Thursday, March 08, 2012

The List - February 2012

You know, Thursday's not shaping up to be any better for getting this done than Sunday. May even be worse, what with the last Wednesday falling the day before the first Thursday. In theory, April should be better for the March post, but we'll see. Into the fray.

1. Spaceman 4 - This is just a great book. The fact that it has a set end point at issue 9 helps because I have an anticipation that builds to a defined point, rather than just carrying on with an unlimited series and never being quite sure when or if an end point will be reached. Anyway, Azzarello has crafted a superb universe for this story. His Waterworld existence for the down and out, while the hoi poloi continue to live in luxury, and star on reality TV, apparently, is just the base for the story of Orson, former Spaceman and genetic experiment. The flashbacks to Orson's days as a Spaceman are informative and central to how the character is who he is now. Hell, I'd read it just for the dialog alone. If you liked how the characters spoke in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, this is a story for you.

2 Scalped 56 - In a large way, this book follows Spaceman in having the benefit of an end point, as the final issue at 60 is fast approaching. Shunka's really gone, Red Crow's really in jail awaiting trial on murder, and Nitz is partying like it's 1999. The jump forward closer to Red Crow's trial was something of a surprise. I think it worked very well. Catcher's still missing, sort of, but Bad Horse appears to have given up that hunt in favor of happiness with a woman we met previously who's an activist for the Lakota. Unfortunately, Carol seems to have been unaware of that and is surprised when she stumbles upon it as she seeks out Bad Horse for a heart to heart. Four more issues to wrap it all up. Should be great.

3. Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X 5 - Yep. It's definitely a trend. Another series with a defined end point. Of course, Atomic Robo has been aught but a series of defined end series, and that's worked very well each time. I was honestly surprised by the end to this one. The reveal of who or what is the villain in this piece caught me totally unawares, though in hindsight there were plenty of clues. The bit of maudlin about the demise of the villain was interesting, as was the teaser of the villain's continued survival, possibly in a new form. It takes the elements of the Marvel comics I read in the late '70s that always showed the supposedly dead villain sneaking off somewhere, except there's a bit more believability to this villain's survival than so many of those of old.

4. American Vampire 23 & 24 - This ends up a two issue notch in the list because I missed issue 23 at the end of January and didn't have time to include it in The List - January 2012 by the time I read it. The twists on '50s adverstising on these covers is pure joy. I love that take on the supposed era of innocence. Inside, Travis is shown to be one tough kid in his pursuit of the vampire who killed his family. It's both expected and surprising that Skinner Sweet is his target. Last I saw Skinner in the Pacific Theater of WWII he looked pretty well finished. I know Snyder will let us in on how Sweet survived, but it's a sign of a strong writing hand that I'm not particularly worried about knowing it in this arc, let alone right away. The battle between Sweet and Travis on two moving, impacted together cars is worth the while in getting issue 24, even without any of the rest of the story.

5. Wonder Woman 6 - This is easily the best title to come out of the New 52. Then again, I'm a sucker for mythology stories. Sure, all superhero stories are mythology stories to some extent, but this one takes the Greek gods to a new place of relatable involvement with both Diana and humans in general. They're the petty, yet approachable gods of the myth stories of old, but in a modern era. And as if Azzarello's writing isn't enough, I love the art Tony Akins. None of the usual muscular humans with various objects to signify the gods. These depections of the gods are really capturing the essence of the particular gods, particularly Zeus's brothers, Poseiden and Hades. The candle adorned Hades is easily the best I've ever seen Hades, and the sea monster Poseiden could hardly be more spot on for what he represents. Did I mention this Diana is very proactive and intelligent? Another big selling point. None of the whining that seems to have enveloped so many other depictions.

6. Fables 114 - A new arc, Cubs in Toyland, begins with this issue. If you've never read Fables, this is a good point to jump on board. Almost literally, with the toy boat that's central to the start of this arc. The opening with Snow and the domestic whirlwind that is raising kids rings quite true for a parent. I'm sure glad I never had a litter of kids. Two in sequence is just fine, thanks. Taking the most innocuous of toys, a boat that looks like a simple bath toy, and making it a mysterious, sinsister character stealing away with a cub is a good angle to take, as opposed to a frontal assault like the three cardinal winds seem to be contemplating. I do wonder that Snow and Bigby let the toy boat into their household, though, considering they didn't know who sent it. Winter's premonition of how she'll be as the adult embodiment of the North Wind is interesting. Can a child who thinks she knows she'll turn out to be a bad person alter that course by the knowing?

