CBC Quickees: Death, Villains and more…

Just as I decide to drastically cut back my pull list, a slew of great new comics are seemingly coming out every other week now, including a couple of unexpected treats from DC thanks to Brave New World. At this rate, I may have to stop drinking just to keep up!

Let’s do this…

Death Comes to Dillinger #1 (Silent Devil, $2.99)
Death Comes to Dillinger came out of left field, completely off my radar until its eye-catching cover, um, caught my eye, and it passed the flip test and got to come home with me a few weeks back. In comics as in film, I’m a big fan of atmosphere, and if you can quickly set the right tone, I’ll go along for the ride. Se7enhedd and Jim Ringuet deliver atmosphere in spades here and James Patrick matches them stride for stride with an intriguing tale of Death, literally, coming to the old west town of Dillinger, and one man’s desperate response to his presence. There’s a matter-of-fact, Twilight Zone-ish feel to the proceedings, and the pacing is a pitch perfect example of decompression done right. (After reading it, I wasn’t surprised to see Joshua Hale Fialkov’s name in the masthead as Editor, considering the great job he did with the gone-but-not-forgotten Western Tales of Terror anthology series.)

That it’s only a two-issue “mini-series” is both a good and bad thing, as the first half works quite well on its own and two issues is exactly the right length for the full tale, but from a sales perspective I have to wonder if it would have made more sense to release it as a giant-sized one-shot. Either way, it’s highly recommended reading.

Villains #1-2 (Viper Comics, $3.25)
“Apt Pupil” was arguably the best of the four short stories in Stephen King’s Different Seasons, the story of a teenaged boy obsessed with Nazis who recognizes a war criminal in hiding and blackmails him into telling all about the atrocities he committed. (Bryan Singer’s adaptation, his first time working with Ian McKellan, was one of the better Stephen King movies.) Adam Cogan treads similar ground in Villains as his protagonist, Nick Corrigan, newly fired from his job and dreading telling his live-in girlfriend the truth, stumbles upon his building’s superintendent’s secret: he’s really Charles Randall Cobb, the presumed-dead supervillain the Hardliner, sort of Iron Man gone to the dark side. Nick hears opportunity knocking and blackmails Cobb into training him to become his replacement, and in the second issue pulls his first job, somewhat sloppily, causing the tension to mount between them. There’s also a subplot involving Cobb and the resident superhero, Flying Ace, that hints at a dark side for the good guys, too, giving the whole story a tantalizing undercurrent of moral ambiguity. Cogan — who also co-writes the equally good mini-series, The Black Coat — sets a nice pace in these first two issues, focusing on developing his two leads into believeable, almost sympathetic, characters while setting up his plot in the background. Artist (and co-creator) Ryan Cody is cut from similar cloth as Powers‘ Michael Avon Oeming, and brings a similarly distinctive flair to the proceedings, and colorist Russ Lowery complements him nicely.

Each issue includes a back-up story, “Old Scores”, featuring Cobb in his prime as the Hardliner, adding an extra layer to the main story by giving a sense history to this brand new universe. Cogan scripts this story, too, but artist Charles Clark’s work isn’t nearly as strong as Cody’s so it isn’t quite as seamless as it could be. Nevertheless, kudos to the creative team and to Viper for putting some actual content in those “extra” pages instead of the usual house ads most other publishers typically go with. Villains is slated as a four-issue mini-series, but there’s a lot of potential here for future installments as Cogan and Cody are building a compelling setting in which there could be many more stories to be told.

Jim Valentino’s Emissary #1 (Image, $3.50)
I wish I’d reviewed this sooner, before I found out the next two issues are already delayed and that there’s a new writer taking over with the 4th issue, because I can’t help but let that influence my opinion somewhat negatively, especially when my initial take on it wasn’t all that positive to begin with. It’s an intriguing premise — an unidentified black man appears in the middle of New York City, walking on air and declaring himself “The Emissary…and I have come to lead you into the future.” — and Valentino has said he plans to explore how the real world would react to a black Superman, effectively, but right out of the gate he and writer Jason Rand miss the boat by not having one of their seven primary POV characters be black, too. This first issue is all set-up as each of the characters (two cops, a reporter and an editor, and an Air Force General, Captain and fighter pilot) is introduced through overly expository dialogue — and, in one case, only-in-Hollywood-coincidence — as The Emissary makes his presence known and is greeted by a couple of F-15s dispatched by the requisite gruff General, who is especially skittish post-9/11 and wants him shot out of the sky.

