A Month Of Comics: Part 2

Today’s batch of comics is made of up my Warren Ellis obsession and the Mature Reader books. It’s not necessarily a sensible way to split up my haul of books, but I never promised Aristotlean classification here.

No Hero #0 – Ellis and his Black Summer collaborator Juan Jose Jyp (another monthly book I’m enjoying) start another ‘serialised graphic novel’ with Avatar. This time, the theme is stated on the cover: How much do you want to be a superhuman? Warren also discusses it at the back of the book, just in case you missed that. This is a short teaser to the world in which the story will happen – Carrick Masterson is the only man with the system to create super humans, and he introduces them in San Francisco in 1966 as The Levellers. They become The Front Line in 1977, to match the mood of the country. The story picks up in 2011, where one of the superhumans has been found ambushed. This is a nice taster for the rest of the book, just enough to intrigue. Obviously I will be buying the remainder of the series.

Doktor Sleepless #7 – I can’t help but think of Spaced when I see the title, because I remember Tim telling Daisy about his supervillain creation, Doktor Mandrake, with the extra emphasis on the ‘k’. Maybe that’s just me … Anyway, although this series hasn’t quite captured the energy of other Ellis works, I’m enjoying the way Ellis seems to be thinking out loud with this character and addressing themes in which he is interested (the future, technology, global connection, etc.) and it’s turning into an interesting experiment in serial comic books. Ivan Rodriguez’s art is coming as well, after a bit a of a shaky start, and it looks like the next issue will see a lot of things happen that have been leading to. The only thing that annoys me are the double spaces that crop up in the lettering in the word balloons – this is a stupid thing, I know, but it bothers me that something like that wasn’t captured in production.

Anna Mercury #2 – the first impressions of this book were changed at the end of the first book, and this issue expands on it – with talk of ‘nine half-constructed worlds hanging in invisible orbit around earth’ and secret agents and briefing prime ministers. Wonderfully bizarre stuff from Ellis, and Facundo Percio (a great name) provides detailed yet light almost cartoony art for the book, although I still don’t get why Anna’s hair has to be some enormous. The book feels empty without the back matter of Sleepless, but entertaining nevertheless.

newuniversal: shockfront #2 – the first six issues of this revamp of the New Universe was good stuff, with strong ideas and strong art from Salvador Larroca (even if characters looked a little too much like the film stars Larroca referenced). However, all the momentum has been lost since then, and this storyline has to work hard to regain it. Apart from the two pages of a character expositing on the alternate history that this universe has, the book is mostly small character stuff. I think this suits the new artist for this series, Steve Kurth, who has a Vertigo feel to his artwork (not a style to my tastes, but his characters are individuals and can tell the story). I think this will be a story that will work better as a trade, but Ellis still gives us cliffhanging endings so he is aware of the remit of providing an entertainment in a single issue. However, I don’t get the same buzz from this yet that I did from the first series.

100 Bullets #92 – Johnny Bacardi reviews this series best at this juncture – each issue is well done, it’s good stuff for those who are currently reading but not for those new to the series. It’s coming to the end and things are drawing to their conclusions – Azzarello draws specific parallels between two different stories this issue, and Risso keeps up the consistently high quality of art throughout the entire series. Can’t wait to see how it all ends, and then I’ll read the whole thing again and see if I can understand it all …

The Boys #19 – Ennis provides background information on the world of The Boys, as Hughie visits The Legend for a briefing on Vought-American and The Homelander, while Butcher has a meeting with The Homelander about the current state of affairs. Robertson, whose art I will always associate with Transmetropolitan, brings his clear yet dirty feel to the book, perfectly in tune with the vibe of the story from Ennis. I’m really looking forward to where Ennis is going with this, because it looks like he’s really thought things through.

Criminal 2 #3 – I think that anyone who reads comic book blogs will be aware of how good Criminal is. Brubaker and Phillips bring their best work to this title, and you can really feel the noir on your fingers and your soul after you read each story. Exquisitely constructed and told in the poetic hard-boiled style, these are good comics, packed with extras like Brubaker talking about writing and an essay on a noir film. You should really be buying the singles if you aren’t already.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off my huge haul of books with the final reviews of the books with no connection.

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