The way I classify everything else it usually ends up being the biggest stack of books for the week. So I have broken it into two sections. As you will see I include Vertigo and Before Watchmen with this material. While published by DC, the books have nothing to do with the DCU.
First up is Before Watchmen Minutemen #4 (of 6) by Darwyn Cooke. Lee, in his comments on the DC Preview Review did not see the BW stuff as good as I see it. He is wrong and especially with Minutemen as it is very good series. Of course it is all opinion and what works for me may not work for you and Lee is entitled to his wrong viewpoint. Darwyn Cooke is just a top flight creator. This issue he is exposing the dark sides of some of the characters and instead of that making them less it makes them more real. These characters are the predecessors of the Watchmen. Prior to this series they had paper thin backgrounds and now they are coming to life. We are reliving those early day via the narration of Hollis the original Nite Owl. Hollis is a very cool character and maybe the only one who reflects the standard heroic ideal. He is also sadly in love with Silhouette, who is a lesbian and can’t return anything more than affection for him. Silhouette ends up being the focal point of the story as her ouster from the group fractures the fragile team and her subsequent brutal murder leaves to some drastic repercussions. This story is both dark and yet at times instead of the darkness deconstructing the characters it is reflecting some of the heroic qualities of these people. Silhouette is perhaps the most heroic of all of the Minutemen.
Next up is American Vampire Lord of Nightmares #5 (of 5) by Scott Snyder and Dustin Nguyen. One of the worse announcements coming out of NYCC was the fact that AV will be on a hiatus soon. Ostensibly to give Scott and Rafael time to work on some other things and catch up on AV. Personally I think Scott has so much on his plate with the new Superman book, Batman, Swamp Thing and convention season that he needed to be able to catch his breath. As his star has risen he becomes a major draw for all the shows and that has to eat into your time. That was a long preamble for me to say that this was a great series. Agent Hobbes meets his end as he manages to take Dracula with him. Agent Book returns to the fold and is surprised that Hobbes named her of the new head of VMS. It is a harsh reminder that Vampires may go on forever, but the human players in the drama will grow old and can die. The American Vampire saga just gets better and better over time.
Hellblazer #296 by Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini was another good issue. Under Milligan Hellblazer has been well done. This series is approaching issue #300 and has been blessed with great writers. Milligan’s story of John finally tracking down his nephew has been mixed with horror, danger and some great humor moments. The twist is that instead of the bad guy being his nephew it is his nephew’s de-facto step brother. This forced John to question if his bloodline was cursed or not. If it is not cursed then the responsibility for his life falls squarely on his own shoulders. Milligan continues to add to a character that already has a rich history.
Godzilla The Half Century War #3 (of 5) by James Stoke has been my favorite surprise mini-series of the year. I almost passed on it and then picked it up on a whim, I’m glad I did. The story about Ota and his part in the battle against Godzilla over the decades is fantastic. In a brilliant piece of storytelling Stoke pulls the story forward another few years and provides a nice summation of what has gone before. Seldom have I read an issue #3 in a mini-series that would be an easy jumping on point for a reader. The art is so detailed that I hope Stokes has some computer tricks in his bag or else this book takes a lot of time to draw. Suffice to say this series has all the monster battles you could want and still delivers some great characterization with a very good plot line.
The last issue that I’m reviewing for this part is BPRD 1948 #1 (of 5) by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi as writers with Max Fiumara on art and Dave Stewart on colors. Dave Stewart is one of the industry’s top colorist. I believe all of the BPRD is by him exclusively and this allows all the books to maintain a similar tone regardless of the artist. Max’s art is great and has improved from Severed, where it was also well done. I think he is improving with the page design and flow of the story. The 1940’s series of BPRD have been a lot of fun as we get to see some of the characters at different times and revisit characters that are dead in current time. This issue is setting up the series but gets us deep enough into the story that you can’t wait for issue #2.
Part 4 is coming at noon with the exciting reveal of what I thought of the entire week (I so want a sarcasm font).