No burning comics news to report today. I did record new podcasts this weekend, so you can look forward to hearing my next crossovercast with the “No Podcast For Old Men” crew next week on a subject near and dear to all of our hearts – “Star Wars.” Two weeks from then I’m going to make good on a promise from an earlier column with my thoughts on the late Drew Hayes’ “Poison Elves.” After that? Well, thanks to RightStuf.com’s Viz sale, I finally picked up the rest of Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster” (after reading it years ago in scanlated form). So a podcast on that and “20th Century Boys” might be in the offing. Though what I’d really like to do is get the “NPFOM” crew to read “Pluto” since the result of trying to write a sci-fi manga with hard sci-fi elements, but no actual hard science would make for interesting discussion. Anyways, on with the reviews:
DMZ vol. 6: War Powers: Easily one of the strongest volumes in writer Brian Wood and (primary) artist Riccardo Burchielli’s series. Back in the city after a vacation following Parco Delgado’s election as the governor of the DMZ, reporter Matty Roth finds himself in the thick of things again. In order to make good on all of his promises, Parco needs money and Matty’s Triad buddy Wilson is supposedly sitting on a store of gold left unsiezed since the start of the war. While following up on that is one thing, Matty’s even less sure about the man he helped bring to power after he winds up being the delivery boy for Parco’s “insurance policy.” Fascinating in the way it shows Parco’s political maneuvering and strategizing, this volume also sets the stage for what is most likely going to be Matty’s downfall. I think it’ll be very entertaining to watch this man, who didn’t realize until it was too late that he was being played, try to become a player himself.
Gunsmith Cats: Burst vol. 4: It’s hard for any series to keep its momentum going after more than a year between volumes, especially if they didn’t have much to begin with. While the gunfights and gun otaku trappings that have been this series stock-in-trade for the longest time remain compelling, little else does in this volume. After I read the first volume, I wondered why mangaka Kenichi Sonoda decided to revive his signature series since it didn’t seem like he had anything new to say about the characters or stories to tell. The two volumes that followed were more entertaining, but that “lack of ideas” issue rears its head again with this volume as Sonoda brings back Goldie. She was the “big bad” of the first series and her story was pretty much done. Now she’s back, and I might’ve been more amenable to her return if Sonoda didn’t restore her to status quo through an illogical contrivance that makes heroine Rally Vincent look like an idiot. This volume isn’t enough to make me stop reading the series entirely, but I won’t be chomping at the bit for the next volume.
Eden: It’s an Endless World vol. 12: This, on the other hand, I wish Dark Horse would publish more regularly. A fantastic sci-fi action series with ideas as impressive as its gunfights, it’s a series that has me eagerly anticipating the release of each new volume. The action showpiece here is Elijah and Alethia’s showdown with one of Propater’s android assassins, the meat of this volume comes from the bonding between Maya and Hanna. While Hanna is still bristling at being a forced guest at one of Propater’s safehouses, Maya takes the time to teach her about the ways of the world by delving into the memory of the colloid virus (still engulfing people around the world) and showing her the truth being her sister Gina’s ill-fated love affair and drug addiction. I realize that my summation of the events of this volume probably makes things more confusing, and that just means that it’s not a good jumping on point. If you haven’t read it, start from the beginning – you’ll be glad you did.
Dan Dare Omibus: Collecting the miniseries originally published by the now defunct Virgin Comics. That said, let me say now that it was worth collecting, if only for the fact that it’s one of the RARE instances where you’ll see writer Garth Ennis actually show respect to an iconic comic character (to the Brits, anyway). The story is fairly standard issue: An old threat is coming from beyond the solar system and it’s carrying a black hole along with it. Retired for many years, legendary war hero and pilot Dan Dare is called back into action to save us all. Except that not all is what it seems and Dare’s return may just turn out to be his last hurrah. Ennis writes in his introduction about the appeal of Dare’s idealism, and he pulls off the difficult task of making it a quality to be proud of instead of descending into sentimental claptrap. He’s also helped immensely by the art of Gary Erskine, who makes the retro-sci-fi look of the comic seem believable and appealing.
Cable vol. 2: Waiting for the End of the World: In which Scott Summers broods about letting the title character go at the end of “Messiah Complex,” Bishop unsuccessfully tracks him through time, and then he takes a few years off to raise Hope before having to pick up his guns to defend her and their settlement from humanoid cockroaches. If you’re like me, then the main reason you’re reading this is because it’s directly following up on one of the key threads from the “X-men’s” last, excellent, crossover. It’s not bad, but as with a lot of “X-Men” comics these days, it probably won’t have much appeal to people who aren’t well versed in its continuity or have an interest in where the franchise is going. Still, writer Duane Swierczyinski has a good handle on the characters, and it’s a rare writer that can make Cyclops’ brooding actually seem interesting.
Frankenstein’s Womb: Warren Ellis has now done three “graphic novellas” for Avatar, and this is easily the least of them. His first one, “Crecy,” was an excellent history lesson about a battle that helped shape modern warfare, and his second, “Aetheric Mechanics,” was a fun riff on Sherlock Holmes that also had the funniest use of profanity I’ve seen in an Ellis book. (And if you’re familiar with his penchant for profanity, you’ll know that’s saying something.) This… has Frankenstein’s Monster nattering on about the future to Mary Shelley in a castle before she writes her signature work. Less a story than Ellis banging on about an idea he had for 48 pages, it has some nice art by Marek Oleksicki but not much else.