Righty-o. Another short turn around month, but I 'll do the best I can to get something worthwhile written up here. I don't think I mentioned it as official policy, but I'm not putting trades and such on The List. It's just the singles, and the other stuff will get write-ups as warranted. So, in addition to this month's singles, I read trades for Sweet Tooth, Loveless, 100 Bullets, Kill Shakespeare, Love and Rockets, and Essex County. Gotta love half price sales.
On to the show.
1. Spaceman 3 - The more I read of this limited series, the more I love it. Azzarello's dialog alone is a joy. He's taking English as we know it and moving it into a possible evolution, or devolution, in a future of maybe 100 years distance. Then there are the references to the banalities of our own pop culture as well as the vast quantity of literal garbage we produce, now objects of possible treasure. And that doesn't even get into the meat of the story of Orson and Tara, rescuer and and kidnap victim, each carrying baggage that keeps them from coming forward with her rescue. Now we have a former astronaut crewmate of Orson's coming into the picture and complicating matters. Well, not yet, but that appears likely. Risso's art is really capturing this future composed of our junk, giving the whole thing the right atmosphere of discarded objects, living and inanimate.
2. Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X 4 - Penultimate issue to this latest in the ongoing limited series for Clevinger and Wegner's metallic hero, yet it seems like there's quite a bit to develop in the final installment. But, the London and US arcs of the story are dovetailing in the Pacific, so that's something. As always, this is a lot of fun adventure. Love the belt buckle Robo is sporting on the cover. Plus, the whole convoy, CB radio thing took me back to my childhood and goofy movies like Smoky and the Bandit. Ah, nostalgia.
3. Fables 112 - Santa Claus, paladin of justice. I don't recall many Christmas themed issues of Fables, and this is a stand alone issue that moves the overall Fables story arcs along at the same time. Snow and Bigby enforce a 2 week break in the training of the new North Wind, over the objections of both the other cardinal winds and the castle staff of the North Wind. More of the story is Red finding herself on a journey to meet paragons of hope, which she is becoming, so that she can choose what aspect of hope she's going to be. It has some elements of Dicken's Christmas Carol but none of the past, present and future stuff. There's a bit of mystery at the end when one of Snow and Bigby's daughters receives a toy boat as a gift, but no one knows who it's from.
4. Wonder Woman 4 - The Wrath of Hera, it turns out, actually isn't boundless, but even when she appears to have calmed, she's just as deadly. I really like Chiang's depection of Apollo, as well as Azzarello's use of Apollo as a scheming child of War. I imagine the fate of Hippolyta and the other Amazon's isn't permanent, but it's a nice touch all the same. Still, the most fun may have been Diana, Zola, Strife, and Hermes clubbing in London. Does no one notice a man with bird's claws for feet?
5. American Vampire 21 & 22 - Two issues this month meant the end of one story arc and the beginning of another. The first is the end of the 1800s story of Skinner meeting and surviving the first American vampire. I was surprised that she was still alive for this issue, as I'd thought she'd been killed by Hole in the Sky in the previous issue. Instead, things go as badly as possible for Hole in the Sky and his people, naked vampire girl goes back to hiding in her cave, and Skinner kills his CO. It's the last time Book and Skinner are on the same side, as Book spends most of the rest of his life trying to hunt down Skinner, first as an outlaw, then as a vampire. The new arc is a look at a 50s greaser who's also an untrained vampire hunter. I love the wooden teeth he uses to dispatch vampires. Bite Them Back, indeed. I was impressed that Snyder and Albuquerque didn't reveal the identity of the vampire who killed the entire family of Travis, our protagonist, in this issue. I thought that would be the big reveal at the end, but it was something else entirely. Nicely done.
