Sunday, May 22, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 5/18

Legion of Super-Heroes #13 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, Jonathan Glapion) – The battle between the two Legions continues. We get to see some Legionnaires in action that we haven't seen much of up until now in this storyline; Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, and Quislet all get too show off their chops, facing off against more of Saturn Queen's forces. That said, the story doesn't advance all that much, as it can pretty much be summed up as “the two sides continue to fight.” There are a few subplots advanced, the most interesting of which is Saturn Queen's attempt to recruit Earth-Man to her side, and have him turn against the LSH. A decent chapter, but little about it is terribly noteworthy.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Early Years (DC, $14.99, Paul Levitz, Kevin Sharpe, Eduardo Pansica) – A collection reprinting #515-520 of the recent run of Adventure Comics, with stories concentrating on the Legion's early years, back when Superboy was still a regular member. The stories vary in tone – many of them have something of a light-hearted feel to them, but the subplot of the Legion's battles against Zaryan build toward one of the darker moments in LSH history. There's also (yet again) a new spin on the Legion's origins. Overall, the stories by Levitz are fairly enjoyable, with a good mix of the optimism that permeated the early LSH stories mixed with just enough realistic touches to make it more accessible to modern audiences. The art by Sharpe is solid, as is the one issue penciled by Pansica. Overall, a good collection for both new and older fans who are following the current run of Legion. Recommended.

The Spirit #14 (DC, $2.99, Matthew Sturges, Victor Ibanez) – A nice fill-in issue that is essentially a love-letter to many of the classic comic book artists of the past. The writer/artist of a beloved comic book character is murdered by some suitably slimy criminal types, and the Spirit must try to keep his lovely assistant Alabaster Cream from meeting a similar fate. There's a suitable prize to be won, but it's not quite what anyone was expecting. A nice one-shot; nothing spectacular, but it's a fun romp.

Fables #105 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham) – Bigby and his father have a little chat regarding the killing of Ghost. The North Wind has all the justifications he needs to kill his grandson, but Bigby, though helpless physically against his father, is able to make a few good counter-points, as well. By the time Mister Dark begins to make his play against the remaining Fables, the nature of that battle has changed dramatically. A nice swerve, logically handled, and a satisfying chapter to lead into the conclusion of this story arc. As usual, highly recommended.

Rocketeer Adventures #1 (of 4) (IDW, $3.99, John Cassaday, Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, Michael Kaluta, Mike Mignola, Jim Silke) – A collection of new stories featuring the classic character created by Dave Stevens. The issue starts off with a beautifully-illustrated piece by John Cassaday, which almost looks like it could be the lost chapter of a Stevens story. Next is a short tale by Mike Allred; much of how one feels about this story will depend heavily on how much you care for Allred's idiosyncratic style. The high point for the issue is the collaboration between Busiek and Kaluta, showcasing our hero's wartime adventures, told from his girlfriend's POV. Two pin-up pieces from Mignola and Silke help to round out the issue. It's a mixed bag, of course, but overall there's more good than bad... although IDW's $3.99 cover price only makes me question just how much bang for the buck we're getting here.

The Goon vol 0: Rough Stuff (Dark Horse, $13.99, Eric Powell) – Despite all logic to the contrary, jumping in with volume one of The Goon wasn't the best place to start. You see, apparently there's a volume zero, collecting the three issues of The Goon that were published by Avatar, before the series went to Dark Horse. While everyone involved acknowledges that these early tales aren't as polished as the stuff Powell would later do with the character (hence the title of the collection), it still has the manic and twisted humor that would show up later on. Quite frankly, I suspect there are a lot of artists who wish that their first published works were as 'rough' as what we get here. If you're a Goon fan, don't make the mistake of bypassing the stories here.

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