked a bit like Venger from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon and that the moths smacked a bit of The Green Mile. Those nitpicks aside, this is pretty stylish commentary about the proverbial deal with the devil and I’ll give it an issue or two to see if it pulls off anything new. Grade B.


2.04.09 Reviews (Part 2 of 3)

Invincible Iron Man #10 (Marvel): The opening press conference is quite good at illustrating the slimy politician Osborn can be; he’s dodging questions, refracting blame, employing double speak, sticking to his company line in the face of reason, and there’s an air of self-righteous attitude about him. Matt Fraction is depicting, perfectly and pointedly, a man simply serving his own agenda. He tosses in a nice callback to Futurepharm from Ellis’ Extremis run with Adi Granov. Aided by Salvador Larroca on pencils, it all flows with ease and is uber-enjoyable to read. MARIA AND TONY HOOK UP! Yes, I love it! Not only is it just a hot scene, but Pepper’s already in a tough spot, when she finds out about this, and I’m sure she will – Fraction knows about putting his characters where they least like to be in order to get the most dramatic tension out of them – it’s going to be crazy! Tony as public enemy number one has now been cemented with Osborn’s global media show. This issue is full of twists and turns, both nuanced and bold. Fraction is creating one of those definitive runs of a character that people will talk about years from now. It’ll be said in the same vein as “Claremont’s X-Men;” they’ll say “Fraction’s Iron Man run.” There’s another stray line here that’s just masterful: "Here’s my #!%^#@ warrant, hippie.” It’s the way that word is used – hippie. It’s implying that Stark and those in his employ seem to hold no respect for the law, they’ve been marginalized and can be summed up with a single inaccurate pejorative. This is particularly troubling, knowing that those in power, the ones driving the law, are now flawed and evil. It begs the question, does the law matter when it’s not right? I love that we have a stable creative team who is adept at proving that the drama and personal relationships are as fascinating (if not moreso) than any sort of action sequence. Add in some political and socially relevant themes, and what more do you want from a modern superhero comic? This is a total aside, but I’m wondering if the Marvel Universe right now is, either intentionally or unwittingly, following the basic arc of the Star Wars Universe. The “Good Guys” were once in charge a long, long time ago, Evil Emperor figure usurps control, “Good Guys” become outlaws on the run, banding together to depose the evildoers and retake the throne. It seems to me that Tony Stark, Maria Hill, Pepper Potts, Nick Fury, and The Secret Warriors are basically the Rebel Alliance at the moment. How long before they hook up and – hell, let’s even throw a returned Cap (Steve Rogers) into this mix – how long before they all get organized and try to overthrow Norman Osborn and HAMMER? Also included here is a surprisingly fun War of Kings preview, dug the lines from Lorna (probably my… let’s see, third favorite X-character?) which showed a nice flair for Marvel history. Grade A+.

Punisher #2 (Marvel): Rick Remender and Fear Agent collaborator Jerome Opena have succeeded in returning the appropriate level of “cool” to the Punisher. He’s not quite the uber-killer that Garth Ennis showed us in the MAX line and he's also not grounded in the level of camp that was frequently found in Fraction’s Punisher War Journal. Here he sits somewhere in the middle of that continuum and it feels just about right. With his self-deprecating and truthful internal monologues, we’ve been given a gritty Han Solo/Heath Huston smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe. I always thought that one of the challenges with writing Punisher would be that when all’s said and done, he’s actually a pretty one dimensional character. The mob killed his family, so he kills bad guys. That’s it. So what makes a “good” Punisher book go is defined not so much by him, but by what’s going on around him. It’s the sweep of the larger plots he’s caught up in, the intrigue of his adversaries, and his unlikely friends. In this world we see that the adversaries are many, so he takes his few friends where he can get them. On the art side of the equation, Opena is really turning in the pencils of his career here. He’s aided by Dan Brown, who deserves a nod for fantastic coloring that nails the tone of the series. I enjoyed Opena’s Fear Agent work immensely, where he used a sleek, stylized approach that breathed life into the 1950’s pulp throwback feel necessary for that title. Here, like a true craftsman, he adapts his style to become a darker, grittier, street level feel right at home for this particular character and this scribe’s treatment. This is first rate, proving that any great creative team can infuse even relatively simplistic characters with enduring legs in the market. Grade A.