7. Northlanders 48 - The last of the three Icelandic Trilogy arcs starts here in 1260. The Haukssons are still the Haukssons. We're at the 10th and 11th generation. Christianity has held sway for quite some time, but the battling continues. Godar, the 10th generation Hauksson wants to follow a more peaceable path, but Oskar, his son, wants war. There's already plenty of fighting among the families and Norway is trying to assert its influence. Oskar wants to run the whole show, while is father is content to follow a more sedate path. Oskar's significant other, Freya, eggs him to killing his father and taking over the clan. Oskar doesn't go that far, but he's close.

8. The Unwritten 34 & 34.5 - Ok, these two stories have naught to do with one another, but they're both great. In the main arc, Tommy, who

looked to be in a bad way at the end of 33, turns the tables on the Cabal. Turn them completely and finally. But Pullman, now he's another story, so to speak. Looks like 35 is going to be the big, final battle between Tom and Pullman. Meanwhile, 34.5 is drawn on Wilson Taylor's journals, specifically of his time as a young man in the trenches of WWI. Yeah, that was news to me. I thought maybe Wilson had done some kind of time traveling to end up being in the '30s in the arc about comics within the comic, but it looks like Wilson is actually a lot older than I thought. It's the travails of being a Tommy (and I'm sure that's no coincidence in the name) that leads Wilson to his ability to use stories to alter reality. There's a lot of good information on the world of The Unwritten in this issue, as there has been in all the .5 issues, but this one is more directly seen to be influential on the current state of affairs in the main arc. Madame Rausch even shows up.

9. Invincible 88 & 89 - Unlike the miss on my part with American Vampire, Invincible just had two issues in February which, for such a short month, had a surpluss of Wednesdays. I, like many people, have been waiting a long time to see Mark slug Oliver. Oliver is a sanctimonious little snot and has needed a good punch in the head even before his advocacy of sacrificing all of Earth just in case that takes out the last of the Viltrumites, too. One whole in the story is that the gun that dispenses the virus that kills Viltrumites, and possibly humans, is that after Mark's been shot with it and is concerned about infection of the whole planet, Allen says it's only discharge enough for one person and it's intended to spread from person to person after that. That's not a very good method of delivery for trying to wipe out the last of the Viltrumites. It could take decades to spread to all of them that way. Plus, Oliver's plea to Mark to just let the gun drop and discharge means that if Mark had done that, no one would have been infected because they were over an ocean. All that's in 88. In 89 Mark is laid up with the virus while the Viltrumites, at a facility they have on the Moon, work to save him. In the meantime, Bulletproof dons one of Mark's costumes to respond to a call for Invincible to work in his private super hero industry he runs with Eve. That allows for the really cool cover and the ever fun hyperbole of "Just Got Better" above the title and the "1st Issue" hype below. It's funny because that kind of thing in the Big Two is just irritating because they've worn it to death without providing the goods, but it's fun here, whether Kirkman provides the goods or not.

10. The Walking Dead 94 - What I really want to talk about is how far the TV show has divurged from the book, not necessarily for the better, but I'll stick to this issue of the book. The small community that Rick now leads continues to take tentative steps toward allying with other communities in the DC vicinity. The one that Jesus takes them to appears to be toward Baltimore, as they headed north from suburban DC. That'll be fun from a homer perspective, if that's the case. Jesus has shown himself to be rather formidable, allowing Rick and his people to think he's their captive when he could have freed himself at any time. Carl remains the most interesting character in the book, and fortunately is just as interesting on the TV show, but I'm not entirely convinced about his sneaking into the mission to the new potential allies. After all he and Rich have been through, I don't think Carl would have done that. I could see it earlier in the character's development, but not so much now.

11. iZombie 22 - Horatio is quite the forgiving fellow to go from being in love with a woman killed by a zombie to falling in love with a zombie. Too bad Gwen allowed Amon to talk her into becoming a zombie in the first place. Amon doesn't seem very trustworthy, as Scott is finding out. And here comes Xitalu...

12. Swamp Thing 6 - Good and spooky. Looks like the world is at its end. Well, not an end. Just the Rot ruling. I particularly like Abby having a titular role in the Rot, as I've liked this depiction of Abby better than the Moore version all along in this iteration. And yet, there's the reliance on what Moore brought before with Abby and Alec remembering those years. Fascinating work.

13. Animal Man 6 - Buddy's rather lame history in the movies gets a bit of a look during the course of this one. In fact, most of the issue follows along a movie called Tights that Buddy was in. Interestingly, he doesn't use his powers at all. He plays a guy with no powers who dresses as a superhero and gets beat up by a bunch of kids. It's an interesting precursor to having the cast search for Alec Holland to help fight the Rot. I'm sure Lemire is going to do something with it, but I don't know what.

