Sunday, August 01, 2010

The List - July 2010

And another month with a too short turn around between the last new comics Wednesday and the new month's Sunday. At least August ends on a Tuesday. So, here we go into the rushed, somewhat random listing of what I got this month in something approximating my order of preference. I thought I was doing well at limiting the numbers until 7/28, then there were 15 books to read. At least 2 of them are cuts and 2 others were freebies. Northlanders and Batman and Robin have two different covers this month, apparently. The one I bought isn't the same as what comes up on DC's page.

1. Scalped 39 - No surprise here. Aaron's and Guera's book has been a consistent top ten read month in and month out. 'Course, I can say that for almost everything in the top ten this month. This one begins a new arc centering around Gina's pregnancy. As if her drug addiction weren't problem enough, she has to deal with Dash's addiction and her personal issues surrounding the previously known prior pregnancy she had and the newly revealed circumstances of her mother's pregnancy with Gina. Scalped remains a fine example of why comics is so much more than just superheroes.

2. daytripper 8 - Another fine example of the medium's strengths. Moon and Ba have crafted a wonderful tale, as I've noted several times. I've often mentioned how much of the Brazilian society is present in the narrative, but the truth is it could be set anywhere, as well as the story has been told. The Brazilian flavor is just a bonus. In this issue we don't even see our featured character, Bras. Nonetheless, his influence runs throughout the issue as we follow his wife and son. Things that happened in previous issues inform the reading, but, like the other issues, this could be read as a stand alone story, too. A shame there are only 2 issues remaining, but I'll be looking out for more from Moon and Ba.

3. Madame Xanadu 25 - So reading Jim's post recently I learned that this series is getting the ax. That really sucks. At least daytripper was planned as a 10 issue series. Of course, I'm a big Matt Wagner fan, which is what drew me to this series in the first place. I had no knowledge of the eponimous hero going in, which means this is the definitive version of the character for me. This issue continues the 1960s setting of the last issue, but at this point appears unconnected to that story. In fact, this is a sort of Mad Men meats Tales from the Crypt. The art, while not Amy Reeder, is excellent. Excellent renderings of the period decor, clothing, and architecture by Laurenn McCubbin, plus solid depections of facial expressions. It's not so beautiful as Reeder's work, but very good in its own right.

4. Unknown Soldier 22 - Dysart and Ponticelli have a new arc that, at least in this issue, features Sera, Moses's wife. She's still searching for Moses and has abandoned her work as a doctor in the internally deplaced persons (IDP) camps in Uganda to devote her full efforts to finding him. We have CIA machinations and the usual chaos of a civil war, but those are largely in the background as Sera, who's from the south of Uganda, learns some of the culture of the north by attending the wedding of a cousin of Moses. It's an excellent start to this arc that includes some background on Moses that's a surprise.

5. American Vampire 5 - Snyder and Albuquerque and King and Albuquerque conclude the opening stories of Pearl in the former and Skinner in the latter. The Snyder story finished with the expected retribution of Pearl on the old world vampires and a ride into the metaphorical sunset. Snyder did clarify that Skinner's no nicer a guy in 1925 than he was in 1912, though. The King story had the more surprising element, in that we learned Skinner had turned someone prior to Pearl into his kind of vampire. That person was more akin to Pearl in his refusal to be a vampire who killed innocent people, so obviously vampirism in and of itself doesn't make a person a predator of other people. The predators were predatory before they were vampires. An interesting twist to the usual vampire lore. This other vampire's child appears to be someone who's going to play a significant role in future stories, too.

6. Green Hornet Year One 4 - I did mention that I'm a big Matt Wagner fan, right? I should also mention that Aaron Campbell's pencils and Francesco Francavilla's colors are a reason unto themselves to buy this book. More fine telling of both the first attacks of Green Hornet and Kato on the Chicago mob in 1938 and the background of how they reached this point. I'm not one of those who think there's some grand conspiracy to marginalize fathers these days, but I have quite enjoyed the depiction of both men's relationships with their own fathers and how those relationships shaped them, in a positive way, into the upstanding sorts they represent.

