Men Tell No Tales #1 (Arcana)
By Dwight McPherson & Mike Fiorentino
/ Fernando Acosta
Great — a book about pirates is back on the shelves.
We need good pirate comics. Unfortunately this isn’t one.
From the typos on the first page, and on to the shots of a ship
looking like it’s only crewed by four people (I guess
someone doesn’t like drawing crowd scenes), to the incompressible
story, this is a mess. I gave up about halfway through.
Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel)
By Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain
Yet another attempt to re-launch the Ghost Rider franchise
in anticipation of the upcoming movie. Perhaps this six-issue
series is an attempt to see if there is sufficient interest
in the character to justify an on-going series to coincide with
the theatrical release. Whatever the reason for releasing this
series at this time, it falls short as an engaging piece of
storytelling and is not likely to appeal to anyone outside of
die-hard Ghost Rider fans (are there any of those?). In fact
the title character only appears here in a few panels of flashback
as others talk about him. The main story revolves around two
angelic types having a conversation while perched on a skyscraper
in New York. It’s full of typical Ennis references to
various demonic hordes and prophecies. The art by Crain is flashy
without being spectacular.
Hire #3 (Dark Horse)
By Mark Waid & Claude St. Aubin
In the spirit of the BMW short movies featuring Clive Owen
as the mysterious “driver”, these books tell short
stories by different creators. Mark Waid tells a at times amusing
story as The Driver tries to find out why a group of gun-wielding
thugs are so interested in his apparently non-descript passenger.
St Aubin’s work suffers from an obvious misunderstanding
of vehicle dynamics that plagues many comics artists. Overall
it’s a reasonable book, but not one to generate any excitement
or interest in picking up the rest of the books in the series.
JSA Classified #3 (DC)
By Geoff Johns & Amanda Conner
This new JSA spin-off series is incredibly popular at the
moment and the first and second issues have gone through multiple
printings, but this is the first issue I’ve picked up
(mainly because it also featured The Huntress). I’m not
sure what happened in the previous two issues, beyond that Power
Girl seems to be having some sort of personal identity crisis
following a recent JSA trip through time. In this issue she
seeks out The Huntress in the hope of having someone to talk
to about here problems. The Huntress seems an odd choice, but
Power Girl’s reasoning is well explained. The first half
of the book is an enjoyable old-fashioned “team-up”
style romp of the heroes beating up the bad guys while indulging
in snappy conversation. The second half focuses on Power Girl’s
problems and included references to her many different possible
origins, which can quickly become confusing even to a reader
with a fair knowledge of her convoluted history in the DCU.
Pulse #11 (Marvel)
By Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
The cover gives the idea that this issue will include the
birth of Jessica Jones’s child and have an appearance
by the New Avengers. Well, none of that happens. Instead we
get what appears to be two unrelated storylines (that I’m
sure will converge in the not too distant future). The main
story is basically 13 pages of Jessica Jones having a conversation
with Sue Richards and Carol Danvers on the concerns of being
a superhero and a parent. This section displays Bendis’
skill at dialog and human observation, but does little to develop
the characters. The rest focuses on reporter Ben Urich following
a story that involves ex-Avenger D-Man and a jewelry store robbery.
Overall a disappointing and disjointed read.
Seven Soldiers: Mister
Miracle #1 (DC)
By Grant Morrison & Pasqual Ferry
Grant Morrison tackles a Jack Kirby creation in the latest
segment of his Seven Soldiers “mega-series.”
This isn’t the Mr. Miracle you expect; for a start it
isn’t Scott Free but an escape artist named Shilo Norman,
who has all the trappings of a rock star. During an escape stunt
using an artificial black hole this Mister Miracle encounters
the mysterious Metron and gets a glimpse of the worlds of the
New Gods. Once back in his own “reality” things
are no longer what they might appear to be. This mini-series
shows a lot of promise and has the potential to be some of the
best work I’ve seen from Morrison in a long time.
