Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The List - September 2012

A relatively small group this month.  No more Scalped, Northlanders, or Spaceman.  That might be saving Animal Man and Swamp Thing for a little longer.  I must say I'm a little mystified by the #0 issues from DC.  Sure, I only bought 4 of the titles, but why are these "jumping on" issues that are mostly rehashing information developed only within the last year even done?  It's not hard to pick up an new arc at issue 13 and either figure out what happened in 1-12 or go find them in singles or trades.

1. Wonder Woman 0 - Of course, that being said, this is the exception.  Rather than wasting my time with a summary of what had gone on in 1-12, which I already read, Azzarello and Chiang did something creative.  They created a new story that apes the old Wonder Woman books from the Marston days.  Lots of dialogue no one would speak.  Plenty of thought balloons reiterating what the art's already showing.  Hilariously originally published in "All-Girl Adventurse Tales for Men #41".  And yet, it's set using the current mythos of Diana that she's the child of Hippolyta and Zeus, although she's a teenager who doesn't know that and still thinks she's clay brought to life.  Ares is featured in training her, surruptiously, in martial skills beyond those of her Amazon sisters.  Of course, she fails his final test by being merciful to her opponent.  It's a great short story that develops Diana to the person we saw in the first issue just a year ago.  Would have been nice to have had that kind of story in the other three #0 issues I read.

2. Fairest 7 - Wow.  Not at all what I expected.  I mean, Sturges has a good track record with the Fables cast, and McManus has been doing the art on the A Revolution in Oz story running in Fables currently, so I knew his art would be enjoyable, but the plot direction this took was surprising.  "Lamia" is set in Hollywood in 1946.  Beast is hunting down a Fable who has gone off the reservation and is killing Mundys.  It's happened before, and St George is hunting her as well.  The narrative is in the form of a letter from Beast to Beauty.  A major difference between Beast and St George is that the former is hunting to capture while the latter is hunting to kill.  This one and done story, though, totally changes the relationship between Beauty and Beast.  Amazing work.

3. Fables 121 - Not that the original source book is faltering, either.  Therese and Dare's story is largely concluded at this point.  Dare's sacrifice has made Therese's survival and rule of the Discardia possible, with a new mission for the deadly toys to save the lives of unfortunate children.  Still, Therese is full of regret for her own actions before Dare's sacrifice.  I was surprised about the time difference between Discardia and the Mundy.  It's not out of the bounds for Fables, but there was nothing previous that would have led to expecting that.  So, now Therese is a young woman showing up at her family's doorstep, her surviving siblings still children not much older than when she left.  I went into this thinking we might have a light hearted tale of a couple of the cubs, which we've had before.  This has been anything but.

4. Stumptown - Vol 2, 1 - Yea!  Stuptown is back!  Dex is the best new detective in modern fiction.  Rucka and Southworth's barely functional young woman isn't getting shot right off like she was in the first story, but she does manage to have a DEA agent put a gun to her head before the end of this issue.  So much for the simple quest to recover a rock star's stolen favorite guitar.  Nothing's ever simple with Dex, obviously.  Like the great Spillane stories, there's always something going on beyond the surface simplicity that will complicate matters.  We haven't seen him yet, but I hope Dex's FAS suffering brother shows up in this arc, too.  Outside of the story, the last arc had background writing by Southworth.  This arc it's Rucka's turn.  Love those extras.

5. American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares 4 - Dracula is really some kind of powerful.  I thought Skinner and Pearl had all kinds of advantage over the Carpathian vampires, but Dracula controlling every single Carpathian?  That's something.  Hobbes, Felicia, Gus, and the near extinct vampire species are in a world of trouble.  Hard to believe Snyder has already created such a great cast of characters that these mini-series spinoffs are this good. Nguyen's art is excellent, too.  Right on with the feel Albuquerque has in the main book but unique in its own right.  Sure am looking forward to the concluding issue next month.

