Sunday, June 05, 2011

The List - May 2011

I actually read more than is showing up on The List this month due to Free Comic Book Day. Thing is, I gave all but one of them away and don't remember more than a few of them at all. I'll mention ones I remember if they're germane to The List.

1. Northlanders 40 - Short story glory. Brian Wood's writing, as always, with guest artist Matthew Woodson handling the art. Entitled "The Hunt", the story is one man's pursuit of a deer. It's bitterly cold, he's all alone, and the chase lasts for days. He no longer has any family, his wife and child having abandoned him for town living. It's a battle of wills between man and deer with an ending that's not satisfying to the pursuer. Much as I enjoy the longer story arcs in Northlanders, these single issue and two issue stories that populate the space between are often my favorites.

2. Cinderella: Fables are Forever 4 - I have got to read L Frank Baum's original Oz stories. There's obviously a lot more there than the move "The Wizard of Oz" has shown. Roberson and McManus continue to dazzle with the conflict between mercenary Dorothy Gale and posh Cinderella that is very much drawing on aspects of the Oz mythos that aren't so well known. Next issue will put us square in Oz for even more tidbits, but the method Cinderella has used to get there in this issue is so on point with her character, and the flashbacks to her previous encounter with Dorothy in 1985 not only provide needed background to the current tale, they make for an engaging tale of their own.

3. Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science 5 - Thomas Edison, evil bastard. Like Atomic Robo wasn't fun enough. A robot wearing a bowler? Perfect. Bickering protagonists? Excellent. AC invented by Tesla to stop Edison using DC current to rule the world? Awesome. Can't wait to see the story of Tesla and Edison battling at Niagra Falls in the 1890s. I know Cleveinger and Wegener will be so kind as to give that to us some day. Well, I hope. For the moment, I can look forward to the next Atomic Robo mini.

4. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe 2 - David Petersen takes awhile to get each issue out, but does he ever pack a lot in to those issues. Our heroes arive at Port Sumac to open the issue, which is a sort of Moss Eisley for the Medieval mouse set. I'm still trying to figure out why there's a duck in the harbor. A desparate ship captain named Conrad is enlisted to take them across the North Sea in the quest of the axe. It's a long, difficult journey across open water to a place no known mouse knows. The gale that swamps the ship looks like it could be the end for our crew, but I'm sure issue 3 will find at least some still swimming.

5. American Vampire 15 - Oh, aren't the Taipan vampire's interesting? I thought more of Henry's unit would have been wiped out already, but I'm sure the future's not so bright still. Skinner may have found himself a breed of vampire that can do him some real damage, too. I'm guessing it's no coincidence that these vampire's resemble Komodo dragons. Looks like it'll be Pearl to the rescue, pawn or no. Snyder and Albequerque are still rolling strong with this title.

6. Fables 105 - Nice to see just how elemental and powerful North Wind is. Bigby doesn't have a chance of beating his father in a direct confrontation. Logic, though, is Bigby's friend. That and the fact that his father is incorrigible while at the same time unwilling to own up to his own actions. The end result is that North is convinced he has to fight the Dark Man to protect his grandchildren, and maybe get around to killing one of those grandchildren later. Next issue should be an even greater battle than Frau Totenkinder's fight with the Dark Man. By the way, Mrs Spratt is hot now. Painfully so, in the literal sense.

7. The Unwritten 25 - Tom makes it back to his allies, finally escaping his long months away in the novels. And, once again, Carey and Gross have gone outside the usual comic book story telling box. This time they've inserted a estate sale listing for Wilson Taylor's possessions. Then there's the amusing post coital chat between Tom and Lizzie, of no real consequence to the story but wonderful in showing elements of the personalities of these two central characters, as well as showing Richie's isolation as a vampire. Too bad the break in to steal from the estate sale doesn't go so well.

8. Secret Six 33 - At this point Simone and Calafiore have this down so well it's hard to move it up The List. The expectations of quality are overwhelming the quality. Of course Deadshot shoots Rad Doll. Of course they can't agree on whether to fight out of Hell or to stay to be minions torturing the damned. But best of all is the presentation of one man's hell as another woman's heaven. Catman's father is tortured for all eternity by his late wife, who he used the young Thomas to kill. She rends him limb from limb, internal organ from internal organ, repeating it everyday. To him, this is hell and torture. To her, this is her heaven and eternal reward. It's not a new idea that people create their own hell. It's not even new in DC publications, with Sandman and Swamp Thing both having gone there. (But I really love Killer Shark's hell being stuck in a vegan restaurant.) It is different to leave the stereotypical heaven of clouds, angels and harps. Most excellent.

9. Super Dinosaur 2 - Kirkman and Howard have a great thing going already. I was reserving a bit with the first issue, but now with this issue and the Free Comic Book Day offering, I'm sure they have something special. It's all ages but nothing approaching simplistic. The personalities are all there in just 2 issues, but you can already see where there's room for growth. And knowing Kirkman, I'm sure there's plenty of unexpected developments to come, too. Besides, what's not to love about a Tyranosaurus Rex with mechanical arms wearing snow gear? Brillilant!

