Sunday, August 07, 2011

The List - July 2011

Ah, a breather. Gotta like those months when Sunday is the last day. A little vacation didn't hurt, either. So, here we go.

1. American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest 2 - Much as I like Pearl and Skinner in the main book, I'm liking Felicia and Cash so much more. Felicia is total bad ass. Even in her nightmares, she's bad ass. The book opens with her taking a bath when she hears a noise, gets out and grabs a gun. Naked but for a towel realistically held, which is to say, to little effect, considering she was holding a gun with the other hand, she checks her windows, only to turn and find Skinner, who grabs her by the throat. She shoots him in the head, but that doesn't even slow him down. He tells her she can't stop him and is connected to him by blood from before she was born. She agrees and shoots herself in the head. Totally a dream and just an opening sequence, but hard core through and through is Felicia. The book only gets better with the arrival in Romania to find the cure for vampirism they think the Nazis have. Cash shows himself to be just as tough, yet both are not above feeling. Felicia feels bad that she didn't stop Skinner from infecting Cash's son while Cash is concerned about Felicia's nightmare. And then, we get a brigade of Nazi vampires! Excellent.

2. The Unwritten 27 - Look at that cover. That alone is a good reason to buy the book, and I'm not even an art guy. Cary and Gross are continuing to use references to all sorts of current media to bring some interesting depth to the tale, particularly in showing perceptions of Tom Taylor in the wider world and his efforts, with Ritchie and Lizzie's aid, to manipulate those perceptions to his benefit. And it's working to some extent, as the Cabal don't think he can be killed now that he's so much in the public mind. That's not even the main part of the story, though. Instead we have references to early comics coming to the forefront, as Tom tries to track a long forgotten super hero's story while his father, in the late '30s, tracks down the author of that story, even though Tom's father shouldn't have been born at that point. For good measure we have some assassination thrown in during our time period.

3. Cinderella: Fables are Forever 6 - The end has come too soon. Not because the story should have ended sooner but I really enjoy Roberson's take on the Fables milleu. Cindy is a great character. Like the other Fables she's far more interesting in these tellings than the now stale stories that are her origin. Dorothy turns out to be none too bright, despite are working out a complicated plan to capture Cindy. I'm guessing Dorothy is either bi or lesbian, as there didn't seem to be any need for her to have sex with Cindy, disguised as a male, other than that she wanted to. Sure, it was the last step before Cindy was captured by Dorothy, but that capture could have occurred sooner or otherwise just as well. Doesn't seem like Cindy wants to spend too much time thinking about that, though. Roberson and McManus wrapped this short story quite heavily in the trappings of the super hero or super spy framework, so it's no surprise what happens to Dorothy in the end, or how, but getting there was a lot of fun.

4. Secret Six 35 - The lamentations may now commence. With DC killing this book for its big post Flashpoint re-boot, I'm already feeling the enui coming on. I could say just when things are getting interesting, but things are always interesting in this book. Bane has the team working on breaking Batman. Not physically like Bane did once previously, but totally by taking out his associates to show Batman he's vulnerable. This is all because Bane learned in their recent foray to Hell that he'll end up there no matter what he does now. Some of the team are less than thrilled with his plan, but with Catman on his side they go along. I suppose one of the doubters could have put a halt to things with a little hint to Bane that demons often lie, but where would be the fun in that? Speaking of fun, of late King Shark has taken over from Rag Doll in the hilarious lines department. Still, the best line this issue came from our banshee member on the verge of attacking a heavily armoured fortification. Deadshot: "Guess it's kiss kiss bang bang." Banshee: "Kiss now, darling. Bang later."

5. Fables 107 - You know, Willingham and Buckingham is hard to beat, but throwing in Terry Moore as a guest artist is one hell of a fine way to try. I've no idea exactly when this story takes place, just some time after Briar Rose did her thing and put the Empire's capitol city to sleep during the war against the Emperor. Now there are a plethora of pretenders to the rule of the fallen Empire's remnants. Naturally, reviving the city would provide a nice supply of magicians and such who would come in handy, but only the kiss from a prince with true love can wake Briar Rose. Elevating large numbers to princely status doesn't seem to be helping, but I love the sign posted by the line of aspirants. "No tongue! No toching! No ogling! No drooling! No gifts!" And tacked on for good measure "No singing!" Best of all, we're off an running with a larger tale already. How are there two Sleeping Beauties? Why do the goblins want them to remain sleeping? Will Gingy be turned on by his traveling companions? And what's going on in Oz with Bufkin (ok that last isn't in this issue, but I just remembered it).

6. American Vampire 17 - Hoo-rah! It's Pearl v Skinner time. Can't wait until next issue. I'm not surprised Henry's the last of his team, nor that Skinner survived a bit of a roasting. That's one tough breed of vampire. He's good and softened for Pearl to attack, though. Still, she's not the evil bastard that he is, so it'll be a good fight. With all the fighting of these Pacific vampires in this issue, I'm sure next issue's fight will be just as volatile. It occurs to me that Scott Snyder is on a Romanian kick at the moment. The story in Survival of the Fittest is in Romania and we have the Vicar in this arc who's from Romania. Guess that's not something that should surprise me with a vampire book.