6. American Vampire 31 - Hattie's back.  Hattie's looking very Heath Ledger Joker, too.  Not that I'm surprised that she's running things in the California coven of Carpathians, nor that she's behind the attack on Henry.  While the story moved along in dealing with that threat, Pearl evidently being captured by Hattie and her minions, it was the interactions between Pearl and Henry and Pearl and Skinner in the wake of Pearl and Skinner having sex at the end of the last issue that's most captivating.  Seeing Pearl alternate between feeling guilt and trying to tell Henry about what happened and wanting Skinner to impart more meaning to the event than just sex is moving.  I'm sure Henry will understand once she does tell him, though.  Henry's that sort of guy.  What may upset him more is Pearl wanting Skinner to have feelings for her.

7. Invincible 95 - All I can say is Amanda should have stuck with the lesbian sex.  Earth would be better off.  Her relationship with Rex would have been better off.  Best moment in comics?  Amanda feeling up her own boobs and declaiming how lucky Rex is to have a smart girlfriend who was all skinny but developed into a hottie while Rex has completely tuned her out, obsessing over Flaxian economics.  And I suppose it was inevitable that a genius named Rex eventually would rule a world somewhere.  Name as destiny, right?  In fiction, anyway.  Kind of odd that Mark didn't appear in his own book at all this issue.  Considering their ineptitude in their own mini-series, I was surprised that the Gaurdians of the Globe were the ones to come to the rescue.  Now for the fallout of the Flaxian revelations.

8. The Creep 1 - John Arcudi and Jonathan Case started this book in the pages of DHP.  Reading those installments is helpful in reading this first issue, and they can be found in #0 if you want to read them without buying the DHP issues, but it's not necessary to have read those to thoroughly enjoy this issue.  Oxel's probably as screwed up, in his own ways, as Dex in Stumptown, but he's more the tradional noir detective, except for his affliction.  Maybe it's the fedora and trench coat.  Maybe it's the booze and the floozie for company.  Apart from the detective story, the sequence on the subway train is great economic story telling and Oxel's mystification about what just happened to him is spot on in showing how perspecitve matters in turning the innocuous into something significant.

9. The Walking Dead 102 - Ah, Rick.  Always the man a step or two ahead.  Well, ahead of his friends, lovers, and allies.  Obviously, Glen's death in 100 showed he wasn't a step ahead of Negan, though that was a product of bad intel from his allies.  Now it's the Rick and Jesus plan to bring some hurtin' to Negan.  I do wonder, though, why Jesus didn't scout out Negan and his forces long ago.  Is he secretly an agent of Negan?  Is he just a man of small action without Rick's guidance for the larger picture?  Is Kirkman falling asleep at the switch and missing this detail?  We'll have to wait to see.

10. Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific 3 - Fun.  What more can I say?  Atomic Robo remains great fun.  Three issues in to a 5 issue arc and we don't really know who the enemy is but Clevenger and Wegener make the right hints and do so much with running Robo and the She-Devils around, who cares?  Like most good stories, the interactions between characters is more important than broad plot points.  That's what develops the characters and makes them worth reading.

11. Before Watchmen: The Comedian 3 - Eddy, Eddy, Eddy.  No one else can piss off so many, so often, and not wind up in jail or six feet under.  Azzarello and Jones have really captured The Comedian just as he was in Watchmen.  That's a fine line to walk, because he can easily be a purely unlikeable character, losing all the points that his bad behavior makes about our own shortcomings. 

12. Before Watchmen: The Silk Spectre 3 - Cooke and Conner.  Psychedelics and orgies.  Sinatra and orgies.  Yeah, that last one was a little weird.  This issue tread ground not often walked, as there was male full frontal nudity.  Then again, the original Watchmen went there, too, so it's fitting.  How does Laurie ever reconcile with her mother?  She's a lot more forgiving than I remember her being in the original book.  Well, she'll have to be to get to that point.  She's not yet.

13. The Unwritten 41 - Richie wants his own story.  Who can blame him?  He's a journalist but he gets to be manipulated by Tom's story.  This issue drops back to right after Tom, Richie and Lizzie defeated the Cabal, as Tom and Richie hide out while Tom's wounds heal.  I love the ghosts trying to convince Tom to kill himself.  So ineffective, yet so persistent.  Madame Rauch makes a welcome appearance, too.