6. The Unwritten 32.5 - I'm separating this issue from the regular story in issue 32 this month because I think this one stands above the regular arc. We've seen that Pullman has been alive for a very long time, but now we see one of his earliest stories. He's already aware of his immortality when he meets and manipulates Gilgamesh into killing Leviathan. At this time Pullman's name is Utnapishtim. I'm glad I just have to write it and not pronounce it. Anyway, it's a great story fleshing out a seminal character in the series who's largely been a mystery, as appears to be the case for all the .5 stories. I love the art style Gross employs for this issue. I recall him using it occasionally in Lucifer, too. Great work.
7. The Walking Dead 92 - This has to be a turning point issue akin to the fall of the prison. That story was incredibly sad, leading to the death of so many established characters as it did. But it also generated much needed change for Rick, Andrea, and the other survivors to move them toward their current habitus in the Maryland suburbs of DC. Now we have a new player in Paul Monroe who leads a confederation of several other communities in Virginia. That's a huge change for Rick and the others, who've come across nothing in the way of benevolently organized survivors until they reached Maryland, and that community turned out to have its own internal problems. And how about those skills on Monroe? Kicked ass on both Michone and Abraham.
8. The Unwritten 32 - Now, this isn't a bad issue, what with making the top 10 on the list, but I did feel there was some separation between it and 32.5. The Cabal has a tutorial from Pullman on how to attack Tom and Tom recovers from his sojourn in the frozen wastes just in time to save Richie and Lizzie from their own frozen demise. Frank's sacrifice doesn't look to me to be permanent, given his own story.
9. Swamp Thing 4 - Man, this is really taking me back to the good old days of Alan Moore first revising this character. At the same time, it has its own twists that have really brought fresh legs to the story. Arcane's are still evil, but there's no Anton, nor even an adult. There's a larger force at work that's using the Arcane's, especially the boy. Abigail is a prime mover in the story, not the more passive actor she came across as in the Moore stories. What's most interesting is that Moore's stories aren't simply thrown aside. Abigail and Alec both remember those lives and talk about them, but say they're in a new reality, which would be the New 52. This is the only New 52 book that I know if that acknowledges the old continuity. The others go merrily along in their new continuity or, like Batwoman, appear to be doing the same stories written for the old continuity without any mention of the changes. I suppose I shouldn't be suprised that Scott Snyder's working so well in this mileu.
10. Animal Man 4 - The companion title of sorts to Swamp Thing, Lemire's Animal Man is much as I remember him when I last read the book a few years ago. The older Morrison stories, not anything more recent. But while Buddy seems the same, Maxine seems a lot more powerful than she was back then. The whole visiting the red business is still rather psychedelic, and the three hunters are formidable foes, but Maxine's power level, if not tempered, could make it a sort of Superman situation where it's hard to find anyone powerful enough to oppose her, but for her youth and inexperience.
11. Batwoman 4 - As noted above, this title continues to present stories that don't have any mention of what 'verse they're in, but seem to have been written in the old continuity. That's fine. I like Batwoman being largely self contained in her own world, and JH Williams III's art is so striking and beautiful, he could tell me almost any story, but the juxtaposition of Kate's sexual ecstasy with the beating Bette takes is a hard one to take. No doubt hard for Kate, too, once she learns what happened to Bette. And here comes the vigilante hunters of the US government, hard on Kate's heals.
12. Invincible 86 - Well, Nolan was none too please with Alan's plan, as expected. That Oliver sided with Alan isn't much of a surprise, either. He's always been a utilitarian and had little love for humans. I did like how Kirkman showed Nolan and Oliver's differing experiences in life to be the reason for the difference in their perception of humanity. Nolan's a bit rose colored but right about what humanity did to change him, while Oliver is unduly pessimistic. I'm thinking Mark falls somewhere between those perceptions, but won't be too happy about Alan's plan that could result in the deaths of all humans.
