What I bought - 28 April 2010

"It took me some time to figure out that love is in the details. It's in the books and records and the stereo and the convertible. Love is always in the details. And that's where the pain is too." (John Crowley, from Aegypt)

Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #3 (of 3) by Ian Edginton (writer), Stjepan Šejić (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), and Jimmy Betancourt (letterer). $4.99, 44 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

This has been a pretty good comic, which isn't surprising as Edginton is a good writer. He throws in a bunch of nice twists, as Aladdin learns more about his past and the reasons he's so very special, and we get a lot more about the genies and how they came to be trapped in their prisons. It's just an old-fashioned adventure with floating palaces and alternate dimensional prisons and betrayals and sword fights. I'm not entirely sure why Soraya gets a free pass for her role in Qassim's plot, but in many comics with an underdeveloped female character, she gets dispatched in an ugly manner, but Edginton lets her have a happy ending, so there's that. For the most part, it's a fun ride.

I'm not the biggest fan of Šejić's art, but he fits this book much better than Patrick Reilly, who started the series. Šejić has a nice baroque style that works well with the mythic quality of the book. His women all look exactly alike, which is annoying, but Edginton's script demands an ornate complexity, and it works well for this series.

This is an enjoyable comic, and I'd like to thank Radical for sending it to me. Their best book remains Hotwire, but this might be their second-best one!

One panel of awesome:

Atomic Robo ("Flight of the Terror Birds")/Neozoic ("Feeding Time")/Box 13 preview Free Comic Book Day comic. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist/story), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). Neozoic by Paul Ens (writer), Jay Korim (artist), Jessie Lam (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). Box 13 by David Gallaher (writer), Steve Ellis (artist), Scott O. Brown (letterer), and Mike Paar (colorist). FREE, 25 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

So my comics shoppe let me take some of the books that will be offered on Saturday (it's Free Comic Book Day, don't you know), and I'm always keen to get the Atomic Robo issues. Clevinger and Wegener always have nifty short stories that show only how awesome Robo is, and this one is no exception. Robo and two team members go looking for, and I quote, "giant extinct rainforest chickens." Which, of course, are not extinct at all. Hilarity ensues. If you foolishly have been avoiding Atomic Robo, go pick up this free one on Saturday. In 10 pages, you can find out why it's such a brilliant book. The Neozoic story doesn't grab my interest very much, as it doesn't seem to rise much above its "dinosaurs never dying out and existing alongside humans" schtick, but Korim's art is quite nice - it looks a bit like a more restrained Humberto Ramos, which is actually a good thing. The brief prologue for Box 13 looks intriguing - it's a story about an author who investigates genetic experimentation and gets in a bit too deep. It's something I'll have to take a look at when it comes out.

Anyway, this is, not to put to fine a point on it, FREE! Give it a look, people!

One panel of awesome:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #16 ("Egg Hunt! or, The Evil of Egg-Head!") by Landry Q. Walker (writer), Eric Jones (artist), Heroic Age (colorist), and Rob Clark, Jr. (letterer). $2.50, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

You know, if you're going to buy an issue that's called The Brave and the Bold and features Wonder Woman this month, you really should make it this one, as this one isn't, you know, a clusterfuck. In fact, it's pretty damned excellent.

First of all, Batman has to fight the Teen Titans, who have been hypnotized by Nocturne. Then he checks out an emergency signal from Wonder Woman but he won't let the Titans answer because it's - get this - past their curfew. Yes, Batman actually says that. Wonder Woman tells him that the Amazons allowed Egg Head to use their technology in his experiments, but he hacked their database and escaped. Batman tells Wonder Woman, "What have I told you about trusting dangerous and obsessive criminal geniuses?" Wonder Woman responds, "To be fair, you tend to warn everybody about everything." Bwah-ha-ha! They think they've found out where Egg Head is going, but it turns out they are actually being used by Egg Head. But why? Well, it involves Egg Fu. Because this issue is AWESOME!