14. Incorruptible 27 - Max is still the law in Coalville. Except Max took off to help Qubit with something, no doubt in Irredeemable. That means we see how things function in Coalville at the sub Max level. A very interesting look, particularly at Commissioner Armadale. Will the approaching cloud kill all of Coalville?

15. Batwoman 6 - Still my favorite New 52 that has anything to do with the main DCU, mostly because it's off in its own little world. Well, that and Williams and Blackman creating an engaging story. Now Amy Reeder is doing the art, which is not the same as Williams, but is excellent all the same. Looks like working for the DEO gets you better toys than even Batman has.

16. Thief of Thieves 1 - A new entry in the Kirkman pantheon. It's a good first issue, but as always with Kirkman it's going to take a little bit to kick into gear. Our lead appears to be quitting his title gig at the end of the issue, but I'm fairly certain Kirkman's not going to rely on that old canard. At least he didn't make it look like the guy died.

17. Memorial 3 - Like Unwritten, this book relies on the power of stories as its central theme. It's working a different angle on the stories by having its lead being an amnesiac, but there's some similarity to Tom Taylor as well, considering he didn't know much of anything about his father and the Cabal, having to go on a quest of discovery to find that information. Memorial is a less literal in its presentation, with Em skipping around to fantastical realms that aren't straight out of works of literature. But now she's in the Everlands, and that should be interesting.

18. Dark Horse Presents 8 & 9 - An expensive month with two issues of this coming out. Both of them have Mignola stories, so that makes them highly interesting right off the top. Issue 8 has a Hellboy story that's apparently an epilogue to a story in the main books (according to Jim's complaint), while issue 9 has a Lobster Johnson story. I hadn't read any Lobster Johnson up to this point, so that was interesting. There's plenty of other interesting stuff, too, inlcuding a Brian Wood story, the end of Chaykin's assassin story, and a new Tarzan story in both issues. I especially like the Tarzan story. It really has the Burroughs feel to it.

19. Super Dinosaur 8 - I think I'm calling it quits on this after this arc. While it's a fun all ages book, I feel like it's Invincible, the edited version, to some extent. Invincible is such a good book that this being lesser doesn't mean it's not good. It just feel redundant as long as I'm reading Invincible.

20. Resurrection Man 6 - Abnett and Lanning's story is getting into a larger scale of things, and frow what I see in Previews, is heading for a cross over with Suicide Squad. That'll probably be the end of it for me. As it is, he ends up at Arkham, so we're heading into Batman territory. I'm not looking to go there, with the exception of Batwoman.

21. Demon Knights 6 - I'm definitely running out of steam on this one. Once the arc ends, that'll probably do it. Maybe it'll be worth checking in trades, if it's successful enough, but some of the interesting character potential is being squandered right now, particularly with Vandal Savage.

22. Blue Beetle 6 - Another one that's heading for cross over territory. Some elements of Green Lantern have already seeped into the story and more is set to come. I'd rather see more of Jaime's story in the Southwest without pulling in a larger hero world. Guest villains I don't mind. Guest heroes...

23. I, Vampire 6 - What the hell? Batman again? I'm going to check at least one more issue to see how Andrew's evident demise is revealed to not be his demise, but after that it's likely done. Previews are giving things away that I can live without reading.

24. Batwing 6 - Not living up to its potential and on the cutting block, though I do really like Ben Oliver's art. This may be the last issue. Next issue is in Gotham City. I was looking for a book about a hero in Africa. We have Gotham City stories enough to drown us.

25. The Return of Megaton Man 1 - And now it's free stuff time. Kitchen Sink had a lot of good parody books back in the '80s and this was certainly one of the tops. Megaton Man and the Tick were always tops on the over muscled, under intelligent hero schtick. A nice nostalgia visit.

26. Reid Fleming: World's Toughest Milkman 1 - This Eclipse book took a different route to its parody. Reid was all attitude and not a bit of super strength or the least bit of good looks. I never read this back in the day, but I enjoyed it now.

27. Retief of the C.D.T. 1 - I don't think I ever got any Mad Dog Graphics books but this is much like the rest of the black and white tide of the '80s. Parody. Sci-fi and secret agent parody in particular. It has its moments but isn't consistently funny.

28. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures 3-6 - Oy. For years I had much amusement reading Chris Sims tear apart Anita Blake books. I just had to read one myself to see if was as bad as he said. It is. Nothing ever happens in these 4 issues. Even the covers on 3 of the 4 issues are static, with characters just standing and looking at the reader. The whole thing's supposed to be scary and sexy but it's just boring and frustrating.

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