Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The List - December 2012

The List has reached a point where I've pared it well, which means the order of these books is fairly meaningless at this point.  They're all good.  Only toward the very bottom am I reaching any point of possibly dropping.  Animal Man and Swamp Thing are probable drops once the Rot World story finishes, but that's still a bit in the future.  Who knows, if it concludes well, the titles might even continue for me.

1. Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case 4 - Penultimate issue and the greatest car chase depiction ever made in a comic book.  Yes, Rucka's writing is the impetus for me buying the book in the first place, but Southworth's art, and more particularly the use of layout, is just phenomenal.  It's a fairly simple device that the car chase scenes are presented sideways on the page, but that small thing gives a greater sense of the chase and how it proceeds.  On top of that, the transition from the usual page layouts to the car chase layouts is done seemlessly.  The story transitions into and out of the car chase twice, and Southworth uses different positional devices to move the layout from normal to sideways each time, too.  Just great.  Hell, I'd have loved it just for the realistic results of jumping a car over a large distance, as opposed to the magically damage free General Lee.  And the plot moved well toward the finale next month.

2. Before Watchmen: Minutemen 5 - Another penultimate issue working toward a strong finish.  I'm not reading all of the Before Watchmen books, but this one has been the best, head and shoulders above the rest.  While they're all telling untold back story of the Watchmen characters, this is the only one delving into the predecessors of the Watchmen.  I'm torn between wanting more stories of the Minutemen and not wanting the dilution of what has been such strong material so far.  Of course, with the fatality rate of the Minutemen in this story more stories aren't too likely.  Cooke is covering the entire ground of the Minutemen and it should be left at that.

3. The Walking Dead 105 - It's too bad Negan's going to have to die sooner or later.  He's a highly entertaining kind of crazy.  Not so entertaining if you're living under his rule, but very much so for a reader.  Kirkman really has a good study of the psychological tricks that megalomaniacs like Negan play to control others.  Having Carl get the grand tour of Negan's base is an excellent device for bringing us into Negan's world.  I don't think it would have been half as effective if an adult, such as Rick, was the one getting the tour.  The fact that Negan treats Carl like an adult brings Negan's psychosis to the forefront.  I'm even starting to develop a fondness for Negan's reliance on his favorite F word.

4. Fables 124 - Bufkin and his Barley Corn girl, Lily, take center stage.  Again, a presentational trick that works.  The story of their leading a rebellion in Oz has been going on as 3 page episodes in the back of regular issues of Fables for some time now.  This issue completes that story and goes on to tell a large chunk of the life story of Bufkin and Lily from that point forward.  It does it by maintaining the same 3 page format so that there's a new title and credits each 3 pages.  Surprisingly, the relationship between Bufkin and Lily is actually a mutually loving one and not just the one sided affair it seemed to be.  Their opportunities to live connubially are very limited over their long lifespans, but they do occur through spells and curses they encounter.

5. The Unwritten 44 - Well, being shot with an arrow didn't have any fatal or even long lasting effects for Tom when he fell in the water, but now he has no memory of what he's trying to accomplish or even who he is.  He's in Hades now and is getting some help from the dead children of the warden from the prison in France where he was held way back at the beginning of this book.  A little trickery in getting across the Styx gets them to the palace.  I shouldn't be surpised who's sitting on Hades' throne, but it is a nice touch.

6. Saga 8 - Ah, a rifle butt to the head.  Is there a better way to start a cross cultural romance?  Nah.  Alana gets to know her father-in-law a bit better, and with no restraints this time.  Too bad about his heart ailment.  A father-in-law who's a tailor wielding magic seems like a very handy thing indeed.  Now that we have Marko's ex-girlfriend in the picture, things are only going to get more interesting, too.  This arc is well on the path of dealing with new familial relations.  Wonder when we'll meet Alana's family?

7. Fairest 10 - Lots of Rapunzel back story this issue.  Missing twin daughters, kidnapped by someone with magic abilities, back in the homeworlds.  Friends with benefits.  Missing babies' daddy.  Psychotic ex-lovers.  Rapunzel's had a lot going on in her long life.  I do wonder why she didn't get herself a magic hairpin back in Fabletown.  Seems like a simple enough device that would have made things easier for her.

8. Thor: God of Thunder 3 - My only entry point into Marvel these days, I'm still really liking this version of Thor.  Aaron has a great handle on the character.  It may be my second favorite Aaron project after Scalped.  Hunting Gorr the God Butcher is letting Aaron create several pantheons and a new realm called Omnipotence City that's a central meeting place for the various pantheons.  There's a certain irony in the name, considering that none of these godlings is omnipotent and the monotheism gods that are don't make an appearance.  The fact that the city is located in the center of infinity is cute, too.  There is no center to infinity.  Or the center of infinity is everywhere, depending on how you look at it.  Oh, and Ribic's art is fantastic.  Great feel for Thor and the many gods.

