Thursday, June 07, 2007

Comics for the Week of June 6, 2007

Since my comics round-up was threatening to overwhelm the rest of my Best of the Week postings, I thought I'd give it it's own entry this week. Wasn't that thoughtful of me? (Who the hell am I talking too, anyway?) It was a big week for comics, but the good news is, most of what I bought was pretty good. And a couple of books were excellent. Of course some were just so-so, with nothing being out-and-out bad. So here we go.

The So-So:

Dark Tower plods along, but is very very nice to look at. If I gave a crap about the Stephen King books, this might be more interesting. If it wasn't for Jae Lee's art, I'd never have picked this up. 2 more issues to go.

Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness is cute (in a zombie holocaust, everybody's rotting away and eating anyone they can get their claws on kind of way). One more issue to go.

Iron Man had been pretty good, but this latest chapter wraps up most of the current storylines, but is a bit too much flash and not enough substance. There's a major death (although major may be an overstatement - the character was supposed to be important to Stark but it hasn't really been explored much), a major betrayal, a major villain reveal (sort of), lots of gore and death, and yet it all made virtually no impression on me. Maybe I need to read it again. But did Stark really say " Man!" to himself? It was spaced just like that and all I could think of was Ozzy. Not cool. It's usually better than this.

Ed Brubaker's Uncanny X-Men was also okay, but nothing to get excited about. Storm's guesting here (in addition to in Black Panther and Fantastic Four) and the Morlocks are back and they've got a prophecy their trying to fulfill. I love Brubaker on just about everything else he's writing, but X-Men is the weak link.

The Pretty Good:

The Punisher 48 continues Garth Ennis' uber-consistent work for yet another issue. There's not another title on the shelves that is as good month in and month out. And it rarely, if ever, misses a release date. The man is professional, if nothing. The penultimate issue in the "Widowmaker" storyline barely has Frank in it at all. What we do get are the Widows freaking out and the Sam Jackson looking cop, Detective Budiansky, figuring them out. Good stuff.

The Avengers: Intiative 3 does some good character work and has fantastic art by Stefano Caselli. I like the book and am curious about where it's heading, but I really don't have any connection to the characters at all. There's a large cast and none of them get a lot of face time. This month it's Komodo (a girl who stole Dr. Curt Conners' Lizard formula -- just go with it) who is in the spotlight. She gets drafted for real fieldwork, taking on Spider-man and (surprise) having her lizardy backside handed to her. The real interesting thing, though, is the reintroduction of the Spider-Armor last seen during the Marvel Civil War. This time there's a handful of people wearing it, making a pretty formidable squad of unregistered-hero-hunters. Neat.

Similarly, DC's Countdown 47 does its workman-like best to keep a number of plates spinning. We don't spend much time with any of the storylines, and if, like me, you're not a DC fanboy, there's a good bit of the book that you just have to ride out. The Mary Marvel storyline actually seems to have the most going for it at the moment, as she and Black Adam have a face off. Sort of. Jimmy Olson's storyline gets next to nothing, aside from a bad dream and Jimmy wondering out loud about what's happening to him. Join the club, James. The Rogues' storyline gets a nod as Piper and Trickster swap motivations. And gay jokes. Well, not really gay jokes, but gay euphemisms. It was a nice, real, moment.

Buffy Season 8 continues to kick demonic ass. Issue 4 wraps the first storyline and sets up some very interesting things to come. Lots of slayer action, threatened violence to Willow, and ominous military intrigue. I will admit, though, that I was a little disappointed that there were no serious repercussions to Willow's torture session. It seemed to be pretty serious, but then was just played off as no biggie. Go figure. Solid all around though, and I'm really looking forward to more.

The Excellent:

I got a copy of Gutsville this week, after forgetting to order it for last week. This is a very odd book. Odd, but fascinating. After spending the entire issue with these Puritanical characters who have lived in the guts of a great sea-beastie for over 150 years, the final page surprise was shocking and intriguing. Frazier Irving's art is fantastic. Moody, detailed, and distinctive. I liked his work on Klarion, The Witch Boy during Grant Morrison's 7 Soldiers project, but this is much better, even. This has really captured my interest. I like.

Warren Ellis has written the first chapter to a new mini for Avatar Comics, called Black Summer. In this story, a super hero decides the President of the US is guilty of any number of things, most specifically starting an illegal war, so he kills him. Violently. Bloodily. He also kills the Vice President and a number of their advisers. Then he walks out in front of the White House Press Corps who are waiting for a Presidential address, and tells them to get ready for new elections. Juan Jose Ryp is on art chores and the vivid realism and hyper-detail-work combines extremely effectively with the ballsy writing to make this one powerful and addictive read. I am giddy with anticipation for the next issue, already.

Finally, Dark Horse has released the first (of 11) volume of MPD Psycho. If you've seen the television miniseries directed by Takashi Miike, then you know what to expect. If you haven't, then prepare for something different. I thought the tv show was confusing, and it's the same here. However, careful reading will be rewarded, as we are introduced to a very interesting, and disturbing, murder mystery. There's a lot of graphic violence and just plain messed up stuff. Lots of nudity and fetish gear, as well as dismembered ladies and women with flowers growing out of their exposed brains. Our hero, the MPD (Multiple Personality Detective) of the title, has at least 3 personalities that we know of. A soft-spoken police detective, a psycho killer, and a cool, controlled profiler. My only complaint is that it's 3 months until the next issue. At this rate, it'll be three years before the story is completed. That hurts.

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