Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 9/7/11

This week, I get my first taste of the new DC universe and a few regulars make an appearance. Lots of good things to say about this group, so let's get right to it:

Kicking things off this week, from Image Comics, is Hack/Slash #7. The Fame Monster story arc continues as Cassie discovers the identity of the slasher while Vlad has to return to his "Meat Man" roots to deal with a few of the slasher's lackeys. I have been enjoying most of this series so far, Daniel Leister's art was good as usual, but this particular issue felt a little dry. The humor-action combo I've come to expect on the book seemed pushed to the side for the old clichĂ© of the villain revealing his master plan for multiple panels, which one could find appropriate in this book but to me just seemed boring. I'm hoping Tim Seeley rights the ship in the next few issues.

Moving over to Dark Horse Comics, we have Star Wars: Dark Times #2. Former Jedi Dass Jennir continues to traverse the desert moon of Prine, looking for civilization, while the crew of the Uhumele continue searching for him while getting acquainted with their new Jedi companion, Beyghor Sahdett. Admittedly, I was kind of hoping for more from Dark Times when it returned to store shelves. While Douglas Wheatley's art is stellar, and great for a Star Wars book, Randy Stradley's story feels predictable, slow, and just doesn't have that same galactic thrill of the former series. I will be giving it a few more issues to see if he turns it around, as for now though I wouldn't recommend anyone jumping on it.

A returning character that has retained his luster is Casanova, from ICON, who is back this week in Casanova: Avaritia #1. Everyone knows the the truth about Cass and his father (well, the guy who would be his father if he was from this dimension) has put him to the arduous task of cleaning up all the time-dimension anomalies caused by Newman Xeno kidnapping him in the first place. As I already mentioned, I am still in love with this series. Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Ba (current artist), and Fabio Moon (former and future artist) have created a world quite unlike anything else in comics today. The craziness of the art and story blend into a perfect storm that causes one to either love or hate the book, with not surprisingly many readers choosing the former. Usually I would suggest grabbing the first collection of the series to get a good grasp of the happenings, but I think this issue is actually a great jumping on point being a little more straightforward with the story than the book has been in the past. Get on this book one way or another and start having some nonsensical fun with your science fiction.

Filling out the second half of my comic stack this week is DC with four of their new/relaunched titles, first up is Action Comics #1. Sporting blue jeans and an arrogant attitude, this rebooted Superman has his sights set on the corporate fat-cats, who exploit the working man and operate outside the law but he soon finds this also puts him at odds with law enforcement. While I am digging the art in this first issue, penciled by Rags Morales, I'm not yet sure how I feel about the direction of this book. Instead of something new it feels like Grant Morrison (the writer) is just turning Superman into more of a public menace/vigilante ala Spider-Man or Batman. Going to pick up a few more issues to get a better grasp of it, and to get more of Luthor who was great in this first issue, but I hope it isn't just more of the same.

From Metropolis, we go global with Justice League International #1. The United Nations has decided it's time to get a few superheroes in their pocket, a group that can handle large threats but also answers to them. Lead by Booster Gold and composed of heroes from various nations, this team looks to save the world while having the authority to do so, that is if they figure out how to work together. Overall, I liked this first issue but not really as much as I was hoping to. The art is great, with pencils by Aaron Lopresti and inks by Matt Ryan, but the writing leaves something to be desired. A lot of Dan Jurgen's (the writer) dialogue feels forced or just out of place, some of them talk like they've known each other forever when this is supposed to be the first time they're meeting. I did enjoy some of the book though, especially Godiva and Booster Gold, so I'm hoping the writing evens out as we go along.

Bringing things back in a bit, we head to Louisiana to check in on Swamp Thing #1. Mysterious events occur in simultaneously throughout the planet and no one has any idea why. Superman decides to track down Dr. Alec Holland, the only man who might be able to understand these occurrences due to having the memories of the titular force of nature, and while Superman gets no answers Dr. Holland hasn't been totally truthful with him. Great first issue from Scott Snyder (writer) and Yanick Paquette (artist)! No real back story is required to get what is happening, and the natural/horror elements leave you wanting more. Can't wait to see where Snyder and Paquette take this book.

Animal trumps nature for pick of the week, as Animal Man #1 nabs the top spot. Buddy Baker has been out of the tights more and more these days. With having a family that is growing up, being an active animal activist, and enjoying some success as a Hollywood stunt-man turned actor, he rarely goes out on patrol, but that doesn't mean when a guy takes a hospital hostage he is going to sit on the side lines. I loved this first issue from Jeff Lemire (writer) and Travel Foreman (artist)! Instead of making Animal Man more like every other hero book on the stands, they focus on what makes him unique and base the entire book around it. Foreman's art excels equally in the domestic interior of Buddy's house and the trippy, exotic locales of his nightmare, leaving me salivating for whatever he draws up next. Easily my favorite book of the new DC Universe, so far, and I can only hope there is more coming that is just as excellent.

That is it for this week, next week should have a few more regular titles but I am sure some of the DC newness will slip in as well. Until then ponder what you would serve at a meal where both Animal Man and Swamp Things are in attendance, my guess is Spam.

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