Wednesday, May 10, 2006

One down, fifty-one to go.

Hi hi hi, Bully-fans! Let's see what's new and fun on the racks of your local comic book store this week, hmm?

First Family #3FIRST FAMILY #3: This comic is fun! Oh yes indeed, I'm glad I started picking up this FF spin-off book (after ignoring it for a couple months), 'cos as you may know, I'm the world's biggest little Fantastic Four Fan! (Mister Grimm told me so himself!) This continues the gritty but never grim (no pun intended) story of the FF's first frantic days after their fateful flight. (golly, that's a lot of words that start with "F," but that's kinda appropriate for a book about the Fantastic Four called First Family, isn't it?) A lot of folks on the comics blogsophere have been saying this woulda made a dandy FF movie. I'm not so sure about that—the pacing is a bit slow and deliberate for a modern big-screen Hollywood action epic, and it doesn't have a clear single villain that seems to be the trend for a comics-to-motion picture adaptation. In the end I don't care about it being a movie or not because this is a solid, thrilling, moody and compelling revisit to a never-seen portion of the FF's early career, and it actually makes me think different about my usual view that I don't like continuity implants! There's some nice character bits in here and the mystery of Reed's psychic tormentor continues, with a final twist you just want to say "da da duh!" when you read it! And of course, Chris Weston draws some incredible-lookin' Mole Man monsters! If there was only one disappointment to First Family #3, it was that I thought it would finally answer the burning question I have every time I look at the cover to FF #1: who tied up Reed? Still, this is a rock-solid (hah!), red-hot (tee-hee!), rubbery (huh?) comic that I hope is so popular that copies vanish from the shelves. Haw!

Batman: Year 100 #3BATMAN: YEAR 100 #3: This comic is fun. Here's another comic I missed out on the first issue (a case where "sold out" wasn't just DC hype!) but was able to pick up in the second printing (yay DC!) and now I'm firmly on the joyride with battered and beaten future Batman: he's down but not out. (Batman's never out!) The mystery starts to come together in this issue with Gordon's retelling of the last days of Arkham, and there's a dandy cliffhanger of a secret about to be told on the last page (just in time for the final issue next month) but the thrill of the ride is Batman escaping cops through his wits, training, strength, and some really, really hideous false teeth. I have the feeling that at the end of the year when I must vote on who the best supporting character of 2006 was, I'm gonna pencil in Batman Year 100's false teeth! I'm still not certain who "Robin" is and certainly unable to figger out the mystery of who Batman is and why he's bein' framed for a crime he didn't commit, but I've got faith in Mister Pope to pull it all together in the final issue next month. Also, I like a Batman who's slightly baffled at some points, asking "What door? What door?" and being stumped by a mystery—for the moment—and a Batman who treats his associates with respect and confidence is a Batman I wanna know. I've been disappointed in revamps and personal vision make-overs of Batman over the past year (you know I'm lookin' at you, Mister Miller!), but Batman: Year #100 delivers what I was looking for in that project: over-the-top, fast-moving, bigger-than-life Batman action, detection, and false teeth!

John Law #1WILL EISNER'S JOHN LAW: ANGELS AND ASHES, DEVILS AND DUST #1: This comic is fun. Whew! That's an awful long title to just say the words "We love Will Eisner!" Well, who doesn't? Gary Chaloner certainly does, and it shows in his imaginative and loving homage to Eisner's other famous detective, John Law. If your comics gotta be in color, this one's not for you, because it's in moody and shaded noir black-and-white, which is a wonderful style for a modern revisioning of a classic private eye character. Eisner purists may have a quibble with Chaloner's reimagination of Law but it's all done with love and respect. There are couple minor things that don't quite work for me: the use of Photoshop lighting and shadow effects and font typography, while subtle, seems out of place in an Eisner-inspired story, and the twist in this story seems a bit jarring and designed to shock (and it's puzzling when followed by the back-up story)—not to mention it seems to be a not-too-new twist on a surprise ending to a famous movie of a few years back. But it's beautifully drawn and designed, dynamic and spooky, and it's a dense comic book with a lot of dialogue that doesn't seem overcrowded but will definitely take you more than the usual few handful of minutes to read. If you liked The Spirit: The New Adventures, in which contemporary comics creators put their own spins on the Spirit (and I'm lookin' forward to Darwyn Cooke's version, oh yes I am), then you'll also prob'bly enjoy John Law.

52 #152 #1: This comic is fun! Whodathunkit? You all know that I'm a little stuffed bull who very stubbornly was not reading Infinite Crisis, but don't tell anybody: I did actually peek at it in detail in the comic store just enough to decide it looked cool but it really wasn't for me: I liked the art and the concept of a big overall multiversal rewriting but I didn't care much for the brutal violence and reimagining of Super-characters as murderers and brutes. On the other hand, I picked up a handful of IC preludes and tie-ins and some of them I liked very much indeed. So now that DC is starting up the weekly series 52 which covers the year inside the DCU without a Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, what's a little stuffed bull to do? Why, it's only fair to dip my hoof in the water and see if it's fun or not, as well as trying to keep my New Year's resolution to Try Each Week to Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading. And rest assured, Bully-fans, this one actually is a good deal of fun. I did not like the despair of the Elongated Man, so severe he is putting a gun in his mouth (yikes!), especially since at the end of Identity Crisis he was sad but not suicidal. Plus, why is Geoff Johns so obsessed with ripping people's arms off (Black Adam does the deed here). Mister Johns, did you train under Obi-Wan Kenobi? Aside from that there's a lot to like about this issue: the cheerful optimism of Booster Gold that everything is about to be all right (surprise, Booster!), the return of Skeets, an authoritative, strict but fair Steel (one of the best characters to come out of the Death of Superman storyline, and showing great promise here), an amazing Watchmanesque page starring the Question, Mister Mind (whoo hoo!), and The Best Line of the Week: "Are you ready?" Heck yeah, Mister Question. I'm ready. Bring it on, 'coz after issue #1, I've got my hooves crossed that DC really can keep the storylines rolling and my interest peaked week after week for a full year. Even if i don't review it every week, I'll try to check in now and again and let you know what I think of 52, but if you're enjoying this series, you should be reading and bookmarking what I think is a nifty clever idea for a new blog: Douglas Wolk's 52 Pickup, which will review each issue of the series, every week, for the entire year. That a single comics series can already inspire such a incisive and well-written blog is more proof that 52 is the most fun comic of the week! (Just don't get off schedule and start missing weeks, DC!)

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