While there's a wide gap between the top of the List and the bottom, most of the middle is really fairly equal. The superheroes seem to get relegated to the middle because of the nature of superhero books being so static while aping the motions of change. I come in jaundiced, I suppose. Some the stuff at the bottom, though, is close to being dropped altogether. More trades again this month filling out the List. Love the winter sales.
1. Madame Xanadu 20 - The cover is really pushing this one to the top in a very strong field of top ten. It's pure Hadley goodness. I would have like to have seen her on the interior art, too, but the Joelle Jones work is more than good, albeit a very different style. Less pretty, I guess. 'Course, that it has a woman who's just had sex appearing actually naked is an element of realism I appreciate. The only negative was Nimue saying to a teen Merlin "Easy there, kid". That was a far too modern expression that abrubtly took me out of the pre-King Arthur England we were supposed to be inhabiting.
2. daytripper 3 - Still hitting on all cylinders. Bras ends up dead at the end, again, but this time we have a character who was in the previous issue as a lover and possible love interest returning. This time she's an ex-girlfriend and possible inspiration for suicide. The puzzle of how all these stories connect is fascinating, but the stand alone nature of each of the stories is a fine example of short story writing.
3. The Goon: My Murderous Childhood (And Other Grievous Yarns) TPB 2 - Eric Powell's series has been a sporadic buy in TPB form for me. I actually started with volume 3 a couple years ago when I bought it on a whim at the Baltimore ComiCon and had it signed by Powell. This one appeals to my like of origin stories, but, really, what's not to like about any of the Goon stories? The mere fact that Franky's eyes make me think of Little Orphan Annie makes me smile every time.
4. Northlanders 25 - Quite possibly the lowest spot for this series since I started the List, but that's just because of all the good stuff I got this month. Plus, Wood's work here inspired me to check out a couple of his other works in TPB, which are noted further below. The battle for early, Medieval science, as against superstition and traditional bravado continues with predictably violent consequences. Good thing we have courts for this sort of thing instead.
5. Spaghetti Brothers vol 1 - Courtesy of the Martin Private Library comes the Spaghetti Brothers. This is the story of the Centobucchi family's five siblings, three boys and two girls, with one of the boys and one of the girls being twins. There was a lot about this that reminded me of Will Eisner. Some of it is that this volume is set in the '20s, I think in NYC. The art reminded me of Eisner, though, with a sort of realism to it that turned into exaggeration at certain moments. The tight focus on the family, told in a series of 8 page vignettes, reminds me of Eisner's short story work, as well as his longer form work. Written by Carlos Trillo and pencilled by Domingo Mandrafina, it was originally done in Spanish. That's one of two slight problems with it. The translation to English results in a formalized style of English at some times and some questionable slang at others. I doubt Italians in the 1920s were referring to one another as bro, even if they were actual brothers. The other slight problem is that the five siblings are such archetypes. The eldest son is a gangster. The youngest son is a cop. The boy who's a twin is a priest, his twin sister a married mother of two. The remaining sister is an actress in silent films. All of them have some secret or other. An enjoyable read within its mileu.
6. The Walking Dead 70 - The hint of what's to come, or rather the secrets to be revealed, is tantalizing. An apparent refuge always has something to hide in this zombie infested world, as our heroes know all too well. Davidson, Davidson, Davidson! Nah, nah! Heh.
7. The Question 37 - Ah, fond memories indeed. O'Neil's The Question 1-36 is, as noted previously, one of my favorite series runs ever. Not only did this Blackest Night tie in live up to that series, it moved it forward seemlessly into the Blackest Night. Of course, having O'Neil, along with Rucka, writing probably helps. Despite the galactic class threat of a dead Vic Sage up against the distinctly non super powered Rene Montoya and Lady Shiva, the fight amongst them was believably well matched.
