Friday, May 28, 2010

Comics I've Read in 2010

Graphic Novel section [17 total]
[EDIT- added Angel: After the Fall and Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares]
  • Angel: After the Fall by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, and Franco Urru. [Whedon was the co-plotter here, but the writing is mainly Lynch, as I understand it. For fans of the Angel TV series, which itself was a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this comic series continues the storyline, which ended with the beginning of a huge battle between all the demonic forces of Wolfram and Hart and Angel and his surviving buddies. I found it kind of disappointing, to be honest. It continues the trend seen in the Buffy comics of throwing in effects and scale at a level beyond what the TV budget would allow for, which is fine as far as it goes, but everything here is a bit too chaotic. They've made big changes to several of the main characters, completely altered the setting by dropping the city of Los Angeles into a Hell Dimension, and they start in media res and take a long time to explain just what's going on. Every chapter (representing an issue) seems to end on a different, shocking cliffhanger/revelation, and by the end of the graphic novel, which also ends in that fashion, I was a bit jaded. There's some snappy dialogue, but I felt as though a lot of stuff got changed just for the sake of changing it. To be honest, this was a problem with the television series as well in its last two seasons, where they made a LOT of weak character decisions and dubious transformations. So if you're a completist, pick this up, but be prepared to need the other volumes almost immediately to make any sense of what's happening.]
  • The Boys, Vol. 1: The Name of the Game by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson [I'm not linking to any of these books as I wouldn't want to encourage anybody to read them. :-)]
  • The Boys, Vol. 2: Get Some
  • The Boys, Vol. 3: Good for the Soul
  • The Boys, Vol. 4: We Gotta Go Now [I checked out all four of these volumes at once at the recommendation of a librarian who I talk to sometimes who has suggested some good reads in the past. These weren't among them. Short story: self-indulgent grossness for the sake of grossness, paper-thin commentary on celebrity, laughable pretense at serving the public, nothing worthwhile that hasn't been done better in other series with vastly more taste. I have a hard time believing that this series continues or that these have actually been popular enough to reissue in hardcover. Longer review here. Now I just have to figure out what to say to the librarian if he asks me what I thought of these, because he is a nice guy.]
  • Brit by Robert Kirkman [meh, a lot of action, a couple unusual characters but everything feels really rushed, didn't excite me.]
  • Checkmate/Outsiders: Checkout by Greg Rucka and Judd Winick. [Got this crossover for my birthday. A fun read, but a bit confusing because while I've read all the Checkmate titles that sandwiched around this story, I haven't seen the Outsiders stories that immediately preceded it, just the early Outsiders stuff, and the makeup and dynamic of the team had clearly changed a bit in the interim.]
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths by Wolfman and Perez [Not good, the writing feels very, very dated and melodramatic, but the art by George Perez is great and I had fun reading this with Will.]
  • Gotham Central Volume 1: In the Line of Duty, written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, art by Michael Lark. [Really good stories about the police in Gotham who have to deal with cases related directly and obliquely to all the costumed criminals, as well as not knowing what the Batman is up to.]
  • Gotham Central Volume 2: Half a Life. [The story in this graphic novel won an Eisner, I believe. It tells the story of detective Renee Montoya, her public outing as a lesbian, and her dealing with false charges of murder.]
  • Gotham Central Volume 3: Unresolved Targets. [A great and chilling story involving the Joker terrorizing Gotham that I have to think influenced the plot of The Dark Knight movie, followed by a good story involving the Mad Hatter and disgraced cop Harvey Bullock.]
  • Gotham Central Volume 4: The Quick and the Dead. [I liked the opening story about a corrupt forensic specialist selling supervillain related crime scene paraphenalia online a little better than the following story involving little used villain Dr. Alchemy, but the very Hannibal Lector-esque take on Alchemy was fun to read if not entirely original.]
  • Gotham Central Volume 5: Dead Robin [The final collection of the series. The title story, which comes first, is very interesting and plays off an interesting fact--when dead teenagers dressed up as Robin start appearing, no one on the police force has any way of knowing if any of them are the real Robin. They don't even know if there are multiple Robins. The wrap-up story carries the character arc of detective Renee Montoya through to its sad but seemingly inevitable conclusion, and features a death that made me sad, as I'd come to like the lost character. The end to a good series.]
  • Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca. [Wow. I was very impressed by this collection of the first six issues of the recent Iron series. The writing is sharp, the high-tech future intriguing, and the character of Tony Stark presented in a very interesting fashion. The storyline deals with the things that Stark fears most happening in the world, with the most significant being that a supertech terrorist has figured out how to modify his Iron Man technology and improve it in some ways. I don't quite buy the idea that young Ezekiel Stane is able to generate the power that he does just by converting his body's energy more efficiently, even as he's chugging thousands of calories. I could see him having extraordinary reflexes, getting smarter, and so forth, but powering energy bolts that can hurt Iron Man seems extreme given the rationale. But it's a sci-fi superhero, right? Salvador Larocca's art is fantastic, Fraction's pacing is wonderful, and he finds interesting new ways to torment one of comicdom's most tormented icons. Good stuff that had me searching my library for the next volume. Which, alas, they don't have!] 
  • Low Moon by Jason. [A collection of brightly colored, largely silent cartoon panels that display odd twists on familiar themes and a very quirky sense of humor. Did not surprise me to find out that the creator is Norweigian. There's a very Scandanavian sense of melancholy and dry humor running throughout these stories. Very interesting and worth a look if only to see how much story and characterization can be packed into such a minimalist presentation.]
  • Sleeper Vol. 1: Out in the Cold by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
  • Sleeper Vol. 2: All False Moves
  • Sleeper Vol. 3: A Crooked Line
  • Sleeper Vol. 4: The Long Way Home [These somewhat disturbing graphic novels are the best combinations of noir, crime, and superhero storytelling out there. Double agent Holden Carver, whose unwanted superpower serves to alienate him from his own body and the world around him, gets stranded in a criminal organization when his handler is shot and left in a coma. These aren't your standard supervillains, though their leader, Tao, is a classic evil mastermind in many ways. Carver is constantly pushed into situations where he has to choose between duty, friendship, and survival, and every choice he makes seems to push him deeper into trouble. He has no good choices concerning who to trust. By the end, it's less a matter of wondering if he can get free and more a matter of wondering what the collateral damage to Carver and those around him is going to be. Riveting stuff, well illustrated by Phillips. There's some sex and violence that goes beyond what I typically consider tasteful or necessary, but it doesn't feel gratuitous in Brubaker's hands--there are moral and personal consequences for actions, and material that feels dark is presented as such. So superior to the Ennis crap above that the comparison between the two on one of the book covers made me want to puke. The books have been collected into two volumes, Sleeper Season 1 and Sleeper Season 2, which are the affordable ways to pick them up.]
  • Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald [A classic that still holds up, filled with many plot twists and turns and a ton of difficult decisions for the characters that one didn't see in comics at the time.]

1 comment:

Aaron DaMommio said...

For your librarian re: The Boys...just say "Meh, I didn't like them." The important thing is to resist the urge to rant about them. :)