This was a week of awesome. I’ve been slowly narrowing down the number of books that I read monthly. I like trades, and re-buying books seems like a waste of money at times. That being said, there are always some I’ll pick up, and inevitably I buy more than I intend. Inevitably I find myself disappointed with one or two of those choices. This really wasn’t one of those weeks. I picked up a half dozen monthly issues and every one was rock solid.
I’ve seen something interesting in other reviews for some of these books. Complaints that they’re too story heavy, or don’t explain enough, leaving the reader to find out more as the story arc unfolds in the next few issues. Personally, I enjoy this. I enjoy when a book treats me intelligently, and doesn’t lay everything out in a simple a, b, c order. I love spending more than 2 minutes reading a single issue and then having to go back and re-read it to pick up nuances and details. The writers I follow are all pretty damn good at this method of storytelling, and I prefer it to having everything laid out in front of me from the start.
There’s an art to comic writing, something I admit I’d have less than no skill in. It’s why I blog about them instead. To write a sequential story, accompanied by art, split into parts over various issues… It’s all a bit more complicated than I really like to think about. But this month all of these books excelled at this, engaging me as a reader, carrying me through and leaving me with enough questions or tension that I really wanted to know more and wanted the next issue — now preferably. That’s pretty damn good in my mind.
And after that ramble, let’s get to why we’re here, shall we?
Secret Six #25
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Jim Calafiore
This book is the start of a new arc, after two out of continuity issues. The last we saw the team they were dealing with Blake’s absolute breakdown and seemed themselves to be breaking. Simone does something very interesting with this issue, dropping us in the middle of the situation. Half the team, headed by Bane and Jeanette seems to be on a petty sort of mission with all new teammates. (King Shark and Giganta, can it really get any better?) The remainder of the team are dealing with Blake’s continuing urge for self-destruction, as well as dealing with a few Alice-related issues that show Deadshot in a bit of a different light. I won’t say a lot more lest I give things away, but I will say that we’re left with an extremely interesting situation that looks about to pit team against team and involves some new players. Not everything is explained, and I can’t wait until I find out just what the hell is going on. The final thing I’ll add is that I appreciated a few of the almost absurd moments that somehow fit so well into this story and Simone’s storytelling style. King Shark. He has the best lines, end story.
Freedom Fighters #1
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Travis Moore
This is a book that grabbed me from the outset. The team is introduced through a set of action pieces. Perfect for the book, it showcases the members and their talents and the type of situations that the Freedom Fighters deal with without ever having to stop and say that’s what it’s doing. In fact, the book doesn’t stop moving, the story pace fast and yet the explanation deep enough that I didn’t feel left behind one bit. It was a great first issue, and an excellent action-heavy book. You need to go buy this.
Jonah Hex #59
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Jordi Bernet
There really isn’t a bad place to pick up Jonah Hex. Okay, I lie. The middle of the Six-Gun War probably isn’t the best place, but other than that, we’re good. The stories manage to never be entirely self-contained — I love the idea of anyone out there hunting down Hex for his past mistakes — but they’re contained enough to make sense in pretty much any order. This book continually gives me exactly what I want from it. It’s a western and a rather gritty one. Hex isn’t what anyone would call pleasant, and his job leads him into some damn interesting situations, few of which are as simple as they seem on the surface. The art for Hex is pretty amazing, but it always is. It suits the book well. That this book has been going on for so long with the exact same writing team, and the stories don’t get repetitive, it’s pretty amazing. That being said, I want to see more of the Gray Ghost!
Writer: Brian M Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Every once in a while you find something new and love it so much, that you go into the second installment desperately hoping it doesn’t let you down, and yet so afraid that it will. That was the case with Scarlet. I loved the first issue and Scarlet’s narrative. I love Bendis’ writing style in this, and Maleev’s art and colours are simply stunning in this setting. The story continues to unfold for us, and we start to see another side of Scarlet. We see more of her plan and what drives her. It’s a slowly unfurling story full of narrative and exposition and it just works.
The Authority #26
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Al Barionuevo
Action in space. Okay, the book is more than that, as it features one of the more kick ass (and currently conflict ridden, tired and injured) teams in comics. A matter of out of the frying pan and into the fire, the Authority find themselves and the refugees they’re shepparding through space at the mercy of some seemingly undefeatable creatures on a planet that everyone would rather leave behind. Things are bad (and hell, they seemed bad the last few months) but somehow Taylor has made them worse for the group. I’m interested to see how they extricate themselves, and somehow I don’t imagine everyone’s getting through this one.
I picked up a few other things this week. Hawkeye & Mockingbird continues to be a great book, and McCann is writing the two of them so well. Stumptown, by Greg Rucka, but I need to find a copy of issue 3 before I can read 4. Dammit, foiled again! I also grabbed volume two of The Unwritten, Mike Carey’s ongoing that will be getting its own review. That continues to be such a strong and inventive book. Finally, The Pro (Ennis, Conner, Palmiotti) which entirely lived up to my expectations — even if I did get shouted at a woman on a train for reading ‘indecent items’ in public. Actually… That’s kinda win, come to think of it.