Sunday, July 04, 2010

The List - June 2010

And now we're back to the last day of the month being Wednesday. I hate that. No time at all for this. Ah, well, at least I got a lot of good stuff this month. Something of a propensity for the small, contained story, which is often a good thing. This month also had a lot of books come out twice, and in one case three times, so some of them are being lumped together. Unfortunately, no Scalped at all this month.

1. The Walking Dead 73 - Between the DC area location and the change from nomadic, scratch existence to an established, apparently secure and benevolent community for our core group of survivors, this book has taken yet another intersting turn. This particular issue had good furtherance of Rick's preparation for the inevitable disaster, but more interesting to me was the focus on Abraham. His character has developed significantly in his relatively brief course in the book. Less so for the others who joined the group with him, but I'm sure Kirkman will get there eventually.

2. Atomic Robo and the Revenge of the Vampire Dimension 4 - Loved this issue. Pure Atomic Robo fun. It's the end of a long couple of days in 1999, which started with the attacking eponymous vampires. Now we have Thomas Edison, evil genius, or as one of the supporting cast has named him Undead Edison. The conversations in this book are really what it's all about, rather than plotting. And, despite being the fourth issue in a 4 issue series, this is essentially a stand alone story, as were each of the preceding three. In fact, I don't know how Clevenger and Wegener decided on the subtitle other than it being more catchy than calling the series Atomic Robo: A Bunch of One Shot Stories.

3. Fables 96 - Now the Snow White and Rose Red back story has gotten past interesting and into fascinating. While the prior two issues told an interesting story of their childhood, the latestest installment is showing how their early adulthood has really shaped their relationship and their relationships within the entire Fables community. Now it's not so bad that I don't know what's going on with the Dark Man. And, wow, does Snow ever have a hard early life. It's a wonder she's as well adusted as she is. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch the Disney version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in quite the same light.

4. & 5. Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard 1 & 2 - This is so unlike the usual publishing schedule for Mouse Guard. I'm accustomed to waiting many months between issues, not two in one month. Of course, that Petersen has a large group of guests writing and drawing probably helps. These are a sort of Canterbury Tales in the Mouse Guard realm, with a bunch of mice at a tavern each taking a turn telling a tale, with the winner having his tab wiped clean. It's a good set up for having different creators telling stories in different ways and of different sorts. It doesn't play into the larger Mouse Guard stories Petersen has told, at least in a direct sense, but fleshes out the Mouse Guard world's culture.

6. Secret Six 22 - Talk about a hard childhood. Catman could easily be a raving psychopath, and I suppose to some exent he is. At least he knows who and what he is, though. Simone's ability to make a villain heroic in the most emotionally painful of ways is impressive. But it's not just Catman's violent, pain wracked confrontation with his son's kidnappers that's central to this story. Simone has readers empathizing with a team of badly damaged mercenaries who kill often and easily.

7. & 8. Invincible 72 & 73 - The Viltrumite War. I could leave it at that, but Kirkman goes from massive, epic fight in the first of these issues to a more leisurely paced period of healing in the second. It's a good shift, allowing us all to catch our breath, in addition to being realistic (as realistic as superhero comics manage, anyway) in the time needed for Invincible the heal from his very severe wounds. Too bad we don't visit Earth during this time to see how Eve's pregnancy is progressing over these months, but I'm sure Kirkman has that story in the pipeline. Oliver has developed into a far more balanced and interesting character than I expected, and Nolan's discussion with Oliver is patented Kirkman dialogue that doesn't worry about how much space it takes so long as it flows organically. Can't wait for the attack of Freddie Mercury.

9. daytripper 7 - Possibly the most violent of Bras's deaths, and maybe the most unexpected, too. His friend Jorge always seemed like an anchor for Bras in the previous stories. His descent into mental instability following the prior issue's near death experience is a surprising turn. It's necessary that this is a limited series, but it's leaving me wanting more. Definitely made me a fan of Moon and Ba. Fits in my single issue theme for the month, too, as each of these issues has been something of a stand alone story.

