Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The List - April 2012

Ok, here I go trying to figure out how to do this with the new Blogger.  Hopefully it won't look like a totally disjointed mess.

1. Spaceman 6 - I love this book.  I really hope it goes into a larger story at some point in the future.  Not necessarily an ongoing series but just more story arcs.  Azzarello and Risso have one of the best works I've seen in a long time, and that's saying something, because unlike Jim, I like almost all of what I'm reading in comics.  "When the thievers thieve you...this where you buy it back."  A throw away line but encapsulating so much of what's going on in the world they've created for Orson, Tara and the band of kids helping to keep Tara alive.  Reality TV, extremes of wealth an poverty, celebrity obsession, slang that's removed from standard English but easily translatable.  It's our world in extremis.  Beautifully ugly.

2. Fables 116 - A long time love, this book.  No easy infatuation with the new.  Willingham, Buckingham, and Leialoha have been working this wonderful series of stories, intertwined throughout, for almost a decade now.  Hard to believe, but it makes the fact that Snow and Bigby's cubs are around 10 fit right in, too.  Not long ago I thought the story of one of the cubs becomine the new North Wind was going to be occupying our attention for quite some time, but this arc with Therese becoming the queen of the island of discarded toys is a nice look at another of the cubs.  I'm hoping Willingham and crew have a lot more stories of each cub lined up.

3.The Unwritten 36 - Tom Taylor won the war against the Cabal but now things are falling apart in various worlds.  Of course, Tom lost Lizzie, too, which isn't helping matters, but this issue follows Pauly and the Tinker, two of the more minor characters, yet two of the more interesting as well.  Hell, even Sancho Panza makes an appearance this time.  Pauly and the Tinker both have a bad history with the late Wilson Taylor, which makes Pauly an ally of the Tinker for a little while.  Loved the collection of mythical swords in the Tinker's magic bag.

4. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe 4 - I wish this book came out more often, but the care and effort Petersen puts into it makes it worth the wait.  This issue begins as expected with a lone mouse tasked to kill a fox that lives in brambles and terrorizes the ferrets who hold Em as hostage until the fox is killed.  Surprisingly, Conrad, the sea captain, returns and the story turns into one of sympathy for the fox, or rather its orphaned kits.  The letter of the deal is upheld with the death of the fox, but the kits are spared, which may cause twofold more problems for the ferrets in years to come.  On the amusing front, Archaia puts an add for issue 5 on the inside back cover.  The add says issue 5 will be out March 2012.  I'm not even getting issue 4 until April 2012.  I think issue 5 will not be out as scheduled.

5.  American Vampire 25 & 26 - Not sure how it is I ended up with two issues this month.  I may have missed 25 in March.  Regardless, I end up with two for April, which is a nice thing indeed.  Issue 25 concludes the arc with Skinner Sweet's unexpected return.  Well, unexpected to me.  More surprising is that Travis doesn't kill Skinner in the course of their fight.  That boy is tough.  I'm glad to see Skinner back, though.  And working for the Vassals?  That's something.  But what happened to Henry in the epilogue?  Issue 26 takes a different direction as we visit Alabama during the same time period, 1954.  Calvin's the former member of the team of Vassals who was with Skinner on Taipan.  Now he's another American Vampire, looking out for his brother clandestinely and taking on a coven of vampires that's another breed we haven't seen.  The Nocturnes is the name of this breed, or at least the story arc, and will be concluding next issue.  Looking forward to it.

6. Fairest 2 - Willingham, Jimenez and Lanning are the team behind the team of Sleeping Beauty, Ali Baba, and a bottle imp.  This bottle imp reminds me a lot of the demon who tried to corrupt Timothy Hunter in Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic.  Being an imp rather than a demon, he's considerably more benign than the demon, albeit still trouble.  It took me a while to remember that Sleeping Beauty had been a secret weapon against the magic users of the Empire, most notably taking out the Snow Queen.  It helps that I remember that because it explains why the Snow Queen is trying to kill Sleeping Beauty.  What Ali Baba's going to get out of all this remains to be seen, but he's found himself in a lot more than his usual petty theivery.

7. Saga 2 - A lot of stuff in its early issues this month.  Vaughan and Staples introduce a couple of bounty hunters after our infant narrator and her parents.  The Stalk is particularly interesting.  She's a sort of human/spider combination with no arms at the human shoulders but plenty of limbs at the thorax.  The Stalk is the premier people hunter and scares off the other bounty hunter in the story.  The Robot Prince shows up on planet to pursue the couple, too, but even The Stalk is frightened off by ghostly mutilated children.  At the moment they appear sympathetic to the fleeing couple but who knows?

8. Wonder Woman 8 - I love Azzarello and Chiang's take on Greek mythology and Wonder Woman.  This is easily the best title to come out of the New 52.  The story of the battle to replace Zeus as leader of the gods is fascinating.  Diana's moves to contain Hera, Hades, and Poseiden are clever and desparate.  When the series first started with Hera, and she appeared in the usual beautiful woman mode, naked but for a peacock feather cloak, I had no idea that Chiang would be giving us the unique and interesting presentations of gods that we have now.  Poseiden and Hephaestus manifest traits fitting with their mythology.  Hades, though, has the most interesting appearance, and what we've been told indicates he can change it, which makes sense.  Zeus certainly changed his appearance often in the myths, and did so prior to our story starting when he knocked up Zola.  Azzarello even brings in a discussion of free will between Diana and Hermes as they walk through a Hell that looks like London.  Ties in with my blog post on I Thought It.  I Said It.

