Thursday, December 18, 2008

Comic Book Wednesday: Fables' House of Cards

Ok, so it's not the most clever title ever. Here's the reviews.

Fables 79. By Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham. Fables has been on a role recently, and while this issue isn't quite as good as the last, it's still going strong. The big events this week are Charming's funeral and a sharp turn towards the worse for Fabletown at large. Oh, and the Mogli story continues. I added that as an afterthought, because the storyline still feels like an afterthought; each month, I feel like there isn't quite enough there. I would have preferred that Willingham just wrote a Mogli arc for a few months than just get the five pages or so. The Mister Dark and Beauty/Beast scenes forwarded both their plots slightly, but I'm ready for both to advance to something more. But the main stuff- the funeral is exactly appropriate, and is a testament to economical storytelling. And the big event IS a big event, and I definitely felt its impact. For that alone, this issue is a must-have for anyone following the series.

Avengers Initiative 19.
By Dan Slott & Christos N. Gage and Harvey Tolibao & Bong Dazo. Having lost the war, the Skrulls initiate their scorched earth policy, and in order to stop them, the remaining Initiative teams need to take down four of the six substations, across six different states. Remember a few weeks ago when Marvel ended a multi-month "epic" crossover with a very boring fight scene? This is the fight scene that SHOULD have been. The action sequence in this issue is so high-octane that it almost errs in the other direction. As always with AI, the huge cast is a bit of a drawback: yes, some characters die here, but there's not really that many who's deaths have any meaning, because they haven't had the facetime needed to, well, matter. But Crusader's story is wrapped up, and in a compelling manner, and it's a REALLY good action sequence. Read it, if nothing else than for what Secret Invasion 8 should have been.

Spider-Man Noir 1 of 4. By David Hine with Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomencio. As far as I can tell, the Noir line is basically a switching act: Marvel takes out the "super-hero" part of their characters, and replaces it with a heap of dark, broody noir style. A few weeks ago, the first issue of X-Men Noir came out, and the twist was that Professor Charles Xavier decided that psychopaths were the next step in human evolution, and created a school for training them. Here, the main plot is that it's the 1930s, and Peter Parker is a young agitator taking a stand with the unions against the factories and the mob men, lead by the criminal, the Goblin. The entire thing is narrated through the photographer Ben Urich. Hine and Sapolsky capture well the spirit of anger that permeates the comic, anger that those in power allowed things to come to such a point, and Giandomencio does a great job of conveying this anger and bitterness in a young Peter Parker. Judging on this issue and the X-Men, the Noir line is, through reflection, at least, going to be an interesting commentary on what defines superheroes, and what, beyond their powers, make these characters what they are, and keeps them from the path that both series seem to be heading.

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