Thursday, October 27, 2005

What I bought - 26 October 2005

Well, I trust everyone out there heeded my comics-buying challenge, because I am, I know, your god and ruler. I should have mentioned that the title you never bought before shouldn't be a number 1 issue. Of course you've never bought that one! That's okay, though - a bunch of interesting number 1s came out this week, so it's okay if you picked one of those. A few of you, I know, told me about your purchases in the comments section of that post, and I hope we'll have more in the comments to this one!

So how did I do? Well, I'm glad you asked. The overall theme to this week was: "Holy shit, a lot of books came out. I followed my own rules and still bought 11 comics (one of them was Sunset City, which is a little longer than your standard book, so I'll talk about that later, when I actually read the damnable thing). There aren't really any sub-themes. A lot of good books, though.

The Book Of Lost Souls #1 by J. Michael Straczynski and Colleen Doran
$2.99, Marvel/Icon
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See, now, I like JMS. I liked Rising Stars, Midnight Nation, his early issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and Supreme Power. Sure, he's got some problems, but basically, he knows how to tell a story. And the fact that Marvel is letting him go nuts over in this little corner of the world is nice. So yeah, I bought this book. And you know what? It's interesting.

No, it's not great. It cops stuff rather blatantly from Gaiman's Sandman. It has too much talking in it. It has a melancholy, Byron-esque hero (you might, of course, like melancholy, Byron-esque heroes - I think they're simpering, wispy tools). But it's intriguing, and the story, in one issue, sets up nicely. There's a conflict, there's a mystery, there's a talking cat, the villain is strangely menacing, it has Colleen Doran art. Back when she illustrated "Façade" (another Sandman link!), I wasn't taken with her art - it was nice, but nothing special. Well, that was years ago, and she has matured wonderfully. There's a nice roughness to the art, and the panels showing the past are airy and Victorian, in good contrast to the modern stuff. The faces show a lot of mileage, which is good, considering we're dealing with people who are really old. Doran's art, combined with a slightly off-kilter and intriguing premise, mean I'll be back for a bit. It might not keep me, but for now, it's keen.

Girls #6 by Joshua and Jonathan Luna
$2.99, Image
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Yeah, I know I said I didn't like it. So why, oh why, did I slap down three dollars for it (figuratively, of course, since I used my debit card)? Good bleepin' question.

Actually, after five issues of annoying people whining and getting killed by naked chicks, this issue was actually not bad. Not great, but ... not bad. Despite the naked chick on the cover, there are no naked chicks in the book, which is probably a good thing, because the men don't act like total assholes (guys, apparently, always act like assholes around naked chicks).

Anyway, giant sperm in the field attacks men and slices them to bits, townspeople try to flee the town, but super-sperm blocks them and slowly grows to encompass the town. Scary!

Sounds dumb, doesn't it? Yes, it does. I am still not ready to recommend this to anyone who is looking for something to read, but we'll see. Perhaps this will read better in the collected edition. The whining in the first four issues might not seem as egregious.

Jack Cross #3 by Some Cranky Bastard and Gary Erskine
$2.50, DC
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Someone has to say it. I will be the brave one. This is a bad comic. And it's not getting any better. I said after the first disappointing issue that I would stick with it through the first arc to see if Ellis could pull it out of the fire, but it's getting worse. It's also, inexplicably, getting uglier. I didn't like Erskine's art in the first issue, and it's getting worse. I can understand the story getting worse, because Ellis might just be going off the rails here, but how does the art get worse? I can't even discuss it rationally. This appears to be just an excuse for Ellis to have one helicopter smash into another one. Why is DC publishing this but not, say, Scars, which was a billion times better? Warren, this is not good. Stop it now! Please!

Loveless #1 by Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin
$2.99, DC/Vertigo
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I have high hopes for Loveless, and I will probably buy a few issues, but this first issue was kind of weird. I like Azzarello, but I'm willing to admit that he might just read better in trades. I am buying 100 Bullets in the trades, and I recognize that the single issues are kind of incomplete. There's a lot of set-up in this issue, and lots of characters, and things going on that all the characters know about, but we poor readers don't. I am pretty positive that Azzarello knows where he's going with this (he certainly seems to with 100 Bullets), but it might mean that I must (gasp!) wait ... for ... the ... trade! (The ellipses indicate the length of time one must wait for DC to release trade paperbacks.) The art is beautiful, though. I have never heard of Frusin (granted, I'm not that bright), but it's somewhat Risso-like without being a slavish copy. I just wonder - there's Civil War stuff, old rivalries, sexual politics, land squabbles - all sorts of good stuff. I always wonder about starting a series off with SO much going on - I don't mind a good mystery, but sometimes, it's fine to keep it a little simple. Anyway, interesting title. We'll see about it.

