Thursday, February 07, 2013

The List - January 2013

irst List of the new year.  I found January to have fewer of the regular titles I'd been getting so I tried out a few new things.  Only one of them has been a particular gem so far, but it's early.  Off we go, then.

Stumptown #5 - Comic Book Cover1. Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case 5 - Starting off with a conclusion, we have the consistently great Stumptown.  Not that this is actually a conclusion to the series.  It's just the end of the second chapter.  That's the best way to look at the first two Stumptown installments - chapters in a larger novel.  More so than the first chapter, this one ended with clear indication that there's a lot more to come.  Dex's retrieval of Mim's missing guitar, Baby, exposes a meth smuggling ring and brings back a heavy hitter from the first chapter who's clearly not going to be pleased with Dex's involvement, as we'll no doubt see in coming chapters.  If you have any fondness at all for PI stories, from Sherlock Holmes to Stephanie Plum, I can't recommend this series from Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth, and Rico Renzi highly enough.  On top of a great story, the creators have been providing insights, in each issue, into their processes in creating the story.

2. Todd: The Ugliest Kid on Earth 1 - Jim's responsible for me trying this out.  It's totally off my usual path of books, as I haven't found a lot of comedies that work in comics form.  This is a hilarious book.  It pushes all kinds of buttons.  Hell, just reading the character descriptioins on the inside cover is a riot.  It's not many times a serial killer of children is both a course of laughter and sympathy, yet it's pulled off here.  M.K. Perker and Ken Kristensen are the team behind the book, with Perker the artist getting top billing over the writer, Kristensen.  I know nothing about Kristensen and only know Perker from Vertigo's Air, a book that lost my interest before its conclusion.  Get in on the ground floor of Todd now.  You won't regret it.  Not for the sensitive, though.

3. Invincible 99, 100 - Two issues this month, none for February, according
to Kirkman in the letters pages of 100.  I wonder if a lot of the people who write in to Kirkman on his books pay attention to what he's writing.  So many of them are amped for 100 but Kirkman's shown repeatedly in Invincible and The Walking Dead that these milestone issues are just another chapter in his longer story.  He'llplay the hype for sales and humor, but it's not a big end point.  In this three parter that started with 97 and called "The Death of Everyone" you'd have to be kidding yourself if you think a whole bunch of characters are going to die, even though they're all dead on the cover of 100.  Kirkman has a long history of being coy with covers.  This isn't Marvel or DC where characters are killed off and brought back.  Dead characters tend to stay dead with Kirkman.  What actually goes on is an end to the Dinosaurus story and a lot of introspection for Mark about his alliance with Dinosaurus and what legal and moral responsibility he bears for Dinosaurus's actions.  It's a start to a new direction in the book that harkens back to the earliest days 10 years ago, and that doesn't even include the imminent return of Angstrom Levy.

4. American Vampire 34 - The main series and the minis featuring Felicia Book are looking to dovetail as we start a new arc in 1954.  Felicia's mother, Abelina Book, returns after not having been seen since the arc how Felicia came to have partial vampiric traits.  A new villain, The Gray Trader, is introduced, obliquely, and a new world threatening, or at least USA threatening, adventure is in the offing.  I think this issue is a great stand alone story itself but serves an even better role as teaser for what's to come.  We learn of a Bookkeeper function within the Vassals.  We learn that Abelina and Felicia aren't close.  We learn that dimes make a less fatal projectile for a shotgun.  Ok, that last probably isn't terribly important as the story progresses.  If you haven't read the book and want to jump on, this is a good place.

5. Wonder Woman 16 - This has to be the best version of Orion I've ever seen.  Most of the time he seems like this driven, horse's ass kind of guy.  His banter with Diana, and claim that he comes to Earth to relax, was totally unexpected.  As always, I love where Azzarello and Chiang are going with Diana and her half siblings, Lennox, Milan, and Zola's starry eyed baby.  Orion's disappointment that his apparent enemy is a baby is great.  I can see how Zola indiscriminately hooked up with Zeus, considering she's seriously considering slipping off with a guy who clearly has sharpened teeth.  Zola needs to work on her discrimination ability.

6. Thor: God of Thunder 4 - My other favorite mythology based book has another strong chapter in the three time periods showing Thor's battle with Gorr the God Butcher.  You have to wonder what Gorr is up to, leaving Thor alive and on his throne in the future set portion when Gorr has proclaimed repeatedly that he intends to kill Thor, as well as all other gods.  Hmm...  Does that make Gorr the embodiment of science and reason?  An interesting postulation.  Ah, well.  Present Thor shows up in the era of future Thor at the end, which is going to give me time travel headaches, I fear.

7. Before Watchmen: Minutemen 6 - The final chapter of this mini was stellar.  I'm going to have to re-read the whole thing because The Comedian manipulated things to such a degree I have to go back and review what actually happened.  Even in his reveal to Hollis of what he did I don't necessarily trust Blake to be accurate or tell the truth.  I must say that it's interesting to see him presented in this light in this series because it's set before his own mini, which is revealing a turn in how his character came to be the one we saw in Watchmen.  At this point I can't decide if The Hangman was a danger or a victim.  Maybe he's both.

8. Saga 9 - I could stop at just the first page and have had an entirely enjoyable experience.  A curvaceous purple woman in a sun mask and with filed teeth, flanked by gladiatorial, headless guys with eyes for nipples and tounges lolling out of belly buttons.  Did I mention the purple chick is pointing a gun at the reader?  It's nothing but a dream The Will is having, but it's great.  That Gwendolyn resolves The Will's problem of trying to free a child prostitute from bondage with a single phone call would have been great, if that had actually resolved it.  The Will is back on the hunt and Marko and Alana are the targets.  Nice to see The Stalk again, even if just in a dream.

