Best Comics This Week:
Ranma ½ 2-in-1 vol. 4
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures HC
The Bus HC
Legal Drug Omnibus – I didn’t have time to sit down and enjoy this one this week, but it’s a lovely printing that boasts full-color glossy pages between volumes. I enjoyed when Tokyopop first published it, and I’m sure Dark Horse did a fine job with a new translation.
Copperhead #1 – The main thing that this comic has going for it is the fact that is has a female protagonist. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s banking on that fact to carry the not-so-original story. The alien character designs are interesting enough, but not intriguing. There are a lot of two-dimensional characters and plot devices tossed around. Ultimately, the lack of depth made it impossible for me to care what happened to any of the characters. I may have a look at the second issue to see if it was just a bumpy start, but I was honestly bored.
Imperial #2 – Average doof meets superhero. They doof around a bit more in this issue. Bonus sexy scenes with questionable lady anatomy in the end. I’m not sure if this comic is going anywhere anytime soon; interested parties may want to wait for the trade. Interest may be deterrred by the AWFUL 3-D effect used on the title on the cover.
Prophet Strikefile #1 – As expected; page after page of gorgeous art from an all-star lineup of fantastic artists. Don’t miss this one, Prophet fans!
Above the Dreamless Dead: WWI in Poetry and Comics HC – I found it hard to reconcile the text of the poetry with some of the art the various artists who did the illustrations in this volume chose to pair it with. This graphic novel is thick with absolutely amazing art, and the skill displayed here is undeniable. Even so, it often seemed to detract from or even come into conflict with the mental images the words themselves painted. There were only one or two poems that came across as perfectly paired, while my automatic reaction to the rest was to tune out the art entirely after a few panels in order to absorb the true meaning of the words without the clutter of discordant imagery. I hate to speak poorly of a volume that contains so much brilliance, but it just didn’t work for me. A lovely thought and an amazing effort, but ultimately not the moving experience I believe the editor was hoping for.
Annihilator #1 – There were a lot of things present in this comic that really turned me off. The over-exagerrated facial expressions and extreme variations in coloring style from page to page, the bizarre, self-indulgent-yet-self-hating protagonist for whom I felt no sympathy whatsoever, and the plot in general – that some jerk’s jerky character (and this is not a judgement; both the main character and his character are not nice people) shows up in the flesh to wreak havoc on the real world – none of these were appealing. Done after one issue.
The Bunker #6 - This series is doing a good job of keeping things fresh - and dragging them out- by jumping around in its own timeline. There’s plenty of space for that worked right into the entire premise, so well done, Joshua Hale Fialkov. I have a lot of respect for a book that takes pacing into consideration, but still delivers precious snippets of information to the reader in every issue.
Wasted Lands HC Omnibus – This is definitely a universe where men are men and women are wearing all sorts of bizarre things. It’s hard to peg this book as any one particular genre, unless “alternate-world post-apocalyptic western sci-fi fantasy” is a genre now. Whoever turns this thing into a movie – if they do it right – would be tapping into so many fanbases, it couldn’t help but succeed. I only had time for a flip-through, but that was enough to convince me to bring it home.
Hexed #2 – I did get a chance to read the first issue of this, and it made me very hopeful for future issues. This issue, in contrast, felt like a bit of a letdown. Every panel is just so damned crowded with information, I felt visually accosted. I’m all for excitement and action, but something about the extremely thin lines and the dimming effects in this book drove me bonkers. The story didn’t really have that mile-a-minute feeling in the first issue, either.
(In a Sense) Lost and Found GN – The nonsensical journey a young woman goes on to recover her missing innocence (which is a physical thing that she is able to wear and others are able to notice is not present) is littered with gems of truth. This is the kind of book that calls for multiple readings in order to absorb it fully, each of which will undoubtedly be a joyful exploration of both the hidden meanings and the wanton silliness that fill the pages. Lovely art, though a bit dark for my taste. Read in a well-lit room.
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures HC – This sweet book from the creator of Zita the Space Girl left me wanting more stories of Julia and her travelling house! Hatke excels at creating all kinds of fantastical creatures to populate his worlds. Though the text of the book is very plain (and sure to be enjoyed by young readers), the story is lovely and enjoyable by readers of all ages. Julia is a busy protagonist who reacts quickly and decisively to all sorts of trying circumstances. I loved it.
