Monday, March 28, 2005

Three Books That I Read So That You Did Not Have To

Each week, a few books seem to slip by almost unnoticed. I figured I will try to keep you abreast of these less renowned books and whether I would recommend them, and in return, you can tell me about books that I did not have a chance to read this week, and tell me if you would recommend them!

Some spoilers ahead!

Robin #136 is a BIG improvement over last issue, simply by not having art by Damion Scott. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Pop Mhan fan, but after following Scott, Mhan's work looks like Dave Gibbons. In addition, Mhan's work here IS better than I have seen in the past. I guess I have to give a lot of credit to Sandra Hope's inks.

Willingham is trying to create a Rogue's Gallery for Robin, and quick. I must admit, he is actually doing a good job, I believe.

The archer last issue, and the Dark Rider this issue, are both interesting enough villains.

However, while the action sequences are good, I was not a fan of Willingham's dialogue between Batman and Alfred. The way they were discussing Robin just did not ring true. It seemed to me more like what Bill Willingham thinks about Tim Drake, not what Batman thinks about Tim Drake.

Stuff like, "Tim's smart - smarter than me, and maybe even smarter than you. Take my word, Alfred, we'll end up working for HIM someday, once he does a bit more growing up."

Just seemed silly.

So, all in all, I don't think I can recommend this issue, but I see signs of real improvement here.

Batman Gotham Knights #63, though, I cannot say the same.

This run of AJ Lieberman and Al Barrionuevo started off awful, and has not gotten any better.

Hmm...that might not be fair. While I still do not understand why DC gave Barrionuevo an exclusive contract, his work HAS improved to the point where he's a competent artist. Nothing special, but during his first arc, his art was actively HURTING the book, so to go from that to competent is an improvement.

One of the dumbest things about Jeph Loeb's HUSH storyline (and there were plenty of them) was the character Hush, himself. He was a cypher, and a silly one at that.

Well, Lieberman has taken on the task of filling in the blanks on Hush...and he really has not done a very good job.

Hush's appearances (and this book has basically become Batman and Hush) do not help the book at all.

The current storyline, building off events from No Man's Land (because that's what we all need, storylines dependent entirely on works of writers from five years ago), really spotlights Lieberman's lamprey-esque storytelling. First Loeb and Hush and now Rucka and Poison Ivy, Lieberman seems most at home when filling in the blanks on works of other writers.

Too bad it just plain is not interesting.

Not recommended.

Conan #14 makes up for the suckiness of Gotham Knights by rocking pretty hard.

The artwork from two artists, Nord and Mandrake, melds together beautifully. It's hard to even tell who drew what.

The story is the kind of over the top adventure that Conan works extremely well in.

I have been very impressed with how fresh Kurt Busiek has managed to give us these Conan adventures, as Conan, for years, just did not scream "interesting." Each attempt at a Conan series fell flat, so the freshness and vitality that Busiek has given Conan in this series has been remarkable.

Yes, he has been ably aided by the great art by Nord and others, but still, the stories themselves stand out.

This current story may have been streteched an issue too long, but it was still quite fun.

I especially loved the bit where Conan refuses to sacrifice himself, and passes off the burden. A very nice touch of characterization.

Still, while the characterization adds nice touches, the key to the book is the action, and the action is there with plenty to spare.

I would definitely recommend this comic.

Small week this week, so there are very few books I would like to hear about, the only ones I can think of are:

100 Bullets #59

Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #9

30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales #6

So if anyone read those, feel free to fill me in!


Anonymous Brad Curran said...

It's weird. Tim Drake was one of my favorite characters a kid, but I have no interest in reading about him these days, in this book or Teen Titans. I'm not sure that anybody anybody could change that either, except maybe one of my absolute favorites, like Morrison. Or Vaughan, who could write an awesome Teen Titans. Or they could adapt that Beavis and Butthead meet the Titans skit from Robot Chicken and spread it out for four issues. I'd buy that.

