Sunday, November 14, 2004

Comic Review Roundup

Last Tuesday I bought...

B.P.R.D.: The Dead #1 by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis.
After that one B.P.R.D. miniseries with the gnomes or whatever, by Christopher Golden and that one guy who couldn't draw very well, what'shisface, I felt royally ripped off. So I skipped "Plague of Frogs," even though it was by a different creative team. This was evidently a big mistake. I picked up "The Dead" because it was a slow week and I love Guy Davis' artwork. The story this time around is terrific, with some interesting internal shakeups at the B.P.R.D. and a fascinating glimpse into Abe Sapien's previous life -- something that was hinted at in "Plague of Frogs" I've been told. (Note to self: go buy "Plague of Frogs.") There's also a cool new character: Captain Benjamin Daimo, a disfigured gent who cut his way out of a body bag after being dead for three days. And I'm not sure he's a good guy, either. With a story like this, and the artwork of Guy Davis (who, I'm sorry, draws Mignola characters with more warmth and range of expression than Mignola does) I'm looking forward to the next issue.

Last Thursday I bought...

The Flash #215 by Geoff Johns, Howard Porter, and Livesay.
I got sick of what Johns was doing on this title a few years ago, which is when I stopped buying it on a regular basis. I bought last issue and this issue because they tie into "Identity Crisis." Last issue, Wally received a letter from his deceased mentor, Barry Allen. That's pretty much all that happened. Wally got a letter. This issue, he reads the letter! Yes, it's all-out epistolary action in the mighty Geoff Johns manner! It turns out that Barry wants Wally to restore the sanity of the Top, even though it will make the Top evil again -- because this is a Geoff Johns story, and things have to be depressing and horrible all the time. I can't say I care for the plot, but the flashback scenes did make me interested in the Top, of all characters, and that's a pretty impressive feat all by itself. In other news, Howard Porter still hasn't figured out how to draw Green Arrow's hat. For the love of God, man, use some photo reference now and then! It won't kill you, I promise! I got a good laugh out of Howard's version of the "practically the entire JLA dogpiles on Doctor Light" scene from "Identity Crisis." Howard tries to cram everyone into a vertical panel, so instead of the full-contact "You grab an arm, I'll grab a leg" version that Rags Morales created, we get Hawkman choking Doctor Light, Black Canary grabbing onto his cape, three other characters just kind of standing there and Green Lantern floating aimlessly in the background. It looks less like a life-or-death struggle and more like a costume fitting gone horribly awry.

JSA #67 by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, and James Hodgkins.
Guest artist Gibbons' pencils aren't exactly spectacular, but they are anatomically competent and pleasant to look at. Which makes them about a jillion times better than regular artist Don Kramer's amateurish, ugly crap. And here's a bonus: Gibbons is the first artist in a long time to draw Power Girl without cartoonishly oversized bazooms. It's bad enough that Power Girl's costume has a "cleavage porthole" where most other superheroes would have a letter or symbol. Of course, for most fanboys, gargantuan teats are as much a symbol of Power Girl as bats are a symbol of Batman. The bulk of this issue focuses on Doctor Mid-Nite and Mister Terrific. They perform an autopsy on Sue Dibny in costume because really, why take those things off even for a moment? Doctor Mid-Nite declares that he knows who killed Sue. Not that he's going to say who that is. That has to wait for...

Identity Crisis #6 by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Michael Bair.
And even then he doesn't give a name. Mid-Nite and Batman independently conclude that Sue Dibny's murderer has the ability to shrink to microscopic size, which of course means she was killed by their fellow superhero, the Atom, because-- huh? Never mind that the Atom's internal monologue from a few issues back contradicts this idea. So it's either a case of mind control or another frigging red herring, or this whole series has been a brilliant scheme to resurrect the Silver Age Wonder Woman villain, Mouse Man. (That would ROCK!) Also, in a scene with disturbing undertones and overtones, Robin undresses as he rushes to his father's freshly murdered corpse. I just hope all of this is leading somewhere. I swear, if DC is jerking me around again like they did with "Millennium" and "Genesis" and "Invasion" and "Underworld Unleashed" and... huh. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. If the next issue sucks, I'm never buying another DC "event" series ever, ever again. And this time I really mean it.

Plastic Man #12 by Scott Morse.
HUGE disappointment. I skipped the last Scott Morse fill-in but I thought I'd give this one a try. Well, it sucks. The entire issue is one interminable fight scene that manages to be both frantic and boring, and the dialogue is pun-filled but not funny. Topped off by Morse's signature muddy coloring, the whole package gives me a migraine.

Firestorm #7 by Dan Jolley, Liam Sharp, and Andy Lanning.
I'm no more interested in this version of Firestorm than I was in the original, but I do like this issue's guest star, Bloodhound. So, what makes the new Firestorm different from the old one, besides the refreshing absence of puffy sleeves? For starters, his dad's an abusive bastard! Yeah, not interested in reading more about that, thank you very much. This issue, Firestorm makes the mistake of absorbing a badass criminal who'd just given him a concussion, so the criminal takes over Firestorm's body. The criminal (who sports a wraparound head tattoo, which is perfectly inane) goes after his old enemy, Bloodhound. This continues in...

Bloodhound #5 by Dan Jolley, Leonard Kirk, and Robin Riggs.
Now, this is more like it. I know I should hate this book but I can't help it. It's the comic book version of one of those straight-to-video Deathwish/Diehard ripoffs that star Joe Don Baker or some martial arts nobody, and I hate that kind of thing. Jolley elevates it somehow and turns all this blood-soaked mayhem into an art. What I love about Bloodhound, the character, is that in a fight he'll use anything he can get his hands on, up to and including the kitchen sink. This issue, he gets the best of three armed men, using only a two-by-four. Needless to say, Mister Head-tattoo doesn't stand a chance.

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