Sunday, October 02, 2011

The List - September 2011

And here we are with another end of month rush to get the List up. This one's a bit inflated, too. I checked out several of the DCNu #1s, though nothing approaching Jim's catholic approach. Not surprisingly, most of them didn't make my top ten.

1. American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest 4 - This mini just keeps on rockin' to its bloody conclusion. Dr Pavel is front and center for this issue, starting with his narration of his story up to the point where we've met him in this series. Through his work he discovered the ancient, giant sized breed of vampires we now see in the cave below the castle. The vampire's we know better from this series and its progenitor have been destroying the ancient ones whenever they're found, so Dr Pavel has hidden these three in this cave and is now seeking to wake them to fight the vampires on their tails. There's a nice bit of realism when Felicia and Cash go down hard and fast when they're surrounded by vampires. A couple of good punches to the head, and they're down, as they should be. The big, ancient vampires are awake and active by the end of the issue. We'll see how that bodes for Felicia and Cash. I hope we learn why one of them looks like a werewolf, too.

2. Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X 1 - Good thing Atomic Robo's always on my pull list. I hadn't remembered this was starting another arc. We're in 2011 for this one, which starts with Robo and his team being called by NASA to rescue 5 astronauts whose ship is out of control and going to re-enter the atmosphere badly, burning up with re-entry. While getting things together to deal with that, Robo gets a call from England about an entire building disappearing. A special, secret building. Robo sends the nearest members of Tesladyne, who happen to be the two guys on guard duty in Norway as punishment for nearly destroying the world in a previous story. That's the Ghost of Station X part, but that's all we know so far. As always, Clevinger keeps the tone snappy and the science suitably smart but fictional. Robo's rescue ship blows up by the end of the issue, with no sighting of the ship he was supposed to rescue. Where do we go from here?

3. Scalped 52 - Part two of Knuckle Up finds Dash, with Falls Down along for the ride, burning Catcher's trailer. Red Crow continues to dismantle is criminal empire. Sheriff Krasnow informs Red Crow he's no longer turning a blind eye and will be arresting him when he has enough evidence. Agent Nitz is pursuing his own ongoing vendetta against Red Crow but his agent of vengance, Dash, is totally out of his control. Nitz thinks otherwise, but that's more hope than fact. Not looking too good for Dash or Red Crow by the end of this one. We're definitely reaching the conclusion of the entire story run, too. Excellent as ever.

4. Fables 109 - Inherit the Wind hits its second chapter. The title appears most obviously to reference who will replace the North Wind from his grandchildren, or perhaps someone else if the other three wind directions have their way, but I think it likely that the title encompasses Bufkin's adventure in Oz, too. I just haven't figured out how. Anyway, there are little tests being created for the cubs to see which one is best suited to be the next North Wind. Too bad the testers have no idea what they're doing and are making it up as they go along. We also check in on Mrs Spratt, who continues to train in martial arts despite the demise of her dark darling lord, and the Farm, which looks to be regaining its Fable inhabitants soon.

5. The Unwritten 29 - Pulp covers glory. Tom has a half brother who's about 40 years older than he is. The killing of any of Tom's acquaintances continues, too. Except one anticipates the attack and blows up the hit team. It's like a reversal of what Dennis Hopper's character did in Speed, with the bomber being the hero and the team being the bad guys. Most of the story is Wilson's effort to save Miriam from being killed by Pullman, which he does at the expense of Milton Jardine. "Justice never sleeps"?

6. Green Hornet: Year One 12 - And that's the end of that series. Green Hornet has succeeded in removing Caruso from control of the Chicago mob. It's a great conclusion, as to be expected with Wagner and Campbell. I particularly liked the use of the media in bringing down Caruso, rather than just beating him up.

7. Batwoman 1 - This one's a new 52 in the DCNu, except it's not. It's a continuation of the Batwoman stories told in Detective Comics by Rucka and Williams. Now it's Williams doing writing and art, with Blackman helping out on the writing. Naturally, it still looks fantastic. Williams has a great look for this book. Jim mentioned Kate being so pale, but she is a readhead, as am I. Many of us are noticably paler than the average Anglo, let alone anyone whose ancenstry is more southerly. Which is to say, the pale makes sense to me. One thing I can't figure out is if Renee Montoya is supposed to be dead now. Her picture's in a display at the police station, and it looks like the sort of thing put up for those who've died. Kate talks about her a bit like she's dead, too, but then turns on a dime to ask another detective when she's going to ask her out. Oh, and the main story is about missing and drowned kids. Cheery. Batman shows up at the end with a proposition for Kate and we have lots of good interpersonal stuff for Kate with her cousin Bette and her now estranged dad.

