OK, this is about as close to a 1998 Year-In-Review section as you're going to get from me.
I just finished off my database for 1998 and arrived at some interesting numbers. Things changed for me this past year in that I graduated in May and began working full time in June. So you'd think with all that extra money, I'd have bought a ton more comics, right?
I didn't. In fact, I bought about a dozen less this year. (This is a statistical blip and means they're just about dead even. And admittedly, this doesn't taken into account books I bought in bulk at conventions for a quarter or two each.) I did spend a little more this year than last, but only because the average price of a comic for me this past year rose, as well. It's now up over $3.06. (Last year was closer to $2.60.) Sickening, isn't it? It's mostly the fault of Gladstone Comics and their lines of $7 and $10 books, but there are also a lot of $2.95 books out there, and more and more $5 prestige format specials, such as the recent SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY mini-series.
I wrote fewer letters this year than I have in the past couple of years, owing mostly to the pressures of the final semester of school. Along with that goes fewer letters published. I was at around two dozen for the year.
Maybe next week I'll share with you some harder numbers.
But for now let's get back to some reviews, shall we?
BIG BUILD-UP; LITTLE PAY-OFF
That's about the only way I can describe my reaction to both DANGER GIRL #4 and WILDCATS #1. I've praised both before -- and Scott Lobdell as recently as a week or two ago -- but these issues were a bit bland.
DANGER GIRL has nothing happening in it. After the excitement and
thrill-a-minute action of the first three issues, the fourth issue tends to fall flat. It's a lot of preening, a lot of backstory, some attempts at character development, and a quick action scene thrown in for balance. But it all happens so quickly and I care so little about the people involved in the first place that it just falls flat. The "fantasy card game inventor" just seems to me to be a cheap way to insert silly asides and inside jokes into a comic book, as well as an excuse to draw in some stuff sitting on the artist's
The big highlight of the issue that made me stand up and take notice was the printing of Derek Fridolfs' art in the letters pages in the back. That was nice to see. He's a wonderful artist who does cruise the web. He's also a terribly big BONE fan.
WILDCATS may just have had too much to live up to. You're never going to get monthly art on a par with Travis Charest's work on the first installment of the WILDC.A.T.s/X_Men crossover. And you'll never find a better writer than Alan Moore. However, Scott Lobdell is welcome to try, and Charest's art is still very fine stuff.
It appears that the opening few issues of this series will concern itself with putting the team back together again, and getting over the petty bickering and hurt feelings still left from the conclusion of the last series. (I gave up on the series before that happened, so I'm assuming most of this based on the content of this issue.) This issue gets Spartan and Grifter back together again but does so in a generally boring way. Just one big fight scene, some stern words, an apparant return, and that's it. Bring on the next piece of
the puzzle. Well, we'll have to wait a while for that -- this is a series on a bi-monthly pace. UGH
That said, I do find the characters generally to be interesting and the set-up seems to make for some interesting personality conflicts and storylines. It's just that I was hoping for something more right off the bat. This is just too small a story to start the series off with.
KINGDOM #2 introduces us to Hyper-Time at long last, and it takes a thorough reading of post-KINGDOM interviews with its author, Mark Waid, to figure out what's going on with it. Maybe. The concept is so cloudy and nebulous, I still don't exactly know what's going on. And Mike Zeck is a terrific artist, but not for straight super-hero work. His art here is painful to look at.
BIG BUILD-UP; AND EXCELLENT PAY-OFF
Meanwhile, Keith Giffen is back working his magic at DC. Entitled VEXT, his latest book is about a lesser god sent to earth because of some paperwork foul-ups. I can't really do the set-up justice here with some short description. It's well worth a read, though. It's funny, it's interesting, and looks like it could be a lot of fun. It's not just the usual attempts to be funny in a HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY way that many of these comedic comics try to be. There's also an interesting and attractive next-door neighbor/love interest, and terrific artwork from Mike McKone and Mark McKenna, who work well together. Bob Lappan is back as letterer for a Giffen humor title, and Kevin Dooley is still stuck trying to edit Giffen. Good luck, Kevin.
For the BABYLON 5 devotee (such as myself), the annotated script to Neil Gaiman's episode, "Day of the Dead" is also now available at a comics retailer near you. It's not only an enjoyable episode, but an interesting script, particularly as regards the notes Neil makes about lines of dialogue which had to be cut or reworked. JMS himself does an introduction. If you're a wannabe-scriptwriter or a Bab5 or Neil Gaiman fan, I can recommend this one. It's $12.95 but well worth it, if only for the picture on the back cover of Neil with two members of the Gaim race.