Sunday, October 03, 2010

The List - September 2010

Another month, another List. It's getting a little shorter, though, but for the 6 free ones I picked up this month. No Invincible, though. That rather sucks.

1. daytripper 10 - This was probably the easiest top pick since I've been writing the List. Moon and Ba lived up to all expectations for this wonderful series. There wasn't a treacly end to it. It was forthright. The myriad stories of Bras's death that we'd seen in the previous 9 issues came together in a man facing his inevitable demise with grace and happiness in the life he's lived. In addition to exploring a life well lived, Moon and Ba gave readers flavors of Brazilian life that, as someone who's never been to Brazil, expanded my knowledge. They managed the dual result of a story that was both highly entertaining and informative. And nary a cape in sight.

2. Stumptown 4 - I really wish this one came out more frequently. Rucka and Southworth have created a great character in Dex Parios, hapless PI. There's a bit of the standard canard to it with the middle aged gangster who doesn't want his kids involved in the family business, but who get involved all the same. Still, it's well played. The setting of the Pacific Northwest really permeates the story, with a damp feeling, if that's possible through a printed page. The extras that Rucka, and especially Sourthworth, provide at the back of each book are particularly rewarding for the reader who appreciates a look into the creative process.

3. Fables 98 - Ah, the next big battle is just on the horizon, and Rose Red is back to kicking ass and taking names. Frau Totenkinder's got a plan for beating the Dark Man, or at least doing away with the consciousness of this aspect of the immortal evil. The various factions on the Farm are putting aside their differences for the moment for the greater good, even if the greater good is just getting the irritating Fable Town denizens back to their town and out of the Farm. A dragon/crow and a fearless leader make for a nice smackdown of uppity dryads, one of my favorite moments from the issue. Easily Willingham, Buckingham and Leialoha's magnum opus (the whole Fables story, not just this issue).

4. Green Hornet: Year One 5 - Right now this is better Batman than Batman. Campbell's art certainly is a key element to it, much as the art in Batman: Year One was key to that story, but Wagner's writing hits all the best noir notes. Wagner stays away from the Japanese stereotypes of the era in which the story is set to make Kato as interesting a character as Britt Reid, though this issue focuses more on Britt. Kato's insights into Britt's relationship with his father are a nice touch. The standard covers have been some of my favorites each month, and I wonder why Dynamite even bothers with all the variants, other than the obvious marketing shenanigans.

5. Northlanders 32 - Metal continues with the inevitably losing battle of a few hold out pagans against the onslaught of Christianity. An interesting addition to the story is the mercenary pagan working for the Catholic Church to track down the blacksmith and his albino girlfriend. Ingrid wants Erik to walk away, but Erik knows there's no escape without a fight. A nice look at some Medieval black smith skills, too. I'm always a sucker for learning something while I'm being entertained.

6. The Walking Dead 77 - Rick and what's his name, the guy who leads the Community, are tight now that Rick's killed Pete, our wife beater who was thrown through a window by Rick a couple issues ago, seeing as Rick killed Pete on orders. (The drawback of Kirkman's realistic conversations, in which people don't constantly refer to one another by name, is that it's easy to forget the names.) Maybe Rick's group will be a part of the Community for a long while after all. Of course, the survivors who fed one of their own to zombies to escape a store are now hot on the location of the community, so a new fight between groups is looming, but in the meantime there's nice development of stories involving Rick and Carl, Glen and his wife, and Andrea with a new guy. Well, maybe not so new, but the first time I noticed him.

7. The Unwritten 17 - If you like Harry Potter or Carey and Gross's Lucifer, you're going to love the use of the former as a jumping off point to go into a world where what's real and what's fiction is tightly controlled by a sinister organization and there a valiant few who seek to escape that control and free everyone. At least, that's what I think is coming. This particular issue hits on a creative story device, using something called a Pick-a-Story Book format to let readers come to take several different paths to reach the ultimate conclusion of Lizzie, Tom and Savoy preparing to do battle or Lizzie ending up in a catatonic state in an institution and never meeting Tom. Even if the reader reaches the battle prep end, there are several paths that explore the motivations of Tom's father, Wilson, in plucking Lizzie from the hands of state ward-hood. It's not only clever, it shows many possible motiviations for characters without wedding itself to any one of them.

8. American Vampire 6 - Skinner Sweet shows up at the end here, being a malevolent force in a small town, but otherwise we're working on a new cast. Silverton, CO in 1936 is almost a decade after our previous story arc, and it's clear the Great Depression is going to be a factor in the atmosphere, just like the Roaring Twenties was in the last arc. It's treading a little too closely to things done too often before, with our young sheriff taking over duties after his father is killed in the line of duty, but the drained corpse of a wealthy man is a nice launch into the investigation that will carry the arc forward. Sweet's still Sweet, too.

9. Mouse Guard: Legend of the Guard 3 - These stories have nothing to do with the Mouse Guard story Petersen has been telling, but they're a nice use of the milieu by other artists. Katie Cook's art presents a children's fable with a serious message (as all fables should). Guy Davis does his tale of a critic entirely in the art and pictographs. Nate Pride's story makes me think of a mouse Volstag, but my favorite was Jason Shawn Alexander's adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven to the Mouse Guard world. Nevermore.