I Am Legion #1 (Devil’s Due Publishing): I don’t know the details of the DC/Humanoids partnership that collapsed; all I know is that I bought issue #1 of this already in a glossy prestige format sort of package and then never saw it again. Let’s hope that DDP can continue to publish something that Humanoids still holds the rights to with some sort of regularity and conclusion (though the house ad for issue #2 in February somehow doesn't inspire much confidence). It’s a very intriguing tale of a WWII era European murder mystery, complete with Nazi’s, government investigative teams, and vampiric overtones. The real treat though is the art by John Cassaday; he could basically illustrate the phone book and I’d be in line to purchase it. Grade A.

2.04.09 Reviews (Part 1 of 3)

Secret Warriors #1 (Marvel): Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman really bring out the best in eachother. From Bendis, we get the realistic dialogue that flows naturally, contains pauses, and overlapping interruptions. It's the Mamet/Sorkin influenced stuff that he was really known for when he burst onto the scene. From Hickman, we see engaging story threads, historical references, and the realistic procedural jargon with bite that's infused everything from The Nightly News to Pax Romana (my favorite of his creations). Stefano Caselli illustrates the densely compressed story about new-ish heroes like Quake (who unfortunately looks suspiciously like Maria Hill) and Fury's Datacore "Caterpillar" files. There's a lot to like here with plenty left to play out, we've got clear motivations, shocking revelations, and bonus material that's absolutely trademark Hickman in design. As much as the next person, I'm not really thrilled at paying $3.99 as a standard price for a comic (though I'll surely do it for something I subjectively judge to be of high quality based on my unique personal criteria), but it's nice to see Marvel apparently at least conscious of the price junp and making an effort to offer just a little more in most cases than the standard 22 pager. Grade A-.

Agents of Atlas #1 (Marvel): Art Adams is always fun to see on cover art, but wow, those are sure some gravity defying boobs on Venus. They look like helium filled party balloons that I could... Ahem... loved the first page of “Continuity Catch-Up” by Ken Hale. Carlos Pagulayan seems to be Marvel’s go to artist lately. Originally, I wasn't a huge fan of his work, but here you can really see why they have faith in him and continue to provide him with fairly high profile opportunities. It also helps that he's inked and colored beautifully here. Having worked there, that’s not really what ATF ever did/does, but uhh, yeah, I guess it’s different under the fictitious Marvel U and Norman Osborn. This is really a pet peeve, but how would Namora know who "The Fonz" is; what is it with all these 80’s references? Are the writers of my generation finally the ones occupying these creative positions? That's cool, but man, you gotta’ shake those lame writing tics! Jeff Parker really pours it on here, his script recapping the first series and more, basically in one page. I enjoyed Jimmy Woo doing his best Skywalker-hologram-in-Jabba’s-Palace routine. Nice intro of a potential adversary tied to the Marvel U and a fun back up story to justify the $3.99 price point. What I appreciated the most about this title was the way it doesn't insult the audience's intelligence. A good example is the teased Mark Twain quote, we get just enough to make the point and catch the reference, but none of the characters explain it for us. That's just classy. Grade A-.

Adventure Comics #0 (DC): While the $1 price point is surely attractive, maybe it would be nice to offer a one page explanation as to what all this is for. I’m assuming that after the mess that was Shooter’s disappointing run just ending, and Geoff Johns' much ballyhooed Legion of Superheroes threeway vis-à-vis Final Crisis, that this title is relaunching? Err, something? The reprint belts out lines like “crashing the time barrier and sailing 1,000 years into the future” with a sort of quaint irreverence that’s unfettered by the multiverse, time travel and quantum physics logic, etc., but otherwise doesn’t have much to do with anything. Scar? Black Lanterns? Luthor? Brainiac? E.T. jokes? I suppose this was ultimately clear in its intentions (Superboy returning! Huzzah?), but not a very effective journey or tease for more since it really doesn’t offer any sort of callback to the title or reprint, nor does it rouse my interest in returning for the ongoing series. Overall, a mish-mash of semi-related things, feeling like just a platform for the house ads; thin even for a dollar. Grade C-.

