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Graphic Novels on Parade!

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Time for more 40-word comics graphic novels/trade paperback reviews …

Review code format: [writing (5-1, faboo to mediocre) / art (5-1) / suitability for jumping on as a new reader (5-1) / suitability for hooking a non-comics reader (5-1).

Doctor Mid-Nite (DC) [3/2/5/2] (collects mini-series #1-3)
w. Matt Wagner, a. John K. Snyder III
Batman-like intro of the new Doctor isn’t helped by Snyder’s odd painting style. The evil eco-terrorist corporate types seem trite, and Doc’s street gang supporters are embarrassingly cliché. Not one of Wagner’s better works, but worth a read for JSA background.

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade (DC Vertigo) [3/3/4/2] (collects first mini-series #1-3 and second mini-series #1-3)
w. Garth Ennis, a. Carlos Ezquerra
Ennis’s iconoclastic, scatological sense of humor falls flat here, over-hammering weak gags — but at least ties into the stereotype of the combat crew of stereotypes. Glad I decided to wait for the TPB, and am sorry I bothered with that.

Justice League of America: Another Nail (DC) [4/5/3/1] (collects mini-series #1-3)
w/a. Alan Davis, i. Mark Farmer
An Elseworlds sequel, but definitely feeling like a big “mid-summer cross-over event,” and a decently over-complicated, overly-swift one at that. Not as good as the original, but a fine, friendly read.

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 2: Doom (Marvel) [4/3/3/3] (collects #7-12)
w. Warren Ellis, a. Stuart Immonen
This alternate FF is oddly compelling, even while feeling shallow compared to four decades of the original. The four here learn more about their powers, as the evil Victor Van Damme (!) displays premature monomania against Reed. Fun, but no substitute.

Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, Vol. 1 (Marvel) [4/4/3/3] (collects Incredible Hulk #331-339)
w. Peter David, p. Todd McFarlane
The first part of David’s run, picking up from a goofy setup to the initial, decent exploration of the Grey Hulk. The stories improve during the run, even as neophyte McFarlane goes from crude to solid.
(Fits right into a previous Hulk collection, which I expect to soon see republished under new title)

Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 3 (Marvel) [4/5/3/1] (collects FF #251-257, Annual #17, Avengers #233, Thing #2)
w/a. John Byrne
Continues one of the title’s best runs (and one of Byrne’s), these 1983 issues focus mostly on the Negative Zone, Galactus stuff, and black uniforms. Byrne captured much of the old Lee/Kirby magic, albeit better drawn and less fresh. Classics.

Mage, Vol. 1: The Hero Discovered (Image) [5/4/5/4] (collects the maxi-series #1-15)
w/a. Matt Wagner
Finally, a decent collection of a seminal moment in the mid-80s indie explosion, and in incorporating myth into modern forms. Wagner’s tale starts a bit crudely, but rapidly grows polished, and the series remains one of my favorites.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye and The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us (Image) [5/4/5/4] (collects #1-6 and #7-12)
w. Robert Kirkman, a. Tom Moore, Charlie Adlard
Kick-ass tale of a zombie post-apocalypse US. A strong tale, the undead as catalysts for inter- (and intra-) personal drama, the survivors confronting (sometimes badly) the changes they must face. Great horror, not from outward gore but inward anguish. Kirkman rocks.

(This review originally posted on my blog.)

About ***Dave

  • L. Cue

    I gotta say, I was never big on the FF. I always thought The Thing was a loudmouth who would get his butt kicked by The Hulk. The last FF movie didn’t help either, but this is a great post!
    Can’t wait to trash the movie when it comes out!

  • Eric Berlin

    Really nice concise (and colorful!) rundown of what’s new on the graphics novel scene, Dave.