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Reviews of 10/5 comics

Brian Hibbs

Again, in no particular order, here are some thoughts on last week’s funny books — 2 in a row, there’s no stopping me now (what a joke)

SPELLGAME #1: Damn fine cover by Darwyn Cooke got me to pick this up to read, and the insides kept my interest decently. There was a little too much “What the hell is going on?” going on to really give this the big thumbs-up, but it was a professionally produced and executed comic, and I have little qualms giving it a low GOOD.

BATMAN: GOTHAM COUNTY LINE #1: Three books on the stands that have “Gotham” in the title, that’s sure smart, ain’t it? Even smarter to have 2 of them ship in a single week. I really wish publishers would think just a teeny tiny bit more about thier schedules. “Batman in the suburbs” was how this was pitched, but, except for a Rocket-Pack (!!!), it really wasn’t much different than any other Batman story. Damn nice art from Scott Hampton, yes, but that $6 cover price gives me the shivers. A really low GOOD — woulda have been “Very” had the price been cheaper…

GOTHAM CENTRAL #36: Terrific ending to the arc, first time I didn’t mind Batman interjecting himself into the book, really. VERY GOOD.

AQUAMAN #35: And here’s the first OMAC crossover that actually added to the book it was crossing over into. Didn’t do much for OMAC itself, but that’s basically OK. I quite like the moral dillemma, and I was pretty surprised by the conclusion as well. I even liked the Atlantis stuff, which I generally hate in Aquaman stories. Surprisingly VERY GOOD.

FELL #2: What I like best about this book is how it reads as densely as a “regular length” comic, and doesn’t feel “short” at all. Spiffy art, crisp writing, low price, my only possible quibble was they need to mix up the design of the “ëxtra” material a smidge — at first I had thought there was a production error and it just repeated the stuff from issue #1. Going with EXCELLENT heree.

FANTASTIC FOUR IRON MAN BIG IN JAPAN #1: Gorgeous looking, yes, but 28 pages of ads and 22 pages of story for $3.50 does not make Brian a happy boy. I kept being ripped out of the story by the ads, and that’s a shame, because this was top notch stuff. Still, there’s no way to recommend this as a periodical. I have to say — and consider the source — that you should wait for the trade. VERY GOOD for content, EH for packaging.

RETURN OF DONNA TROY #4: Man, that was a waste, wasn’t it. Not even a good explanation about HOW she returned, and lots of jibber jabber about mutiple earths and what not. Y’know, when I was 8 (and even when I was 20) I had no problem keeping track of Earth 1, 2 and 3, X, S, and Prime. But this whole “well, some of it sticks and some it didn’t” really hurts my brain. There used to be rules, but it feels like it is all exceptions these days. A big AWFUL from me.

CONAN & DEMONS OF KHITAI #1: I tried to care, but couldn’t — I don’t even much like Conan on a good day, but at least the main book seems to have a direction and a point. This just feeels like filler to capitalize on the relative success of the main book. Pretty looking, yes, but didn’t care. OK.

POWERS #13: Don’t care about the main police stuff this issue, but I was thrilled to death with the banter and especially the stand-up scenes. VERY GOOD.

That’s enough comics, I think, let’s do some trades and stufff…

BONE SHARPS COWBOYS & THUNDER LIZARDS: The cut-throat world of 19th century paleontology is not something that I thought would interest me, but I was surprisingly affected by this story. I had a few problems sorting through who was who (its the beards that everyone in the 1800s had, man), but it was stil both pretty AND edumicational! A solid GOOD, for sure.

PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES HC: Didn’t realy work too well for me — clearly Tatsumi is a skilled creator and its nice to see this colection of his work, but I felt there was a pretty significcant sameness and lassitude to the stories, and by about the hafway point I was just flipping through to get to the end rather than geniunely enjoying what I was reading. OK… or maybe, just maybe, a low GOOD, but I’d be more enthusastic for a presumably cheaper SC edition. (Not that $20 is insane or anything)

PYONGYANG A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA HC: WHile, on the other hand, I thought this was just super spiffy — I was affected both by the outsiderisms, as well as the strong look inside a cuture I know little about. Like PERSEPOLIS beefore it, I walked away from this work feeing like I knew more about our world while still getting that people are people. Super-terrific material, and, despite the HC status, I thought it was EXCELLENT.

QUITTER HC: Haspiel is a good match for Pekar’s storyteling style, and I thought this was pretty good stuff — but I also felt I’ve walked this road many times before. By the time I got to the last 20 or so pages I found myself reallyy hoping that this was fiction and not auto-bio, and that the story could have actually gone somewhere and said something than “just” being “American Splendor #0” (as it were). Perfect for someone on the cusp of understanding what comics can do, but if you’re already there, relatively slight and wholly unsurprising. A solid, if low, GOOD,

Okie dokie, out of time this morning, that’s what you get.

PICK OF THE WEEK (comics) will go to FELL #2 — a nicely executed, inexpensive complete story with pretty art and crisp writing.

PICK OF THE WEAK: of what I reviewed, RETURN OF DONNA TROY #4: I don’t *really* understand how she returned, or, more importantly, why — other than “Jimenez has a crush on her”. Anti-Harbinger my ass.

BOOK/TP OF THE WEEK: Easially goes to PYONGYANG, but that’s a hell of a field of competition, isn’t it? Great stuff, go get yourself a copy.

What did YOU think?


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