reviews for first half of Dec – Baby it’s cold outside

Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show
Adapted by Chris Ryall and drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez
IDW Publishing

I am an enormous fan of the work of Clive Barker. I read everything he writes, I buy foreign editions and I once drove three hours to see him at a signing event. Of all his work The Great and Secret Show, the beginning of the “Art” trilogy is probably my favorite. Reading it I at once had the feeling that I was starting a journey, something epic. The story is told in layers and in depth, crisscrossing itself. I feel that Stephen King is brilliant, and while his work shines a flashlight on those things that you forgot from the past and make you scared, Clive Barker reaches into a part of your soul and strokes his fingers lightly across things that don’t normally get touched.
Ok, I’m a fan.

Chris Ryall is obviously a fan as well. Taking on a project like this is a bold move. A book with a following like this one has obviously will have people reading an adaptation closely and critically. The first thing I noticed in the comic was that the Ryall and Rodriguez are fans. They put this novel to the music of the graphic form, and like a really good cover version, it is true to the original, and yet also has a sound of it’s own. Visually this book is right on the money. Rodriguez nailed the images that the book put into my head. And Ryall was able to get the whole book into 269 pages of comics. I got the same buzz reading this as I did the original novel, a sense of growing urgency while it builds to the climax, and a real feel for good and evil. This was a great read and I will be rereading it again many times. I really hope they do the next book as well.

Superman/Batman: Saga of the Supersons
DC Comics

I remember reading these stories when they first appeared in World’s Finest back in the 70’s. I was enthralled by the idea of these heroes having sons. I don’t know why the pre-teen me was so captured by it, but these stories always held a strong piece of nostalgia for me. I’m thrilled to see this collection and to be able to read them all together. Bob Haney and Dick Dillon did such a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the times in which they were written. Bruce Jr and Clark Jr were typical teenagers, rebelling against their fathers, authority and anything else that seemed to be stagnant. While some aspects of the stories may seem a little dated, the writing is strong and they are well worth reading. Strangely the times may have changed, the clothes and slang may be different, but the themes really are not all that out of place today.
The collection wraps up with an Elseworlds tale that while wrapping the saga up, is somewhat weak and seemed kind of forced. The other twelve stories are wonderful, ranging from road trips interrupted by a lost pocket of time to protests and lost tribes. Reading these stories now I still understand the sons sense of confusion, but I also can’t help but think that Superman and Batman must be super patient parents.
This is a wonderful piece of DC history and I am thrilled to see it collected in a trade format.

Darkness: Levels

Darkness is one of the mainstay titles at Topcow, and this trade collects the miniseries based on the new video game based on the comic. It retells the origin and takes us through Jackie’s gaining and excepting his powers. Levels is obviously taken from the different levels of the video game, but it works really well in the context of this story. Sometimes a comic of a video game feels forced, like it’s just there to make a little extra dough for the company. Not the case here. The writing is top notch, and this would actually be a wonderful jumping on point for people who haven’t read Darkness. The artwork is also up to Top Cow’s usual high standards with great detail and wonderful colors. This is a dark heroic and bittersweet journey that we are watching here and it’s a hell of a ride.

Midnighter:Killing Machine
Wildstorm/DC Comics

This first collection of the Authority spinoff is lots of fun. Midnighter is one of my favorite characters, he kicks ass, he doesn’t worry about what others think and seems pretty in tune with himself.
The main story here involves our favorite killing maching being kidnapped and coerced itno going back in time to kill Hitler. He tangles with time police form the future and kicks an awful lot of ass. All in all a great story, Garth Ennis is perfect for this title and the art from Jack Sprouse of Tom Strong and Glenn Fabry is also deadly perfect. This is like an action movie with no filters and no bullshit.
Top Notch fun.

regular issues:

Infinite Horizons #1
Image Comics

The first issue of this comic has me wanting more. A few years in the future the war in the middle east is being ended, not because there is a winner, there just aren’t resources to keep fighting. A captain serving his country is asked to do one more thing before going home, get everyone else out safely first. He does this, but in the process finds himself without a way home himself. Ad like the heroes of the Odyssey, these men are about to start a long journey hoping to ultimately make it home.
Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto have done some great work here and have a wonderful way of conveying the stark realities in play. And the really frightening thing is, it feels like it could happen for real. This is a compelling book and I highly recommend it.

