Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What I bought - 13 April 2005

Not a big week, but some quality stuff. Let's jump right in!

The Atheist #1 by Phil Hester and John McCrea
$3.50, Image/Desperado

One of the problems people have with books outside the mainstream (for our purposes today, the mainstream means The Big Two) is that the publication schedule is sometimes a bit wonky. Most of the DC/Marvel books come out on time, and the exceptions are usually ones that people really want anyway, so Bryan Hitch can afford to be a prima donna and draw every. single. rain. drop. hitting. Thor's. prostrate. body. If the independents really want to make a dent in the marketplace, it would help to release books when they say they're going to release books.

Case in point: The Atheist. Guess when issue #2 is supposed to come out? That's right, April 2005! And here we finally have issue #1! I'm sorry I harp on this, but don't solicit a book unless it's sitting there, ready to go! How hard is that?

So. Is it any good? Well, yes. I still haven't read Hester's two acclaimed mini-series (I have that whatchamacallit - Deep Something-or-other - man I'm old and senile! - pre-ordered, and someday I'll read The Coffin), but the buzz about his writing was enough for me on this title. Add McCrea's pencils and I'm there. It's an interesting story, not terribly original (people are coming back from the dead and possessing living bodies, and they all want to party like it's 1999), redeemed by the main character, Antoine Sharpe, who believes everything can be explained by logic (that's why he's an "atheist," see?). Sharpe's a cool customer, but even he is confronted by the illogic of the situation. This is basically a set-up issue, as we learn about characters and what's going on and get some mystery stuff (what's up with Winnipeg?), but although not much happens, it's still neat, and enough to make me want to find out what happens next issue. Whenever the hell it comes out.

Sigh. Yet another bald black hero. Why does everyone have to be Samuel L. Jackson these days?

Fables #36 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha
$2.50, DC/Vertigo

One of the best titles currently being published ditches the Hollywood satire stuff, which apparently didn't go down well to a number of bloggers, and returns to the main story, as we are now in the Homelands and Boy Blue is trying to find the Emperor. I grow weary from talking about how great this book is, but I'll give it a shot. The art is very nice, and Buckingham continues to come up with inventive ways of framing the stories - he uses a lot of borderless panels here, and inserts vertical oval panels throughout. Willingham continues to show a remarkable ability to make all the characters come alive in very little time - the two goblins at the beginning are funny, wistful, mean, and bureaucratic, all in the space of a few pages, before Boy Blue dispatches them. I love the fact that he uses the Vorpal Blade to kill them, but even more, I love the sound effect that goes with the sword when he uses it (if you know the poem, you'll figure it out). This is the first issue of the storyline, and it's promising to be a good one. A very excellent book.

Mnemovore #1 by Hans Rodionoff, Ray Fawkes, and Mike Huddleston
$2.99, DC/Vertigo

Sure to be wreaking havoc with spell-checkers everywhere comes Mnemovore, a creepy tale about memory - at least that's what the writers tell us in that "On the Ledge" section of every Vertigo book. Kaley Markowic is a 19-year-old snowboarder who has a terrible accident that leaves her with "retrograde" AND "anterograde" amnesia. Not both, dear God - the horror, the horror! I'm always a little leery of any story involving amnesia - it smacks of bad soap operas, and I've read in the past that it's not all that common. But I'll forgive the writers, because of the monster. There's something weird going on in Kaley's head, and it gets out and does something nasty to her boyfriend, who of course she can't remember. There's spooky foreshadowing from Grandma, and a scattershot grouping of images at the end, when Kaley battles the thing, and who the hell knows what's going on? It's a 6-issue mini-series, and it's pretty good. Obviously, many of you are (let's say it together!) waiting for the trade. Probably a good idea.

Noble Causes #9 by Jay Faerber and Fran Bueno
$3.50, Image

Such a fun book, with so many things going on, and all pretty easy to follow. We find out that Liz has NOT been replaced by a robot, just that there's a robot Liz wandering around. The superheroes on the other world fight the cyclops things that ripped Rusty apart, and Celeste kicks some ass. Steven Dockerty, who is actually Doc Noble, escapes from the institution where he was being held. Good solid superhero fun. Yes, it's $3.50. Almost every issue has been worth it. And in the backup story, a shadowy government agency are the bad guys - but not the agency you might expect!

Power Pack #1 by Mark Sumerak and Gurihiru
$2.99, Marvel

This came out last week, but people like Guy really dug it, so I picked it up. It's not bad, but I wouldn't classify it "all-ages" - I'm an age, and I wasn't all that interested. The backup story, with Franklin Richards - now that was funny. The Power Pack story was fine, and I agree with Brian that the character interaction was excellent, but overall, it was just too kiddy for me. Fun, but kiddy. If you have kids, get it for them. It's fun.

Ultimate X-Men #58 by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Dillon (?!)
$2.25, Marvel

A standalone issue, with the wonderful Steve Dillon on board as artist. And Vaughan gives him someone grotesque to draw - Dillon probably said, "I'm not drawing this unless I can draw something weird!" It's a good issue - Vaughan is really doing a nice job on this title, after some initial rockiness. Xavier is portrayed how I think he should be portrayed - really powerful, willing to do some morally questionable things, but always looking out for everyone. He's a lot more interesting in the Ultimate Universe than he has been for much of his life in the Marvel Universe. He foils a bank robbery by getting all the humans to work together, but doesn't allow the mutant bank robber(s) to get caught by the cops. He uses his power to find out a lot about his fellow hostages, and one might say he shouldn't have, but he did save their lives. He even uses the bank robber to accomplish something for him that's probably going to break a bunch of laws. It's a fascinating character study of the X-Men's mentor, and it shows how far he is willing to go to protect his dream. But of course, all anyone will talk about in the issue is the one double-page spread showing Ultimate Warlock! How kewl!

