Monday, September 21, 2009

Review roundup

I was beginning to think that I was simply not interested in modern comics anymore. The last few I read were:

-Secret Invasion: I expected a story about subtlety and betrayal. I got eight issues of heroes hitting lookalikes in the face. The Embrace Change ads were good, though.

-Ultimates 3: Were Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira given the task of making a comic so bad that no one would ever look fondly on Millar and Hitch’s Ultimates run again?

-Batman RIP: The kind of comic you immediately put up for resale on Amazon when you finish it. And then you feel guilty when you see someone else has bought it. Devoid of merit, aside from maybe a panel or two featuring Bat-Mite.

-Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader: Fine, I guess, but the same concept was done much better by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday in Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth.

But, it turns out that I’m simply lousy at picking comics for myself. I received a few tremendous Dark Horse Comics to review.

Grandville: This one started with two strikes against it. First, the last Talbot comic I read was Alice in Sunderland, which was a chore to read. Second, wow, what a horrendous cover. It misleadingly makes it look like Grandville is a black and white comic about some stupid looking badger-man. The cover really does a disservice to the comic, which is excellent, and in color. Imagine a steampunk version of 24, where almost all of the characters are anthropomorphic animals. The art is solid, the story is good, and the use of animal-people makes a relatively overused concept feel fresh. This is what the reimagined version of Sherlock Holmes should be (maybe aside from the animal-people). $12 at Amazon.

The Goon in Calamity of Conscience: I’ve never tried a Goon comic before because the main character looked so lame to me. But this was excellent. Sort of like a cross between the absurd world of Beetlejuice and the gritty plots of Sin City. It took me maybe half the book to really get used to it, because the world is so strange, and there’s no introduction or exposition to help new readers get their footing. But once I started to comprehend the rules of the Goon’s universe, and figure out who the characters were, I found that I loved it, and quickly reread the whole thing. Even the introduction was unusually good - - Steve Niles tells of how he befriended Eric Powell when they were both trying to break into comics, and Niles spotted a cybernetic gorilla sketch by Powell on eBay. I’m absolutely going to buy more volumes of Goon. Definitely another example of a comic book betrayed by a weak cover. $10 at Amazon.

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man: An excellent comic for people who aren’t interested in super heroes. 3 Story is a coming of age tale set during the Cold War, about a boy who grows very, very tall, becomes a spy, and finds love, albeit briefly. Good art, good story. I'd describe it as a melancholy version of Planetary. $13 at Amazon. Coincidentally, author/artist Matt Kindt recently posted some commissions he had completed, including a propaganda image for the Green Lantern Corps. And Amazon also recently posted a review of 3 Story.

Mister X: Condemned: The kind of comic where a redheaded city planner named “Roark” eats at a restaurant that looks suspiciously like the Nighthawks diner. The plot is about a serial killer loose in a city designed by architect/cultists and built by robots. The various architects subscribe to incompatible ideologies, and as a result, everyone living in the city has developed exotic mental problems. Good enough that I’ll look for more work from Dean Motter in the future, but Mister X is not quite as good as the other comics I’ve mentioned above. The story-telling felt a little rushed. $10 at Amazon.

Finally, I noticed that Motter also has an Alice in Wonderland-themed art book called Through the Glass Darkly on sale at Amazon.

*Previously: American McGee's Alice cosplay.

*Buy Alice in Wonderland toys at eBay.