A Cornucopia of Comics

Oh man, what a work week. I’ll have to talk about that some more later. Just wanted to drop in and wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Just so the week isn’t a total no-update bust, I wanted to share some brief reviews of a bunch of comics I’ve read over the past few months.

Terra Obscura (DC) – Meh. Was like a continuation of something I’d never read, when in fact it was a continuation of something I had.

Iron Empires: Sheva’s War (DC) – Better than I remembered it was, but still an odd companion to Faith Conquers, widening Moeller’s world without deepening it.

Seaguy (DC) – Yes! This is what I think of when I think of fabulous Morrison comics! Fun, exciting, hilarious, unpredictable, and rewarding upon multiple reads. More this and less Filth please!

Love Fights (Oni) – I love Andi Watson and I loved the start of this series, but by the end I was rather let down. I felt that the whole “superheroes interacting with the mundane world” bit has been done, re-done, and overdone, and when his sweet romance angle got edged out for straight up superheroics and Yet Another Talking Cat, I wasn’t nearly as interested.

BPRD: The Soul of Venice TPB (Dark Horse) – More proof that the Hellboy-verse sans Hellboy is still just as good. And it’s always nice to see Lobster Johnson.

Hikaru no Go! vol 2 (Viz) – Hikaru’s getting deeper in the world of Go, trying to win games on his own, and developing what may be an actual interest in the game. This also manifests in Go lessons for the reader, enabling the game sessions to take on more meaning. I’d like to see a little more background on Hikaru himself, though; it seems like I know way more about Akira than the title character.

2001 Nights vol 1 (Viz) – Michael recommended this title to me and I finally got around to picking it up. As a fan of Planetes, he knew the somewhat realistic treatment of space travel would interest me, and it did. Unlike Planetes, this is a set of short stories all set in spacefaring future. There are a lot of nods towards the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey including some of the hardware designs. But the themes are consistent with those of Planetes. Hard to find but worth the search.

Human Target: Living in Amerika TPB (DC) – Good stories and better art than the first collection, but not as much exploration of identity, focusing more on straight up-storytelling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Superman: Secret Identity (DC) – Written by Kurt Busiek and getting ton of critical praise, I really thought I’d enjoy this more, but ultimately it felt to me like Just Another Elseworlds. The what-if-a-normal-guy-got-superpowers-and-things-weren’t-as-great-as-the-comics story has been done before — by Busiek, I believe — and quite frankly, things don’t happen much differently than they do in a million other superhero comics. I appreciated the human touch, but it would be nice if it wasn’t supporting something so tired.

Same Difference and Other Stories (Top Shelf) – A collection of different pieces by Derek Kirk Kim, I got this to sample a creator I’d heard a lot about. I wasn’t disappointed. Kim has a direct, honest voice and a beautiful art style. I also liked his contribution to Image’s Flight anthology.

Mister X vol 1 (iBooks) – No mutants here! Years ago I was one of eight people who bought Dean Motter’s Terminal City miniseries from Vertigo. I really enjoyed its retro-futuristic style, and looked forward to more. A few years later, I became one of five people who bought Terminal City: Aerial Graffiti. Still enjoyable, though it felt really chopped up. A couple years later, Motter brought the show to Image in the form of Electropolis, in which I and the other two readers saw him eventually bring the whole thing back to an earlier project: Mister X. At last these early works are being reprinted, though not well. Among the German expressionist and noir stylings and art by Los Bros Hernandez, Seth, Dave McKean, etc., there are misordered pages, duplicated pages, possibly omitted pages as well. Hopefully volume 2 comes with an editor. This is really eye-popping stuff.

Runaways vol 2 (Marvel) – This is a book I discovered due to bloghype and downloading a couple sample issues. Now I’m hooked. A group of kids discover their parents are supervillains and run away. But it turns out the kids have inherited some abilities. And it also turns out one may be a traitor. Oh, and they’re teenagers, so there’s soap opera dramatics galore. A lot of fun, good characters, and engaging plots. I’m proud to make it my token Marvel purchase.

Empire TPB (DC) – I’d heard a lot about this Mark Waid project and decided to check it out. It was…okay, I guess. Honestly, without giving much away, I didn’t really see the point to it all. A weirdo plot twist around the last third that ultimately goes nowhere, a revelation towards the beginning that goes nowhere. Two “surprising” events at the end that are telegraphed from way early on…this seemed pretty pedestrian, even for Waid. I had to double-check that this was the whole thing, because it felt like it was intended to go further but was instead just abandoned. The premise, a world in which the supervillain has actually won, has potential, but little of it is explored here, especially since no time is wasted on characters who are even remotely likable. Could have been much more than the throwaway it is.

Firebirds (Image) – Another book with unrealized potential. Single mother superhero and daughter with shared powers. Home life, crimefighting life, boys, men, there’s certainly something that could be done with all this, and it’s not like the comic shelves are crawling with good books about female superheroes. But none of that is utilized with any skill, and instead we get a completely run-of-the-mill first issue superhero book. And I don’t know from art at all, but I found the art in this extremely odd and distracting, with bizarre perspectives and weird proportions.

Dungeon, vol 1: Duck Heart (NBM) – Okay, so this guy has a dungeon he charges people to come in and explore. And some bad guys are trying to muscle in. He calls for a barbarian to dispatch them, but due to an error he gets a duck instead. The duck then has to defeat the bad guys. There’s also a vegetarian lizard warrior, a giant ogress with a crush on the duck, a talking sword, and a guy in a bag. It’s great, great fun.

24 Hour Comics (About Comics) – Entries and Samples from Scott McCloud’s 24 Hour Comics Day, in which people attempt to write and draw an entire 24-page comic book in 24 hours. These books (one for 2003 and a larger one for 2004) give some really cool examples of the products of the challenge, some the silly to the sublime. It’s interesting to see how different people approach the challenge and it’s also some nifty comics to boot!

V For Vendetta (DC) – I first read this years ago and decided to re-read it. Amazing how many of these Thatcher and Reagan-era books are suddenly relevant again!

Even More Fund Comics (Sky Dog) – A $10 CBLDF donation is its own reward, but sweetening the deal with comics makes it even better. An anthology book, some of the entries are better than others. Some aren’t even complete stories, but just promos for other books. Not to worry, there’s all sorts of things here to try out, including a Wretch story! And it’s for a good cause.

In addition, this week I picked up two weeks worth, including The Losers: Double Down TPB, Walking Dead #13, Hardy Boys #1, I Hunt Monsters vol 1, Adam Strange #3, Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #12, Terra Obscura vol 2 #4, and Powers #6.

I also grabbed the new Previews and I hope I’m the first person to point something out. On the Seven Soldiers of Victory cover, doesn’t it look like the hand, instead of holding a sword, is holding a squeegee, and wiping away a “7”-shaped clear spot so the heroes can see? It looked that way to me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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