What I bought - 2 April 2008

You bought it, didn't you? You knew you shouldn't have, but you did anyway. It made you feel dirty, but you didn't care, did you? And now what? What will fill that empty feeling inside? You could have done so much more with that four dollars. You could have sent it to an embattled CEO who had to sell his stock for $100 million when two weeks ago it was worth twice that. Doesn't he need your help? You could have donated it to Eliot Spitzer, because he's going to need a high-end lawyer. But you just had to be selfish, didn't you? Fine. Be that way. But below the fold you'll find some other, better options for your comics dollars. And they don't make you flagellate yourself to extirpate the guilt from your immortal soul!

The Boy Who Made Silence #1 (of 12) by Joshua Hagler (writer/artist/letterer) and Thomas Mauer (letterer). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Markosia.

This is an extremely interesting book, almost surreal and expressionistic, as Hagler introduces us to Nestor Gudfred, a ten-year-old boy who falls in a river and, when he is rescued, has lost the ability to hear and speak. This first issue is simply an introduction to Nestor, his mother, and his situation. It's an absolutely gorgeous book to look at, reminiscent of Sienkiewicz, Kieth, and Greg Ruth, and Hagler obviously has a fine sense of creating a stark, Midwestern world. It's a bleak and even oddly frightening place, as Nestor realizes that the world in which he now lives is slightly and terrifyingly different than the one in which he used to live. There's something wrong with the world, but he can't fathom what it is. This comes through clearly in the art, especially on one wonderful page where Nestor takes one of his mother's word balloons, which is now empty (as he can't hear her), and draws what he's thinking about. It's one of those amazing moments that can only exist in comics.

Hagler does a decent job with the narration, although his choice to use second person doesn't work perfectly, mostly because second person seems to work best when we can relate to the character, and it's difficult to relate to Nestor's situation. It just seems to bizarre, what has happened to him. But Hagler makes the best of it, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how he could have done it, as first person wouldn't work and third might be too distancing. He's set up a tough narrative, and it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. The final few pages, on which Nestor appears to manifest some strange new ability, is a nice piece of writing, and it gives me confidence that he'll be able to make this work. We'll see.

I've been looking forward to this for a while, and I'm glad it didn't disappoint. It's a comic that takes a while to process (I'm not sure I've done it yet), but it's very rewarding. I'm keen to read subsequent issues.

Casanova #13 by Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $1.99, 20 pgs, BWBG, Image.

And then there's this, which has more plot, more characterization, and more interesting writing and art in 16 pages than a certain other comic has in twice as many. Oh, all right, that's the last time I'll mention it. But damn, this is a good comic. We begin with a scene that is unexpected but makes sense, as Fraction turns the horrific events from last issue inside out, and it's quite clever. Fraction also employs flashbacks to show how Casanova has influenced so many people in our little book, and there are some beautiful moments contained therein. We also get many answers to the conundrums (conundra?) that have plagued us throughout the run, setting up what should be a fantabulous finale. It's uncanny how, in the middle of the craziness, we can get such a nice observation by Kaito about the nature of life. There's just a lot of stuff like this in the comic, not only in this issue but throughout the series. It's just marvelous. I can't wait to read the final issue of this arc.

ClanDestine #3 (of 5) by Alan Davis (writer/penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Alan Davis continues to gleefully revel in his own corner of Marvel History, bringing in Excalibur from the "Cross-Time Caper" and throwing a member of ClanDestine in with them as they end up on yet another strange world. The various threads of the story are coming together, and Davis keeps everything humming along, and the art is, naturally, stunning. But man, Rory and Pandora are stupid. Why are you so stupid, Rory and Pandora? Why?????

Anyway, it's the third of a five-issue series, so it's tough to really discuss this, but it's oodles of fun. Yes, oodles!

Detective Comics #843 by Paul Dini (writer), Dustin Nguyen (penciller), Derek Fridolfs (inker), John Kalisz (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Paul Dini mentioned on his blog that the identity of the new Ventriloquist is revealed in this issue, and he seems to think this is a big deal. Did I forget something about this person? I think I might know who she is, but I'm not sure. Is it really that big a deal?

Dini seems to have found some new energy on this title now that he's been teamed with Nguyen, as the past few issues have been quite good. He returns to the Zatanna/Bruce Wayne relationship that he has created, and that's kind of neat, especially because they do some flirting. He also makes the point that Zatanna is a stage magician, so she takes paying gigs for people with questionable backgrounds (although she donates the money to a charity - come on, Z, skim a little off the top!). The strength of the issue is the relationship between Zatanna and Bruce, but Dini does a nice job with the Penguin, the Ventriloquist, and Johnny Sabatino. This is a nicely done straight-forward superhero story, with a decent cliffhanger. It's always odd reading both main Batman titles, because Dini is building an interesting Bat-universe that is at odds with Morrison's take, and it's a bit off-putting. I try not to think about it, but it's kind of weird.

I'm not sure how long Nguyen will stay on the book, but he and Dini have a nice working relationship, and the book, while not reinventing the wheel, is very entertaining. I do wish we'd get some more, you know, mysteries, but I'm not that worried about it.

Moon Knight #17 by Mike Benson (scripter/plotter), Charlie Huston (plotter), Mark Texeira (artist), Javier Saltares (layouts), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Benson continues to do nice things with this comic, as he really ratchets up the tension in this issue and makes Marc Spector even crazier. The homage covers hearkening back to the first series are interesting, because Benson is mirroring the first storyline featuring Carson Knowles, in that Knowles turns people against Moon Knight while seeming sane himself. The twist here is nice because of the Registration Act, which leads to a suicide and Tony Stark taking a personal interest in why Spector was able to get registered, plus the fact that Moench, in the original series, made Moon Knight a figure of pity a bit, because we knew he was innocent. Now, we still know he's innocent, but he's further over the edge than he ever was back in the day, so we don't like him as much. He's still a compelling character, but he's not nice, and it's been disturbing watching him spiral the drain. Plus, Marlene gets a nice line about the fact that she caught him wearing Bushman's face.

I know I'm pissing into the wind with my support of this book, but it's really good. You can believe me, right?

Zorro #2 by Matt Wagner (writer), Francesco Francavilla (artist), Adriano Lucas (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I was a bit disappointed by the latest issue of Zorro. Francavilla's art is nice, especially the first full-page shot of The Big Z, smiling as he metes out punishment to the jerk-faced soldiers. Taste the whip, jerk-faced soldiers! The issue is entertaining enough, as we get more of Diego's childhood and how he came to be, and a bit more in the present (including the aforementioned shot of The Big Z). But the way Wagner gets from Point A to Point B is a bit disappointing, because it involves what we might expect - tragedy visits the Hacienda de la Vega, and women bear the brunt of it, in two different ways, but both ways aren't terribly interesting. We can figure out what Diego's mother will do, and we can also figure out what Bernardo's mother will do. I guess that there has to be tragedy in the boys' lives (although I don't completely agree with that), but does it have to come in so common-place a fashion? It's told fairly well, but I don't like the situation Wagner puts his characters in. Too bad.

I'm definitely on board for a few more issues, unless it continues to disappoint in this way. I enjoy the swashbuckling, but I'm not sure about the back story yet. We'll see.

That's all I read this week. Oh, sure, I flipped through that thing, but come on - look at all this stuff that is better than it was! Don't spend your hard-earned doubloons on that thing!

Hawkman #7

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