8. Northlanders 44 - The Icelandic Trilogy is up to part three with Slavery 886. Our sociopath appears to control much of Iceland now, so he's occupied with creating an heir with his Irish bride/slave. He seems to be something of a paranoic sociopath, now, as when she finally is pregnant he suspects she is pregnant by someone else, though there's no indication that's the case. By the birth he says he believes the boy is his, but we'll see when we skip ahead in our next chapter. Lots of dead enemies in this chapter but still a langorous pace to the book.

9. American Vampire 19 - Jumping back in time, we see Jim Book and Skinner Sweet as kids in Missouri, 1863. No vampires appear for much of this story. Sweet is being raised by Book's family after Sweet's family is killed during the Civil War. He's a nasty kid but has some affection for Book. Later, we jump ahead to Book and Skinner fighting Apaches in a cavalry unit. A large number of Apaches have holed up on a mountain. Skinner and Book think there are more Apache warriors than the cavalry unit has men, but their commanding officer is bound and determined to attack. Unknown to any of them, and more of a danger, the Apache leader has summoned an Apache vampire to help his cause. A naked, female Apache vampire.

10. Wonder Woman 1 - The only other top 10 of the new 52, I can't say if this is an all new origin for Wonder Woman because I have no idea what was going on with the character previously, other than people griping about costume changes for her. Azzarello and Chiang hit the ground running in this issue. There's no bothering with setting up a background and origin. Wonder Woman just is. She's a warrior and appears to be living in London when a mystical threat appears in Virginia horse country. We also have a sun godling in Singapore using three groupies as Fates. There are many clues as to who the various characters are but nothing directly said. I'm looking forward to more of this one.

11. Dark Horse Presents 4 - The first of these without a Concrete story, which has been my reliable anchor of something always worth reading in these anthologies, but this was a very good issue. Jill Thompson's Food Run was a fun opener. Oddly, I really liked chapter 3 of Rotten Apple without remembering anything about the first two chapters. Criminal Macabre or Howard Chaykin's Marked Man would probably be considered the anchors for this issue, but I liked Resident Alien by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse the best. Sort of reminded me of Martian Manhunter without the superhero garb. A close second was The Protest by Dara Naraghi and Victor Santos. I'm always a sucker for stories about a culture that's not seen too often in the US. This time it's Iran from a kid's perspective in the early years after the Revolution. It appears to be autobiographical for Naraghi.

12. Incorruptible 22 - Finally, that irritating little speedster's been taken down. St Lucifer is quite interesting as a foe for Max, too, but I wonder how the arrival of Plutonian is going to play into Max's quest to revive Coalville. The fact that Plutonian is still kicking reaffirms my decision to drop Irreedemable, though. How long can a rampaging Superman story go on and still be interesting? It's like the Bible constantly telling the Flood story and never having Job. Ok, all that's irrelevant to Incorruptible as seen in this issue. Max remains a very interesting character with an evolving supporting cast and cadre of villains.

13. Super Dinosaur 4 - Kirkman production delays are, after quality writing, the most consistent factor in any Kirkman title. It's been a while since issue 3. Still a good story that's a lot of fun. And the only Kirkman book to come out this month.

14. iZombie 17 - The Dead Presidents have enlivened this book. Truth of the matter is, I think I've settled into the fact that this book is going to be best read all at once. The larger story is worth the read, but issue by issue it's not always holding my attention. The giant spread of the town map was pretty cool, though.

15. Swamp Thing 1 - Talk about harkening back to the glory days. The cover is straight out of the Moore years. The story inside is something new, though. Alec Holland is human. A human who thinks he died in an explosion then came back six weeks prior with memories of being Swamp Thing but denying that he was Swamp Thing. By the end of the issue he appears to be right. There also appears to be an interesting threat coming from a paleontology dig. Scott Snyder has a good start going on this one.

