Recent Comic Reviews 4/7/07

Atom #10 While I'm still not completely sold on the high school bully-as-zombie angle, Part 2 in the Ryan-returns-home saga does an excellent job of further fleshing out Ryan's personality. The artwork by Barrows is largely good, but there are a few action panels that are hard to follow, and his model for Jia must be made out of elastic because her anatomy is just all kinds of wrong. Blue Beetle #13 Rogers (w) kicks this title into high gear as BB faces off against the aliens who created him. Unfortunately, Albequerque (a) only manages to draw half the issue. This title continues to go up and down for me. When they focus on Jaime and his family, it's great. But when they neglect that aspect, it really falls apart. While I still hold out hope, this will be the last monthly issue for me, as I'll go to TPB only from here on out.

After the Cape #1 (of 3) Ethan was once a respectable superhero before he started hitting the bottle. This series examines how he (and his family) survive once he's been disgraced. The plot is a bit cliche, but it's still fairly interesting to watch as Ethan struggles with his addiction and tries to convince himself that he's doing the right thing (when he clearly isn't). The moody black and white art by Valentino mostly works, although it's muddy and difficult to follow in places. I'll likely stick with this title (it's only 3 issues) assuming my store orders them (which is not a given).

Jack of Fables #9 I think the most intersting character in this book is Gary the Pathetic Fallacy (who can anthropomorphize anything). The current story arc has taken a strange turn as Jack has to face the Belgiun mafia.

Crossing Midnight #5 Cary (w) is doing a great job of fleshing out his cast. This issue focuses on Yasuo, the kids' father, as he uncovers some shady dealings at his company and runs afoul of the Yakuza. What's nice about this book is that I have no idea where it is all going, but I trust that Cary has a plan.

Fables #59 This was an odd issue as Willingham (w) takes a moment to answer reader mail and clear up some questions about a handful of characters. It's a nice nod to Fables' loyal following, although the questions and answers themselves seemed a little silly. But it was nice to see some other artistic interpretations of the Fables including such luminaries as John K. Snyder III, D'israeli, and Barry Kitson.

Ant-Man #7 As with Blue Beetle, this title has just enough charm to keep me from abandoning it, but it too will become TPB only from here on out. This issue was an interesting idea as Kirkman (w) apparently retells an Avengers story with Ant-Man squarely in the heart of the action, unbeknownst to the Avengers (I say apparently, because I didn't actually buy the Avengers issue).

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man # 19 Ugh. The conclusion to the alternate Uncle Ben / future Spider-Man storyline was no better than any of the other issues. Hopefully all that is behind us now. Unfortunately, Arrow/the Other waits in the wings. We saw very little of the supporting cast this issue, which is the only thing keeping me on this title. Essential Spider-Man volume 8 Ah, these were the issues that defined Spider-Man for me. I was still too young and poor to buy comics on a regular basis (most of my comics were obtained through trades or the goodness of family), and I still was not completely aware of the differences between the various Spider-Man titles, but somehow I scraped together just enough of these issues to drive myself crazy, because they usually ended with a cliffhanger--- and I usually didn't have the subsequent issue! And wild times they were as told by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman! Peter asks Mary Jane to marry him (the first time she said "no"), Jameson figures out that Peter is Spider-Man (Pete unconvinces him through trick photography), we meet some of the stupider villains (the Big Wheel probably takes the prize), and a new and crazier Green Goblin appears on the scene. All of it manically illustrated by the inimitable Ross Andru, who with his quiky poses and death-defying angles would become for me the definitive Spider-Man artist (though I later learned of the genius of Ditko). I don't think I've ever read them all together. Good times.