Another attempt to try to get back up to date, as I talk about the books I bought a few days after they originally came out in comic shops in the UK. A smaller batch than the previous week, so let’s get to it.
Beasts of Burden/Hellboy
Confession: despite being a huge Evan Dorkin fan, I didn’t buy the original mini-series when it first came out. I will get the trade; I also picked up this one-off crossover to assuage my guilt. This is utterly charming, scary, amusing, exciting, moving and delightful – Dorkin writes a good script (with input from Mike Mignola) about the group of cats and dogs that protect the town of Burden Hill, and Jill Thompson paints a beautiful comic: she draws a good Hellboy but it’s the animals that are the attraction, each one very different and individual. The only unusual aspect was the lettering, which looked rather odd to me, but that’s not a huge problem overall. I now have to have the original mini-series, and so should you.
Fantastic Four #584
I don’t know if it’s the mature and solid storytelling and art style of Steve Epting, but this issue of Fantastic Four seems be more balanced, more structured, with more purpose. Jonathan Hickman tells a lovely story of Ben becoming human for a time (after a cure was found by the kids, which will only last for an undetermined number of days once a year) and Johnny being a decent human being (well, mostly – he’s still Johnny after all) and showing Ben a good time (including dinner with old friends, who look very much like Stan and Jack …) before an emotional pay-off. There are also plot developments with Sue acting as a referee on Utopia, and the Silver Surfer wanting some answers from Reed about Galactus (a great last page). This is more like what I expected from Hickman.
Incognito: Bad Influences #1
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Incognito was a very enjoyable pulp-inspired story about a former supervillain in witness protection and what happened when things went wrong. It deservedly got this sequel, which is equally entertaining as we see our protagonist Zack now signed on with the good guys. An incident that parallels the Shadow and his network of informers causes Zack’s cover to be blown, so it is decided to use him to bring back in an undercover agent who has gone native and is about to become the leader of a terrorist organisation. It’s a good set-up for an Incognito story, and Brubaker and Phillips do their usual exemplary job – taut storytelling, great art, excellent narration from the lead character, interesting characters. It’s not Criminal, their other creator-owned work, but it’s as good.
Usagi Yojimbo #132
Another issue of Usagi Yojimbo means another excellent comic book from Stan Sakai. This issue sees Usagi stumbling across an area he has visited before and a drum builder he helped out; of course, this story isn’t just going to be about making a huge drum, and Sakai builds the connection and the threat until the final page of the issue. It is masterful stuff from a master craftsman who maintains a level of quality even in the quieter stories such as this.