No podcast this week, but we're all set for the next few. In the meantime -- reviews!
Runaways: Dead End Kids
Back when Brian K. Vaughan announced that he was leaving "Runaways," the series that he created along with Adrian Alphona, I remarked to the owner of the comic shop I frequent that the series was pretty much doomed unless they got someone like Joss Whedon to take over. Shock of all shockers, Whedon was then announced as the next writer, and he then took well over a year to write the six issues in this collection. As you'd expect from Whedon this volume is chock-full of his trademark witty dialogue and he's got a great handle on all of the Runaways. The problem is that the story he wants to tell -- the kids getting tossed back a hundred years into the past, where they encounter a world of "Wonders" acting as precursors to the Marvel Universe -- suffers from being "too" dense. That Whedon, and artist Michael Ryan, are able to make this work as well as they did in four issues is impressive, but there are lots of things that get the short shrift here (Nico's encounters with the Witchbreaker being the prime example). Had the first two issues not been spent on hijinks with the Kingpin and the Punisher, it probably would've been a stronger story overall. Yeah, we wouldn't have seen Molly gut-punching Frank Castle, but I don't think it would've mattered in the long run.
The Walking Dead vol. 9: Here We Remain
I said on the Robert Kirkman podcast a while back that vol. 8 made me start looking forward to the series again, and vol. 9 shows that my faith wasn't misplaced. Rick and his son Carl do their best to cope with the horrific events of the last volume, and generally do a pretty bad job of it, but things get better once they run into some more familiar faces. We're also introduced to some new characters who look like they're going to provide the thrust of the plot for the next fifty or so issues: One of them knows what caused the zombie plague, and he needs to get to Washington D.C. to get in touch with whatever's left of the government to fix things. Naturally, he can't talk about what caused it because it's CLASSIFIED, but Kirkman does a good job writing around that elephant, positioning the need to get to D.C. as something the characters are doing because it's better than just sitting around. Good stuff overall, and I hope that Kirkman's promise to get all the issues of this and "Invincible" out on time this year means we'll get vol. 10 that much quicker. Ghost Rider: Hell Bent & Heaven Bound
Like most superheroes, my interest in Ghost Rider extends only as far as who is writing him. (The only other "Ghost Rider" collections I have are written by Garth Ennis, if that's any indication.) I'd been hearing some decent things about this collection, and since Jason Aaron does a great job with "Scalped" and the "Get Mystique" arc of "Wolverine," I figured I'd give it a shot. What I got for my money was some entertainingly over-the-top action that saw Johnny Blaze pitted against a religious madman in prison, cannibal ghosts, and gun-toting nurses in service of an angel that had a hand in setting Blaze up as the Ghost Rider, and now seeks to overthow heaven itself. Unlike "Scalped," Aaron isn't trying to say something profound, he's just looking to make sure his readers have a blasphemous good time here and he succeeds. My biggest complaint with the book is that it's mainly setup for what looks to be a fairly epic story, and based on the sales numbers I've seen for the bood, I'm not sure if he'll have enough time to tell it. Even so, if you like "Ghost Rider" or Jason Aaron, this volume is worth picking up.