It's really wonderful how these books show us these heroes acting very much like their "real" counterparts do, but without all the, you know, shitty angst. Batman is smart and tough but realizes that he doesn't have Wonder Woman's raw power, so he knows when to step back and let her do her thing. Wonder Woman knows that Batman will be able to figure out what Egg Head is up to. And Batman actually acts like a human being, which is nice. Telling Donna Troy that she's on curfew is funny but it's also in line with Batman's hard core attitude. Batman is always serious, but we still wonder if he's deadpanning. It's very well done.

This is really a fun comic. Look for it at fine comics-selling establishments everywhere!

One panel of awesome:

Fantastic Four #578 ("Prime Elements 4: The Cult of the Negative Zone") by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dale Eaglesham (artist), Paul Mounts (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I was waiting until the end of this arc to make up my mind about Hickman's Fantastic Four, and now I have: I'm done. I understand that Hickman has a very long-term story in mind, but the individual chapters just aren't that interesting. This entire story arc, which is about four lost cities becoming part of the world's mainstream, is fine, but after the first two chapters were a bit interesting, the next two, including this one, were practically inventory-building, just getting the cities there but not doing anything at all with them. This issue, which is the "climax" of this "arc," is the most egregious example, as Johnny enters the Negative Zone ... you know what? I don't care. There are a lot of plot points that will probably play out in later issues, but they're presented in such a scattershot way - the Negative Zone, Val's interest due to Franklin's visit from the future, the deal with the underwater city, Reed taking Johnny to task for charging headlong into the Negative Zone, the squad of strange creatures who go into the Negative Zone - that they leave no impression, even if some of the ideas have potential. Maybe, when Hickman is done his epic 200-issue run, these individual chapters won't seem so boring, but reading them month-to-month, they are. Even worse, Hickman really doesn't seem to write these characters very well. For a book where not much happens issue to issue, this is a plot-heavy comic, and the characters seem to have no discernible personalities other than what Hickman has taken from previous writers. He's just stapled on character tics of what we think of as "Reed" or "Johnny" or "Sue" or "Ben," but he hasn't done anything interesting with them.

This isn't a terrible comic by any means, but it's not worth the three dollars every month. Especially if Eaglesham is leaving, as he's fantastic. But if he's not coming back, there's even less of a reason to read this.

One panel of awesome:

Garrison #1 (of 6) by Jeff Mariotte (writer), Francesco Francavilla (artist), Jeremy Shepherd (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

I got this mostly because of Francavilla's art, which I enjoy quite a bit. Plus, Mariotte's story sounds intriguing, and I've enjoyed some of his stuff in the past. I thought I might wait for the trade, as I ought to do with these DC and Marvel mini-series, especially these Wildstorm ones, but I couldn't resist! I'm weeeeeaaaaaakkkkkkkk!

It's a pretty good first issue, as two government agents, one from the Homeland Intelligence Agency and the other from the National Bureau of Surveillance, talk about and watch video footage of a mysterious dude who's been killing a bunch of people. The female agent, Jillian (she works for the NBS) drops a key piece of evidence about this stranger - the other agency, represented here by a guy named Bob, wanted in on the investigation. Hmmmm. They head out to dinner, and then their target attacks them, killing Bob, whom he claims was going to kill Jillian. He tells her that she can call him Garrison, and then he disappears - before back-up can arrive. He's not wearing gloves, but they can't get any prints from the scene. He remains a mystery! Then, at the end of the book, he attacks a businessman who knocks over a one-legged war veteran, but Garrison doesn't kill the jerk. It's very puzzling.

This is obviously taking place in the near future, as the government has wiped out almost all crime thanks to the blanket surveillance in place, and Jillian is confused by how Garrison can commit such horrible crimes and leave no clues behind. The mystery is set up well, and Garrison is the kind of character Mariotte does well - the tough-guy cowboy. It's hard to judge how the series will play out based on one issue, but it's a good start. Francavilla's art, interestingly, doesn't look quite as good as it did on Zorro, but it's still a fine reason to buy the book. He tends to stick to espionage/spy stories or pulpy ones, and it seems like he's a bit more comfortable with the pulp. He has some trouble with faces, as they're far too expressionless, so maybe drawing Zorro, with his mask and pseudo-sepia tones, made him happier. But it's still nice to see him getting a bit higher-profile work.