10. Secret Six 25 - Simone's got mercenaries battling mercenaries, with our formerly allied Secret Six on opposing teams. The new sociopaths fighting with Bane's team are an interesting addition. We'd become somewhat comfortable with the psychological shortcomings of our core group. This bunch adds in a lot of new ticks, and some nicely exendable third rate DCU villains. Of course, that's how our team started out, too, so maybe these new ones will survive.

11. Incorruptible 9 - Sometimes I think this book is going to lead to the demise of the Plutonian before Irredeemable does. Max Damage seems a lot more intent on it than any of the erstwhile heroes who were the Plutonians allies before he snapped. Alana Patel, formerly girlfriend of the Plutonian, seems to be the key to Max's plan. The new Jailbait remains teetering on the edge of sanity.

12. Proof 28 - Much as I like this book I'm having a hard time keeping in my head where it's going. This was the last of a build-up to a new arc but I'm unclear when that arc will launch. Definitely need a re-read of this entire series.

13. Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father 4 - Faerber's got a great cast of characters who aren't even Dynamo 5. Soldier Ant, War Chest, Bald Eagle? These guys come fully developed with their own personality flaws. I don't much care about the fight against alien gladiators that's the deus ex machina of the series, but I really like how the characters are working together. It's a full boat of Faerber created super-heroes, plus a few other Image creator properties.

14. & 15. Justice League: Generation Lost 9, 10 - Oh, no. Not Magog. The only good that could come out of this is Magog dying. Fat chance.

16. Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood 4 - Free stuff time. I picked this out of the box because Rucka's the writer. I have no idea what came in the 3 issues before or the two issues after, but this September 2000 story told me, in one concise issue, the back story of The Huntress. She's always been a bit of a one note character in the Birds of Prey stories I've read, so it was nice to see more dimensions.

17. Batman and Robin 14 - Much as I like the return of Professor Pyg, I felt like I was in a rave. A mass of bodies all mashing into one another while one or two people try to get somewhere else. Maybe that's what Morrison wanted, but somewhere along the line I forgot what was going on in the story. Nice to see the Joker in full on antics, and it feels like we're reaching a climax to the story soon, so that's good.

18. Irredeemable 17 - Looks like the shit's hit the fan for Sam/Modeus. Didn't see that one coming. Oh, wait. Yes, I did.

19. Zatanna 5 - I'm not sure what the griping about the cover finds problematic. It reflects the story inside wherein Zatanna is under the sway of a guy using magic to extend his life. She looks to be so on the cover, too. Good story, but I want more of the demons who were after Zatanna at the beginning of the issue. They were too easily dispatched.

20. Birds of Prey 5 - Maybe it's the fact that they started at the same time, but BoP and Zatanna seem to stick side-by-side on the List. Anyway, it seemed like a transitional issue, as we had some healing in the hospital for Hawk, Oracle trying to get things rolling with Savat, and Huntress and Zinda ambushed by Black Canary, who's now White Canary, which lost me altogether.

21. iZombie 5 - Not a bad book but I still can't quite get fully into it. I'm going to see where it goes with the problem of eating only dead people, but I'm not going to give it too much rope. It had a good place to trod with the memories of the dead influencing Gwen.

22. Batman: Streets of Gotham 16 - More Hush stuff. It's Dini writing, but I'm not sure how much more of this I'll follow, even though the machinations of Hush to escape his trap masquerade as Bruce Wayne is interesting, it has to come to an inevitable end with Bruce returning to the DCU.

23. Gotham City Sirens 16 - A naked Selina Kyle always helps move a story along. Took me awhile to notice the cover girls were both her. I'm giving this one just one more issue to keep my interest. It's got a good hook in this story, but it shouldn't go beyond 2 issues.

24. Haunt 9 - Does anything matter beyond killing a lot of expendable armed guys? Pretty art, but I want a bit more story. This may be the one Kirkman book I'm not going to stay with.

25. Orion 2 - Back to free stuff. I loved Simonson's Thor and was lucky enough to get each issue as it came out those many years ago, but I've not found anything he did after to quite rise up to that level. This July 2000 publication had his signature art, but the whole small, Mid-Western town under threat thing has been played to death. Besides, there's only so much of Darkseid's schemes I can follow. Shouldn't this guy be able to take out just about everyone by brute force?

26. Doom Patrol 7 - Free. June 2002, and I have no idea what was going on with the cast at this stage. This issue did not clarify matters.

27. American Flagg 22 - Free. I recently wrote about Chaykin's Time2: The Epiphany. See that.

28. Spider-man 16 - Free. November 1991. Reminds me of why I wasn't reading Spider-man or the X books at this point. Juggernaut is ridiculously huge. He looks like he should be fighting Hank Pym in Goliath mode. The idiotic bickering amongst the X-Force members, most of whom are totally alien to me, is just irritating. Almost makes me want to engage in book burning. Recycling would be more environmentally friendly, though.

29. Barb Wire 1 - Free. Only this could be worse than Spider-man 16. I almost think that bimbo from David Hasselhoff's beach show (Tommy Lee's wife/porn mate) was given a raw deal in being deemed a bad actress in playing this part. The role's so badly written to begin with, Helen Mirren couldn't save it. Of course, she'd be bright enough not to take the part in the first place.

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