Monday, October 21, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 10/16

With apologies for the month plus without an update, this week will feature a few books that I picked up this past week from previous weeks, but can't really go back all the way to when I last updated. Sorry for that, folks, but I'm in the middle of buying a house, and that has been taking up a lot of my spare time. But that's enough about me. On to the comics.

Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #1
Story: Dan Jolley
Art: Leonard Kirk

I was one of the people who read Bloodhound when it was being published by DC (admittedly, I first picked up issue 8, since it had a D-List Batman villain, Zeiss, in it, but I then picked up the first six and was along for the ride for the last two), so when I saw that new Bloodhound stories were coming out from Dark Horse, I was excited. And that excitement paid off with the serial in Dark Horse Presents, and now in the first issue of this mini-series. If you didn't read either the DC adventures of the serial featuring Travis Clevenger, our title character, and his partner/handler Saffron Bell, that's ok. Everything you need to know is made perfectly clear early on: Clev (as he's called) is a guy who hunts people with special powers for the FBI on a sort of work release; it's kind of like the concept of the TV show White Collar, if Matt Bomer was nearly seven feet tall and indestructible, and they were hunting rogue metahumans, not crooked bankers. The first issue let's you meet Clev, see the kind of guy he is, and then see him go on a hunt. The guy who Clev is hunting turns out to not be a bad guy, just a desperate one, and the polive pursuing him seem to be far worse than he is, which gives a nice layer to the world and to the ending of the issue. The last couple pages set up the thrust of the story, when a mystery doctor named Bradley Morgenstern hijacks all TV channels and offers to give people superpowers to protect them from the menace of rogue powered people. It's an argument made for assault rifles in the hands of everyone, and it's a great example of using superpowers as a metaphor for the concerns of the modern world. The chemistry between Clev and Saffron is great, and helps push the book beyond a simple plot driven think piece and into something that readers can get invested in. There's a nice letter page at the back, where writer Dan Jolley talks about getting the entire original creative team back together to do this book, and asks for those of us digging the book to share it, and I am more than happy to oblige. Glad to see you back, Clev.

Fables #134
Story: Bill Willingham
Art: Mark Buckingham

Some of the best issues of Fables are the interlude issues that give the reader a little breather mid-arc before things invariably go completely off the rails. Bigby Wolf is dead and has found his way into an afterlife that is the apotheosis of all forests, where he hunts creatures and lives as the great beast he once was. The sound of a hunting horn calls Bigby to find Boy Blue, who is there to explain some of the ways the afterlife works before he moves on from the borderlands where Bigby's forest is to his personal reward. The two of them have a long conversation about life, death, and the choices that we make in life. Bigby comes to some realizations about his life and his fate, and Blue explains that he has no intention of ever returning to life. There are some fun labs at Stinky, the badger who started the religion around Boy Blue, and it will be interesting to see how he reacts when Bigby returns and tells him exactly what Blue said to him. It's a lovely send off to Boy Blue, and a wonderful final conversation between two of my favorite Fables characters. The final two pages are touching, so touching that they brought a tear to my eye, and brings a resolution to the quest that Bigby was on before his death. 

Kiss Me, Satan #1
Story: Victor Gischler
Art: Juan Ferreyra

I'm a sucker for horror comics, and have a strong preference for werewolves over either vampires or zombies, and when I saw the cover copy, "New Orleans is a Werewolf Town," I had to give this book a try. My only experience with writer Victor Gischler was the Spike mini-series he wrote and a couple short stories, and no familiarity with artist Juan Ferreyra, so I came in fresh. Barnabus is a fallen angel who is trying to earn his way back into the good graces of the almighty, so he's doing freelance work for heaven, all the while ducking squads of demons that want to bring him back to Hell to pay for making a runner. It's a solid core concept, but where are the werewolves? Well, it seems the packleader of the local werewolf clan, Cassian Steele, has a pregnant wife, and the witch who was summoned to test the fetus tells Steele the baby isn't a werewolf. This means that Steele will lose his standing within the pack. Steele kills the only werewolf who knew, and then sends his wolves after the witch and her apprentices. And this is where Barnabus crosses paths with the werewolves, as heaven has sent him to protect the witches. The whole series is set up to move from here, a quick, action based supernatural thriller. Gischler does a great job fleshing out the characters quickly, and Ferreyra's art is astounding. he has a dynamic style, and his werewolves are beautiful, or as beautiful as monsters can be. A perfect comic for this spooky time of year, the second issue hits this week, so grab both for a double dose of horror action on Wednesday.

Superior Spider-Man #17-19
Story: Dan Slott
Art: Ryan Stegman

Yes, these are the first Spider-Man comics I have reviewed on here. I don't have anything against Spidey, but I've never been a big fan either, and haven't had any real interest in the Superior incarnation. However, when Spider-Man 2099, a character I do love, came back for this arc, I couldn't resist it. I read all the Peter David issues of Miguel O'Hara's adventures from the 90s, and I was worried that he wouldn't ring true after all these years, but credit to Dan Slott for getting him exactly right. The story is a classic time travel yarn, with O'Hara going back in time to keep himself from being erased from the timeline by protecting his grandfather, Tiberius Stone, a sleazy scientist who has gotten on the bad side of Spidey, or Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man's body. Having not read a single issue of Superior Spider-Man, or any of Slott's Amazing Spider-Man for that matter, I was worried I would be lost, but Slott does a great job of giving the reader a good feeling of the status quo. The issues are action packed, with plenty of Spider-Man on Spider-Man action, and very cool tie-in to the history of the 2099 universe. This was a great self contained story that does have some payoff to what seem to be long running plotlines and set-ups for the future. And by stories end, there might just be two Spider-Men running around the Marvel Universe. If you remember the 2099 comics with any fondness, this is definitely an arc you'll enjoy.

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