- Booster Gold #17, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
- Fables #81, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
- Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1 HC, by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Dan Day & Rick Veitch (DC)
- Avengers/Invaders #8 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter (Marvel)
- Incognito #2, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon)
- Thor #600, by J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel, Marko Djurdjevic & Mark Morales (Marvel)
- Fire and Brimstone #4 of 5, by Richard Moore (Antarctic)
- Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #3 of 8, by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo (Dark Horse)
- B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #2 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
- The Sword: Water vol 2 TPB, by Joshua Luna & Jonathan Luna (Image)
- Castle Waiting #14, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)
Alan Moore’s work doesn’t need any recommendations from me, but it might be of interest that DC is collecting his Swamp Thing run in hardcover volumes. This first volume contains his first issue on the title, which I believe has never been collected before. It’s not essential, but it provides a little extra background to the next issue, which was the one in which Moore started to make his mark on the US comics market, completely upending the premise of the series and turning it into something even more interesting. The “everything you know is wrong” story has become a cliche in comics these days, but Moore was one of the ones who made it a cliché, and he can do it better than almost anyone else in the business.
Anyway, in this volume you can expect horror, adventure, carnage, philosophy, romance, and some outstanding artwork by Steve Bissette and John Totleben. It’s great stuff, and this is a nice package to read it if you haven’t previously.
Incognito #1 was good, and issue #2 is even better: Our hero (or anti-hero) Zack Overkill takes to the rooftops at night to use his returning powers, covertly since it’s illegal for him to do so. He learns something about a couple of his co-workers, which end up getting him into trouble (or so it seems). Meanwhile, some nasty looking characters from his old life are trying to hunt him down.
The noir feel to the story complements the super-powered elements quite nicely, not least because there’s not a true superhero in sight. Sean Phillips’ style captures the seedy feel of the story quite well, but it’s still very readable and elegant in its way, unlike, say, Michael Gaydos’ art, which I always find too sketchy and not very pretty to look at. Incognito reminds me a bit of Bendis and Oeming’s Powers, but without the pretentious dialogue which Bendis hangs on his characters. Although I suspect its ambitions are not so lofty, it could end up being better than Powers once it gets going.
Thor returns to its “classic” numbering this month, a shtick Marvel’s been using with several of its long-running-but-relaunched titles. This extra-sized issue reprints several Silver Age stories, contains a cute “Mini Thor” story by Chris Giarrusso (the “secret weapon” in the otherwise-humorless Marvel Universe these days), and a multi-page collage of every cover from every issue in the series, dating back to Journey Into Mystery #1.
These extras aside, Thor #600 is the last issue I’ll be buying of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the title.
If there’s one word to describe this run, that word is dull. Although glacial and pointless also come to mind. I’ve written before that Straczynski’s comics-writing career hasn’t impressed me, but Thor may be his nadir: After an interesting beginning, the series got bogged down in the machinations of the Asgardians whom Thor returned to life, with yet another tiresome scheme by Loki. There was some early hope that Donald Blake would be fleshed out into a rounded character, but in fact everyone in this series is one-dimensional.
And, oh, the series has been going on for so long while barely making any progress at reaching a climax or resolution of any sort. Lots of talking, lots of portentiousness and worry, and none of it ever spills over. Finally in this issue we get a big fight, but it’s far too little, far too late, and it’s still just the set-up for the “real” plot, which sees Thor exiled from Asgard (what, again?).
I’ve talked about DC’s Final Crisis being a train wreck of a series from a writing standpoint, but Thor has been just as bad. I’d hung on this long hoping that #600 would see the conclusion of Straczynski’s story, but it feels like it’s really just beginning. And I just can’t stand it anymore: I’m outta here.