Saturday, August 6, 2011
Capsule reviews: Comics from 8/3
Adventure Comics #529 (of 529) (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Geraldo Borges, Marlo Alquiza) - The final issue of the current run of this title, and although it was by no means perfect, I'm going to miss the stories of the various would-be heroes of the Legion setting. The trainees struggle to face off against Cosmic King, who by all rights should easily defeat them, but Levitz writes CK as being hesitant of using his full abilities to kill off untried opponents, which gives are young heroes a slightly better chance than they might otherwise have. It's a bittersweet ending, one with sacrifice and loss - overall, it's a good ending to the series, and a very Legion-esque one, at that. I just hope that, somewhere down the line, we get to see some of these characters again in the future.
Jonah Hex #70 (of 70) (DC, $2.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Ryan Sook, Diego Olmos) - Final issue of the current run, although the series gets revamped slightly next month. Jonah is witness to various versions of how he might die, and gets to revisit some old acquaintances in the process. Of course, death and Jonah are old friends, so in many ways the prospect of dying is less troublesome to Jonah than meeting some of the specters of his past. It's an odd tale (even odder than some of the previous Hex stories), but a good one. If this were truly the end of the series, it would be a poignant and fitting ending. As is, it's an interesting retrospective to the current run, a capstone to what has been one of the consistently best titles published by a mainstream company in the last decade. If you haven't been following this series, and have any interest or liking for westerns whatsoever, do yourself a favor and pick up the various trade paperbacks collecting the entire Gray/Palmiotti run.
A History Of Violence (DC/Vertigo, $14.99, John Wagner, Vince Locke) - A new printing of the story that inspired the 2005 film of the same name, originally published by DC's Paradox Press imprint, now being published under the Vertigo umbrella. For those familiar with the film, the first third or so of the movie and the comic are roughly the same, but diverge more and more and things progress. Wagner's story here is a strong one; like much of crime noir, the emphasis is more on character than on plot. Locke's black-and-white art is sketchy in places, but strong on layout, more interested in pacing and storytelling than flash. Overall, the combination works well. If you have an interest in crime fiction, it's well worth checking out. If you've seen, and liked, the movie, then it's definitely worth getting a copy of the original version of the story.
Moriarty #4 (Image, $2.99, Daniel Corey, Anthony Diecidue) - The conclusion of the 'Dark Chamber' story arc. Moriarty faces off against Tartarus and his forces, with the threat of the Cyclops Eye looming. However, the former crime lord's success is short lived, as he finds out that all is not as it had appeared, and that his troubles are just beginning. An excellent issue, one that provides a satisfying conclusion to the current storyline, while setting the table for future story arcs. Highly recommended; if you haven't been following this one, be sure to get the trade collection when it comes out in September.
Elric: The Balance Lost #2 (of 4) (Boom!, $3.99, Chris Roberson, Francesco Biagini) - More aspects of the Eternal Champion show up in this issue, which probably should have been titled "The Eternal Champion: The Balance Lost"; anyone picking this comic up hoping to read a story centered primarily on the doomed albino prince may well be disappointed. As a story on its own, for the most part it moves well enough, as different realities suffer the effects of swaying too far toward either Law of Chaos. The weak point of this issue, like last issue, is the part centered on the new character, Eric Beck. Given that Beck will most likely play a pivotal role in the story's conclusion (even more so than Elric), one hopes that he'll become a more interesting character over the next few issues.
Dark Blue (Avatar, $8.95, Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows) - A new collection of the storyline that ran in the Threshold anthology series. What first appears to merely be a cynical and brutal police procedural quickly turns into an exercise in questioning what is real and what is only in our heads, and just how little difference there can be between the two. For some, the story may be somewhat reminiscent of The Matrix, although for those who are well read in speculative fiction the themes explored here are much older that said film. The story represents the first collaboration between Ellis and Burrows, who would go on to work together on Bad World, Scars, and Chronicles of Wormwood. The story by Ellis is a good one (no surprise there), and Burrows' black-and-white art works perfectly with the story as presented, but it's definitely not for the squeamish, or for those who like their fictions to be comfortable ones.
Genecy #1 (InVision, Gerald Cooper, Eddy Barrows) - This was sent to me by the publisher, who asked if I could provide a review for it, which I am happy to do. It was actually published back in 2009, and the publisher is attempting to fund the second issue via a kickstarter program. The pitch of the first issue is "Conan becoming the Silver Surfer after being a slave on Apokolips." Which gives you a decent enough idea of what you're in for. It's a space fantasy, somewhat reminiscent of Starlin's oeuvre. The art by Barrows is quite nice, if occasionally a bit stiff and posed. Cooper's story isn't bad, but it takes a while to get to the point, and relies heavily on caption boxes to explain what's going on. I personally wish the writing was a bit tighter here; the script seems in part stretched out to give room for Barrows' art. It would probably be best if any future issues gave our lead character some traveling companions, both to flesh out his character a bit more and to not rely so heavily on the caption boxes.
Admittedly, this is something of a difficult sell for me: aside from Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey and Dreadstar stories, I'm not that big a fan of 'cosmic' stories. That said, I do have a real fondness for space opera, so I'm willing to give it a shot. Overall, the basic set-up is interesting enough; if the scripting of future issues improves a bit, this could be a series of interest.