10. Madame Xanadu 24 - A new arc in 1963, or at least starting there. Harlem as seen through the eyes of an 18 year old black woman. The cusp of a lot of changes for women and blacks in the US, but still a lot of chains of the old ways. Nimue is hardly in this issue, serving to provide counsel to the young woman when the woman starts seeing people as they'll be when they die, sometime in the near future, rather than as they actually are at that moment. The girl is the narrator of the story but is narrating it from our present. Although it's the first of a new arc, the way it's told makes it feel like a stand alone issue, too. One thing I'll mention that I particularly liked was artist Marley Zarcone's depiction of the young girl. She has freckles. Now, not many artists show black people with freckles but it's not an uncommon thing. My wife has freckles that are similarly around the eyes. Love the attention to detail.

11. American Vampire 4 - Snyder's tale of young vampire Pearl continues to captivate. She's coming into some awareness of her abilities and limitations. She also has interesting relationships with Henry and Hattie, one of whom has betrayed her and the other has shown real devotion. King's back story of Skinner Sweet is less enchanting, but then, I don't necessarily want the same kind of story in both parts of the book. It remains an excellent vampire Western, which is a fairly specific genre.

12. The Unrwritten 14 - Lots of focus on Lizzie this go 'round. And the conspiracy operators are quite omnipresent, or nearly so. Webs everywhere. I'm waiting for Wilson Taylor to show up, though. Seems like the story can't really progress unless he does.

13. Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father 1 - Ah, now this is sweet relief. I had thought Dynamo 5 might have gone the way of Noble Causes, which shows no signs of life. This is a 5 issue arc (appropriate, I suppose), but I'll take what I can get. Unlike Jim, I find the change of powers amongst the heroes to be both interesting and engaging. The characters were getting comfortable in their roles with the powers alloted as they had been. This change makes them have to think and act in new directions. For instance, Spencer, who's half alien, can no longer shape shift to look human, thus isolating him from a lot of human contact. That's got several issues of good story in it all by itself.

14. Incorruptible 7 - I've said it before, but this is a much more interesting book than Irredeemable. Not that the latter is a bad book. I just like the smaller scale on this one. There's more of the relationship between Max Damage and Jailbait that's of interest than the more grandiose tale in Irredeemable. This time we not only have Jailbait realizing she has to leave Max because of the danger to her and the concommitant danger to Max that her jeopardy creates, but also an opponent with some smarts attacking Max when he's vulnerable. The development of how Max's weakness works is well thought out.

15. Unknown Soldier 21 - Only the barest appearance of Moses, our hero. This is a stand alone issue told from the perspective an AK-47. Yes, our narrator is an inanimate object. It's a bit awkward and jumps around because of that. It's a little strange to have an unconscious object feeling remorse. This is no intelligent design like Atomic Robo.

16. Zatanna 2 - I thought our dream demon had Zatanna cold, but Dini had a nice save for her in store. It's a strong month for stories when Dini's first appearance is all the way down here at 16.

17. The Great Ten 8 - It's nice to see aliens crash landing somewhere other than the US. That's run as a central element throughout this book, and nothing's more central than the mixing of alien tech with ancient Chinese tech to create Shaolin Robot. I would think the Politburo would be more than a little concerned about the reliability of this robot, though. All in all, it's been a fun series. Looking forward to the concluding issue.

18.-20. Justice League: Generation Lost 2-4 - This seems to be running under the radar a lot, as I've not seen anyone else comment on it. Not that I'm spending a lot of time looking. Still, I mostly picked it up for nostalgia to Giffen's JLI days and have been pleasantly surprised by the book. I had missed out on all that came before with Max Lord turning into a villain, but it's easy to pick up on here. The conspiracy he's working is in keeping with his abilities. I want to see how this plays out, so I'd say it's successfully hooked me.

21. Detective Comics 866 - Loved the changing art style to suit the mileus of the aspects of the story. The art for the flashback to Dick's first outing as Robin reminds me of the animated Batman shows, which were great. The story itself is a stand alone and a tragedy, too. You have to think that in the real world someone would have killed the Joker a long time ago, be it a court ordered execution, a vigilante, or some other na'er do well.

22. Batman: Streets of Gotham 13 - I like the Carpenter character, but the plot of the Director to off Batman and the builder of the trap was a little too pat. It's not a bad story, but it left my memory almost as soon as I was done reading it.

