January 7, 2012

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Single Minded: Boom! Studios Titles from 1-4-12

I'm a little late getting to these this week, but the holidays threw off my schedule a bit.  Here's my take on the latest round of Boom! Studios releases, which include the official debut of their Peanuts series and new issues of some of my favorite Boom! books on the shelf/computer right now.

Incorruptible #25.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Marcio Takara.  
This is a bit of a cheat, because it was one of the last releases of 2011, but I wanted to make sure I included it because of the ongoing storyline.  In this issue, Waid takes us back in time to see just why Max is as angry as he is.  The focus here is on the backstory of Max Damage, which was rather overdue.  If he's going to be a character in the mold of the Sub Mariner--or to some degree, Doctor Doom--then we need to know he's worth caring about and is more than just a thug who decided to make good.  In typical Waid fashion, we get a rather amazing revelation that not only gives the series a new dimension, it puts everything that's come before in an absolutely fascinating context--all without a retcon and without having a new reader need to read all that's come before.  It's superb work, and if I have a quibble, it's that I'm still waiting on that big fight.  Right now, I'm not seeing how these two stories link up, but I have a feeling they will.

Irredeemable #33.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Diego Barreto.  The third part of the crossover picks up where Irredeemable 32 left off, which strikes me as a bit odd.  I still can't quite figure out how this is a crossover, but perhaps the final issue will clear that up, especially if it continues from where this one leaves off.  The origin of the Plutonian continues here, and we see just why Tony hates Max Damage so much (a link to Incorruptible to be sure, but it's kinda weak).  As Tony's parents move on, leaving the Plutonian to his fate, there's a chance that maybe, just maybe, he could be redeemed after all.  But is he being approached by the right people?  The twists and turns in this ongoing story continue, as Waid uses all his best plotting skills to keep the reader guessing, while playing as fair as possible.  I'm hoping we get a huge resolution at the end of the month, but the bigger question right now is--how does the series keep going if Tony does get better?

Valen the Outcast #2.  Written by Michael Alan Nelson and Illustrated by Matteo Scalera.  Valen and his two companions continue their quest to take Valen's life back into his own hands, but they run into a snag when a bridge blocks their path (a nice trick, since a bridge should usually help a traveler).  Caught between warring factions in the face of Valen's "death", can they make it across before the forces of death come calling for their lost soul?

I liked this issue a lot better than the first, as we got the setup mostly out of the way now and can concentrate on actually telling the story.  Valen's determination is compelling and engaging, and the idea he develops to preserve his undead self is a great idea that I don't think I've seen before.  I'm not as keen on the ending of this particular issue, as I think it's a little quick to move to that particular trope.  Still, this is an enjoyable romp with lost of fighting, characters right out of the pulp mold, and a fast-moving story that scratches my itch for some good old fashioned hacking and slashing.

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #3. Written by Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardiman.  Illustrated by Gabriel Hardiman.  Prison fight!  The danger for all who are on the wrong side of the conspiracy that's trying to make gorillas the top dog in the ape hierarchy really tip their hand in this penultimate issue of what has been arguably my favorite Boom! comic that I'm reading currently.  As the forces mobilize for their final push for control, General Aleronis starts a counter-revolution, setting up a final battle royale for the fate of the planet.  I love how this series works within the larger framework of the licensed property, creating a story that works without great knowledge but also finds a way to use its source material to great effect.  I'll be sorry to see this finish next month, but I hear there's more good Apes comics on the way, so I'll be sure to read those when they come out.

Elric The Balance Lost #7.  Written by Chris Roberson.  Illustrated by Francesco Biagini.  What started as a few isolated battles against law or chaos are swirling together in ways that our four protagonists can no longer control.  The fight is far more complex than any of them could have imagined, and if the battle is not stopped soon, all may be lost as one side or the other may rule over all, destroying reality as we know it.  Can even Elric, his battered friends, and the new companions stop things before it's too late?

Well, I have a feeling the answer will be yes in the end, but as with all good stories, it's not looking good right now.  Roberson writes the heroes into a hopeless struggle and keeps the reader off balance in terms of who to root for, with some clever plotting that seems to put Elric right up against other characters we've been rooting for from issue one.  It's great writing, and part of why Roberson is one of my new favorite creators.  In addition, Biagini draws the heck out of yet another issue, providing as many weird creatures as Roberson asks for--and trust me, that's a lot.  We're about ready to arc towards the final climax of this story, and I can't wait.

Peanuts #1.  Written by Charles Schultz and others.  Illustrated by Charles Schultz and others.  The kids imprint from Boom! Studios, Kaboom!, finally brings this series to the comic shops and I'm really curious to see how it does.  Mixing classic Peanuts strips with new stories that hew pretty closely to older Schultz ideas, it's an interesting idea that will seem sacrilegious to some and work perfectly for others.  I think this issue does a pretty good job overall, though I think Lucy is coming out a bit badly in the deal, not unlike modern portrayals of Daffy Duck.  Her meanness is a delicate thing, and here I think it's a bit too shrill, though I don't know that a younger audience will notice.  The nods to the larger Peanuts world are great, and I thought having Lucy narrate the how-to section was a fun touch.  This bears keeping an eye on, but I admit I'm not 100% sold on it yet.  It's hard to replace the master, as we've seen constantly in other examples.

That was the week in Boom! for the start of the year.  Did anyone get these?  What did they think?