Comic Book Reviews October 2007! CRECY JLA ZEROKILLER

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #11– I’ve heard differing things about this series, none of what I heard spurring me to jump aboard. However I heard this particular issue was a stand alone, and was good. The reviewers did not lie. A contained story, in every sense of the word about two heroes, trapped alive. Well written by Brad Meltzer and wonderfully drawn by Gene Ha. B/B+.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #12– Meltzer’s last issue, if this is what the other ten issues have been like, I can see why people are complaining.

First I hate the art.

Really, really not a fan of Ed Benes. Very “Mike Turner light”, and I’m not a fan of Mike Turner’s very early Image comics type art. Plus I hate the redesign of Black Lightning. And the issue is all killing time, filled with subplots I’m not interested in, such as Red Tornado.

Once again Dwayne McDuffie is given a crippled book to take over. Well first and foremost I hope he gets a different artist, At least that will give him a fighting chance on the book.

NEW LINE CINEMA’S TALES OF HORROR #1- While a nice pool of talent on this two story anthology, ultimately just not interested in comic rehashes of lame movie properties. Forgettable. C-/D.

BAD PLANET #2– over a year to finally get a 2nd issue. The good is that the art and panel layouts throughout most of the book , particularly the beginning, is very inventive and painterly. However toward the end it unfortunately loses the painterly (totleben) look and becomes simpler, not as accomplished as the early work.

Add to that, that the overall story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and ends jarringly, and you have an issue that underwhelms. But I’m willing to give it a couple issues to see if it picks up. Grade=C.

BLACK MANE by Michael V LaRiccia– I became aware of this book through an interview the writer gave on Indie Spinner Rack. That and the great discount the writer was offering for his book, piqued my interest. So I promptly ordered, and I have to say I’m glad I did.

It’s the really rare book that in the first three pages can have me alternately horrified and laughing out loud. BLACK MANE did that. The author describes it as a treatise on rage, and sexual, racial, and cultural dynamics in a society proverbially on the edge. and while that may sound high-faluting, dry, and boring… it’s not.

BLACK MANE tells a tale laced with the fury, and futility of life. And like Life, there’s at times a strange, awkward humor, in the exaggerated moments of our extremes. The artwork and panel arrangements and borders, work wonderfully to convey the extremes of paranoia and rage, that LaRiccia works in.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful book, and to LaRiccia’s credit it will seem oddly evocative to you, it will make you think of the extremes of America… that you have run into. The book is 80+ pages and at $10 is worth the money. If you purchase it from the author’s website he’s running a not to be missed discount. Recommended. Grade=B+.

ZEROKILLER #1– I picked this up, just on a hunch that it would be something different and interesting, a standout in the often formulaic medium of comics. I’m glad to say Arvid Nelson’s ZEROKILLER is that and more.

The first thing that hits you is the colors. Dave Stewart creating only one of two books that floored me with it’s beautiful color pallete. The other book being the phenomenal GATEKEEPER from Virgin Comics.

The first page alone is an impressive introduction to the world of ZEROKILLER. It looked like sunlight.

That page (and successive ones )fairly glowing, with a life and vibrancy that immediately pulled me in. 2nd the clear effective art by Matt Camp, is nicely done. But really owes much to the coloring of Mr. Stewart. keep this art team together.

Now pretty pictures will only take you so far, luckily this issue has a plot and script and characters that in a scant # of pages made me a believer. While this book being post apocalyptic, can’t avoid comparisons with DMZ meets WATERWORLD, I found with this first issue a world more enjoyable and intriguing and compelling than its inspirations.

First I love the protagonist of Zero. He manages to exude cool, while being quiet, and contemplative without being brooding, or a fool, or comedy relief.

Fantasy/scifi/horror when not in the hands of Octavia Butler, or Steve Barnes or John Carpenter is typically not kind to characters of color. So it’s great to see a series about a post apocalyptic future/present with lots of characters of color. BLACK DAHLIA being as interesting an antagonist, as Zero is a protagonist. One of the best reads of the month, and is now on my pull list. keep em coming. Grade=B+.

DUST #1-is another title that also caught my attention, mostly due to the look of the art. plotwise it’s a post apocalyptic world set in our past rather than our present, wherein alien technology has by 1946 put the axis on the verge of conquering the world, utilizing such nifty things as zombies, mechanized apes, and space weapons. All in a really beautifully illustrated book by Paolo Parente and David Fabbri.

Sounds great right? uh… the art…. yes. the art is glorious. the story… isn’t.

Scripted by someone called mink, this reads more like a game briefing or an ad for a game rather than a complete story. Everything is so cookie cutter and bereft of heart, so by the time I get to the double page ad in the back of the issue for the DUST board game, I’m not remotely surprised, nor remotely interested in reading more. d.

CASANOVA #8- I was hoping with this being a new story-arc, I would like it better than the previous arc. in a word… no. just find it so much spinning its wheels. Grade=D.

CRECY ONE-SHOT“We’re not a very pleasant people, the English. the French speak in music, but English only soars when we start being bloody ‘orrible to people.”

That line tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this Warren Ellis one shot. CRECY tells of a battle between the English and the French at a place called, you guessed it, Crecy. But it’s also as effective a history dissection as you’ll find; told from the viewpoint of a British longbow man.

This book will probably not have much of a French fan base. Also I’m not crazy about the black and white artwork, or avatar artwork in general, but it’s effective enough. and the selling point of this is the words.

Ellis has been doing pretty much the same character his whole comics career. The cold, satiric bastard that does what he has to do.

From HELLBLAZER to AUTHORITY to PLANETARY to TRANSMETROPOLITAN at the heart of all Ellis’ work is always this cynical bastard (with the exception of FELL, Detective Fell seems to be his most… hopefull character) , and CRECY is no exception.

So it says a lot for Ellis that despite the interchangeability of his protagonists, he is still able to weave a gripping, page-turnng yarn. It’s obvious he’s done his homework, and some of the info can give even a modern, media numbed, audience… pause. All in all this is a keeper, and the last panel especially… haunting. Strongly recommended. Grade=B+/A-.

SPAWN #170-Spawn written by David Hine, and drawn by Brian Haberlin continues to be a great horror book. Probably the best horror comic since Ellis’ run on HELLBLAZER, though you still get the idea they don’t know what to do with the character of Spawn/Al Simmons. B.


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