Another first Sunday means it's list time. And with the vagaries of publishing schedules, some of the titles were 2-fers this month. In two instances, that was a very good thing. In the third, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't something I felt was an extra plus. Of course, all of them are due to no publication in September, so it's a net zero, but I'll hold onto my little bit of joy, thank you very much. Invincible is a no-show this month, unfortunately.
1. & 2. Scalped 41 & 42 - See, right away we get into a title that had two issues in October. Scalped has consistently been in the top ten on The List from the get go and has never disappointed. It hasn't always been at the top, but that's no fault of Aaron and Guera. Sometimes something else just excels in a given month. This time it's two excellent issues of Scalped. Dash is in the hospital at the start of 41, with his father, Wade, trying to get together to work with Dash to find out who killed Gina, Wade's ex and Dash's mom. After Dash is released, he does agree to meet with Wade the next day, but goes looking for Carol, Red Crow's daughter and something resembling a girlfriend to Dash. Both Dash and Carol are now sober and clean. Issue 42 focuses on their finally finding one another, as Carol was look for Dash, too. She wants tell him she's pregnant, but doesn't. He wants to tell her to leave the rez with him, but doesn't. He ends up going to meet Wade, but Wade never shows because Nitz (FBI agent) arrests Wade to keep him away from Dash. It's at this point that Wade realizes Dash is working undercover for the FBI, just like Wade did when he was younger. Lots of really excellent character interaction in these two episodes. Carol makes a decision on whether to abort the pregnancy and ends up staying on the rez to learn the old ways of the tribe from Granny Poor Bear. It's all very low key, without violence or chases or anything else more active than people searching for one another. Aaron and Guera do justice to characters who are really not very good people a lot of the time, but who keep trying to overcome their shortcomings, though they sometimes wallow in those shortcomings. A prime example of comics as literature, much like the now ended daytripper.
3. Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father 5 - The finale to this miniseries resulted in an execution by Smasher, the youngest member of the group of half siblings. Much the way Mignola does with Hellboy and BPRD, Faerber seems to have decided to take his creation into the format of ongoing miniseries rather than one long, ongoing series. Whatever works. This certainly does. Like Invincible's qualms about killing, Smasher's killilng of their adversaries is now a central element of the group that will be a focus for quite some time. We haven't even stepped into how any of the non-Captain Dynamo parents of the group members feel about Smasher's actions, particularly his mother. Does Spencer's statement to the rest of the group that Smasher was feigning contrition hold true, or was he saying it because Smasher relegated the dead opponents to "just aliens" and not human? Hmm....
4. The Green Hornet: Year One 6 - There's no ground being broken here, but I just love how Wagner and Campbell are telling the story. The Green Hornet's and Kato's attacks on the mob, and the idea that both the mob and the media think it's another mobster trying to take over, are a good set up, but the back story of how Kato trains Britt Reid to be The Green Hornet is more interesting at the moment. Of course, that back story is getting closer to the "present" of 1938, so that we're only 7 months back this time. The fight between Green Hornet and one of the mobsters on top of a moving L train provides exemplary proof of Campbell's skills as an artist. It goes on for nearly 5 pages and has little to no dialog. This is a superhero book that doesn't involve any super. It's Batman without the rogues gallery or cast of super powered friends. It's not noir. It's two heroes tales.
5. Secret Six 26 - So, we're in Skartaris. That means lots of scantily clad people gitting chopped to bits by the various Secret Six, who are a sort of Secret Twelve right now, though on opposite sides of the conflict. "It's even prettier as precipitation. I never knew falling entrails could be so lovely." Yeah, how can you not like a book with a character who utters that in all earnestness. Now if I can just figure out the relationship between Bane and Scandal...
6. Unknown Soldier 24 - How Moses became the Unknown Soldier continues. The ties between him and the really unknown original from WWII are slim, but the revised back story of the original is both new and mostly consistent with the original. Something of a neat trick, that. Where we go forward with Moses is an open question, but I'm looking forward to getting back to the goings on in Uganda and its neighbors during these times of war.
7. Fables 99 - It's almost showdown time. Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy. Can't wait. We had a guest artist in Inaki Miranda for this one. It's a very good style. Nonetheless, I hope our usual team is back together for the big 100. This issue featured the spying on Mr Dark, who's one spooky somebody, that's for sure. The North Wind played his part, at the behest of Totenkinder, to set up matters for the big fight. I'm still not entirely used to the hot version of Totenkinder but she is easy on the eyes. As part of their bargain, Totenkinder tells North Wind of his 7th grandchild, who's a pure zephyr, which is apparently a very bad thing. Not really clear on why that is, but North Wind sure doesn't like it.
8. The Unwritten 18 - While Scalped is comics as literature, The Unwritten is the literal version of comics as literature. Literature actually comes alive in the tale told here. I do enjoy the banality of the cabal that runs things and is trying to eliminate Tommy Taylor. Aside from their one hit man, Pullman, they're just a bunch of suits. This issue is more about the machanitions within the cabal than its pursuit of Taylor. Unfortunately for Mr Callendar, though, his number came up.
9. The Walking Dead 78 - Leave it to Kirkman to set up an attack on a tranquil community that echoes a previous attack on a tranquil community, only to change it up entirely. Unlike the Governor's attack on the prison that resulted in both his death and the deaths of most of the rest of the cast at that point, this attack by a roaming band of extrodinarily utilitarian survivors results only in the deaths of the attackers. Rick learned the lesson of the last attack, a lesson Douglas, the community's leader, never learned. Now Douglas wants to cede leadership to Rick. Given Rick's somewhat precarious mental state, Kirkman's got a lot of material to work with in this development. And we haven't even had much going on with some of our other favorites, like Michonne and Andrea.
