Shane's Numbers Ones! - July 2009
Been some time since I've made a blog post--it's just me being lazy. So, I'll start with some more reviews of the new titles in July.
I started this in the middle of August. And then the computer crashed and, because the auto-save feature hadn't activated in a bit, I lost all of the reviews I'd written. I'm finally going back to it, now.
Blackest Night #1 (of 8) - DC Comics
For those who like the insane crossover events--this is the book for you. When we take a look at what both major companies have done, this is far more like Secret Invasion than it is Final Crisis--in fact, DC hasn't really done anything like this since Infinite Crisis, with other events (Amazons Attack, Sinestro Corps. War, New Krypton, etc.) being focused on individual franchises. Here, though, we have the DCU in all of its glory, by one of its top superstar writers and a growing superstar artist, with a large number of tie-ins on the way. I haven't paid too much attention to Green Lantern lately--it was one of my earlier casualties in switching to the collected editions, and although I'm somewhat caught up on those (I recently read...Secret Origin and Sins of the Star Sapphire), I'm certainly not caught up on everything that's gone on. But, the zero-issue for FCBD helped more than just a bit, and really pulled me into this event. I made the decision to buy it based on that, and based on the notion that the other DC titles I was buying (Adventure Comics, Doom Patrol, R.E.B.E.L.S.) would tie into this event.
Onto the series itself? The first issue, I liked that quite a bit. I sing the praises of books like Final Crisis quite a bit, and ultimately, those are the books I want to read--but, the insane superhero crossover has a prominent appeal, as well. "Death" is the obvious theme here, and Geoff Johns focuses on it very well, demonstrating the sense of loss and hopelessness the DCU has felt coming out of Final Crisis. Many of their icons--Batman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter--have fallen, and with many of the remaining icons otherwise occupied, the Justice League is struggling to even survive, let alone remain effectual. Add in the return of Barry Allen--the longtime posterchild for death at DC--and you have some interesting ideas that Geoff Johns really runs with, giving us many powerful scenes that really show us the despair that everyone feels--and with "emotion" as the driving concept for the various Lanterns, this works really well. There is a slow build during the first issue, continuing from scenes introduced in the zero issue, ultimately resulting in the revelation of the Black Lanterns to the heroes. We see the very beginning of the massive death count that this series will likely result in, but it's the aftermath of that scene that's most shocking. I did not enjoy the second issue nearly as much, but as I suggested earlier, I'm not necessarily the target audience for this book. This will be a huge success for DC, and a way for them to really unite their line after several years rebuilding their icons. I may not look forward to the remaining issues of this series, but I look forward to the future.
Poe #1 (of 4) - BOOM! Studios
As you may recall, Poe was one of the first titles that I enthusiastically blogged about after seeing it in Previews, and I wish I could say that the enthusiasm carried over to the series proper. Don't get me wrong--in no way is this a bad book. As a supernatural detective story, it's interesting, well-written, well-drawn. However. As far as I can tell, at least based on the first issue, there is no reason for this comic to be about Edgar Allen Poe. There's a casual reference on two to his stories, and then a few of his real-life situations, but none of them are in any way essential, or even particularly relevant, to the story itself. A new character could've been invented to easily take his place, perhaps opening up new story possibilities. I understand the notion that Poe's name brings in readers--it brought me in, after all--but if you're going to craft a story about someone, it should be a story that needs them involved--not a story that you casually plug a character into. I've already ordered the remaining issues of this series, although none have yet arrived--I don't know if the problem is with my store or with the comic itself--but I don't know if this is a book I can really recommend to someone, at least not on the connection to Poe alone. As I said, this isn't a bad comic--but I was hoping for more.
Bad Kids Go To Hell #1 (of 4) - Antarctic Press
As you might recall, this is one of the titles that I brought with me to Aaron's party, attempting to pass onto another. This is because of the quality of the book--it far surpassed my expectations. I bought it because, well, I was desperate for any title on my pull list by that point, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this series in every way, and anxiously await the final issue.
To begin with, picture The Breakfast Club--perhaps the quintessential 80's movie by the late John Hughes. This series is built around that--not exactly, of course, as new characters and situations are designed, but the premise? Nearly identical. A group of high schoolers with tenuous connections to each other are thrust into detention, isolated from everyone except their cruel teacher and a more sympathetic member of the staff. So take that, and then turn it into a horror story, and you've got this comic.
Based on that description, I know, I wouldn't be too interested--there's some potential there, maybe, but the odds of it being pulled off into anything resembling a good story...slim, right? And yet somehow, the creators manage it. The first issue is the worst of the series, and that's not really a criticism, because on its own, it's a perfectly serviceable comic--but the comic begins to really shine in the remaining issues. I'm captivated.
North 40 #1 (of 6) - Wildstorm
Unlike many, I haven't paid any attention to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I know a few of the basics, and I know that he's considered a master of, as it was then know, "weird fiction", but that's really it. I've had a bit of an interest, I guess, but never the opportunity to explore that further--until now. Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples begin to explore the mythos through the eyes of a small town, just off of, as you can see from the cover and title, Interstate 40 - North. Casual experimentation in the supernatural leads to the brief slumber of an entire town, and when they wake up, they find themselves in the middle of a completely different life. The fear and anxiety the characters feel is distinct, palpable, pulling the reader in instantly. Fiona Staples, the artist, proves her worth as a storyteller, and includes many minor touches to the art that may not be apparent on the first read. I had to cut this series from my pull list after the first issue due to "budget cuts", but I can't wait for the trade collection, out in, perhaps, a few months. If there's a sequel to this series by the same creative team, I know that I'll be on board.
Creepy #1 - Dark Horse Comics
This relaunch was already reviewed, so I'll keep this relatively brief, not going into an examination of the issue but rather an assessment of its worth. If this was attempted to be a comic that would evoke real feelings of fright...it fails. None of the stories in this comic are particularly scary. However, as a comic that tells stories firmly set in the horror genre, unusual and, well, creepy? It succeeds. And, fortunately, that's what I'm looking for! It contains the basic problem that many anthologies do--namely, the varying quality between creative teams--but as a whole, I came out of this book feeling entertained. The second issue comes out in October--perfect timing, for obvious reasons. Part of me thinks that they should've held back the launch to coincide with Halloween, but with the other horror comics saturating that month, it was probably best to begin the book when they did. Hopefully, this sticks around.
The Last Resort #1 - IDW
I always think that there's a lot of storytelling potential for a situation where the characters are isolated. It limits their options and increases the sense of risk. This series fits that mold perfectly, beginning on an airplane and ultimately winding up on an island resort. This series is written by Palmiotti and Gray, and is their most recent foray into the world of independent comics. They have fairly consistent success with DC and Marvel, making it always a treat to see them elsewhere. It should be noted that Amanda Conner does not provide art on this series, and neither does the other cover artist, Darwyn Cooke. Instead, a relative newcomer, Caracuzzo, showcases a color-wash style that is somewhat similar to what Francis Manapul is doing on Adventure Comics. It looks good and reads good--the series hasn't really kicked into high gear yet, but the opening scene gives us a taste of what the book will really be like when it gets going. There are numerous subplots already going on when the book begins, and we learn more about them as the book continues--presumably, they'll all be dealt with by the conclusion. The lack of focus on any single character means that everyone is expendable--perfect for books like this. This is, despite the dreary subject matter, a fun book that I'd gladly recommend.