I'd probably tell you to wait for the trade, because DC and Marvel do trades for everything, but if you're interested in single issues, this is a nice change of pace. And that's a keen cover, ain't it?

One panel of awesome:

Golly! #5 ("The Coven of Candy Creek Court Part Two") by Phil Hester (writer), Brook Turner (artist), Bruce McCorkindale (finisher/colorist), and Aaron Gillespie (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Back in January, I gave Golly! my coveted "Fell Award" for being the book that had an issue appear in 2009 but had also disappeared the longest since then. Phil Hester mentioned that Turner was almost done the next issue, and now it appears! (That's kind of a theme this week, as two other perenially late comics showed up this week.) Unfortunately, it's the last issue for a while, as Hester explains in the back of the book - Turner has a day job, and it's just not feasible to continue in this format. I don't know how many people read Hester's work, but I've said it before and I'll say it again - I have a lot of respect for him, not just because he's a good writer, but because he tries a lot of different things and refuses to give up and go work on a superhero book, which he could. He'll draw those every once in a while, but he's committed to writing weird and usually very good comics, ones that often disappear because they're just not financially viable. His creepy detective comic, The Atheist, steadfastly refuses to come out, The Anchor seems to be on the verge of cancellation, and this is vanishing for a while. You can argue about the quality of the comics all you want, but the great thing about these books is that they're very different from what you usually get in comics, and Hester wants to keep expanding the stories that comics can tell. Golly! isn't the greatest book, but it's often laugh-out-loud funny and Hester is even trying to bring in some BIG IDEAS in the midst of the wacky circus performers and the gross-out humor and the vampires and the talking beer can. In this issue, for instance, Golly finds out some interesting things about heaven and who's in it. Then he fights a vampire. Then the talking beer can calls them all "taint scratchers." You know, just another normal day on the road!

Hester promises a collection of these five issues, and it's worth checking out. It's not his best work (that would be Deep Sleeper), but it is something that, surprisingly, will make you think, and it's occasionally awfully fun. Just consider the one panel of awesome!

One panel of awesome:

The Great Unknown #3 (of 5) by Duncan Rouleau (writer/artist) and Francis Takenaga (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Issue #2 of The Great Unknown came out about a year ago, so I suppose it's somewhat pointless to discuss it. If you read Rouleau's Metal Men, you know what you're going to get: Very cool, exaggerated art (some of the characters' heads in this book are almost flat), somewhat highly stylized dialogue, and a sneaky sense of humor. All the inventors who have had their inventions stolen are going to go Ayn Rand on the thieves and go on strike so that their ideas won't get stolen anymore. That's pretty much all there is to say, summary-wise. Our hero, Feld, is still pining for his girl, whose book he reads periodically, and his alles are even geekier than he is, and the reality television people are still hanging around his parents' house, so Rouleau has some things cooking, but it's difficult to get a handle on it after such a layoff. Issue #4 is promised for May, but I'll believe it when I see it. I really enjoyed Metal Men when I read it one sitting (because it was, frankly, all over the place), and I imagine this will be the same way. So let's move on, shall we?

One panel of awesome:

The Last Days of American Crime #2 (of 3) by Rick Remender (writer), Greg Tocchini (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $4.99, 48 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