13. Memorial 1 - This is a new book from IDW by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis. It has a superficial resemblance to Locke & Key because a key appears to be significant in where the story is going, but that's about it. There's only one, not many. The bad guy is a Gorgon-ish figure with an island full of statutes who were formerly living and a collection of people and places that have become legendary but once actually existed. Our heroine goes by Em, or Miss M, and is an amnesiac who has shaped a solitary life for herself in an unnamed city. The name comes from the closest thing to ID on her when she was found, a pendant with the letter M. I'm guessing it's not actually the letter M, though. It looks a bit Greek. This is a very good start to this book and I'm looking forward to seeing where it's going.
14. Dark Horse Presents 7 - Yeah, the $8 price is still hard to swallow, but there are always really good stories in here. This month has a Mignola written and drawn Hellboy story and a Stan Sakai Usagi Yojimbo, as well as the numerous ongoing stories by Chaykin, Adams, and others. It remains a great sampler of stories from various artists and writers, all of high quality.
15. Blue Beetle 4 - Silverback's an interesting creation. I'm no encyclopedia of DC villains, but it's a new one to me. I'm guessing Jaime's parents aren't too familiar with tattoos. The one they think their son has is glowing, which should be a bit of a clue that something has happened other than a tattoo. The tense interaction between Jaime and the suit is a highlight. Doesn't look so good for Paco at the end.
16. Incorruptible 25 - So, it turns out that Plutonian and Max Damage ran across each other's path when they were kids. Plutonian was a savage little bugger. I don't know how he ended up aping being a superhero. That's not making a lot of sense to me right now, nor is the how of Max going from a caring, if damaged kid, to an utter sociopath.
17. Demon Knights 4 - The Shining Knight, much to my dismay, isn't a woman after all. He's just an immortal adolescent. It's either a blessing or a curse by Merlin, who seems to have been around a lot longer than the Camelot days. Still loving the humorous presentation of Vandal Savage, too.
18. iZombie 20 - It's funny, but this denouemont issue is actually more interesting than the action issues that have gone before it recently. I suppose it's because a lot is happening with our various cast members. I'm sensing a sort of three way relationship for Francisco, Ellie, and Claire, bringing together a constructed man, a ghost, and a vampire. Kinky.
19. I, Vampire 4 - John Constantine meets Andrew. I haven't read anything with Constantine in years. Still the bastard I remember. Cool as ever, too. Too bad about Steve losing his control, and his head.
20. Batwing 4 - We're trodding heavily on the ground covered by Unknown Soldier in this issue. Our hero was once a child soldier in some rebel army. He and his brother were quite the skilled killers, too. They just refused to kill women and children to get at their leader's opponent, though. This is all background while Batwing searches for Massacre.
21. Resurrection Man 4 - If this is the bottom of the list of what I bought, it's a very good month. Abnett & Lanning are developing a very interesting story with Resurrection Man's mysterious background. Transhuman's become a more interesting character, too.
22. What If 16, 24 & 33 - This trio of free comics is from the series that started in the late '80s and is all X-Men oriented. The first is if Wolverine battled Conan. The second is if Wolverine was Lord of the Vampires. The third is if Phoenix rose again. Two out of three times the result is the end of the world. Actually, one's the end of the universe. And the one that doesn't end in the destruction of the world may as well have with the horde of vampires overrunning it. A lot of fun, if a bit nonsensical at times. Long ago I had an issue of What If about Phoenix not dying on the moon but this time, in 33, it's after history was revised so that instead of Jean coming back we have the Phoenix force coming back. Goofy.
23. The Stand Sketchbook - I read the Stephen King book some time when I was in high school. I haven't had anything to do with it since. This was just some sort of free promotional thing that Marvel put out when it was doing the comic version of the book. Not much to it. It was in a pack of three free books, one of the others of which was a Jonah Hex I already had.
24. Tangent: Superman's Reign 2 - So this was the other freebie in that pack. Glad I didn't buy this stuff. The art's quite nice, as to be expected with Jamal Igle, but the story is of no interest to me. It's one of those crossover nightmares that are much sound and fury signifying nothing. No fault of Dan Jurgens in the writing, its just of no interest to me.