Mike’s random readings 5/26/09 and earlier
POTTER’S FIELD: STONE COLD (Boom Studios) Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta
Stone Cold is a very solid tale, a complete in one issue crime story featuring the return of “John Doe” from the 3 issue Potter’s Field min-series. The secretive and reclusive John Doe’s main mission is to put names and faces to to the unknown serial-numbered corpses that end up buried in Potter’s Field, a police-maintained cemetery for the unidentified dead of New York City.
How are the apparently suicidal, homeless and unknown recently deceased connected? - - all have been burned or mutilated to ensure non-recognition. The trail leads to identity theft and corrupt police officers in a nicely told tale of crime and investigation that touches a nerve - - what some will do in the name of money and extra income. Shame.
This ranks up this with the better crime tales of Brubaker and Azzaretto. If everything is going to be this good then I look forward to Waid’s infrequent tales of John Doe. Boom Boom.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #29 (Marvel) Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi
I know Jeff is following this storyline and enjoying it as well. I certainly don’t want to spoil too much since I hope more of you will seek this out and at least read it in trade paperback. It’s a great X-Men saga. Ellis is really building something nice here and this issue links all the events together and makes sense of the whole thing. Very clever use on his part to find a way around the House Of M mutant-abolishing event - - I’ll say no more. In addition to the mystery/detective like plot there is very well thought out interaction between the characters that in places is a lot of fun to read - - look for the innuendos, jabs, insightful but somewhat embarrassing insights not to mention the sexual tension. Thank you Warren. And thank you Bianchi for some absolutely incredible art - - like a mesh of Heavy Metal with a big dose of the Aliens creator’s influence (brain dead moment – I can’t remember his name, some weird German guy).
CAPTAIN AMERICA #49 (Marvel) Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross:
Captain America was one of the few books I was buying monthly in my attempt to convert my habit to all trade paperback/hardcover editions. After Bucky seemed to be settling in as the new Cap and things adjusted to just a brisk walk instead of a foot race I felt it was safe to stop getting the monthly title and wait for the trades. I stopped getting the monthly with #48, just as the “Man With No Face” story arc ended. And after 4+ weeks with no Cap I really started to miss it - - and you can figure out the rest.
This is a stand alone issue that may lead into what going’s to happen in #50 (not sure) and lets us catch up with what’s happening outside of Bucky’s world, especially with Sharon Carter. For an issue that contains absolutely no physical action there is plenty of mental/emotional conflict. Brubaker does such a great job with this. He is the first writer to actually make me care about Sharon Carter, who always seemed to be used as a foil (romantic interest, secondary character, accomplice, etc.) for the other characters (Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, etc.) to play off of. Brubaker has given her new life and she is now a character that I admire (her determination and escape from the Red Skull, for example) and empathize with.
Those events catch up to Sharon as she takes some recuperative rest and reflects on all that has happened, and ends sadly as she comes to term with the now surfacing memories of her pregnancy in captivity and loss of child. The flashback scenes are well-done, short rather than prolonged and contrast nicely with her aunt’s memories - - the one common factor being they both were involved with Steve Rogers and ironically as Aunt Peggy suffers from mild dementia and struggles to remember those times - as Sharon struggles with the suppressed memories that are now starting to surface and trouble her. Brubaker has such a “touch” with this - - I don’t often see this kind of sensitivity in these stories.
Meanwhile, the Falcon searches for the missing “bad Cap” from the 50’s era, who escaped from the manipulations of Dr. Faustus and The Red Skull and is now at large, in fact even closer to our main players than they realize. I’m looking forward to see what occurs in issue #50. You are also going to love the title page (page 2) with a dimensional tribute to the art of M. C. Escher recognizing his famous multiple staircase-multiple levels painting.
THE FLASH: REBIRTH #2 (DC) by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver:
What I like most about Johns writing here is how he remains true to the character and back-story of Barry Allen yet gives it all a modern touch rather than a re-hash of what could easily become a cardboard characterization of a 60’s comics icon. (Keep in mind that I am but a casual reader of The Flash in any version so I’m not as knowledgeable as others -- but I just get a gut feeling that this is authentic.) Johns puts a lot of “character” into his character and makes him a real human being with values, feelings, and flaws and makes him interesting to me for perhaps the first time. And through the use of moving back and forth in time with current day insights (the dialogue between Barry Flash and Hal Green Lantern is very revealing) as well as history (a slow methodical and shy pre-Flash Barry and a compelling re-telling of his first encounter with Iris). And the main story of how the Speed Force is making trouble for anyone else with speed powers – and all linked to Barry’s return being the catalyst – is pretty neat. Add some breath-taking gorgeous art by Van Sciver and you have a hot, hot book here. There’s a lot of detail to see and admire, even in the merely exposition panels.
BUCK ROGERS #0 (Dynamite) by Scott Beatty and Carlos Rafael
Here’s another 50’s/60’s icon brought into the future and given an update. Rather than give it a current feel like John’s Flash rebirth this seems more faithful to the original (however I am even more unfamiliar with this character - - limited to what I know from reading articles about the character, a few reprints of old stories, and from watching some of the old Gil Gerard TV series which was not that faithful beyond the major premise of a man thrown into the future). Buck as portrayed by Beatty seems a little more rooted in his past - - with a macho 50’s feel, attitude and expressions. (Not to mention a “Blob”-like alien foe.) However this is only a short 12 page intro and should be given another chance. (I’ll probably pick up issue #1 and maybe #2 if I still like it). What I did find curious and different is that this preview shows the ending of Buck’s saga rather than the beginning - - which of course will start with Issue #1.
NEW MUTANTS #1 (Marvel) by Zeb Wells and Diogenes Neves:
Yet another revival of a former title, but this super-team wasn’t dead or missing - - they were just relegated to second tier players without their own book for all those years in-between. If the story and art are going to remain consistent with what I see here, then welcome back. (By the way, look for the wraparound cover that features the whole team with Magick in the foreground - - it’s the most impressive and interesting of the various covers). This is well-written with good pacing, re-introduces everybody but doesn’t dwell or linger too long - - and the art is dynamic as well.
The former Xavier pupils Cannonball and Sunspot are now instructors at the X-school in California. The now despised and outcast Magick shows up to inform them that former New Mutant team-mates Karma and Moonstar are in a spot of trouble in a town that holds a dark secret. So they add Magma to the mix and the team is given thumbs up by director Scott to head off on their first rescue mission. Lots of reminiscing and humorous comparisons of then to now keep this light-hearted and fun. But there looks to be enough drama/action when Legion becomes involved. I’ll be checking out some of these future issues. I like what I see here.
I’ve read even more books that I wouldn’t mind sharing with you but I’m not getting enough spare time - - so it has to wait. Till next time . . . . Mike