16. Demon Knights 1 - I had no intention of getting this title but I heard very favorable things about it from a couple of sources, so I gave it a whirl. It's quite fun. It's also different, with its Middle Ages setting. Not often a book starts out with "400 years earlier" and you only end up around the start of the second millenium as the present. Probably the hardest thing for me in this book will be the different portrayal of Madame Xanadu. I was quite fond of the Wagner version from Vertigo.

17. Blue Beetle 1 - Another good start. Unlike most books that I buy based on who's writing, I went with this one because I like the character. Bedard has a good start, though, with Jaime having his personal issues as a high school student, exacerbated by a damaged, invading, homicidal battle suit. That's a great premise well executed so far.

18. Batwing 1 - Now this was a total flyer. I didn't get into the Batman, Inc business, but it appears to have survived into the new 52. The draw for me is the Africa setting. In particular, our hero is based in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. You could harldy find a more strife riven environ in our own world, so setting up a super hero in this similar fictional world has a lot of interesting potential. The genocidal villain who's the primary opposition, and the mysterious team of seven African super heroes who disappeared is a good hook, too. The reversal of the usual surprise ending of killing the hero at the end of the first issue was well played. We already know he's not dead because the issue starts 6 weeks later with him alive.

19. Batman 1 - Snyder wrote this one, too, but I felt Swamp Thing was a lot more interesting. Like Demon Knights, I had no intention of buying this, but gave it a shot after a lot of positive feedback. Problem for me is Greg Capullo's art. It was a distraction for me on Haunt because most of the females had the same face and body. He seems to have moved away from that here, but there aren't enough portrayals of women to be sure. I find myself looking out for a problem in the art instead of just enjoying the story. I'll give it a couple more issues.

20. Resurrection Man 1 - Drawn to this one by two things. One is the premise of a guy dying and coming back with different super powers each time. The other is the years of praise I've seen for Abnett and Lanning. I like it so far, but I hope it's not going to just become an effort to see how many different ways he can be killed and how many different powers can be imagined. I hope there's character development, too.

21. Batgirl 1 - Gail Simone was my draw here, and wanting to see how the years as Oracle would be addressed. Looks like they're being written out, though being paralyzed is not. A little too easy to have had a surgery to correct it. Not sure I'll stick with this one.

22. Animal Man 1 - I haven't read anything with the character, other than his appearances in 52, in quite a while. Lemire was the draw on this, even though I haven't partaken of Sweet Tooth yet. So far Buddy Baker seems like the same family guy we've had since Morrison, but there's some good creepy stuff going on, especially the dead pets.

23. Superman 1 - I tried it out for Perez. I think trying out is as far as I'll go. It's not bad, and it does some different things with the characters, but I'm not too interested. Like Wonder Woman, it's off and running without rehashing the origin, so that's good. Not sure I can get behind a Lois who's sleeping with Bill O'Reilly, though. Aside from the ick factor of the guy involved, it's someone in a supervisory position having sex with an underling. While that sort of thing happens, it's unethical and probably a violation of several laws. That's fine for telling a story with a fresh character, but Lois Lane has always been something of a paragon, crossing lines only in service of getting a story, not for her own sexual gratification.

24. Action Comics 1 - Then there's Morrison's take on Superman. This seems to be an entirely different character. He doesn't fly yet. He wears the shirt and cape with pands and regular shoes. He mugs for cameras. He works for a rival paper to Lois and Jimmy. I'm guessing this is set in an earlier time than Superman, but it feels like two different guys. Besides, it can't be so much earlier, as the Superman hero seems like a young man no more than 30. Maybe this one is 24 or 25. That's a lot of difference in a character over only a few years of aging. I'll be letting this one go.

25. FF 9 - Yeah, I'm sucked into this one until the arc ends, but I'm not happy about it. It looks like the arc is going to last an entire year.


  1. I decided not to get FF#9, dropping it from my list until issue 600 comes out in about 4 months. It IS going WAY too slow.

    I thought Superman was very interesting and read it twice. I certainly didn't like Lois' choice, but I didn't gather it was with an underling (or Clark would have known him already). I think you might be confusing Jonathan with the McCoy anchor. It actually makes me want to check out Action Comics now.

    We're totally reversed on Synder's Batman and Swamp Thing. I'm not sure I'll get Swamp Thing #2, but I'm on board with Batman and loved the art.

  2. You may be right about me confusing who Lois is knocking boots with. I'm not interested enough to check it out, though.