Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!

It's last week's comics today! FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!

SHIELD #2
by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

This second issue of Jonathan Hickman’s SHIELD is the first Marvel work from him that reads like a Hickman comic to me. It’s got all the hallmarks of his Image work: strange sci-fi ideas, genuinely weird characters, an obsession with history, long discussions of philosophy and plot, and a willingness to break traditional comics narrative with pages of script-style dialogue accompanied by representative illustrations. It’s also my favorite of his Marvel work to date, which says a few things about what it was that attracted me to Hickman’s work in the first place.

Artist Dustin Weaver also really knocks this issue out of the park. He’s very good at drawing strange technology and panoramic architecture, I like his inventive layouts in the action sequences, and I can see hints of both Brent Anderson and George Perez in his work. He’s got room to grow, certainly, but this is fine stuff.

All in all, a very satisfying issue for me, and a guarantee that I’ll be back for more.

Grade: B+

Daytripper #7
by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

This issue picks up from last month’s sub-plot of Bras’ friend Jorge giving up on life. Always the happy-go-lucky friend in their younger days, Jorge’s life hit the skids just as Bras’ finally started to pick up. This reversal in fortunes haunts Bras, and after receiving an enigmatic postcard from Jorge years after his disappearance, Our Hero goes looking for his long-lost friend. The trip is, as always, fantastic and understated work from the Twins, and, this being Daytripper, it also ends in tragedy for Bras.

Grade: A

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #2 (of 5)
by Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews

This issue opens with a series of gorgeous full-page action splashes, then seques into gorgeous paneled pages of mutant baby pathos. Emma’s still ridiculously sexy, conversation and science still drive the plot when nobody’s hitting anything, and we end on a twist I didn’t see coming but should have. All in all, fine big-time super hero action funnybooks. Though if it weren’t for the Andrews art, this wouldn’t be worth four bucks.

Grade: B+

Sweet Tooth #10
by Jeff Lemire

This issue, we gain some insight into Gus’ upbringing, as he’s hypnotized into remembering some of the pertinent details of his past. I think my favorite bit is that Gus’ father wrote his own bible, from which he recited to give Gus moral instruction. Plotwise, though, this issue points the series back towards the woods Gus grew up in, where the mysteries of the plague’s origins may lie.

More fine work from Lemire here, doing some really nice “journey to the center of the mind” illustrations. But Jose Villarrubia’s colors also shine here, as he uses the Vertigo five shades of mud palette and to give Lemire’s rather 2-D cartooning style a depth and warmth that previous issues have lacked.

Grade: A-

Buzzard #1 (of 3)
by Eric Powell

The Buzzard is probably the best supporting character from Powell’s Goon series, and this story sets him off on a Solomon Kane style horror-adventure. Much more serious in tone than the Goon, Buzzard makes up for what it lacks in whacky with mood and cool. The tone is grim, the artwork gruesomely gorgeous, and I can’t wait for the second issue.

There’s also a backup feature, a sequel to Powell’s “Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities.” In tone, it lies somewhere between the Goon and Hellboy, and it’s drawn by Kyle Hotz, who’s not as good as Powell, but still a good fit for this sort of thing. I like it okay, but Buzzard’s the real draw for this series.

Grade: A

Spider-Man: Fever #3 (of 3)
by Brendan McCarthy

McCarthy’s trippy tribute to Steve Ditko comes to a conclusion in this issue, and it was a good ride. Far more reliant upon weird fun than any sort of depth, or even a plot that entirely makes sense, I’m sure this comic isn’t for everybody. But McCarthy draws all his disparate plot elements together and continues to deliver on the psychedelic vistas of Ditko’s magical realms, so I’m well-pleased with it.

Grade: A-

Invincible Iron Man #27
by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Fraction’s intelligent take on Iron Man continues, rolling along with nothing particularly spectacular happening, but being spectacular anyway just by sheer force of quality. Which means more corporate military-industrial complex maneuverings, more clever writing of familiar characters, and one more step in the rebuilding of Stark’s technology empire. The biggest plot movement here (other than the return of the most excellent Mrs. Arbogast) is Pepper holding Tony to his promise to give her back the repulsor battery that allowed her to operate as Rescue. Which is still a horrible super hero name, but Fraction’s continuing development of Pepper Potts is so good that I’m willing to forgive a lot.

Grade: A-

Nemesis #2
by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

I think I liked this second issue quite a bit more than the first. Now that Millar’s gotten the ridiculous giant opening action stuff out of the way, he concentrates a bit more on character and cleverness, the things that usually sell me on his work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all still big dumb fun, and I do miss the nuances of the man’s past work. But he reigns in the most insane of the over-the-top crap this issue, and the story benefits. I can’t complain about McNiven’s artwork at all, though, which adds quite a bit to the proceedings.

Grade: B+

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