Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Dig List - 8/10/08

Short (though not always timely) reactions to comics I've read recently:


Liberty Comics: A CBLDF Benefit Book - The good: the Darwyn Cooke story about a cursed book was top notch, which was a nice throwback to the glory years of EC Comics; the J. Bone story was kinda cute; the censorship conversation strips by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones; and the Monkeyman and O'Brien thing, even if it was just a glorfied pin-up. The not as good: everything else. You figure any anthology is gonna be a mixed-bag, but this bag was particularly, um, mixxy, I guess? And, of course as always seems to be the case when a 50/50 cover split between J. Scott Campbell and anyone else is involved, I got sent the Campbell cover. Not a fan. But, it benefits a good cause, and I did enjoy almost half of this, so there's that.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #1 - I like that they're using this to continue the story from Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil mini-series, and that if they couldn't get Smith to come back, they got probably the next best person to follow him in Mike Kunkel (if I can't get more Herobear, I'm more than willing to let him write and draw me some Captain Marvel stories). It's a little weird that they've already departed from the "Cap and Billy are two separate entities" thing Smith established, and there's WAY too much Shazam-code to bother translating, but beyond that, this was a fun read. Definitely looking forward to more.


Blue Beetle #29 - The first issue of Matthew Sturges' run as new regular writer on the book. I wasn't driven away immediately like I was with Rick Remender's first issue of All New Atom after he took over from Gail Simone. And this was at least as good as any of the fill-in issues that have showed up in the series to this point, which were all pretty good even when compared to the awesome sauce John Rogers was dishing out. So I'm cautiously optimistic thus far. I think a lot of it will depend on how heavy a hand Sturges applies to this immigration story arc in the making. I'm willing to give the man a shot, though.


Witchblade: Witch Hunt TPB - I had only read a handful of Witchblade comics prior to this book, and I enjoyed exactly one of them, so even though this was supposed to be an attempt by Top Cow to move the series away from being based entirely around cleavage, I still didn't have very high expectations going in to this. But you know, it was actually pretty good. The story by Ron Marz is a bit by-the-numbers in terms of having Sara fight some cult and their big drooly demon thing while establishing her new-ish status quo, but it moves along at a good little clip, the dialogue is snappy, and it managed to hold my interest even if it didn't break new ground. And the art by Mike Choi is nice, sort of loose and detailed at the same time... not too cartoony, not overly rendered and referenced. And there are no breaks in the action to force a cheesecake pose into the proceedings, so there's another plus. Best of all is the price... if you buy this at the direct market level, it's $4.99 (bookstore version is $9.99, I think). 6 issues for 5 bucks? Okay, yes please. I don't know that I'll ever buy the books beyond this point (maybe I'll get 'em from the library sometime), but I definitely got my money's worth out of this.


Hellboy: Seed of Destruction - I've never really warmed up to Hellboy (pardon any pun you may see in that statement). I love Mike Mignola's moody artwork, and I think the high concept of "monster hunts monsters" is really smart, but something in the actual execution of the stories falls apart for me. But I thought I'd give HB another shot via the library and... yup, loved the art, was only so-so on the story. Now maybe it's because this is just the first volume, and maybe because it's Mignola's ideas through the filter of another writer's script (in this case, John Byrne), or maybe I'm just not a horror fan, but something on some level just doesn't click with me here. Am I going to find it worthwhile to try future volumes, or should I just cut & run and accept that I'm going to disagree with the rest of the known comics universe in regards to this series?


Comic Book Comics #2 - I've said it before, I'll say it again: in ten years' time, maybe less, people will talk about this series in regards to comics history as they talk about Understanding Comics in regards to theory and Comics and Sequential Art in regards to form. I can't think of anything to say about this book beyond that, except for maybe that this issue covers comics in WW2, the birth of the romance comic, and how Bill Gaines' desire for paternal revenge led to the rise of EC Comics, among other things. Come on, doesn't that sound interesting? Go give some money to Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente in exchange for the privilege to read this already!
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