Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The List - November 2012

Added a few things this month, one of which was on the strong recommendation of Former Fearless Leader, the great consumer of all things Comic Book.  Turns out he was right, too, as you'll see below.

1. Stumptown 3 - Baby's back with Mim.  Seems like the case would be over for Dex now, but, of course, it's not.  To complicate matters further, not only is our unfriendly female DEA agent perpetually peeved at Dex but now her friend in the city police department is peeved, too.  Seems she and Mim dated for a brief time, and now she's mad that Mim went to Dex instead of her for Baby's recovery.  Oh, and the skinheads are back.  They're more comic relief than Whale was in the first series.  Violent comic relief, but comic relief nonetheless.  As entertaining as all this is, I have yet to piece together what the missing guitar, skinheads, and some sort of smugling have in common that will connect it all.  I'm sure there are clues that I'm just not attaching the right significance.  Looking forward to Rucka and Southworth bringing it closer to its conclulsion next month.

2. Wonder Woman 14 - Eating brains to learn language?  Ok.  Efficient for the eater.  Not so great for the meal.  I'd guess our brain eater is a Titan except for the fact that he's a son of Zeus and Hera.  He's certainly large enough and having been missing for seven thousand years, the time line fits.  What the band of scientists hope to accomplish in reviving him is a mystery.  On the other hand, Siracca's very sad story is no mystery.  Not that it hadn't already been established in this book, but being one of Zeus's bastard children has a dangerously short lifespan.  Well, did have.  If he was still around it would be safer now that Hera is mortal and powerless.  I'm less thrilled with the arrival of Orion to the story than other readers, but I'm sure Azzarello will do something interesting with him.

3. The Unwritten 43 - I love the polar bear with a meat cleaver.  I mean, what does a polar bear need with a meat cleaver?  Anyway, we have refugee camps of humans and anthropomorphic animals and the high tensions between them heading toward war in the remains of the lands of story.  Of course, it's Pauly's progeny leading the animals.  Funny how they inadvertently sent Tom along on his goal to find Lizzie.  I'm rather missing Lizzie being in the book and hope next issue will have her return.

4. Fables 123 - Ah, the conclusion of the two part story told by Aloysius about his father, Bigby.  I love these shorter stories in Fables.  Not only are they well executed, but they both draw on previous stories in the series and set up so much of what may come in the future.  We now know of a sort of debt, sort of paid, that Bigby had to the turtle with the kingdom in a saucer on her back.  We know at least another of the cubs lives to adulthood.  We know that he marries rather well, too.  In fact, this is less a story about Bigby's past and more a story of the future and new relationships.  Looking forward to the new storyline in the next issue, as usual.

5. American Vampire 33 - And I was right about Hattie's comeuppance from Pearl.  Hard to believe that Hattie and Pearl were once close friends, back when they were both human.  They represent such diametrically opposed outlooks on life.  Hattie's intent on gaining power over others to satisfy her desires.  Pearl seeks peace and tranquility, and a life with Henry, removed from the conflicts of the VMS and vampires.  Hattie has people she uses, and vampires, too.  Pearl has friends and a longtime love.  Snyder has created a great cast of characters who are always interesting to follow.  Even Cal, who only came into the picture in the venture to the Pacific Theater of World War II, is a well developed character about whom I'd like to see more.  Another great arc concluded in this issue.  Oh, and love the cover.  Simple, beautiful, and poignant.

6. Fairest 9 - I had some trepidation when this series was announced because I knew Willingham wouldn't be doing the writing after the first arc.  A spin off of a much loved series that doesn't include its creative forces in the original can be very disappointing.  The Dreaming comes to mind as a lesser light reflecting off of Sandman.  The far more disappoing Guarding the Globe and Atom Eve miniseries that have spun off of Invincible are even greater warning signs.  I'm happy to say that Fairest, at least so far, is keeping up with its progenitor, and sister spin-off, Cinderella.  Writer Lauren Beukes and artist Inaki Miranda have crafted a highly engaging story that's beautiful, too.  This is much more akin to the Cinderella miniseries in terms of quality.  The story?  Rapunzel's been to Japan back in the feudal days.  We get some of that story and some of what's going on in her visit there currently.  Well, relatively currently.  If I didn't know that Jack is nigh indestructible, I'd say he's in trouble.

