Monday, September 28, 2009

Crate Digging: Black Star

by Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli)

It had been a couple of years since I listened to this album, but after catching Kweli and Hi-Tek last week-end at Manifesto, I wanted to slide back to one of my touchstone albums.

Whenever this album gets mentioned, I immediately think of such great tracks as 'Astronomy (8th Light)', 'Definition', 'RE:DEFinition', and 'Respiration'. These four tracks are all classics, and show some of the best work Mos of Kwe have ever done.

'Thieves in the Night' is perhaps my favourite hip-hop track of all time. I can listen to this song again and again, and each time I'm moved by the lyrics and beauty of this piece. Kweli is perfect in the first half of the song, and Mos starts slow, and then becomes so passionate by the end of his verse - it gets me every time. To me, this song epitomizes the potential of hip-hop.

So, that's what I expected when I put this in. I forgot how forgettable the middle of the album is. Listening to it tonight, it seems like Mos and Kwe are still trying to find their voices as artists - how else do you explain tracks like 'B Boys Will B Boys' or 'Children's Story'? I think I'm so used to hearing the awesome songs on my ipod, I'd built this album into a perfect EP in my mind.

That said, the strong points of this album still stand up against anything being put out today.


by Danijel Zezelj

I've mentioned before how much I admire Danijel Zezelj's art work. From his underrated Congo Bill series at DC to his more recent work on Loveless and Northlanders, and including his illustrations in Harper's magazine, there is something about this artist that makes him stand out in my mind as one of the more unique people currently working in comics.

So, when I was at Fan Expo, and got a chance to pick up a copy of one of his European comics (in English) for only $10, I didn't have to spend much time thinking.

Rex is a hard and mean story, matching exactly the tone Zezelj so often sets in his work. Bill Orlowski, now called Rex, was a 'super-cop', until he was set up to take a fall and was convicted of trafficking drugs. As a famous police, he was, not surprisingly, unwelcome among his fellow cons, and subjected to seven years of rough treatment before getting exceptionally buff, escaping, and hunting down his enemies. That's about it for story, but you're not going to buy this comic for the story.

What stands out throughout this short book is the texture of Zezelj's art. This is a very dark book, and his thick lines and oppresive grey tones never leave you room for doubt about that. The book works best read in a single sitting, and will stick with you when you are finished.

This is published in North America by Optimum Wound, a publishing house with a lot of promise. Check them out, and pick this up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Nobody

by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire's been doing some excellent work lately, and this graphic novel for Vertigo can be seen as a bridge from his perfect Essex County trilogy to his new monthly series Sweet Tooth. The Nobody marries the small-town sensibilities of the former project to the science fiction aspects of the latter.

In The Nobody, a bandaged man named John Griffen (which tells you everything right there) arrives in the town of Large Mouth, where he holes up in a hotel room for days on end. Large Mouth being a small town (appropriately filled with large mouths), there is a lot of chatter, prompting Vicky, the classic 'girl from a small town who craves excitement' to seek out and befriend Griffen.

Things take a turn however when someone from his past comes looking for him, and Griffen begins to lose his self-control. Then, the reason why he's in town, and the reason for the bandages, become the central plot element.

As with Lemire's other work, this book embraces the slow pace of small-town living. His panels are full of wide open spaces and small moments - a butterfly alighting on Griffen's shoulder is reason for pause. The book is in a monochromatic blue, which gives his sketchy artwork an otherworldy feel. The story is paced perfectly, building to its confrontation at a lake in winter.

This book is highly recommended.

The Couriers 03: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Rob G

Brian Wood and Rob G's series of graphic novels featuring Special and Moustafa were a lot of fun. The characters first showed up in 'Couscous Express', and then got their own book, which ran for three volumes.

In this, the final volume of the series, Wood turns back the clock, and shows how Special and Moustafa first met. Special saves the life of Johnny Funwrecker, a Chinatown drug lord who owns a compound that takes up an entire city block and seems to be able to murder enemies with impunity. She's 15 when she becomes his driver and bodyguard. Moustafa, a 12-year old drug dealer, decides he wants to work for Johnny, and ends up getting partnered with Special, who has to train him in urban warfare techniques.

When the pair are approached by the FBI, they decide to go solo, and break away from both organizations in a fit of spectacular violence and a car chase through Manhattan involving a helicopter. It's like a Michael Bay movie, if they were actually funny and employed some internal logic.

It's a quick read, but quite enjoyable throughout. I wish Wood would return to these characters.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Underground #1

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Steve Lieber

This is shaping up to be one of the best new series of the year. This is everything a first issue should be - strong character development, a good sense of place, and a suspenseful and interesting hook.

Wesley Fischer is a park ranger opposed to a local business man's plans to 'renovate' a cave system to make it suitable for tourism. The town of Marion has been depressed for years (apparently suffering from a "long economic draught" - you have to love Image's lack of editors), and the people are behind the businessman, Winston Barefoot (played, apparently, by Lincoln Red Crow, on lone from Scalped).

Wesley, and her fellow ranger Seth, having just spent the night together, run into Barefoot at the local diner, before heading off to work. Seth discovers a pair of locals dynamiting the same cave that is at the centre of so much controversy, and this book is off to the races.

Parker has been commanding a lot of acclaim for his work at Marvel on titles like 'Agents of Atlas', but it is here that he really shows that he is an amazing writer. Lieber's work here is excellent as usual. This is a title that deserves a lot of attention.

Crate Digging: To Serve With Love

by Black Spade

While this is not an old release, I hadn't listened to it for some time. I find it holds up even better than I remember - it's a very strong album.

Spade produces all of his own songs on this, and he appears to have been heavily influenced by the late great Dilla. He shouts out a whole pile of inspirations on 'the genius in you', but it's that Dilla-esque neo-soul that fuels this entire project.

Spade is a versatile lyricist, and is not afraid of singing his own hooks. The 18 tracks on this album deserved a lot more attention when this dropped, and I'm patiently waiting for a follow-up project.

Wednesday Comics

Wednesday Comics was a very interesting experiment, which I found I enjoyed more than I didn't. It was by no means perfect, but I have to give a lot of credit to Mark Chiarello and his creative teams for trying something different in today's market, which has been proven time and again to be afraid of change.