8. Scalped 35 - As Jim mentioned, this is a wonderful stand alone story of an elderly Sioux couple living on the Rez. It's obviously set in the world of Dash Bad Horse and Red Crow, with the latter's casino making a cameo appearance, but these two have naught to do with that world of hyper violence, sex and drugs that surrounds Bad Horse and Red Crow. There's more of the poverty of the Rez and the hard scrabble lives of the everyday people living there. It's also a tale of survival with an amusing, unexpected fresh start for our protaganists.
9. Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension 1 - A new mini-series. Same old fun. Coincidentally, at the same Baltimore ComiCon that I got Powell's autograph, I got Clevinger's autograph on the first issue of the first mini-series, which hadn't even been published yet at that point. Can't wait to see what outsize fun this series brings.
10. Unknown Soldier 17 - I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by the ending of this one. The man's nearly a blues song - "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." Much as I like this series, it needs a good counter-balance like Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana set series of books, lest readers think there's nothing good going on in Africa.
11. DMZ: On the Ground TPB 1 - As I mentioned, Northlanders has me checking out other Brian Wood work. I'm liking this, so I'll be getting more of the trades. Nearly as chaotic as the world of the cheesy classic Escape from New York, Wood has a lot more depth to work with here than that. Sort of prescient, too, what with the Tea Baggers espousing secessionist sentiments these days.
12. The Rabbi's Cat - I thought of putting this trade higher on the list. I really enjoyed it, but the art was a little too cartoon at times for my taste. And that cat is downright disturbing to look at, though from the picture of the cat it was modeled after, it appears to be a fairly loyal depiction. Took me a good long while to figure out this thing was set in Algiers in its opening chapter, too. I thought it might be Beirut at first. Maybe it would have been more obvious if I was French.
13. Invincible 70 - Pure Kirman goodness, of course. Reaching all the way back to the first stories told in this series, the Sequids have been hanging around on the periphery as a pending threat for all these years. Unlike the big two static sort of superhero work, this thing just keeps moving forward. Mark's crossed a line you'd never see a hero cross in the standard hero fare and still be considered a hero. And we haven't even gotten to the Viltrumite invasion yet.
14. Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love 4 - A perfectly good example of how hard it can be to put the List together. I really like this book and 14 seems kind of low for it, but I don't want to push anything else down further, either. I'm loving the law of unintended consequences that's the center of this story.
15. The Astounding Wolf-Man 21 - Really too bad that this series is ending in 4 more issues, but I can also see how Kirkman's bringing it to a logical conclusion. This is the first of the final 5 parts and the final battle (because it's Kirkman, it'll actually be final) between Gary and Zechariah is shaping up to be excellent. Can't wait to see how the Elder and the other werewolves fit into the picture.
16. Scalped 34 - This was the final issue of the last arc before the aforementioned issue 35, which didn't come out in January like it should have. A fittingly brutal end to Red Crow's battle with the Hmong and Bad Horse's vendetta against Diesel. Good thing the series drew back from this the next issue. A mental break was definitely in order.
17. Invincible presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode 3 - And the trilogy comes to an end. Back story fan that I am, I like this, but Rex is (or rather, was, being dead and all) still a tool, no matter that he went out a hero later. And, given her character, I can't figure what Eve saw in him or why she'd be surprised when he philandered.
18. The Great Ten 4 - Why is it only totalitarian societies are shown as having defenders willing to take on assignments that are going to kill them, in the name of glory for the home land? Or rather, why is that a bad thing when it's totalitarian societies but a good thing when it's done to defend your buddies while you fight in the great cause of liberty? They both think they're doing the right thing for the benefit of others who will out live them. Ah, but that can get us into the craziness that is Americans defending the loop who flew his plane into the IRS building while condemning the 9/11 attackers.
19. Secret Six 18 - More Blackest Night tie in, still following the story line started in the Blackest Night issue of Suicide Squad. The mere fact that Deadshot put one in Waller is worth the price. One complaint about Blackest Night, though. Why do the costumes the dead wore lose their color? I can't tell who half these dead guys are with all of them sporting the same death mask face and black costumes. Bloody irritating.
