Random Reads as of October 7th . . . . . . . .
SPIDER-WOMAN #1 Brian Michael Bendis, writer and Alex Maleev, artist
I’m assuming this is the same story as the motion comic on Marvel’s website. It’s a good new direction for Spider-Woman as Jessica Drew contemplates what to do now in the aftermath of Secret Invasion. She takes an assignment with S.W.O.R.D. to find and eliminate some of the 32 different alien races living in disguise on Earth, beginning with the leftover Skrulls. I’m not sure if this is going to hold up and remain interesting over a lengthy series run. After so many “kills” it could get monotonous. But, Bendis is the scripter so it’s worth a shot.
And he does a fine job with the script on issue #1. If you ever want to study how a writer can move a story along through dialogue and thought captions, this is a great place to start. It’s what he excels at - - always a joy to read his conversations between characters. Alex Maleev, who gets a chance to do it all here (pencils, inks, color) doesn’t waste the opportunity. This is a beauty to behold.
I’d love to see how this plays out as a motion comic, especially the center spread re-cap of Jessica’s history and the long vertical panels that show her and the Spider-Skrull falling from twelve stories up - - but I’m not inclined to pay 99 cents to read comic on a computer. (Call me old-fashioned).
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18 Dan Abnett + Andy Lanning, writers; Wesley Craig, art
I have good memories of the original team, so the cover showing Charlie 27, Nikki, and Starhawk caught my eye. I decided it was time to give this book a second chance. My conclusion: it’s getting better but I’m still not giving up something else in order to start reading this. My dislike the first time (during the Secret Invasion cycle) occurred because I couldn’t get into any of the new characters (including leader Star-Lord Peter Quill) and I was very annoyed by the presence of Rocket Raccoon. (If you’ve been reading my reviews then you already know my opinion of funny animal characters in semi-serious books).
This current storyline is very complicated and this issue centers around skirmishes and discoveries but still leaves room for character portrayal, and the members of the current team are amusing as well as interesting. (The current roster is Star-Lord, Jack Flag, Mantis, Bug, and (groan!) Cosmos the dog. I detect a light-hearted tone to this book and appreciate the little humorous asides and in-jokes throughout. It appears that the team is caught in a reality implosion, and destined to continually wander through various time-lines and parallel universes. (Kind of like Exiles In Space!) - - These transferences also cause different members to grow older or regress to a younger stage with interesting results.
It also leaves the door open for the writers to create as many different versions of the Guardians as they can think of. The 3009 edition includes Killraven, Charlie-27, Nikki, Starhawk, and Hollywood (who turns out to be a 100-year aged Wonder Man - - although the way he’s drawn I thought that he came from a competitor’s title - - he looks like the robotic manservant of Wormwood Gentleman Corpse from IDW). We very briefly glimpse three other versions of the Guardians before the issue ends in yet a another different 3009 with them confronting the Church of Universal Truth and Magus/Evil Adam Warlock.
At first impression it would be easy to dismiss the art by Craig as poor, but that’s not entirely accurate. It takes a while to get used to his minimalistic style before you can appreciate how he utilizes it. I’m reminded of Michael Avon Oeming a bit, although Craig is not just a carbon copy and draws differently.
This is a complex book that looks to require some concentration and dedication to follow but could reward those who do. I realize by picking up individual copies at random I’m not giving it proper justice. I should be grabbing a trade paperback, which could happen as soon as someone lends me a copy.
THE FLASH: REBIRTH #4 Geoff Johns, writer and Ethan van Sciver, artist
Since these books have been delayed I didn’t rush to pick up and read this right away. It’s been sitting in my pile/box/inventory of current books waiting for me to get back to it. I just did and I feel in awe.
I have a new appreciation for The Flash, a character with a rich mythos established around him and a fantastic palette of possibilities for a writer. I have a new appreciation for the talents of Geoff Johns, a writer who could have made this a much simpler story than the one he chose to tell. It seems that Johns has challenged himself, and is setting out to create a explanation for the confluence of so many speedy characters in the DC universe and link them together with a common element. Marv Wolfman attempted to do something like this years ago with Crisis On Infinite Earths. And he had to watch his concept that linked up the whole crazy DC universe begin to decay and collapse years later. Poor guy. I think Johns work may hold up for much longer.
And explain it Johns does - - and in great detail, but not by sacrificing the story (great story) or the pacing (dynamic flow to this book!) . I can’t declare that I fully understand it, but I know that it’s a challenging template that future Flash writers will want to comprehend and utilize. It involves the Reverse-Flash as well as the Speed Force (and the countering negative Speed Force) and the idea that the lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen his powers didn’t come from the Speed Force, but that the Speed Force was created by Barry at that moment. You need to read the entire Rebirth series to grasp this fully.
I confess I’m struggling with it. I was never more than an infrequent reader of The Flash and am more familiar with the early days of the Wally West Flash, post-Crisis version. I hung around for 30+ issues before getting tired and quitting. I also confess that I picked up this book originally because I was attracted to the amazing art much more than the storyline. If you should need another reason to check this out, then make it the artwork. This could be the finest moment to date for Van Sciver. The art has been outstanding, including the very creative cover to Issue #4. Barry in a solid black spotlight and wearing his lab coat is caught in a lightning bolt, dropping his beakers and tubes. The lightning bolt is vivid red (Flash colors) and the cover background is bold yellow (Reverse-Flash colors, or put them both together and you have Bart-Flash colors). Wherever the red lightning zig zags across Barry’s body, it reveals the Flash uniform. That’s so simple, but so brilliant.
DARK DELICACIES #1 (IDW, January 2009) horror anthology
I found this little gem by digging through my box of current books. I didn’t realize that I’ve had it so long. Now I’m wondering if this planned quarterly horror anthology survived beyond Issue #1. I don’t recall it being solicited through Previews. That’s too bad. This was a good beginning, although only 1 of 2 stories within really satisfied my craving for truly “creepy” tales.
And while I admire the ambition behind the recent CREEPY I have even more admiration for those responsible for DARK DELICACIES. CREEPY got the window dressing right but failed to deliver the goods in the story and art consistently. DARK DELICACIES dispenses with the window dressing and gets right to the story. What does this book do better than CREEPY does?
It comes down to the planning and execution. DARK DELICACIES is put together by Del Howison, an experienced editor of short stories of a horrific nature. He enlisted two qualified writers (F. Paul Wilson and Joe R. Lansdale) to write the stories. Realizing that neither of these authors works in the comics realm he then turned the stories over to experienced comics writers to develop the script, and then hired some decent illustrators.
The book looks good. The stories have a much better flow. One is a bit gruesome with its implied horrors yet to occur. The other is graphic and in your face with its violence. “Part Of The Game” shows what happens to corrupt cops who try to get the upper hand over Chinese criminal enterprises. “Dog” gets right to the basics in its depiction of an evening bicycler being chased by a vicious were-dog. Both endings are a surprise, as is to be expected with these types of tales - - but what I liked is that neither ended with the surprise that I anticipated.
If you enjoyed the recent CREEPY you will also like this book. If you were disappointed by CREEPY, then this book may satisfy.