Thursday, September 30, 2004

Comics to Check Out

People who've been to my site regularly know that I read comics. And while I've only reviewed two titles, so far, I actually read more than those.

So I've decided to take a minute and reveal to you what books I read on a regular basis and why.

First we have 100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I started reading 100 Bullets around issue 26. I didn't know what the hell was going on. But I thought the characterization and dialogue were both great. So great that I went and found the first couple of trade paperbacks that reprinted the first year or so and from there I was hooked.
I even went back and got Jonny Double, a trade that reprinted Azzarello and Risso's mini-series that they did before 100 Bullets. It has a lot of the same feel as 100 Bullets and it's also reccomended.

Next is Daredevil, by Brian Micael Bendis and Alex Maleev. Bendis and Maleev have done a splendid job of taking a "just another superhero" and turning him into a living and breathing character that grows emotionally. Turning the book into the comic equivalent of The Sopranos, Daredevil (in no short time) sets himself up as the Kingpin (translated as the Godfather) of Hell's Kitchen. Why? Because someone else would have if he didn't. Maleev's art keeps the story grounded in reality, even when some weird stuff does happen at times.

Gotham Central, written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka and drawn by Michael Lark, tells the story of the cops of Gotham City, the stomping ground of Batman, Catwoman and other costumed menaces. You would expect a cominc book that was set in such a place would cater to Bat-fans and play up the super-heroics of the environment. Nope. What we get here is in-depth character stories of the people who are at the very bottom of the Bat-food chain: the cops. Kinda like Law and Order or CSI meets very dark city with crazy people who wield more than just guns.
The characters are given more dimension than you see in most other comics and you really start to care for them after a while.

The Ultimates, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, is not only a beautiful piece of work to look at, but also one of the best comibinations of super-powers and real world sensiblity. This isn't a world where people are expected to fly and shoot lasers from their eyes. Told in what many people call "widescreen entertainment", the stories are grand and the budget is high. Expect to be thrilled. Volume 2 starts in December and I'm looking forward to it.
Warren Ellis is doing a trilogy of sorts with the Ultimates characters, starting with Ultimate Nightmare, drawn by Trevor Hairsine. I'm reading these as I'm waiting for the return of the regular Ultimates title. Also, I would like to say that Trevor Hairsine does a fantastic job of filling in Hitch's shoes. I hope this guy gets a regular gig soon.

Birds of Prey, written by Gail Simone and drawn by Ed Benes and Alex Lei, fills my need of plain fun storytelling. I find that throughout my comics reading experience I've had at least one book that was lighthearted that balanced all the other books I was reading. Birds of Prey seems to be the one at the moment. And Gail Simone has proven herself to be a great character writer with this book and Rose & Thorn. Although the latest story seemed a bit lackluster, I still find enjoyment in reading the main protagonists' interactions with each other.

A book that I've just started reading, and one that's doing a nice job of impressing is Manhunter, written by Marc Andreyko and drawn by Jesús Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti. It's a much more realistic look at "what if someone took the law into their own hands" and added the extra element of being set in a super-powered universe. There are consequences, as we're starting to see.
And the one thing that keeps me interested is that the writer manages to keep everything grounded in the "real world".

And then there's Black Widow, written by Richard K. Morgan and drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. have to say that I was also impressed by this book.
Sienkiewicz's art truly fits the subject matter and Widow is portrayed to have much more of a backbone than has been in recent years. The cold nature of being a spy is made more evident in this series than any of her previous appearances.
I went into this book expecting Marvel superheroics with a b-list character, written by an unknown and drawn by an artist who's seen better days. The only two redeeming factors being that Widow is currently appearing in Daredevil and the aforementioned artist is someone who I respect.
What I got was a non-superheroic story set in a gritty, realistic world, with top-notch plotting and dialogue, and art that reminds me of why Sienkiewicz is a great storyteller.
Black Widow has matched Daredevil and found a secure place in my reading list.

Bloodhound, written by Dan Jolly and drawn by Leonard Kirk, is slowly getting a spot on my must reads as the book is very realisticly driven. While the character is a little abrasive, he's been set up with a past that just demands interest. As a cop that was possibly framed for the death of his partner and sent to prison, serving time with those he put there himself, the main character finds himself given a chance at freedom when he's needed to track down a killer. One of the pulls for this book for me is the art. Kirk does a great job of making it seem like it's a real situation with real people. And still manages to keep it energetic.

Honorable mentions: Human Target, The Losers and Mystique, all of which I dip in and out of on a regular basis.


Psychbloke said...

What a great post - more of these please!

Republic of Replicants said...

Thanks, Psych.

zooberries said...

some great choices. i wish 100bullets was weekly.

Republic of Replicants said...

I just wish Azzarello would stop being swayed to doing more mainstream stuff (Batman and Superman) and would just stay focused on 100 Bullets.
But as a creator I can understand how one would need to break up the monotony with other projects. It's possible that he had other ideas that he couldn't work passed because they just kept nagging at him. Or perhaps he was starting to burn out.
Either way, I hope that Azzarello continues with the last half of the series with the same fire and ambition he had when he started.