As the purpose of this blog is to write about what I like, I'm only going to comment on the strips that I enjoyed. Overt criticism is evident only in the absence of discourse. So, what I liked, generally in descending order:

Hawkman by Kyle Baker
This is some of the nicest art Baker has ever done, and the story is absolutely ridiculous, in a good way. Somehow, we move from Hawkman fighting alien airplane hijackers to a wingless Hawkman battling a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and being rescued by Aquaman. Only someone like Baker (and perhaps Frank Miller) could pull off such a silly story, and still manage to make it look so good.

Strange Adventures by Paul Pope

This was also absolutely gorgeous. Pope changed Adam Strange and Rann from a nice clean science fiction tale to something more resembling Warlord. It was all barbarian girls, stone ape creatures, and Dr. Seuss-inspired horses. Fantastic stuff. This would make an amazing monthly.

Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook
In terms of traditional comic illustration, this was a more conventional tale (but I did really like the way in which Gibbons didn't use any speech bubbles, leaving the narration completely to text boxes, with punctuation - a rarity in comics). Sook's art was perfect.

Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred

This strip was the one that took the most risks with the format. Gaiman and Allred went wild with the larger pages, and showed the most variety. Early on, it was all giant splash pages, but they progressed to a huge Snakes and Ladders game, and then had Metamorpho and the Element Girl dancing across a gigantic periodic table, while their speech reflected the abbreviation of each element. Genius stuff. I don't think they can be blamed for the thin story - it wasn't about that.

Batman by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
There was nothing to the story - I just like Risso's art.

The Flash by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher
This story started off very cool, with it's splitting of the strip into two: The Flash, and Iris West. I liked how they were riffing on the old romance comics. Thing is, it didn't last, and by the end, I found I was kind of just looking at the pictures.

The other stories were okay (I never got into the Wonder Woman one even once), but the ones above were what made this project memorable for me. I've seen lots of commentary on-line about how a second trip to the well could be improved, and I hope that some changes are made. Personally, I'd like to see some rotating strips, so that each issue holds the promise of something new. Also, I would love to see a more indie-oriented approach, which I guess is obvious from my favourite picks.

Zero Killer #5

Written by Arvid Nelson
Art by Matt Camp

This is another solid issue of Nelson's alternative future epic. Zero and Stark have been taken prisoner by the Disciples, the gang living in the Twin Towers, and we finally get to learn more of Zero's backstory, as Deegan, the Disciples' leader, fills us in on things.

At this stage, the story has fallen into a predictable pattern, but that doesn't make it less enjoyable. It's a standard action movie third act, but Nelson's writing remains tight, and Camp's artwork is very good.

Immortal Weapons #3

Written by Rick Spears
Art by Tim Green II

When Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction introduced the various Immortal Weapons of the different Capital Cities of Heaven in their excellent run on The Immortal Iron Fist, I remember thinking that there was a lot of story potential there. I'm really glad to see that Marvel is taking the time to mine some of that potential, and that they are using such a wide variety of creators to do it with.

The previous issues of this title have been good and okay respectively, but this month's issue is excellent. Rick Spears has a talent for writing about lost, waify kids. His amazing (and sadly unfinished) Pirates of Coney Island is a good example, as is Teenagers From Mars. Tim Green is an excellent artist - his work on Marvel's Star-Lord mini-series a couple of years ago was a nice surprise, and I've been trying to follow his work ever since.

These two creators work well together. This issue of Immortal Weapons focuses on Dog Brother #1, a swordsman who travels with a pack of dogs, rescuing children from slavery or dangerous lives. The story is set in Hong Kong in 1841, where Sihing and Sidai are living on the streets, trying to avoid beatings and scrounge enough food to get by. Sihing is schooling Sidai, and attempting to protect him. This part of the story reminded me of Tekkonkinkreet (also reminding me that I need to read that some day). Later, the friends get caught up in the opium trade, and have still farther to fall before Dog Brother #1 will come for them.

Spears does a great job of building up these characters in a short span of time, and uses almost every scene to underscore Sihing's strength and faith. While this comic has its share of novel and gory kung-fu moves ("The Judgement of Solomon (With Assistance)" is brilliant), it has a lot of heart too.

Wasteland #26

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Christopher Mitten

I'm seriously hoping that this book has fixed its scheduling problems and all of its delays, and is going to be coming out more regularly again, because I've seriously missed it. This issue is a strong example of all of the reasons why Wasteland is one of my favourite books.

The focus this time is on Yan, who has been demoted from being Marcus's personal servant to now helping out at the house of the Artisian who tried to help Michael and Abi a while back (he's not named, and I don't remember it). Yan is having a hard time adjusting to the new status quo in Newbegin - Marcus's sister is there now, and Sunners have been given important jobs among the Disciples. He's not the only one having difficulty with this - there is a great deal of unrest and violence in the city.

The issue's events span six months, but we only see them from Yan's perspective. It's an interesting way of moving the plot forward without revealing too much of what has been going on.

As usual, Johnston's character work is perfect. We see Yan mature and develop over the course of these six months, and Mitten matches these developments by growing out his hair and changing his physical demeanor.

Friday, September 25, 2009

No Hero #7

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Juan Jose Ryp

I'm not sure what to say about this issue. No Hero started out to be an intelligent examination of heroics, and the effect that a small number of powered beings can have on the world. It had some interesting twists and turns to it, and some rather striking visuals.

This issue finishes the story, but it ends in a huge splatter-fest which, while providing a couple of surprises, feels a little hollow. I'm not sure exactly what might be missing, but I am coming away from this title a little unsatisfied.

Ryp's art maintains its detailed, Geoff Darrow-ish appeal, although some of the panels become lost in blood, spray, and gore.

I do like that Avatar gives Ellis such unlimited opportunities to play with superhero themes, but I feel like this particular series could have handled a little more editorial oversight.

'76 #5

Written by B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck
Art by Ed Tadem and Tigh Walker

I honestly never expected to see this comic. It was originally solicited for May of 2008, and I had pretty much forgotten about the series before I saw it on Diamond's list for this week. And I'm pleased it arrived.

This series is made up of two stories. The first is 'Jackie Karma', but Moore and Tadem. This story, of a pair of street fighters coming out of retirement to deal with some recidivist crime reads like "Power Man and Iron Fist" without the super powers and metal tiara, but with a more kick-ass level of realism. The second story, "Cool," is an action story of stolen drug money, manipulated bounty hunters, and guys named Gino.