As you recall about this series, Graham Bricke has a perfect crime planned, in which he will steal a new cash card before the American government switches over to them, somehow providing him with all the income he could ever need. But he has to do it quickly, because in seven days, the government is going to broadcast a signal that will somehow tamper with everyone's minds so that no one will ever be able to commit a crime again. Okay, it sounds just a tad farfetched, but as you know, in crime caper books, the crime isn't as important as the execution of the crime, and Graham is having some problems. In this issue, the Mexican gangs are out for revenge on him because he killed the dude he had recruited to help him when that guy started blabbing. Of course, the dude was in with the gangs, who aren't happy. Meanwhile, he banged a girl in a bathroom, and she turned out to be one of his new partners ... plus she's an item with the other new partner. That one, a guy named Kevin, takes a detour in this issue to visit his father, where things get extremely messy. In fact, this whole issue is extremely messy, as some drug dealers try to kill Kevin and he, well, fucks them up badly; the Mexicans find Graham and decide to set him on fire (he escapes); the Mexicans take Shelby because she knows the codes to make Graham's crime work, and Graham chases them down and shoots a lot of them; the Mexicans are about to rape Shelby when Graham, who had crashed his car, shows up again. There's a lot of, in other words, blood. Remender continues to do the smart thing with this comic - he gives us a bare-bones plot and then lets Tocchini draw the shit out of it. This is an absolutely stunning-looking comic book, and the violence is truly balletic, which is difficult to pull off. Remender's messy script is made messier in Tocchini's hands, but his storytelling skills are such that we never lose track of what's going on or who's fucking whom over. This is a visceral thrill ride, and I'm sure the final issue will be as much fun to look at as well.

I'm a bit curious about the she-male, though. Wouldn't you figure it out at some point during the tryst? I mean, I'm not that experienced with the whole thing, but it seems to me that at some point, it would get suspicious that the "girl" never takes her pants off. That's just me, though.

One panel of awesome:

Mouse Guard ("Spring 1153")/Fraggle Rock ("Boober the Doozer" and "The Birthday Present") Free Comic Book Day comic. Mouse Guard by David Petersen (writer/artist). "Boober the Doozer" by Nichol Ashworth (writer) and Jake Myler (artist), "The Birthday Present" by Sam Humphries (writer), and Jeremy Love (artist). FREE, 23 pgs, FC, Archaia.

The second FCBD comic is Mouse Guard, which, if you've never read it before, is a wonderful comic about bad-ass mice. Petersen has been doing these comics for a few years, and each mini-series (there have been two so far, with another planned for the fall) has been a fantastic reading experience. It's one of the few comics that Joe Rice and I agree on, so you know it's good! Petersen's gorgeous, naturalistic art is a wonder to behold, as he blends the fantasy aspects of the book (the "medieval" settings of the mouse cities and such) with the normal, natural world beautifully. This story is an 11-page tale that takes place after the previous mini-series, so some of the names might not mean anything to you if you haven't read it yet. But that's not important, because Petersen does a great job introducing the realm to us, as the mice work throughout the country, gathering stuff for ... well, something (which we see on the last page). It's a neat way to show new readers what's going on in the series and it allows Petersen to show off, artistically. The next mini-series is not a sequel to the previous one (it takes place prior to the first mini-series), but that just means it's easier to get into! So pick this up on Saturday, because it's cool. I don't have much to say about the Fraggle Rock stories - they're cute, I guess, but far more kid-friendly than even the Johnny DC book up above, so I'm just not that interested.

One panel of awesome:

Northlanders #27 ("The Plague Widow Part 7 of 8: Splinter and Bleed") by Brian Wood (writer), Leandro Fernandez (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Wood almost always confounds expectations with his writing, which is why he's so good - he doesn't pull plot twists out of his ass, but when he changes the game on you, it feels perfectly organic. Such is the case with the seventh of eight chapters of "The Plague Widow" - in this issue, we get the final showdown between Boris and Gunborg (and no, I'm not telling who wins), which the entire arc has, it seems, been building to. But wait! there's still an issue left! Despite the fact that the actual arc is called "The Plague Widow," we've kind of discounted Hilda's story, but that's always been the focus, with the struggle between Gunborg and Boris simply part of her life, and now that it's been resolved, it's still her story. Wood does this kind of thing well, where the reader can get caught up in one thing and forget there's something else going on as well (well, this reader can). The fight between the two men might be over, but Hilda isn't as concerned about that as she is about making sure her daughter is safe. She saves Karin in this issue (thanks to a convenient flagon of mead), but she still has more to do. We shall see what she does in the final issue of the arc. I know I can't wait!

