Reviews of 12/1

I thought I'd have plenty of time for this, but I forgot about grandparents coming to see the grandson, and how that tears my schedule into pieces, ah well, here it is anyway! ABOVE & BELOW TWO TALES O/T AMERICAN FRONTIER: James Sturm's excellent novellas, THE REVIVAL and HUNDREDS OF FEET BELOW DAYLIGHT are gathered together here in one excellent and economical package. This is older work, but it has been OP for quite some time, and is very worth the effort to track down. EXCELLENT.

ALPHA FLIGHT #10: Head hurting time travel. Maybe this will end up so that they wipe themselves out of existence. I'd buy that for a dollar! AWFUL.

CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #10: One wonders if even Priest can follow his own plots. I sure can't. Well, I can, but it is too much work to actually do so for the joy and entertainment value it actually gives. AWFUL.

DARKNESS VOL 2 #17: Dave Lapham hits twice this week between this and 'tec. You'd think that publishers wouldn't be so fundamentally stupid as to have things compete with themselves like that... but, oh wait, this book is late. *sigh* I haven't really cared for this character since Ennis stopped writing him, and it doesn't really feel like there's been any progression from that point either. The "Darkness Narration" was pretty tedious after about 6 pages, but, still, other than that, this was perfectly acceptable (if dark) comics. OK.

DEADSHOT #1: Bored bored bored by the first half of the book. You'd think the character's name alone would mean that real estate doesn't have to be wasted on showing he's a good shot, right? But, once we took the mask off in the second half I warmed right up to this, and enjoyed it tremendously. So, average that out to an... OK

DETECTIVE COMICS #801: I'm of two minds. Mind #1 says: Good look at the character and his environment and his motivations, excellent art, nice use of a 16 panel grid -- this felt dense and satisfying for the price. Mind #2 says: Overwritten, very badly so, and too much density without clarity or throughline -- the "and this person died and that person died and then this person got raped" scenes just dragged on and on and on, and the rich spoiled heiress angle was pretty forced. Still, that might be because I just saw South Park's "Paris Hilton is a Stupid, Shallow Whore" episode (Which was as on-the-mark, vicious and hilarious as anything they've ever done), and anything is going to pale next to that. Still, giving it a GOOD, because it has tons of potential, and is miles better than anything I've read in a Bat-book in a long time.

EXILES #55: Yet another turn in the Kulan Garth barrel, and everything goes sword&sorcery. Kinda meh, but any comic with Werewolf by Night and Morbius and Wednigo can't be all bad. EH.

FALLEN ANGEL #18: Took a year and a half, but I finally felt sympathy and understanding for nearly every character in the book. This was strong stuff, though the fake out ending was pretty damn lame. It almost feels like a response to "Women and children aren't safe in DC titles" rather than something that was planned, but that could just be me. Either way, happy to give this a VERY GOOD.

HARD TIME #11: Anytime we step outside the prison walls I get terrifically bored. But everything within was great stuff. I'll give it a GOOD.

HUNTER KILLER #0: I think I mentioned this before, but in my stupid shallow mind I have a very hard time with KINGDOM COME's Mark Waid writing a book about what appears to be murdering anti-heroes for our cynical world. That's not to say the work is bad, no far from it, but I just can't wrap my brain around it. This intro issue does an OK job introducing characters (though all of Silvestri's designs look identical for me... I just never was an Image kid), and there are some good beats -- and best of all it is only a quarter. For 25 cents, I can easily give this a VERY GOOD, though were this same content in a $2.95 format, I doubt I'd go over EH.

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #4: Here's a hint for Adam -- if you have a story that Superman would "break", just don't put him in the book. Coming up with end-runs around why Clark has to lay around in bed with the trots don't make action-packed reading... especially when you do it twice. Conversely, if you're going to have a guest-star like the Elongated Man, it might be a good idea for him to actually have some plot point revolving around him, otherwise it's just window dressing. Ignore me if the editor sets the line up, and you have no say. Mm, and even when *I* was a kid, I never thought Kanjar Ro was much of a threat. Creepy-loking, yes... actual threat to the big guns? No. EH.

