About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Funny-book round-up

I haven't done one of these in a while. If I'm doing one, it means I haven't had time to read any comics in a long time, and thus have a stack I've caught up on, and I'd rather not be there. Oh well; I did spend some time over the holiday weekend immersing myself in a stack of comic books. I did change the rating system, which back then went from 1 to 5 slithy toads and now goes from 0 to 4, so if you compare you need to subtract a toad from before.

Continuing Titles:

Infinify Inc. #11. 2 Slithy Toads. Still holding on my buy list. No crossover to drive me away. The younger superheros are still acting their age, which is a good thing, and the artwork is viewable, and it's holding it's own. The new issue has some disconnects. I'm not sure how it hooks up with issue #10, the script jumps around a bit without clear progression from person to person and place to place, and I'm not sure if the New Gods connection here matches up with the recent "Death of" mini-series. But I had fun with it.

Un-Men #11. 2.5 Slithy Toads. The last story arc seemed to drag on a bit, but not so much I veered away from it. This issue is almost a complete story that offers some nice backfill on the main character. I'm not in love, but I am intrigued.

The Simpsons #143. 4 Slithy Toads. The mainstay of the Simpsons line from Bongo continues to offer exceptionally good work more often than not. This is definitely not one of the occasional down issues that comes down the pike, and was a delight on every level. Oddly prescient in light of the current hostile takeover bid for Anheuser Busch by a Belgian/Brazilian brewery, this issue revolves around new owners of Duff Beer that introduce a new cold fire-brewed recipe for Homer's favorte beer. Homer does not like the new recipe. The pinnacle is the ever-so-brief reference to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers that follows in the best traditions of the TV show.

DMZ #32. Holding steady. The new arc has held dead even. 2.5 toads.

Not Discussed Previously:

Ex Machina #37. Brian K. Vaughan's series has been excellent from the beginning. I'm told that it like his Y: The Last Man is moving toward a defined ending, and my only hope is that this will be a good ending unlike the dreary last year of Y that went to Japan and got thoroughly lost and drifted around for a year before reaching an unsatisfying end. Ex Machina is about a superhero mayor of New York City who has the ability to speak to electronic gadgetry. It takes off from an alternate ending 9/11; one of the towers is still standing. It goes off in interesting tangents, be they the subway system or Rome. It's insightful about NYC politics, politics in general even. If it does end up someplace interesting it will be one of the great series of the decade, and if it doesn't it'll be an interesting footnote. The current arc is set in 2004, with a Republican convention planned for NYC, the Mayor worried about a terrorist who scales buildings to say bad things about George Bush, whether the Republicans will actually come to a city where This Kind of Thing is happening, and in the background yet another of the many somewhat circuitous and indirect threats to the Mayor suggestive of some Secret Yet To Be Revealed. The art by series co-creator Tony Harris is crisp and clean as always. 4 toads. A smile always comes to my face when I see a new issue on the stands, and it's hard to beat that.

Tangent: Superman's Reign #4 of 12. I like to have some superhero in my diet, and it gets really really hard because of the constant crossovers that force you to either get very fat on lots and lots of superhero immersion or keep out of the cloudy water. This isn't great, but I'm enjoying it enough to keep going. I don't know much about this Tangent World stuff which was introduced in some other book or series, but on a basic level I can enjoy simple for knowing that it is tangent/alternative stuff without sweating all of the details. A group of heroes on Earth has gone to the tangent world ruled by a dictatorial alternate Superman, he is planning to use those heroes, they are planning to defeat him, there are people back on "our" Earth trying to regain contact with the heroes on the tangent world, and you get the idea the bad Superman could use the one group to get at the good group back home and do bad things for us. I'm liking it enough, but can't really recommend it too much. 1.5 toads.

Bart Simpson #42. 2.5 Toads for a 12-year-old, 1 toad for a 42-year-old. This is pitched at a younger audience than the mainstay Simpsons books, and I should probably not buy it. But... I like Simpsons comics, and there are just enough issues that pleasantly surprise to balance out the ones that don't do anything for me. This issue is rather typical in having a good lead story but much weaker tales in the back of the book. Here, a long lost tale of Homer's youth when the local single screen theatre where one week would have a boy movie and the next week a girl movie gets replaced by a Duoplex where a boy movie and girl movie can co-exist and havoc results. It's a nice concept. But the other half of the book did nothing for me.

Trinity #1-5. See my comments above on Tangent. This is another superhero title that, knock on wood, will be straightforward enough for me to enjoy without requiring me to make a life-long commitment. I gave up on the other recent weekly DC series because they didn't do much for somebody who hadn't taken a doctorate on DC books. This one I might just be able to stick with so long as it works on its own terms. It hearkens back to the Action Comics Weekly (the He of Whom We DO Not Speak when discussing the history of weekly series at DC more than to the MegaCrisisOnAllMannerofEarths bombast of Countdown. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have a strange dream that they get together to talk about (those 3 heroes being the Trinity of the DC Universe) and this leads to an attack from something weird that leads to a spaceship from someplace else while a tarot reader in the bad part of LA is chased by a trio of supervillains. There are multiple artists involved, and I'm liking the more straightforward art a lot more than the arty art that the fanboys might be liking. There's a nice structure between the main story and the backup stories that is working for me. The series can be enjoyed (so far) with the Trinity as established characters we are all familiar without requiring (not yet, at least) a strong knowledge of their most recent continuities and variations, which is especially important for Wonder Woman who seems to be constantly "updated." Can it walk the fine line over 52 weeks of being enough of an event to appeal to the Event Or Bust crowd while still reaching out to the casual fan? 2.5 toads for now. I'll rate it more generously if it does no more than hold steady because I fear the worst, while also reviewing for an immediate downgrade if it loses appeal to the casual fan.

Simpsons Super Spectactular #7. 1 Toad, maybe half. I keep on buying this as the triumph of hope over experience. It only comes out twice a year so I can do that. The idea of it is always intriguing, as here to have "The House of Westinger" on the cover in tribute to long-time Superman editor Mort Weisinger. But as too often the case, it goes nowhere with the idea, and the story falls totally flat on every level. Hembeck, Aragones, Keith Giffen, even? There's more superhero parody in the four panels of the DC Nation plug for the return of Ambush Bug than in this whole comic.

House of Mystery #3. One of the newest Vertigo series. It's so, so, So Vertigo. Which is sometimes good and sometimes bad and sometimes like this the jury is going to be out. You've got this house, there are people who are there and can't not be there no matter how hard they try, and whatever. There's a framing story and a little story inside the frame, and it's accessible art I'm slowly warming to it. 2 slithy toads now, maybe more next time?

The Dearly Departed:

I really liked the first issue of Young Liars, and I soured on it very quickly thereafter. The opposite of House of Mystery, which I thnk might build toward something interesting, this is a book that seemed to race away from having characters anyone would care about or art that was consistent or helpful. It's hard for me to wonder why I even liked the first issue.

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