Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #21: Birds of Prey, Volume 2 by Duane Swierczynski, Jesus Saiz and Travel Foreman

Birds of PreyTarget: Duane Swierczynski’s Birds of Prey: Your Kiss Might Kill.  Art by Jesus Saiz and Travel Foreman.  Collecting Issues #8-12 and Issue #0 of Birds of Prey (N52)

Profile: Comics, Mystery, Science Fiction

I really enjoyed the first collection of the new Birds of Prey, so it is with mixed feelings that I report that Volume 2 leaves much to be desired.  Between the jerky plot jumps and the ill-conceived Poison Ivy arc, the issues in this volume never really get down to business.  Some of this is due to the Night of Owls and Issue #0 ‘crossover’ events, which derail the existing plot lines in really jarring ways.  But even the two arcs that belong to the Birds feel clunky and don’t have the same storytelling hook present in Swierczynski’s first arc.

But before I can get into the details, we have to go back to the end of Volume 1.  In my review of Trouble in Mind, I noted that by the end of the collection, they had only really gotten one layer off the onion-like mystery that was the first story arc.  Evidently, I was the only one who liked that.  So, instead of diving further into this story of biological weaponry and clever brainwashing, we are dropped ass-first into a totally new arc that looks to be about Black Canary’s New 52 backstory.  No time is given to the old plot and there is literally no resolution to be found anywhere in Volume 2.

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Read Fofo’s reviews of Birds of Prey (N52)

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Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #19: Dial H, Volume 1 by China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco and David Lapham

Dial H Vol 1Target: China Miéville’s Dial H, Vol.1: Into You.  Art by Mateus Santolouco and David Lapham. Collecting issues #1-6 and #0

Profile: Comics, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Like many of China Miéville’s novels, Dial H tries to alter the way readers look at its genres.  It uses the tropes of superheroics to tell an entirely different kind of story with a lot of style and unique take on the world of DC Comics.  It is a quintessentially Miéville story, where the rules have to be learned, or re-learned at the very least.  And in spite of all that, it stays true to the comic book canon and is a huge breath of fresh air in a space that has been stagnant for a while.

I am a huge fan of Miéville’s ability to turn the boundaries of genre into creative playgrounds and Dial H doesn’t disappoint in this respect.  It is a brilliantly rendered series that taps into the ‘weird’ space that DC has been attempting to capitalize on in their ‘New 52’ reboot.  It isn’t as grand in scope or story as some of the great graphic novels, like Sandman, but it bridges the gap between a superhero story and a ‘larger’ adventure.

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Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #16: Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga Vol 1Target: Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga.  Art by Fiona Staples. Collecting issues 1-6

Profile: Comics, Science Fiction, Space Opera

After Action Report:

Saga is probably the most praised comic currently running.  Brain K. Vaughan has a bit of a reputation for excellent comics with his Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina stories making lots of people’s must-read lists.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that readers and industry wonks alike were practically frothing over Vaughan’s new series.  I got to this party a little late, mostly because I don’t see the point of collecting individual issues and prefer to wait for the mass-market paperback collections.  So I write this review with the enormous pressure of thousands of positive reviews sitting on my back.  Not that I feel the need to contradict them.  Saga is an excellent book with only one serious fault.  And that fault is one that could easily be corrected with time/more issues.

Saga is the story of Hazel, the half-breed offspring of soldiers of two warring races.  Her parents, Marko and Alana who are the protagonists of these first few issues, are objectors to a galaxy-spanning war that has lasted as long as either side can remember and has no end in sight.  Their joint desertion, and subsequent fraternization, is problematic to the higher-ups of both sides so Hazel’s baby shower gifts are mercenaries and a platoon of trigger-happy goons.  The first six issues cover the new family’s attempts to escape their pursuers and get off-planet.

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Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #15: Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen

NextwaveTarget: Warren Ellis’ Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.  Art by Stuart Immonen. Collecting Issues 1-12

Profile: Comics, Action, Comedy

After Action Report:

Nextwave is a great comic.  It’s not deep.  It doesn’t challenge your expectations.  It doesn’t change the paradigm for what a comic book is supposed to be, but it’s still a good comic.  It’s also somewhat hard to access.  Nextwave is a parody/satire written for and by a certain cross-section of the geek population who enjoy a broad spectrum of geeky entertainment.  In the first issue alone, Nextwavereferences: Japanese monster movies, 90s television, pretty much every major team-up comic series ever, and itself for good measure. All of this means that if you aren’t conversant in these genres some of the comedy of Nextwave might go right over your head.  There is still a fair amount of generally accessible comic moments in the vein of slap-stick, crude language and the funny scenario.  And we are fortunate enough to live in a world where S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers and comics in general have become common conversation topics.