7. Saga 7 - Hooray!  Saga's back from its brief hiatus.  Right back in the thick of things, too.  Marko and Alana have in-law issues like none you've seen.  Well, Alana's in-laws.  I love how characters in this book speak in the casual, close way that people who've known each other a long time can do, and do it in a vernacular that's fitting.  Marko and his mother take a mystic portal to try to retrieve the dead nanny who his parents sent packing to a devastated planet, leaving Alana to make small talk with her father-in-law.  You know, small talk that involved binding a family member with vines and secrets revealed.  Don't forget the beautiful art by Fiona Staples, and a look in on our bounty hunter, pining for his dead lover and fellow bounty hunter, a longing satiated by viewing some home porno.  And did I mention the cyclopean giant with the giant scrotum who shows up?  Yeah, there's that, too.

8. The Walking Dead 104 - The cover alone would be reason to buy the book, if you had no idea what it was about and had been living under a rock since the AMC version of the story rocketed to ratings success.  A boy with a trooper hat, one eye, and an automatic rifle far too big for him to operate?  Who needs zombies?  Rick's plan to scout out Negan's compound has taken some unexpected turns, not the least of which is Carl's one boy guerilla action.  I guess it's too much to ask that Negan expand his vocabulary a little further than his favorite F word, as that seems to be a significant portion of his character definition.  Still, I'm looking forward to his eventual death.

9. Invincible 97 - Wow, that was unexpected.  I guess Bulletproof's tenure as Invincible is nearing an end.  Will he and his girlfriend go on the lam?  Will anyone care about their victims?  Those were some mean, nasty people.  Of course, Mark getting his abilities back will make his resumption of his nom du guerre more likely, too.  I especially like the confirmation that beer (not mentioned in this issue) and good sex are solid resolutions of most physical problems.  Debbie and Nolan, as well as Mark and Eve, support the proposition.  On the down side, there was a bit much on the insider jokes with the comic book convention exposition and the The Walking Dead fan girls in attendance.  There's a lot of setting the stage in this issue.  Well done stage setting, but setting all the same.

10. Thor: God of Thunder 1 & 2 - This was the book I got because Jim sang the first issue's praises in his weekly posts.  He's not wrong.  This is the best Thor I've read since the glory days of Walt Simonson.  And yet, it's totally different.  Simonson's Thor was the superhero of the Avengers with a lot more well told, and even better drawn, interaction with the other Norse gods.  So far this Thor is more akin to Azzarello's Wonder Woman as he acts like a god and has nothing to do with superheroes.  Jason Aaron writes and Esad Ribic does the art, which is wonderful.  Aaron runs three story lines involving Thor.  All involve Thor fighting Gorr the God Killer, a new villain to me.  One story runs in 893 AD, initially in Iceland where Thor discovers a dead Native American god (unnamed), then proceeds to Russia where two Russian dieties meet their end and Thor first confronts Gorr.  The second story line runs in the present when a young girl on a dying planet prays to Thor for rain for her people, which he delivers.  He learns that the planet once had gods but no one has prayed to them in hundreds of years.  Seeking answers, Thor learns their entire pantheon was killed by Gorr and his minions.  The final line runs some time in the far future when Thor is the All-Father, not to mention the only father, as all the other Norse gods have been killed by Gorr.  He's in his besieged castle, sallying forth for a final confrontation, a bit reduced in body parts, as he's missing his left eye and most of his left arm.  All in all, the book has the potential to be something great, as long as it stays out of the cross over world that so dominates the main of the Marvel U.