9. The Walking Dead 106 - This is one of the rare issues where the cover is almost what happens on the inside.  Jesus isn't in the fight that's shown on the cover, but otherwise...  Anyway, we get a bit of Carl and Negan interaction to start and then a bit of reflection by some of the more minor characters at the compound as they explore their admiration or disdain for Rick's leadership.  Rick and the others who went out to find Carl, having no idea where he might have gone, are forced back by roamers.  Fortunately for Rick, Jesus returns from his scouting mission and leads them toward Negan's compound.  I'd have liked to have seen how Rick's plan to just knock on the door worked but Negan met them along the way, intending to bring Rick back to show him what's been done with Carl.  Now we get to wait a month to find out what that was.

10. Fables 125 - This book has been jumping around in time lately.  It started with the arc involving Terese and Dash on the deadly version of Island of Misfit Toys.  By the end of that arc Terese had returned to The Farm an adult while her remaining siblings were still kids.  Now we're seeing Bigby head off with Stinky in the magic car that was just revealed in the second arc of Fairest to find the two missing cubs.  That places the start of this arc, called "Snow White," by the way, before the ending of Terese's arc.  On a minor note, and something that's likely to be explained at some point, I wonder how the big dark tower that Mr Dark built on the ruins of Fabletown goes without being noticed by Mundys.  I mean, the old Fabletown blended in with the surrounding NYC neighborhoods.  There were spells to encourage people not to enter but it was plenty visible.  I guess the spells have been amped up for the tower not to be noticed.  Hey, made it through without even mentioning the arrival of Snow's first husband, who's someone we've seen for some time now but didn't know his prior role.  Well, almost made it through.

11. Fairest 11 - Rapunzel's Japan adventure is a bloody affair.  It's been one through much of this arc but with the back story of how Ryogan sold out the Japanese Fables to The Emperor it's gotten more so.  It's also a wonder Rapunzel's at all sane now.  How long at the bottom of a well with dead bodies heaped on her?

12. Batwoman 16 - Another beautiful issue by J.H. Williams III and a good team of Batwoman and Wonder Woman continues.  I need to shut down any attempts to reconcile in my head the divergent stories told here and in Wonder Woman and just enjoy them separately, without any concern for continuity.  Medusa seems on the verge of raising her mother from the ocean's depths and onto Gotham's doorstep. 

13. The Unwritten 45 - Much Richie in this issue, which is a bit of a shift from where we were with Paulie sitting on Hades's throne at the end of the last issue.  I'd like to go back to that.  Not that Richie's story is uninteresting, and starting a story with a couple having sex is never a bad idea.  What's more, with the current popularity of zombies this story of a boy who unintentionally brings zombies into existence through his stories is quite creepy.

14. Point of Impact 4 - Faerber's mini comes to a close.  This was a good, quick story about corporate intrigue and the exposure of a Haliburton-like company.  A bit of a love story thrown in at the end, where the cuckolded husband learns from his wife's lover that she really loved the husband, despite the philandering.  Good complex character stories in a concise package.  As always Faerber has his exploration of his sources of influence at the end.  This time it was Jon Sable, Freelance.

15. Dark Horse Presents 20 - This issue's highlights: Oeming's The Victories, Kernan's Alabaster, Barbiere's The White Suits, and Williamson's Captain Midnight.  Resident Alien and X also made strong appearances.  Really no misses to mention, actually.

16. Joe Kubert Presents 3 & 4 - Two issues this month.  I was surprised to see another chapter of Reedemer in the 4th issue.  It looked like it was over in 3.  The back story of Reedemer's creation and road to publication was very interesting, too.  The last chapter of the Angel and the Ape story was my favorite, and not just because it was the end.  It was the funniest of the installments. 

17. Animal Man 16 & Swamp Thing 16 - Green Lanterns.  Woman-bat.  Fighting the Rot.  Now that Maxine is converted to an agent of the Rot we have to be nearing the conclusion that will reverse all this.  I think it's been gnawing around the edges of my mind but it occurs to me that all this Rot story amounts to is another zombie story, especially as we see more of the dead heroes and villains who are now agents of the Rot.  It's like a smaller version of Blackest Night.

18. The Black Beetle 1 - Francavilla's book that got its first look in DHP is a good noir book, a la The Green Hornet.  This is a 4 part series, so it's worth taking a look.  I enjoyed this issue and its flare.  Not sure how a guy in a yellow costume goes unnoticed entering a high security prison, even if he's wearing a guard's uniform over it.  The mask seems like a giveaway.

19. The Massive 8 - Mary's got nine lives and opaque motivations.  After a bit of a lull, I feel like the book is picking up.  Next issue will conclude this arc at the utopia ocean platform.  It may be my deciding point on continuing with the book.

20. Mara 1 - Another new Brian Wood book.  An interesting concept of volleyball as the biggest sport in a future world.  Women's volleyball at that. If you can suspend your disbelief for that, the rest should be easy.  Mara's a superstar in the league and the look at her life in the spotlight is interesting.  Her sudden manifestation of a super power at the end is a turn that may be just a hook or may be a solid plot point.  We'll see.

21. Saucer Country 11 - Knowing this book is coming to an end is keeping my on it.  It's really just been too verbose.  This issue's look at Michael's childhood with his late sister, Beth, and the fairy stories she created that are somehow a tie to the aliens and a cover for child molestation by a neighbor.  It's a good story on its own but a sudden change in direction from what's gone before.  Three issues remain in the book.

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