Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Comic Haul - 03/18/09

And here we are with another installment of the getting more regular, The Comic Haul, where I, your intrepid blogging host, review some of the weeks comics for your perusal:

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JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #253 was a pretty enjoyable read and a decent first effort by new writer, Peter Milligan. I've been a fan of Milligan's since his days back on Shade the Changing Man and was happy to hear that he would be replacing Andy Diggle as regular series writer. Diggle brought me back into the fold and with his departure I questioned whether or not I would continue on with the book. Milligan was the perfect name to keep me around for the long haul. I will say that the story of intelligent, and somewhat malicious, biological material (in this case a scab) rings kind of familiar (see latter issues of the aforementioned Shade) but Milligan manages to spin it well, and the addition of John's new girl, Phoebe, gives the whole story a nice little twist. I'm not entirely sold on the artwork of Giuseppe Camuncoli, but given some time I think he'll settle in just fine. Oh yeah, there's also a fine cover by regular cover artist, Lee Bermejo.

GROOM LAKE #1 is a book I knew nothing about until I read last week's Angel: Blood & Trenches. There was an ad in back that showed the cover image and listed the creative team, and my curiosity was piqued. As an X-Files fan from way back, how could I not think of that great episode, 'José Chung's From Outer Space" with the smoking alien and the "this is not happening" mantra? Unfortunately, Groom Lake doesn't really live up to that level of fun and sophistication. To be honest, it's not even fun and stupid. Chris Ryall riffs on Men in Black, X-Files, and every other space-horror-comedy that has come down the pike in the last 10 or 15 years to cobble this one together. Heck, even Ben Templesmith can't save this one. Skip it if it's an option.

THE X-FILES #5 has yet another creative team taking the reins where Frank Spotnitz and Marv Wolfman left off. This time around Scully and Mulder must deal with mysterious underground "demons" in a story that is a bit of a stretch, tonally, for The X-Files. There appears to be a serial killer on the loose who claims to be driven by 'demons' who live in an underworld that is analogous to hell. The police don't have enough information out of the suspect and they ask for a "Spooky perspective", inviting Fox and Dana to check on their guy. They get embroiled in something greater than anyone expected and judging by the cliffhanger ending, there be demons afoot. Either that, or Daphne, Fred and Velma are going to pop out soon and pull the masks off the ghoulies and reveal how the crime was done. In all fairness, Doug Moench does a decent job with the material, it just doesn't feel quite X-Filesey enough. It takes a special hand to get it right. So far, Stefan Petrucha and John Rozum, with an honourable mention for Marv Wolfman last issue, are the closest the comic world has come to finding writers that can do this material and make it feel like the television show. Next issue's the last so we'll see if the series goes out on a whimper or a bang.

SUPERGIRL #39 continues the "Who is Superwoman?" storyline that has been running post New Krypton, and remains one of my top of the pile reads every month. I never expected to be picking up a Supergirl book. I collected it briefly when Peter David was the writer back in the day, but this new Loeb-introduced Supergirl was never my thing and I avoided her like the plague. Enter Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle who do such a wonderful job of creating a character and a world that feels very real to me month after month. Watching Kara deal with her mother's disapproval, the continuing feelings of loss for her father, the trouble she's having being torn between two worlds (New Krypton, where her biological family is, and Earth, her adopted homeworld) and the mystery of this Superwoman character that is causing all sorts of trouble for her are totally engaging to me. This is the level of drama I like to see in a continuing monthly super-hero series. It's just a combination of good writing and great artwork. Grab a copy if you have a chance.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #588 was a book I planned to buy but didn't. Marvel raised the price on the book to $3.99 so I had to opt out of the last issue in the "Character Assassination" stoy. For what it's worth, JR, Jr.'s art looks sharp as ever but I'm just not buying any books that were essentially an impulse purchase that have gone up in price. I can put those dollars towards continuing to buy the 'must-have' stuff.

MYSTERIUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #3 continues to build on the larger story that writer Jeff Parker introduced with the seance in issue 1. Sub-plots continue to develop and become intertwined with the main story wherein Mysterius discovers that a series of rhyming Seussian children's books are actually designed as spell for people to unintentionally code-chant in order to unleash Hell on Earth. Fun stuff. You can practically feel the surprise and irritation Mysterius must be experiencing as he deals with elements beyond his control thanks to Parker's great dialogue and the beautifully comic artwork of Tom Fowler. Every time I see him trying to 'help' a person deal with the supernatural, I imagine it must be not entirely dissimilar to explaining e-mail attachments to my mother. It usually ends with my hand on my forehead and an accompanying slapping sound. So, if you haven't picked up on it yet, this is great stuff. Mysterius is one of those 'give me something new and different' books you always hear people asking for, so give it a try if you haven't already.

And that was the Comic Haul for this week. Comments are always welcome so feel free to throw in your two cents worth.

Until next week, take care.


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