Sunday, April 10, 2011

The List - March 2011

Ah, the much delayed, much anticipated List. For your infinite patience, you’ll be rewarded with a special edition of The List next week.

1. The Walking Dead 82 & 83 – The benefits of a 5 Wednesday month include two issues of some very good books in the same month. Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn continue their damndest at convincing me that they’re going to kill off everyone. Rick seems safe at the moment, but in the Kirkman world that has to mean he’s looking at a bleak, short future. I’m more disappointed in Karl’s injury. Of course, the fact that I’m this vested in what happens to these characters is a fine achievement in and of itself. At least Andrea and Michonne appear to be likely to survive No Way Out. But I could be wrong. That’s what’s so enjoyable about the series. Characters are developed and eliminated on a regular basis, just like life. Life with flesh eating zombies around every corner. Glad it’s not my life.

2. Scalped 47 – Something of a standalone issue featuring Dino Poor Bear. It’s a transition, wrapping up some of the things we’ve seen developing with Dino, including his crush on Carol Red Crow Ellory. The disposal of his youthful posse was unexpected but entirely in keeping with life on the Rez. Aaron and Guera keep the high quality. The most unexpected element of the story to me was that Catcher is the narrator. His narration indicates Catcher has at least enough future to have seen changes in Dino that occur after the point of this story. That’s more future than I expected for Catcher.

3. Fables 103 – As Jim mentioned, there’s hardly a better way to open a story than a naked Snow White. Granted, she’s got strategic blocking of the “naughty bits”, as does Bigby, but it’s still a pleasing start. Snow’s embarrassment that she and Bigby have been romping in a sentient grove of trees is cute, too. Beyond that we have lots of small movements toward the next big confrontation with Mr Dark. Geppetto’s up to his own nefarious ends, Mrs Spratt’s crash diet is proceeding apace, Flycatcher’s magic suit of armor is coming along, and tryouts for the super team are coming to the inevitable collision of Pinocchio’s grandiose plans and Ozma’s practical concerns. Plus, Beast ain’t so beastly no more.

4. Invincible 78 – Reunions on Earth, now that the Viltrumite War is over. Loved Cecil’s automatic reaction to shoot Omni-Man and the awkward apology thereafter. Fat Atom Eve and her secrets are interesting. William being out of the closet less so. I wonder what they’re going to do with all those reanimated alternate universe Invincibles, now that they’re not needed for defense against a Viltrumite invasion.

5. American Vampire 13 – I like this WWII era arc already. Henry and Pearl had a wonderful relationship, hidden from the world though they were. But Pearl was right to foresee a problem with him aging while she did not. His angst leads to him joining the Army to fight in the war, but instead he ends up on a secret vampire killing mission, which is obviously compromised from the start, given Skinner Sweet’s appearance. Albuquerque’s art is working better for me in this milieu than it was in its Old West setting, though I can’t put my finger on why.

6. Cinderella: Fables are Forever 2 – I wouldn’t have thought someone could equal Willingham’s work on the original Fables, but Roberson has done a hell of a job on this series and the previous Cinderella mini-series. More hunting for Dorothy Gale in this one, including a trip to Thailand and a tsunami wrecked resort that hasn’t been repaired. I like the way the story’s progressing on concurrent courses, with the flashbacks to Cinderella’s previous meetings with Dorothy interspersed with her current search. I really should read more of the Oz stories, as there are many elements being referenced here that are not from the Wizard of Oz movie we all know but are from Baum’s original stories.

7. Secret Six 31 – My favorite dysfunctional protagonists. As always, they’re at war with one another more than they are with whoever they’ve been hired to attack. Rag Doll and Scandal have conflicting agendas for the Get Out of Hell Free Card that was the center of the series’ first arc. Looks like Scandal’s current love will be sacrificed to her pursuit of her dead love, whether or not Scandal is successful in reviving her dead love. Best moment this issue isn’t a conversation involving King Shark or Rag Doll. It’s the opening sequence when they’re shooting a promotional video for their services when Insignificus points out that there are eight of them in the group. “Pardon this worthless one, oh, Mistress of the Velveteen Privates, but…er…you do realize there are eight of you?”

8. Green Hornet: Year One 8, 9 – Another bonus issue for the month due to the extra Wednesday. Not much to say other than excellent Wagner in the perfect, non-super powered hero element for his style. Noir at some of its finest, really. Best use of the hero as supposed villain, too. Not like Spider-man being accused of being a villain when he isn’t; rather a hero pretending to be a villain to take down actual criminals. I hope Wagner is allowed to keep this going for a long while. He’s taking his time developing his heroes (can’t forget Kato, after all). In some respects it reminds me of the great TV show Wiseguy, without the undercover element.

9. Atomic Robo 2, 4 – Not a bonus issue for the month. Somehow I missed the second issue when it came out, but Cards, Comics and Collectibles to the rescue. Even though this is set in the same era and the same country as Green Hornet, it’s an entirely different tenor. Science humor is a rare thing, but Clevenger and Wegener are doing a great job with this concept. Besides, what’s not to like about a robot with a bowler? (I wear one myself.)

10. Northlanders 38 – The Siege of Paris is a very different Viking tale. We’re not used to seeing Vikings in this light. They’re supposed to be marauding and rampaging, not laying siege like some traditional army. Looks like the survival rate’s a lot better on marauding, too. I love the work put in to show Paris in its hovel era, rather than the City of Lights we all know.

