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Comics I Bought 12 February 2009

Another week, another selection of comics, another delayed review – that Friday just seems to escape from me … In addition to the books I’ve been getting in the monthly format, I decided on a whim to buy Neil Gaiman’s Batman story; I’m still not sure why, but I’ve always liked Gaiman so that must have been it. Damn the uncontrollable and impulsive nature of man …

Batman #686
If you didn’t know that this comic was written by Gaiman, then the fact that it concerns people telling stories about a dead Batman – while other people obligingly sit around and listen – lets you know for certain. It is not a traditional Batman story; it’s a story about Batman, and his whole history (quite an undertaking). Familiarity with the mythos would be a help but isn’t necessary; you just have to know that Batman has been around for a long time and different characters have been represented in different ways. There is an attempt by Andy Kubert to draw in the styles of the different artists of the eras, albeit not 100% successful, but I’ve always found his faces a little strained and odd looking (but that could be me). As this is the first part of the whole story, it’s hard to judge its quality, but it’s definitely an interesting start and I want to see how it finishes.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #10
Prologue time in Captain Britain, which means lots of talking, but in the good way. Cornell puts all his pieces in place, while giving some character time to the cast – Dracula talks with Doom (on the Moon!), there is chat in the pub, Blade chills out and loses the sunglasses, Faiza and Black Knight try to communicate. Then we get action to whet our appetite: vampires shot at Britain from the Moon. Only in comic books …

The book is good, and I can find no fault. The only problem I have is on the ‘Previously…’ page – the phrase ‘a newly-resurrected Captain Britain’ does not require the hyphen: adverbs ending in ‘ly’ do not hyphenate with the verb that it amends to become an adjectival phrase (there is no ambiguity without the hyphen because ‘newly Captain Britain’ doesn’t mean anything). I’m not a grammar fascist, but the poor hyphen gets so abused that I don’t like it when it is forced to do work that is not necessary.

Fables #81
In which Mr Dark takes over Fabletown for his own nefarious purposes (with the help of the Mouse and Freddy as ‘witherlings’ under his control) and Blue passes away even with Flycatcher trying to use magic from Haven. Blue allows himself ‘complete and brutal candour’ with Rose, which may or may not have any affect. It’s a nice mix of the emotion of a much-loved character and the setting up the new enemy in Dark, who vows vengeance on the Fables for perceived offences. Willingham and Buckingham continue the high quality on this book, one I’m glad to keep reading every month because I couldn’t wait for the trade.

Incognito #2
This is an excellent fix for Brubaker and Phillips not doing Criminal, even though it is just a sidestep away from the pure noir of Criminal. Zack gets himself into a situation because he’s not thinking as smart as he used to, and Black Death gets a visit from his lawyer who tells him in secret that Zack is still alive, even though he’s supposed to be dead. This is a lot of fun – Brubaker still controls the narrative and characters expertly but is also more relaxed in the approach, while Phillip still provides the gritty art but with a softer edge more appropriate to the book. Excellent stuff.

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