30 August 2005

CBC Quickees: 8/24/05

Quick reviews of comics I read last week, rated 0 to 5 stars.

Black Panther #7 (Marvel; $2.99)
Um...damn, Hudlin is really making it hard to keep up my defense of his work here. On the heels of the his first arc's hasty and inconclusive wrapup - he never really did get to the heart of "Who is the Black Panther?" - comes an awkward House of M tie-in which, despite the pagelong intro, will likely leave any brand new readers he brought in sitting in the dark. About the only good thing I can say is that it comes the closest to a done-in-one you'll find from Marvel these days. Hairsine's artwork is nice enough, but I definitely missed Romita, Jr.'s pencils. **

Daredevil #76 (Marvel; $2.99)
Maybe I'm just coming late to the party but Bendis' work here didn't really impress me all that much. I mean, it's solid, but not particularly noteworthy. Did comics really get that bad in the mid-late 90s, or has he slipped from his glory days? Or am I a minority amongst comics fans in that I actually read something other than comics? And while I like Alex Maleev, I'll take Michael Lark's work over his any day. **1/2

Machine Teen #4 (of 5) (Marvel; $2.99)
I can totally see this story working much better collected in digest form, as it's been feeling a bit stretched out up to now, but there's some good action in this issue as the story lurches forward. Wrapping everything up in the next issue is going to be tough for Sumerak to pull off without it feeling a bit rushed, though. I love Hawthorne's art - though I can see it being an acquired taste - and he was a smart choice for the manga/bookstore audience Marvel's really targeting with these titles. **1/2

Conan #19 (Dark Horse; $2.99)
Conan is one of those consistently good comics that deliver a good bit of pleasure each month without ever resorting to attention-getting gimmicks. Kind of like my paycheck, but better. Cary Nord returns on art and Kurt Busiek offers up a one-shot morality tale that balances Conan the thief and Conan the skeptic, with a bit of subdued horror thrown in for good measure. Fun stuff. ***

Grounded #2 (Image; $2.95)
There's a lot of potential in Mark Sable's story of superheroes in the real world, but there's something a bit off that I can't quite put my finger on. I found myself flipping back a couple of pages every now and then, thinking I'd missed something but never able to figure out what exactly. While this was a solid issue, nothing ever really reached the same level of the first issue's laugh-out-loud scenes of Jonathan trying to gain/activate his seemingly non-existent superpowers. Paul Azaceta's artwork looks like what I imagine Michael Lark's might have when he was first starting out, which is both a compliment and a bit of a criticism. I'll give it another issue, but it's sitting precariously on the bubble and that's really disappointing since I can't quite pinpoint why. **1/2

The Black Heart Irregulars #1 (Blue King Studios; $3.00)
A completely random pickup last week, it's a low-budget, black-and-white production that's kind of like The Losers' less-sophisticated, but well-intentioned, younger brother. It has intrigue, double- and possibly triple-crossing, an enigmatic cast of familiar genre stereotypes, a murky plot, and a novel setting: a 50s-style diner in the green zone of a near-future Baghdad, Iraq. Writer Neil Hendrick spins an engaging tale and his too-honest page-by-page notes ("Whenever you see Arabic in the comic, like in panel 1, it's not real words, just an Arabic font. Actually, the word I typed here is 'Fuck'.") reveal someone who's likely in way over his head, but there's something oddly endearing about the whole thing. Of course, I'm a sucker for D-I-Y, so take that with a grain of salt. I also liked Ulises Carpintero's artwork, with distinctive character designs, nicely varied panels, and a strong understanding of how to make black-and-white look like an artistic choice vs. an economic one. With an editor and a better production budget, this could have a lot of potential. **1/2

Comics still on the read pile (and the relative order I plan to read them in): Winter Men #1; Rocketo: Journey to the Hidden Sea #1; Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #5; Forgotten Realms: Homeland #2; Queen & Country: Declassified (Vol. 3) #2 & #3; Alan Moore's Hypothetical Lizard #3; Mora #3 (not quite sure why it's taking me so long to get to this one...); Action Philosophers #2; XIII #1; Banana Sunday #1; Sonambulo #1; The Tick: Days of Drama #1; Solo: Howard Chaykin. Plus, a ton of graphic novels and trades...

1 comment:

jdonelson.nyc said...

"Kind of like my paycheck, but better."

good one!