For all of its almost reverential nods to the geek community, Nextwave is definitely making fun of the comic book establishment.  Author Warren Ellis is well known for his distaste for the directions that mainstream comics have been moving since the late 80s.  Here, that distain is transmuted into irreverent comedy that still manages to twist the knife every so often, particularly if you’re more up-to-speed on the state of Marvel Comics circa 2006.  I am not, so I had to get most of this stuff off of TVTropes but that research really enhanced a re-reading of the book.

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narfna’s #CBR5 Review #45: Relish by Lucy Knisley

15786110Since I transferred to reading mostly library books (boo for being a responsible adult with a not very disposable income), there haven’t been many books I’ve felt the need to buy after I’ve checked them out from the library. I’ve read 55 books so far this year, and the last one I can remember is from last year, and that was Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Oh, wait. And Attachments. Sigh. I will buy that book and I will take it down from my shelves periodically, smell the pages, and then pet it like a baby kitten. And I don’t even care that ‘baby kitten’ is redundant so shut your face. ANYWAY my point is that I need to own my very own copy of this book because it’s pretty and it makes me happy and it has recipes inside, so it’s like, HELLO, you are a good book and also there is food inside of you. Can we please get married now?

I’m not exactly sure how internet famous Lucy Knisley is, but I’ve been following her online comics for at least five years now, probably more, and her comics always have this great mix of whimsy and personal history. I always find myself nodding along in recognition when I’m reading them, like, yes, yes HOW DID YOU KNOW. Plus, she draws good cat. Not that there’s any cat in this book (to its detriment), but there is lots of food, it being a food memoir and all. In Relish, she chronicles her most vivid food-related memories with loving attention, painting lovely pictures of how food has been inextricably linked to important moments in her life. Plus, she’s funny.

With parents who were both foodies, and a mother who is a chef, she probably (definitely) had more exposure to classier types of food than most people, but she’s by no means a food snob, as is made clear by the chapter about her love of junk food (much to her parent’s disapproval). Even the more bittersweet parts of Knisley’s story (like her parent’s divorce) are tempered by the joy she obviously takes in both her art, and in her love of food. It’s a delicious book, in like every connotation of that word. If you like graphic memoirs or food, definitely check this out.

Shucks Mahoney’s #CBRV Review #31: The Tango Collection edited by Bernard Caleo

A collection of over 50 Australian & New Zealand comics creamed from the alternative romance anthology Tango, this is a interesting gathering of talents. Uneven, to be sure, and widely variable in tone, but that’s the nature of the beast. Editor Caleo’s intention, to revive the idea of the romance comic, is an idea with plenty of meat on it, and these artists certainly chow down. One of the best sections is the ‘Love & Food’ chapter at the end. It’s full of all sorts of broken hearts, eaten hearts, lonely hearts, and inky dark hearts. Some of the art is superb, and some of the writing touching – or enjoyably daft, or surreal enough to make you think. There were only a handful of works here that made me want to chase down more of the creator’s stuff, but I can’t fault the spiffy black and white presentation and abundance of selection.

Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #34: The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman

fables1

Like the volume before it, Fables & Reflections has little bearing on the larger, over-arching story of the series. It’s presented as a series of short stories which involve the characters we’ve come to know and recognize, yet in a regrettably limited capacity. As a result, it hardly felt like I was reading another entry in The Sandman.

Rather, it felt like Gaiman taking an assortment of familiar figures and stories, giving them a slight, hardly noticeable tweak, throwing in a character or two from the series, and calling it a day. For example, “The Song of Orpheus” is, for the most part, a standard retelling of that particular myth. One I’d already seen realized in more impressive fashion by CMU’s Scotch ‘n’ Soda theatre group.

Gaiman loves to take the old and make it new, but here it’s more blatant, and far less successful, than usual. So if you’re reading the series, nothing of worth would be lost by skipping this and moving onto the next volume. I wish that’s what I had done. Though, I’ve yet to read it myself, so it could just as well continue where the last two left off, disappointing me. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.