Saturday, June 12, 2004

Still more quick comics reviews!
A few more of this week's purchases, and now I spend money no more for a few weeks...
The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye
Quick, dirty and fun zombie comics. Rick is a cop in Kentucky who's shot and goes into a coma. He wakes up, and the end of the world has happened. Zombies are everywhere, and there's only a handful of humans untouched left. Now what? "The Walking Dead" trade paperback collects the first 6 issues of this buzz-bin comic for a very decent $10 price, and it's worth checking out for fans of comic horror. Writer Robert Kirkman takes the always compelling theme of "the world ends, now what?" and does a nice spin on it. It's similar to fellow comic "Y: The Last Man," with heavy elements of "The Stand," "Dawn Of The Dead" and every other zombie movie of the past 25 years involved. Occasionally the dialogue is stiff and the action a little Hollywood for me, but the characters, as Rick wanders around the South reuniting with friends and forming a band of survivors, are solid individuals. The art by Tony Moore is cartoony, but also highly expressive and detailed and conveys the horror of the situation well. This isn't a really "deep" book so far -- like I said, I prefer "Y: The Last Man" for end-of-the-world comics for its deeper knack at getting into the head of characters and more unpredictable action -- but I compulsively read every page and probably will pick up the next volume. The big picture isn't revealed here -- we never learn why the zombies took over -- and it's more about simply trying to survive. It makes you want to know what's going to happen next, and that's not a bad feat. Grade: B+

Uncanny X-Men #444, 445
I get most of my comics by mail order but like to patronize my decent local shop on occasion, so sometime I'll buy comics on a whim. This time, I wasted a few bucks. I'd heard a few encouraging things about Chris Claremont and always good artist Alan Davis returning to "Uncanny X-Men" as part of their latest revamp of the X-titles, "Reloaded." So I picked up a couple issues here to check them out. These first two issues of the new run sum up the "status quo" dullness pretty much all X-Men titles other than Grant Morrison's run have excelled at the last 15 years or so. The entropy drips from these books. There's nothing bad about them, but neither is there much new. Alan Davis' art is nice, but frankly the inking of it is a little rushed-looking. But it's Claremont's fossilized writing that's the main problem. We see the typical X-Men clich├ęs -- the chummy team baseball game, the rapport between Wolverine and Nightcrawler, the clunky dialogue, etc. -- but there's nothing new here. An old Alan Moore villain is exhumed and proceeds to trash the team. What I liked about Grant Morrison's run is how novel it was -- he took the X-Men off in compelling, thoughtful directions branded with his own patented weirdness. What Claremont is doing here is exactly what he did in 1986. It's hokey soap opera. For nostalgia fans, that's fine, but frankly I'd like to see the X-Men idea continue to evolve. This stuff got old long ago, and I've moved on. Grade: C-

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