Short (if not always timely) reactions to stuff I've read and enjoyed lately:
The New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly - I think Wood's greatest strength as a writer is to make his characters seem like real people. They're not just collections of quirks acting in service of a particular plot, and we learn about them naturally, through their own actions and expressions, not through droning narration or awkward exposition. He doesn't tell, he shows (and Kelly is a huge part of the success in this regard, don't get me wrong). But while learning about these four young women as they come together in their freshman year at NYU is one hell of an experience in character study, and would be enough of a reason to recommend this, the story is also pretty compelling, the sort of teenage drama that you wouldn't actually be ashamed to admit you watched if this were a TV show. We need more of that. And based on the ending, I'm guessing we will indeed be getting more, and that's a good thing.
You know, I'm gonna give this to my wife to read. She's not much of a comics fan anymore, but I think she'd really dig this.
Vix #1 - This is written Rantz Hosely, the editor of the giant Tori Amos anthology Comic Book Tattoo. In his interview with the Indie Spinner Rack podcast about the Amos book, he talked a bit about writing Vix as the chance to bring back the sort of female superhero comics he enjoyed as a kid, seeing how he didn't feel comfortable giving today's versions of, say, Ms. Marvel or Spider-Woman to his young daughters. And while this might still be a bit too heavy for the intended audience of a Marvel Adventures or Johnny DC book, I think it would serve the tweener and early teen demographic alright. Vix is a girl who has received superpowers under some mysterious circumstances she can't quite recall, but she's mostly digging the experience, and is compelled to use them to help, even if she'd like to still keep herself mostly under wraps. The shady people behind her transformation, however, want to force her out into the open. So, you know, this isn't really anything new. Sounds a lot like Shades of Blue, really. But you know, I miss Shades of Blue, so this definitely fits a niche. The story moves along pretty well, and the art by Matthew Humphreys is of a style somewhere between Mike Wieringo and Humberto Ramos, which fits the tone quite nicely. Worth a read.
Captain America: Red Menace Vol. 2 - Ever since James Robinson wrote Starman for DC, lots of people have been looking for the Marvel equivalent, the book that takes all the disparate strands of continuity and weaves them into a larger story of legacy. Folks, if there is a Marvel Starman, Ed Brubaker's Captain America is it. No corner of Cap's universe is ignored, no storyline unsuitable for plot mining. I mean, in this volume alone we have callbacks to the Invaders, the Sleepers, Skull House, the Baron Blood story from the 80s... oh, there's lots of stuff. And Brubaker goes the Robinson route in giving everything a context, an explanation, a reason for revival, not the sort of fans-only continuitygasming of a Roy Thomas or Geoff Johns. And while I had always wondered if Civil War had hindered any plans Brubaker had for this book, this volume (thanks to stuff set in motion here and prior series events that are referenced) leads me to believe he had planned for it all along. And I do love it so when a writer plays the long game like that. I'm late to this party, sure, and yeah, I already know some of the big events coming up, but I'm still thoroughly digging the ride.