Posted tagged ‘Oni’

Review: My Inner Bimbo

June 15, 2009

My Inner Bimbo is the most challenging story I have read in quite some time.  It’s a Sam Kieth book, so I went in expecting pop-psychology, unconventional page layouts, and a somewhat random appearance by a magical trout man, but even with that understanding the book takes a bit of effort to grasp.  But it’s worth it to try.

The story focuses on Lo, a man going on 60, who’s married to his mother’s best friend.  When the story begins they’ve been married for about 40 years, although not exactly happily.  The age differnce between the two has proven difficult to surmount, and has been made worse by Lo’s Oedipal complex.  Enter the Magical trout, which makes him build a box out of a toilet seat and causes him to be confronted by his feminine side (in the form of a mental selkie).

That description doesn’t quite cover the intricacies of the story, but I think it’s as close as I’m every going to be able to describe.  This is a truly unique book, even for Kieth, whoose For the Love of 3 Oranges I’ve been wrestling with for over a decade.  I think he just surpassed that issue.

Review: Queen & Country Vol.4

May 26, 2009

The fourth, and final, of Oni’s definitive editions of Queen & Country collects the three Declassified mini-series.  Each of these tell the backstory to one of the supporting players from the main book, all of which are excellent.

The first and best tale, from Greg Rucka and Brian Hurtt, focuses on Tara’s boss Paul Crocker during the cold war.  It’s a pretty standard historical spy drama, character x decides to defect and has to be smuggled across the Berlin Wall, but it makes for a perfect Queen & Country story.  Hurtt’s art in particular makes this a must read, and it’s all the more impressive when you read the backmatter and learn this is the first time he’s ever inked himself.

The other two stories are remarkably similar to one another, both focusing on Tara’s co-Minders in former bastion’s of British power.  Tom Wallace’s first mission takes him to Hong Kong to investigate a murder during the handoff to the Chinese governemnt.  Then rookie Minder Nicholas Poole heads to Northern Ireland to confront a remnant of the IRA in the only non-Greg Rucka penned story in the series (ably completed by Anthony Johnston).

But the best part of this book is the interviews in the back, in which Rucka mentions that he’ll be returning to the series at last in the near future.  Next year will see a novel featuring Tara’s final adventure, which will then lead in to volume 2 of the series.  This will still feature Tara, although presumably she will have a desk job then.  Time to rejoice!

Review: Queen & Country Vol.3

October 20, 2008

Queen & Country is at the top of my list for comics to give to people who don’t think they’ll like comics.  It’s an amazing piece of espionage fiction, easily up there with Le Carre.  It’s also very smart.  Greg Rucka is far more interested in the politics of spy games than in the actual field work (although there’s plenty of that on display here as well).

This volume collects two complete story arcs, along with the scriptbook for the first story as a nice bonus.  The first arc here sends the newly promoted lead to Russia to investigate a Goverment official selling oil data.  It’s a nice character piece but not quite up there with the series’ best efforts.  BUt the second story focusing on an inter-agency mission in Baghdad that goes horribly wrong is.  However, it suffers from taking place after the events of the spin-off novel, A Gentleman’s Game.  There’s no recap and it’s clear that some major story elements are missing from this collection.

The series is also hampered by the way it rotates artists between arcs.  There’s not a one who doesn’t come to the book exhibiting some of their best work, this time around it’s Steve Rolston, Mike Norton & Chris Samnee.  But their respective art styles don’t always mesh terribly well, and there seems to be a lack of model sheets.  Thankfully each arc contains a guide showing what everyone looks like this time around.

Now there’s one more collection of the series to come early next year, I can’t wait to finish the set.

Keeping Current with Comics

August 30, 2008

Yesterday I tried to remove whatever collection development credentials people thought I had.  But I did say that the one area of particular expertise I might actually possess is in comics.  So I figured I’d take a shot and do a batch of brief write ups on current comics libraries should be aware of.

Secret Invasion: For the past decade at least the Summer has been the time for large scale comics events and crossovers.  Actually for the past few years the events have all kind of blended together to the extent that some fans are complaining of event overload.  Secret Invasion is Marvel’s entry this year, and it concerns an alien invasion of shape shifters who have been posing undetected as some of Marvel’s most well known characters (in some cases for quite some time).  The book has received decent reviews overall and I’ve been enjoying it, but there are accessibility issues for those who haven’t been following the last few years worth of Marvel stories.  In the end it will probably prove more significant for the effect it has on the Marvel line to come than for the story itself.

