Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #44

Days Missing #1
Hero Comics (2009)
King City #1
Marvel Super Hero Squad #1

Days Missing #1 (Archaia, 2009, $0.99)
Just about the time I realized I liked Phil Hester's writing not only more than his art, but over most other scripter's prose, I ran into a number of obstacles in appreciating it. I ordered the first two volumes of Firebreather, only to have the initial trade fall out of print, leaving its follow-up unread on my shelf. Desperado Publishing's collection of The Atheist was overpriced, while Hester's first The Darkness collection shipped late and read like work-for-hire. Here he adapts a Gene Roddenberry-related premise in a very affordable format, but it's turned over to a new creative team hereafter. That's a shame, as the premise of an especially long-lived guardian shepherding sentient life on Earth through its most critical crisis points, hardly atypical, works wonderfully under Hester's care. Reading like The Phantom Stranger finally done justice, this unidentified benefactor navigates political upheaval and deadly plagues with a care and consideration too often missing from genre fiction. The stakes are high, the circumstances are relevant to modern life, and the protagonist is clearly pained by the choices he must make. The presumably painted art of Frazer Irving lends additional weight and verisimilitude, sorely lacking in Hester's partner on Vampirella, and welcome here. Given the price and self-contained story, you'd be a fool not to give this book a try

Hero Comics (IDW, 2009, $3.99)
Right off the bat, there's a Grendel cover by Matt Wagner, but the only story about a 1980s creator-owned character inside is an irritatingly obtuse tale of Howard Chaykin's American Flagg. This is followed by a one-page, first person confessional by Josh Medors, which is nonetheless easily the best story here. A two-pager by David Lloyd goes nowhere fast, while four pages by Lowell Francis and Gene Ha take second place (despite Zander Cannon's questionable lettering.) Gene Colan brings the "meh" for a page, which is redeemed by two from Bill Willingham offering an ersatz Atom and a plea for support. Five pages of Art Adams work also goes a long way toward earning your dollars. There are more pin-ups, and a cute Kaare Andrews four-pager in the Warren manner from there. A William Messner-Loebs page is pretty basic, while Jim McLauchlin and Rodolfo Migliari offer one better. All told, you should just give your four bucks directly to the worthy cause of the HERO Initiative, and save a tree at the same time.

King City #1 (Image, 2009, $2.99)
This reformatting of Brandon Graham's Tokyopop graphic novel is full of attitude and opinions, as well as off-the-wall goofs, but short on innovation and story. There are some Grant Morrison-style "mad ideas," but as presented they come off forced and pretentiously "hip." The book is drawn in an urban "graffiti" style, Jamie Hewlett by way of Eduardo Risso, but nowhere near as intriguing as that mash-up suggests. The script is talky without saying anything. Graham claims in an interview that if a television show (or even a random chapter of a novel) can't hook him in one episode, "it's not good." I read four arbitrary "chapters" and a full issue of his work, and based on his own criteria, he shouldn't quit his day job.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #1 (Marvel, 2009, $2.99)
I'm not at present a big fan of Chris Giarrusso, who was fired from his job producing Bill Watterson flavored kid-friendly comic strips featuring Marvel characters to make way for this more licensing friendly product. Don't disregard my opinion as sour grapes. Marvel Super Hero Squad #1 is one of the shittiest comics Marvel has printed this year. The story is patronizing, moronic, and nutless, while still being excessively violent and coarse for its intended audience of dishearteningly slow pre-schoolers. Already priced at a wallet-raping three bucks, it only offers 12 pages of something vaguely resembling a sequential story, four single panel gag pages, six pages of comic strips (two strips over three panels each,) and a reprint of a 1973 page of dubious advertisements. Unbelievably, three writers assume credit for this travesty, and not a one is named Alan Smithee. I prefer the art of Christopher Jones to Giarrusso, but I assume he's working off the models used in children's bedding, toys, and so on. That leaves a soulless, joyless, prefabricated plastic comic to sully the hands of America's unsuspecting youth, though never for long, as Star Comics proved a quarter century past.

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