Noble Causes #14 by Jay Faerber, Fran Bueno, and Freddie E. Williams
$3.50, Image
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Ah, Noble Causes. The best superhero book you're not reading. Well, maybe some of you are, but I'm sure more people are reading JLA. This is better.

Yes, I'm making blanket statements. I rule! This issue focuses on Zephyr Noble, whom we last saw losing a baby (wink, wink) and feeling bad about it. So the detective with a crush on her (what's-his-name) sets her up with a new identity - the girl Krennick was getting to dress like her (they look similar, you see). But Zephyr is still a superhero, and she keeps rescuing people, which gets her in trouble because the Bad Guys (the Blackthornes) set her up. The intrigue continues, as Detective What's-His-Name finds out the Blackthornes are going to kill Liz and Zephyr gets a date with someone who is not as he seems! The excitement is killing me!

This has slowly become an excellent book. Really. I was on the fence for a while because of the price tag, but it's only 50 more cents than a lot of crap superhero titles out there. It's good. Go fetch!

Silent Dragon by Andy Diggle, Leinil Francis Yu, and Gerry Alanguilan
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Holy crap, this is a beautiful book. This is a bit of a slow-down issue, as Diggle explains a bit more about what's going on, and reveals some interesting things about Renjiro. Then, because he doesn't want us to feel bad about missing some action, he fires it up at the end just so Yu can draw some explosions. I can't really say much more about this book - it's two-thirds of the way done, and you're either buying it and drooling over it, or you're waiting for the trade, which is fine. Skipping it is not an option!

Small Gods #11 by Jason Rand and Juan E. Ferreyra
$2.99, Image
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Shit. According to this, Brian is right: Small Gods is dead. Next issue is the last one. Look at that cover, people. How cool is that? And yet, excellent covers, beautiful art, and interesting and exciting stories don't sell enough comics these days. I'm not going to moan like the posters on the message board, gnashing their teeth and rending their garments like it's the Apocalypse, because, let's face it, titles end and titles begin and life goes on. It was nice to have thirteen issues of this. Buy the trades and marvel at its goodness. Seriously. This is an excellent title. One of the best out there. And now it's dead. Requiescat in pace.

The Stardust Kid #3 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog
$3.50, Image/Desperado
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Hey, there's the Stardust Kid himself on the cover! Nice to see him. You know, when you buy a comic by Mr. DeMatteis, that it will be chock full of words (so many words - doesn't he know I'm addled in the pate?) and chock full of parentheses. It can bother some people (including me), but I overcome it because (usually) it's worth it (don't you just hate parentheticals?). This is a nice book - fantasy-heavy and actually kid-friendly, but with a nice dark edge to it. DeMatteis does his thing with the spirituality and the "joy-overcomes-hate" vibe, and I can deal with that, because it's rare you see it so well done in comics. The art is very nice, too. Boy, it takes a while to read. My brain hurts.

Strangers In Paradise #77 by Terry Moore
$2.95, Abstract Studio, Inc.
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My book that I've never bought before is Strangers In Paradise. I've been reading about it for years, but I have never bought an issue. Part of the purpose of my challenge was for y'all to pick up a book in the middle of something and see if you can make heads or tails out of it.

Well, we're obviously in the middle of a lot of stuff in SIP, but it's not that difficult to figure out the dynamic. There's a SHITLOAD of talking in this issue (is it always like this?) and so a great deal gets explained just by the things people say to each other (and a lot of the talking is done on the phone - there are 122 panels in this book, and in 57(!) of them, people are on the phone). I'm not going to go into all that's going on, because I'm sure I'll get it wrong, but for the most part, I like this book. You can tell it's being crafted by someone who cares deeply about the characters, and all the people in it (and there are a lot of them) stand out with differing personalities. I'm sure that after reading only a little bit of this series I could read dialogue with no tags by, say, Katchoo, and know that it's her. That's a mark of good writing.

The art is beautiful, too. Simply done, but beautiful. Each character has a distinctive look, even though all the hair looks vaguely the same. A minor quibble, I suppose.

There is a lot of history in this series, so I probably won't be picking up any more individual issues, but I'm intrigued about the ridiculously long list of trade paperbacks collecting the series. I may have to get them. Can anyone recommend them?

Surrogates #2 by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
$2.95, Top Shelf
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This came out last week, but my store didn't get it until today, so here it is. The mini-series continues, and it's shaping up to be a good one. There is more murder and mayhem, but Lieutenant Greer thinks he knows what's behind it, and confronts a "prophet" who thinks surrogates are an abomination to the Lord. That's the main plot, and it's interesting that Greer decides to go without his surrogate after the masked murderer throws it from a bridge onto the street. Interesting because it's the only way he can see the "prophet," but also interesting because of the effect it has on his marriage. The social aspects of this book are where it will make or break it for me, because the murder is just a murder - crimes are fun and all, but they are a dime a dozen. I, Robot would have been a better movie if the crime had been pushed even further to the background (of course, it wouldn't have been a summer action movie then). I'm interested to see the development of the character, because he appears ready to be more sympathetic to the murderer, and I wonder which side Greer will choose when he's forced to choose one. A nice book. Look for the trade!

