Sunday, January 08, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 1-5-2006

Sable & Fortune #1 (of 6)
Brendan Cahill, Writer
John Burns, Artist

I almost took a pass on this series as I missed the issue of Previews in which it appeared. (As a brief aside, I HATE how Marvel has their own separate magazine rather than just having the usual section in the main Previews magazine.) Somewhere I caught some promotional material promising high-flying action adventure in the tradition of James Bond. While I am not really sure what that actually means, I am a sucker for spy comics/novels/movies because, let’s face it, a spy is as close to a ninja as a white guy will ever get. Since it was a relatively light week as far as the number of books on the old pull list I went ahead and picked this one up.

IT did not disappoint. I will spare you the plot details, however all the ingredients of a Bond adventure are present. A beautiful woman with the skills to kill you and a penchant for wearing skin-tight clothing. Exotic locales. Henchmen. A villain who appears to be wearing a bad jacket from the 1970s. A light-up map of the world on the wall of the villains HQ.

Cahill has crafted a tight, fun to read script, and Burns’ painted art was a pleasure to look at and, honestly, made me think of something you would see in an old issue of Heavy Metal. Overall I do not think this comic will be a milestone in the genre however it is certainly an excellent celebration of the crunchy goodness of 1960s and 1970s spy fiction and if the first issue is any indication, this promises to be a very fun series, and I am along for the ride.

Team Zero #2 (of 6)
Chuck Dixon, Writer
Doug Mahnke, Penciller
Sandra Hope, Inker

When I returned to reading comics in the ‘90s, Deathblow and the various Team 7 series were among my favorite reads. Imagine my delight when I heard they would be returning in a new limited (sadly) series!

I snapped up the first issue and read it almost as soon as I got home (a spot usually reserved for Conan or Gotham Central) and felt a little let down at the end of the book. Come on people, we’re combining two comic series I loved in WWII, which I also love, in a Dirty Dozen-esque set-up, which everyone loves. I could not put my finger on why I was disappointed with the first issue, after all, it starts out with a bang. Eleven pages of Deathblow in the midst of a mission to capture a Japanese admiral which fails spectacularly and leaves Deathblow as the only survivor. While recovering from his wounds he gets a new mission as well as becoming entangled with a sexy spy (is there any other kind, really.) His new mission is to put together a team to drop into the German rocket laboratories at Peenemunde and grab as much data and as many personnel as possible, destroying everything else to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Red Army.

The second issue is the montage where we are introduced to the soldiers Deathblow selects for his team, each one having about three pages dedicated to showing us the character of the soldier. The last few pages show the team’s first interaction which, while predictable to fans of this type of story, was enjoyable nonetheless. Oh yeah, fans of the Wildstorm universe will recognize a few of the codenames.

Again Dixon manages to cram a lot of action into the story while pushing forward with the central plot. I am not well acquainted with Mahnke’s past work, and his is not a style which makes me want to run out and collect more of his work, he is certainly a skilled visual storyteller and his art serves the story well. About the only complaint I have with the book is that on page 9 in the forth panel it appears a Japanese soldier is getting shot, however in the fifth panel it appears that soldier is an American. This may be intentional, or I may just be nerding out about the details, and is a minor complaint either way.

I expect the action to pick up in the next issue, and I will be there.

Oh yeah, my problem with the first issue? Well, I had the same feeling when I was done with the second issue. Turns out that I wanted more story, so some of you may be better served by either waiting for the trade or picking up all the issues and then reading them back to back.

Detective Comics #815
Shane McCarthy, Writer
Cliff Chiang, Artist

For a long time I have felt the Bat-franchise was mired in the need to kick Batman around and play up the manic obsessive side of the character. McCarthy’s Batman is a breath of fresh air. While he is clearly obsessed with catching Zsasz, there is no mania to his obsession. McCarthy also has an excellent grasp of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Alfred and he allows the playful interaction between the two of them to develop naturally. I also really enjoyed Chaing’s art in this issue. His Batman is dark and menacing when necessary and yet a little teasing when dealing with the police. Meanwhile his Bruce Wayne is almost an icon of square-jawed masculinity. All in all this was one of the best Bat-books I have read in some time.

Gotham Central #39
Greg Rucka, Writer
Kan & Steffano Gaudiano, Artists

Gotham Central is one of my favorite series currently on the market. I feel both Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker have done a superlative job on this book and it really ticks me off that this is the second to last issue of the series.

The last panel of issue #38 is Corrigan standing over the body of Detective Crispus Allen, whom he had just shot in the back. This issue opens with five pages of silence where Kino and Gaudiano’s art is allowed to show us the reaction to Detective Allen’s death. This really conveys the emotional impact that would have been cheapened with words. We all know what was being said, but, as is often the case with moments like these, the right words also are cliché and sound hollow.

After the first five pages the sound comes back on and we’re thrust into the middle of the investigation of Detective Allen’s murder. Unlike many times where the audience is waiting for the characters to catch up with them, Rucka does not draw things out and the police are quickly on to Corrigan’s trail.

Of course I am going to pick up the last issue of this series, however I am some what put out that we will not see a true resolution to the Corrigan storyline and will have to wait until sometime in the 52 series to see what happens to Renee Montoya (Allen’s partner.)

The rest:

  • Batman & the Monster Men #3 (of 6)
    • Matt Wagner, Story & Art
  • Frankenstein #2 (of 4)
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Doug Mahnke, Artist
  • Infinite Crisis Special : Day of Vengeance #1
    • Bill Willingham, Writer
    • Justiniano, Penciller
    • Walden Wong, Inker pg. 1-34
    • Wayne Faucher, Inker pp. 35-38
  • JSA #81
    • Geoff Johns, Writer
    • Dale Eaglesham, Penciller
    • Art Thibert, Inker
  • Outsiders #32
    • Jen van Meter, Writer
    • Matthew Clark & Dietrich Smith, Pencillers
    • Art Thibert, Inker
  • Supreme Power : Nighthawk #5 (of 6)
    • Daniel Way, Writer
    • Steve Dillon, Artist
  • Teen Titans #31
    • Geoff Johns, Writer
    • Tony S. Daniel & Todd Nauck, Pencillers
    • Marlo Alquiza & Richard Bonk, Inkers
  • X-Men Colossus : Bloodline #5 (of 5)
    • David Hine, Writer
    • Jorge Lucas, Artist
  • X-Men : The End Book 3 – Men & X-Men #1 (of sweet monkey will it ever end?)
    • Chris Claremont, Writer
    • Sean Chen, Pencils
    • Sandu Florea, Inker
Note. I apologize for the lack of links in this post. I will do better next week.

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