Sunday, September 28, 2008

What I'm Getting Wednesday?

by Thomm

I have no idea. I never do, really, until I read what Jim's getting. I barely have time to get to the store on Wednesday and then read my paltry few books each week, what with wife, kids, work and house upkeep requirements. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm doing this post at work most of the time, I'd not get this done, either.

But I digress. I use our boy Jim as a sort of filter for my own buying, which is significantly less than his. In fact, I average about 6 books a week and only rarely pick up a trade here and there. So, I live vicariously through Jim's reviews and previews a lot. But, I also get to leave out a lot of junk that I might otherwise view as a mistake to buy.

This week was a particularly good week. The six books I got were amongst my favorites being published now.

Top of the heap has to be Fables #76 (it was #2 on my all time top 20 list after all). Neither Geppetto nor the residents of Fabletown are particularly accepting of one another. In fact, the war is still on as far as everyone but Pinocchio is concerned, Geppetto's amnesty or no. No major plot develpments, but plenty of foreshadowing of things to come, and the usual excellent writing by Bill Willingham. The art, though, was a trifle distracting. Guest artist Michael Allred did a good job with the adult characters. They were clearly within the parameters of the usual depictions but with his own style. It was the depictions of the kids that was off. Pinocchio, of course, is forever a boy, but he's always been depicted as almost a small adult, with the sort of complex facial expressions that adults are more likely to have, and oftentimes a scowl you wouldn't expect on a kid. Here he looks like a naif, all wide eyed innocence. To make matters worse, Snow White's and Bigbe's brood of kids also appears and they're entirely indestinguishable from one another except for hair color. In fact, Pinnocchio could be part of the family for all the distinction there is in the drawing of the kids that appear in this story. It's odd because the adults are so much more individually drawn and given clear facial expressions to reflect the moment. All the same, this is still my favorite for the week because I love the story that's come so far and the arugment between Snow White and Geppetto this issue. And, if she were really flesh and blood, Snow would be some kind of MILF.

Second on the list is Northlanders #10. More art commentary from the non art guy. Dean Ormston's art fits this book perfectly. The rough, washed out appearance fits with all our concepts of the Middle Ages in North Europe. Bleak, harsh, brutish. It's everything you'd expect of stories set in the end years of the Vikings as pantheists. I think I like this 2 issue Lindisfarne story better than the 8 issue opening arc, too. Brevity in story telling is an under appreciated art. The story of how a Saxon boy came to be a Viking warrior who's still viewed as an outsider after 20 years resonated with me, a guy who moved to central PA as a kid and was always the outsider. Not that my new neighbors and I went back to suburban Philly and killed off all my old neighbors.

The Walking Dead #52 comes in at third mostly because of the return of Michonne. What's not to like about a woman who prefers to cut off the heads of zombies with a sword? (Although it sometimes reminds me of a friend's grandmother who used to go around with a butter knife cutting off the heads of gypsy moth caterpillars.) That and the fact that she's smacking Rick up side the head and getting him out of his self pitying funk. Not that he doesn't have reason to feel bad after the disaster at the prison. As a reader, though, I only want to see so much of that before he gets back on his feet, and it's been a couple issues with a weak Rick. By contrast, the development of Carl's character has been welcome addition to the story. I would expect a kid in this environment to be thrust into adulthood much sooner than what we're used to.

Proof #12 comes in at fourth. The wordless fight between the ink monkey and the faerie alone would make the issue one of the best fight scenes ever and keep the book high in my pantheon. The philosophical conversation between Proof and his captor come host, with a tinge of hallucination due to Proof's illness, was also a highlight. Grecian and Rossmo have a unique creation here and clearly have a solid vision of where they want to go with that creation. Until this issue I wasn't aware that Proof was set in the same reality as Image's superhero books. The Walking Dead clearly inhabits its own little universe, but with the appearance of Savage Dragon, Proof is now in the same universe as Invincible, Dynamo5 and the rest. Which means some interesting meetings could occur, but I hope that Proof largely sticks to its own course.

Number five on this list is Jack of Fables #26. I know this isn't one of Jim's favorites, but I enjoy the tongue in cheek nature of the whole thing. Although it comes out of the same mileu as Fables, it's entirely different in tenor and objective. Jack is a horse's ass, after all. There's no way you're going to be affectionate toward him the way you can be with Bigbe, Show White, Prince Charming and the myriad populace of Fabletown or the Farm. But Jack's a sort of paragon of what not to do and the consequences of being a continual srew up. So, anyway, this issue centered on Priscilla, one of the three sisters at the Golden Boughs. A dork at heart who's masqueraded as a hot chick, she's having a hard time of it with Revise due to some perceived mistakes on her part. It's all a part of a long term conflict between Revise and Bookburner that we're only beginning to find out about. The reveal of who is Priscilla's father, and that she's not a full sister to one of her sisters, isn't nearly as much fun as the reappearance of Humpty Dumpty with attitude.

Last but not least is Madam Xanadu #4. Not that it's really any worse than Fables. Like I said, they're all great books this week. I did question the sort of abrupt attraction of Madam Xanadu to the Phantom Stranger. Well, it's abrupt to the reader. I suppose from the character's perspective, not so much. But in the first two issues she didn't know who he was, then was really not happy with the role he played, and pushed her into playing, in the fall of Camelot. Now, she's in the court of Kublai Khan a few hundred years later, so I suppose all those years, while other people lived and died, she'd have time to fixate on the Phantom Stranger, but to me, it came across as her going rather suddenly from dispising him to wanting to spend eons with him, jumping his bones. In the end we have her having to flee the court and the Phantom Stranger leaving her in the desert to flee on her own, so I suppose her feelings will be back to a more ambiguous place after this incident. For an immortal woman with arcane knowledge and a lot of power, she often seems insecure and dependent on others, whether it's Merlin or the Phantom Stranger. Maybe she can meet Dream of the Endless and try to hook up with him, too. I hope she takes on a more independent character as the book develops.

That's my six for this week. Not being wedded to any particular topic, I may or may not continue with this idea of reviewing. We'll see.

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