The Dig List: 2/1/09

Thoughts! About comics! Ones I read recently! Woo!

E-Man: Curse of the Idol - I just read a whole pile of original Charlton Comics E-Man issues a week or two back, so this came along at just the right point to play Compare & Contrast. The verdict? It holds up quite well in terms of both story and craft on the parts of Messrs. Joe Staton and Nicola Cuti (with Randy Buccini), and has the added bonus of not feeling like it'll fall apart in your hands like those old Charlton books, which is always nice. A good E-Man story is as adaptable as the title character, and this one, about the hunt for an artifact that gives its owner great power at a terrible cost, is just that. You get a little Indiana Jones, a send-up of hard-boiled detective fiction, a touch of Lovecraftian drooling-beastie horror, and pinch of Famous X-Men Plotline. The recipe works, recalling the best of the classic E-Man while still reading accessibly to a newcomer on the look out for a fun superhero yarn. The coloring is a bit too bright sometimes, and there are one or two improperly lettered word balloons, but any technical glitches aside, this was Fun Comics.

Mysterius the Unfathomable #1 - Jeff Parker has become one of my favoriter writers over the past few years, so I had every intention of picking up this mini-series in its eventual collected form somewhere down the road. But the buzz on this first issue was so universally good that I got curious to check it out in the here and now. And yay verily, the people speaketh the truth... this was a damn fine comic book, one of the best I've read in awhile, and as strong a first issue as I can recall from the past few years. The title character makes his living as a celebrity medium and illusionist, and though he has his detractors, he's the real deal... and has been for much, much longer than anyone suspects. A seance gone wrong leads him to meet his newest assistant, a skeptical but curious reporter named Ella, whom he redubs Delfi (the latest in a long line of Delfis, in fact), and we see her start to learn the ropes of the new profession she has little choice in pursuing. Loved the relationship between Mysterius and Ella, which reminded me a lot of that between Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller in the movie Zero Effect. M might not be as dysfunctional as Pullman's Darryl Zero, but he's certainly quite aloof from the rest of humanity, and Ella, like Stiller's Steve Arlo, is both annoyed and fascinated by her new employer, often at the same time. It's an interesting hook, and Tom Fowler's artwork - which here resembles a sort of 70s Jack Davis style, I'm thinking of his MAD covers and the Superfan books in particular - gives it all a very stylized look that stands out from the crowd as much as the story itself. Brilliant work. More, please!

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