In Paradise #76 (Abstract)
By Terry Moore
Terry Moore is back on form as at long last he brings the
key players in his on-going drama back together. From moments
of pure comedy to moments of high emotional impact, he once
again shows his skill in playing with human drama. If, like
me, you haven’t read SiP in a while then this is the issue
with which to reacquaint yourself with Francine, Katchoo, David
and the rest of the crowd. Reading this issue was like meeting
up with old friends again.
Supreme Power: Hyperion #1 (Marvel /
By J. Michael Straczynski & Dan Jurgens
The start of this five-part mini series focusing on the Supreme
Power protagonist is basically little more than a “gathering
of the players” episode as a new team of government controlled
“supers” is assembled to act as a control against
Hyperion. But these new guys have some serious social issues.
The combination of JMS’s dark take on the superhero mythos
combined with Jurgen’s traditional pencil style adds a
layer of irony to an already complex tale.
Blood Oath #1 (Marvel)
By Michael Avon Oeming and Scott Kolins
After a few months absence from the comic shop shelves it
was good to see the God of Thunder once again. Opening the book
I was even more delighted to find out within a few pages that
this was the classic Thor in action. A Thor whose alter-ego
was still crippled surgeon Don Blake. The opening pages of him
in action among the canyons of New York were an exercise in
pure nostalgia. The summoning to the halls of Asgard where among
the best and most logical I’ve read in any Thor saga,
but once the story moves into the realms of mythology it seems
to lose its drive. The motivation of Thor in aligning with an
accused Warriors Three is too rash and out of character. The
way they are tricked into the quest that will be the main story
for this six-issue mini-series also seems too easy. I hope that
there is more going on than seems evident in this first issue,
otherwise it will just be another oh-hum quest story of the
type we’ve seen hundreds of times before.
Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1 (Marvel)
By Mark Millar & Jae Lee
This is basically an exercise to introduce The Inhumans into
Marvel’s alternative “Ultimate” universe.
As such I found it to be a confusing tale which did little to
convey the intrinsic nobility of The Inhumans. Jae Lee’s
muddy art style and the continuous “fog like” backgrounds
were, in my opinion, a mismatch for this particular subject.
An opportunity wasted.
Picks Of The Week
By Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith
This new book is Ellis’s self-proclaimed
attempt to produce “a slab of culture” at
pocket change pricing. The concept is to produce a comic
with a self-contained story each issue while fitting into
a larger overall story. One that is densely told and can
be understood on its own terms. This opening issue introduces
the main character, police detective Richard Fell and
the city of Snowtown, a place with a mysterious past.
In typical Ellis style the strange murder that he solves
is based on a true case and given his own inimitable twist.
This is Ellis back on form, the best thing he has done
since Transmetropolitan, and in Templesmith he
has found the perfect artist to delineate the strangeness
of the settings and the quirkiness of his characters.
By keeping the story to 16 pages and employing a rigid
nine-panel page device Ellis succeeds in his aim to tell
a gripping tale with a defined beginning, middle and end.
The backup text pages give depth to the series and its
aims. With a cover price of just $1.99 and no ads interrupting
the flow of the story, this is what the modern comic book
should be. I’ll be following this series closely
and hope that it’s successful enough to encourage
some other publishers to take a long hard look at how
their books are structured.
Lantern Corps: Recharge #1 (DC)
By Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons &
There is something abut the underlying
concept of the Green Lantern that I’ve always found
to be vaguely ridiculous, and it's always put me off reading
any book about the solo GL’s on a consistent basis.
However, when there’s a bunch of them together it’s
a different story, and characterization and group dynamics
can overcome any problems with the basic premise. So Green
Lantern Corps was a regular read for me and I was
delighted to see it back on the shelf, especially with
one of my favorite creators, self-confessed GL aficionado
Dave Gibbons attached. Ideally I’d have like to
have seen him tackle this project as a solo writer / artist,
but we can’t have everything. This first issue is
a basic “gathering of the heroes” lead-in
to the formation of a new Corps and as such works well.
Old favorites returned and some intriguing new characters
were established. Personally I’ll be back to keep
a check on what they get up to over the coming months.