This is a fun comic. I'll admit, after a year and a half, I'm more than a little confused here, but I have been enjoying this title. According to the text piece, the first four issues are available on-line for free, so I recommend picking up this book, and getting caught up. Maybe if enough people buy it, Moore will write more Hawaiian Dick comics, which is what I'd really like to see....

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Written by Stuart Moore
Art by Jerome Opeña, Alberto Ponticelli and John Wycough

This is an odd little project. It reads like an early version of Fear Agent, with its curmudgeonly Texan protagonist, it's strange assortment of colourful villains, and its pastiche of science-fiction tropes. Adding to this, early Opeña looks a great deal like Tony Moore.

Lone is a scientifically-modified relic of military experimentation, who lives in the post-nuclear, radioactive Western Wasteland. He is hired by a pair of gun-toting siblings to help rid their town of zombies, and is mostly interested in helping out because of the belief that a Gunfather, a strange green being, might be in residence. It seems Lone has history with them.

Also included in the book are a couple of short stories, one featuring art by Alberto Ponticelli. These both have a 'Tales of the Fear Agent' feel to them, and are good reads.

This comic exemplifies my feelings about Stuart Moore. It's a good comic, but doesn't really stand out in any particular way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

100 Bullets Vol. 13: Wilt

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso

That was a very satisfying series. I only started reading 100 Bullets in trade last fall, and now I'm sad that there won't be any more. Azzarello and Risso should be commended for putting out such a consistently challenging, compelling, and exciting comic. From the beginning, this book stood out as something very different from most other comics, and I enjoyed watching Azzarello pull together some pretty disparate plot threads to conclude his story with such finality.

I remember reading that not all the fans were happy with this ending, but I thought it was more than serviceable. I like that Agent Graves found himself trapped in the rules he had dedicated his life to serving, and really didn't expect many characters to survive this volume.

What always made this book interesting to me was the way Azzarello would introduce little side characters who, while their stories had nothing to do with the main plot line, were thematically linked to what is going on; in this case, the small hopper who is forced to murder another kid. These smaller stories brought the book down to a human level, and provided Risso with some amazing artistic opportunities.

I heartily recommend this series.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Lower River

by Paul Theroux

I can never fully make up my mind about Theroux, and for this reason, I've never read one of his novels. Some of his short fiction is excellent, some entertaining, and some plodding and uninteresting.

This story, in a recent issue of the New Yorker, is quite good. It's about a man who, after having lived his life and retired, decides to return to the small village in rural Malawi, where he had spent four years in a Peace Corps. type of role while in his twenties.

When he returns to the village, he learns, of course, that you can't go home again, as the villagers welcome him, yet are really only interested in the currency he carried. The school he had built is crumbling and unused, and the people are less interested in a mzungu's ability to help civilize them.

Theroux leaves it to the reader to draw any deeper conclusions about post-colonial Africa, and instead simply tells his story. It makes me want to read one of his novels...

A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge

by Josh Neufeld

This is a case of wanting to like a book much more than I actually do. I wanted to read the graphic novel version of Spike Lee's 'When the Levees Broke', and expected that this would be that; a sprawling accounting of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, as told through the experiences of the five people on the cover. I think that's what Neufeld thinks he's created as well....

This book never really lives up to its promise - while it ostensibly tells us their stories, it doesn't get into a lot of depth for some of these folk - the characters of the Doctor and Kwame barely get any space, not that their stories are very compelling.

In his aftermath, Neufeld talks about how he wanted this project to represent the diversity of the city, and I suppose on the surface he's accomplished that, in that he has white and black characters, along with a middle eastern shop owner, and perhaps a homosexual. However, it's not a particularly economically diverse group. Most of these characters are comfortably middle class (the store owner mourns the loss of his Mercedes), and only two characters are working poor - the comic book guy, and the angry girl. Nowhere do we see the unemployed and destitute that washed up at the Astrodome. The two token poor both have college degrees.

It is a decent book though - I don't want to spend all my time complaining. Neufeld's cartooning skills are advanced, and the use of single-colour pallettes on any given page is effective. The book is a very quick read, and becomes a little self-serving towards the end, as he includes drawings of himself talking to these people on the phone - a stronger act of journalism tends to erase the journalist's presence.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Air #13

Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by MK Perker

This is the issue I've been waiting for since Air began. Wilson doesn't draw a lot of attention to her faith or politics in this book, but I feel like Mohammad the Sad and his friends are probably the characters she feels closest to (except Blythe of course) since this book began.

I love the idea of the Metalhead Jihad - a group of post-punks who are fighting Muslim extremists in an effort to help Pakistan live up to its namesake, Pureland. Wilson is once again playing with symbols and their meanings, but in an action-adventure movie way with this issue.

Mohammad the Sad is determined to liberate Islam from the dogmatic extremists that are usually portrayed in popular media, but of course, he doesn't look any different from them when the Etesians arrive - just another Muslim among Muslims, he says.

This title keeps improving, and it was already pretty damn good.

Fables #88

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andrew Pepoy

I do like where Fables is headed with this 'Witches' arc. Frau Totenkinder finally drops the little old lady act, and instead pulls a 'Boy Blue', heading off to fix the woes of the Farm. At the same time, Ozma's getting nosy, and Beauty has big news.

This is a good issue. There's not much more to say.

Oh, and apparently Mark Buckingham is good at drawing dogs as well. Just thought I'd mention it...

Beasts of Burden #1

Written by Evan Dorkin
Art by Jill Thompson

Most comic artists can't draw dogs. I remember reading something by Dan Jurgens once - I think it was a spin-off mini-series from JMS's Rising Stars, and being embarrassed for him when I saw the dog in it - it looked like that robot dog-thing in the original Battlestar Galactica. Since then, I've noticed that whenever dogs, or often any animals, appear in comics, they look terrible, unless they're just standing very stiffly.

Jill Thompson can draw dogs. Really, Thompson can draw just about anything, but in this comic, it's the dogs that stand out. Okay, the giant demon frog stands out, but the dogs look very doggy. Thompson is able to give them all distinct personalities and character traits, but without really humanizing them. She keeps within the visual repertoire of the dog world. Her painted colours are beautiful, and this book really stands out.