Final Crisis: Final Crisis is DC’s answer to Secret Invasion.  It’s being marketed as the day evil won.  The writer on this one is Grant Morrison, a personal favorite but someone who’s more eccentric writing tendencies don’t always lead to clearly told stories.  Final Crisis has also suffered from poor editorial control (the story did not match up with many of the details from the books that led into it, including the death of a major character).  Again I fear it’s going to become essential reading because of its effects (notably the return of the Silver-Age Flash, Barry Allen) and not because of its own merits.

Final Crisis: the Legion of Three Worlds: The Legion of Three Worlds is a pseudo-spin-off of Final Crisis (because the worlds Final Crisis are in the title), and so far it’s shaping up to be far superior to its parent book.  The story, crafted by the workhorse Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez at the top of his game, is an attempt to redefine the Legion of Superheroes, one of DC’s best loved but most muddled books.  Early reviews have uniformly praised the book and it is becoming a series I am greatly looking forward to the ending of.

Green Lantern: Another Geoff Johns book.  Johns relaunched Green Lantern a number of years ago now, bringing back classic ring bearer Hal Jordan and focusing on crafting a true mythology for the character.  Having succeeded at his initial goals he has worked to steadily up the ante on the action in the story.  Last year he gave us the Sinestro Corps War, in which a Universe wide battle broke out involving most of the villains from the biggest events in DC history.  Since that time he’s been steadily building to The Blackest Night, a story which probably has more buzz going for it than anything in comics at the moment (including the 2 current events).  Keep an eye out for it.

Batman: RIP: In a similar bit of character redefinition, Grant Morrison has been steadily working on a deconstructionist take on Batman for awhile now.  His run has met with mixed reviews so far, albeit with a few standouts to date (the League of Heroes collaboration with J.H. Williams was one of my favorite comics last year).  But the culmination of his approach to the character is in the current story arch, in which Bruce Wayne suffers a massive psychological break and all of the events that led to the creation of the Batman are thoroughly reexamined.  It’s been a riveting story and it seems pretty certain that the Batman coming out of it will be different than the one that went in to it.

The Punisher: Garth Ennis has just wrapped up what has been by far the best take on the Punisher in the character’s history.  Make no mistakes this is an adult comic, in which the Punisher is portrayed as a near mythical force of nature.  It it grim, it is tightly plotted, the art is gorgeous, and it left me never wanting to read another Punisher comic because everything else can’t help but come across as a disappointment after this.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8: Exactly what it sounds like.  Joss Whedon has reassembled a large portion of his writing staff from the classic show along with a number of comics writers with tv writing experience and has crafting a follow up season.  And it’s really good.  If you were a fan of the show or know someone who was make sure to pick up this book as it has lost none of what made the Buffy great to begin with.

The Umbrella Academy: Easily the most enjoyable comic last year.  My Chemical Romance’s front man Gerard Way has crafted an entirely original take on superhero comics (or is that dysfunctional family stories).  The art from Gabriel Ba is perfectly suited to the material (I don’t know of anyone else who could nail something like a robot zombie Gustave Eifle with such wild abandon).  The sequel launches next year.

Criminal: Criminal is a show case for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to tell the sort of crime stories they love.  Besides the story each issue (which have consistently been the most well crafted comic of each month) the comics contain a wealth of interviews, reviews, and letter columns concerning the history of the crime genre.  The book is nearly as good as a reference resource as it is for the stories.

Collections: The last few years have been a great time for collected editions.  Bookstores and libraries have opened up to nicely bound editions and the major publishers have been doing a great job of dusting off their back catalogs.  A few archival projects are of particular note.  DC has been republishing some great hardcover editions of James Robinson’s Starman, Grant Morrison’s JLA, and everything Jack Kirby did for them in the 70’s (The Fourth World Omnibus’ have a place of honor on my bookshelves).  Some other recent highlight are Image’s collections of Mike Allred’s Madman, Oni’s new editions of Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, and another personal favorite, Marvel’s recently released omnibus edition of Howard the Duck (which really is an essential read, albeit a pricey one).