Monday, December 26, 2005

Comics Recap: Makeup Sex

Restoring my faith in comics one book at a time...

Justice #3
Something about this book really appeals to me, and it's not just the art. It's strange because it takes on a serious tone in alot of the scenes, and is in essence an adult re-retelling of the Superfriends which could easily go awry. But Krueger and Ross really nail the characters in a very short span of pages. This issue spends time with Martian Manhunter, and it captures the character about as well as can be done. MM is so often relegated to watchtower observer or backup muscle in other books its nice to see a story that "gets him" and reminds us why he's been around so damn long. The presentation of the book plays such a strong role in the attachment to the characters it portrays, Ross has found a wonderful niche painting over Doug Braithwaite (while I'm sure he could have done the entire thing himself the additional layout support must ease a tremendous production burden). The moody lighting, color schemes, and Ross' seemingly ever-present high-noon skylight give the main characters alot of weight, here Gorilla Grodd can be considered a freakish menace and seeing what Cheetah is up to becomes downright spooky. I can't wait to see what future issues have in store and the hero/villain combinations they showcase.

Hawkman #47
Here is some good eats! I've mentioned before that Chris Batista draws a hell of a Hawkman, and a damn sexy Hawkgirl while he's at it. This ish really shows that off, as it's jampacked with halkfolk of all sorts. It's a continuation of fallout form the excellent Rann-Thanagar War miniseries, and looks to pick up right where it left off. It almost reads as one giant fight scene, but there is actually a ton of stuff going on. I gotta give it to Palmiotti and Gray for managing some great fight sequences while pushing the story forward. A key storyline from past issues of Hawkman is wrapped up and they even throw in a Durlan invasion. Just when that gets rolling, the cliffahnger has the re-appearance of Blackfire with her own invasion force. It's non-stop, and its awesome!

Tom Strong #34+35
I was looking forward to the Dr. Permafrost story in issue #35, and Peter Hogan does a fine job tying in past events and characters. Having the whole thing drawn by Chris Sprouse was even better. But I was really suprised by Steve Moore's issue #34-- I had put it off for a while for whatever reasons though now I think of it as one of the better Tom Strong stories, Alan Moore or no. It's self contained in this one issue, and has some great twists and turns while exploring the fate of a fictional/non-fictional character. The world created by Armond Delatour and Tom Strong's interaction with that world provides a great story. I had some trouble with Paul Gulacy's art, it's not my preferred cup of tea, but he certainly makes use of his pages. The story is dense and it does take alot of art to keep pace. In a time of comics decompression and ridiculously stretched out stories wrought with splash pages and little if any background images, "The Spires of Samakhara" is a lesson in getting your money's worth.

X-Men/Power Pack #1+2
Guys, girls, this is a really great book. It's probably the best X-men book on the shelves right now. Obviously it is targeted to younger readers, but by doing so it stays true to a kind of story that the the mainline books do not (my humble opinion, of course). The art, first of all, is just sublime. The GuriHiru tag team has a crisp and open style with an animated flair and manga roots-- altho not too much of each, which is what makes it so accessible. The coloring is about as perfect as it gets for this style of art, mixing the traditional animated cuts with soft blends. Every scene is constructed by a careful palette and the characters pop off every panel. Kids are hard to draw well, but GuriHiru deftly captures the adolescence-thru-teen years of Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie Power. Katie often steals the show because she's so darn cute! The X-Men characters fall in just as well, remaining true to their iconic images. The stories are fun and light... and funny, the scene in issue 1 with the Wolverine costume party is a clever summation of the character. The art was what hooked me, but writer Mark Sumerak takes the Power Pack kids and turns them into a family I'd actually like to follow-- no small feat considering I had zero desire to read the original Power Pack books those many years ago. Give this book a try (and the original Power Pack miniseries by the same team from earlier this year), you may be surprised.

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #3
If this book proves anything, it's that DC needs Guy Gardner as a Green lantern. Call it odd, but I have followed Guy from his humble days in Green Lantern, over to Justice League, even over to his own mismanaged series Guy Gardner: Warrior. Maybe a Gardner retrospective is in order... but back to the Corps. I really dig this book, and the look has a lot to do with it. Penciller Patrick Gleason is a great fit-- he's got the knack for all the various human and alien characters and can go nutty-cosmic when he needs to. There are two inkers on this issue, Prentis Rollins and Christian Alamy, and they cover each others tracks pretty well. I haven't seen any of Gleason's pencilled pages, but from what I can see the inking is taking things a long way. And yet leaves the pages open enough for the wonderful colors of Moose Boumann. This issue in particular stands out, the whole of it is rendered in warm oranges/reds and that bright Lantern Green-- it's awesome. Letters by Pat Brosseau are not to be left out of the equation, it may seem like I'm trying to name everyone but I can't tell you how many books are trashed by sloppy, unthoughtful lettering. As with alot of the secondary trades, sometimes you can tell you're doing allright if no one notices-- but I notice, man!

Green Lantern Corps is benefitting from alot of pieces falling together and just overall good production. The inkers mesh with the penciller, the colorist really knows his shit, not only can the letterer read a page but the book is printed on nice stock so the blacks of the letters match the blacks of the page. There are a few instances of "Comicraft Syndrome" but things a re much more in sync than the majority of big company books. By contrast, the telltale digital lettering over on Green Lantern #6 really stands out over the painted art, but here it fits just right. Storywise, it's very character driven (I could use a little more sci in my sci-fi, personally, but it's early) and has yet to draw too deep from the clusterfuck that is Infinite Crisis. Corps is shaping up nice, I hope it keeps its quality and is picked up as an ongoing after the initial six issues.

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