10. The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo - Surreal is right. I love Poe and I think he would have understood this work by MacPherson and Boatright, which means it's really out there for the rest of us. It draws on Poe's works but it is wonderfully original. It takes advantage of the reader's preconceived notions for some humor, then bends around and smacks the reader for that presumption. It's a lot of fun.

11. The Walking Dead 85 - More of an aftermath issue than anything else. They're cleaning up from the mess of dead they wiped out the previous issue. Carl remains in recovery. Mostly, Rick pushes his agenda to build the community further and suffers regret over the fate of Jessie and Ron. Good work as always but what Jim calls a middle chapter.

12. Incorruptible 18 - The fast little guy with the oversized football helmet has to be one of the funniest villains, presented in all seriousness, that I've seen in some time. Waid seems to be taking a page from some of the outre villains Kirkman's created in his superhero titles. As for the story, looks like Max's efforts to revive Coalville are still having problems, what with the actually honest people despising him for his past and the Machiavellian plans of the uber wealthy and amoral.

13. iZombie 13 - A new arc. A Scooby Doo homage. And now, the Dead Presidents. As much as I like this series, I have difficult time remembering it unless it's right in front of me. That's not a great sign. Maybe a sit down to re-read the first year will help.

14. Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 11 - Yeah, this isn't actually all that good. What it has going for it is Kirby craziness. This is a Pacific Comics title from 1983 that was 100% Kirby. It's an origin story for it's title hero. I think he was raised by a sadistic warrior class that ruled some planet and spent its time killing others. It has the differences in appearances of Deviants from Marvel and sort of an Apocalypse feel to the origin culture. I'll probably never see another issue, but it was fun. And free.

15. Birds of Prey 12 - Still not as good as Secret Six, but I like the direction it's taking with Oracle not known to be alive to the general DCU population. Off the books works better.

16. Proof: Endangered 5 - This may well be the last of this book, numerous teasers for future minis notwithstanding. In fact, the various teasers quickly became irritating. Every point in the story that might be a juncture to a future story ended up as a promo for a future story. Then, in the letters area at the end Grecian and Rossmo disclose that the sales numbers were down and there's no telling if there will be any future stories. At the very least it will be a couple years before any additional stories. Not a satisfying conclusion to our first and only direct confrontation between Proof and Mi-Chen-Po.

17. FF 3 & 4 - I'm still enjoying it enough to stick around a little while, but as Jim noted there needs to be resolution of some plot point soon. We're 4 issues in and the only thing that's happened is the addition of Spider-man to the team and the escape of the 4 Reeds from other 'verses, which was the reason for gathering several of this 'verse's Reed's leading foes. Ok, we've got all that, how about some actual action to do something about the problem?

18. Star Trek: The Next Generation 10 - And now we're full into the free stuff I picked up this month. I had a few of these things a long time ago, so I took a look again at some free reading. Like all of these things, there's some tangential tie to the TV show but this story goes off in its own direction. This one has Picard on trial, I think by the same woman who tried to convict him of something in the early days of the show. This time he's supposed to have destroyed some other Federation ship. Turns out there's a duplicate Enterprise running around. Who knew? No idea how this resolves.

19. Star Trek 11 - And another captain on trial, this time Kirk. As with the above, it draws on the show, bringing in the '20s gangster planet's boss, Oxmix, among others, to prove some charges the Klingons and some other species are making against Kirk. Lots of bombast, as to be expected with this cast. Not enough Bones and Spock, though. A trial talking about things done, rather than things done being shown, isn't as much fun, even if Peter David is writing.

20. Star Trek: The Next Generation Annual 1 - And the least of the 3 free in this pack. John deLancie was a lot of fun as Q but writing a story about Q isn't the same. It's the usual sort of Q thing where he changes something in Picard's life to teach Picard a lesson. In this case it's to give Picard the brother he always wished he had, but that brother turns out to be a megolomaniac who takes over the Federation and turns it into his personal killing machine. Problem with this was that it was either written before the TV show got into the fact the Picard did have a brother in the standard history of the character or deLancie was just given the ok to ignore that.

21. Marvel Comics Presents 56 - A bunch of short stories that seemed like left overs that couldn't make the cut of another book. There are stories featuring Wolverine and Hulk, Werewolf by Night, The Sub-Mariner, and Iron Man, none of which are complete or make the least bit of sense. I'm glad I never bought any of this title in 1990 when it was out.

22. Adventures of the Outsiders 38 - A bit of nostalgia with this one. I once owned the original Batman and the Outsiders series, or at least a few years worth of it. I obviously wasn't reading by the time this came out. Batman was long gone and this was just junk. Way too Looker influenced by 1986.

23. Solar: Man of the Atom 17-19 - I had read a bit of Solar in the Free Comic Book Day offerings and enjoyed it. This one, though, was published by Valiant in 1993. Not half as enjoyable. It didn't help that there was a crossover with another book in the middle of it.

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