One panel of awesome:

Scalped #37 ("A Fine Action of an Honorable and Catholic Spaniard: Conclusion") by Jason Aaron (writer), Davide Furnò (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Well, I spoiled last issue, but if you didn't read that, fret not - I won't spoil it again!

Last issue, we saw the spotlight on Shunka, who has a secret. Someone he knows was killed, and he thinks there's something fishy about it. Well, it turns out there is something fishy, but it's something really big, like one of those whale sharks. Man, those things are big. Aaron, as usual, turns the screws on both his characters and on us, and it's really fun to read. As Shunka slowly unravels the big mystery, he realizes that he's, you know, fucked. Literally and figuratively.

There's just not a lot I can write about this issue because I don't want to give too much away. Aaron takes what we believe about certain people and just turns them on our ears. Why wouldn't that guy do that kind of thing? Just because he's that way? So what? Why wouldn't Shunka continue to keep his secret? There's no reason he shouldn't. This entire series about secrets, so why can't Shunka have some? The cool thing about this is that it's out there for the readers, so who knows how readers will view Shunka the next time they see him? It's a very neat thing that Aaron has done with this story, and it's going to make things very interesting as we move forward.

One panel of awesome:

Secret Warriors #15 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hickman's work on Secret Warriors has been oddly inconsistent, but it's still better than what he's doing on Fantastic Four, and I'm not entirely sure why. He's done some of the same stuff - building a long-term story and occasionally sacrificing the drama of individual issues for that, but it seems to work better here. I think it's because the villains in this series are more compelling than the bad guys so far in FF, which have really been absent. The machinations of Hydra and their allies and enemies are part of the fun of this series, and the fact that Nick's group is very, very raw makes it interesting, as well, even though I'm still having trouble with the characters. The final page, for instance, much like the one a few issues ago (when the dude got fired), doesn't have as much impact because we just don't feel enough for the young guns yet. But that's okay - we get a cool scene in which Nick and the Countessa turn over their cards, and we also get a brief history of Viper, who gets a bit of a makeover in this issue - sure, a creepy one, but a makeover nevertheless! Hickman's long-term plan seems to work better in this series, which is why I've stuck with it. And Caselli's art seems much better this issue. Weird. I was digging it before, but it seems much better this time. I don't know - I'll have to look at the previous few issues. And his revamped Viper is freaky-deaky, man!

One panel of awesome:

Shuddertown #2 (of 4) by Nick Spencer (writer), Adam Geen (artist/colorist), and Thomas Mauer (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

Shuddertown is another book that seems like it would work better in a trade. I've enjoyed the first two issues, but after an intriguing first issue, Spencer treads water just a bit in this issue - Isaac Hernandez is rescued by a priest who says some weird, cryptic things and explains why the neighborhood is called "Shuddertown," and then Hernandez tries to get in touch with his ex-wife, and then he ends up a strip club, and then he ends up sleeping with the stripper (and doing some coke with her as well), and then he beats up the stripper's ex-husband, and then he gives her a gun. An unloaded gun, according to him, but Hernandez narrates that it was probably not a good idea. There's a lot of stuff going on that I'm sure will pay off in the next two issues, but it feels like Spencer could have plotted this better so that it didn't feel quite so drawn out. But Spencer does a good job with Hernandez's narration, as the cop knows that he's spinning out of control but he can't seem to stop, especially with regard to the stripper. This is still a creepy book, and the actual writing is quite good, but it still feels like the plot came screeching to a halt. Geen's nice photo-referenced art could go horribly wrong, but it doesn't. The two-page spread of Hernandez in the strip club is weirdly hallucinogenic, and their tryst is laid out well, with nothing too explicit but some nice images to let us know what's going on. I still have a few problems with the contrast between the foregrounds and the backgrounds (if you're going to use photographs, they need to be integrated a bit better), but for the most part, Geen does a good job making this a more lurid comic than you might expect. It's supposed to be gritty, and it is, but it's also more disturbing than usual.

I think this will be better as a whole, but that's okay - I'm perfectly happy getting it in boring old single issues! Be old-school with me!