My Little Pony: Friends Forever #9 - This issue pokes fun at conventions - as in, comic book conventions - and features another extremely unlikely pairing: Granny Smith and the Flim Flam Brothers! Though they weren’t designed as sympathetic characters, you may find yourself actually caring about Flim and Flam after reading this ish. I stand by my assessment that the comic has now surpassed the cartoon as far as keeping the original spirit of the show alive. One of the best FF issues to date!
The Bus HC – I’m not a big fan of surreal comics, but these strips are just so damned clever, I can’t not love them. Some strips utilize surrealism expertly to provide a subtle political commentary, while others are about blending the expected with the unexpected, and still others are simply hilarious. An unexpected purchase for me this week!
Philemon Adventures vol. 1 : Cast Away on the Letter A HC – This beautifully absurd adventure takes me back to the day of my childhood, reading books like Tintin, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Calvin & Hobbes. The illustrations here are at once foreign and familiar; anyone who grew up with Goscinny, Uderzo, and Herge will feel right at home, yet this book also has its own unique style. Philemon navigates the surreal landscape of the Letter A with grace and curiousity; his level-headedness an anchor for the reader amidst the wild and wooly landscape. If any more of these books are released, I will be sure to buy them.
Ranma 1/2 2-in-1 vol. 4 – What’s not to love about Ranma? Every one of these omnibi completely withstands the test of time. Even though I’ve read it before, this is one of the first comics I grab the week it comes out. Easily the best manga Rumiko Takahashi ever wrote.
Teen Dog #1 - Man. On the one hand, the art in this book is super fun. I want to like it more, because it’s obvious the creator had a lot of fun making it, and the silliness factor is very high. On the other hand, it puts out a heavy alt comics/Adventure Time vibe, and there’s not a whole lot of depth. Heavily steeped in 80’s nostalgia, Teen Dog is plugging into what’s popular right now and regurgitating it without stronger plot points to lend it any relevance. If you’re looking for a book to turn off your brain and just giggle at, this is the one. If you’re experiencing Adventure Time art-style copycat overload, pass it by.
Thomas Alsop #4 - No flashbacks to the distant past in this issue, but the plot has finally coalesced into something tangible and powerful. Thomas Alsop blends ancient magics with modern technology in a way that has me hooked, despite one of those modern touches being a reality show (ugh!). Lots of info crammed into the scant 22 pages of every issue.
Wild’s End #1 – I’ve been pretty excited to check out this comic; I enjoy anthropomorphics with serious plots (see Blacksad and District 14). That said, this comic is trying EXTREMELY hard to depict a bucolic British community, so much so that it’s teetering on the edge of being a pile of stereotypes. The dialogue is on a level that I would have appreciated more in elementary school; straightforward and slightly exaggerated in a way that is appealing to younger readers. Memories of Call of the Wild and The Cunning Little Vixen swirled around my head as I was reading. All in all, there’s some great action in this first issue, and a large number of cast members are skillfully introduced. The character designs are simple, as is most of the background art, both of which serve the book well. I’m looking forward to the next one!
The Wrenchies GN – I guess Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic societies are the thing now, and hoo boy, is this book a doozy! Plant zombies, wizards, flaming swords, talking pendants, rodents of unusual size, hardass kid gangs – and that’s just in the first 50 pages! I wasn’t so sure about this book from the cover, but it packs so much character and story into such a small space (not to mention amazing art), I changed my tune. Bought.
Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor #2 - God damn, the writing in this single issue beats the hell out of the writing in the new show, and I’m not even a fan of Matt Smith. I would watch the crap out of a Doctor Who with THIS version of the Doctor and this companion. Snap up these issues, Doctor Who fans! May they ease the pain in your heart in the wake of the latest eps written by Moffat.
Jellaby: Monster in the City GN – I was unfortunately unable to find the time to sit down and enjoy this volume this week, but there was no question that it would be coming home with me. Jellaby has been one of my favorites since I first encountered it in the Flight anthologies, and it’s wonderful to see it back in print.
Shoplifter HC – This is a lovely first graphic novel from creator Michael Cho that explores the human condition through the lens of a young woman. The protagonist has found herself working a job for much longer than she had originally intended, and readers are allowed a view of her innermost thoughts as she questions the choices that have brought her to her current situation. The art, which utlilizes three tones, is only slightly inconsistent. A nice slice-of-life that may leave you thinking about some of your own choices.