Oh, man. The day job has been cuh-razy. Would you believe I've been meaning to post these for over seven hours? But for those of us who aren't as number wonky as B:
CROSSING MIDNIGHT #5: As you may remember, last issue really hit its stride and this issue, while not quite as strong, continues the pace. After all, when you've got the origin of the word "yakuza," mysterious demonic pacts (both figurative and literal), a blind gang leader who has a hyperarticulate henchman explain everything as it unfolds, gorgeous art, and people being sliced to ribbons (oh, and I forgot to mention the line about having sex with strippers after violence to avoid infecting one's wife with negative chi), what more do you need?
No, really, what more do you need? If I had to guess, I'd say it needs a bit less helplessness on the part of its protagonists--like the children in fairy tales, their only power seems to be in bargaining with devils to overthrow each new threat. It's a disempowering read, precisely the opposite of your standard superhero wish-fullfillment. That's not bad, but it makes the book an even tougher sell--and tougher read--than it might be otherwise. Good stuff, but I hope it finds the right balance in its tone as time goes on...and that it has the time to do so.
DAREDEVIL #95: Lots of neat little bits--I liked that we got to see an argument between Foggy, Matt and Becky that actually got resolved, and was more than fodder for a subplot--but the bulk of the story concerns Melvin Potter, The Gladiator, who was probably the weakest of Miller's triumphs from his first run on Daredevil (Miller managed to give the character an extra dimension of pathos, thus bringing the Gladiator's sum dimensionality all the way up to...one). If you still find the old trope of prisoners teasing mentally deficient powerhouses believable or palatable, you'll find this a Very Good issue. I found it highly Good, myself, just built on a bit I don't have much patience for. We'll see if the creative team can woo me when part two of the story comes out.
DEVI #9: Haven't read this for at least nine issues--it went from looking like Witchblade to Witchblade Adventures at some point, which is more of a bummer than you might think. I'd be interesting in checking out the trade of this at some point--they try to make the characters at least a little bit emotionally complex--but this issue was more or less Eh.
DMZ #17: Sorta spaced out around Part 2 of this arc, came back for the end to see how things had progressed. It was interesting enough that I'll probably check out the trade and give you a review of the whole arc later. No Rating, but seemed promising.
ELEPHANTMEN #8: I thought it would be fair to Rich Starkings, after he was kind enough to post here twice, to check out this issue and review it but didn't get a chance. I'll try to get to it next week.
FANTASTIC FOUR #544: For an old school Marvel geek like me, this issue was probably worth it just for the "I mean, who hasn't met the Watcher by now? C'mon, raise your hand if you haven't met the Watcher!" bit. And I'm glad to see there's gonna be some follow-up to that Beyond mini. And the art was nice. So, you know, Good, although if you ask me, Dwayne McDuffie has a big ol' achilles heel and it's called Deathlok. I know he's necessary to get the ball rolling on the storyline but I wonder why, exactly, he had to come along other than, y'know, McDuffie's heel and all that...
GAMEKEEPER #1: So. A Chechen gamekeeper with a mysterious past is the only thing in the path of a mysterious strike team who are after the gamekeeper's employer, who has an even more mysterious past. As you can imagine, it's all so mysterious at this point as to be absolutely 100% generic. However, it is competently done, and I'm always a big fan of "dude with a mysterious past kicks ass of mysterious bad guys" so I'm willing to give it an OK and see what comes next. Weirdly, this and Hellblazer last week both feature characters who use so many anglicisms I'd swear Diggle wasn't from the U.K. Maybe he just overdoes it when trying to write slangy street-smart characters? Really weird.
GREEN LANTERN #18: Like G., I'm in the "art on this was lovely" camp--Acuna's work here makes me think of, I dunno, if Toth had worked in watercolors or something: the characters are all vital and expressive with dynamic brushwork, but there's also a lushness to it. Between it and the back-up story--which like a lot of the old Tales of the Green Lantern Corps stories was less a story and more a little slice of coolness--I'd say this was Good issue, even if the main story was both truncated and kinda cheesy.