Invincible Presents: Atom Eve #1

I came to the Invincible series late. When I first read it there were already six trades out. Of course this means I was able to read all of those wonderful tales back to back. The really nice thing about the trades is the introductions by various creators praising Robert Kirkman. And after reading a large body of his work I understand perfectly how it would be hard not to praise the man. In Invincible he has created a wonderful universe for his heroes and the series is just damn fun.
One of my favorite characters is Atom Eve. She’s the same age as Invincible and since she’s had powers a bit longer she has been able to help him out. Peers are good to have no matter who you are, Eve is a perfect confidant for Mark as he learns the ropes.
As Invincible opens back in number 1 Eve is already there, she’s got her powers, she’s part of a team and while we get to know her we really don’t know much about where she came from. Well, now we do.
This two issue series will fill in the gaps in our knowledge of Eve, and in typical Kirkman fashion, it feels large and grand. The story is written by Genito Cereno and drawn by Nate Egarde. Kirkman is editing the story.
Issue one opens up like most good stories, at the beginning. We see Eve’s mother rushed to the hospital to give birth. We quickly learn that Mom has been experimented on and that the baby is expected to be something pretty special. Which explains why the government wants the baby. The scientist in charge has second thoughts about the Government’s involvement and fakes the death of the baby, putting Eve with a set of parents who actually lost their real baby. Only Dr. Brandyworth knows the truth. By the end of the issue we see Eve with powers and starting to act as a superhero. She wants to help. Dr. Brandyworth finds her and tries to get her to stay out of the attention of the government. We find out at the end of the issue that it’s too late.
This is great fun and a wonderful addition to the mythology of the Invincible Universe.

Superman/Batman #44
DC Comics

A new story arc is underway with Michael Green writing and Shane Davis penciling. Superman is exposed to kryptonite and needs help. After the crisis is over he talks with Batman about the possibility of removing all kryptonite from Earth. The final panel show the boys in front of a monitor that shows where all the kryptonite is on the planet, they have there work cut out for them.
The art is wonderful, Davis does a great job of showing the contrast between the characters without going overboard. I really like the angles he uses and the sharpness of the art. Green also really seems to have a feel for the characters, not too heavy handed or clichéd, and the scenes between Supes and Bats feel like a genuine friendship.
I think this is going to be a great story arc.

Justice League of America #16
DC Comics

This was fun. Some common thugs break into a storage locker with out realizing that the owner is one Guy Gardner. Things lead to things and a hole to the Tangent universe is opened up. Black Canary and Red Arrow and Black Lightening take on transformed thugs. When all is said and done one of the Tangent heroes is left behind. Great art, nice beginning to what looks to be a great story.
The backup tale is a Christmas story. Overall a nice story involving Roy as Red Arrow helping out at a soup kitchen and making an old and down on his luck retired villain feel better. I do have to question why the bit about Cheshire, the mother of Roy’s daughter was thrown in. I have a hard time believing Roy would ignore the fact that she’s a wanted villain and murderer just because it the holiday season. That little quibble aside, a nice story.

Exiles #100
Marvel Comics

This is the final issue to a really fun series. The main story is really well done and sets up the next wave nicely. Unfortunately in typical Marvel fashion the reader gets screwed. A $3.99 price tag for what looks like an extra big issue. A “Giant Size Final Issue” Too bad the story is the regular length. The giant part comes in the form of a reprint of the first issue in the back of the book. They give the impression that it’s an extra long story, but they once again reprint something already in trade just to bump up the price. I liked the finale to the series, but the issue left me pissed because of the deception.

Checkmate #21
DC Comics

A new story arc starts and Rucka is doing what he is so damn good at, writing a strong female character. This arc spotlights Josephine Tautin and her legacy as Mademoiselle Marie. She’s not the first to carry that name and we get the background here as we see the Black Queen’s Knight undertake a new mission.

Batman and The Outsiders #3
DC Comics

The Outsiders have captured an Omac unit and while working to discover it’s secrets they butt heads with the JLA who want to take it. At the end of the day Batman gets what he wants and there is a new member on the team. I love Dixon’s work here as I think he does a really nice job with the characters interactions with each other. The scene towards the end with Grace and Thunder and Batgirl is priceless.

Coutndown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman #1
DC Comics

I’m really enjoying this trip through the multiverse with Kyle and Donna and Jason and “Bob”. So far though I have to say this was my favorite. The gender swap is always entertaining for elseworld stories and here the doors are blown all the way open. Everything is opposite. The trail to Ray is getting closer, and more clues are found. But the real fun is watching the JLA of this earth in action.

Madame Mirage #4
Top Cow

Major fighting, some more background on what’s going on and Madame Mirage asks to join the bad guys!
This series gets better and better with every issue and Dini is doing a great job creating real suspense and an air of mystery. I wish this title was weekly!