This is not the type of book I would normally buy. Humour comics of the type Dorkin usually writes aren't my thing. I hated The Incredible Journey as a kid, and only liked The Littlest Hobo for the theme song. Don't get me started on Lassie or any other pet-based TV show. I'm not an animal person.

But, this book - about a group of animal paranormal investigators (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if everyone was a pet) - is now going to be added to my pull list on the strength of Thompson's beautiful art. The story is a good one - it has a demon frog after all, and I'm a little interested in the characters. And, if I haven't mentioned it yet, the book is damn pretty.

Ex Machina #45

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Tony Harris

When this title is finished, it's going to be issues like this that I miss the most. Vaughan excels at starting new arcs. This issue addresses some big stuff - the white box Padilla begins to make her move, with the end goal of apparently killing everyone, while Hundred talks to Bradbury, the Commissioner, and Wylie, while they play catch, and break a window in Gracie Mansion.

Vaughan also starts some discussion of abortion, and whether or not the Mayor should weigh in on that most decisive of issues. Seeing as the gay marriage thing was generally accepted, it would be interesting to see how people would react to a mayor who provides women with abortion pills. I often wish Vaughan would ditch the world-threatening stuff, and just write about the issues.

Five issues left, and this title is as good as when it started.

The Walking Dead #65

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

This is another excellent issue of The Walking Dead. Kirkman's series has always been an almost perfect balance of good character moments with scenes of surprise and tension. This issue exemplifies those traits.

We open in the church where the group has taken refuge, immediately after they recover Dale and Glen gets shot. Dale and Andrea have a heart-to-heart, and then Rick and a small group set out to track down the cannibals that had abducted Dale. The scene where Rick confronts these guys is particularly bad-ass.

As usual, the book is beautiful. I'm really looking forward to seeing the end of this arc.

The Sword #19

by The Luna Brothers

For the first year and a bit, this book was one of the most dependable on the stands - something that always seems odd in an Image book. Lately, it's become increasingly late. I would mind a lot more though if this issue wasn't such a departure from the last few books, which were just gigantic fight scenes, with some flashbacks thrown in to slow things down a little.

Instead, this issue is all about spin. Malia makes her case for the hearts and minds of the world, providing her own version of her family's history, matched with illustrations that are more in line with the tale Dara's been told. We also learn that there was more between her and Demetrios than we'd ever expected.

Dara's motivations get questioned a little too, and we learn that the sword may have some limits to its power.

In all, this is a much meatier issue than we've seen lately, and it does a lot to set the upcoming confrontation between Dara and Malia as a very different type of conflict. I'm looking forward to seeing it, whenever it comes out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Surrogates

Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Brett Weldele

I remember seeing a couple of random issues of this book on the stands when it first came out, but the first issue or so were missing. I kind of forgot about it, until I recently saw some press for the upcoming movie, and realized this was the same book I'd wanted to read when it came out in trade.

I have no real expectations that the movie will be much, but the book is excellent. Venditti, in five issues, pulls together a very complete and thought-provoking vision of the future. The notion of surrogates - remote-controlled robotic bodies which are used as stand-ins for just about everybody in America is an interesting one. As we become ever more sedentary, it's hard to avoid the allure of being able to lie on one's ass all day instead of working. In Venditti's future though, people really do begin to take it too far, to the point where the protagonists wife won't come out of her bedroom, because she doesn't like how she looks. One is tempted to tell her that she'd look a lot better if she got off her ass every now and then....

What really fleshes out this whole concept is the existence of the Dreads - an anti-Surrogate personality cult built around the Prophet. They provide the threat to everyones' comfort, but also hold up the mirror to society.

As the story begins, a mysterious figure starts 'killing' surrogates and stealing industrial secrets. This figure, Steeplejack as he is dubbed by the lead investigator in the case, is a surrogate with certain technological advantages over everyone else. They mystery lies in discovering who is operating him. Detective Greer is the heart of the story - an old-fashioned guy who is beginning to see through the shiny facade society has hidden behind.

The author manages to balance many story elements - mystery, action, and real science fiction, making this a very compelling read. Weldele's art suits the story fantastically. He takes a 'Ben Templesmithian' approach to his drawing and colours, and is just as effective portraying dialogue as he is high-flying adventure. I love the design of Steeplejack - it's never quite clear what we're looking at.

I'll probably see the movie version at some point, but don't trust that anything put out by a Hollywood studio could be as entertaining and thought-provoking as this book.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blade Black & White

Written by Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, James Felder, and Christopher Golden
Art by Tony DeZuniga, Rico Rival, Gene Colan, Ladronn, Juan Vlasco, and Mark Pennington

Okay, this is a weird one. It's like Marvel was looking to cash in on the movies or TV show or something, and decided to take some uncollected Blade stories from their black and white 70s magazines, and then to make it a thicker book, a couple more random books from the late 90s, and print them together. There are some thematic similarities (aside from vampires, wooden knives and an ugly costume) across the stories, except for the Ladronn one, which contradicts what happens in the others.

The 70s stories are exactly what you'd expect. They make more liberal use of the word 'blackie' than my modern sensibilities are used to, and are incredibly heavy on the melodrama. The art is problematic - it's only lightly inked, if at all, and the reproduction looks like it's a photocopy of a photocopy on some pages.

The Felder/Ladronn story is downright strange. It doesn't fit with the rest of the book, and seems to end with Blade's death - a fact not explained in the subsequent story where he's fine.

The final story is the best of the bunch, and that's largely due to Gene Colan's beautiful (and fully inked) artwork. This is a conscious attempt to clean up dangling plotlines from twenty years previous, and it kind of reads like that.

This book came as a freebie from the guys at Labyrinth, and while I enjoyed reading it, I can see why most of these stories had not been collected before.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

100 Bullets Vol. 12: Dirty

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso

There's only one volume left to read after this one, and the pace is quite quick. A few more Houses lose their heads, and a new player, Mr. Slaughter, comes to the table.

There is a very nice scene where one of Lono's victims almost takes revenge on him - it would have been interesting to see how it would have affected Grave's plans to have him taken out of the mix.

