What I bought - 13 June 2007

Is it ...?  Could it be ...?  Why yes, it is!  It is!

The Black Diamond #1 by Larry Young and Jon Proctor.  $2.95, AiT/Planet Lar.

I know this book hasn't been anticipated as much as, say, the last issue of Civil War was, but it's been a while since it was supposed to out (at least a year, I think, if not more), so it's really nice to see it.  The good thing is, of course, that it's a first issue, so it's not like Larry left us hanging in the middle of a story (Superpatriot #4 came out today, and it's been probably two years since the last issue).  Still, it's nice to see it.  Now let's hope the rest of the series comes out in at least a regular fashion!

The question is, of course, Is it worth it?  Well, it's a very nice-looking book.  Proctor has kind of a low-rent Tony Harris vibe going on, and we get a good sense of the characters.  There's virtually no action, so he doesn't get to cut loose all that much, but the Mercury Cougar looks neat.  The colors are nice, too (I'm going to assume Proctor colored it, too, since he and Young are the only ones credited) - they give a laid-back, California feel to the whole thing (the issue takes place in San Francisco) that will presumably contrast with the high-octane world of the Black Diamond.  The art isn't spectacular, but it gets the job done.  We'll see if Proctor does well when the action heats up.

The story is certainly interesting.  The Black Diamond is an eight-lane transcontinental highway built 150 feet above the ground.  It's a lawless world, with its own subculture.  It was built to allow people to drive fast and crazy and leave the rest of the world alone, but now (the story takes place after 2016, when the highway was built) the Army is reclaiming it and doing so with extreme prejudice.  Our hero, Dr. Don McLaughlin, is married to Kate Maddox, the daughter of the original architect, and her brother tells Don that radical elements who don't want to see the highway "reclaimed" have kidnapped Kate in the hopes that the government will cease.  So Don has to drive to Baltimore, where his wife was, while his brother-in-law figures out a plan to get her back.  He hops in his 1973 Cougar and he's off!  The entire issue is set-up, and we leave off with Don hitting the on-ramp to the highway.

Young has an intriguing idea here, and all he has to do is get a mild-mannered dentist onto a crazy highway.  That doesn't work as well, because it seems there would be better ways to get to Baltimore quickly (are there no airplanes in the future?).  Still, it's all just an excuse anyway so there can be high-speed hijinks on a road high in the air.  That's what we're here for, right?  Young does a decent job giving us a quick character sketch of Dr. Don, and I assume his penchant for wanting to reach the end of the story (it's why he doesn't read the newspaper, just checks the box scores in the sports section) will be important later on.  His brother-in-law, R. J., can't drive the highway because he's a cop, and he's another person who is at least intriguing, as he thinks of a way to get his sister while Don drives the Black Diamond.

So yes, it's all set-up, but it's an interesting set-up.  I have a feeling it might have worked better if we had joined Dr. Don mid-drive and maybe given him a flashback, because of the lack of action in this issue, but the premise, for this issue, is enough.  But there better be some high-octane wackiness next time, I tells ya!

Fables #62 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Andrew Pepoy.  $2.99, DC/Vertigo.

I haven't read whether this is the last Fables storyline, but it certainly feels that way, doesn't it?  Ambrose hears Lancelot's story of how he became the Hanged Knight, and then Lancelot prepares him for battle and knights him (in a nice panel that shows Arthur, Aslan, and Prester John in a golden haze behind the two).  Then they jump into the Wishing Well, which is very cool, as I've been waiting a long time to see what happens down there.  Meanwhile, Prince Charming gives an ultimatum to Hansel, which freaks him out.  It's handled very nicely, and it's cool to see Charming doing his political mayoral thing.  As usual, Willingham has done a wonderful job with these characters, allowing them to grow into roles that they seemed unfit for, and Charming is a prime example.

It's a great book.  You know the drill.  Does anyone know if it's ending soon?

Hulk, World War #1 (of 5) by Greg Pak, John Romita, Jr., and Klaus Janson.  $3.99, Marvel.

I'm not entirely sure if this will end well, but it certainly starts off extremely well.  This is just a very cool big fight to the death.  Yes, some things irk me, like Hulk taking out Black Bolt off-panel.  My thought is that Bolt will recover somehow and the finale will be the rematch, with it taking up many panels, but that's just me.  And I'm still trying to figure out why everyone in the Marvel world (the real Marvel world, that is, as in the offices of the company) loves the Sentry so much.  I admit, I know nothing about him, but he's tougher than the Hulk?  Really?  He's tougher than, I don't know, Gladiator?  I guess Spider-Man might not know about Gladiator, but still.  The Sentry is the most powerful dude in the galaxy?  Yeah, that doesn't compute.  Oh well.

