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Monday, April 18, 2005
Slightly More Timely Comic Reviews
See, it doesn't always take a month to get these damn things out of me.
Exiles #62: Yes, it is now official. Despite no longer having explicit, plot-driven connections to Marvel's latest Age of Apocalypse "epic" I've lost what interest I had in this title. Those two issues I skipped apparently had so much vital information in them that now even I, a veteran of reading silly and contrived comic-book explanations for what's "really going on" can't make sense of what the hell is happening in this title. Talking bugs inside the M'Kraan crystal? Dead/not dead characters frozen in ice...pass.
Ultimate X-Men #58: It's hard to describe this book as "compelling" because it really consists of Professor X sitting in his wheel-chair and thinking instructions at other people. But as a done in one story, it feels much more satisfying than most of the recent Vaughan efforts on the title. And, of course, Steve Dillon is always a welcome presence on a title. I particularly like how Vaughan builds on a plot point occasionally hinted at by Millar during his time on the title, namely that the Professor X of the Ultimate universe is not necessarily the all-benevolent force for Good that he is in the regular X-books. He's got a sinister side, and the occasional reminder that the X-Men are only the public face of his plans for the world's mutants are a nice bit of meta-plot.
Ultimates 2 #5: Eh. It certainly looks pretty, but I'm so utterly burnt out on Millar's story-telling approach and public persona that it has become hard to take even quality, unpretentious super-hero work from him. Still, it's a "big dumb super-hero melodrama" and a fairly good example of that genre, so it's hard to fault the actual writing on the title. Still, with the most sympathetic and interesting character on the team, Thor (and you have no idea how much it pains me to talk about Thor as an interesting character), out of commission for some time, I rather suspect what little enjoyment I'm still getting out of this title to diminish.
Bloodhound #10: A whimper. As far as last issues go, at least enough potential stories are left open that Jolley or another writer can bring Cleav back for a short run or guest spot. I enjoyed this title a great deal, and it's rather frustrating that it didn't find more success in the wider comics market.
Gotham Central #30: I'm going to be contrary and say that I like the idea of re-casting Doctor Alchemy as the DCU's answer to Hannibal Lecter. It has the feel of a complicated joke, which I enjoy, and it is consistent with the current trend of complicating the motivations of the Flash's rogues. A process which was desperately needed, as the Flash's rogues, more than any other heroes, all had rather pointless and dumb reasons for going into crime. I mean, when you've got genius inventors who can create freeze guns, air-walking shoes, mirror-based teleportation and weather control rods, and they use those devices to rob banks rather than patent them, your villains come off as idiots. I'm thinking too much about the Flash villains again, aren't I?
Mnemovore #1: Mike Huddleston does some wonderfully creepy art in this issue. The story, by Hans Rodionoff and Ray Fawkes, isn't exactly scary, at least not at this point. If anything, it more seems to occupy the space between horror and sci-fi. The notion of a creature that eats human memory, well, it's almost Tingler level camp, if not handled properly. At this point, just one issue into the story, I'm interested enough and feel the story has potential enough to want to keep reading. It's also a reminder that I really should check out Rodionoff's previous comic work, the Lovecraft graphic novel.
Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur #1: P. Craig Russell's adaptation of Robert E. Howard's story is beautiful to look at. And it's very nice to get a story of a more mature Conan than we're presently seeing in Busiek's and Nord's excellent Conan comic, especially a Conan that gets to use his intelligence and cunning more than his sword-arm. Simply put, this is an excellent fantasy comic.
Action Comics #826: "Big dumb super-hero melodrama" sounds like the phrase for it. It's always a bit disconcerting to see Captain Marvel drawn in a totally realistic style. And while the notion of Eclipso jumping from host to host is vaguely interesting, the all-plot of the approach just feels a bit rushed and forced. Why, it's almost as if DC needed to get these three issues out before the first issue of a high-profile new mini-series starring Eclipso...
Adam Strange #7: It's the all-exposition issue! It was probably a necessary evil at this point in the series, but still...At least the next issue promises a good deal of manic action. And, of course, Pascal Ferry's art is beautiful.
JSA #72: It bears repeating, despite the many times I've said it in the past: the strength of this book is the way it builds on decades worth of DC continuity. The weakness of this book is the way it depends on decades worth of DC continuity. So while the little nods to the Earth-2 Huntress and the Crisis are sure to be appreciated by long-time DC fans...well, actually, since nobody reading JSA isn't a long-time DC fan to begin with, I guess they don't disrupt the tone at all.
Fables #36: After the dull "Jack in Hollywood" story, it's nice to see Willingham return to form with this story. Boy Blue is one of the more sympathetic characters in the cast to begin with, and a view at the Homelands was sorely lacking from the title. Buckingham's pencil look quite nice in this issue, and the humor doesn't feel forced or contrived the way it has in recent issues. A very promising start to the newest storyline.
Thirteen by Mike Carey and Andy Clarke: This is the story of Joe Bulmer, a low-level telekinetic and street punk who stumbles upon a mysterious bead that increases his pyschic powers, but also gets him caught up in the middle of a war between a dead alien warrior and the remnants of a slave race that stole an important artifact. Aided by a beautiful West-Asian telepath who can't stand him, Joe has to somehow save the world. It's a nice little high-concept story, and it's an enjoyable, fast-paced read, with some engaging art from Andy Clarke, who has an expressive style reminiscent of Steve Dillon. Carey does a good job of making a basically unlikeable character a convincing protagonist. The story is a mish-mash of several hoary sci-fi cliches and tropes, but they all come right on top of each other, highlighting the quick pacing of the story. And see, this is why DC's decision to discontinue the 2000AD line is disappointing, because how many more enjoyable, one-volume stories are Rebellion going to be able to afford to put out, without DC's backing?