I've shuffled the comics and fed the cat and now it's time to revieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwww!
Detective Comics No. 854
WHOOOEEE! Good goddam! This, my friends, is a pretty, pretty comic.
JH Williams is the arteest on this one and has just destroyed it. The art style shifts to reflect mood and tone! The panel layout is astonishing (and enough too make my poor rectangular-marquee-using panel sampler's heart cringe with sympathy for the mento-bloggers of the future)! Batwoman's outfit actually looks like black leather, rather than a thin sheen of body paint! Actually, all of the clothing looks pretty darned good.
On top of this, Dave Stewart, the World's Greatest Colorist, is on the job. If you've been reading DC comics at all this month then you've probably seen the preview for this book. Well, it continues in that incredibly vibrant vein. Woo Dave!
Meanwhile, the story. Basically, it boils down to the Church of Crime setting up shop in Gotham again and Batwoman wanting this not to happen. You know, because they stabbed her in the heart that one time. The Crime religion is something that could have some legs, I reckon - this might end up being a pretty damn good run. But even if it isn't, even if this story ends up going nowhere... I can maybe forgive that if it keeps looking this good. Anyway, the dialogue is decent and they don't avoid the fact that Batwoman is a lesbian, so I shall wait and see with my trademark optimism.
ALSO: there's a Question backup to this tale, featuring Renee Montoya taking a missing persons case via her website (which is also the Web's shtick... that's two similarly themed comics on the shelves in August again, DC. This is a weird pattern).Looks like it's shaping up to be a decent detective tale with good art by Cully Hammer, but I'm going to have to pass on going into specifics while still under the lead story's influence. These two-featured books are making me happy so far - now to wait impatiently for the Doom Patrol/Metal Men book to come out.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink No. 2
You know, I'm still not too sure what to think about this comic. It's a decent book, sure, but it just doesn't have the high-concept trappings of Escape or the intriguing subject matter of Run or Dance. Super-villain turned super-hero attempts to remain heroic in the face of adversity, that's not a bad theme, just not a new theme. Still, the Tattooed Man was always an interesting if slightly goofy villain and it was nice to see his newest incarnation get some time in the sun in Final Crisis. Hopefully this series puts him in something like a good position at the end and doesn't just turn him back into a cheap and/or rage-filled villain again, like my John-sense is warning might happen.
Good thing there are lots of interesting uses of the tattoo superpower to keep me interested. Bat-winged skull ahoy!
The Actress and the Bishop No. 1
I bought this one one a whim, I must admit. How could I pass up that title, huh? How?
The Actress and the Bishop live in domestic bliss in a wee house in a British suburb or small town, stock characters from a dozen jokes brought to life and drawn real nice.
I mean, really, really nice. Brian Bolland did both the art and the writing on this, and he has produced some damn fine black and white pictures. The whole thing reminds me strongly of the Italian comics that I have read like Dylan Dog or... okay, mostly Dylan Dog. We need more translations of Italian comics. Back on track: as in these Italian comics of which I speak, Bolland has drawn this thing with a lot of clean, precise, beautiful art, lovingly detailed (check out the neato illustrations on the Bishop's robes) and inked. Be warned, prudish-at-heart: the "MATURE READERS" tag on the front is code for "there are some boobies".
As for plot, well, there isn't really one. As I said, the Actress and the Bishop are stock characters living in a house, so this is one of my favourite set-ups: a strange situation with no explanation and no apologies, just further strangeness. The A and the B take a trip, throw a party and have something living in their shed - no origin story necessary. AND: the whole thing's told in rhyme! Pretty decent rhyme, too, though I reckon that I say a few words with a different number of syllables than Brian Bolland does. Curse you, regional differences in the English language!
(UPDATE: I guess that this is collecting appearances of the Actress and the bishop from other places. I felt that I should mention that, in case rabid A&B fans got mad at me after buying it for more A&B action and found none)
Superman No. 689
Hot damn! now this is the sort of thing that I've been talking about! I don't know if there's some sort of editorial mandate to show off more of the super-human--infested world over at DC but they've been doing a decent job of it for the past month or so. And in this issue things get crazy, as Mon-El, newly interested in the joys of life and the pleasure to be found in experiencing new things, takes a trip around the world, encountering old favourites like the Rocket Reds, Freedom Beast and Rising Sun as well as a wide selection of (as far as I know) new international characters including a super-cool German paranormal detective type named Will von Hammer (!!!) and a disturbing new Blockbuster. Seriously, James Robinson could write a monthly series consisting entirely of one-page super-hero vignettes. Especially if he had the same art team. But Blockkbuster should not wear Daisy Dukes.
