Sunday, September 04, 2011

The List - August 2011

I'm tryin' hard here, but damn, these short turn around months are killin' me. Good thing the List has gotten pared some. Guess it'll be pared a lot when Vertigo bites the dust.

1. Secret Six 36 - The dirges and lamentations should begin now. This issue marks the end of quite possibly the finest series to feature super powered people. It had humor. It had pathos. It had excellent writing, plotting and art. That's hard to come by with corporate owned properties. In typical fashion, this issue ends the group with a cluster of screw ups. Nothing goes as planned, except Bane's plan to sever himself from every other human so he can return to being the inhuman, punishing machine he was created to be. And it only took most of the big list heroes of the DCU to finishi off the Venom pumped entire team. There was only one happy ending to the series. Scandal proposed to both Knockout and Lian. Why settle for one hot readhead when you can have two? Best line of the issue came from Bane, not Rag Doll or King Shark. Speaking to his almost girlfriend with whom he's just had sex for the first time, and essentially telling her good-bye, Bane says "Thank you for the use of your nethers." Ah, romance.

2. Scalped 51 - Red Crow turning on his own criminal organization is messy. No suprise there. Not only do the lower level minions object to being arrested for previously shielded crimes, Shunka isn't too happy about it either. Our friendly red neck Sheriff across the border actually plays the hero in taking out some neo-Nazi meth suppliers, and Dash starts his quest to avenge his mother, with Falls Down in tow. Not that Dash is speaking, what with his jaw wired shut. Only 8 more issues to go in this one. More lamentations.

3. The Unwritten 28 - This may be one of the hardest to see go with Vertigo's end. While Scalped and Northlanders can finish up reasonably well in the time remaining, this one seems to have a lot more story to go. This issue gets high marks just for the cover alone. Carey and Gross have such a high regard for the power of story, and this one is a love letter to it. It's got reference to anthropology, history, politics, ethnicity, sexism, romance, artistic skill, and much, much more. There's a lot to wrap your head around every issue. In a way, I'm looking forward to the end so I can sit down and re-read the entire tale in its entirety. I just hope it can finish the way Carey and Gross want it to finish and not on an artificial deadline. So, specific to this issue we have Wilson Taylor's relationship with the creator of The Tinker, most likely the parentage for Tom Taylor.

4. American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest 3 - Hot damn. More Nazi Vampires. I love the explanation of the alliance between the vampires and the Nazis. Evolutionary Actualization. Ha! Great use of how people have really misconstrued evolution in real life. Eugenics is a better word for what the Nazis and the vampires hope to accomplish. Now, waking up the oldest vampires doesn't seem like a great strategy to fight the Nazis and their allies, but we'll see where Snyder's going in the next two issues.

5. Fables 108 - Funny how things coincide. Cinderella's latest tale, which ended last month, featured Oz stories, including the glass cat with the visible brains and the Deadly Desert. Lo and behold, both appear here, too. Of course, Bufkin is our hero rather than Cinderella. No panache for him. All grit and hard fought bluffing, with some humor on the side. The story also gets into the need to select an heir for the North Wind to take over his role. I'd say the most obvious choice is the invisible one of Snow and Bigby's cubs, but we may get a twist. A good lesson from this issue? Don't piss off the help. They'll shut you out of the inheritance if they can. Oh, and Mrs Spratt is still pissed at the other Fables.

6. American Vampire 18 - Another book that shouldn't end any time soon. I hope some of these Vertigo titles find other homes with publishers who understand their value. Anyway, on to this issue. Unlike Jim, I think Skinner is done after this fight with Pearl. It was a great fight, too, with a great kiss in the middle. The question now is, what kind of vampire will Calvin be? Will he be an evil bastard like Skinner or will he be conflicted, trying to be better, like Pearl? Because he's a good guy before being turned, I'm betting more like Pearl.

7. Invincible 82 - Oh, sure, you could say this cover is appealing to a bondage fetish, but really, does anyone into bondage want the person they've bound snarling and looking like death is imminent if only some restraints slip a little? I think not. So, sexy costume notwithstanding, this is a kick ass cover. Love the multiple reflections of Invincible on her helmet, too. On the inside we have Dupli-Kate, tool of body image guilt. I like Eve's response that Mark likes how she looks and Kate's dismay. Interesting to learn that Eve's weight gain was due to not using her powers and that the weight is declining as she uses them more again. A good explanation, I think. The bulk of the story is Invincible repairing relationships, particularly with Cecil. Of course, Cecil reveals what he's been doing with the corpses of Mark's evil dopplegangers from other worlds, so we'll see how long this rapprochement lasts.

8. Dark Horse Presents 3 - I wasn't sure how much I'd like this when it re-started, and at $8 an issue, it's pretty pricey, but it really has turned out to be a great buy. In this particular issue, there are 104 pages, 24 more than each of the first two issues, so it's really working out to be a steal. With stories by Dave Gibbons, Paul Chadwick, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams, I'd be all over it anyway, but the stories by lesser known creators are excellent, too. Besides, this issue has an interview with Steranko, which I haven't even finished yet. His new Red Tide story is more a text piece with illustrations than a comic, but great all the same. Chadwick's Concrete is yet another look at a contemporary issue through a different lense. I thought Chadwick was going a bit too touchy-feely about tasers, but then he ended with Concrete saying there's nothing wrong with cops shooting people who won't stand down. A little wild back in that west.

