Monday, May 02, 2005

Best of April

In this post I'm reprinting reviews of items for which I gave a rating of 4 or better in the month of April:

Seven Soldiers: Zatana #1
by Grant Morrison, Ryan Sook & Mick Gray
Zatanna by Morrison & Sook? I was sold on this as soon as it was announced, and it's just as good as I'd hoped it would be. Everyone's favorite fishnet-wearing magician has been having a tough time of it lately and has turned to a super-hero support group to deal with her self-esteem issues. I like how Morrison characterizes Z as a woman who is not quite at home as a magician or a super-hero (though maybe her self-esteem would be better if she wasn't always dressing up in fetish clothing...) Once again Morrison manages to quickly introduce us to several new characters, and he and Sook give us a wonderfully creepy Baron Winters as well. There are references to a lot of Alan Moore here, including the finale of "American Gothic" and a riff on Promethea (apt, with inker Gray along), but they never overwhelm the story. Sook turns in some great art, though at times Gray's inking is so strong that it threatens to overwhelm. This is my favorite so far of the Seven Soldiers series; the only bad thing is that we have to wait two months for the next issue.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer
by Andy Runton
At this point you've probably read many good things about Andy Runton's Owly, and I'm pleased to say that they're all true. This is a wonderful comic. Owly is a cartoon owl who likes to make friends and help his fellow woodland creatures. In the first story Owly helps a little worm find his way home after having been washed away in a storm. The second story find Owly befriending a couple of hummingbirds. The stories are more gentle really than exciting, but they're charming and adorable, and I mean that in the best way possible. The stories are mostly wordless, and Runton shows an incredible economy of storytelling and a mastery of cartooning that lts him tell his stories effectively. Add Owly to your list of must-read books that celebrate the comics form.
Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings
edited by Scott Allie
P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, Paul Chadwick, and a host of other talented comics creators get together to present a collection of ghost stories. The quality of the offerings that Allie has assembled is quite high, with lush art on glossy paper ina sturdy hardcover volume. The best is saved for last, as Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson tell a story of neighborhood pets attempting to exorcise a haunted doghouse. The only misstep in this collection is a text interview with a supposed 'séance medium,' ten pages of bullhockey that is easily skipped over. But the rest of the package makes for fine reading, and shows how good anthologies can be .
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Or Else #2
by Kevin Huizenga
I was a little lukewarm in my review of the first issue of Huizenga's Or Else--it was good, but it obviously didn'y strike me as much as it did others. But this second issue: very good stuff. It starts off with a couple of interesting slice-of-life style stories, but takes a left turn into wonderful experimental territory with "The Sunset," then continues in the related story "The Moon Rise," wherein Huizenga gives us a little lesson in art and science. Six bucks for what is essentially a thick minicomic may seem a bit pricey, but it's worth it when the quality is high. This is one to look for.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

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