Good lord I hope that some of these characters/concepts get expanded upon in the future and not just trotted out as cannon fodder during the next crossover. DC! I will buy The Very German Mysteries of Will von Hammer! For real!
Gotham Sirens No. 1
Cue mixed feelings.
I have no idea whether Birds of Prey was cancelled in order to make room for this book. I hope not, because they could have played off of one another in interesting ways, as the good and the bad-ish ladies of the DCU went about their business. I'm also not sure whether this book is supposed to sell based on T&A potential, but that doesn't seem to be its mission statement, cover aside. Am I conveying my problem here? I want to be cynical about this comic, especially given its kind-of-lousy name, but none of my snark seems to be panning out. The basic idea behind the story - Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy teaming up in the face of the dangerous times going on in Gotham - is sound enough to pass, given the characters' history. Hell, they even bothered to set it up during Battle for the Cowl.
So I can't find anything ideologically wrong with Gotham City Sirens, so what? What's up with the contents? Well, they're not bad, not bad at all. Paul Dini and Guillem March team up to write and draw these characters with a good deal of individuality - Ivy is cold and slightly inhuman, Harley is goofy and slightly insane, etc. There are lots of good facial expressions (particularly on Harley and chump-super-villain-of-the-issue Boneblaster), plenty of nice kinetic fight scenes and yadda and yadda and yadda. The colour ain't up to Dave Stewart levels, but it looks real pretty.
You know what the trouble with this issue is? It's a set-up issue. It's concerned with getting the characters to the physical and interpersonal places that they need to be for the rest of the series to play out. So while the lameo title and cheesecake cover and the vein of cynicism that runs through my tiny heart say that there is way too much potential for terribleness here to give it a pass, the characterization and potential for nutty fun and the inventiveness that's been shown so far swing me back the other way. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to reserve judgement for now. Check with me after Issue 2.
The Last Days of Animal Man No. 2 (of 6) - You know what's really nice? The occasional tale set in a non-apocalyptic future. Here's Animal Man, some time in the future, and there hasn't been a giant war or a plague or a zombie uprising. Time has continued to pass and things have changed somewhat, as is the nature of comics (blue whale Green Lantern is possibly the best idea of the week. Okay, tied with Will von Hammer), but being set in the future has not been taken as license to destroy the world to a level just below that of the average issue of What If? or Elseworld featuring the Justice League. Good show, guys. May this book continue to be a good time for the next four issues.
Buck Rogers No. 1 - This looks like it could be a very good time. We shall see how the old "stranger in a strange land" scenario pans out over the next few issues as Buck figures out a) that he is in the future and b) that this is an opportunity to kick a lot of ass. Features a cybernetic bear and an air force man too dumb to wait until a plane lands to try to commandeer it.
Viking No. 2 - Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein have put together another incredible comic here. Amazing and atypical art and colouring, crazy-good and definitely not comics-norm story... This is fast becoming one of my go-to comics for giving people who claim not to be into comics. Man, and the final page on this one is incredible. I don't often lust after original art, but... damn.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold No. 6 - Batman plus Kid Eternity! Plus - thanks to the Kid's powers - Vigilante and Shining Knight and Viking Prince and GI Robot! Versus General Immortus! This series is doing a great job of capturing some of the down-home good times of the cartoon, including the great dumb jokes and the very loose adherence to DC continuity in favour of reinterpreting characters as necessary to tell a better story. Good show!
Rapture No. 2 - The post-apocalyptic fun continues! Our heroes, Evelyn and Gil, are struggling to survive in a world that has been devastated and subsequently abandoned by its super-heroes. Evelyn seems to be becoming some sort of devine avenger type, righting wrongs and fighting cannibals. Gil plays his guitar. Featuring! A very amusing old man named Old Man! This series looks like it's going to be a good time, as superheroics in the rubble so often is.