Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Comic Review 27/02/08

As suggested by my friend Anthony 'the great white' Hope-Smith, here begins my reviewing bit. I'll be reviewing the new comics I've bought or or the old comics I've read (thanks to my obsessive online shopping to recollect everything that ever made an impression on me). I'm finished with buying old tut like crazy and now I get to start reading it.
This'll be weekly (weakly) written and will be as long as my pile of comics at Freaks is high.

First up is the latest Loveless, no 22 by Azzarello and regular fill-in artist Daniel Zezelj. This is a series, that much like DC's Jonah Hex, I started to pick up because it was drawn by someone who's work I love and a writer who's work I generally like. I generally pick up comics depending on who's drawing them.
With Loveless I read the first issue when I worked in a comic shop and could do so for free. It was good but Marcelo Fuisin, the original regular artist, does nothing for me so I passed. I've now a few issues of the title because Daniel Zezelj comes along every couple of issues and draws great stand-alone stories with his stylistic, high design, heavy blacked art. His story telling is great and the high design doesn't interfere with reading great Brian Azzarello character pieces.
The latest issue opens with convicts shitting in the woods. THERE's character. The two chained together convicts are on the run across swamps and up mountains. The language is strong as you'd expect from Brian Azzarello and I've yet to read one of these fill-ins that hasn't held it's own as a story and left me wishing I could get passed my art magpie to read the whole series.

The Immortal Iron Fist Orson Randall and the Green Mist Of Death is next up and I won't be typing that again. I picked up the trade paperback of 'The Last Iron Fist Story' by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction with art by David 'Aha!' Aja, a while back. I'd heard good things but not enough to invest in the hardcover. I kinda wish I had upon hindsight. The art's great, dark and distinct, with nice storytelling and nothing more than Matt Hollingsworth colours so, yeah, easy on the eyes. The story is something else. Having read Matt Fraction's sublime Casanova (with art by the great Gabriel Ba) I knew the series would easily combine action, and science-philosophy without shoving it down your throat. Like the best Grant Morrison work you can take it at face value and enjoy it or just keep digging to see how many levels he's firing on. None of this mentions Ed Brubaker who's work is the gift that keeps on giving, bringing pulpy and mystery(/y) stories to established characters and their world.
This one-shot is written by Matt Fraction on his own and, to be honest I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. Marvel comics, slightly more than DC in general, drive me up the f*ckin' wall for all the adverts, largely comic themed (to interupt even more!). I'm not fussed about comics versus trades apart from monthly comics being printed on crap paper and full of adverts. Yet I ended up with the one-shot. I'd probably just read the trade when I ordered. The issue's by four art teams but the most impressive (for me) is pencilling Nick Dragotta with Mike Allred drawing all over the it. I loved Allred at one point (Dark Horse Madmad, Red Rocket 7 era) but went off his art when he began using less and less black in collaboration with his wife, the great colourist Laura Allred. This art takes me back a bit reminding me what I liked and nudges me back towards buying all the stuff I passed on over the last few years. Russ Heath paints a great chapter and Stefan Gaudiano, regular inker of Michael Lark on Daredevil draws nice too. The whole thing holds together really well and leaves me wishing I bought the issues every month rather than waiting. Following the early 20th century/pulpy incarnation of Iron Fist versus an ambiguous enemy. The stories solid and adds depth to the Iron Fist history while always looking forward.
Kaare Andrew's GREAT cover gives me hope of seeing him working on the interiors at some point.

Lastly but not leastly is the latest Fear Agent trade which I finished reading this morning. I re-read the first couple of trades before reading this third collection which has made me a fan for life, I think. Rick Remender first came to my attention as the friend of Kieron Dwyer. Then he wrote loads of comics I never got around to reading and drawing some too. During a spare half hour I read the first issue of Fear Agent at and enjoyed it enough to pick up the first trade. Tony Moore's art was first seen (by me) on Image's Walking Dead, which I really liked. A strong sense of storytelling and a manly approach to his cartooning, its really engaging stuff. When he's not drawing it Jerome Opeña is who renders the whole thing with the same level of action focussed storytelling as Tony Moore, but different. It ALWAYS feels consistent.
The book is genuinely funny, genuinely sad and relentless in it's telling of Earth's fall at the hands of two alien races. It's all told from the point of view of the protagonist Heath Huston, a Texan with drink dependancy issues a well of loss and no aversion to violence following his principles. The Jack Davis quote on the back of the collection says it fine "Fear Agent is just beautiful, I couldn't put it down. God Bless him I wish Harvey Kurtzman was around to see it"


David N said...

I share your Brubaker love - I used to read him when he wrote and drew his own not-great indie stuff and was pleasantly stunned to see how good his genre stuff was, way back in the day - but have an almost opposite view of Loveless. I bought the first arc because I love Frusin's art. Though it was hard, after a while, to tell all the long-haired, bearded, cowboy-hat wearing characters apart. Then I dropped it when he left, though that first scan is interesting....
Azzarello, for me, is the most overrated writer working in comics today. All his stuff feels utterly contrived and trying too hard.
Ignorant of Fear Agent. But it looks good.

Will Shyne said...

I thought Fruisin was a so-so from the Risso camp and while I enjoyed his loose Colin Wilson looking work towards the end of his Hellblazer run I never got over a drawing in Weird Western Tales of a dead cowboy, with moody shadows under his eyes as he lay on his back at high noon.
Azzarello, as BSE has pointed out many times seems to rarely set the world alight outside of 100 Bullets,which I still really enjoy. Also really enjoyed Batman Deathblow by him.

Anthony Hope-Smith said...

Thank you Mr Shyne for adding to my shopping list! Like I wasn't skint enough!
Didn't know Zezelj doing stand-alone issues of Loveless. His and Azzarello's (Mozzarellas on my spell-check) El Diablo is out in trade now, another thing on my list to get.
Read a few issues of Iron Fist and am well up for the collections.
And read a few issues of Fear Agent and was intrigued enough to want to again pick up the books! Great art complemented by gorgeous colour work!
Thanks for sharing your reads!