Sunday, August 22, 2004

Quick Reviews

Doctor Spectrum #1
by Sara "Samm" Barnes, Travel Foreman & John Dell
Sara Barnes is a 'protogé' of Supreme Pawer writer J. Michael Straczynski, having been a writer and producer on the television series Jeremiah. As such, she gets the nod to write this spin-off, focusing on the origin of the titular Green Lantern analogue. It's a good story, well-told even if dipping too much into cliché (abusive childhood, war hero, bad relationships); I'm just not sure if it's going to add anything to the overall story. I've don't recall encountering the art of Travel Foreman before; it's rather good, at least as inked by veteran Dell and colored ably by Studio F. I see a bit of Trevor Hairsine and John Cassady, and it's close enough to Gary Frank's work on the main title so as to seem like it belongs.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Strange Killings: Strong Medicine #1-3
by Warren Ellis & Mike Wolfer
While racial tensions run high in London, one-man super-operative William Gravel is blackmailed into investigating the ritual murder of a black boy. Much violence ensues. Ellis gets to get this sort of stuff out of his system in his Avatar comics, and Wolfer does a good job with the art--the pacing, in particualr, is wonderful in this story. But in the end the story is hollow, being about nothing other than itself.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Ex Machina #3
by Brian K. Baughan, Tony Harris & Tom Feister
There was a time when I didn't much care for Vaughan's work, which is why I skipped picking up Y when it first came out. But after hearing so many good things about it, I'm now reading Y in trades. Now with Ex Machina I'm in on the ground floor and I'm not waiting for the trade--I have to read every issue as it comes out. It's that damn good. I'll even put up with the advertisements interrupting Harris & Feister's gorgeous artwork every couple of pages. The plot continues to thicken, and even though it's moving along at a decompressed pace, it manages to maintain my interest and even (gasp!) rewards rereading. This is easily the fourth best book that DC is currently publishing, maybe even the third.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Cosmic Guard #1
by Jim Starlin
On a rooftop of a city an orphaned boy contemplates suicide, while light years away a great protector watches helplessly as the last remnants of his civilization falls to an unstopable invading army. Of course these two events will become intertwined, in a way that won't be surprising to anyone who has glanced at the cover. Like many, I became entranced by Starlin's work in the 70's and 80's, mind-bending cosmic science fantasy like Dreadstar. Starlin's later work has been disappointing, and it remains to be seen if he can recapture the magic with this new series, but I'm hopeful. Starlin remains the consummate craftsman, especially in his storytelling skills: take away all the captions, make the dialogue of the aliens be in some unearthly language, and you could still easily tell what's going on in this story. (In fact, Starlin overwrites the captions--he should let his art speak on its own more.)
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Galactic #1-3
by Jim Krueger, Sanford Greene & Greg Adams
In issue #1, we learn all about Heath Robertson's crappy life as an inner city teenager, and then at the end he is whisked away, forcibly recuited into an interstellar organization known as Galactic. In issue #2, we learn the history of evil in the universe and of Galactic's self-imposed mission to eradicate evil, by either redeeming it or destroying it. Which with two issues gone in a three-issue miniseries leaves very little space for the plot, action, and deeper examination of the philosophical issues raised. Had Krueger shortened his set-up and compressed it to one issue this probably would have worked better, but as presented there is not enough room for the execution of what could have been some intriguing ideas.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

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