The Dig List: 2/17/08

Short reactions to stuff I've read and enjoyed lately:

Houdini: The Handcuff King - A short original graphic novel by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi that could have just as easily been called "A Day in the Life of Harry Houdini," since that's what we get: not so much a biography as a biographical sketch, using the events (probably a mix of real and fictionalized occurrences) of one of Houdini's famous handcuff escape events to show us the sort of person he was. Fun, charming, and chock full of notes from the creators definitely the sort of book that encourages further reading - not just about Houdini, but the other works of Lutes and Bertozzi, too.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned - I figured with all the coverage about the series ending, I should finally get around to checking out for myself and seeing what all the fuss was about. And while obviously this first book is all set-up for the adventure ahead, it's certainly an interesting set-up. If this was the pilot for a TV show, I'd come back for week 2, you know? Yorick seems to be an interesting hero, and not the sort of usual he-man type we get for these "last man on Earth" stories - if anything, besides his knack for escape artistry, he's kind of a wuss - so that's a unique fold right there. I'd be interested in seeing how the all-female society we see forming in the second issue came into being during the two-month story gap between it and the first issue though... does that get covered down the line? Anyway, good start by Brian K. Vaughn and the artwork by Pia Guerra makes me look forward to her Doctor Who stuff coming down the pike from IDW.

Pride of Baghdad - I knew coming in this was essentially Watership Down, but with lions that escaped a Baghdad zoo, and that there was only one way it could end, but still, it wrecked me a little. Very affecting story by Brian K. Vaughn, helped in no small part by Niko Henrichon's gorgeous artwork, which manages to give each of the characters very distinct visual personalities and expressions while making sure they still look like actual animals, not Disney characters. As good as advertised, which is always nice.

(I assure you, the transition between those books - escape artist story, story featuring an escape artist that is written by BKV, story by BKV about escaped lions - was completely unplanned, and just the order I happened to read them in. However, it was fun to see how my experiences with and opinions of the latter books were affected by the former ones as the sequence continued.)

Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure - Let's get this out of the way: this is clearly from the point where Jack Kirby was phoning it in with the FF (and maybe Marvel as a whole), and the scripting by Stan Lee is, like most of his modern work, awkward at best (and the few modern references - like DSL, for instance - were just jarring). But who cares? A new complete Kirby FF story is meant to be pounced upon and treasured like the rare gem it is, and I'm willing to overlook a lot for just that reason. Plus, even at $4.99, it's a hell of a value - the complete story, the unfinished pencils and plot notes for the entire story (with commentary), and the entirety of the story that the few original completed pages were folded into. I'm shocked they didn't slap this into a $15-20 hardcover. Come for the comic itself, stay for the astounding restraint on Marvel's part!

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