John Buys Comics, Puts on Special Reviewing Hat

With special theme-week-appropriate rating system!

First Wave No. 1 (of 6)

Oh, what a rollercoaster ride this has been.

The First Wave special earlier this year, as I recall, was fun and I gave it a tentative pass. A melding of the DCU and a pulp-style setting has a hell of a lot of potential, after all. Then we had two separate waves of Post-It Previews, which are just the sort of thing to poison my mind against a project (“Brian, Just read your background material on the Blackhawks. Loved it but am concerned that it is too awesome and may blow everyone’s minds way too hard. - Dan”), so by the time this actually came out I was primed to loathe it. Hell, I almost didn’t buy it, that’s how grumpy I was about the whole thing. Happily, the quality levels of the marketing and the actual book were not at all comparable. In short: I liked this book, despite all odds.

Okay, that was a falsehood. When you have a book that features the Spirit AND Doc Savage AND a version of Batman who is also kind of the Shadow, you’re kind of starting off with me as your target audience. If you go ahead and write it really well, then you’ve got a good chance at keeping my attention, and so it’s a good thing for Brian Azzarello that he did just that. First Wave doesn’t really read like a pulp novel - a good thing, because I don’t know that it’s a writing style that would translate very well - but like some of the latter day attempts to write adventures in pulp-style worlds. Uh, by which I mean it’s a lot of fun, like most such projects are. Plus you’ve got Rags Morales knocking the art out of the park, plus there’s what I suspect to be a robot with a human brain on page four. So, yeah: four out of five hats:

Sparta: USA No. 1

Man, what is it with Wildstorm lately? Every time something like Mysterius the Unfathomable or North 40 ends, another series that scratches the same sort of itch appears. I’d like it even more if two or three of those sort of series would run at the same time, but I’ll take what I can get (the itch, by the way, is for a series that is well-written, well-drawn, has an interesting mystery at its core and is full of supernatural or science-fictiony weirdness. Hey, The Unwritten is an ongoing that fits that description, isn’t it? I’m so lucky).

The preview for this book last week was the best teaser for a comic book I’ve seen in a long time. It starts out as a description of a small American town and got just weird enough to intrigue: the folks have just a bit too much civic pride. They like football just a bit too much. There’s a hint of menace here and there, where there shouldn’t be, and then at the end there’s mention of a yeti. Five pages and DC had made a sale, though as it was just the first five pages of the comic I guess I should credit David Lapham and Johnny Timmons more than anyone.

This is the sort of comic that I form a deep attachment to on first read - I know that all of the weirdness associated with the town of Sparta will be explained in good time an am pretty sure that the process is going to be joyful. Five hats.

Age of Reptiles: The Journey No. 3 (of 4)

Richard Delgado has a bit at the end of these issue where he talks about falling in love with dinosaurs as a kid, and this issue focuses on how fascinated he was with the dinosaur paintings of Charles R. Knight. That’s precisely right - this series even more than the prior [Age of Reptiles] books feels like a study of a collection of actual animals, just like all of the pictures that I used to pore over in my dino books. The storytelling on the cover alone just sucked me in for a couple of minutes, for heaven’s sake. I’ll be getting a copy of this for my nephew, once I’m sure that he’s past book-destroying age. Five hats.

Nemesis: the Impostors No. 1 (of 4) - Though RUN! was the most viscerally pleasing of the Final Crisis Aftermath series, I reckon that Escape was the best book over all. It did, however, leave a huge number of questions hanging in the air. Will this series clear anything up? Let’s decide in a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT. In the meantime: three hats, the hat-equivalent of one eyebrow raised expectantly.

Adventure No. 8 - Okay: the first issue of Adventure under a new creative team without crossover bullshit to contend with! How’d they do? Let’s see… Legion of Super-Heroes stuff: good times. Legion Espionage Squad, Mon-El and Superboy stuff: also good times, and the first two parts look like they’ll come together into a Brainiac beat-down in good order. General Sam Lane and Project 7734? HAS TO END. SO BORING. SNORE.

I guess that makes this issue two-thirds good, which I’ll say is three hats.

Astro City: Dark Age Book Four No. 2 - Astro City books get five hats even when I’m not using a hat-based rating system, that’s how much I love them. And this issue features Las Vegas’ super-hero, who is named Mirage and has neon sign powers. I weren’t so lazy I’d make another graphic and give this book six hats.

Sweet Tooth No 7 - Okay, next issue has got to be the one where Sweet Tooth wakes up and he’s still with Mr. Jessup and then Mr. Jessup teaches him to play hockey. And then a kitten. Four tear-stained hats.

*doffs hat* Good night everybody!