9. Northlanders 50 - The Final Issue.  Says so right on the cover.  I knew it was coming, but I'll still miss this book.  The Haukssons saga that concluded the run, and took 9 issues, wasn't quite the big finale I would have liked to have seen, but it was a good story.  Some teasers call them Iceland's organized crime family, but really, what distinguishes organized crime from any of the old feudal ruling systems?  It's all about a small few taking from the many whatever they want.  Both use fear and might to intimidate and rule.  Justice is at the whim of the ruling body and no justice at all.  Anyway, maybe Wood and Zezelj will come back to the frozen European north at some time for more interesting stories of the Viking era.  The 50 issues they put out was wonderfully nuanced and layered with unrelated characters over many periods in the era, all in different areas of the north Atlantic and North Sea.  If you didn't read any of this as singles, get the trades.  It's a joy.

10. Saucer Country 2 - And with the final of our cover included notes, we return to the new series theme.  Governor Alvarado actually convinces her new consultant to stay on board despite the news that she believes she's been kidnapped by aliens.  In fact, she uses that.  Governor Alvarado convinces the consultant that she must be elected President in order to prevent the aliens taking over.  What's more, she knows she can't tell anyone outside her inner circle. Good conceit.  Good steps being taken for the Governor to investigate her own abduction, too.  And anal probes are already a factor.  Professor Kidd appears to be a wild card believer in UFOs who also hallucinates that the male/female figures are giving him instructions.  At least it seems like a hallucination.  Cornell and Kelly are off to a good start with this book.

Before continuing with the remaining books, I'd like to mention that all of the covers in the top 10 are excellent.  An excellent cover is no guarantee of a similar quality story within, but these sure do.

11. Dark Horse Presents 11 - More great variety from DHP.  This issue starts a new noir series, too.  Pulp action.  Jet pack wearing Nazis.  Looks to be a lot of fun.  The best thing to check out is Pig by Andrew Vachss.  It's less a comic and more an illustrated story but it's a great example of how a short story should be told, as well as being a great story unto itself.

12. Invincible 90 - Substitute 'Vince continues in the roll while Mark recovers from his exposure to the Viltrumite killing virus.  Oliver expands on his disdain for humanity.  Dinosaurus learns why Freddy Mercury is the leader of the Viltrumites, uber Ayn Rand society that they are.  Atom Eve may be heading into a bad situation if she goes to the moon, too. 

13. Swamp Thing 8 - It took a while, but Swamp Thing is actually in his book now.  Not that Snyder did a bad job building to it.  I'm just glad he's finally here to fight the Rot.  Saving Abby might not be so easy, though.  Anton Arcane is on the horizon.

14. Incorruptible 28 - Armadale is laid to rest.  Max is in a conundrum about the toxic cloud headed toward Coalville.  And free market terrorists execute those who engage in barter or perform their old jobs without pay.  Not too subtle, but funny.

15. iZombie 24 - Agent Kennedy is the focus here.  She's an interesting character, from her death in the '70s while stationed in Germany with the US Army to her career fighting threats at the direction of her boss, zombie Abraham Lincoln.  Then there's the rock band trying to bring about the end of the world.  I have to think Roberson isn't calling the band Ghost Dance just because of its efforts to summon a world ending being.  There's gotta be some link to Wounded Knee.  AIM was well known in the '70s when this fictional band was big.

16. The Walking Dead 96 - The big to do at issue 100 is coming on fast.  Rick has aligned his group with the larger community that's being subjected to extortionist demands from a roving band of survivors.  If this arc is reminding you of The Dirty Dozen and Seven Samurai, you're not alone.  It's one reason the title has slid down the list a bit this month.  Right now it's a bit derivative.  Now, Kirkman may well turn this around into something else, given his track record, but I'll wait to see.

17. Animal Man 8 - I think Lemire is treading water a bit.  I really want this story to move forward a bit more.  It has action each issue but what is it that Buddy and Maxine are really doing to fight the Rot?  Mostly they're fleeing in fits and starts while having the same arguments with Buddy's mother-in-law over and over.

18. Thief of Thieves 3 - The cat and mouse between Elizabeth, the cop, and Conrad, king of thieves, is very well done.  Elizabeth's boss is even better in spelling out the realities of police going around the law.  Usually that sort of thing is celebrated in fiction, whether written or on TV, but here the consequences, in this case in the form of a $4 million settlement for wrongful arrest, are shown unflinchingly.  I also like the boss cop's son playing with an Omni-Man figure and trying to cut the head off an Orlando Bloom figure. 

19. Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child 2 - I'm not so sure about this one.  The whole voodoo history of the titular character is interesting.  I'm not sure I'll stick with this past a half dozen issues, though.  I think it may be the sort of helplessness of Laveau so far.  She's lost in the woods.  That's not the most appealing thing to follow.

20. Blue Beetle 8 - Another of the few survivors of my New 52 purchases.  I'll keep with it a little longer.  Jaime's in NYC still and maybe that's a good thing, but I liked the story being set in the Southwest.  Most super hero stories are set in a major metropolis, and mostly on the East Coast.  Right now it looks like Jaime's going to stay in NYC for a while.

21. Rebel Blood 2 - I remembered so little about the first issue I thought it was a mistake that it was in my pull for this month.  I think we're done with this one.

Then there are the three issues of Amazing Spider-Girl (2-4) that I got in the free box this month.  Never read anything with this character previously.  It was fun enough but it's still re-treading familiar ground.  It's just Peter Parker's daughter doing the same thing he did as a teen.  She's a popular student, so that's a little different, but she still has the same pressures with her conflicting roles as student and super hero.  I didn't see anything in these issues that showed me a new view was being brought to this situation.

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