7. Justice League: Generation Lost 5 & 6 - I'm going to call this the top landing in The List for a superhero comic, as Green Hornet's more of a noir comic with a costume than a superhero. As mentioned when I read the first issue, I started this for nostagia's sake. Nostalgia, though, can only carry so far. Winick and Giffen have surpassed the fond memories of the JLI and created a great new story with that team. I especially like the 6th issue's Captain Atom story. Truth be told, I don't remember much about Captain Atom from the JLI days. Most of my memories of those stories are about Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Batman and Guy Gardner. This issue's focus on how Captain Atom is becoming less human reminds me of The Watchmen. I doubt we'll reach those heights in this story, but I'm interested to see where that will go as we pursue the larger story of finding and dealing with Max Lord.

8. Northlanders 30 - As to be expected in a series that focuses on Medieval Vikings, there's a lot of killing, but it's the development of the cultures that were influenced by the Nordic tribes, as well as the cultures of the tribes themselves, that distinguishes this series. Whether the story is set in Ireland, England, Russia or Norway, a reader learns a little something about the era and the people in addition to getting a great story, usually of clashing cultures in some fashion. This issue starts an arc in Norway in 700 AD. A small settlement composed of believers in the old Nordic gods is taking money from Christians to allow the Christians to build a church. The money is good, but the demands of the Christians are expanding to change the way of life of the settlement. The Medieval Catholic Church is the villain in this piece, which is easy enough to do, but I'm figuring Wood and Burchielli have more in mind than just that.

9. The Walking Dead 74 & 75 - It's a good month when there are two issues of The Walking Dead. Of course, that's because there were no issues in June, but whatever. The first issue ends with Gabriel turning on Rick and the others by telling Douglas that they are dangerous and should be expelled from the community. Meanwhile, Abraham has shown himself as someone to lead and be counted upon to protect others and get things done. Glen is on a mission to find meds for the community. The second issue continues those stories but finishes with Rick really appearing to go off the deep end and trying to take over the community because he thinks Douglas isn't sufficiently protecting it. Fortunately, others from his group have clearer heads. Glen runs across a much more utilitarian group of survivors during the meds hunt, so there appears to be some future conflict coming there. Kirkman does something that most other comics writers don't seem to be able to pull off. Not just in this book but in others as well. He has very talky scenes that remain interesting. There's action, of course, that the art portrays, but the art also works well with the discursive moments and keeps the eye on both the text and the art. As a bonus, the 75th issue features a total fantasy sequence after the letters column that's The Walking Dead meets Invincible. Color, too. Really funny and reflective of various wishful complaints of letter writers over the years.

10. Batman and Robin 13 - Man, I could buy these for the cover art alone. Better yet, Frazer Irving's interior art is entirely different from Quitely's cover but equally engaging. There's something distinctly old school about his drawing of Batman and Robin that works really well with Morrison's story. Of course, the return of Professor Pyg is reason enough to buy this, but that his return ties in with both the Joker story that we've had running and the return of Bruce Wayne has me eagerly awaiting the next installment.

11. Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father 2 - Alien challengers. Cocky kids. Help from Invincible (who's deep in outer space in his own book's current story, I might add). It's a good story with a somewhat standard set-up. I think Faerber will turn it in a new direction, though. Loved the splash page of Smasher flying across the city in a kind of reversal of the usual heroic flight pose. One of the most interesting elements to Faerber's books, though, is his Under the Influence column wherein he discusses stories from various mediums that have influenced him. This one's about Bill Willingham's Elementals. I knew nothing of this book, but I may check into it now.

12. The Unwritten 15 - Wilson Taylor arrives in the story and we take some unexpected turns with our vampiric villain. We also get the return of the anachronistic hired killer from the villa that opened the series. Lots of good stuff going now.

