Monday, April 29, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 4/24

All Star Western #19
Story: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Moritat/ Staz Johnson

Jonah Hex has run into time travellers before, and has himself been time displaced, so this issue isn't something completely foreign to everybody's favorite scarred bounty hunter. Booster Gold being tossed into a gritty western, though, is something new, and it's fun to see the interaction. Since Jonah ditched Amadeus Arkham in Gotham at the end of the last issue of All Star Western, Booster serves as Jonah's new foil. Booster acts like a superhero in a setting where superhero's don't really fit; gunslingers look funny at guys in bright blue and gold, and of course Hex is no different. Hex is of course on a case, and while Booster, having arrived unexpectedly in the 19th century, and having become the sheriff of a small town, is running into Jonah, the Hootkins gang, who Hex is pursuing, wander into said town and go about robbing the bank and burning much of it to the ground. When Hex and Booster arrive back, we get a flashback explaining how Booster arrived, and after a night of drinking, Hex and Booster head out to hunt down the Hootkins. When on his own, Booster is still a competent hero, but when with Jonah, he is comic relief, which is fine, and shows the difference between the characters well. There's no answer to whether this is Booster after he disappeared at the end of Justice League International Annual #1, or whether this is earlier in his continuity, and for now that doesn't matter. For now, the odd buddy cop dynamic of Hex and Booster is enough to keep me coming back without any heavy continuity. The back up introduces a character who is, as far as I know, new to the DC Weird Western world, The Master Gunfighter. While his name is a bit generic, I like that he is the self appointed border cop between the day world and night world, and he gets to fight werewolves. You know me, I'm a sucker for werewolves. I think this might be the final gathering of the team part of the Stormwatch of the 19th Century, and so next issue we'll see what Adam One is gathering the team for. I have enjoyed these introductory chapters a lot, but I'm looking forward to the story kicking into high gear.

Dark Horse Presents #23
Story: Various
Art: Various

Every issue of Dark Horse Presents is filled with interesting and different stories; everyone should be able to find something that interests them, but this issue had a couple of real highlights for me. The cover feature sees the return of Travis Clevenger, the bounty hunter who hunts superpowered crooks, known as "Bloodhound." I was one of the few people who followed his original series, published by DC Comics in the early 00s, and it was one of the vastly underrated series of its time, up there with Manhunter. While the status quo is somewhat different, the story feels natural to the world original series (and returning) creators Dan Jolley and Leonard Kirk created, a good mix of crime and superhuman action. Also debuting in this issue is "Brain Boy," by Fred Van Lente and Freddie Williams III, about a psychic who is working for the Secret Service. This first chapter sets up the world, the peril the character is in, and does it with Van Lente's trademark tongue planted firmly in cheek. We also get the next chapter of the time and space tripping "Journeymen," The first part of a fantasy serial called "King's Road" from Peter Hogan and Phil Winslade (two excellent and underrated creators, and Mike Baron and Steve Rude doing another story with their classic character, Nexus, this time with cameos from Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Oh, and there's a one off called "Gabe and the Sandpiper" with some gorgeous Sean Phillips art. 80+ pages with no ads for $7.99. Best bang or your buck in comics my friends. Go get it while the getting is good.

Kill Shakespeare: The Tide of Blood #3
Story: Conor McCreery & Anthony Del Col
Art: Andy Belanger

Due to various bits of ill luck, the first two issues of this sequel to one of my favorite series of the past five years fell on week's that I missed doing reviews, and for that I beg your pardon, regular Matt Signal reader, and you, creators of this excellent book. Kill Shakespeare: The Tide of Blood picked up shortly after the original series ended, and brings many of the surviving characters to the island of Prospero, and deftly weaves the world of The Tempest into the web already drawing so many of the Bard's great characters in it. This issue opens with answering one of the principal questions of the series thus far: Where did Shakespeare go after the end of Kill Shakespeare? The choice to have him sit and talk with Feste, one of his most world weary and clever fools is a delightful one, as Feste is one of the Bard's best spoken and thoughtful characters, and one who would be perfect to joust wits with his creator. On the island, we finally get to see Prospero, who has changed considerably since his confrontation with his brother and the events of his play. The magic of the island may be poisoning him, or he may be poisoning the island, something I'm unsure of, and it might be that I'm dense and need to reread, or it might be intentionally mysterious, but whatever way it is, Prospero is a force to be reckoned with, as he awaits the arrival of Shakespeare. Lady Macbeth continues to scheme, and we learn more of her connection with the island. But the biggest pleasure of the series is Romeo. Introduced late in the game of Kill Shakespeare, Romeo has been the central figure of this mini-series, and I have come to really like him. Haunted by what he feels is his betrayal by Shakespeare and the loss of Juliet to Hamlet, Romeo is ill-prepared for what the island has in store for him, and yet is still fighting his way through it and trying to do whatb is right. The issue ends with Romeo in a position to be lead astray, and I look forward to seeing how he finds his way out of this metaphorical wilderness. I'm glad to be back in the world of Kill Shakespeare, and can't wait to see where the events of this series take the greatest heroes and villaisn of all time.

Princeless Vol.2 #2
Story: Jeremt Whitley
Art: Emily Martin

The cover the new issue of Princeless just makes me smile; it sums up so much of what creator Jeremy Whitely is trying to say in the series about a princess who is doing it for herself. Adrienne does indeed reach the tower of her first sister, Angelica, with a result that is somewhat shocking. She and Bedelia and their new companion, the poet, have a great little dynamic, and a discussion about exactly what makes a poet. We also see Bedelia has one of the less attractive aspects of her dwarvish heritage in a funny scene. The opening of the issue, a flashback narrated by the Black Knight, and turnign out to be a dream of Adrienne's, seems to show a tie between the Black Knight and our heroine, and when tied in with the tale a knight tells King Ash about his wife's carriage, begins to paint a picture of the identity of the mysterious Black Knight, and explains why he never speaks. We also get to see the king in action as he tracks through the forest and fights some wolves; fantasy kings are often doddering old men of maniacal tyrants with legions of goons, so it's nice to see the king is still a man of action when he needs to be. Although I did miss Sparky the Dragon, I have nothing to complain about this continually enjoyable fantasy series. I wish other comics could be so consistently fun.

Superman Family Adventures #12
Story & Art: Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliani

*Sniff, sniff* Excuse me for a minute, I'm getting a little teary here. When Tiny Titans ended, I knew that Art and Franco would at least be keeping their toes in their corner of the DC Universe with Superman Family Adventures. Alas, this seems to be their swan song for their all ages corner of DC Comics, and I feel the racks are less bright for it. But what a way to go! Darkseid, out of his lunchlady togs from Tiny Titans, takes on the Justice League, the Superman Family, and all comers, in a comic that is full of action while still being something you can share with kids of all ages. The issue is hilarious, with Darkseid referencing his job at Sidekick Elementary while still fighting his way through superheroes, and we even get to see some Titans in there. In the end, Clark gets to kiss Lois (as it always should be. I still have a piece rattling around in my head about why Lois and Clark are comic's best couple), and the series ends with a smile. I am going to miss my monthly dose of Art and Franco, but I hope their Aw, Yeah Comics! gets a wide release after a successful Kickstarter, and this weekend's announcement of Itty Bitty Hellboy gets a nice long run.

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