Astonishing Tales #1 (Marvel): You’d think Marvel would have learned their lesson with the recent Marvel Comics Presents anthology. You know, if you keep trying to the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome, some define that as insanity. I like hitting myself in the head with a hammer, because it feels so good when I stop! Here we go… so, we have Daredevil, Spider-Woman, and Elsa Bloodstone on the cover. None of them appear in the book, that’s quite annoying. Although, unless Warren Ellis was writing Elsa in the Nextwave style, I wouldn’t care anyway. The first story is “Madripoor Mix-Up” starring Punisher and Wolverine. I’ve never warmed to C.B. Cebulski’s writing ability, as usual here, it fails to engage with flat Wolverine sex jokes and a high concept plot that involves, wait for it… fighting some Hydra Agents! Ken Rocafort’s pencils are fun enough (at least they’re inked and colored well), but ultimately all we’re left with is a silly cliffhanger. Grade C+. “Iron Man 2020” is next in the line up and probably the worst of the lot. We’ve got an ugly suit design from an artist I’ve never heard of, whose style boasts a resemblance to J. Scott Campbell. The writer I’ve never heard of offers awful dialogue and a plot that goes nowhere other than introducing an ugly vehicle that boasts zero pollutants. Ohh Fun! (Please Note: Sarcasm) As Lee Donowitz said in True Romance, “I’ve got more flavor in my penis.” Grade D-. Third up in this debacle is “Iron Man: Making an Appearance,” featuring another new creative team. There was one line that showed some promise: “For the benefit of the greater good, I show the world a fake smile and exploit myself.” Now that could be ok, I appreciate a good turn of phrase, but when you then explain it away with two more lines, it sort of drains away any effect it might have had. The made up celebrity names and TMZ references have a long way to go before they’d enter the realm of hip. The pencils are serviceable enough, but when all they’re used for is to introduce a character named Visage (yawwwwnnn…) and make a simplistic point, you get a Grade D. Last in this circus of pain is “Bobby & Sam in Mojoworld.” This one is probably the best of the bunch, with Jonathan Hickman doing his best Bill Sienkewicz on art, followed by Nick Pitarra penciling in the style of the late Seth Fisher, some really beautiful stuff! On the writing front, Hickman’s got a bad case of the exposits, delivering amazingly self-introductory lines like “Sam Guthrie can’t handle the grind” and “Your best friend, Roberto da Costa, is sure to provide it.” That aside, the Mojo writers strike was probably a fun concept, but I was so exhausted from the first three stories that it was hard to tell at that point. Grade B+. With regard to the overall package, doesn’t it seem off that two of the four stories contained here were Iron Man stories? Aren’t there plenty of (good) Iron Man books going on right now? Do we really need to see more of Iron Man in an anthology book? Doesn’t it also seem off that three of the four stories housed here were not even self-contained? Why oh why would I ever want to go chase down just a couple pages in an upcoming issue for $3.99? Aren’t you supposed to lead with your strongest material to hook a potential audience? If this is the best Marvel has to offer, then it’s no wonder their anthology format is dead. Each story should really be strong enough to stand on its own – that’s the true test of quality. If not, why would I want a whole collection of sub-standard material? Inconsistent sub-par nonsense is the reason often cited for anthologies being doomed to fail. Wrapping it all up, let’s see… nothing enjoyable, nothing accomplished, no real talent on display, repeating the formatting mistakes of the past, yes, I’d say that’s completely useless. Grade D+.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #22 (Dark Horse): Different issue, same story. Picked this one up for a coworker, but gave it a read. Still don’t get it. These one-shots are really bombing. Good to see Georges Jeanty back on art duty, but otherwise this was a mess. Flat humor, expository dialogue about Buffy’s pseudo-titillating lesbian experience, and not a single character I recognized. Sure, I watched the show too - and it would be nice if there were anything here even remotely related to it other than the gratuitous cameo shoehorned in at the end. It’s a little sad when the best thing about the issue is a Dollhouse ad with Eliza Dushku and seeing Whedon alum Summer Glau in an ad for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This was caca de toro. Grade D-.


Graphic Novel Of The Month

Kissing Chaos: Volume 1 (Oni Press): It’s an oldie, but a goodie. A few years ago, Arthur Dela Cruz created this tale about a crime spree, kids on the run, and a swirl of media hype and danger lurking around every corner. Those elements alone are a very entertaining read, but within all of that is also a haunting and ethereal love story with beautiful romantic notes and plenty of surprises. Dela Cruz’s moody black and white tones perfectly blend together with the wistful words. One of the principal characters, Angela, narrates this 8 issue mini-series in which Oni Press experimented with the digest size pamphlet format. I thought the format was great fun, but it must not have proven cost effective, as they never attempted it again. Though the series appears to be out of print, I frequently find copies in dollar and quarter bins even years later, so it’s not impossible to track down. This Eisner Award nominee seemed to just fizzle away. While another 4 issue follow up series was also produced (Volume 2: Nonstop Beauty), that wasn't met with as much critical success. A couple of stand alone one-shots also dribbled out before the property became a sporadic web-comic, but then… it evaporated into the ether. It’s a shame, because I’d like to see more from either this property or this talented creator. Kissing Chaos was a unique experience, for me it helped define the publisher's burgeoning line, and was one of the best books ever published by Oni Press. Grade A+.