August Comics

Here are the best books I read from my tfaw box this month:

Generation Hope #9 (writer: Kieron Gillen, art: Jamie McKelvie, colors: Jim Charalampidis, with cover art by Slavador Espin) is the title that I am citing from this month’s serials.

I’m glad to have been pulling this title from the beginning. Hope’s mission brings the X-Men back to their roots, finding and helping young people come to terms with who they are and what they can do. This issue shows the urgency in that task in a particularly poignant way, but where the stakes are more individual and personal than epic. The dorm room conversation before everything goes wrong is perfectly scripted as a lead-in to the demise of the young mutant and its aftermath. The ending with Kenji and Logan provided the right kind of emotional payoff to a story that is nicely self-contained, while also drawing on X-history and character history in a meaningful, and not pedantic, way.

McKelvie’s character designs also help to tell the story. His English university students look fresh, modern, and youthful, just right for the dialogue and for the way the story plays out. The series of panels where Laurie/Transonic takes off from the air are striking, particularly the way that she is made to look like a bird-shaped missile. While I read comics in part for serialized narrative, I also appreciate when someone can turn out a great story that stands on its own, and this issue is a prime example of a one-off that works well, both on its own and as part of the series as a whole.

In trades, I am still working on Finder, but I did make time to read a few other books, including Batgirl: The Flood (writer: Bryan Q. Miller, pencils: Lee Garbett and Pere Perez, colors: Guy Major, inks: Jonathan Glapion et al). I’ve had this collection for awhile, and had been avoiding it because, at this point, reading the current Batgirl is like watching a TV show that has been canceled before anyone really thinks it should have been. Whatever investment you have in the characters and the narrative is going to be if not wasted, then unfulfilled.

That aside, this book is still, above all, fun to read. I also like the scale of the storytelling, which is more about everyday crime and craziness than world-ending doom. The final chapter here, where Stephanie and Kara have a night on the town that goes wrong, encapsulates the energy and best qualities of the series: sharp dialogue, witty asides, a good nature, and action-packed. I assume I can look forward to one more collection before having to say good-bye, but these books will be on my shelf for a long time, and I hope that A gets around to discovering them.

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January comics

From tfaw:

Monthly comics:

Angel: Illyria: Haunted #2 (IDW)

Scott Tipton and Mariah Huehner have a good idea for a story started. Given how few episodes Illyria appeared in, I imagine that she is a good character to write. Getting the voice right remains hard.

Birds of Prey #8 (DC)

“The Death of Oracle” story continues and the title seems to have found some stability in the art. Gail Simone writes strong stories about the human/meta-human divide and this looks to be one of those, at least in part.

B.P.R.D. – Hell on Earth: Gods #1 (Dark Horse)

The new story starts fast with a cast of unfamiliar characters, but ends with an awesomely rendered final page. Guy Davis also designs a great-looking, though enigmatic, cover.

Casanova: Gula #1 (Marvel Icon)

Another new story starts. Lots going on, people intersecting from different timelines, and Casanova missing in one of them. Full of the kind of action and geekry I have come to expect from this title.

Generation Hope #3 (Marvel)

I am wondering where this title goes after all of the new mutants have been found and pacified by Hope. I suppose this issue is an indication, with them coming together as a team somehow, but that Kieron Gillen’s next story arc should be even more of an indication of this.

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1 (Dark Horse)

Scott Hampton’s style is slicker than I am used to seeing on this title, but Mike Mignola’s story seems like creepy fun. Short mini.

I, Zombie #9 (DC/Vertigo)

Gwen and Horatio finally have a date, while the vampires scheme, Ellie gets jealous, and maybe rash, and Scott deals with his life. This is turning into quite the ensemble title.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #5 (Marvel)

Settles into kind of a conventional action thriller mode, unless you count all of the zipping around in time and space. This title is so strange, that I wonder that Marvel allows Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver make it at all, especially since they are radically shaping the history of one of the Marvel Universe’s key institutions. And, yet, here it is.

Spider-Girl #2 (Marvel)

Quick, dramatic, and maybe not so positive turn in the story. I am guessing it will take a few issues to work through the implication sof what happens to Anya here. Less encouraging is the splitting of the art.

Spike #4 (IDW)

The point of this issue is pretty well revealed at the end. Drusilla remains a work in progress. I think that Nicola Zanni’s Dru can grown on me, but there is a lot of variation in how she looks here, with face and body not quite settled yet.

Uncanny X-Men #531 (Marvel)

I will say this about this title right now: as per my prior comments, I do not like Greg Land’s style. But it does work for Lobe’s alternate X-Men. The panel where they gather to go be heroes is well drawn, and the plastic-y, beautiful look works well for these wannabes. It still remains a problem for many in the main cast; I even think he manages to make Emma boring, despite the fact that she is a character who can also wear his style well.

X-23 #4 (Marvel)

So, Laura gets her own story after all. Maybe Marjorie Liu is finally getting some ownership now that “Wolverine Goes to Hell” is behind her. One thing I have noticed about this title is that covers are often oddly inappropriate. This month, we see X-23 in X-Force mode, but most of the time she is drawn as some kind of sexy fashion plate. None of these looks has had much to do with the stories.

TPBs:

Batman: Joker’s Asylum Volume 2 (DC)

Ordered this to scree for A, who loves Harley Quinn and likes the Batverse. On the whole, a reminder of how depraved Gotham is, but I also found Mike Raicht’s (writer), David Yardin’s & Cliff Richards’ (art) and Jose Villarrubia (colors) Killer Croc story to be strangely affecting, especially the by the time the next to last panel shows.

Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men Volume 3 (Marvel)

Forthcoming.

X-Men Forever 2 Volume 1: Back in Action (Marvel)

Fun-ish sideshow with Rogue and Spider-Man, and the reemergence of the Morlocks. Mystique. High soap opera. Pretty much what you expect from this series.

Digital comics (from comiXology):

Suburban Glamour #1-4 (Image)

Probably the best thing I read this month. Beautiful, pop-y art from Jamie McKelvie and a story that nicely intertwines classic genre elements and fantasy with contemporary suburban ennui. Maybe moves too quick and crams too much in, and points towards sequels a little too broadly, especially if they never happen. What I like most about McKelvie’s art is how real it looks despite the simplicity. Renders well on my iPhone, except for the letters pages, which are next to impossible to read that way.