13. Secret Six 23 - The Most Dangerous Game meets bad ass mercenaries. Something of a stock story by Ostrander, but still an excellent use of the characters within the story.

14. iZombie 3 - Roberson and Allred are moving the story along well but I still haven't quite gotten into it. I'm giving it a few more issues to really hook me. Right now it feels a lot like set up for the main story still.

15. Incorruptible 8 - I'm liking this a lot. A new Jailbait leaves Max Damage with the same problem he had with the previous Jailbait - she's a target for people who want to get to him. Nonetheless, he's keeping her with him because of her fragile mental state, and taking her with him to go to the Plutonian's home base to confront him.

16. Haunt 8 - Kirkman's got this one taking off, now. Our fused brothers are through their secret agent training, our villain is lurking nastily, and there's a new situation to which Haunt is being dispatched. Looks like we're going full steam now.

17. Batman Streets of Gotham 14 - Amazingly, Dini is making a Hush story interesting. Two-Face in the second, longer story, flows right from the opening story. Ivan Brandon does a good job with that one.

18. The Warlord 16 - It's odd that this story almost seems to be moving too fast. It feels like a sketch of a more intricate story that Grell wants to tell. It skips along from scene to scene and character to character so quickly I sometimes feel I've missed something. Hard to complain about so much story told in such a short span, though.

19. Gotham City Sirens 14 - Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn have suddenly found themselves hip deep in an alien invasion. I'm going to say it's a safe bet this invasion won't be noticed in any other books, which is just fine with me. I wonder why alien plants are purple?

20. Birds of Prey 3 - Penguin's fantasy/dream was as creepy as one would expect, all the more so with Benes's and Melo's good girl sort of art. The story's got my interest more than the first two issues did, too. We've moved from the standard "world collapsing around us from an unknown conspiracy" to a conspiracy within that really seems to be hitting home. Simone's got it going now.

21. The Great Ten 9 - The conclusion of this series had a good finish. Each of these characters has been developed to be more than just a functionary of the Communist Party. I'd like to see more of them but don't expect to any time soon.

22. Irredeemable 15 - It still seems like we're dragging out the necessary final demise of the Plutonian. There are at least 2 characters running around here who should be able to kill him all by themselves, but that hasn't happened because of delaying tactics by Waid. I'm starting to run out of patience here.

23. Detective Comics 867 - This one may hit the chopping block next month if there's no improvement. Jokerz aren't holding my interest.

24. Action Comics 891 - This one already hit the chopping block. In fact, I thought I'd dropped it previously, when the Firebird and Nightwing arc ended, but here I was reading it again. What's with the cutesy job titles (cro-magnon writer, prehistoric pencillers)? The story barely takes place in a prehistoric time, and that's not even an actual time but rather an illusion created by Mister Mind in Lex Luthor's head.

25. Artifacts 0 & 1 - These were free. Seems Top Cow is doing a title wide crossover like Image United. Like that series, the first two issues will be the only ones I read. It's convoluted, features charcters in which I have no interest, and hypocritally jibes the big two for their crossovers while promoting their own.

26. Justice Society of America 41 - I meant to drop this one after 40, but now I've rectified that error. It's the middle of some crossover with the JLA. I have no interest in the story, whether it's in this book or the JLA. I suppose JSA All-Stars is being dragged in, too. When the story runs through 3 titles and I don't have any interest in 2 of them, I'm dropping the one I did have an interest in rather than spending more money on unintersting stories.


  1. Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen was based on Captain Atom, while Blue Beetle was the basis for Night Owl, and Rorschach was based on the Question.

  2. I was aware of that, but not having read any of those old stories, I can only go by Captain Atom's presentation in the old JLI run for what I know of the character. Dr Manhattan and Captain Atom are much more alike in Generation Lost than they were with the old JLI Captain Atom. Or at least they seem to be heading that way.