I also have no interest in Gotham Knights, but lamprey-esque storytelling is a great phrase. I need to swipe it.

I haven't read Busiek's Conan yet, except for that give away issue. It came out when I was reading a collection the Howard originals, and those were more than enough Conan for me. I'm not a huge fan of what I've seen of Nord's work on the book, but I do like the character and Busiek, so I may give that trade that just came out a look. It's a pretty nice price for all of the content.

3/28/2005 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous The Eyeball Kid said...

Books of Magic: Life During Wartime #9 -
Well, we're finally getting a sense of what is going on in this series, although fans of earlier incarnations of Tim Hunter may not find much that is familiar. This bittersweet issue is told from the point of view of a character who is nominally a 'villain', or at least the enemy of the main characters, but he isn't particularly villainous. Rather, we see the point of view of a soldier caught up in something far, far bigger than he is knows how to handle. He could be any soldier in any war, it just happens that in this book, he is a dark faerie battling against humans and demons. And although I've never been happy that Frank Quitely's artwork doesn't extend beyond the covers, I'm still enjoying this book quite a lot.

3/29/2005 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the hate for Barrionuevo? I think his art is consistently decent, and in general the most bearable part of the Lieberman run.

3/29/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ronald Bryan said...

Completely agree about Robin. It is better, mainly due to the art. But it's still not something that can be easily recommended.

As to 100 Bullets. The current issue was really filler, Lono and Loop drove over to pick up Victor. And his girlfriend's husband comes to get her, but there is no confrontation. Just felt like "We need an issue to show this happening." Maybe the woman will play a bigger part later...

3/29/2005 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

I can't say this enough: Lieberman's Gotham Knights run is horrid crap. It's just bad writing. The art is... okay, but my beef is with the writing.

For one, it's horrid character writing. Joker's characterization alone made me want to toss the issue in a paper shreder. And then he has the balls to use Morrison's Prometheus and completely screws him up.

It's like reading fan fiction. "Oh, I'll use stuff from Hush 'cause it's cool and popular. And Prometheus was a really cool villain... I don't understand him, but a lot of people liked him. Hmm... what else is cool that I can throw in there? Ah, No Man's Land sub-subplots."


3/29/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

What I don't get about DC these days is that while they continue their decades-long tradition of shitting on Dick Grayson to the point where no one but the most die-hard Nightwing fan believes he'll ever be considered competent enough to be Batman, a johnny-come-lately like Tim Drake is written as the ultimate heir apparent.

Tim's beaten King Snake and KGBeast, Dick's beaten no one notable in DECADES.

I blame Marv Wolfman.

3/29/2005 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Why the hate for Barrionuevo? I think his art is consistently decent, and in general the most bearable part of the Lieberman run."

It's a fair complaint to say that I have harped on Barrionuevo's exclusive contract deal a bit too often, especially when there are guys out there like Michael Ryan and Mark Brooks who also have exclusive contracts.

Beyond that, though, I do not know if I am laying the hate on that much.

I ended up saying he was a competent artist, and you say he's a decent artist.

I don't think there's much of a difference there, ya know?

3/30/2005 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Well, T, I think you may have a point when you look at Wolfman as a reason why Dick has not fared so well over the years.

Tim was created to be the almost "perfect" Robin to replace the ugly memory of Jason Todd.

Dick was seen as ALREADY perfect, so Wolfman felt it necessary to tear Dick down as much as possible.

It IS annoying, I will say.

Not as annoying as Devin Grayson's run, but still annoying...

3/30/2005 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

Those Wolfman stories are what made me such a big Tim Drake fan as a kid. He figured out Batman's identity and had Dick's blessing to follow in his footsteos? Cool!

I liked Dixon's solo work on the character, too, although I quit reading comics around the time the current solo series started. That first Robin series was heavy shit when I was 6, though. I imagine going back and reading them would probably diminish those rosey memories somewhat, at least, but I was totally in suspense when he fought King Snake.

3/30/2005 09:24:00 PM  
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