Friday, January 20, 2006

COMICS: Wed. 1/18/06

Hey, it's my first regular comics post of the year! Now let's see if I can actually remember what comics I bought.

The big item I picked up this week was the TPB of Mike Grell's Jon Sable, Freelance, Volume 1. This has been out for quite a while. I've long had an interest in it, but the price put me off (IDW motto: "If it's overpriced, it's gotta be good!"). For some reason, this week I just felt like getting it. So I did. And... I liked it, but it didn't knock my socks off. I almost always like Grell's work; I've rarely loved it.

First of all: man, is this thing eighties. It's very "of its time." And it possibly hasn't aged quite as well as other '80s comics, specifically because it aimed at being more contemporary and current than other books. For crying out loud, Ronald Reagan makes a cameo in the first issue! When it first came out, that probably seemed pretty nifty. Now, it couldn't be cheesier.

Second, since Sable's debut, we've seen this whole mercenary thing done to death. What once was cutting edge, in terms of violence and in terms of the protagonist's hardcore vigilante attitude, now seems relatively tame.

But I did like it. Grell's art is always nice (though in a couple spots here and there, it's a little hard to follow). I liked Sable, the character, and I found his double life amusing -- to fund his bounty hunting, he poses as a best-selling children's author. And his origin story is very strong, if perhaps too reminiscent of the Punisher's (his family is gunned down, pushing him into a life of vengeance). Having recently seen Munich, I was especially taken with the fact that his story really starts at the '72 Olympics, in which Sable competes in the pentathlon. And the way the origin is spread across four issues was very forward-thinking of Grell, anticipating the ubiquitous "story arc" of today's comics.

I don't know if I'll go out and buy Volume 2 any time soon, but I'm glad I at least sampled this series.

So, what else did I get? Runaways and All-Star Superman, for two, but I haven't read those yet. The way I read comics is I save my favorites for last. Which is why I have yet to read those two. What I have read (in no order):

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl: I enjoyed Milligan and Allred's X-Statix, and I enjoyed this. Could've used more Dead Girl. And Dr. Strange was written a little oddly, but that's to be expected for any mainstream hero who steps into the X-Statix world. Also, I'm not steeped enough in Marvel history to recognize more than a couple of the characters who have returned from the dead -- Kraven, Mysterio, and Tyke Alicar, and that's it. But I liked the art (even though Allred only inks Nick Dragotta's pencils, it's more Allred than not), and there's plenty of Milligan's usual morbid humor. Good stuff.

Ex Machina: Hooray for gratuitous nudity! That was going to be my only comment on this issue, but then I decided I might as well mention the chainsaw to the face, too. Here are my thoughts on that: ouchie! I'm still loving the examination of politics in this book, but I thought Journal's decision to quit the Mayor's office was pretty stupid (which is probably what Vaughan was going for). And I'm interested in seeing where the stuff with the mayor of Baghdad is going.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy: I love Joe Kubert's art, and it's fantastic in this issue. Good story; I haven't seen many WWII stories which focus on the German/Russian front. This is my introduction to Easy Company, and I'll definitely be back for more.

Walking Dead: Treading water. Nice last page set-up for next issue, but it should've been the first page, as the rest of the issue was just bloat.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Marvel Knights Spider-Man: Awful. Really, really awful. This whole misguided "The Other" crossover storyline gets worse at it goes along, which I didn't think was possible. I got into this thing because I wanted to see Peter David and Mike Wieringo take on Spidey in FNS-M. They have not impressed. This storyline has ruined my anticipation of what could've been a very good book. Also: Flash Thompson hasn't seen Peter Parker since high school? Didn't they become buddies in college? I'm puzzled by that one. And as for Marvel Knights -- Pat Lee, is that the artist's name? Oh my god, he is horrible. Just pure crap. The entire issue hurts to look at. Awful, awful, awful.

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