This is a really short volume, and seems a little arbitrary in where it stops. I assume the reason for that will be more clear with the final book.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Red Herring #2

Written by David Tischman
Art by Philip Bond and David Hahn

I knew this title was going to be worth coming back to after a slightly disjointed first issue. This time around, a lot more gets explained, as we learn that there was no alien incident in Roswell back in the day; instead, a group of businessmen pulled a fast one on the government, and have been, ever since, raking in defense dollars to prepare America for the aliens' return.

Somehow, this has put Maggie MacGuffin in trouble, as her Congressman boyfriend is one of the politicians being strung along. She's hanging out with Red Herring now, because people are looking to kill her. As most of the story is coming at us from Maggie's point of view, we know little more than her about what is happening, and revelations are unfolding slowly.

This is a smart, funny, and gorgeous series of the type that was found regularly at Wildstorm a few years ago. I'm glad to see it's being published, and hope that it is successful for them.

Olympus #4

Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Christian Ward

While I'm not sure I always understood the action in this issue, it sure is pretty. Ward's psychedelic art and colours have really made this title stand out.

I did enjoy the story, but I found that at times it was lacking in exposition, and the delay between issues three and four did make it hard to remember exactly what was going on.

I'm not sure if Edmondson and Ward are planning on returning to the Gemini in the future; I hope they continue to work together, and I will definitely purchase their next project.

The Unwritten #5

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross

Any doubt I'd had about The Unwritten from its first four issues has been washed away by this current issue, which is the best book on the stands this week.

Carey ditches Tom completely, giving us the life story of Rudyard Kipling in this issue. As it turns out, the people that are moving behind the scenes in Tommy's modern-day story were also responsible for Kipling's rise to fame (as well as Oscar Wilde's downfall). It becomes clear with this issue that there is some sort of shadowy cabal that is influencing what type of stories get told (although to what end is still shrouded in mystery), and that they are not to be trifled with, as is made all to clear when Kipling decides to switch up his own writing style to spite them (and thereby producing the books he is now best remembered for).

I'm sure a fan or scholar of Kipling and his time period would find much more in these pages than I did, but I enjoyed this issue immensely, and am hoping that we see more issues like this as this series progresses.

Friday, September 11, 2009

B.P.R.D. 1947 #3

Written by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart
Art by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon

This is the middle issue of this series, and I'm not totally sure I follow everything that happens in it. I get the part where some of the guys get attacked by vampires or ghosts or something, and have to flee the burning castle. I also get the part where the other guy listens to the vampires/ghosts/demons argue, and they all get mad at the one the BPRD guys are there to find.

What I don't understand is the big ceremony Hecate thing. What happens to all the vampires/ghosts/demons? I have no clue. Also - how are there two issues left? Things seem a little bleak.

Of course, the story (as much as I like Dysart's writing) is secondary to the Bá and Moon goodness which spills from every page. Their work is awesome here.

DMZ #45

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Ricardo Burchielli

Brian Wood was smart to shift the focus of this series away from Matty, Parco Delgado, and the politics of the DMZ for a few issues. It gave us a chance to look at a few other corners of Manhattan, and it made this new story arc's return to those characters and themes feel both like time has passed, and like they are fresh and new again.

Matty has moved comfortably into his role as Parco's Press Secretary, although he has taken on certain duties that are not normally part of the job description.

In this issue alone, Matty announces the nuclear capability of the Delgado nation to the world's media, has an important meeting at Madison Square Gardens, improves the love life of his security detail, and re-starts the war on drugs. It's Brian Wood's fantastic writing that makes all of this make sense, even if it is an extreme change from the way Matty used to just react to situations around him.

Most interesting to me is the last few pages, and the possible repercussions of what happens there - especially if the Asian-looking guys are Wilson's grandsons, a fact which is not explained. I interpret this scene to mean the end of Matty and Wilson's friendship, strained as it's been of late.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Elephantmen #21

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Boo Cook

The last five issues of Elephantmen have been a part of an arc called Dangerous Liaisons, which is more of a thematic than plot-driven arc.

This issue doesn't really fit though. There is some small aspect of the story involving the basically non-existent relationship between Ebony Hide and Savannah, the little girl from the early issues of the book, most of the story involves some people using old Mappo technology to make Ebony fight some alligators.

I find it hard to believe that through the whole lengthy rehabilitation that the Elephantmen went through, that no one ever removed behaviour-controlling chips from the backs of their necks. It seems like it would have been a no-brainer.

This is another very nice looking issue of Elephantmen though. Boo Cook's creatures look a lot more muscular than I'm used to, but his art throughout is consistently strong. I especially like the splash page of Ebony feeding his cats.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dead Space: Extraction

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Ben Templesmith

I'm not usually too interested in comics based on video games, but Johnston and Templesmith's first Dead Space limited series was a very good read. It was on the strength of Johnston's Wasteland and Templesmiths Fell that I figured it was worth a risk, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

What I liked about it was that they took what is a pretty standard Aliens set-up, and added a religious aspect. More than that though, the religion, Unitology, is clearly looked down upon by non-Unitologists, even though it has many powerful followers.

This one-shot is set on the Ishimura, the space ship that was in the first series. Once the 'Marker', the strange alien artifact that had been found on the planet, has been brought on board, the same issues that happened on the planet begin to take place. There are hallucinations and creepy monsters all over the place, and suddenly, we're reading a new version of Aliens again, but the Ripley character never strips down to her underwear.

This is a one-shot though, not a six-issue series, so Johnston doesn't have a lot of room to play around. Instead, he develops the character of Dr. Nicole Brennan on the fly, and makes her someone that the reader cares about, before putting her through hell.

I take it there is a sequel to the video game coming out, hence this comic. That doesn't matter to me, but this book does serve as a good companion to the original series, and a reminder of why I wish Wasteland would get back on schedule (I'm not even going to talk about Fell).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trial by Fire

by David Grann

It's been a little while since I last read a piece in the New Yorker that is this involved. David Grann reports on the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a father whose three young children died in a house fire in Corsicana Texas in 1991. Later, Willingham was charged with the murder of the kids, once fire investigators determined that arson was the cause of the fire. This being Texas, Willingham was sentenced to be executed, which finally took place in February 2004.