One panel of awesome:

Siege: Secret Warriors #1 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Alessandro Vitti (artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I wasn't sure if these "Siege" one-shots would be like those "List" one-shots - you know, tied into the regular series instead of the mini-series, but as it turns out, they really are one-shots - they certainly illuminate certain things that have been going on in Siege, but they're not necessary to the story. From what I've seen, they're actually better than Siege, which seems like a fairly standard punch-'em-out, while these one-shots get into some of the back story. For instance, what happens to the son of the god of war when you rip the god of war in half? Well, Phobos gets a bit peeved ... with a poorly-dressed President Obama (seriously, what's up with that blue suit and red tie?) and proceeds to slaughter every Secret Service agent trying to get to the president. He doesn't, but he does leave him a nice note. And Fury tells Norman that, well, his reign of terror is over. And gets drunk. What the hell? Seriously, he stops in the middle of the battle to take a swig from his flask and, in one panel, Vitti draws him as if he's faced. What the hell? I mean, good job, Nick, for realizing how stupid a bunch of superhumans beating on each other really is and taking the time to have some whiskey. Or milk. Whatever's in that flask.

But mostly this is an issue that shows Phobos killing a bunch of heavily armed men. With a sword. So yeah, don't tear the god of war apart like he's cotton candy. Because that might piss off an 11-year-old. And you don't want to piss off an 11-year-old!!!!

One panel of awesome:

The Sixth Gun #1 by Cullen Bunn (writer) and Brian Hurtt (artist/letterer). FREE, 24 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

As far as Free Comic Books go, you really can't go wrong with The Sixth Gun. This is a complete first issue of a new mini-series (the first issue, which cost money, is in this month's Previews), and you can check it out for absolutely NO MONEY. Get in line, people!

But is it any good? Well, it's free, and you paid a dollar for an absolutely shitpot comic like Countdown to Infinite Shitholes, so you really have no excuse not to read this. But yes, it's good. Bunn and Hurtt were the creative team on The Damned, which was quite a good few series, and this one has a ton of potential. Plus, it's in color, which really makes Hurtt's pencil work pop off the page, especially when the bad guys attack a monastery and the monks fight back with lots of guns. Good stuff!

The Sixth Gun is a Western about, well, a gun. It appears to be some kind of haunted gun that used to belong to General Oliander Bedford Hume, who was killed in some battle. But the gun disappeared, and Hume's widow wants it back, so she hires the Pinkerton Agency to find it. Meanwhile, a treasure hunter named Drake Sinclair is also after the gun, which happens to be in the possession of some old preacher, whose daughter knows nothing of the gun. So of course the Pinkertons show up at the preacher's farm, and the preacher gets shot, and his daughter Becky takes possession of the gun, which means it's now bound to her. The Pinkertons take her back to the widow, with Drake Sinclair on their heels. Then some evil dudes attack a monastery that is guarding something strange, and a gunfight ensues. It's all very exciting!

Bunn packs a lot into this issue, and Hurtt does a wonderful job with all the weirdness. We get the tree with all the hanged ghosts on it, two keen gunfights (one with plague bullets!), and a nice reveal of a twisted villain at the end. Hurtt, presumably, colored the issue himself, and it's very nicely done. The visions people see when they touch the gun are colored with murky red, making them even more surreal, and when Sinclair comes across a wounded Pinkerton, the setting sun stains everything bloody. It's a great-looking book, which isn't surprising when it comes to Hurtt's pencils, but it's also colored very well.

You certainly don't want to pay money for this, do you? I mean, Oni is giving it away! Seek it out! Don't get that War of the Supermen shit! I mean, really, who cares? Get something that's actually, you know, good!

One panel of awesome:

Stumptown #3 ("The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini Part Three") by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 31 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

So Stumptown returns after a hiatus, but that's okay, because tiny comics like this get a lot of leeway with me, and Southworth justifies/explains it in a pretty interesting backmatter text piece, which I appreciate. Meanwhile, Rucka's nifty little mystery continues. As the third part of the arc, there's not much that's to say about it, because we've already had the mystery introduced, and now Rucka is just putting Dex through the paces of solving it. Last issue, she had found the girl she was hired to find, but she lets her get away in this issue. Of course, the two bad guys who shot her are still around. And then there's the daughter of the crime boss, who's hiding Charlotte and knows more than she's letting on. Finally, there's the thug who finds Charlotte at the end and takes her away. Isn't that always the way?

