No acedia in this month’s List. Lots of good stuff to read, so here we go.
1. Cinderella: Fables are Forever 1 – Ah, the Bondian overtures, except that the Bond girl is Bond. This story takes place as the Fables are evacuating the Farm before Mr Dark can arrive to kill everyone. Problem is, someone else has already killed a Fable. The murder has a tie to Cinderella and a past mission in the Soviet Union in 1983 in which Dorothy Gale’s true colors were revealed and an undying enmity created. Looks like we’ll have some Russian Fables in this story, though I guess no Baba Yaga, what with Bufkin having killed her already. Regardless, I’m eagerly anticipating more from Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus, given how well their last effort went.
2. Northlanders 37 – Another new arc in this series. This one should be a bit longer than the last two issue arc, if the pattern Wood and Gane have used to date holds. Of course, I could be wrong, but it seems to me there’s a lot of story to be told in a siege of Paris in 885 A.D. We have Viking mercenaries at the center of this tale, and a battle that is reminiscent of WWI trench warfare. No one’s abstemious in these environs. Plus, a crazy line to rival Rag Doll in Secret Six: “A city under siege is a beautiful thing.”
3. Fables 102 – Still strange to see numbering over three digits. Hard to believe it’s been going on this long. A marathon session of re-reading is calling, but it’ll be awhile. Back to the issue at hand. Pinocchio is organizing a boost in magic power to the fight against the Dark Man. Being a terminal fan boy, he’s convinced that dressing the Fables in super hero costumes will increase their faith in what they’re doing and increase their power, however little bit. They need all the help they can get, after all. Ozma’s the real leader of the fight, of course, and Bigby’s back in the fray. We also get North Wind plotting to locate his grandson zephyr to destroy what he sees as an abomination. Mrs Spratt, now operating for the Dark Man, is throwing her weight around, too. The greatness continues.
4. Scalped 46 – Part two of five in the “You Gotta Sin to Get Saved” story showcases Officer Falls Down, which is a nice fleshing out of a previously minor character. Officer Falls Down appears to be a much more believing man than the rest of our cast, who are downtrodden, cynical, and almost entirely self absorbed. Of course, Catcher is deeply faithful, too, but he’s crazy as sh-t, as Red Crow says. All that movement in the plot was really excellent, but my favorite moment was Lawrence in prison, after he’s told Red Crow he doesn’t want anyone protecting him at Red Crow’s behest. He’s expecting to be attacked at any time but nothing happens, at least the first day. Sitting alone in his cell as lights out approaches, he has to decide which is worse, people wanting to kill him or no one caring enough to want to kill him. Great moment. Another fine piece of Jason Aaron writing, and the usual fine R.M. Guera art.
5. The Walking Dead 81 – Ok, Rick still surprises me. I didn’t think he’d let Jessie stay in his bed, let alone lay the wood. At least it looks like this encounter is helping him get past Lori’s death, but Jessie? It’s like sleeping with Carol, who we’ll all recall fed herself to a zombie on purpose. The larger story of a breach in the wall of the compound is really taking off, too. Looked like Andrea was stuck in the tower previously, but now it looks like she’s got the safest spot around. Time for the zombies to take their toll on the survivors, looks like. Kirkman’s got this thing rolling.
6. Invincible 77 – More Kirkman goodness. Ottley, Rathburn and Plascencia, too. I loved the battle that wasn’t. One of those signs of Kirkman at work, dodging the trite fight in favor of a more interesting resolution. Now Earth is going to be much more populated with Viltrumites, “living among us”, as the Know Nothings might say of whatever enemy they’re scared of at the moment. I love the shots of various Viltrumites trying to fit into human society, especially the woman on a park bench looking angrily at leering young males. With her mission being to repopulate the Viltrumite race through mating with humans, I’d have thought she’d be a lot happier about the attention. More importantly, how is Queen going to explain the return of Freddie Mercury? Sure, he’s a lot more muscular, but he’s still dressing just as flamboyantly. I think the regent’s going to have to work on his blending skills. A shave might help.
7. The Unrwritten 22 – Sill rocking the two page alternating stories. Still working well, too. Part 4 of Leviathan is getting Tom out of Moby Dick and into Sinbad, where we’re literally meeting a Leviathan. That leads to Scheherazade and 1001 Nights, an interlude with Wilson, and Tom meeting Baron Munchausen. We’re really skimming along the tales now. Any moment we might end up in Fables, which would be quite interesting. Somehow I don’t think that’s where Carey and Gross are going, fun as that might be.
8. Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science 3 – Speaking of fun, Clevinger, Wegener, Pattison and Powell have the best robot ever created continuing on what are essentially teenage hijinks as he continues to “help” Jack Tarot fight crime in Chicago and NYC. Plus, we get Robo fighting a much larger robot. His squabbling with his “father” and the romance with Jack’s daughter, much to Jack’s dismay, are just like a teenager. And I’m certain crystal skulls will be put to much better use than they were in the last Indiana Jones movie, too.
9. Secret Six 30 – The only super powers title from the Big Two to make The List higher echelons, and quite soon may be the only Big Two title on The List at all. Simone’s writing is great, as always, and I love Calafiore’s art. This is probably the prettiest book on the list. Funny, for such ugly people inside. In a new turn, the Six are hired by a slacker who’s inherited his weaponry from his villainous grandfather, who rocked a Rat Pack vibe in his day. The slacker recruits his loser friends to try to revive that vibe, including taking over a small tropical island, with the Six as their private army. Unfortunately, the Doom Patrol is hunting for its AWOL member, Robotman, on the same island. In very good news, Killer Shark is still part of the team. Oh, and Bane tries to go out on a date with a stripper friend of Scandal’s girlfriend. Hilarious violence ensues.