11. The Unwritten 23 – Tells you how strong the top of the list is that this is this far down. Tom’s adventures in the metaphorical whale’s belly, along with various literary characters who have experienced the same fate, interspersed with flashbacks to his “training” by Wilson, leads to an important realization.

12. Incorruptible 16 – Funny how other people seem to know how to use Kaidan’s powers better than she does. Hell, Max isn’t even some sort of superior genius like Qubit. But really, the high (low?) point is sexromancy. I’m glad Waid and Takara opted to be no more graphic than they were. Read it and you’ll know why. Unless that’s your thing, I guess.

13. Proof: Endangered 4 – When I read the Julia arc of Proof I really didn’t expect Spring Heel Jack to ever return, but here he is. And I really don’t understand why Autumn, who hates cryptids, is working for Mi-Chen-Po. Even having re-read the original series, I don’t get that one. Anyway, I’m surprised by the turn things have taken with Elvis. My conditioning as a comics reader says it’s not permanent, but this isn’t a Big Two book, so maybe it is.

14. Guarding the Globe 4 – Considering I don’t keep most of the characters straight in my head, I really enjoy this team book. Kirkman had a pretty goofy name in the late Rexsplode, but Kaboomarang and Japandroid may well have surpassed that. Still lovin’ the Humongous as the lead villain, but I keep lookin’ for the guy in the chaps and loin cloth to show up. Now, what would be really cool would be Kaboomarang, who’s from Australia, making some quip about the guy looking like the Humongous when they finally meet.

15. Haunt 14 – Still growing on me. The Apparition’s attacks on Kurt have added a good threat for Haunt. Didn’t buy the fight in the opening scene, though. I know the agents are well trained, but there’s no way they can move fast enough to avoid being cut to pieces by what looks like a chain gun at point blank range. And the women in the book still all share the same face, which comes out particularly funny when Kilgore IDs a woman from a photo shown to him by the director of the agency. Other than being browner and having curly hair, the woman in the picture is the woman who’s showing him the picture.

16. iZombie 11 – I’m liking the addition of Marvin to the cast. Can’t say as I can recall a guy’s chimp grandfather flipping him off being depicted previously. Our band of vampire girls is a bit more sympathetic now that we know their origin. I’m starting to wonder if any of the various monsters are going to be out and out bad guys. Actually, that none are just caricatures is a good thing. Kind of makes me wonder why there are monster hunters, though. Guess Xitalu will answer that.

17. FF 1 – I’ve heard a fair amount of good things about Hickman’s handling of the Fantastic Four, though no one believes The Human Torch is dead for long, so I thought I’d give a look to this. The black and white costumes are a bit…anticeptic? Makes me think of a sterile room in some futuristic tale. I don’t have the issues Matt had with the story, mostly because I’m not vested in the history that led to this point. I’m coming in with knowledge of the Fantastic Four but not holding any of it as canon. I also liked the dinner grace. It was meant, I think, as a nod to the observances of the various participants, not some sort of dogma for each faith or absence of faith. Strikes me as the very essence of our secular nation’s “live and let live” core when it comes to religion.

18. Justice League: Generation Lost 21, 22 – Look, Blue Beetle’s not dead. Shocking. At least we didn’t have to wait around months or years for some sort of convoluted revival. The rather simpler explanation of the suit/armor saving his bacon is what I figured the moment he was shot, and perfectly in keeping with what we know about the armor. The real problem is the angst and despair the “death” caused other members of the team. Why? They’ve all been around long enough to recognize the impermanence of death with super heroes. Some of them have even been dead, or near to it, most likely. In fact, Fire was pretty near death just a couple issues ago. Love the Rocket Red version of Wonder Woman, though.

19. Birds of Prey 10 – I’m still waffling on this title. I’ll hold onto it for awhile to see where it goes but it’s just missing something I can’t quite put my finger on. I just noticed that the HIVE logo is rather like the FF logo. Funny, that. I wasn’t terribly fond of the Miranda art, either.

20. Zatanna 10, 11 – Another waffling. I keep thinking I’m done with this, and with the whole puppet story ending, I should be, but I’m just slightly interested in the upcoming Brother Night story. We’ll see how I feel when it comes out next.

21. Batman: Streets of Gotham 21 – Now this one is done. I’ve lost interest in just about any titles that feature Batman himself right now. Oversaturation, I think. This one concluded the Hush story, so it’s as good a time as any to stop.

22. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight 1, 2 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer 21 – Free stuff time. Problem here is that I had already read the two Season Eight issues in cheap trades I had gotten awhile ago. Being sealed in bags in a group of three meant no perusing ahead of purchase (well, no actual purchase), so that’s the breaks. Issue 21 was fun, though. Harmony was featured as some sort of hero in the pop culture.

23. The Sensational She-Hulk 3, 12 & 15 – Yep, more free stuff. At least I’d never read any of this. I know it was supposed to be comedy, but it’s really groaner material. At least it looked nice when Byrne was writing and drawing, but it was trying way too hard, especially after Byrne left. By the time 15 arrived Howard the Duck was appearing in a parody of Secret Wars. Hard to believe this stuff was 1989 and 1990. My memory was that comics had traveled a long way by that point, but that’s probably rose colored and skewed by my changing purchasing habits.

So, next week, a special bonus addition of The List.

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