Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #22

The Asylum of Horrors #1
Legion of Super-Heroes #48
Vixen: Return of the Lion #2

On the one hand, it's a pretty damned sorry state of affairs when I can only muster three new comics reviews, two of which are books that will be ending in coming months. On the other hand, I'll be buying and reviewing more paperback collections for The Dirty Trader, so there's that.

The Asylum of Horrors #1 (Asylum Press, 2008, $4.95)
In a day and age when the Big Two look set on committing suicide by trying to charge four fucking dollars for a 32-page comic (about ten of ads,) this offering is damned impressive. At nearly a hundred pages of new, full color material on high quality paper for one Abe Lincoln, amounting to a mini-trade paperback, that's bang for your buck. It's such a deal, I'm inclined to overlook the shitty storytelling. Mind, there's some nice traditional art here, plus some really fantastic painted work, and even some Photo Shop shit that doesn't make my eyes bleed. The problem is in the words, serviceable when provided by publisher Frank Forte. Otherwise, there are several stories here that seem an excuse to link pin-ups together, and at least one so rife with spelling and grammatical errors, it's fairly certain English was not the writer's first language. With surnames like Rintoul, Kudranski, Werneck, Gucunj, and Ponomarew, it isn't hard to imagine day jobs at some former Soviet Bloc email spam factory. There's no shortage of gore or disturbing imagery, but horror has to seep into your brain, not wow you with attention to anatomical detail.

An exception was the first chapter of "Ruined Earth" by Billy George, a bit of appropriately purple prose that sells a vision of Hell, but suffers from narrative interruptus. Kevin Colden's "Caveat Emptor" provides a heretical twist that won't shock anyone with underground comix sensibilities, but works reasonably well regardless. There are some other notables here, though I expect mileage will very by personal fixation. Suffice to say, if you enjoy contemporary graphic horror, at the price, this may well be worth your while. The art and production values are enough to validate the purchase, and you're probably easier to please than my curmudgeonly ass. Maybe you ought to look at their online preview here.

Legion of Super-Heroes #48 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
The story was much smoother this month than last, and I was pleased by the return of Francis Manapul. There's still a lot going on, but more time is given to allow for proper digestion. However, this series ends in two months, the threat is getting more complicated, and I can't imagine this all getting resolved without god coming out of a box in the final installment. I mean, ten pages are spent on testing potential recruits, which seems more like padding and/or an excuse to slide a new Shooter-created Legionnaire into the cannon before closing shop than anything essential.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #2 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
It's been a while since I read the first issue, but I was able to pick up easily enough. The whole issue follows the classic trope of sending a wounded hero off on a vision quest. It's pretty good for what it is, but that's a tired cliche, so it's probably best that Cafu's art is so damned purty. Hell, perhaps because of that saving grace, I'm reminded of those old Barry Windsor-Smith X-Men issues where Claremont would also pack his favorite black heroine off to Africa. Of course, those were done-in-ones, where G. Willow Wilson's script is all decompressed indulgence. She gets credit for bringing up the old "why doesn't the super-hero just call their pals" argument, but her answer isn't at all intelligent. I'm meant to pre-order her "Air" trade this month, but this is not helping her close the deal.

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