What I bought - 28 December 2006

The last comics of the year!  I'm going to try to keep these short because they came out a day late.  Some very good comics came out today.  Like Onslaught: Reborn!  Oh, I'm kidding.  Seriously, I couldn't even look at that comic long enough to make fun of it.  It was painful to peruse for even a few seconds.

But let's get to stuff that is actually, you know, decent!

Daredevil #92 by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano.  $2.99, Marvel.

Well, I'm going to spoil this, but it's not like it's that big a revelation.  But you've been warned!





The revelation that Vanessa Fisk is behind all of Matt's recent troubles was not a bad reveal, but Brubaker does have to go through quite a lot of logic-twisting, even from Matt and Vanessa herself, to justify why she does it.  It has a lot to do with her murdering her son, Richard, and I appreciate the attempt, but I'm not sure I buy it.  On the other hand, how much do we really know about Vanessa Fisk?  So I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately, the actual attempt within the comic to convince us really bogs this issue down, when it should have been a big dramatic showdown between Matt and Vanessa.

The other thing that makes no sense (well, some sense, but not a lot) is Matt's rejection of Vanessa's offer.  She tells him she can make all his problems go away, and once he gets his life back, he has to get Wilson Fisk out of jail.  This recalls to me Ted Kord's rejection of Maxwell Lord's offer - when a bad guy is holding a gun to your head, you tell him what he wants to hear, Ted!  If Vanessa is dying, why can't Matt tell her that he'll do what she asks and then, once she's dead, just screw Fisk over?  If you say "Because Matt's not a tool, he's a hero, and his Catholic guilt will overwhelm him if he lies," I will have to come to your house and paint your head blue, because his "heroic" nature hasn't stopped him from screwing over pretty much every woman he ever sleeps with, even though he knows it's wrong.  So a little more of that old Catholic guilt wouldn't hurt him, and this would be a better thing than screwing over every woman he's ever slept with, right?

Anyway, they talk a lot.  Lark's art looks a bit more rushed than usual.  There's a twist in the beginning, more of which is revealed at the end.  Vanessa turns out to be not as bad - or possibly even worse - than we thought.  You must decide which she is!  And like many Bendis issues, this works far, far better in the context of the bigger story than it does as an individual issue.  So the "wait for the trade" crowd should be happy.

Detective Comics #827 by Paul Dini, Don Kramer, and Wayne Faucher.  $2.99, DC.

Even though I was very disappointed by the last issue of 'Tec, with its lousy Joker story, I still like Dini's work on the title overall, even though I'm still not convinced he walks on water when it comes to Batman.  So I gave him another chance, and this is a far better effort.  My annual culling of titles is coming, and I'm not sure if this will make the cut, but it's a decent comic book.

We get a new Ventriloquist.  Many people thought the old Ventriloquist was a good villain, but I never liked him (except for his first appearance, which was pretty neat), and this one is, I think, a lot more interesting.  Mostly because of the penultimate page, which is creeeeeeepy.  Batman doesn't do much, however, and nothing else much happens, even though Dini keeps the tension high throughout, which is a nice trick.  Scarface shows up, Batman figures out that there might be a new Ventriloquist, he infiltrates the Penguin's club when he hears the Ventriloquist will be making an appearance there, and a small bit of mayhem ensues.  The fight with the Ventriloquist, Scarface, and Batman is kind of neat, but again - except for some hoods getting whacked, there's not even a crime in this issue.

So it's better than last issue, but I'm not sure if it's enough to keep me on the book.  Next issue the Riddler, Consulting Detective, returns, so that might be one to pick up, since I think that's a great idea (I'm telling you - Mike W. Barr writes, Graham Nolan draws, the Riddler gets a mini-series - I'm there!).  We'll see.

The Killer #2 (of 10) by Matz and Luc Jacamon.  $3.95, Archaia Studios Press.

Yes, it's a mini-series, and I'm pre-ordering it, so even if I don't like it, I'm on the hook for a few more issues, but for one thing, it's pretty good, and for another thing, it appears like this will consist of some short stories within a larger framework (like Local), so perhaps I will read it issue by issue.  Don't try to parse that sentence!  In this issue, our killer, who is still waiting for his target, gets more and more impatient and may be starting to hallucinate.  He continues to flash back and we get a bit more of what makes him tick, and he freaks out once and contemplates suicide.  Finally the target shows up, but unfortunately, things go a bit pear-shaped.  People die, the cops are onto him because they had been watching the target, and our killer flees to his little spot in Venezuela where he feels safe.  The cops, of course, are on his tail.

This is a pretty cool book, as I mentioned when issue #1 came out.  It's pure noir, so we don't really like the main character at all, but Matz (sigh - one name) and Jacamon make us believe that he's a real person with real problems, and although we don't actually care about him, we do manage to get caught up in his troubles and hope he gets away, which, considering he's a murderer, is a pretty good trick.

