Sunday, February 07, 2010

The List - January '10

More trades than usual this month. It's a combination of Cards, Comics and Collectibles (of Reisterstown, MD) having its usual winter sales, and Christmas gifts I just got to this month. It'll carry over into February, too, as the sales continue and I got a gift card from a friend. Anyway, off to the races...
1. daytripper 2 - This vaulted up a bit because I'm really intrigued. It had me to start with just because of the setting in Brazil, a country with which I am somewhat familiar, but have not read a single thing set there. No movies I can recall seeing that were set there, either, so this was fertile now ground for my ever rapacious interest in other cultures. With the second issue, I'm totally on board with following where Fabio Moon and Gabrial Ba are leading. Not only do they show me an in depth look at Brazilian culture, with which they're intimately familiar, they're presenting a story that has me wanting more while puzzling where they're going. So far, the lead character of Bras de Oliva Domingos has died twice in totally unrelated ways. Each time an obituary has been written for him. This not being a superhero comic, we're either working on the deeply mystical or Bras is an obituary writer who fantasizes his own death at various times in his life by various methods. Or it's something else entirely. Can't wait to find out.

2. Fables 92 - Now we're back at full speed here. If daytripper weren't something spectacular this month, Willingham's opus would be at the top for sure. This first part of two looks like a detective fiction with fables and goblins in lieu of humans, though this detective fiction has a lot of potential political overtones. The developing relationship of Flycatcher and Red Riding Hood is also piquing my interest.

3. Northlanders 24 - Speaking of opus, Brian Wood's nordic magnum continues apace with the 4th in the 8 issue Plague Widow story. Wood took a somewhat unexpected turn in making our titular character's nemesis, Gunborg, a heroic personage in this issue. Presumably Wood will reveal what happened while Gunborg, alone after his men refused to go forward, went on to a neighboring settlement to see if help was available there. Common theme so far in the List? I'm eagerly awaiting what's to come.
4. Madame Xanadu 19 - Another great issue from Matt Wagner. We've dropped out of the 1960s setting where Nimue (aka Madama Xanadu) has been slammed by her sister, Morganna, into the back story of their relationship from the time of mages, which surplanted the time of fairies, to the rise of humans and the fall of Camelot. Joelle Jones is the penciller on this one and bears mentioning for the layouts reminiscent of illustrations of Medieval texts that brackets each era within the story. Of course, the story itself is wonderful in developing these characters and the relationship between them, as well as their older sister, Vivienne.

5. The Walking Dead 69 - To some extent this is the usual Kirkman excellence, but it gets a little boost on top of that because the intrepid survivors of post apocalyptic zombie world are now treading the familiar ground of DC, Virginia and Maryland, just down the road from where I live. Hopefully Kirkman is also foreshadowing some developments in how the world came to be in this state, though he's frequently stated he's not so interested in that so much as how the survivors survive. There's also a preview for an upcoming Image book called Choker, which isn't getting my attention with this teaser. I'll reserve for further input before considering it.

6. Cinderella From Fabletown with Love 3 - Ah, more fine progress in the tale of super spy and Fable, Cinderella and her reluctant partnership with Aladdin. Cinderalla certainly maintains some old school attitude with her seduction and teasing of Aladdin this go 'round, perfectly in keeping with someone who's spent as much time in European and American culture as she has, and in keeping with the approach such a smart woman would take with a Fable like Aladdin. Hell of an interesting debate between Cinderalla and Aladdin on the merits, or demerits, of Islam, too.

7. Stumptown 2 - This book could easily be higher on the list, but it's a tough month. Dex Parios may be my favorite woman in comics now, which takes some doing with Nimue, Hilda of Northlanders, and Cinderella, but also explains why it's a battle royale here in the top of the List. Dex continues her investigation of the disappearance of Charlotte Suppa, and tracks her down this time. Now she has to figure out why there's a tie between Charlotte and the Marenco family, which allegedly heads the Pacific Northwest branch of Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS13. And we're still in "I can't wait for more" territory. I'm still loving the pages at the back of the book that delve into artist Matthew Southworth's process of making the scenes and people depicted come alive. Love the Army jacket bought in Pittsburgh, too. Go Steelers (well, next season).

8. Unknown Soldier 16 - This has got to be the best book ever to use the name of a much known and well liked character, yet have absolutely nothing to do with that character. Aside from the lead going around with a bandaged face all the time, and some hallucenogenic hints that the original Unknown Soldier is in our current emodiment's head, there's naught to do with the original here. The shift into a sort of detective story continues, as our "hero" steps into the role of camp doctor while trying to figure out who killed his predecessor. The hints at the psychological distress imminent for him in this return to his peaceful past are nice foreshadowing.