There’s definitely some potential here as Rand hints at what will presumably be the underlying theme of the story via reactions from a couple of witnesses — “Jesus…” and “God Almighty…” — but given Valentino’s recent track record, with constantly shifting creative teams and directions on the current ShadowHawk series; the quick cancellation of Intimidators (which had two artists over its first, and only, four issues); the predictably less-than-stellar sales of Emissary #1; and the fact that Rand is already being replaced three issues in, its chances for reaching that potential don’t look too bright. The writing on the wall says “wait for the trade” on this one, but I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for its release.


Brave New World (DC, $1)
Unlike Countdown, this is a straight-forward preview book, featuring sneak peeks of six new titles spinning out of Infinite Crisis: The All-New Atom (ongoing), The Creeper (6-issue mini-series), OMAC (8-issue mini-series), Martian Manhunter (8-issue mini-series), Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters (8-issue mini-series) and Trials of Shazam (12-issue mini-series). Suprisingly, to me, The All-New Atom was actually one of the best entries, despite John Byrne on art and Gail Simone, who’s yet to click for me, writing from “ideas and concepts developed by Grant Morrison”. Fun and unpredictable, it left me wanting more. The costume, though, is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The Creeper was the other winner, an apparent retcon featuring a left-wing Bill O’Reilly type putting a bounty on his secret alter ego. Despite the jetpack in Gotham County Line, Steve Niles knows from creepy and Justiniano, Walden Wong and Chris Chuckry offer a nice visual complement, balancing the creepy with the cartoony. Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters has the potential to be DC’s Ultimates, complete with expectations of delays judging by Daniel Acuña’s pretty artwork. Trials of Shazam was mildly intriguing, but Judd Winick’s writing it so it’s doomed by association in my mind. OMAC and Martian Manhunter did nothing for me at all. There’s also a seventh preview (prologue?) that acts as bookends, featuring yet another dip into the fully tapped out Crisis on Infinite Earths well that comes off as little more than an admission that 2+ years of plot-hammering still left the DCU with a number of rough edges that need sanding.

Young Avengers #12 (Marvel, $2.99)
Okay, so it’s pretty clear that “Kree-Skrull War II” fell victim to Allan Heinberg’s strained schedule — The O.C., Wonder Woman, Grey’s Anatomy — as this story arc ends two issues too early and everything is wrapped up too quickly. But rarely has coitus interruptus been so satisfying, as Heinberg and Jim Cheung make the most of this premature conclusion to their noteworthy first season, hitting all the right emotional beats and ending things on an up-note. Cheung’s clever use of dense splash pages balanced by six-panel layouts for the big fight scene brought one of those silly fanboy grins to my face that this series has been chock full of, and Patriot receiving a blood transfusion from his grandfather Isaiah (the black Captain America from Truth: Red, White & Black), literally brought a tear to my eye and provided apt closure for the dicey drugssteroidsMutant Growth Hormone plotline. Hoo-fucking-rah!

Daredevil #86 (Marvel, $2.99)
I jumped onboard the Daredevil bandwagon pretty late in the game, succumbing to Bendis’ mega-hyped but underwhelming “Decalogue” story arc, and stuck around for Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, who have quickly turned this series into a top-of-the-stack must-read every month. This issue, the “$#@% jumps off” as a riot turns Ryker’s into a deathtrap whose prey is Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, forcing them to team up, along with Bullseye, in a brutal fight for their lives. Brubaker handles the action, character and plot development well, with Lark matching him step-for-step, and in the end, Frank Castle gets invited to play. Captain America, Daredevil…DC was crazy to let Brubaker go. If he doesn’t take over Moon Knight when Charlie Huston is done, there’s no justice in this world.

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One thought on “CBC Quickees: Death, Villains and more…

  1. Glad you dug Dillinger, Guy. JP and Co are all HUGE talents and I was thrilled at the chance to be involved.

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