20. The Unwritten 9 & 10 - I had read issue 10 prior to reading 9 because I missed 9 somehow last month. Fortunately, Cards, Comics and Collectibles was able to get it for me without much delay. As a result, though, I knew some of what would happen in 9 before I read it. Great story, all the same. And 10 has Nazis and the furtherance of the concept of stories coming to life. I'm starting to think this may turn out to be as good a series as Lucifer was.
21. Superman Secret Origins 4 - See what I said above about being a sucker for origin stories. Doesn't matter if they're continuity, as long as they're well done. Gary Frank's art is a bonus. Creepiest depection of the Parasite I've ever seen. Most sympathetic, too.
22. Action Comics 886 - The Captain Atom back up is entirely wasted on me. I don't know the character and I'm not picking up any interest in him. Still loving the Nightwing and Flamebird feature, though. Throwing in the myth story that undrelies the characters is an added plus.
23. Gotham City Sirens 9 - Never get tired of Dini Bat-verse stories. That there's no Batman, Batwoman, Robin, Red Robin or any of the plethora of other Batman heroes only makes these quasi-villain stories all the more interesting.
24. Incorruptible 3 - Don't know if he'll make it as a good guy, but Max Damage's attempt to be a better guy is more interesting than the descent of the Plutonian into crazy town. Love the literalism of Origin in this, too. And we got an exact age on Jail Bait, too. At 16 she's legal in some jurisdictions, so maybe she needs a new name?
25. Irredeemable 11 - This is one where we should have seen the people having sex naked, without the coy business. It's not a kid's comic. Hell, last issue we had a guy's wings ripped off his back, and the former hero has killed millions. Some tits and ass, maybe even a penis, aren't going to send it off the charts, here. Aside from that long standing complaint, I continue to enjoy the book without being able to comprehend how it can keep going without an end point in mind. Maybe there is one and Waid's just not sharing what it is yet.
26. Batman and Robin 9 - Much better than the previous issue, which was just confusing too often. Batwoman was much more the Batwoman I know from Detective, too.
27. Batman Streets of Gotham 9 - Likable but not memorable. This one may be cut soon.
28. Batman and Robin 8 - See 26 above. Way too Morrison, and not in a good way.
29. Demo TPB - Coincidentally, I see that another Demo series is coming out imminently. These Wood stories were likable but not so great that I'm going to buy into the new series. A little too teen angst for me, I guess.
30. Blackest Night 7, Green Lantern Corps 45, Green Lantern 51 - Lumped together as usual because they're all part of the same story. It's a lovely knock down, drag out affair, but I'm not as in the tank for it as Jim. In fact, it's sending me back to my general principal of skipping these sort of epic things in monthlies and only getting them in trades if they look and sound like something worthwhile.
31. Justice Society of America 36 - Super powered and blood thirsty Nazis. That never gets old, really. It'll be interesting to see how we get back from the Nazi future we seem to be in. Funny how the old bastards have hung around so much longer than their ideas. Ok, the ideas get gussied up with new names and less severe outcomes being advocated, but really, no one goes to that extreme in the Western world anymore.
32. Haunt 5 - Still like it. Just not sure if it's going where I want to follow. It's Kirkman, though, so it deserves at least a year to get rolling.
33. The Flash: Rebirth 6 - The time delays just killed this. I'll have to go re-read all 6 issues at once to have any recollection of what was going on. Hope it was worth my coin.
34. Justice Society of America Annual 2 - Magog. A drag on any story. At least Power Girl actually asked why he'd become such an ass. Not that he answered. The whole story could have ended in 2 pages if Magog wasn't unwilling to tell anyone what was going on. Too much of a Maguffin.
35. Outsiders 27 - Don't think this DiDio guy's working out. This one seems to be headed for the chopping block.
36. The Warlord 11 - Still heading back into ground already tread. Surely there's something new Grell can tell with these characters. There's certainly plenty of development to them from the original series.