Thursday, February 17, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 2/16

(I'm going to try to make an effort to get the comic book reviews up quicker - no guarantees, though)

Legion of Super-Heroes #10 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, Wayne Faucher) - The storyline with the Durlan extremists continues... and quite frankly, I really wish they would wrap this one up sooner rather than later.  Levitz's characterization is still strong, but the story is really starting to drag.  There's a time when Levitz would have handled the pacing on this better, perhaps throwing in a few subplots to help with the pacing (yes, I'm harping once again on the lack of subplots - deal with it).  On the plus side, the art by Cinar and Faucher is quite nice, and the sequences showcasing Brainiac 5 as the new acting leader are entertaining. Hopefully,once this Durlan storyline is resolved the book will pick back up again.

The Spirit #11 (DC, $2.99, David Hine, Moritat) - Part one of a new storyline, dealing with an gangster from New York, Shonder Zeev, making a play for control of Central City.  Zeev is said to lack even the few morals that the Octopus allows himself, and so the Octopus and Dolan form a temporary alliance to work against Zeev... but Dolan finds that such a partnership is not a simple or as clean as he might have hoped.  The Spirit, of course, is also heavily involved in this, trying to help a family smuggled in by Zeev from South America as slave labor.  As the issue ends, a special operative and his unique companion arrive, with a plan to deal with the Spirit in a permanent manner.  Hine's story is solid, and Moritat's art is growing on me.  Worth picking up.

Fables #102 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham) - The start of a new story arc, set half a year after the big battle in #100, dealing with the Fables as... superheroes?  Well, a few of them, anyways.  It's part of Pinocchio's plan to defeat Mister Dark, whose power is continuing to encroach on Flycatcher's Haven (you just *know* that the words 'Pinocchio's plan' means that this will probably end in tears).  The plan, such as it is, revolves around creating superhero identities as leverage in a battle where confidence is crucial.  While Ozma's costume does look charmingly appropriate, you just know that Bigby's, when we do get to see it, is probably going to come off as (deliberately) ludicrous.  We also get a couple of subplots along the way (see, Levitz?  It can be done!) concerning the North Wind's dilemma regarding the fate of the grandchild called Ghost, as well as Nurse Spratt biding her time until Mister Dark returns.

There's a lot going on here, but both Willingham and Buckingham handle it well.  The story and art work nicely together, as is so often the case in Fables.  This book continues to entertain consistently; there's a reason why it's one of Vertigo's longest running titles.

And now for something a little different...

The Doodle Inc. Reunion Special - March 2011 (YMCA of Greater Seattle, $5.00, Brianna Edwards, David Lloyd, Aja Reb, Amanda Stephens, Rachel Townsend, Katrina Varney, others) - This will require a little backstory, so bear with me.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, my friend Greg Hatcher teaches cartooning classes to middle-school students in the Seattle area.  Recently, some of his former students got together to put together a benefit book, one that would support the Y's art and activity programs in the Seattle area.  The result is a 64-page black-and-white magazine-sized fanzine; you can read more about everything that was required to put this together here.

As one might expect, the standards for reviewing this is a little different than usual... but not entirely.  The creators here are not 'professionals' in the same regard that the writers and artists of other titles reviewed here are.  At the same time, while you want to help a good cause when you buy this, it's not unreasonable for you to also want some bang for your buck.

Most of the stories are somewhat autobiographical, and Brianna Edwards' "Sailor Spiderman & Tuxedo Batman" is no exception.  Like many of the other creators on this book, Edwards' style shows a clear manga influence.  Her art is clean and clear, and she also has a strong sense of layout.  Unlike some of the other artists here, she also uses some subtle computer effects to help with the backgrounds.

David Lloyd's "Chef" is the exception to the autobiographical nature of the stories in this book; it is the closest thing to a 'traditional' comic book story we have in the book.  The art is a bit rough, but honestly I don't mind because I like the story concept so much.  "Chef" deals with culinary masters acting as secret negotiators on the global political stage.  How do I put this delicately... I LOVE THIS CONCEPT AND WANT TO MARRY IT AND HAVE BABIES WITH IT *ahem* where was I?  Anyways, while not the most technically proficient story in the book, it is my favorite.

Next is an untitled short piece by Aja Reb.  Reb's art has a light, airy, cartoony style to it.  The lettering here could have been cleaner - that's what whiteout is for, Aja!

The middle of the book has several sketches by both the main contributors and other graduates of Greg's cartooning class.  As one might expect, there's a wide variety of styles and subjects shown here (my favorite is probably Lindon Schaab's octopus with a boombox).

Amanda Stephens' "Comics!  A Story About Cartooning" also shows a manga influence, but also has a style not too unlike what one might expect to see in a daily newspaper comic strip. The backgrounds (or more precisely, the lack thereof) could use a little work, but it's a good piece.

Rachel Townsend's "Through the Eyes of an Artist" also showcases an art style that would not be out of place in a newspaper comic strip.  Her art shows influences of both American comic books as well as Japanese manga.

The book wraps up with "Draw Draw Revolution" by Katrina Varney.  Like Edwards' opening piece, Varney's art has a very clean, manga-influenced style to it, with a good sense of layout and pacing.

There's a lot here that's of interest, if you are willing to forgive a bit of roughness here and there.  There's no reason to believe that we won't be seeing some of these people again, either through self-publishing, or possibly even eventually getting work published elsewhere.  Just for the chance to see budding storytellers in their early years, this (to my mind) is easily worth the five bucks...  and hey, it is for a good cause, after all.

At the moment, there's about fifty or so extra copies that were printed up; if you want a copy, contact Greg (details in the above link) to find out if they have any left, and if so how to order a one.  Failing that, if you plan on going to Emerald City Con, they'll have plenty of copies there, as well.  If not, there may be a second printing if the first run sells through quickly enough.


  1. Katrina's already scored, actually. She is doing this month's cover of SEATTLE'S CHILD magazine; she got the gig based on her work here.

  2. I'm surprised I didn't wake somebody else up laughing at the paragraph about "Chef"... :)