Hopping onto BPRD turned out to be much easier, thanks to some Ba and Moon action this week. Plus, every indie book was great and the mainstreams were terrible. Bummer?
Angel & Faith 20 - What a great start, from the cover to Spike's first panel to the desire for a drink to the insanity of Angel and the sanity of Faith. This is a book that (I know I'm repeating myself here, but) has really captured the tone of all of its principal actors. I'm so glad we have this line. Alasdair's narration is properly called out by Faith as redundant, but it's more dramatic irony where the reader knows that magic is coming back (in some shape or form) thanks to Willow. Unfortunately, it's not here quite yet, so Faith and Spike have to go seek out the Enders. An ominous name for an ominous species. (One of the best things about reading a book based in magic is that there can always be all sorts of new baddies invented for whatever we need. I love it.) On their magical mystery tour, the dialogue between the two is nowhere near the sex-fueled tension it once was and the specifics address that in the perfect way. It's wonderful to see the way the characters have matured, yet they keep that self-referential nature of the Buffy TV show up. The way that Faith manipulates the timing of her conversation with him is proof of that and more evidence of the great writing of this book. The ending, while funny, is hopefully a one-off note, because I have no desire to see that girl back in the storyline; this is about all she's good for. Another 10 issues did they say? Let's get to the conclusion, this is gonna be great!
BPRD: Vampire 1 - As I've mentioned in the past, the Mignolaverse is something with which I've always been more than passingly familiar, but I've not read nearly enough (e.g. hardly any at all) of it over the years. That was bound to change when I heard about this title, though. Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon did Daytripper, which was one of the best comics of 2010, and I'd follow them pretty much anywhere. For it to be in this corner where I should be going anyway just turned out to be an amazing bonus. The story, set in the past, is delicious for the way it avoids all the big characters - we see Hellboy in his young form, but we don't see any of the rest of the typical BPRD crew. Having not read the books that immediately preceded this one, I feel a little lost on the details of the possession and why exactly this man had to leave the Department, but, as usual, they do a great job of making it thin enough that we don't really need to know in order to enjoy the story. The issue is a great set up and it's definitely beautiful, but I'm looking forward to a little more in the second issue.
Powers Bureau 3 - Bendis doing Powers exactly as we'd expect. It's not bad, it's not fantastic, and it's just good enough to keep me coming back for me. We're essentially back exactly where we started. It's not bad, but it definitely feels like a retread. There are some new elements, of course, like the history that we now know about Walker, and his progress from one side to the other and back again. But this whole pregnant Deena thing feels just like when she got the virus, and the undercover Walker doesn't strike me as any different than the moved-up Walker or the new-powers Walker or the crazy-history Walker. I'm entertained and I'm happy to see that Bendis isn't just focusing on the Marvel Universe any more (of course, he's got the prerogative to do what the fuck ever he pleases) but it's not earth-shattering stuff like it felt like it was when we got it in the beginning.
Rachel Rising 15 - Wow, so this one really took a turn. Jet is back - again - and Rachel goes to talk to her mom, in a very disturbing fashion. We see a complicating of the relationship between Jet and Earl, but it's nice to suspect that he's just as good as ever. The turn, the revelation of the rats, was something that I did not see coming. Hilariously, it's Uncle Johnny who's the first one to point it out, despite her being out of action for the last few issues. Rachel's catharsis is stepped on by her return home and her learning of this freak out for the city, and we see how Lilith is already manipulating the media to convince them that this is somewhat natural - although I don't see how that would ever fly, no matter how much kiddie porn the guy's got on his computer. I'm excited for some more action-filled issues like this one.
Unwritten 47 - Holy hell. What an ending. What an issue. Tom gets to have his discussion with the king of the dead, who it turns out is no Hades at all. He's still searching for Lizzie and it turns out one of the servants is up for (semi-) helping him. The people that he passes, the ones he knows, are incredible reminders of how long (and detailed) this book has run and how great it's been for the whole time. Meanwhile, the kids evade the rabbit king by hopping in his magic bag, which is going to be an incredible turn when it's followed up on. And the last page reveal is not one I saw coming. It's incredible how layered this book is, and the fact that we can have separate arcs back to back that focus on the diversity of the characters proves that it's not a one man show. I love the idea of Tommy having amnesia, kind of, and how it's affected his arc. But the kicker arrives when we think that while this story is running, Savoy's probably above-ground going through his own storyline in Australia. I love this book.
Wolverine and the X-Men 27 - Well, not much to say here with this one. The story of Dog continues. It seems to me that he had so much more to offer, but what we're getting here is pretty one-dimensional. He was beaten as a child, his brother is more famous than him, so he's on a pretty generic one-upping quest. Cool. But not really. The beginning, with the dialogue of the old guard, and Kitty's instilled trust in Wolverine, is a great highlight, but other than that, it's just a mishmash of kiddie ideas. The cowboys and neanderthals and robots are fun stuff for kids, but Quentin Quire sums it up perfectly when he says that he's never felt more American then when he's shooting them all with laser guns. It's basically just a conglomerate of childish ideas, mixed together in one comic. Not bad, but nothing great. And the subpar art does nothing to bolster the case. It could be pure joy, but it comes off as pretty flat and disappointing, especially insofar as the longterm potential for the character of Dog.
Book of the week goes to Unwritten. Taking on more classic mythology and making it not only relevant but compelling in a whole new context is not nearly as either as Mike Carey and Peter Gross have consistently made it seem.