Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comics Round-Up

Summer's usually a good time to catch up on a stack of unread comics, and here's some of the stuff I've gone through recently (spoiler-free, to boot):

Dr. Strange in Shamballa: This is one of the original Marvel graphic novels from 1986, written by J.M. DeMatteis, a writer whose work is sometimes profound and sometimes strays into goofy New Age territory. Shamballa makes the most out of the large-size graphic novel format, however, with beautiful artwork and calligraphy, along with an epic story that fits nicely into the format. I found it in a used book store, but it's long out of print and probably not worth tracking down unless you're a huge fan of Marvel's Sorceror Supreme.

52 # 4: The fourth and final volume in DC Comics' 52 series, which tells what took place during the "missing year" in the DC Universe (in which all of the regular comics "jumped forward" a year in time). 52 is made up of several different story threads: Lex Luthor creating an "Everyman" gene to give super powers to anyone who wants them; Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny, trying to resurrect his dead wife, the Animal Man and other heroes trapped across the universe trying to return home, and more. My favorite thread and the one that kept me comic back for each volume is the story of The Question and his protege, Detective Montoya of the Gotham Police Department. I won't go into spoilers, but The Question storyline is both tragic and excellently written. On the other hand, I wasn't a huge fan of the ending to 52. The suddenly revealed "villain behind it all" seemed random and kinda goofy, and the apparent resurrection of 51 other-dimensional universes seems to undo one of the few good things to come out of the original 1986 Crisis. I should mention one great thing about the 52 trade paperbacks is that for each issue, one of the writers or artists has written a text piece commentary--it's always fascinating to see what's going on in the creators' heads when they put together a comic.

Clone Wars Adventures # 1-4: Each of these is a 96-page, digest-size collection of three of our stories set during Star Wars' Clone Wars era. They're intended for kids, with very little dialogue and simple stories. Like everything Star Wars, they're in continuity, but adults aren't missing much of significance and would be better off focussing on the traditional-size (but similarly named) Clone Wars trade-paperbacks, which collect far more interesting and important comics set during that era.

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