9. Green Hornet Year One 11 - Wagner isn't the least shy about the fact that Kato's really the capable one in this duo, even if he doesn't get his name on the title. Green Hornet would be ought but splatter without his faithful friend. In fact, he's tortured a good bit before getting in a solid kick of his own. Not that that was going to save him. Kato to the rescue does the trick. Pretty lucky to be tortured by a guy from out of town who doesn't recognize the Green Hornet without his mask, and then conveniently dies in the fight, with no one else from his mob employers being around the whole time. Aside from Wagner himself, I don't think anyone could do a better job with the art in this series than Campbell. And for the occasional titilation we have ads for Dejah Thoris.

10. The Walking Dead 88 - Nicholas is trouble. And trouble that tries to confront Rick usually means trouble ends up dead. Dead and headless, so as to not come back to be trouble again. Silly Nicholas. He really should know better, knowing how Rick and his group have survived outside the walls for so long. But who ends up dead first, Nicholas or Spencer? Spencer's stalking Andrea. Andrea, who can shoot the eye out of a zombie at 300 yards. Yeah, that's a good idea.

11. Northlanders 43 - Iceland 880 AD. Now our little sociopath is an adult, leading his own band of maruaders. The dad who created him is exiled for being weak. Dad's argument that his son will be old some day, too, is not going to carry much weight with a guy who's not likely to live to be old.

12. Incorruptible 21 - What's Max building? Who lopped off Tiger Moth's head? What's Armadale going to do with no cops? Why does Safeword think Hate Crime is a good new name to use? Deadly threat and humor. Good work by Waid.

13. iZombie 16 - This doesn't seem like it's going to reach a natural conclusion before the end of Vertigo, either. Unlike several of the others that I'd follow to another publisher, I'm not so sure with this one. I continue to like it while wishing it would advance its plot a bit more rapidly. At least the Dead Presidents are operating in the same story line now. Lots going on when they're around.

14. Suicide Girls 4 - A muddled conclusion, but pretty. Ok, pretty if you like girls with a lot of ink, one of the worst ideas for a scabbard ever, and sliced up cyborgs. A fun diversion for a few issues.

15. Haunt 17 - The penultimate issue of this series for me, as Kirkman is leaving the writing chores after the next issue. I don't have any great love for the character, and the art, by employing the standard sexy female curves for its supporting cast, has left me cold. I mean, just look at this panel. The woman's boobs are wider than her hips and her waist is as narrow as her head. Between that sort of thing and my losing track of how she has any kind of powers or what they are (other than being able to stand up with that form), this hasn't been Kirkman's finest effort. I hold out no hope that someone else taking the reins is going to be an improvement.

16. FF 8 - What a surprise. The villains Reed enlisted have turned on one another. Actually, the surprise is that they didn't turn on Reed. I had hoped starting at issue 1 would give a fresh start to this book where I wouldn't be saddled with trying to learn a lot of convoluted back story, but that hasn't proved to be the case. We're nearing an end to this, at least for me.

17. Deadshot 2 - And now it's free stuff time. I'm going to have to pick up the rest of this story. No surprise it's good, what with Ostrander and Yale writing it. It's the Suicide Squad era of the late '80s, so it's fun and disturbing, much like Deadshot's more recent iteration in Secret Six. The art's not great but it captures that feel from that era.

18. Infinity, Inc 10, 12 - Wow, talk about getting a lot of convoluted back story. Of course, it's 1984, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, so it's not the DCU we have now. Love the cover of issue 10, with the JSA members carving up a map of the US. Never happens inside, of course. Plus, the Ultra Humanite is supposed to be some sort of genius. What kind of genius makes his extremely powerful foes super aggressive so that they act without conscious or remorse? Won't that make them more likely to kill him? Of course, this is not the JSA's book. I found their kids who are Infinity, Inc kind of irritating. The squabbling is petty and doesn't seem based on genuine character confrontations. More like a set up for stereotypical issues between people.

19. The Fury of Firestorm 32 - Ah, 1985. Even at 18 I knew better than to buy this. As if the regular series wasn't weak enough, this issue had a guest writer and guest artist, RJM Lofficier and Lan Kupperberg, respectively. And, hey, turns our RJM is actuall two people, Jean-Marc and his wife, Randy.

20. The Outsiders 5 - More from the '80s as we have a Christmas issue from 1986. Man, this book was just terrible. Hard to believe, because I like Mike Barr's work on other things.

21. Millennium 7 - I read this junk when it came out the first time in 1987 (obviously having lost some brain cells between 1985 and 1987). This issue was sandwiched between the two Infinity issues, so I didn't know what I was getting. I'm not subjecting myself to reading it again.

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