7. The Walking Dead 87 - That may be the most sexually provocative cover I can recall for this book. Not that it would take much in a book about surviving a zombie apocalypse, where most of the doings involve not being killed by zombies or other survivors, but Rosita on Abraham there, with Holly on the other side, is emblematic of the most sexual tension in the book since Carol tried to entice Rick and his late wife into a plural marriage. There's a lot more anger running around with Rosita, Abraham and Holly, so I don't see that coming to pass, any more than it did in Rick's situation, but for different reasons. Kirkman seems to have a fondness for people who hear voices that no one else hears. Aside from Andrea and Glenn, the two most rock solid characters in the book are Rick and Michonne. Well, Carl was rock solid, but now there's a hole in his noggin'.

8. Invincible 81 - Kind of an interlude issue, but very good all the same. Never hurts to start with Vegas reduced to a sheet of glass after most of its population has been evacuated. On the whole, though, it's a lot of small things here. Our villain from last issue seems to have survived. An inventor with a limited ability to think of outlets for his talents gets shown the right door, and an ampted up dude with transferrence issues blames Invincible for something the attacker did. A little bit of zen with that fight. Stillness wins, after all. The main result of all these little things, and the many big things that have come before, is that Mark appears to be on the cusp of deciding to take a different approach to using his abilities. What will it be?

9. Northlanders 42 - A new arc, set in Iceland 871 A.D. It's going to jump forward a few years in the next issue. Right now we just have the makings of a sociopath. Of course, having your father beat you and break your arm in order to make you tough for some future fight with a more powerful family on the island during its early years of settlement can lead to that sort of thing. Caught the boy's mother by surprise, that's for sure. Guess she wasn't paying attention to the schooling her boy was getting.

10. iZombie 15 - Much as I like this book, it seems a bit lethargic. Perhaps that's fitting with a lead who's a zombie. Gwen's not so slow or lumbering as the mass of zombies who appear to be escaping from catacombs below San Francisco, but she's heading that way if she doesn't take some steps. Although Gwen and Horatio are looking for Spot in the catacombs, and there's some nice zombie fighting by Horatio, it doesn't feel like a lot is going on. Looks like the Dead Presidents back up story is merging into what's going on in the main story, too.

11. Incorruptible 20 - Oooh. Nice blood soaked cover. Looks like Max has reached his nadir in this story arc and it'll be time for some serious beatings in coming issues. This issue brings up one of my pet peeves, though. In a violent book clearly not intended for a younger audience, why isn't the naked chick actually naked? It's distracting that hair is strategically placed rather than naturally placed. It interferes with the willing suspension of disbelief.

12. Guarding the Globe 5 - I'm starting to think Kirkman has a secret desire for urban planning. He levels cities often enough. Just in the last month he's turned Vegas into a sheet of glass and now has the denizens of Paris slaughtered en masse. Not that this is new for Kirkman. The Invincible/Omni-man battle did a lot of damage, and the Invincible War did even more. Meanwhile, or speedster is diligently working her way through the entire male roster of the team as the team has serious issues with remaining an effective fighting force. Another theme for Kirkman these last months - futility of super heroics.

13. Dark Horse Presents 2 - These are a bit pricy, but the Concrete stories alone are enough to draw me in. As with all anthologies, it's a bit hit and miss. Mr Monster is fun, of course, but I don't remember a lot of the other stories.

14. FF 6 & 7 - Because this story wasn't going slowly enough, we have two issues of the history of the Kree Empire and the Inhumans. Apparently this is something of a big deal because Black Bolt is brought back from apparent death. Not that any death is permanent in the Big Two universes. They don't appear to have tried too hard at making Black Bolt seem dead in this one. Anyway, Black Bolt is back and briefly ruling the Kree again before he and the whole lot of Inhumans take off for Earth's moon. Presumably next issue will get us back to the point where we previously saw them showing up. All I'm asking is the conclusion of a story arc. Can we get that some time soon?

15. Strange Tales 16 - And now it's free stuff time. Only got one pack of 3 free books this month, and this was the one that drew me in. I always had a fondness for Cloak and Dagger, from their first appearance in Spider-man. On the other hand, I never have cared much about Doctor Strange, who's the other half of the book. I'm in the middle of things in both stories, but they seem in keeping with the characters I knew in 1988 and it was a fun little read.

16 The Defenders 72 - There was a time when I had a subscription to The Defenders. This wasn't that time. In 1979 when this came out, there wasn't a lot of effort being put into it. Not to cut on Matthew's pal, but Herb Trimpe's art was not to my taste. It's a sort of Kirby lite that's just not working for me. I'm not even going to mention the story, mostly because I can't make anything coherent out of it. They're in some magical realm and logic seems to have been the first casualty.

17. Strikeforce: Morituri 24 - Um, ok. I don't remember this one at all. Glad I missed it, too. This was also from 1988 but has an entirely different feel from Strange Tales. I guess it was some kind of prestige line from Marvel, as it's on a higher quality paper. I like quite a bit of James Hudnall's writing, but this is not one of them. The premise seems to be that there's a method to turn anyone into a super hero but it doesn't last long and the process eventually kills the person. On top of that there's some sort of impending alien invasion and an adroid scout. As far as the art, it skimps on backgrounds a lot. Whole scenes seem to take place in a white room.

A shorter List this month, but that's the goal. Of course, I did get three trades, but since I wrote on them individually, I didn't add them to the List. Two issues of Scalped last month meant no issues of Scalped this month. At least it'll be back for August.

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