Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 5/11

Doc Savage #14 (DC, $2.99, J.G. Jones, Qing Ping Mui) - Part 2 of the 'Raise The Khan' story-arc.  This one moves along nicely, with our heroes threatened at multiple intervals by various threats, and multiple bad guys who are working against each other.  Throw in a mysterious femme fatale, and some as-of-yet unexplained psuedo-science regarding genetically-altered crocodiles, and you have a decently well done makings for a pulp adventure.  Oh, there are more than a few quibbles with the plot - crocodiles generally aren't known as ocean-dwelling animals, and all but the most incompetent of prison guards usually search prisoners for any hidden items they might be carrying - but for me this didn't detract from the overall story too much.   Unfortunately, the art does continue to detract from what is probably the best of the stories of this current incarnation of the Man of Bronze.  Still, that last-page cliffhanger is a doozy. 

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #4 (of 6) (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Chris Roberson, Shawn McManus) – This issue continues to bounce back and forth between past and present encounters between Cinderella and her nemesis - it's worked pretty well so far, so why stop now?  This issue to me feels just a little padded; if this was part of an OGN, I suspect this chapter might be a few pages shorter, but overall that doesn't detract from the story too much.  We get something of an explanation for Silver Slipper's villainous ways, but it's kinda thin, to be honest.  If that's really all there is to her heel turn, I'll be a bit disappointed.  Not the best issue so far, but good enough to keep the story rolling along.  Still recommended, but if you haven't been picking this up before now, you're probably better off waiting for the trade.

Undying Love #2 (of 8) (Image, $2.99, Tom Coker, Daniel Freedman) -A large part of this issue is essentially a protracted fight scene between John Sargent and some vampires.  That's not a bad thing - the fight scene is handled well, and I could easily see this sequence being done in a movie. Also, while John comes off as suitably badass, he certainly isn't unstoppable, and pays a heavy price for his current victory.   We also get a bit more on the particular rules and mythology for vampires in this setting, some appropriate dark humor thrown in for good measure, and a cliffhanger with Mei.  Coker and Freedman are confident enough in their art to let it tell the story when dialog isn't necessarily needed, which I personally appreciate. A strong second issue, one I really enjoyed.

Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99, Daniel Corey, Anthony Diecidue) - Two decades after his confrontation with his arch-nemesis atop the Reichenbach Falls, a man who was once once known as the Napoleon of Crime wanders the streets of London, a shadow of his former self.  With World War I looming throughout Europe, the man now calling himself Trumbold is drawn into a plot involving government subterfuge, as well as the disappearance of both a colleague from his University days, and the reclusive brother of his former nemesis.  By the time he realizes just how deep he is into someone else's plot, an old fire re-ignites, and Moriarty finally finds a reason to shed off his meager disguise, the sense of challenge reviving the once vital criminal mastermind.

Holmes' purists may not care so much for this; the basic concept assumes that Moriarty, not Holmes, survives their battle at the Falls, and furthermore hints that Watson's re-creations of Holmes' various cases might not have been entirely accurate.  That aside, there's much to like here.  Corey's script is a strong one, and gives us a well-realized, nicely fleshed out Moriarty as a character.  In many ways, he approaches the mystery at hand much as Holmes would have, emphasizing the idea of Holmes and Moriarty being more alike than different in many ways (in fact, by killing Holmes, Moriarty seems to fill the void by becoming a dark version of the master detective).  There's a lot of information that the reader is being asked to absorb, much of it via exposition, but such is the nature of mysteries.  Diecidue's artwork has a dark, almost horrific style to it, which may not work for some, but that personally I found very fitting given the type of story being told and the time period thereof.

This isn't an easy comic to read at times - the plot is complex, and assumes the reader is willing to invest more than a cursory read to understand what's happening.  Still, if you're a non-anal Holmes fan, a fan of mysteries, or you just like comics that are more than the usual punch-em-ups, this is a series to keep an eye out for.

The Goon vol 1: Nothin' But Misery (Dark Horse, $16.99, Eric Powell) - Okay, what the hell did I just read?

Don't get me wrong, I liked what I read... but how the hell do I describe it?  I guess I could say that it's about a brutish character who fights zombies (as well as other beasties) in a manner that is both over-the-top in its violence, and slapstick in its humor.  Which is true, as far as it goes... but that really doesn't manage to convey the quirky and oddball nature of this book.  Unabashedly low-brow in its approach (and not at all afraid to be more than a little sick at times), the Goon reads like a collection of old EC horror comics mixed with the early Mad magazines, and never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously.  Thematically, it's not completely dissimilar to Hellboy, but only if the latter ramped up the wacky by about eleven notches.

It's hard to recommend one way or the other whether someone should pick this up - this sort of humor isn't going to appeal to everyone, not by a long shot - but there's nothing else I've encountered on the stands that's quite like this, and dammit, that's a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Also a fan of the Fables mini and I continue to be intrigued by Undying Love (an actually refreshing take on vampire/action).
    As a Holmesian - but not a purist - Moriarity#1 brings a lot to the plate. Agree with much of your review. When I put it down, I felt I'd gotten a great first issue: lots of initial setup, but well-plotted and nicely paced. The thought of Moriarity becoming a "specialist" in the underworld when Holmes isn't there to play the game is a nice touch