So, that's it. Books I left in my box because they violated Rule #1: Black Panther #9, Black Widow #2, Catwoman #48, Daredevil #78, Defenders #4, JLA: Classified #13, Solo #7, Ultimate Secret #4 (which might not have violated the rule, but I decided it did). I'll get to those next week, plus whatever else I buy.

I mentioned that some people told me what they bought in the comments section of the previous post. Matt Brady bought Fear Agent, Loveless, Silent Dragon, Sea of Red, and Jack Cross. He purchased his comics before reading the post (I know, the nerve of him, not checking in at this blog every hour on the hour!), so he failed to follow Rule #1. That's fine, though - good job, Matt! Eli, meanwhile, said I got him to buy Sea of Red and then wondered what the hell is going on it in. That's the beauty of it, Eli! I bought the first four issues of it, but decided it just wasn't doing it for me and skipped this one. Sorry I can't help you out.

So. Anyone else take the challenge? Let me know!

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Blogger Christopher Burton said...

So. Anyone else take the challenge? Let me know!

Well, I buy the vast majority of my comics from (you rock!) because of the great discounts (more money from discounts means I can buy more comics even if I do have to wait a little while for 'em -- it's a trade-off) and receive them in monthly shipments to save on shipping, so I'm afraid this would be a difficult (nay, impossible) challenge for me. I do go to my LCS every so often, though, to pick up stuff that I failed to pre-order (like Fin Fang 4 -- buy it now while you still can!) that I subsequently decided I couldn't live without or to buy back issues. It's a good idea, though, Greg. I hope a lot of people took the challenge and we hear from 'em.

Part of the purpose of my challenge was for y'all to pick up a book in the middle of something and see if you can make heads or tails out of it.

While I do pick up books mid-stream, I usually don't comment on them much because I don't want to sound like a dumbass (not that that's stopped me before). I don't want to be like the buddy or spouse or whomever that watches a TV show with you for the first time and keeps asking questions: Who's that? Why is she doing that? Where's he going? Bah. I'm annoyed already.

(don't you just hate parentheticals?)

I love parentheticals. (They're great.)

10/27/2005 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Cheeseburger said...

Hi all,
Well, I took the Challenge and didn't know about the "no #1" thing (although I think my choice can be an exception. I followed the spirit of the challenge by not getting any Ultimate titles (some could argue that the characters, since they're Ultimate characters, haven't been around for 10 years), since they are based on characters that have been around for more than a decade.
Anyways, I picked up Wildguard #1 by Todd Naucks from Image which I guess is the second series with the same title (hence the exception to the #1 rule above). Basically it shows what a reality show would be like if it featured super-heroes. It was interesting and it made me want to look for the trade for the previous series.
I also bought Girls #6 and thought it was better than issues 2-5 (#1 was still the best due to Evan's rant). Does anyone else thing that Nintendo has something to do with the shenanigans that are going on in Pennystown? I mean, the new controller analog stick peripheral for the Revolution gaming system looks suspiciously like the big sperm thing in the field, don't you think? Here's a link to a pic.

10/27/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous David C said...

I also didn't know about the "no #1" thing, but:

Lost Squad #1: "...secret war against Hitler's occult troops..." Can't go too far wrong with that, I think. Haven't, AFAIK, read anything previous from the creators, if that helps
Loveless #1: I actually haven't read much from Azzarello either, so he's newish to me.
Action Philosophers #3: a title that only came onto my radar recently, but looks highly promising!

Haven't actually read any of them yet.

10/27/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Good choices so far, people. No one knew about the "no number one" thing, because I forgot to bring it up. Your god and ruler is fallible occasionally!

10/27/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly recommed the Strangers in Paradise collections. For a time I bought the monthly series but now I just wait for the collections.

10/27/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

I gave in an joined the Sea of Red bandwagon. It seemed interesting, but I wish someone could explain to me what's going on in it.

10/27/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Fabio Moon said...

Strangers in Paradise is a great read, and it goes to the most different places in terms of story, character and genres.

10/27/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strangers in Paradise is excellent and there's a cost-effective solution out there right now.

There are 4 (as of now) pocket-sized trades that collect the first 60 issues or so. They even have a binding mural that forms when you put them on the shelf.

10/27/2005 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the link to those pocket sized treasury editions. A little over a dollar an issue.

10/27/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeffrey said...

I picked up the first Pocket Book edition after reading some bits of it in the library. I really enjoyed it - right until the gangster thing in the second half. It threw me off the story quite a bit to be honest.

10/28/2005 12:01:00 PM  
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