It's tough to really describe this issue and this series, because it's Rucka doing what Rucka does well, unraveling a crime slowly and throwing all sorts of roadblocks in his star's way. Neither Rucka nor Southworth is terribly flashy on this book, but that's not a bad thing - they're simply telling a solid story, and as we go along, we learn slightly more about Dex, making her more interesting with each chapter. Sorry, it's just a hard title to describe beyond the summary, because it just does its thing. But its thing is good, so it's a good book. You wanna make something of it?

One panel of awesome:

Unknown Soldier #19 ("A Battle of Little Note Chapter One") by Joshua Dysart (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Oscar Celestini (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Dysart hasn't been necessarily writing these stories in separate arcs, but they have had fairly discernible endings. But the last arc didn't really end, just bled right into this new arc, which is fine with me, but I wonder how they'll break up the trade? (Considering DC's weak and slow trade policy, this won't be a concern for another 18 months or so, but still.) Last time out, Moses got involved in a guns-for-medicine deal, but there are several odd things about the deal. Cattle rustlers are involved. The guns are worth far more than the medicine. Why are the bad guy from the last arc and his United Nations toady selling the guns for the medicine? It's all very weird. And, of course, we know that Moses has no intention of letting the medicine get out, and he's also very interested in blowing shit up. Which he does. With extreme prejudice.

As this is just the beginning of the arc, we'll get some answers as we go along, for sure. But this is a cool way to start the arc, Moses going apeshit and all, and the cattle rustlers not liking the turn of the events. Also of interest is the narration of the issue, which takes the form of a report by someone unknown to someone unknown. Dysart has done this before (I seem to recall, although I can't quote the exact issue), and it's kind of neat, because it reminds us that Moses is an experiment, after all. Dysart has a grand scheme in mind, and although the individual issues are very cool, something very weird is going on with Moses, and it rears its head in this issue, as Moses is confronted with his nemesis - the kid with the cleaver - and has to decide how to handle him. The voice in his head wants him to kill everyone, of course, but Moses isn't that far gone yet. Dysart is doing a good job with the big overall scheme, making sure it doesn't get in the way of the smaller story arcs but reminding us about it every once in a while.

Ponticelli continues to do a fine job with the art, finding a nice balance between the sharper lines of the early issues with the more washed-out look he was working with on the last arc. He cuts loose quite a bit in this issue, as Dysart gives him big explosions and gun fights and trucks crashing into planes. Good stuff all around!

Plus, Dysart gives us some background on witch hunts in Africa. Unknown Soldier educates you and entertains you! And it makes you liverwurst sandwiches! What can't it do, you say? What, indeed!

One panel of awesome:

Wasteland #28 ("Rebel Without a Pause") by Antony Johnston (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.50, 24 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

The third of our three really late books this week is Wasteland, and Johnston mentions on his blog that they're getting back on track, which makes me very happy. Wasteland is such a great comic, and the latest story arc, as slowly as it's unfolding, is turning into a really good one. Johnston is focusing on one character each issue over the course of six months, and it's fascinating as he gives us the political machinations of the various factions of Newbegin through the eyes of the principal players. It's forming a very nice tapestry, as each story adds a new layer of meaning to what's going on. In this issue, Skot starts plotting with the rebels to bring down Marcus, which we've seen from different perspectives for the past few issues. It's the usual good stuff from Johnston, and Mitten, as always, brings it to glorious and gritty life. There are always a bunch of characters in an issue of Wasteland, but Mitten does a great job making sure we can distinguish between them. Plus, he always makes sure the settings feel real, and Newbegin is a well constructed city in Mitten's hands. It's always a pleasure looking at an issue of Wasteland, which makes the reading experience even better.

