Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Comic Cavalcade

Hey kids! Comics! yes, it's time for another batch of new comics reviews. By now you're probably all familiar with my pull list, but while I'd love to present you with reviews of all sorts of new and different titles every month, my finances prevent that from happening. However, there's a simple solution for that: comp copies. You listening, Marvel and DC? How about you, Dark Horse and Image? Well, maybe not Image, but if anyone else out there wants to send me some free comics to review, let me know and I'm sure we can work something out.

Until that happens, though, here are some reviews of titles you've no doubt grown to love, with one special surprise:


Paul Tobin writing, Vicenc Villagrasa and Terry Paillot art

Yes, it's MODELS, INC. #1. Technically this came out a little while ago, but if you're that offended, you can always ask for your money back. Oh, that's right, this site is free. So suck it!

I mean, thanks for reading. And if you have been reading awhile, you may recall a rant I did a little while ago about the way women are portrayed in comics and how one of the lamentable side effects of this is that there are very few comics actually aimed at bringing in new female readers. Well, MODELS, INC. is the exception: it's a collection of Marvel's most famous romance and teen comic characters from back in the 50's (such as Patsy and Hedy, Millie the Model and Chili), revived in a new series that mixes modeling with drama.

So how is it? Well, it's no Night Nurse, but it's not terrible either. There's some pre-requisite action (our gals stopping some petty thieves, which isn't hard considering Patsy Walker is a member of the Avengers) and some melodrama when the fashion photog gets show and one of the models is set up as the killer. Some of the dialogue and setup seemed a little forced, but overall it wasn't bad. Plus, of course, this issue features a backup story where Tim Gunn from Project Runway dons a suit of Iron Man armor to defeat a platoon of AIM agents trying to pilfer superhero costumes from a Janet Van Dyne fashion retrospective. Now that's awesome.

My Grades: The main story gets a B; the potential is there, which outweighs the awkwardness. The backup story gets an A+, of course. And the cover and general design of the series, which emulates fashion magazines, gets an A as well.

Jonah Hex #49

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti writing, Cristiano Cucina art

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled comics, which means DC cult books that nobody else on the planet seems to be buying. Which is fine as long as they keep publishing them anyway. Somehow Jonah Hex has managed to hang on for 49 issues despite selling roughly 12k copies a month, which is a miracle. What could possibly be keeping the series afloat?

Well, it might be because they are expecting a boost from the upcoming Jonah Hex movie next year, but it might also be because the series continues to be well written and well drawn, garnering it critical acclaim. Of course, acclaim doesn't put food on the table, but it does lead to stories like the "Six Gun Wa"r arc that concludes in this issue; the first extended storyline in the current series, "Six Gun War" features a who's who of guest stars and hangers on, bringing together pretty much every character not just from the first four years of this volume, but also from the original Jonah Hex series. That means the return of Hex's arch-enemies, Quentin Turnbull and El Papagayo, and help from Hex friends such as Bat Lash, Tallulah Black and El Diablo.

Yes, for hardcore Hex fans like me, this has been a great, fun read. Unfortunately, the very end is a bit of a letdown, as Gray & Palmiotti decided to keep their options open for future stories at the expense of giving this arc the kind of epic closure it probably deserved. The fact that they felt this was necessary, however, is a good sign, because otherwise this would have been a perfect way to close out the series if such a thing had been called for. So that, at least, was one bright spot in what otherwise might have been just a tiny bit of a letdown.

My Grades: The arc as a whole gets a B+; the pacing was just a bit rambling in places and the legion of super-assassins sent after Hex had more potential than they ended up displaying. But it was still a fun read anyway. This issue gets a B; it would have been an A if not for the unsatisfying conclusion.

Warlord #8

Mike Grell story and art

So, for the last few months, I have been lamenting the fact that nobody has been reading or buying Warlord, a situation that I am convinced was caused because creator Mike Grell was only writing the series instead of also drawing it. Well, this issue (and last) Grell actually does pick up his pencil and draws Warlord as well. So, hurray for that.

However, as great as Grell's art is (and I think he gets better and better as time goes by) I'm still worried that this might be a case of too little, too late. The series should have led off with Grell art to get people on board to begin with; bringing him on for issue 7 is just playing to an empty house. And unfortunately, the story still isn't hitting on all cylinders. This two-parter involves a mysterious woman, some memory loss and some hazy philosophizing, but sadly it doesn't feature Shado, so similarities end there. Instead, this is a vignette that discusses the nature of Warlord's character (familiar ground for Grell) and does so with some unusually choppy storytelling (the jump from present to flashback midway though page two is jarring at best).

Mr. Grell, I'm begging you: please, please get this up to speed before DC and the reading public gives up on this book completely.

My Grade: The art gets a big fat A+. I can only give the final product, however, a B at best, and that's entirely on the strength of the art; the story lets it and the reader down.

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