9. Jersey Gods 10 - Barock and his brother Serius rush back to Earth to investigate the attack on Rushmore while Zoe takes a more circuitous route with their mother. The bizzaro cubed Earth is a nice touch to the ongoing homage to works that have gone before, and the death of Helius's son is meaningful and touching. Where's my full frontal nudity of Zoe, though? :-)

10. Terry Moore's Echo: Moon Lake TPB - This was one of the Christmas gifts. I'd heard nothing but glowing reviews of Moore's work here, and I have to agree. Domestic distress, corporate intrigue, governmental conspiracy, scientific phenomenon, betrayal, and a cool ass flying suit. This book has a lot going on and a lot to recommend. Like the rest of the protagonists on the top of this List, there's depth and contradictions to the lead character. I'm getting further installments as soon as I can.

11. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft TPB - Same goes for this one. Like the Walking Dead, this treads the territory of horror but with more intelligence than the genre has devolved into. Gabriel Rodriguez does great emotion in the eyes of his characters, too. There's not a lot of that in comics, truth be told, but he's conveying a lot, which is, I think, key in a book that's supposed to be conveying horror, not just telling me something's horrifying.
12. I Kill Giants TPB - Number three of the trades I got for Christmas, this is a wonderful study that leaves a perfect amount of ambiguity between fantastic, delusional coping mechanism and harsh reality. Quirky doesn't begin to describe protaganist Barbara and, truth be told, I'd expect her to be sent to an outside psychologist rather than a school counselor if she were an actual student, but why quibble? The book's nearly worth the price, which is a steal at $16, just for the opening sequence with a career day presentation by a fellow student's father. Anything that shows a "motivational speaker" for the boil on the buttocks of the world that such people are is A ok with me.

13. Detective Comics 861 - Rucka's other great book continues with the story of kidnapped young women who are apparently being used as parts suppliers for some loon's home biology project, something akin to Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. More interesting is the juxtaposition created between Detective and Batman & Robin this month. Both books have Batman and Batwoman in them. Both books sort of pick up in the middle of a series of events. Both books have a lot of hints at other things going on, but this one is so much better than Morrison's story. Batman and Batwoman remain true to themselves in this one, while things go oddly off the rails in Batman & Robin. That Batwoman is imperfect in her rescue of a victim and capture of the villain, and is taken to task for it by a detective, is well in keeping with her relative novice status as a superhero. Plenty of good character exploration outside the costume, too.

14. Catwoman 83 - The only reason I bought this Blackest Night January filler was its ties to Gotham City Sirens. I never bought a single issue of the Catwoman title when it was an active affair. I don't know much about Black Mask, either, but this was a really good story. It wasn't necessary for my reading of Gotham City Sirens, but I was glad I got it all the same.

15. Suicide Squad 67 - This Blackest Night filler, on the other hand, was a title I'd followed for a couple years when it started back in bygone days. It was also directly tied to Secret Six 17, which is a title I'm quite fond of. Like Secret Six, Simone & Ostrander did a great job of keeping these misfits at each other's throats while fighting for survival.

16. Secret Six 17 - See above.
17. Gotham City Sirens 8 - I don't know Guillem March or Marc Andreyko from Adam, but I'm really liking this tilte's pursuit of the escapades of the more lovable of Batman's Rogues. Sure, Harley and Ivy are crazy, the latter often homicidally so, but they are very interesting and are trying to be something other than what they've been. Lots of Ivy in this one, including some background and one of the more interesting plant witherings.

18. Justice Society of America 35 - Yeah, I definitely like this title a lot better without the JSA All-Stars cast. It's interesting that the couples of Hourman and Liberty Belle and Damage and Judo Master have been split, but it also prevents the book from becoming awash in the affairs of the heart within the team. I'm not looking for that kind of story in this kind of book. Now fighting Mordru is far more interesting. Wonder if he has anything to do with Morganna, from Madame Xanadu?

19. Weird Western Tales 71 - Another Blackest Night January filler, and really entirely a throw away kind of story, but I used to love Jonah Hex, Scalphunter, and Bat Lash when I was a kid buying three comics for 50 cents, covers torn off of course, and often found these stories, as well as Sgt Rock, Haunted Tank, and Unknown Soldier. That all of the heroes of the old Weird Western Tales stories are now minions of Nekron was a nice touch, if to be expected.

20. Chew Taster's Choice TPB - This one was a sale purchase. Glowing reviews from Jim brought me to this one, which I had passed on even with free first issue previews. It's not a bad book. In fact, it's quite good. Still, if I keep with it, it'll be in TPB form. I'm kind of on the fence, though.

21. Action Comics 885 - I have no idea what's going on in the Superman miniverse but for this title. The whole world of New Krypton bit? Total mystery to me. I'm only willing to sped but so much on this stuff, you know? Anyway, Rucka continues great stories with Firebird and Nightwing, and I'll keep going with this one, little hints of what's going on in the greater Superman world sufficing.