I do hope Wasteland comes out more regularly. I don't want people to forget about it, because it's so good! Johnston is writing some Marvel stuff these days, so maybe some people who read that will go find this. Probably not, because there's no justice in the world, but maybe!

One panel of awesome:

City of Spies by Susan Kim (writer), Laurence Klavan (writer), Pascal Dizin (artist), and Hilary Sycamore (colorist). $16.99, 172 pgs, FC, First Second Books.

It's been a while since First Second had a book I thought I'd like. And this week, there are two of them!

Random Acts of Violence by Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Justin Gray (writer), Giancarlo Caracuzzo (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $6.99, 69 pgs, FC, Image.

I actually didn't order this, but my comic shop got a copy and they asked if I'd like it. I liked the last collaboration between Palmiotti, Gray, and Caracuzzo (The Last Resort), so I picked it up. Looks pretty good and violent, but we'll see.

Resistance Book 1 by Carla Jablonski (writer), Leland Purvis (artist), and Hilary Sycamore (colorist). $16.99, 123 pgs, FC, First Second Books.

Kids fight Nazis. I mean, when kids can fight Nazis, how seriously can we take them, really? And did you see that the producers of Downfall got all those Hitler parody videos off YouTube? I would say that the producers of Downfall should be LOVING those Hitler parodies, because how many people had even heard of Downfall before they showed up? Not as many as know about it now, I'd bet. Don't they know anything about free publicity? Sheesh.

Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers by Matt Kindt. $12.95, 96 pgs, FC, Top Shelf.

This looks as if you really need to read Super Spy to appreciate it. Of course, Super Spy is goddamned brilliant, so you should read it anyway!

The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot. $19.99, 128 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I'm going to want to kill myself after reading this, aren't I? I just fear it's that depressing. Tell me I'm wrong, people!

I know you're always keen to see photographs of my daughter, and she's been doing her cute thing recently. She has magnetic blocks that she like to put together into a pimp cane. I swear I didn't tell her to make this:

And she's recently become obsessed with Iron Man. There's nothing wrong with that - it's just good old American advertising in action! So she built an Iron Man with Legos:

The problem is that she claims this is a spaceship in which Iron Man flies because he wants to be a robot, or something like that. I think if Tony Stark's entire motive for building the suit is because he wants to be a robot, the series would have a lot more potential! Make it so, Matt Fraction!

Let's get ready for The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle But Which Often Gets Reset, A Vexing Dilemma):

1. "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" - Mother Love Bone (1989) "I used to treat you like a lady, now you're a substitute teacher"12. "Dance Hall Days" - Wang Chung (1984) "Take your baby by the ears and play upon her darkest fears"3. "Solo" - Fish (1993) "But I can't communicate with you and I guess I never will"24. "Looking Through Patient Eyes" - P. M. Dawn (1993) "So deceiving is the open heart, so superficial is the open wound"5. "She's Crafty" - Beastie Boys (1986) "I found myself naked in the middle of the floor"6. "Cool the Engines" - Boston (1986) "We don't have to run that hard to get where we can go"7. "Waiting for the Punchline" - Extreme (1995) "Must have been a bad joke that went over my head"8. "Given to Fly" - Pearl Jam (1998) "And he still gives his love, he just gives it away"9. "Drip Drip Drip" - Chumbawamba (1997) "Sing us a song and I'll send you the bill"10. "Roulette" - Bon Jovi (1984) "You're just a number, it's all the same"

1 I love Mother Love Bone. I think their only album, Apple, is a masterpiece. I like a great deal of Pearl Jam's music, but I hate that Mother Love Bone had to die in order for Pearl Jam to exist. Confound it!2 This is a cover of an old Sandy Denny song. Denny is, according to Wikipedia, the only guest vocalist ever on a Led Zeppelin album, as she sang on "The Battle of Evermore."

Hey, dig some totally random lyrics!

"Just like a car crashJust like a knifeMy favorite weaponIs the look in your eyesYou've run out of lies!"

Sorry that this post was so delayed. As you can see, I had a bunch o' books to read, and we had some family issues to deal with, so I was a bit distracted. Remember: Free comics tomorrow! Can you resist?

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