14. Saucer Country 7 - I'm hearing rumblings that this series won't make it much longer.  That's too bad because there's a lot to tell here.  One of its problems may be that for two consecutive issues we've had a lot of exposition and not much action, at least not in the story of the governor's run for President. 

15. Batwoman 0 - This one is particularly odd, as there was just a 0 issue in '11.  Of course, that was prime evidence that the New 52 was a last minute decision, making no sense to issue a background issue 0 just a few months before the whole background was going to be wiped out and started over.  Of course, it didn't with Batwoman.  My sampling of the New 52 was somewhat limited, but I'd venture that this was the among the least, if not absolutely the least, of the books changed.  Anyway, all that aside, this is a standard jumping on issue, laying out the background a regular reader from the start in Detective Comics through the last year of stories in the New 52 already knows.

16. Thief of Thieves 8 - Well, the opening arc isn't quite over.  Redman's still working on a con and his son is in deep with the dealers whose stuff was the disappearing evidence.  Out of the frying pan, into the fire.  Now Auggies' girlfriend is hostage until he pays the $200k he owes the dealers.

17. Dark Horse Presents 16 - The new Crime Does Not Pay was excellent, and I'm really enjoying The Girl with the Keyhole Eyes.  Buddy Cops is funny.  Concrete Park and Finder are long term entertaining.  I haven't been disappointed with DHP yet, and clearly it's spinning off some independent titles, so someone other than me must be reading.

18. The Massive 2-4 - I came to the realization that I'd missed all the issues since the first so I got all these at once.  I'm still on the fence with this one.  Spaceman had a post catastrophe setting but didn't waste any time in telling how that happened.  It just went into the story.  Now, this is a not a miniseries like that, and Wood, Dondaldson and Stewart are focusing on the catastrophe as the central element of the story, so they're bound to go more into what happened and why, but I find myself distracted by critiquing the likelihood of the proposed disasters that lead to this milieu.  So far the characters are a little too cut and paste to let me get past that, but with Wood writing I'm hoping it gets past that, too.

19. Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures 6 - And that's a wrap.  I was a little disappointed in the endings of To Kill a Sparrow and Leaping Metal Dragon.  Both ran the length of the series.  Both just sort of ended.  Philadelphia Experiment was vague.  Dadalus Project was generic.  Only A Bad Case of the Crabs was the kind of Robo story I was hoping for.  Eh, one iffy patch in a sea of quality work.  Not bad.

20. Animal Man 0 - The Lemire choice for telling the back story on his character is to drop back to before Buddy is Animal Man and show how the Rot has been killing off avatars of the Red and the need for Animal Man as a stop-gap until the next avatar is ready, or in this case created as child of Animal Man.  Lemire continued to incorporate the old "aliens granting powers" origin for Animal Man as a cover for Buddy's mind to understand.  Not sure why aliens is better for Buddy's mind than the Red, but there you go.

21. Swamp Thing 0 - Snyder follows the same path as Lemire.  Or vice versa.  Or they worked in conjunction.  Whatever the case, Arcane has evidently been the avatar of the Rot for a long time, far longer than I recalled him existing from my days reading Moore's Swamp Thing.  Again, the Rot is instrumental in the creation of Alec Holland as Swamp Thing, in the first incarnation with the burning Miracle Gro.  Not this past year's version of his return to the role.  Really creepy change in making Arcane kill and use the body of Alec's wife, something definitely not in previous telllings of the origin.

And lastly were a few free books from 1989 and 1990.  These were Adventures of Superman 460, Action Comics 651, and Adventures of Superman 465.  I must have quit reading the post Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman books by this point because I don't recall any of the series crossover going on here.  These issues were all part of an arc called The Day of the Krypton Man.  It reminded me that but for the influences of Kal-el being raised by the Kents, everyone from Krypton was something of an ass back then. 

Ok, so not actually many fewer books, thanks to The Massive and the free books.

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