And, whenever I see the cover, I'll always hear Guy Gardner saying, "You must have some wax in those funky ears, Bats." What's up with those ears on Xavier????

Bash away - no, I did not buy Ultimates! My Mark Millar boycott remains intact!


Anonymous Trace said...

Oooh, ooh, guys. You know what book from this week I want you to tear apart? Marvel Knights:Spider-Man #13.

This book sucked. HARD. In every possible way. The dialogue was simplistic enough to be insulting. The art was abysmal; as far as I can tell, whoever this "Billy Tan" joker is, he's fifteen years old and president of the "People Who Want To Draw Like Michael Turner But Have Feet For Hands...And Are Retards" club. Can someone please smack him upside the head and let him know that Peter Parker teaches HIGH SCHOOL? As in, kids that don't appear to be EIGHT YEARS OLD? Also, tell him he's fired, because he's shitty and I hate him. I wish him ill. Like, pancreatic-cancer ill. Creamed by a fucking spike-bus from Lava-Town ill. This is a rare feeling for me, and it scares me.

4/13/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"Oooh, ooh, guys. You know what book from this week I want you to tear apart? Marvel Knights:Spider-Man #13."

I think you did a pretty good job of it yourself, but maybe Brian will oblige you later on when he does his weekly "I read this so you won't have to" series. I sure as hell am not, though, but maybe Brian will!

4/13/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

I can pretty much expect an Image title to be about one month late, except the Paul Grist titles, where its about four months. I remember hearing that Top Cow hits their ship dates, but Image central does not.

I always think people over-estimate the importance of ship dates in getting new readers to read comic books. At the same time though, if a movie/video game/CD was announced to come out on a certain day, and it didn't, I can see some ill will there.

I didn't read Atheist yet, but when I flipped through it, I was reminded of those mediocre Caliber titles from the early 90's. And that was before that I remembered that Joe Pruett was the editor on this, too.

4/13/2005 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous GreyGlobe said...

I cannot remain quiet in my little corner here any longer. I replied to one of the posts here a few weeks ago and suggested some great books that I thought some people may enjoy. Oh, but rather than run out to try some of their delightful goodness, you leave them on the shelp and purchse POWER PACK on the advice of someone else. POWER PACK! You have to be kidding me. I don't care how good you thought the book would be, it's still Power Pack! I actually thought the original book was a pretty decent book at first, but this re-hash adds nothing to the premise. It's crazy that you talk about not giving DC and Marvel money when they don't deserve it, yet turn around and purchase something like that. It's even crazier that you pride yourself on your Millar boycott, yet buy Ultimate X-Men. Whatever problem you may have against Millar, and there are plenty to be had, at least it's an interesting book with great art. I flipped through Ultimate X-Men and almost vomited right there in the store. The art is cartoonish and the last panel with Professor Xavier contains one of the lamest and corny pieces of dialogue that I've ever seen. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read it-trust me, it's worth a glance.

Let me try and steer you on the path to good taste once again:

Fragile TPB from DC/Humanoids
Owly: Just A Little Blue
Project: Superior
Thirteen (graphic novel from DC and Mike Carey)

Wash that horrible taste of those gross books out of your brain by purchasing and reading one of these immediately!

4/14/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I have angered GreyGlobe, and must respond!

First, I still give plenty of money to DC and Marvel. I just don't like people giving money to them when they themselves get angry at the titles they buy! If you don't like Ultimate X-Men, this is America - don't buy it (I'm sure you didn't). Yes, the last line of the book WAS corny, but if I didn't buy books based on one corny lines, I doubt I'd ever buy a comic book again (and that includes stuff by Mr. Morrison). If you use your criteria (don't buy a book because it has a corny line), you would have stopped buying Ultimates when Captain America made that France joke. Talk about a stupid line! I happen to like Ultimate X-Men, so I buy it.

As for Power Pack, I bought it because people liked it, and more importantly, because it was available. The things you recommend I have to hunt down, and I will. I think you recommended Action Philosophers, and I have ordered it and will discuss it when it arrives. Be patient, my good man! I also plan to give Power Pack to my daughter's speech therapist, whose 6-year-old wants to start collecting comics. I'm sure he'll enjoy it more than I did. I'm paying it forward! Feel the love!

I'll check out those titles you recommend, because I appreciate people letting me know about titles I may have missed. Except for Owly. I haven't read it, only looked at it, but my rule with comics is, If it looks like I can draw it, I ain't buying it. God, Owly looks awful. Awful, awful, awful, awful, awful. I know it's a critical darling, but I doubt I'll ever read it. The others ... I'll have to check them out. It's all good, GG!

My Millar boycott has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of his writing, as you well know. I loved his Swamp Thing, Aztek, The Authority, most of the the Ultimates. He's a good writer. So yes - I agree with you that there's a lot of cool stuff going on in Ultimates. But it's my principles, man!

Thanks for keeping me honest. It's cool to agree to disagree (at least I think so).

4/14/2005 08:35:00 PM  

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