March 7, 2012

, , , ,   |  

Single Minded: Boom! Studios Books for 3-07-12 (and a few others)

It's time to get Single Minded again, with some Boom! books new and old.  What's out there on the shelves and on your e-readers that's worth grabbing?  Let's find out!

Supurbia #1.  Written by Grace Randolph.  Illustrated by Russell Dauterman.
What do you do when you're part of a league of heroes looking for a quiet place to rest between battles and stash your non-powered significant others?  You buy a gated community, of course!  But things aren't quite as nice as you might think in this idyllic setting, as the personal lives of the heroes are almost as complicated as their origin stories.  When a few secrets start to be revealed, can even the heroes survive a threat from within their ranks?  Find out in Supurbia!

Don't let the first few pages of this one fool you--there's quite a bit of good storytelling after what is a fairly pedestrian setup with heroes that echo Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, along with an aging version of Captain America.  Randolph may use familiar heroic archetypes, but the similarities end very quickly, as the characters show they are far more dysfunctional than we're used to, giving them a difference and depth that is extremely compelling.

Dauterman's art is a bit light on details, with faces a bit less detailed than I'd prefer, especially given the dialog that Randolph gives the heroes and their family members.  I'm not sure how the action scenes are going to play out, but overall, the characters have their own styles and quirks, though they're a little on the stiff side for an action-based tale.  

This book reminds me positively of Noble Causes, an Image series I liked quite a bit when I read it a few years ago.  These are heroes with issues that just might overshadow their ability to save the day, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out, especially since Randolph wastes no time in getting the action moving by the end of the first issue.

Valen the Outcast #4.  Written by Michael Alan Nelson.  Illustrated by Matteo Scalera.
Valen and Zjanna must do all they can to save Cordovan, a theif unwelcome in his own guild.  Can they fight off the rogues that want to kill their ally *and* the forces of the undead that want Valen back?  Things are getting worse for our small band--and that's saying something!

Right on the heels of almost losing Zjanna, this issue is a fight for the life of Cordovan, and though the situation is different (Cordovan is a prisoner rather than possessed), it feels like a bit of a retread to slow the story down.  I was disappointed in this issue, mostly because I never felt like there was any doubt as to the outcome.  Nelson needs to do something horrible to someone fast to keep the danger level up.  The final pages were intriguing, however, as it looks like Valen is about to really get put through the ringer.  Scalera's artwork is still solid, but I still wish the battle scenes were easier to follow.  Valen is a title that could go either way for me, but I'll keep reading for now to see if Nelson can make it a bit tricker and give it some of the depth I think it's lacking right now.

Irredeemable #35.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Diego Barreto.
The world hinges on the balance, and only Tony can save it.  But what happens when the love-obsessed Modeus gets in the way of his potential redemption, using the body of someone for whom the Plutonian still cares?  As the earth crumbles around our remaining cast, is there a chance for anyone to be something other than Irredeemable?

It's almost hard to read this series now, knowing that Waid is getting ready to end it with only a few more issues.  On the one hand, I'm happy to see the series wrap up before it goes on too long.  On the other hand, I've really loved this series from the first time I read it, and losing it from my monthly rotation is going to suck.  If this is how it's going to go out, however, I'm completely okay with things.  Waid is tying up a lot of the plot threads he's introduced, as we move to the endgame for Modeus, Kaidan/Survivor/Gil, and Qubit.  I have absolutely no idea who is going to come out on top--if anyone.  What I do know is this has been a solidly constructed story by one of the masters of comic book writing, and for my money, it's a must-read.  There's about nine volumes of material out there before this, but it's well worth it!

Incorruptible #27.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Marcio Takara.
Coalville thinks it's safe from the insanity plaguing the rest of the world, as an uneasy balance of criminals, both reformed and otherwise, keep the city isolated from some of the issues plaguing the wider world in the wake of the Plutonian's rage.  There's only one problem--nuclear fallout knows no boundaries.  How can Max Damage stop a force that ignores all barriers and cannot be punched, no matter how long he stays awake?

Like Irredeemable, Incorruptible is wrapping up, which I think is a good move.  While I've really enjoyed the adventures of Max Damage, there's only so much you can do with a man trying to make a better life for himself, with a vision so limited it pretends past actions never happened and allows for no bending of the rules.  This issue has almost no Max in it, as it links to events in Irredeemable.  I wonder how he's going to handle the bombshell dropped on Coalville at the end of the issue.  This was no how I expected Incorruptible to end, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how Waid handles his final act.  If you skipped this as a spinoff book, you made a big mistake.  It's a great series of its own that explores the thought process of a Cape in a way I don't think we've seen before.

Steed and Mrs. Peel #2.  Written by Grant Morrison.  Illustrated by Ian Gibson.
The weird nature of the deaths that started in part one continue to baffle Steed and Mrs. Peel, reunited to save Steed's current partner and all of England, just like the old days.  Searching for clues among innocent games, the pair face riddle after riddle that nearly ends in a graveyard for them both.  Can they figure out the rules before it's too late for them--and anyone else in the path of England's nuclear bombs?

Grant Morrison, the master of complex plotting and general strangeness, is a natural for the world of Steed and Mrs. Peel of the old TV show, the Avengers.  He's note-perfect in terms of the plotting, with strange characters, ideas, and situations flowing from page to page.  I think he's a bit off on the dialog, as he's not quite able to recreate the flirtatious banter of the two actors that made the series sing on the small screen.  Ian Gibson also is a bit lacking in the likenesses, which continues to bother me.  Diana Rigg is one of the sexiest actresses to be on television, but here she's no different than the other female characters that Gibson draws.  I want her to stand out, and that's just not happening.  Gibson does handle the strange doings quite well, however, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.  This is definitely a good read for Morrison fans and those who loved the original series.

Snarked! #5.  Written and Illustrated by Roger Langridge.
The Princess and her crew set sail for a rescue mission, but have only one problem--they're not quite sure where to go!  Meanwhile, the forces that want her dead and her brother enthroned aren't about to give up.  All this and a carnivorous crocodile!  It's all here in the first story of the next arc of Snarked!

I love this cover, which implies that the crocodile has eaten all of the main characters, simply by giving us an item we're used to seeing them hold or wear.  That doesn't happen of course--well, it sort of doesn't happen--but the insides are no less fun as a result.  There's quite a bit of cartoon logic going on in this one, complete with a nod to a Muppet trope that fans of Henson will quickly notice.  (One again, this has the feel of a story that might have originally starred the characters before Disney took the license away.)  I wonder if the balance between adults and kids isn't skewed a bit too far to the adults this time, with references to stock notes and a rather strong death scene, but even still, there's enough silliness and bantering that I think any age can enjoy it.  Langridge's art is as good as always, with his comic timing in full force here, especially during the chase scenes.  This continues to be one of my favorite Boom! titles, which is quite heady competition!

So that's the rundown on Boom! books for the past few weeks.  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments.  Thanks again to Boom! for the review copies. If you are interested in having your comic reviewed by me, drop me a line at trebro@gmail.com.