Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comic book review roundup

1. Batman: The Black Mirror by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Francesco Francavilla: Jock's covers and Francavilla's interior illustrations (especially his colors!) are terrific. But the story's a lackluster rehash of Batman stories I've read many times before, and if all of the issues had been drawn by Jock (he drew about half of the issues), I wouldn't have even bothered finishing it. Certainly not bad, but it's been grossly overpraised by critics (or the praise reflects how terrible the vast majority of comics were in 2011).

2. Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba: Why are all the good non-super hero comics emotionally devastating? If that's what you're looking for, you'll enjoy this. I'm not looking for misery in my recreational reading.

3. Ultimate Comics Avengers: Blade vs. the Avengers by Mark Millar and Steve Dillon: I love everything by Steve Dillon, and this was no exception. Really fun.

4. Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others: Just the latest solid collection of Hellboy short stories illustrated by various all-stars. Hellboy in Mexico, illustrated by Richard Corben and starring a battle between Hellboy and a demonic luchador, is the standout.

5. X-Force: Sex and Violence, Deathlok Nation, and The Dark Angel Saga, Book 1: I loved, loved, loved The Apocalypse Solution, so I went and bought every other collection I could find. These were all fine, but none were great. I found Deathlok Nation to be more confusing than fun, and I never cared for the Age of Apocalypse storyline or character designs (Wolverine especially looks like an idiot), so it was tough to enjoy The Dark Angel Saga too much.


  1. "Why are all the good non-super hero comics emotionally devastating?"

    You just have to find the right ones.

    I think a lot of them are indie publications, first of all, and they are trying so hard to prove they are legitimate that they all feel they have to be the next MAUS. There are some non-super hero books out there that earn their greatness without having to go that route. Doug Tennapel is a creator who definitely uses the heartstrings to his advantage without being needlessly despairing. Fantasy comics like Bone or Mouseguard are pretty great...

    I realize the point behind your comment was not to damn all non-superhero comics, but if you really are looking for some great, fresh reads outside of the superhero sandbox, put out the call, and I bet there are tons of really great suggestions that won't all have you ready to slit your wrists by the end. (I could think of plenty of great books that probably would though, not that they shouldn't still get a read...)

  2. So so so so so agree on BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR. I picked it up as well based on the reviews of critics and fans online, and I was more than a bit underwhelming. Artwork was pretty inconsistent, and the storytelling -- while nicely framed as we're taught to do in our 8th Grade composition classes -- really felt like it could've been told in even fewer issues that it was.

  3. Agreed on all counts, apart from that Blade/Avengers book. Steve Dillon, yes, Blade no.
    And yes, there are some non-super comics that won't break your heart, but that does seem to be the go-to emotion of late.
    The best non-superhero comics I read in '11 were some of the noir books--Liar's Kiss was good, and Richard Stark's Parker by Darwyn Cooke is pricey but great. Also really liked Who is Jake Ellis, a 5-issue miniseries from Image--if it isn't made into a TV series, I will be shocked.
    Best superhero book of 2011 (and maybe the only good superhero book of '11)--Daredevil, by Waid and Rivera. If you haven't seen this, you will really like it.

  4. I'll check them out. Waiting for the Daredevil collection.

    (I would have sworn that Bone finished more than 10 years ago, but Wikipedia tells me it was 2004.)

  5. Strongly Disagree on The Black Mask. Top notch stuff. Its a pretty unconventional Batman story as a whole, focusing on Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon, but I guess you didn't enjoy Jock's art. I liked the references to Killing Joke and also the similarities to Batman: Year One.

    I also disagree on the Ultimate Comics book. I personally like Steve Dillon's art (even though he only draws one facial expression), but the writing was real mediocre on this.

    As mentioned above, Liar's Kiss is awesome, and Darwyn Cooke's Parker books are both 10/10.

    The current Daredevil run is amazing. Its as lighthearted and funny as Spider-man should be. Great stuff.

    For serious comics, the current Punisher run is great, with the recent issue #7 being a Marvel Comics issue of Gotham Central.