So the funnybook reviews have also fallen prey to my December work and holiday schedule, to the point that the nerd wranglers here on the Dork 40 are starting to give me crap about it. Which means that it must be time once again for some Quickies. But first, a slightly more in-depth look at a book I almost didn't buy...
Next Men #1
by John Byrne
by Matt Fraction and Pascual Ferry
The freshest take this character has seen since Walt Simonson's 1980s heyday rolls on. Odin's having a grand old Viking time in Limbo, experiencing death and glory without end, "better than Valhalla could ever hope to be." So it's too bad for him that Thor (ever-noble, ever-headstrong, ever a bad son) decides that Asgard needs him in its hour of greatest need. Fraction's take on these characters continues to delight, as does Ferry's imaginative take on the visuals of the Nine Worlds. If I have any complaint with his work here, it might only be that his renditions of the core Asgardian cast is too on-model. Our Heroes look almost drab in comparison to the giants, goblins, and dwarves Ferry's drawing around them. Of course, on the other hand, I'd hate to see anyone tamper with the look of Hogun the Grim, so maybe that's okay...
Thor the Mighty Avenger #7 (of 8)
by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee
Things progress rather quickly between Thor and Jane Foster this issue, and I guess they kind of have to: the book's being cancelled with the next issue. Le sigh. I guess the comic shop ghetto just wasn't ready for a Thor romance comic, not even one with art this stylish or super-heroics this much fun. It's to Langridge's credit, however, that Jane and Thor's rush to the sack doesn't feel rushed. It seems a very natural progression from last issue's first kiss, and is handled in just as classy (and all-ages) a manner.
Oh, and also, Thor fights some robots.
Hellblazer: City of Demons #5 (of 5)
by Si Spencer and Sean Murphy
The best Hellblazer story of recent memory draws to a close with a twist I didn't see coming, and one that does a lot to explain the ease with which Constantine figured out the evil doctors' plot. Also, Nurse Marie turns out to be a little bit freakier than she seemed, and Sean Murphy proves to be quite the delineator of nekkid ladies. Hah-CHA!
Highland Laddie #5 (of 6)
by Garth Ennis and John McCrea
More scintillating character drama with Annie and Hughie, as we get right down to the core of Hughie's feelings on the matter: he probably still loves Annie, but he can't get the image of her from the surveillance tape out of his head, and doesn't think he'll ever be able to. Ouch.
More and more, I'm wishing this plotline with the V-laced drug smuggling wasn't here. Of course, I think it's going to resolve the other half of the Hughie/Annie equation: Annie still doesn't know that Hughie's got powers, too.
Strange Tales II #3 (of 3)
This second Strange Tales series has turned out much like the first: many of the stories have been rather lackluster, but the good stuff makes up for it. That's the case again this issue, which is mostly filled with mildly funny gag strips that suffer from feeling pointless or poorly-paced. But it was worth wading through all that to get James "Orc Stain" Stokoe's gorgeous Silver Surfer piece, and the series' posthumous closing tale: Harvey Pekar Meets the Thing. 'Nuff said.
by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Many Others
This landmark issue features a 63-page lead story (in which Frau Totenkinder duels with Mr. Dark) and an array of special back-up features. The story doesn't go at all where I expected, and that's a very good thing. I'm glad this book can still surprise me after so long.
Batman Inc. #2
by Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette, and Michel Lacombe
A fun second issue that's obviously building up to bigger things. One thing bugged me about it: the Japan story is wrapped up this issue, and Lord Death Man deserved more screen time. But, much like Morrison's Batman and Robin work, questions remain unanswered here that will almost certainly play out down the line. Like, who's responsible for giving Death Man the resurrection power he faked in Batman's first encounter with him? And... I'm sure there are other questions I don't even know enough to ask yet. But that's okay. I'm fully prepared to be dazzled six months down the line.
by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu
Simon goes off on a streak of heroic activity this issue, starting by rescuing a crashing space station and continuing on through any number of the kind of disasters we know from decades of Superman stories. It's to Millar's credit that he makes them fun and exciting anyway. Along the way, he catches the attention of a lady reporter. Because Millar also knows no shame. And we find out something unsettling about the space monkey who gave Simon the Superior powers to begin with. Because Millar's still good at twisting the fictional knife.
This book is loads of fun, but I do have one complaint: Leinil Yu needs to stop using porn as artistic reference. There's not a single woman in this comic who's not in an awkward pose designed to display as much tits and ass as possible. I've got nothing against drawings of beautiful women (see my above comments vis-a-vis Sean Murphy's drawings of nekkid ladies in Hellblazer), but this is obvious and more than a little sleazy, and detracts from an otherwise-fine funnybook experience.
by Charles Soule and Renzo Podesta
This Image buzz book is about a superstar rock guitarist with carpel tunnel who seeks treatment from a weird-ass old science shaman, and winds up with a plate in his chest that sparks bursts of creativity. It's a pretty good read, but maybe not something I'm willing to pay four bucks a pop for to see where it goes.