Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Comics for 24 November 2004, Part II

I'm not even going to get into my problems with my particular comic book store right now. I like them and they're a small business and they give subscribers and discount, but they have some issues. So I didn't buy these books there, because they didn't have them out. So here's Part II of comics I bought from last week. These are actually quality titles, so hunt them down if you can.

Fade From Grace #3 by Gabriel Benson and Jeff Amano
$1.99, Beckett

This is the strongest issue of the title so far, and even though I'm still not sold on it, if Benson and Amano continue in this vein, I might be with this for the long run. We get two parts of the issue -- John and Grace test John's powers in the first part, and John battles a bad guy dressed in a big robot suit in the second part. Both of these are comic-book cliches, but they're handled nicely here. John has a nasty sense of humor when Grace tests his powers, and the enormity of what's happened to him comes through when he decides to fade something completely. It's a nice section. Going after Dante is handled okay, as well, although it's not clear why John's powers fail him at a crucial time, nor why they come back. It's something that I hope will be explored in later issues. The final page is why this story, with its echoes of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, resonates and why I hope the title will do well. Grace is much more involved, it seems, in John's heroic ventures than Mary Jane has been, and you really get the sense of two people who are committed to each other. Not easy to do after only three issues, but it's here.

The art is beautiful. Occasionally the players are very concrete and realized, while at other places, the lines are hazier, suggesting diffused sunlight, speed, or darkness. It's really interesting how Amano works with shades and lines to create a wonderful looking book.

This book and The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty remain excellent reads. They're totally worth the money.

Frank Ironwine #1 by Warren Ellis and Carla Speed McNeil
$3.50, Avatar/Apparat

$3.50 is a little much to pay for this, but it's still a nice story with art that suits the book well. Ellis has said that his Apparat comics are all one-shots that, presumably, could lead to ongoing series, but whatever he wants to do with them, I'm sure they'll be well worth reading. Ellis has a great appreciation for what makes a story interesting, whether it's a police procedural like this or a sci-fi epic like Ocean or his superhero work on The Authority. Despite the fact that for once, I knew who the bad guy was (and, more importantly, WHY the crime took place) pretty quickly (I usually don't try to figure mysteries out, because I'm no good at it), this is a quirky little story about a cop who can "read" the city (but not like Jack Hawksmoor can) and the crime he's called upon to solve. That's pretty much it. I'm sure there's more that I'm missing, with echoes of Raymond Chandler and Sam Spade, but you don't need to know about pulp detectives to enjoy this. The art is very rough and a little Crumb-like, but it fits the tone of the book and Ironwine is sufficiently seedy and burned out. Ellis has three other Apparat books coming out, so instead of buying his Iron Man, buy one of these!

Small Gods #5 by Jason Rand and Juan Ferreyra
$2.95, Image

Small Gods is rapidly becoming one of my favorite books, and this is good place to jump on, since it starts a new story. I wasn't sure where this book was going to go, but apparently we're not going to follow the cops from the first story all the time. I'm sure they'll show up again, but in this issue, we're introduced to a new bunch of cops and a down-on-his-luck telepath who is recruited by them. There's not much action in this issue, except that we see how Robert Pope (the telepath) uses his powers (to run cons) and that the cops bully him into working for them. In today's comics world, where everything is geared toward the trade paperback, this is just a first chapter, and it feels like it. It makes me angry, but it's the way comics works these days. The story is still a good one, because you get the feeling Rand and Ferreyra have really thought about this world and the social ramifications of telepaths walking around.

A strength of this book is the art. The black and white suits the gritty tone of the book well, and Ferreyra's pencils have gotten stronger each issue. The way Robert's telepathy is displayed visually, with ghost figures moving seconds before they actually do, is a nice touch. The characters look like real people, without the ridiculous proportions of most comic book people. The details of every panel also help the realism that pervades this book.

Another good book from Image. Why aren't you buying it?