Phil's Reviews — Stuff I Bought #4

Usagi Yojimbo #100 — Creators: um, see below…
… because it’s a jam issue, one of those anniversary-issues-as-roasts with rotating art teams, some expected (Sergio Aragones; Mark Evanier/Scott Shaw; Jeff Smith) and some not (Diana Schutz/Matt Wagner; Jamie Rich/Andi Watson; Guy Davis; Frank Miller).
Why are all those creators involved with this issue? Because Stan Sakai has crafted a huge body of great comics storytelling since the early ’80s, always there (160 issues+) and always worth reading, and all those people know it. This is probably not the place to jump on for new readers, but seriously: if you like comics, pick up one of the Usagi trades and try it. There’s a good chance you’ll like it, anthropomorphic rabbits or not, and then you can get drawn into a world with over 160 stories about it…).

Daredevil #93 — Writer: Ed Brubaker; Artists: Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
This feels like the last episode of Brubaker’s Daredevil, Season One. It’s been a great arc, seeming to shake things up while getting all the major pieces back into place by the final panel, and so smoothly that we don’t care; we’re just happy to have read a good story. This book’s been dependable entertainment for a long time, and the Bendis-to-Brubaker transition has been seamless (both have an obvious affection for noir/pulp detective stories, and a fascination with police procedures, too). If you’ve been thinking about picking up the book, this is a good sampler issue.

Jack of Fables #7 — Writers: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges; Penciller: Tony Akins; Inker: Andrew Pepoy
This is Willingham and company having fun with the trickster-avatar of the fairy tales, with a breezy, cynical style ( “…they’ll fix it in the trade” ), some mild sex and some graphic violence, all rendered with such a light, cartoony, professional touch that it’s all in service to the story. Another decent jump-on issue for new readers, too.

Batman: The Mad Monk #6 — Story and Art: Matt Wagner
Concluding Wagner’s tribute to the earliest 1940s Detective Comics Batman stories. Worth a look, although this probably isn’t the place to start (the earlier Batman and the Monster Men actually begins the story). These are creative nostalgia, not just pastiches or parodies; Wagner’s aiming to distill the essential thrill of those 1939/1940 issues, and pour it into new bottles — much like Darwyn Cook, but with a darker, pulpier sensibility. The last two pages are a cliche for this type of Batman story, and that annoying 2-page Wii ad is there to interrupt yet another comic’s narrative flow, but otherwise it’s the satisfying final issue of an ambitious project.

Strangers in Paradise #87 — Writer-Artist: Terry Moore
Another story that’s winding down, although in this case it’s 14 years long, and one of the highest-regarded creator-owned series in comics history. Moore seems to be ending it at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way (although, for sheer drawn-out romantic frustration, it’s sometimes rivaled Maison Ikkoku). Yet another story worth tracking down in the earliest trades, to get in from the beginning and let the characters and story unfold at their natural pace.

X-Men #195 — Writer: Mike Carey; Pencils: Humberto Ramos; Inks: Carlos Cuevas
I’m a fan of Carey’s — Lucifer was, from start to finish, a delight — although his complex plotting and subtle character reads sometimes don’t work as well with mainstream superheroes (as in, say, Ultimate Fantastic Four, where he’s introduced a bunch of characters and a long plotline that’s proven hard to keep track of, issue to issue). He seems to be finding his footing with this title, however, and the Ramos art is effective (Cuevas’s inking seems like a good match; it reigns in some of his more exaggerated tendencies). Not a big fan of the coloring — it tries for flashy effects and ends up calling too much attention to itself, and murking up the art — but this is a perfectly acceptable issue of one of Marvel’s franchise titles.

About Phil

With 40 years of experience in comic reading, collecting and reviewing, English Professor Phil Mateer has an encyclopedic mind for comics. Feel free to ask Phil about storylines, characters, artists or for that matter, any comic book trivia. He will post your questions and answers on the AABC blog. His knowledge is unparalleled! He is also our warehouse manager, so if you are looking for that hard to find comic book, ask Phil!
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