Be quick about it, would you? . . . . . . .short (ha!) reviews 3

FALLEN ANGEL: REBORN #1 (IDW)

I actually didn’t realize that there had been a lapse in Fallen Angel titles since I went to collecting the trades a long time ago (right after the Shi crossover). Or is it just fashionable now to be “reborn” a la Captain America, Batman, etc.? Or is this a mini-series? - - there’s nothing here in Issue #1 that indicates that. Oh well - - and this looks to be another crossover story rather than a new look for Liandra, the Fallen Angel.

Issue #1 is mostly about someone else from a different ANGEL universe, the one that spun off of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. The story this time is all about Illyria, a once very powerful and ambitious goddess banished from a demonic universe/hell for gaining too much influence. The Hierarchy promise to help her regain her position by recovering three magic scythes, and will lead her to the location in exchange for her killing Liandra.

The art here by J. K. Woodward is fabulous, like looking at paintings panel after panel. And Peter David always writes a competent and interesting story. if you like this type of dark fantasy. I think I’m losing my taste for it - - in the months since reading that last crossover (which was way better than I expected it to be) I haven’t felt the urge to pick up one of the stockpiled trades and see what’s been happening. I think I’m going to wait this one out. I can always come back to it later.

DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? #1 of 24 (Boom Studios)

This is a deserving and ambitious project to adapt the original 1968 novel by Philip K. Dick to comics. Twenty four issues for a mini-series during a period in comics publishing when many new monthly series don’t survive beyond the first 10-12 issues is very risky business. I applaud Boom Studios for their apparent commitment (time will tell, but I fully expect them to stay with this) to a work that cries for proper treatment in an alternate medium but isn’t assured of attracting a large audience.

I didn’t read this classic science-fiction novel until several years after it was first published, during my college years when I was looking for some light reading between taking finals exams. I checked this book out of the college library and devoured it in a weekend. It was just the fast-paced break from serious study that I needed. I have to confess that my quick read didn’t make a satisfactory impression on my memory banks, so when the BLADE RUNNER film came out I thought that was a good adaptation of the novel, and helped jog my memory of what I had read so many years before. Some months ago, I had an urge to re-visit the novel, so I picked up DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? from the public library and was blown away by the vast amount of speculative details, interesting subplots and insight that Philip K. Dick put into this work. In hindsight, BLADE RUNNER is a typical Hollywood hack-job of a novel that strips it down to a skeletal frame and leaves out all the parts that make the work significant. While BLADE RUNNER deserves its recognition for bringing classic science fiction works (especially by Dick) to the attention of Hollywood as suitable sources for new films, it just doesn’t do proper justice to this book. Read the book, or read this comic if you really want to explore a remarkable work.

Boom Studios does it justice, and then some. Apparently intended to utilize the entire text of the novel, we are treated here to the added benefit of seeing the artistic interpretation of what occurs in the novel. Be prepared to spend some time with this book - - it can’t be a casual or quick read or you’re going to miss too much (like I did during that college weekend). The art by Tony Parker isn’t going to blow you away but if you study it closely you’ll develop an appreciation for his vision. In his defense you can’t tell this story with bold, splashy panels that suck up half a page or more. There is so much detail in this story that it cries out for lots of captions and multiple panels per page. I’m impressed with what he’s done. There is no other writer credit other than Dick, so it may be that this is solely Parker’s adaptation. Bravo if so.

While the movie was dark and rather depressing, the novel contained more satiric elements and subtle nuances and had an undercurrent of optimism running through it in spite of some of the bleak conditions of this futuristic society. It’s about consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses, looking to outside sources to determine our moods rather than internally by taking our own temperatures, the impact of religious movements, and a future in which human copies (androids) are expected to willingly do the grunt work. There are plenty of parallels to modern society, lots of symbolism, and plenty to like here.

This will make a great hardcover or trade paperback edition (probably in 2 or 4 volumes to make it a little more affordable). As much as I’d like to own it in that version, after some consideration and flip-flopping on my part I’ve decided I need to show my support for this work by picking up the monthly title and endorsing it to as many friends and associates as I can in order to help insure that Boom stays with this deserving project.

THE RED CIRCLE: THE WEB One-Shot (DC):

I’ve never read any of the Red Circle superhero books so I can’t determine how much of this new version was borrowed from the original. This utilizes so much of the modern “now’ world that I suspect J.M. Straczynski may have hit on a clever idea to use the “Web” name to link this to an Internet-based super hero service.

The Web himself is a mix of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark with an interesting back-story that sets him apart from those two in interesting ways and still leaves more detail to be revealed. This was the best of the Red Circle titles so far, and when I looked at the cover I thought it might be the dud of the bunch. Surprise, surprise. This is definitely worth a look - - it’s a complex story for one issue and I won’t spoil it for those of you who decide to investigate.

I’m planning to pick up the next Red Circle title, THE SHIELD, and then sit out the official launch of the monthly titles to see what develops. They are being done by different writers and artists, so the quality is unknown. I’d rather not gamble during these times of increasing pressure/tightening of my comic book budget while my interest level is peaking. Conflict. Angst. Stress. Also, in consideration of the current economic impact on everybody and the increasing cover price of comics, I think it’s going to be hard for a brand new circle of super hero titles to survive in a glutted and compressing market. I don’t see these books having a very long life, unless the quality is consistently outstanding and outshines other works. But I’ve been wrong about this before.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #4 (DC):

The art has been extremely good on this mini-series. There is so much detail to admire and absorb I’m wondering if this book has been delayed because of the amount of time it must take Ethan Van Sciver to get it ready. This mini-series has been about much more than just the return of Barry Allen, and keeps revealing more and more details of the Speed Force and how it relates to all the fleet-footed heroes in the DC universe. We learn that Reverse-Flash (I never realized how many speedy characters have been featured in these books over the years!) has been playing a major role in steering events to where they are today. It’s getting complicated (I needed a re-read to try and sort it out) and it’s not certain if all the players involved here are going to find a happy ending when it concludes. Both story and art this issue reminded me a lot of the old Gardner Fox / Carmine Infantino Flash tales. I’m still enjoying this book and look forward to the wrap-up.

DAREDEVIL #500 (Marvel):

After reading some lackluster / ho-hum #600 issues of Spider-Man and Hulk, we finally get treated to a gem with DAREDEVIL #500. (There's another gem in CAPTAIN AMERICA #600, also by Brubaker.) DARDEVIL #500 is all good and this gem has more polish, including the back-up stories and classic reprint from Frank Miller. Ed Brubaker ends his run on Daredevil and adds another wrinkle just when you might have thought he was out of new avenues to take DD down.

I bought this book even though I didn’t want to read it, and saving it was my original plan. I’ve been collecting DAREDEVIL in trade paperback and since I don’t yet have THE RETURN OF THE KING TPB I didn’t want to read the concluding story first. But once #500 was in my hands, I wanted to read it. No worries. Brubaker is so good that even though I know how it ends I want to read those back issues anyway to see how he sets it up and plays it out. Just when I thought life couldn’t get anymore complicated for DD, he makes a major change here. There is certainly tons of plot threads remaining for new writer Andy Diggle to have fun with in the monthly title. There’s a short preview of DARK REIGN:THE LIST by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan and it doesn’t look to miss a step.

I’ve been collecting trade editions of Daredevil since the “outing of DD” and “reveal” “ of his secret identity written by Bendis right through the entire run of Brubaker - - and I haven’t read any of them yet. Everything got spoiled when I picked up the free DAREDEVIL SAGA which summarized several years of plot. Rather than make me discouraged it’s just heightened my interest. I’ve got to get into that stack of books sometime soon.

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