Friday the 13th was unlucky for me but lucky for Rich Johnston in that I couldn’t find a copy of Watchmensch in Gosh! or Forbidden Planet (I didn’t get down to Orbital). I hadn’t preordered it, so it’s my fault, but I was feeling in a Watchmen vibe and Johnston has recently become a statistic in the recession, so I hoped to pick it up. C’est la vie, as our cheese-eating surrender monkeys would say.
Captain Britain and MI:13 #11
It is a great cover by Stuart Immonen, one of the best so far; so it’s a shame that Mike Collins’ artwork for a few fill-in pages isn’t as strong as Leonard Kirk’s art. It’s a little jarring, especially when you need to discern characters who are different from the team we know. The story is very strong, as the team reacts with British reserve to the attack on them by Dracula and they have to get on with the job in hand. There is a very striking page where Faiza and the Black Knight are falling to their deaths – Paul Cornell, coming from a more literary background, uses a lot of prose to detail the thought process of Faiza preparing herself to heal the pair of them at the instant they hit the ground, and it’s strangely powerful. This book is going well, so it’s a shame that the monthly sales figures are very worrying; I’ll be there until the inevitable economics have the final say.
Ex Machina Special #4
Brian Vaughan uses this special to tell one of those ‘done-in-one’ tales that look like they could fit quite easily into the regular series but get their own special because they would only take two issues. It also provides the opportunity for someone else to illustrate the world of The Machine – as usual, the tale told in the now involves a flashback to the superhero days of the mayor – with John Paul Leon providing his atmospheric and moody pencils. I like his style, even if I’m not sure he’s the perfect choice for the book; perhaps it’s to do with Tony Harris’ brighter and more face-orientated version, but Leon’s artwork looks slightly out of place when Mayor Hundred is giving a speech out in the countryside on a sunny day. This issue also sees Vaughan talking politics, as he has Mayor Hundred tackling newspapers not using recycled paper and having a go at the practice of comic books (‘Comics are virgin paper going into virgin hands that tuck them away into poisonous plastic. Forever.’).
I still find it odd to see somebody pencilling Fables apart from Mark Buckingham (even though he does provide a hauntingly touching cover), but David Hahn does a good job of drawing the diverse characters, doing a particularly good Badger, with his strong-lined, clear delineations with a cartoony edge. This issue also deals with the pertinent question: how soon before Blue comes back? Because the important Fables always do … don’t they? There is also some very touching conversation between Flycatcher and Pinocchio about Blue, some animal discussion about what will happen to them on the Farm now all the Fables are here, and Beast confronts Bigby about an original rule of the Farm. Bill Willingham continues to do a great job with Fables – with all of fiction to work from, he has a limitless back catalogue to help him – but that doesn’t stop me from being nervous about the crossover with Jack of Fables and the three-issue mini-series The Literals. Wow, I’m hard to please, aren’t I?