The beginning of the article does a very good job of setting up the case of the prosecution, and paints a likely picture of Willingham as a murderer. Then, as the article continues, it begins to shed light on the doubt that existed around the case. Witnesses stories shifted as the case dragged on. Renowned fire experts were able to dispute every claim made by the original investigators. Willingham continued to maintain his innocence. Of course, this being Texas, he was executed anyway.

The article raises important questions about the death penalty, and discusses the ramifications of executing an innocent person. It is now believed that Willingham was the first in Texas to die under such circumstances. Grann's writing is clear and avoids the easy, emotional approach. Instead, he clearly lays out a set of facts, and leaves it for the reader to draw some of his or her own conclusions.

This is a powerful article, and an important part of any debate over capital punishment.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Only the End of the World Again

Written by Neil Gaiman
Adapted by P. Craig Russell
Art by Troy Nixey

This is a strange one. This short graphic novel is about a werewolf who has moved to a small, coastal New England town where it seems everyone worships some form of Lovecraftian elder god, and are looking to manipulate him into becoming a sacrifice for it, so it can rise from the ocean and end the world. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what's going on. I don't know why everyone who speaks to him tells him how to cure lycanthropy, or why people hide in his office waiting to ambush him.

The other thing I don't know is why, if you have P. Craig Russell attached to a project, you don't have him do the art. He's not someone you think of immediately as a writer (although he did a fantastic job of adapting Gaiman's Sandman prose story), and it doesn't look like he provided Nixey with layouts. I'm not complaining about Nixey's work - I think it looks very nice here and fits the ambiguity of the plotting - it just seems to me that any opportunity to get Russell to draw is a good one.

In all, this is an enjoyable and quick read. It's by no means the best thing Gaiman nor Russell have put their names to (and I think I liked Nixey's pinch hitting on Killing Girl better), but as a holiday Monday read, it's decent.


by Roberto Bolaño

Having written about each section or part of this long novel separately, I thought it made sense to try to write about the book as a unified whole.

That is not such an easy task. This is a beautiful mess of a novel, split into five novellas (two of which could stand on their own as an individually published book - which at one point Bolaño intended as a way of guaranteeing income for his family and publisher after his early death) which share thematic similarities, and which intersect on occassion, but which really stand best on their own. At one point, Archimboldi, the German novelist who is at the centre of the two book-ending sections, thinks "that history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that view iwth one another in monstrousness" (p. 794). This view can certainly be seen to apply to the fourth part of the novel, "The Part About the Killings", which is a string of monstrous acts; this view can also be taken as a discussion of this novel as a whole.

That the novel ends, more or less, near where it begins should not be mistaken for a demurement to narrative structure. The book sprawls, encompassing European academic conferences, World War II Romania, prison in Mexico, the 'black' press of New York, Mexican academe, and many other locales and settings. Characters, while searching for each other, never quite meet up. A lesser author would be tempted to riddle the book with near misses and cameos, but
Bolaño is above that.

What remains remarkably consistent throughout the book is the strength of his prose (even in translation). An example of why I like his writing: "... the full moon filtered through the fabric of the tent like boiling water through a sock" (p. 750). His images are often startling and original.

In places, 2666 carries traces of that other great Latin American writer, Jorge Luis Borges, as we are treated to a number of précis of books that don't exist except in
Bolaño's imagination. We discover many of Archimboldi's books twice - first as they appear to the literary critics in the first part, and secondly as they come from Archimboldi's own mind, in chronolical order. This reminds me of who we often experience a writer's work so differently from the writer. We tend to read books in serendipitous order, while the author often sees progression (or stagnation) that escapes us.

As much as I enjoyed 2666, it was the Note to the First Edition's claim that the book was narrated by Arturo Belano, Bolaño's alter ego from "The Savage Detectives" that has forced me to re-think much of what I've read. That there is a strong connection between these two books was apparent almost from the beginning, especially with a veiled reference to the two protagonists of that novel at one point, but to think that Bolaño was writing this as Belano's book is very interesting.

This is an incredible piece of work with many strong images and ideas that are likely to stick with the reader. It's taken a good chunk of my summer to work my way through it, and I hope to return to it in a few years, and read it alongside "The Savage Detectives."

Crate Digging: Popular Demand

by Black Milk

Like other Black Milk releases, this album has some fantastic beats, and some nicely infectious hooks. My usual complaint about his work is still there - his songs are ultimately too vapid for me.

Some high points are 'Sound the Alarm' with Guilty Simpson, 'So Gone', and 'Take It There', which features One Be Low, who has the best verses on the whole album. Other songs, like 'Three+Sum' have excellent beats, but are wasted with less than memorable lyrics.

Other artists that appear on this album include Phat Kat, Ty & Kory, Nametag, Que Diesel, and Fat Ray. Sadly, the song reuniting Baatin with the rest of Slum Village did not live up to expectations at all.

Black does make some attempts to step outside the box though. 'Play the Keys' is a nice track, which would have been a fitting interlude on a J Dilla album like Ruff Draft.

Overall, this is a strong album - I just think it's telling when some of my favourite tracks are the instrumentals on the bonus disk....

100 Bullets Vol. 11: Once Upon a Crime

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso

I haven't much new to say about this book that hasn't applied to the last few volumes. Azzarello has largely abandoned the original concept of the gun and atache case, instead focusing more and more on Agent Graves's manipulations of the Trust, and the Minutemen.

In this volume, more bodies fall, another House loses its head, and people start to switch sides. I particularly like the last few issues, where Graves and Dizzy reminisce about Mr. Shephard, while Roman runs around Rome, dealing with Echo Memoria (who I had mostly forgotten about).

There is one thing I don't get about this book: all the other volumes have had, in their title, some reference to the volume number. Earlier ones simply incorporated the number into the title ("Split-Second Chance"), while some of the later ones became more complex (Volume 10 is 'Decayed', for decade I assume). I'm not seeing it with this volume. Any help?

2666: The Part About Archimboldi

by Roberto Bolaño

This section of the novel, comprising the third separate book in the soft-cover, boxed edition, takes the reader full circle by focusing on Benno von Archimboldi, the Prussian post-war author whom the literary critics in the first part of the novel have devoted their lives to studying.

This section details the life of Archimboldi, née Hans Reiter, from his earliest childhood to his early eighties, where his life begins to intersect with the other sections of the novel.