11. The Creep 3 - Ah, Axel.  Losing a bit of touch with reality is bad enough, what with the self medicating and all.  Getting lost in frozen woods, after darkness falls, is a lot worse.  At least he found the man he was seeking.  Doesn't seem like he'll get any answers without a seance, but it's progress.  I love the spare method of story telling in both the written and drawn aspects.

12. Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific 4 - On one hand it's hard to believe that a bunch of Japanese holed up working on a secret project to destroy the US long after the war ended would actually occur.  On the other hand, there were individual Japanese soldiers who kept on hiding and fighting in the Phillipines into the '70s, so it's not that far removed from the realm of possibility.  Not that the plan makes a lot of sense.  How does making 75% of the US uninhabitable lead to the return of Japanese militaristic glory?  More likely the rest of the world powers would hunt down and wipe out this band of fanatics, including the rest of the Japanese people.  Whatever.  It's still good Robo fun.

13. Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 4 - So endeth the back story of Silk Spectre, the younger.  Amanda Connor's art was fantastic, as to be expected.  I was impressed that it was toned down quite a bit from the exaggerated contours of her work in Power Girl.  The life she brought to the characters in this book was much more in keeping with the harder edged world of Watchmen.  Cooke didn't try to make Laurie into a fully formed adult with the conclusion of the story and her first meeting of Dr Manhattan and the other Crimebusters.  I'm curious to see if Rorschach ends at the same meeting.

14. Dark Horse Presents 18 - Time to enter the anthology corner.  Another Corben adaptation of Poe is a high point, as is the return of Captain Midnight, a spot on noir superhero.  Caitlin Kiernan's Alabaster was the most intriguing new story, with it's albino, ghosts, and animal headed hobos.  Always a good buy, even at $8.

15. Joe Kubert Presents 1 - A second anthology to the month's purchases.  This one's more limited in scope, both in presenting only 4 stories in an issue and only being planned for 6 issues.  Kubert's straightforward in his intro, published posthumously, of course, that he's going for stories that are told in a style of days gone by.  I found Spit the most interesting, followed by USS Stevens, neither of which relied on DC characters as Hawkman and Angel and the Ape do.

16. Batwoman 14 - I'm having a hard time keeping track of the story again, which isn't a good thing.  The issue starts in a place I don't recall it ending in 13.  (An update here.  Seems I didn't get 13, which would be why I don't remember it.  I'll have to get it today and catch up.)  It's a good story within the covers, which is a saving grace, as is the JH Williams art.  It feels like it could do with some editing to tighten it a bit.  The Wonder Woman guesting in this book is the Wonder Woman from her own book, not the evidently entirely different one Jim describes in JLA.

17. Point of Impact 2 - Good advance on Faerber's black and white tale.  I think Koray Kuranel's art gets a little line heavy at times, but most of the time it works.  The conspiracy that's at the heart of the murder that started the book looks to have a global origin.  Faerber's post script tale of his love of Spenser: For Hire is yet another overlap with my own reading and viewing interests, too.

18. Thief of Thieves 10 - At what point does Conrad cut bait on his son?  The boy's useless in Conrad's line of work.

19. The Massive 6 - Just intriguing enough to continue reading.  A bit ponderous in other issues, there was a good slice of action this issue.  I think I'm more interested in seeing more of Mag than Cal.  Cal's kind of boring.

20. Saucer Country 9 - There's still a lot of expository dialog and narration, but two shootings and a bit of Manchurian (non)candidate make it move along more.  I wonder if there aren't entirely too many layers in this story.

21. Animal Man 14 and Swamp Thing 14 - I can't really give these separate listings any longer.  With the war against the Rot, they're really different fronts of the same war story.  Unfortunately, the more I see, the more I conclude that nothing told in either book will have any lasting consequence.  It's all too much dying and massive world change to avoid a re-set to something more in keeping with the world that had gone before.  The stories told may be good, and I'm going to ride them out to see if they are, but there's no way this ends up anywhere but where we started.

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