NEW AVENGERS #1: Miles miles miles better than "Disassembled/Chaos", but it still doesn't feel anything like an Avengers comic to this reader. I don't think Bendis really "gets" Team books, really -- even his ULTIMATE X-MEN run was largely individual vignettes, and that's not the structure a team book should have. At least this was readable and largely likeable, and, at least here, there's no Wolverine on stage, so people who were talking about not buying it because of that can at least read the setup. It's either a very high OK or a very low GOOD

OUTSIDERS #18: Both preachy and univolving, which is a pretty neat trick. Actually, it made me think of GL/GA in that -- we all think those are classic comics, but if you go back and actually read them, most of that run is wretched and horrifically written. If it weren't for Neal Adams art, I don't think they'd ever be spoken of, except in a "Wasn't that quaint and misguided?" kind of way. Anyway, this is so very very earnest and well intentioned, but as a piece of entertainment fiction, yee-ikes, AWFUL.

PVP #12: Hint for Scott: If you can't keep the deadlines, don't do holiday-themed covers. It looks pretty bad when a Halloween-based cover comes out in December. Other than that, as usual, the book is funnier than shit. VERY GOOD.

QUESTION #2: Luthor speechifies, and Vic walks, and that's all that happens. As a formalist work, sure that works, and the art is loverly, and it is smartly written, but it pretty much stopped being entertaining about a third of the way into the issue, and then I was just flipping pages and praying it would end soon. When comics were a buck and a half on the high end, I would have praised this, but for twice that money, I can't muster better than an EH.

ROGUE #5: ...the fuck? A mutant dream? Out of tone for the characters, and now I see why we've lost 2/3 of the readers from #1 to now at Comix Experience. AWFUL.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #15: Man, this is just insane. Every crazy-ass, no-that-can't-be-done idea Jeph Loeb has just thrown together in a big pile. I burst out laughing when I saw who got the power ring (mm, and DC History for $100 for issue #14, Jeph -- you can kill Barry Allen, and that means no Flash, but killing Hal doesn't mean no GL... the ring would just have gone to Guy Gardner at that point. Sorry, being picky), and there's murders and changed sides and insanity everywhere and I loved it. Just a big piss take on it all, and it's an easy VERY GOOD even if none of it makes any sense for even 1/10th of a second.

SWAMP THING #10: Ugly ugly and more ugly, with an added dose of ugliness. Except for the "hey, Arcane's back! Again!" thing, this is about as 180 degrees from Alan Moore's work as it could be, which would normally be a big plus for the character, but this is so ugly that it's just plain AWFUL. We lost half of the buyers for the book in the last 2 issues, and I think this will be cancelled before year two ends. (And that's only because this is a DC book, and they give a lot more rope than is warranted... if this was Marvel, I'd say cancelled by #16)

ULTIMATES 2 #1: Very very stupid of Marvel to put this out the same week as NEW AVENGERS #1, if you ask me, as the two books are in direct competition (early result: We sold out of NA #1 first) -- but I thought this was marginally stronger, although less happens. Better character bit conversations, which is damn weird as we're talking about Millar vs Bendis, here. The coloring is WAY too dark, and "banking" several issues works against it as Cap's missions seem very 15 minutes ago. Still, a solid GOOD, I think.

Y THE LAST MAN #29: The character bits all worked, but the Yorick plot just felt like a cheat. If the last page revelation isn't handled correctly next issue, this might be the shark jumper. OK

I've very glad that Diamond coded the Sturm book as a comic (should be "3" for book, I think, despite the staples -- this is a perma-stock item, and not a periodical), because that means that ABOVE & BELOW TWO TALES OF THE AMERICAN FRONTIER can be the PICK OF THE WEEK, hooray! As for the PICK OF THE WEAK, almost too many choices, but I think the nudge goes to SWAMP THING #10 because it's just damn ugly.

As for THE BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK, my first cut looks like this:

BATTLE ROYALE VOL 10 GN -- the only currently-new-releases manga I like

DARK NIGHT ARCHIVES V1 HC -- Archives for $19.95? Can NOT beat that!

JLA ANOTHER NAIL TP -- Crazy Alan Davis big-event-story DC nuttiness

LORE TP -- Ashley Wood just doing whatever the hell he wants with narrative, like Bill Sienkiewicz 10 years previous

MAGE VOL 1 THE HERO DISCOVERED HC -- A book that largely should be on Top 100 comics ever lists. Up there with WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT, if you ask me (and you did)

TALES OF THE VAMPIRES TP -- Whedon and co., so that recommends it right there

of the 6, I'll go with MAGE VOL 1: THE HERO DISCOVERED as my BOOK/TP OF THE WEEK

More next week!