This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 6 February 2008.

  • Countdown to Final Crisis #12 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen, Jesus Saiz & Tom Derenick (DC)
  • Fables #69, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo)
  • Justice Society of America #12, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham & Ruy José (DC)
  • Metal Men #6 of 8, by Duncan Rouleau (DC)
  • Annihilation Conquest #4 of 6, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Tom Raney & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
  • Clandestine #1 of 5, by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer (Marvel)
  • The Twelve #2 of 12, by J. Michael Straczynski, Chris Weston & Garry Leach (Marvel)
  • The Boys #15, by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
  • Dynamo 5: Post-Nuclear Family vol 1 TPB, by Jay Faerber & Mahmud A. Asrar (Image)
Fables #69 This month’s Fables concludes the latest lengthy story in the series, “The Good Prince”. In it, Flycatcher, the erstwhile janitor of Fabletown in New York (and for that matter the frog prince), dons some magical armor and, guided by Sir Launcelot, helps guide a group of Fables out of the lands of the dead, and sets up the kingdom of Haven and invites refugees from the Empire to find shelter with him. At the end of last issue, the Emperor sent a huge army of his forces to destroy Haven, and the prince goes out to meet them, expecting to defeat them to save his kingdom, but die in the process.

“The Good Prince” isn’t the best story in the series, but I genuinely enjoyed watching Flycatcher’s turnaround from guilt-ridden janitor to earnest leader (who reminds me a little of the Lama from Doctor Strange #66, but that’s neither here nor there). Writer Bill Willingham continues to artfully shift the status quo of the series, and the balance of power between Fabletown and the Empire. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that Fables is the best comic being published todayl, but it’s in my top ten.

By the way, the book’s secret – well, really unheralded – weapon is penciller Mark Buckingham, who’s quietly become one of the most inventive and versatile artists working on a major comic: He can handle a wide range of emotions and faces, as well as all the fantastic elements Willingham can throw at him, while having fundamentally good storytelling skills and some smooth, skillful linework. Good stuff.

Clandestine vol 2 #1 Alan Davis’ Clandestine first came out in the mid-90s. At first it was about a family of colorful characters – not quite superheroes – and the mystery regarding who they were and how they came to be. It wasn’t a huge mystery: The Destine family (the “clan Destine”, geddit?) are all children of Adam Destine, an immortal, indestructible man born centuries ago, and whose children are similarly long-lived and each have their own amazing powers. The series was a lot of fun, but didn’t last long, only 12 issues plus a crossover with the X-Men. (The whole thing will soon be reprinted in hardcover, and has previously been issued in paperback.)

Ten years later, Davis’ family is back in a new 5-issue limited series. This first issue is a pretty good summary of the family, their background and powers, and their various problems and conflicts. In particular, some of them have a strong sense of family ties, while others do not, but they all feel bound together in various ways. Adam is not much of a patriarch, being so long-lived that he feels and acts a little inhuman, and the family often views him with suspicion since he once killed one of his children, even though the child was apparently a huge threat.

Like the first series, this one looks like it’s going to involve the family going up against another secret organization which has their sights set on them. So I do worry that it’s going to be a bit repetitious. But Davis’ art is always terrific – dynamic and colorful – so I expect it will be entertaining in any event. I do recommend checking out the first series and then trying this one if you like it.

Dynamo 5 TPB vol 1: Post-Nuclear Family I’d been reading good things about Dynamo 5, Jay Faerber’s latest project. But I hadn’t been moved to buy the monthly comic because I’d been reading his other comic, Noble Causes, since the beginning, and a few mini-series and the first 12 or so issues of the monthly in, I’d realized that it was a comic about a bunch of thoroughly unlikeable characters, with haphazard and often-nonsensical story developments, and artwork of extremely varying quality. So I’d bailed on it. But Dynamo 5 had been getting such good reviews, that I decided to give the first paperback collection a try this week.

It’s way better than Noble Causes.

The premise is that a major superhero, Captain Dynamo, had died a few years ago, and his widow, Maddie Warner, learned that he’d been sleeping around a lot over the last few decades. Worried about the welfare of the city he’d protected, she tracked down five children his liaisons had produced and activated their latent powers. It turns out that each of them had one of the Captain’s powers: Strength, flight, vision powers, telepathy, and shapeshifting.

This collection contains the first 7 issues. The first issue gives us the set-up, and ends with Maddie revealing a secret to the readers (although not to her proteges). The remaining issues are a loosely-related set of stories in which the heroes adjust to one another and to their new roles. But Faerber does a great job of setting up conflicts and tensions among the characters, most of whom are in their late teens or early 20s, and from very different backgrounds. Artist Mahmud Asrar is a good find, handling the superhero scenes quite well, and doing well enough at the civilian/talking heads scenes (although he’s not quite as comfortable with those, it seems). The collection ends with a big two-part story, and a surprise on the last page.

Faerber seems much more adept at pacing Dynamo 5 than Noble Causes, and I’m not sure why that is. Noble Causes did have a big challenge built into it, since so many of the characters were such scumbags, and maybe getting the reader to identify with them was just more than he was able to accomplish. (Well, getting this reader to identify with them; NC‘s regular series is still running so obviously some people enjoy it.) The characters here are likable even though they’re flawed, and the high concept feels easier to plug in to. The book has a bit of the feel of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible to it, although it’s not so iconoclastic.

So I’m definitely interested in coming back for the second volume. I’m not sure I’ll latch onto the monthly series, though.