Last weekend, I make a way overdue visit to the best comic book shop in the world, Acme Comics, to see what books had accumulated from my pull list. What I found were a collection of books starting from day one, another set picking up the journey already begun and one book coming to an end.
So let's start with journeys beginning.
Kill or Be Killed
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are back with a new project. I got on board with Brubaker/Phillips with The Fade Out and was completely wowed by the world they created. I'm been catching up on Fatale through the trades after which I'm going to back through the Criminal catalog.
For their new series, Ed and Sean's Kill or Be Killed
introduces us to Dylan who is, to be blunt, rather pathetic but sadly, I can empathize with him. Dylan is a socially maladjusted individual who's watching life pass him by and it drives him deep into depression and an attempt to take his own life. He survives the attempt but learns there's a price. A demon appears to Dylan (or it could be some kind of psychotic episode) who says that Dylan has to kill one person, a bad person who deserves to die, each month if Dylan wants to keep enjoying his own 2nd chance at life. Dylan refuses, then he becomes deathly ill. It appears the demon is exacting his price. When Dylan is viciously assaulted in the street, however, Dylan changes his mind and decides to kill bad people.
While Brubaker's writing is rooted in crime noir as it is in The Fade Out and Criminal, he's not above incorporating fantastic supernatural elements as we see in Fatale. Whether or not the demon in Kill or Be Killed is such a supernatural thing or just a figment of Dylan's damaged mental state remains to be seen. But the story is off to a strong start with excellent character work as always from Brubaker. And Sean Phillips art work combined with Liz Breitweiser's gorgeous palate of colors is amazing to look at and communicates the darkness and the fear that encircle Dylan's world.
Batman 66 Meets Steed & Mrs. Peel
The latest project to crossover the universe of Batman '66 with a 1960's pop culture icon launches as Batman and Robin team up with the Avengers. No, not those Avengers over at Marvel. No, we're talking about the super cool British spy series. The art of Matthew Dow Smith is technically proficient but really lacks the zip/bang/pow of either Batman '66 or the wilder pop art sensibilities of British spy dramas. Ian Edington provides the script which is serviceable and captures the Batman '66 vibe well enough but lacks that spark and energy that regular Batman '66 writer Jeff Parker gave to these proceedings.
There's a lot of back story to wade through to get this issue started. For all that back story, I found I was not very invested in Lois Lane (or I should say THIS Lois Lane; more on that in a bit). It's Lana Lang who really comes alive as an individual since the story is told from her point of view. Still, the idea of Lois who recently outed Superman's secret identity having to discover her way as a super powered hero and cope with the trials and tribulations of the sort Superman faced is a very captivating idea. I hope we can explore this further but Lois is not in the best shape at the end of the issue. Good to see Phil Jiminez (as writer & penciller) back on an ongoing project at DC again.
Among the titles waiting for me were 3 issues each of the DC's Rebirth titles that I committed to following. This bi-weekly schedule thing really causes the comics to pile up. Where are they in their journeys so far?
There's more meat on the bones of this story from Pete Tomasis and Patrick Gleason but I'm still having trouble with this concept of MY Superman in someone else's world. I'm on the fence if I will continue with this title after the initial story arc.
When super powered people take on Batman's mission in Gotham City, the results aren't pretty. Kudos to writer Tim King for broaching a fairly original (to me anyway) idea. But what are the stakes for Batman and the main cast? So far I'm not really getting a sense of King's concept for Bruce and his inner circle.
For that matter, I'm not really on board with Gotham and Gotham Girl. They're ciphers for the most part and what we do know of their story is what Batman pieces together. Their ultimate downfall when confronted by Professor Strange and the Psycho Pirate doesn't have the impact it should since we are not invested in them enough to feel the enormity of what happens to them.
And I appreciate Tom King has done his homework to know who Matches Malone is but having Batman use his underworld alter ego to pretend to be a federal agent just doesn't work for me.
For the art, penciller David Finch is always a good fit for Batman. Different inkers have been employed I presume to help along the bi-weekly schedule but its hard to complain when those inkers are talents like Matt Banning, Danny Miki and Sandra Hope who keep Finch's pencils looking good and consistent.
Despite great art from Liam Sharpe, the odd numbered issues with the present day storyline are not making an impression on me. Some disjointed mumbo-jumbo between Diana and Cheetah while Steve Trevor leads a team on a rescue mission that may cross paths with whatever Wonder Woman is up to. I'm emotionally detached for this muddled series of events.
However, the even numbered issues with the revisit of Wonder Woman's origin is a revelation, particularly for the gorgeous artwork of Nicola Scott. I've admired her work on books like Birds of Prey and Earth-2 but her designs, layouts and line work are at all whole new level. And Greg Rucka seems to be on more firm footing with this storyline than the modern day arc. The character development of Diana and her fellow Amazons really makes this story click.
In addition to the Rebirth stuff from DC, I was pleasantly surprised to this trade collection in my box
Somehow I missed or forgotten that it was coming. This continues to be a title that lives up to its title, a sprawling and epic saga and yet a human and emotional one as well. Writer Brian K Vaughan is not afraid to have characters behave in a raw, unfiltered way and artist Fiona Staples isn't shy about showing any of it.
Warning: there are penises in this book including one where you will not expect.
And this brings us to the series that came to an end. Today's post began with a new series debut from Ed Brubaker so it seems fitting that this post ends with an Ed Brubaker farewell.
Velvet#15 marks the conclusion of this series although Ed Brubaker assures in the issue's ending text piece that there are more Velvet stories to be told even though he and artist Steve Epting will be working on another project next.
I've enjoyed the series for the most part but it seemed near the end, I'm still not quite sure what rabbit hole the overall conspiracy plot ran down. It also seemed to me that Velvet Templeton herself lost her own investment in the story. The mystery needed to be solved because there was a mystery that needed to be solved. The personal stakes that rocked Velvet's world in the beginning seemed less personal near the end.
But maybe that was a deliberate thing. The retired secret agent flung back into the cold, Velvet finds her own needs sublimated to the mission, even if the mission began with a need to solve the murder of a friend and save herself from a frame up.
The art by Steve Epting with colorist Bettie Brittweister (really, have her color everything!) never let up with an ever present mood of darkness and danger. What I really admired was the artistic approach to Velvet herself; yes, she is the epitome of the beautiful secret agent but she's had years of seeing and knowing terrible things and it shows.
Whatever Brubaker and Epting are up to next, I will be very interested to see what it is. But I really do hope that we get more adventures with Velvet Templeton in the future.
And that wraps up this post and....
Wait! There was one more book I bought this weekend but I'm going to hold off on that until next week's comic book post.
Meanwhile, we're back to politics for tomorrow's post. (Sorry.) Until next time, remember to be good to one another.
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You