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#23 In An Increasingly Irregular Series: Graeme Lives, Reviews

Graeme McMillan

It’s been an insanely long time since I last posted, but let’s just chalk that up to being very busy and move on quickly, shall we? Here’re some things that I’ve been reading recently. Some you may even remember!

BATMAN/DOC SAVAGE SPECIAL #1: It’s very nice to look at, but very slight. Basically, Doc Savage thinks Batman is up to no good, then then have a fight and he realizes his mistake. Phil Noto’s art – always bordering on both the sterile and the overly-pretty – is the best thing about what, otherwise, is a standard Marvel Team-Up plot without much flair from Brian Azzarello’s bland script. Eh, and not boding too well for the mini-series spin-off from this.

CINDERELLA: FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVE #1: A light, but enjoyably so, opener for the latest Fables spin-off, with a quick script and Shawn McManus’ art keeping itself under control enough (Am I the only person who finds his tendency to either give characters really long faces, or tiny little squished faces, offputting? I am, aren’t I?) for it to feel… well, like an issue of Fables, and not the more smug and somehow less enjoyable Jack Of Fables. Firmly on the high side of Okay, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

THE LONE RANGER & TONTO #3: I’ve gone on about my surprise love for Brett Matthews’ revival of this series/character before, but the star of this special issue is easily Vatche Mavlian’s art, which is scratchy and old-fashioned (and given lovely colors from Marcelo Pinto), and just pitch perfect for the story this issue. This really continues to be a series that’s better than it should be. Very Good.

MODELS INC. #3: I’m continually surprised by the bad reviews I see for this series online. Sure, it’s not going to change anyone’s world, but I’m beginning to think that I’m somehow finding it funnier than everyone else, which makes me nervous. But even if we can’t agree that this is a Good piece of throwaway camp fun, surely we can all agree that Colleen Coover’s art in the back-up makes everyone wish she’d been able to draw the whole series?

RUNAWAYS #14: Yes, it’s old now, but I just wanted to say “The End… For Now…”? Seriously, Marvel? That is the most unconvincing, quite-clearly-canceling-the-series-in-mid-storyline, bullshit that I have seen in a long time. Here’s the clue: When your series ends (or goes on “hiatus” indefinitely, as the official line on this has it), then it probably shouldn’t do so with the unexplained reappearance of a long-dead character and another one in critical condition in hospital, while the rest of your leads are going off to live with a brand new character whose motives are, at best, mysterious. Just sayin’. Offering the exact opposite of closure, the addition of “The End… For Now…” at the end of the issue really felt like a smack in the face for readers, an editorial note that translated as, “Hey, actually reading the story and wanting to know what happens next? That’s for losers. It’s over because we say it’s over.” It’s a shame, because Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli seemed to be going somewhere with this, but unsurprisingly didn’t get there in the, what, four issues they were alloted? Crap, and not through any fault of the creators.

STUMPTOWN #1: Not just the best thing to come out last week, but also one of the best things that Greg Rucka has written in a long time. Yes, it’s full of Rucka cliches (Lead character Dex, in particular, feels very familiar in that “Self-destructive, chainsmoking tough woman with personal problems who uses humor as a defense but is filled with self-loathing over something that we will inevitably find out three story arcs in” way), but there’s a tension and style to the whole thing that just works, particularly given Matthew Southworth’s really great, Michael Lark-esque artwork. The book just moves, and leaves you wishing that the next issue was out already, so you could keep getting sucked in. Very Good.

THE UNKNOWN: THE DEVIL MADE FLESH #2: Everything unravels much faster than anticipated, as Catherine proves that she’s not as easy to fool as you may have thought, and I’m left wondering where this story is going next. Now that it seems that Doyle was definitely killed last issue, I find myself kind of loving the idea that he’s definitely gone, and that Catherine is definitively the star of the show, even with her mysteriously-expanded lifespan (Even though she doesn’t know it’s been expanded). Good, and like the best mysteries, I’m dying to find out what the hell is actually going on.

WORLD’S FINEST #1: Completely superfluous to either the ongoing Superman or Batman storylines, but not that bad, either, I’m kind of at a loss as to how I feel about it, to be honest. Eh, I guess?

X-MEN FOREVER #10: Now hang on just a minute. What is going on with that last page? Is Claremont setting this up as a “No, really, this is just completely an alternate universe with an alternate history as well?” or a sign of some reality altering plot that will explain some of the other craziness from the series so far? I have no idea, but I’m still enjoying the surreal giddiness of this series… Although I’d prefer that Terry Austen could somehow unlearn a lot of his style, which manages to make every artist he works with into a mess of choppy, uneven lines and almost completely obliterates Paul Smith’s smoothness here. Nonetheless, a guilty but high Okay.

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