9. Wonder Woman 15 - Cool change Hephaestus made to Diana's gauntlets.  Pretty handy, too.  I hope Diana gives Orion a good beat down next issue.  Never have liked that guy.  Hera remains obtuse, not understanding the point that it made no sense to kill the women who had affairs with Zeus, nor their children.  It wasn't they who were engaged in infidelity.  It was Zeus.  I'm still puzzling out our god in Antarctica and now the ice giants who are coming after him.  Azzarello and Aaron are battling neck and neck for my favorite tales of mythical gods right now.

10. Invincible 98 - Ok, the plan that Dinosaurus has launched can't possibly have been a surprise to anyone, not even Mark.  Dinosaurus has always been a sort of Ra's al Ghul, minus the minions and far more successful at advancing plans for world population reduction.  He did turn Las Vegas into a sheet of glass, after all.  I did like the use of the Greenland ice sheet.  That makes perfect sense.  Far better, Angstrom Levy is back.  Well, almost back.  Issue 100 is almost certainly going to be epic.

11. Before Watchmen: The Comedian 4 - I gotta think The Comedian was the most disappointed person on Earth when Dr Manhattan summarily ended the Vietnam War.  We haven't gotten there yet in this book, but I remember that from Watchmen.  Except up to this point Blake wants the war to end and it's his CIA handlers who want it to continue.  An interesting turn. 

12. Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific 5 - Big finale.  Big booms.  Well, there's usually big booms in Robo stories.  Things blow up around him a lot.  As always, a very entertaining read.  I'm looking forward to another installment.

13. Point of Impact 3 - This is a nice, tight mystery/conspiracy that's moving along very well and getting to its conclusion quickly, as next issue is the last.  Faerber has a good short story here, and I think he can conclude it succintly but leave open the possibility of more stories down the road.

14. The Creep 4 - Generally I liked this story and the conclusion.  My only concern is that Arcudi left out a big detail.  At the end of the third issue Axel was lost in the dark in frozen woods with no phone reception.  It looked like he'd be freezing to death before the authorities could locate him.  This issue starts out with Axel at the funeral of the man he found in those woods and never explains how he got there, alive.  Arcudi does let us know why the boys who were the subjects of Axel's investigation committed suicide, which is the point of the story, but I still want to know why Axel isn't a popsicle.

15. Batwoman 13, 15 - So, last month I figured out that I had somehow missed issue 13, which meant I picked it up after reading 14 and now have it showing up with 15 on The List.  Having all the issues certainly made 14 make a lot more sense.  The team-up with Wonder Woman is a good one.  This is the same Wonder Woman we're seeing in her own book and not the apparently unrelated one in JLA.  I was a little disappointed that Williams only did the art on the first and last pages of 15 with Trevor McCarthy doing the rest.  McCarthy's not bad, but Williams is great, so it's hard to match.

16. Dark Horse Presents 19 - Favorites this month include Alabaster by Caitlin R Kierenan, Mind Mgmt by Matt Kindt, Captain Midnight by Joshua Williamson, and Resident Alien by Peter Hogan.  Not that the others were bad.  Those were just the favorites.

17. Joe Kubert Presents 2 - I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that I liked A Time of Life...A Time of Death by Kubert better than the two stories by Sam Glanzman and the Angel and The Ape story by Brian Buniak. 

18. Thief of Thieves 11 - Conrad should just trade his son for Emma.  She's a much more likeable and functional person than Augustus.  I suppose that's too much to expect, though I do think Conrad's going to cut his losses with his son by the time this arc ends.

19. The Massive 7 - Utopian societies.  Why does anyone still try to make them?  They never work out.  Trying to make one in the midst of a global collapse seems even more ill advised.  Functional societies should be the goal.

20. Before Watchmen: Rorschach 3 - It's not that Azzarello's doing a bad job with the character.  I just feel like I know this story already.  Of all the characters in Watchmen, Rorschach stood out the most.  With his narration of his journals we were inside his disturbed head quite a lot, including how he made the leap from beating and apprehending criminals to killing any he found beyond the pale.

21. Saucer Country 10 - Now we're hitting the possible drop zone.  I want to like this story, evoking X-Files as it does in some ways, but it's often flat.  There's too much narration and not enough presenting the story through dialog and visuals.  I'm going to give it a little longer, but the one year point might be the end point for me.

22. Animal Man 15, Swamp Thing 15 - A frontal assault in Animal Man.  A trip to Gotham in Swamp Thing.  Rot Batman and Man-bat Barbara Gordon.  Yeah, there's no way all these radical character changes can last when this arc ends.  Knowing that makes it harder to enjoy the story for its own sake.

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