10. & 11. Madame Xanadu 27 & 28 - I know others have not liked this arc of one off stories with various artists who aren't Amy Reeder, but I've really enjoyed them. They remain fine stories by Matt Wagner. Taken together they serve to show development of Madame Xanadu, even as she doesn't appear significantly in the tales. Issue 27 featured the story of Neon Blue. It's set in an aped Andy Warhol fashion/art universe. Neon Blue is a hot model (in the demand sense more than the visual sense) who's part of that world, though she's really not. What she really is is a centuries old succubus who's refrained from feeding for quite some time, but lets go a bit, drawing the attention of Madame Xanadu, who ends Blue's existence, much to Blue's relief. Issue 28 was more serving of a greater narrative, presenting the story of Carly, who tries LSD with her boyfriend and ends up with powers of clairvoyance that need teaching by Madame Xanadu to control. She ends up seeing the entire history of anything she tastes, so that eating even an orange is painful and she learns of her boyfriend's infidelity. Kind of like Chew, only broader and more problematic for her mental and physical health.
11. Batman & Robin 15 - Irving's art carries this for me a lot. I remember some elements of what's going on from issue to issue, but I really will have to re-read this arc when it finishes. It has lots of nice elements with Oberon/Joker, Professor Pyg, and a returned Thomas Wayne, but I can't keep it in my head what's gone on altogether.
12. American Vampire 7 - Part 2 of the new arc has a lot of Skinner Sweet (aka Smoke) in Las Vegas, providing prostitutes and gambling for the workers on the Hoover Dam, but there's some vampire hunting group in town and some vampires who aren't with Skinner behind the dam project, I think. Quite a few hidden players still. The nicest thing was to see Pearl again at the very end, though she seems to have some vampire hunters on her tail, too.
13. Northlanders 33 - So, now our pagan tracker/hunter who was killed by Erik the blacksmith and Ingrid the albino is some sort of undead warrior burning villages and hunting for Erik. A little turn into the mystical here that we don't usually see. Not sure where Wood is going this time.
14. & 15. Justice League: Generation Lost 11 & 12 - Doesn't count in the two issues in a month club because it's always two issues in a month. The Metal Men, who aren't in control of themsleves, put a whupping on Ice, Fire and Rocket Red. They're under the control of Max Lord, of course. Unfortunately for them, as well as Fire and Rocket Red, their severe beating of Ice brings up repressed memories for her that lead to exponetionally greater ability to freeze things but also less control over what she's doing. I haven't decided how much I like this repressed memory origin story. I didn't know Ice's original origin story, or if I did I forgot it, so it's not a matter of revisionism for me. It's more a problem of having seen this sort of grifter clan story before.
16. Guaring the Globe 2 - Octoboss is powerful and not too bright. Makes for a nice punching bag with some comedic relief. With the weakness of Aquarius as a ruler, it's almost an over kill on the comic relief, though. I'm still learning all the Guardians of the Globe and what they're about, so it's a good punch up but not much more, yet.
17. & 18. Zatanna 3 & 6 - This is not a case of two issues in one month. It's a case of me finally tracking down an issue I missed. Coincidentally, both stories are the finals of arcs. The first is Zatanna beating Brother Night after he mounts an attack on her at one of her shows. He's just some guy who killed 40 kids and sold his soul to a demon for power, but he's got a fine collection of minions to sick on Zatanna, not to mention having gotten ahold of the soul of her father, Zatara. The second is the finale of her being enthralled by Benjamin Raymond, who's turned a series of brides into corpses that he's sold to Mammon in exchange for longer life. She's supposed to become his latest bride, but her cousin, Zach, comes to the rescue. Mammon is pleased by a clever deal Zatanna works out. Although Zatanna seems like she could easily overwhelm a lot of opponents, I like that the resolution of her stories usually involves some cleverness instead of brute force.
19. iZombie 6 - Still not sure about this one. The wereterrier story was amusing, and now we have a talking chimp, which surely should entice Jim into being a lifelong fan, but I'm still not sure where we're going and whether it's worth my while to stay along for the ride.
20. & 21. Incorruptible 10 & 11 - Still liking Max Damage and his newfound heroics, but I question whether it's worth $4 an issue to keep following. This was the one title that came out twice this month that didn't make me feel like I'd found a $20 in my pocket. Alanna Patel and the Jailbait/Headcase sidekicks are far more interesting than Max, as often as not, but I want it to reach a climax sometime soon. Perhaps next issue, now that Max is being portrayed as the leader of the racist worshippers of the Plutonian that he'd actually been fighting, and there's a nuclear powered weapon poised to take out Max's hometown.
22. Irredeemable 18 - Now we're getting a little more interesting. Not the Plutonian. He's still just a psychopath. The Hornet, the Batman-esque character who was killed in the first issue, turns out to have made a deal with aliens. That deal gave them information on other worlds to invade instead of Earth and provided a signalling device that would alert them to Plutonian going rogue and the Earth then being open for them to invade. Evidently that signal was sent before Hornet was killed. Now the aliens are here.
23. Haunt 10 - It's not that this is bad. I just can't seem to get vested in the characters. I never had much affinity for Daniel or his brother from the beginning. Too many of the female back ups look too much alike. Hurg is an intersting villain, though. I'll see how next issue goes. I want to like it. I really do.
24. Bone 24 - A freebie this month. Never read a single issue before but rather enjoyed it. Even though I had no history with it, I followed the story and enjoyed the little tale it told. Could be something to get in trade at some point, if it's available. This book is from 1996.
25. The Real Ghostbusters 19 - Another freebie. 1990. The less said about this, the better.