Reiter is a strange child, more concerned with diving and sea life than anything else. He befriends the nephew of the Baron von Zumpe, and makes his way to Berlin. Eventually, he goes off to war, and later becomes a novelist. As with all other parts of this book, there are lengthy digressions and tangents, such as when Archimboldi (still Reiter) discovers the notebook of a Jewish writer, Ansky, and the reader is told his life story. Towards the end of the book, we see the connection between Archimboldi and the killings in Santa Teresa.

What is interesting is the fact that Bolaño never dwells on the reclusiveness of Archimboldi. Where in the first section, this seems like a central facet of the man's life, here it is treated casually. It is also interesting to see the depth of Archimboldi's relationship with Mrs. Bubis, who is both the wife of his publisher and the Baroness von Zumpe, a figure who he encounters repeatedly at key moments of his life. In the first section of the novel, Mrs. Bubis claims no specific knowledge of Archimboldi to the literary critics, yet this part of the novel makes clear her lie.

Thematically, this section does overlap with the others with great frequency. While there are few asylums in this part of the novel, and even fewer killings, the theme of men killing women return again and again. Archimboldi discusses this with his wife Ingeborg, and later, as she lays ill, a farmer who they couple are lodging with admits to having killed his own wife.

The novel ends here, but it does not really conclude. In many ways, it returns us to the beginning of the book, as Archimboldi sets out for Mexico, which will, later on, spur the literary critics to do the same.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Different Mirror

by Toki Wright

I caught Toki on stage at the Manifesto Hip-Hop Festival in Toronto last year, and enjoyed his energy and lyricism.

This, his official debut album captures all of those qualities. His songs display a strong performer coming into his own. He has bangers ('More Fiya'), but also more relevant and conscious songs, like 'A Different Mirror' and 'State of Emergency').

The album's best track is 'The Feeling', which features Brother Ali at the perfect point in the album for his more soulful approach to switch things up a bit.

Other appearances are by Scarub and I Self Divine. Most of the production is by Benzilla, although Brother Ali provides a few tracks (I had no idea he produced).

While Toki shouts out Minnesota repeatedly, this album has a very different feel from the rest of the Rhymesayers catalogue, and bears no resemblance to the Doomtree crew, showing that the mid-West has a lot of musical diversity.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Buddha Vol. 1: Kapilavastu

by Osamu Tezuka

Short of leafing through some random books, this might be the first full manga book I've ever read. It's been rare that manga appeals to me, but this title has always caught my eye.

Tezuka, the godfather of Japanese comics, uses this eight-volume title to tell the story of Siddhartha Gautama, although he only appears briefly in this book.

Instead, the first volume is concerned with the travails of Chapra, a slave boy with dreams of freedom and a mean throwing arm; his mother, also a slave; Tatta, a young member of the pariah caste, with magical powers; Naradatta, a Brahmin monk; and General Budai, who ends up adopting Chapra and turning him into a warrior, before discovering his upbringing.

This book is very much concerned with status and caste, as the characters rail against the pre-ordained places they must inhabit in society. None of these characters are historically part of the Buddha myth (unless I don't remember my Hesse from many years ago), but instead seem to be there to provide context and drama to the story. I imagine that Tatta will continue to play an important role in the story in future volumes.

Not typically being a fan of manga, I still found that the book flowed nicely and read quite easily. Some aspects are strange - the updated forms of speech (Tatta calls the animals his 'peeps') and endless procession of cute, Bambi-eyed animals, not to mention the level of nudity not usually seen in comics - but they didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. Tezuka's double-page spreads and landscape shots are absolutely gorgeous.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Greek Street #3

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Davide Gianfelice

Now this is more like it. I've been interested in Greek Street since the first issue, but it is with this one that things are starting to fall into place, and the story is beginning to make a lot more sense. Maybe I'm a little slow, but I felt like there was too much crammed into the first couple of issues without much explanation, but now Milligan is slowing down a little, and relationships and structures are starting to become clearer.

Eddie is being tasked with keeping an eye on Lord Menon for one of the Furey brothers, who clearly doesn't know that Menon's already up to some dirt with another Furey brother. He's got something to do with that dead girl that came back to life last issue as well, and Inspector Dedalus's investigation leads to him, not as a suspect, but as an expert in Ancient Greek.

Now that I can see where all the pieces are on the board, I can get some sense of where this book is going, and I'm beginning to be interested in the characters.

I Am Legion #5

Written by Fabien Nury
Art by John Cassaday

I don't think I have anything new to say about this title. It's moving along at a good clip, but its still a little confusing, as it jumps around in setting without much explanation, and the sporadic publishing schedule makes it hard to remember what went on before. This is one of those books that I wish I'd trade-waited, as it would probably read so much better in a concentrated amount of time.

Cassaday's artwork is lovely as always, and the story is compelling.

Sweet Tooth #1

by Jeff Lemire

Here's the thing with the comic industry: for every brilliant, hard to peg exactly title that stretches the boundaries of the usual that gets canceled, a new one comes along. It's rare that it happens in the same week, but I feel that Sweet Tooth is going to nicely fill any gap left from the finishing up of Young Liars.

The books aren't exactly similar. They are, however, both created by a single person (which is rare at Vertigo, and DC) with a strongly independent background.

Sweet Tooth is set in some form of post-apocalyptic future, where some children are born as human/animal hybrids. Gus is one such child, having deer ears and antlers. He has lived a secluded life with his father, who is slowly succumbing to an illness. By the end of the issue, Gus is left on his own, and meets the first people other than his father that he has ever seen.

As Lemire himself explains in his text piece, the story is made up mostly of the type of small character moments that his Essex County books excelled at. This is a very different beast from those graphic novels, and his art has a more polished look to it. I have a feeling that this is going to be a very good series, and I wish Lemire a lot of success with it.

Oh, I suppose I would be remiss in not pointing out that this first issue is only one dollar. Everyone should go buy it. If you live in Toronto and would like a signed copy, check at The Beguiling.

The Last Resort #2

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo

The zombie genre has become a little played out the last couple of years, but this comic can be seen as a master class in how to combine a disaster movie with a zombie comic, and create one hell of a good read.

The various characters who last issue took a flight to the Caribbean during a hurricane, must now make their way from their burning airplane into the airport's terminal. Along the way, they deal with explosions and shrapnel. That's just about it for this issue. Slowly, it dawns on them that there are other destroyed planes on the runway, and that there are heaps of abandoned luggage and bloodstains in the terminal. They don't realize yet that the island they have landed on has some sort of zombie infestation thing going on - I assume that's next issue.