The art continues to be very good, too.  There is a lot of blood, but it's a story about an assassin, so you should expect that.  But Jacamon's style is realistic with just a bit of weirdness to it, which makes the emotions our killer is feeling a bit more heightened.  It complements the story very well.

I often buy books that I know other people won't like.  That's cool.  If you're a fan of noir, though, this is a very good book that you might not know about.  You're buying Daredevil - why not this?

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11 by Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen, and Wade von Grawbadger.  $2.99, Marvel.

All you need to know about why this book is great and why you will miss it so very badly can be summed up in three little words: Giant Elvis MODOKs.

Yes, that's plural:

That is all.

Of Bitter Souls #3 by Chuck Satterlee and Norm Breyfogle.  $3.50, Markosia.

This is one of those obscure little books that I don't expect many people will like.  It's not that it's bad, it's just not great, and why try to find it when there are other mediocre books out there?  As you know, the big draw for me is Breyfogle's art, but I think this is my last issue, even with the art, because it's just a sloppy comic book.  Not the art, which I still like, but the story.  It's all over the place, and Satterlee tries to wedge two different plots into this issue, and neither is terribly compelling.  I'm not even sure if the second plot, which seems to be a lead-in to the next issue, will be continued, or if we're just supposed to assume that our heroes defeat the monster and all is well.  There are a lot of spelling and other grammatical errors, too - Satan is actually spelled "Satin" at one point - and that's really annoying to an English major (it should be annoying to anyone who actually speaks English, but I realize I'm behind the times by sticking to the rules).  I'm a bit upset that I don't like this title more.  I'm not sure if I'm on the hook for any more issues - I'll have to check my pre-order lists - but I'm not going to buy any more past whatever I've already gotten.  It's too bad - I want to support the book, and Breyfogle especially, who's had some tough times, but it's just not worth it.  Hey, DC or Marvel - give Breyfogle a call and put him on a big-time book!

X-Men #194 by Mike Carey, Humberto Ramos, and Carlos Cuevas.  $2.99, Marvel.

The guy at my comics shoppe was ringing me up today, and he got to this issue, looked at me, and said, "Really?"  I nodded sheepishly, explaining that I liked Carey's writing on the title, because otherwise, I would avoid Ramos like the plague.  Look at that cover.  Mystique obviously stuck a bicycle pump into her navel and inflated her breasts.  Or maye she was sucking in her gut so much and shrinking her waist that her boobs got bigger.  It gets worse inside, too.  As you know, I'm much more of a story guy than an art guy, so good writing trumps bad art for me all the time, but Ramos is ALMOST enough to make me skip the story.  It's only three issues, and I'm not sure if Ramos is doing all three, so I can deal with it for that long.

Anyway, Carey gets into the whole thing that happened at the hospital back in his first issue (it was the first issue, right?), as well as the weird old dude who showed up at the mansion and then dropped dead.  It turns out he had been dead for days, and something hitched a ride in his brain but it left once it reached the mansion, which leads Henry to wonder where it is now.  I was reminded of Malice, and personally, I think it would be cool if that's what it was, but that would make me a weirdo fanboy and not the kind of person who wants the X-Men to move on and stop being bound by their past, but I don't care, damn it!  Malice is cool.

Meanwhile, Rogue leads her team to find out more about what went on in the hospital.  Carey obviously likes Rogue as much as I do, because she gets more bad-ass every issue, and here she actually uses her powers, rather than Sunfire's (she uses those, too, but I like it when she steals people's memories).  She also gives Regan (Lady Mastermind) a stern talking-to, so that will lead to some conflict in the future.  Maybe they'll fight over what exactly happened to the front of Regan's uniform - it's gone, man!  But then Rogue leads the X-Men into a trap and the bad guy, Pan, captures her.  I smell a James Bond-villain exposition coming up!  The trap bugged me, because doesn't anyone get suspicious of the ease with which they accomplish anything anymore?  Rogue even comments on how nice it is to have something come easy for once.  Oh, Rogue, you fool.  You would think superheroes would know better - ambushes happen all the time!  Yet they're always surprised.

Other than that, this was a nice set-up issue.  If you can get past the awful art of this issue, Carey's first seven issues are very good.


Batman and the Mad Monk #5 (of 6) by Matt Wagner.  $3.50, DC.

I'm not even sure I should read this when it's completed.  Isn't there going to be another one after this?  Maybe I'll just wait until all three series are done and then sit down and savor the Wagnerian goodness.

Wolfskin #2 (of 3) by Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp.  $3.99, Avatar.

Wow, it's an issue of Wolfskin!  It's only six months late!  I flipped through it, and if you like full frontal male nudity and lots of bloodshed, then this book's for you!  I'll give it a full review sometime in the early summer, when the next issue comes out.

Another year of comics in the books!  See you in 2007!  (Okay, that's lie, because I'm still doing the Seven Soldiers thing.  But you know what I mean!)

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