I'm not sure why Brian didn't want to spoil the fight between the Jolly Green Giant and Iron Man.  Guess what: I have no such qualms.  Look no further if you don't want to know what happens!!!!!







Hulk kicks his ass.  I mean, come on, how could Iron Man stop him in the first issue?  The fight is glorious, but did ANYONE really think Tony Stark could go toe-to-toe with Hulk?  Please.

This was a big fun trashy comic with lots of explosions and shit.  Romita draws the heck out of it, too, and it's amazing to look at.  Practically worth the price of the book alone, because the story, while fun, is nothing more than a rehash of why the Hulk wants to kill everyone.  And so he does.  How neat.

JLA: Classified #39 by Peter Milligan and Carlos D'Anda.  $2.99, DC.

Milligan isn't really going all out nuts with this story, but he's not stinking up the joint either.  This is a perfectly solid superhero story.  Frank struggles against his programming and fights crime, which pisses off Amazo, who then fights him but can't bring himself to deliver a coup de grace.  Wonder Woman tells Sara what Frank is, and Sara dumps him.  That's kind of awesome, because it's somewhat unexpected.  The Justice League stands around making sure Frank doesn't turn all evil.

There are some clever "Milligan-esque" moments, such as the gang of punks Frank beats up calling themselves the Bin Ladens and Batman smiling as he explains why they shouldn't intervene in the Amazo/Kid Amazo brawl, but basically it's the middle of a story, so there's not much going on that is going to be too shocking.  It's a story with decent art, some interesting ideas, and some good action.  But it's nothing to run out and purchase right now because you must have it!  We'll see what it looks like when it all shakes out.

Noble Causes #30 by Jay Faerber and Yildiray Cinar.  $3.50, Image.

Meanwhile, over in Jay Faerber's universe, things keep on keeping on.  Seriously - Noble Causes is so good that it seems effortless on Faerber and Cinar's part.  The wonky art of the past is just that, a relic from another time, and although Cinar isn't as good as Asrar on Dynamo 5, his people all look like actual people, there are nice clean lines and uncluttered panels, and the two-page spread of Rusty fighting every prisoner in the prison is suitably impressive.  The story does what it does - Rusty gets acquitted and decides that maybe his dad building him a girlfriend isn't that evil a thing, while Liz continues to regain her memory, slowly but surely.  Of course, this means that she will remember what Gaia did, which indirectly led to the deaths of innocent people, so Gaia's not too happy about her regaining her memory.  As usual with such an excellent book, it's tough to really get into things too deeply, because it's just a good comic.  Faerber continues to show why he's one of the best in the business at writing superhero comics.  He has the soap opera down perfectly, and he knows when to put in some good action.  So everything hums along nicely.

This and Invincible continue to show what a good superhero comic is like.  DC and Marvel should take notes.

Star Wars: Legacy #13 by John Ostrander, Jan Duursema, and Colin Wilson.  $2.99, Dark Horse.

Ostrander does single-issue stories within the context of the larger story very well, and in this issue, with excellent guest art by Colin Wilson, we get a Sith lord attempting to assassinate the rogue Emperor.  It's a break from Cade and his quest, but it still fits into the overall story.  We see how the Sith attempt to take over other planets in the first part of the book, which leads to a very nice lightsaber fight, and then Darth Kruhl heads off on his mission to kill Emperor Roan Fel.  Fel is ready for him, however, and we get an even better lightsaber fight.  In the end, the story takes another turn, as the Sith has plenty of contingencies for dealing with the Emperor.

I'm still not completely sold on this title, but it's entertaining, certainly.  Ostrander is very good at creating characters that we care about in a very short time, and occasionally pulling the rug completely out from under us.  We think this issue is going to be about the planet of Munto Codru, but it turns out that's just a way to introduce Darth Kruhl, and not the great warrior Rikkar-Du.  Similarly, just when we think Roan Fel is safe, we learn that there is yet another plot against him.  It's interesting to read an Ostrander comic, because you honestly can't predict where the story is going, yet it doesn't feel forced.

Wilson is a better artist than Duursema, and he gives the space opera a more gritty feel, which I think suits this book better than Duursema's painted look.  His fight scenes are extremely impressive, and the figures look more fluid and moving than when Duursema does the art.  I don't suppose Wilson is staying, but I wouldn't mind at all.

I'm still buying it for a while until I make up my mind about it.  It's not something that I absolutely love, but it's good enough to keep me coming back.  And I'm patient enough with Ostrander to know that giving him a while to explore the story will usually pay dividends.

Well, that's all for this week.  Short and sweet!  I did get some nice trade paperbacks, though, so I have plenty to read.  Shed no tears for me!  (As I know you do when you think I might be without comic goodness for a day or two.)

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