10. Millennium Edition: Police Comics 1 – Here’s a rarity, and probably a first - a free comic that made the top ten. I actually picked up the pack for the DnA comic mentioned below, but this was a surprising bonus. Reprinting these stories from their 1941 first appearance, the high point is clearly the beginning of Plastic Man. This was not a DC title, but rather Quality Comics. Aside from the great cover by Gill Fox, celebrating the little heard from Firebrand, Phantom Lady also became a mainstay of the early comics. It’s a lot of fun to read these early books in small doses like this. The writing isn’t up to modern standards, but the art is often as good or better. There’s a certain sameness to Firebrand and the Mouthpiece that leave it no wonder they didn’t last long, but Plastic Man was something else.
11. American Vampire 12 – Skinner Sweet’s our star here, Jim’s summary notwithstanding. It’s 1919 and Skinner is at a Wild West show in Platte River, ID, watching a re-enactment of his “death”. Doesn’t have anything to do with how he actually died and became a vampire, of course, but a former girlfriend is part of the show, as well as several other has beens. She was supposed to go down with him in a glorious shootout, a la Peckinpah, but it went wrong, and instead she’s a faded beauty. A bit of mercy, in a Skinner sort of way, in this tale.
12. DMZ: The Hidden War (TPB 5) and DMZ: Blood in the Game (TPB 6) – I’ve gone into the former book in more depth already, so I won’t say anything more about it. I’m going to post more on Blood in the Game later, too, so I’ll keep my comment to this: When did Zee hook up with Matty? Last I remember he was with the Canadian reporter who was killed in The Hidden War.
13. Incorruptible 15 – Waid’s better work for Boom is still working for me. Headcase isn’t Headcase any longer? Patel’s loyalties are questionable? Who does Max rely upon? Will it be the Paradigm, who want his help, if they don’t try to kill him first?
Proof: Endangered 3 – Grecian, Rossmo and Zigarelli make a good team. I like where this is going, as Mi-chen-po is a great character. Sort of a cryptoid liberating fighter, with the attendant racism toward humans. And Proof fights Jell-o. Kinda funny, really.
14. iZombie 10 – Roberson and Allred’s series continues to grow on me. Gwen is a very different character from Roberson’s Cinderella, but they’re both very interesting women. Not your usual, either, what with one being a fable immortal of sorts and the other being dead and losing her mind. Ellie’s starting to be a more interesting character, too. Not just the groovy chick hanging around the edges of other people’s lives. Amon looks a little odd, showing up in a track suit that makes him look like a Ken doll from the ‘80s.
15. Haunt 13 – Something’s got Kurt, a neat trick considering that he’s dead. Still having the problem of all Capullo’s females having the same face, but the story is taking an interesting turn. Really short at 14 pages, though. Doesn’t allow much to happen, but I suppose that’s to be expected in an issue that’s pushing a $1.99 price.
16. Justice League: Generation Lost 19, 20 – See, this is what I mean about super heroes. No one believes Blue Beetle is really dead. Hell, I don’t even believe he could have had his helmet broken by the bullet. He’s been shot at lots of times previously and been protected by the armor. I like the interaction among the members of the team here, but I’m glad this series is nearing its end.
17. Birds of Prey 9 – I think this is a good example of the problems with super heroes, too. Simone writes a great book with Secret Six, but I can’t get the same tension of impending permanency out of this book that I get with Six. Sure, the heroes are mostly second or third tier in the DCU, but I don’t think there’s the slightest chance any of them will be seriously hurt or killed. Just not gonna happen, and sure isn’t going to happen with Oracle.
18. Gotham City Sirens 19 – A late entry in the month of white cover backgrounds, hitting in February instead of January. The next issue is the last for me, whether it concludes the arc or not. Not feeling the love anymore.
19. Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes 340-342 – Now we’re into the free stuff en masse. I hear Jim and Gwen lamenting the days gone by for LOSH, and this series was running when I first got into DCU comics during Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Teen Titans heyday. Paul Levitz wrote these books and I did enjoy them. Part of it’s nostalgia, what with its references to Crisis and the death of Supergirl (see above for no one staying dead). Some of it’s the style of the stories told, with the unnecessary exposition to explain what’s going on. I say unnecessary, but I’m never lost for what’s going on in the story as I am with some books today. Good fun.
20. Majestic 12 – This was the Abnett and Lanning book I picked up. I’ve seen many a good thing about the duo, but this didn’t do anything for me. Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of things and don’t have expository dialogue to help me along. Truth be told, I don’t recall a single thing about what happened in this book.
21. Orion 8 – Walt Simonson has had a place of fondness in my pantheon of writers ever since his great Thor run, but I’ve never come across anything else that came even close to that. Still, what I did get out of this was some nice freaky New Gods storytelling. Probably could switch this with Majestic, come to think of it, but it’s also like Majestic in that I don’t remember anything about what happened.
22. The Spectre 17 – This was nothing but freaky. Why does space and dead people and the like have to be utterly ungrounded by reality in so many tales? It’s like the Warlock thing I read last month. This one was brought to us by J.M. DeMatteis and Norm Breyfogle. It was not the reason I picked up the free stuff packet. And to think, this was only written in 2002. Who knows how many revisions there have been to that character in just 9 years.
23. JLA Incarnations 3 – And now the worst of it all. John Ostrander wasn’t at his finest here. Vale Semeiks is not an artist I recall. This work isn’t doing either of them any favors. JLA in orbit may have some decent reasons behind it, but it kind of obscures the America part of the name. Not that that’s a major point to this book. Just something that occurred to me. The dialogue is hoky. The art is blocky. The plotting is stale. Avoid at all costs. Unless it’s free, I suppose. Hard to believe it was only 2001 when this came out. It seems entirely irrelevant already.