22. Adventure Comics 6 - Probably my last issue of this one, with Johns coming to the end of his tenure. The Luthor returns to Smallville to wreak havoc bit comes to an end. It's not Johns's strongest work, and it was unnecessarily interrupted by the Superboy Prime issues (which I liked, mind you, but should have been done some other way).

23. The Mighty 12 - Kind of a strange end to this story. Gabriel defeats Alpha One. He saves his wife. He and his wife now have the same powers Alpha One did. That's fine, if a little less satisfying that I'd hoped. What's odd is that Gabriel and his wife have a press conference announcing that humanity is on its own now, and talk between themselves about not taking over Alpha One's role as protector (which he really wasn't), but then the two of them proceed to fly off, right from the middle of the big city. How's that gonna keep people thinking there's no superhero around to save them? It's broad daylight, after all.

24. Irredeemable 10 - This could be higher, but I'm starting to thing Waid's going to drag it on too long. He's really laying it on thick with the Plutonian's trauma filled childhood, too. I have a hard time believing every single foster parent would be deathly afraid of him. Hell, the fact that his powers seem to show up with each foster family he joins would make it more likely that the government would be called in and no foster family would be needed. He's a test subject for sure. Ah, well. The story's moving along pretty well otherwise, my doubts notwithstanding.

25. Incorruptible 2 - The other side of the coin. Just how young is Jail Bait, anyway? Everyone says she's under age, but she sure as hell doesn't look it. There's a hint of excusability to Max Damage's prior sexual involvement with her because of the way she's portrayed as looking like an adult. That being said, I do like the development of Max Damage and his problems, with his powers, with the authorities believing he's trying to help now, and the outright insanity suffered by the general public because the ever present threat of destruction by the Plutonian. This could well develop to be a more interesting book than Irredeemable. In fact, if Waid had started with this book it could have explored the redemption of a villain because of a radically changed world the way Kirkman has explored his radically changed world in Walking Dead without more than a thumbnail of what happened to change the world.

26. Batman and Robin 7 - I don't know what's happened here. As mentioned in the Detective Comics note, Morrison seems to have gone off the rails. Dick Grayson Batman, who hadn't gone off on any search for Bruce or obsessed about his death, suddenly now is trying to use a Lazarus pit to revive Bruce? This is what I mean by Morrison changing characters to suit his desired direction for a story, rather than creating interesting stories that use the character. And Batwoman's totally unnecessary, and really a cypher in this story. Knight and Squire were amusing toss ins, but also fairly irrelevant to the advancement of the story. I'll give it another issue or so, but this Lazarus pit line may be the end.

27. Proof 25 - As a follower of Proof, this was totally unneeded. It's a sort of preview in one half, then there's another story that's just one that was done but never published because it didn't fit in with where the story line ended up going. The romance between Poof and Ginger is a little odd, with where things are now. The gallery in the back was nice, though. Altogether, just throwaway. A bit pricey at $5, too.

28. Batman Streets of Gotham 8 - This one may be done. It's not bad, but it's not grabbing me. The Manhunter backup is pretty interesting, though, so I might hold on until that story finishes, at least.

29. Outsiders 26 - This one's just weird. Who is this Geo-Force?

30. Green Lantern Corps 44 & Green Lanter 50 - More advancing of Blackest Night. I've come to the conclusion that while I like this story, it's too big to be read this way. Trades are the way to go.

31 Teen Titans: Life and Death TPB and Teen Titans: Titans East TPB - More sales purchases. Filling in some Johns work because of my currently unfathomable dropping of the singles back in the day. I think a few more readings are in order to determine if it's as good as I thought. Deathstroke's parenting style sure is interesting, though.

32. Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds - A precursor to the other trade I bought, I enjoyed this. I'm no grand fan of the title, but it's good for an occasional read.

33. The Warlord - I keep wanting this to be better than it is. It keeps rehashing old ground. Grell needs to move it forward, and soon, but he seems to be going back to the well with the revival of Deimos.

34. Haunt 4 - Far better than Image United, but I'm still not entirely sold on Kirkman's effort here. The only thing that may save it is that Astounding Wolf-Man is coming to an end, so there's a spot to fill, so to speak.

Funny that this month felt like a strong one, considering there's no Scalped, Invincible or Astoudning Wolf-Man.

Publisher count for this month:
Vertigo 6
DC 19
Image 6
Abstract Studio 1
Boom 2

I really need to pare down the DC, but some of it is Blackest Night one offs, so that's do it to a large extent. Kind of like a company buy out in lieu of layoffs.


  1. Apologies for the lack of full-frontal on Zoe - but she looked pretty cute in that towel, no? :)

  2. Yes, she did. Sorry about the delayed response. Blizzard, and all.