Meanwhile, we also meet two mysterious people on a wrecked boat, and the rich, potentially mafia-connected playboy and his harem of prostitutes who rescue them. There's something connecting these people to the zombie outbreak, but we don't know what it is yet.

This book has a very deliberate pace to its plot, but it also has plenty of nice character moments. There is a large cast, but most of them are given opportunities to shine. Caracuzzo's art is very nice, and I love the overly stylized Darwyn Cooke cover.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Mighty #8

Written by Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne
Art by Chris Samnee

This title deserves a lot more buzz than it has been getting. Tomasi and Champagne's story keeps ratcheting up the tension between Cole and Alpha One, and Samnee's turning in some of the best work of his career.

In this issue, following his wife's funeral, Cole becomes pretty despondent. Alpha One tries to bring him out of his grief, and also, I think, tests his loyalties. It's becoming apparent that both men are wary of each other, and Samnee does a great job of capturing the cautious glances they give each other. Also in this issue, we begin to learn a little more about Alpha One's past - what we were told earlier in the series is false.

This is a title more people should be checking out.

Human Target Volume 1: Strike Zones

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Javier Pulido

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking back in 2003 or so, when I'd have left a book like this on the stands. I remember getting and liking the first issue, and then, for some strange reason, never getting another issue. I recently found this in a used book store, and decided to give it a go.

This is the good Peter Milligan. The plotting and storytelling are tight, and Pulido's work is fantastic.

The Human Target (is this becoming a TV show?) is an updating of an old Wein and Infantino character from the 70s. Christopher Chance is so good at impersonating people, he basically becomes them to protect them from danger. He's able to intuit things that they don't even know about themselves, and can absorb their physical skills into his muscle memory. The immersion is so deep though, that he can sometimes lose himself in the character.

There are three stories in this volume. The first has Chance playing the part of an aging movie director, and this represents the deepest immersion of his career. He also meets a guy who faked his death on 9/11 to avoid criminal fraud charges, and later goes undercover in a New York baseball team.

These three stories are clearly designed to establish a status quo for the series, and to set Chance up for his eventual return to LA, to deal with his own emotional problems. I look forward to tracking down the second book.

Jonah Hex #47

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Cristiano Cucina

There's not a whole lot to say about this issue - it's somewhere in the middle of the first long Hex arc, and it's most definitely getting padded as we go along. In this issue, Hex and friends face off against some random Mexicans on a river, and get drunk in a small town. Meanwhile, Turnbull meets up with his hired killers in a scene right out of Empire Strikes Back, and Chako Mosquito shows up, leaving only Hex's father or future son to make an appearance.

This is a good book, but I'm ready for this storyline to finish and for things to return to the usual 'done in one' style. I can't escape the feeling that Gray and Palmiotti are just throwing everything against the wall in this. Also, I miss the old-school silent movie style chapter titles.

Cucina is putting some very nice work into this.

Resurrection #3

Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Justin Greenwood and Robbi Rodriguez

This issue of Resurrection has two stories, both related to the question of succession of the office of the President, and Paul Dolan's power play in the wake of the alien invasion. The mystery of what is being guarded in the bank deepens some, and Sarah and Ben pick up new allies.

Guggenheim doesn't seem to be packing as much story into this volume of Resurrection, when compared to the first volume, but he is taking his time to develop his story in such a way as to build interest. Where the first series had more of a road movie quality to it, this one is setting up shop for the long run. It's a good book.

Young Liars #18

by David Lapham
Anyone who looks over this blog can tell that I read a lot of Vertigo books, and that I tend to enjoy them quite a bit. Much of what they publish falls into a couple of categories - the dark fantasy sub-genre seems to be their money maker, but they are more than willing to support historical fiction, dystopian science fiction, and some books that don't really fit any easy description.

Young Liars is of that type - there is no easy way to explain this comic. It has been a non-stop ride of betrayals, twists, alien spiders from Mars, and a lot of insanity. This is the final issue of this series, and I'm not sure I can tell you what this book was all about. There were a few times when I thought I had a handle on it, but then everything would change, and I'd be left feeling clueless again. This last issue does that to me three times. And that's why I'm going to miss this comic so much.

There are very few books on the stands that aren't predictable. That's not always a bad thing - many critics would say that's exactly why comic fans read them. Even when plot intricacies in monthly comics are unpredictable, they are usually entrenched in genre conventions, so while you can be surprised (Norman Osborn is the new Tony Stark?!?), and the status quo can be upset for a while, you know that you will eventually return to familiar ground.

Not so with this book. Lapham has put this story through so many twists, that it is almost impossible to map it. And that, to me, was the greatest strength of this book, followed closely by his dynamic and entertaining artwork. I'm not surprised that this book didn't last - it's a little too different for the comic-buying public, I'm very grateful that it got 18 issues, and that Lapham was able to give the book an ending (even if I didn't really get all the ramifications of it). I know that this review is not going to encourage anyone to go out and pick up the trade (Buy it! You'll be confused!), I hope that it has some kind of continued existence in the trade market, and that Lapham's given the chance to run wild with his imagination again sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Proof #23

Written by Alex Grecian
Art by Riley Rossmo

The 'Julia' arc wraps up in this issue, and it's probably the best single issue of Proof to come out this year. I was surprised last month that there would be another issue to this storyline - it seemed like things were being padded a little, but then this month, the creators provide a conclusion to their story that is pitch perfect in its depiction of the different characters' emotional states, both in the past and in the present.

The nicest part of the book is in the shift in who Proof is narrating his story to. I hadn't seen that coming, but I felt that it was a very fitting way to end things. Also, this issue captured better than any other in the series the conflict between Proof's all too human emotions and his non-human provenance. In many ways, he's more human than the average person, and that comes across in this issue.

This book ends off with a text piece on the real-life story of Julia Pastrana, which is not all that different from what is portrayed in this comic. I hadn't realized that she had been a real person, and the well-researched and explained article about her makes me want to start back at the beginning of the arc, and read it all through again.

Sometimes I question where this book is going, but issues like this one make certain that I'm going to stick around as a loyal reader each month.