Monday, June 20, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 6/15

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz,Fernando Dagnino, Raul Fernandez) - Part I've-lost-track of the current storyline, as the battles between the two Legions continue on... and on... and on.  I realize that this is supposed to be a big epic storyline, but while the individual battle sequences are decently well done, they don't seem to contribute much to the advancement of the plot.  Interspersed between the action sequences is Professor Li being all mysterious, and Dyogene continues to speak in riddles.  While I know that we will (hopefully) gets some answers soon, can I respectfully suggest a 3-issue limit on side characters being deliberately mysterious?  If they violate that limit, the main characters should be able to jackslap them without repercussion.

I'm actually starting to root for Saturn Queen a bit, solely on the basis of her scenes are at least fairly entertaining to read.  Given the nature of the upcoming changes to the Legion comics, I suppose there's actually a chance that SQ just might be able to kill of a Legionnaire before she is defeated, and hey, that's pretty much the gold standard for a Legion villain.

No complaints about the fill-in art by Dagnino and Fernandez, but Levitz's plot is beginning to drag a bit.  Part of me wonders if this storyline was originally meant to wrap up a bit earlier than it now will, and that it's getting padded out to end the storyline in September along with all the other DC books.

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #5 (of 6) (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Chris Roberson, Shawn McManus) – The penultimate issue of this storyline (I just like typing out the word 'penultimate' - it's such a fun word).  Cinderella has allowed herself to be taken in a trap in hopes of being led to her enemy's domain, but she seems to have forgotten she's facing off against someone just as good as she is, if not better.  There's a nice twist at the issue's ending, adding a genuine sense of menace for the upcoming finale in the deadly desert sands.  Not much to say about the plot without giving anything away, so I'll just say that if you haven't already been picking up this series, be sure to get it when it comes out in collected trade paperback form, as this mini-series has been consistently entertaining.

Conan: Island of No Return #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50, Ron Marz, Bart Sears) - I wasn't expecting much from this, to be honest, primarily because I've thought of Ron Marz as a thoroughly average writer.  That said, while this isn't the best Conan comic book story I've ever read, it isn't the worst either, and I found myself surprisingly entertained by it.  After a bit of fleeing from the law (as Conan is wont to do, in this case because he slept with a Judge's wife), he falls in with two female thieves (looking for all the world like they just showed up from a 90's Image fantasy comic book), who enlist his aid in stealing a treasure from a long-lost island palace.  It's pretty clear that it's less a matter of whether or not the two will betray Conan at some point, but more a matter of when, and whether or not Conan has a betrayal of his own planned.  The script by Marz moves along nicely; the art by Sears is at times rough and almost freakish, but at other times a strong sense of design manages to shine through.  A somewhat flawed but still promising first issue, good enough to intrigue me enough to see how this plays out.

Undying Love #3 (of 8) (Image, $2.99, Tom Coker, Daniel Freedman) - This is the issue where we get a little background on our two main characters and how they met.  We get a sense of John's background, as someone who has known war for probably most of his adult life, but for all that appears to be a fundamentally decent human being.  Mei, by contrast, shows herself capable of great destruction, even though she also appears to be a decent person at her core.  The flashback sequence gives a good sense of how these two might fall for each other, without over-explaining things or playing it too thick.  Overall, the story moves along nicely, and the art is quite nice (there's a one-page spread near the end of the issue that is both beautiful and horrific at the same time).  If you haven't been picking this series up, you should probably correct that immediately - so far, this is pretty much tied with Moriarty for my favorite new series of the year.

The Walking Dead vol 14: No Way Out (Image, $14.99, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard) - Reprinting #79-84 of the monthly series, we see the current cast try to keep the Community functioning, only to find out that the town isn't as safe from the dead as they once thought.  Over the course of events, some characters die, of course, and others are changed permanently by their experiences, and not for the better.  This is, after all, a pretty bleak series, and there's not a whole lot of happy moments to buffer against the unrelenting darkness.  I've seen the series occasionally referred to derisively as 'misery porn'.  I don't think that assessment is entirely fair, but it is true that this is a pretty damned depressing series.  Of course, if you've read the earlier volumes, you know the sort of thing you're in for.  That said, if you're willing to dive into the muck and the grime, Kirkman and Adlard make it one hell of a continuing ride. Obviously, if you haven't read the earlier volumes, star with the first one, and then decide of you want to continue on from there.

The Sixth Gun book 2: Crossroads (Oni Press, $19.99, Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt) - Collecting issues #7-11 of the monthly series.  Laying low in New Orleans for a bit, Drake, Becky, and Gord have five of the six guns; the question now is, of course, what to do with them?  Becky prefers to keep one of the guns close to her person, but Drake wants nothing more to do with them.  Of course, being rid of the guns isn't as easy as all that, especially if you don't want them falling into the wrong hands.  Several parties want the guns for themselves, and along the way everything from a voodoo threat to a charming grifter make their play for the eldritch weapons.  Of course, there are others interested in the guns as well, but for different reasons.  All told, there are plently of surprises along the way, and this series continues to entertain.  It's not quite as strong as the first volume, perhaps, but that's a danger with any sequel, and overall this storyline holds up quite well.  Recommended.

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