23. & 24. Justice Society of America 39 & 40 - The end of the Nazi future. No surprise in that, as we can't just have Nazis running the world as the status quo. Kind of funny that the Nazis get brought back like this. National Socialism hasn't had an appeal in a long time. Racism is certainly plenty prevalent, not to mention nuts with guns, but full on Nazis? Not so much. Anyway, Obsidian is revived as more than a wall ornament, which is nice. He and Mr Terrific seem to be the only ones who recall the Nazi future. I can understand that with Obsidian, being a semi-aware source of energy for the machine the Nazis used to control the super powered, but Mr Terrific was only supposed to be able to send a few seconds worth of message from the Nazi future to his present self, so why should he recall so much more than Obsidian? A bit of a weakness in the story, and the more or less summary style of story telling in issue 40 is also a detraction.

25. Zorro 5 - The first of this month's 6 free comics from Cards, Comics & Collecitibles of Reisterstown, Md. Typically good Wagner stuff, and probably could have been higher on The List. Lots of good background on Zorro's training and development as a person.

26. Jonah Hex 31 - Freebie numero dos. Good stand alone Hex story. Reminds me of the ones I'd read as a kid, though more violent. None of that weird mysticism of him talking to the dead that's in the movie, either. From all I've read of the movie, I'll not be seeing it any time soon.

27. Northlanders 29 - By all rights this story should be a lot higher on the list. First off, it's Northlanders, a series I love. Second, it's a one shot. But it just doesn't engage me. A small Viking trading boat takes a sudden right turn into the Atlantic because its captain is bored and disatisfied with his life. Mutiny, insanity and general mayhem ensue, with the ship ending up in Greenland and everyone dead. I'm not sure what Wood was going for here, but whatever it was, I missed it.

28. The Warlord 15 - Because Skartaris wasn't packed wall to wall with disparate elements, we've added aliens. Invading aliens, of course. And a little sister for Tinder/Warlord. Grell's using the curious passage of time in Skartaris to full advantage, though.

29. Birds of Prey 2 - It's not that I don't like this. It's just that I didn't recall a lot of what happened by the time I was putting the list together. It has good potential and Simone has done well with this concept previously. I think it'll climb up The List in future issues.

30. Irredeemable 14 - I feel like I'm being strung along on this story. There's a lot of soap opera elements of secret affairs discovered, Faustian bargains, and general focus away from figuring out how to kill the Plutonian and actually doing something in that direction. I don't even remember why we're looking for these things when Survivor nearly killed him all by himself when they last fought.

31. Gotham City Sirens 13 - Crazy sister, former nun, fighting machine. Seems all too familiar, like something out of the '80s. Again, not a bad story, but nothing to stick with me.

32. iZombie 2 - I was thinking this was going to jump right into Gwen searching out the killer of the guy whose brain she ate, but we went off in a bunch of other directions and only a little bit of creeping out the dead guy's family. More vampires in this issue, actually. The book has to watch out that it doesn't become just another vampire and zombie cliche. It has a good start with an intelligent zombie and shouldn't squandor that.

33. City of Dust 1 - Another freebie. I like this. Really good art, distopian future. As an atheist I question the premise of that future that all imagination has to be stamped out to do away with religion and the dangers religion presents. Atheism, unorganized as it is, doesn't advocate stamping out religion, let alone imagination, and there's no logic to the conclusion that imagination has to be wiped out to protect people from religion. And the art does the whole coy business of not showing nudity in a situation where it would be obvious. A guy haning around talking with a hooker, post coitus, is not going to have himself or the hooker strategically covered by sheets. With graphic violence throughout the book, graphic sex and nudity ought to be just as prevalent, if it fits in with the story.

34. Red Tornado 3 - The only thing that keeps this freebie from being the worst of the month is seen below, but man, this is bad. I don't remember comics from 1985 being this bad, but then, I didn't buy this one back then. It is at least in keeping with the pouty nature of this weak character, but that's no plus.

35. X-Force 123 - A product of something that went through Marvel Comics in the February 2002 issues, this is a 'Nuff Said issue. No dialogue at all and Milligan oddities abounding. There's explanation at the end, but this is just aimless to me.

Stay tuned for an Independence Day post later today.

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