Friday, January 23, 2004

Adding two more to the pile...

Got a chance to read two more of those pesky comic books last night:

DC: The New Frontier #1 $6.95

Yeah, at $6.95 I was hoping there would be a ton of stuff to this book, but I feared the worst (It would be chock full of splash pages, little dialogue, and little background). I shall never doubt Darwyn Cooke again. NEVER. For those unfamiliar with the name, Cooke is an artist whose main influences are Alex Toth and Jack Kirby, and if you don't know who they are, I can't help you. While the influences are clear, Cooke blends the styles perfectly, and we're left with something that's fairly Mike Allred-like, but different. Back to the subject, New Frontier reminded me of Marvels, only more interesting. The art isn't as "realistic" as Ross' paintings, but for some reason that makes it all the better. Also, unlike Marvels, New Frontier isn't an "outsiders" look into the DCU. It's more like a war story told by someone who lived through the battle. It's full of history, yet it doesn't come off dull or boring because by the time you realize that's what you're getting into, the action has already pulled you in. We see the fall of DC's Losers, Hal Jordan as a child seeking out his hero, the JSA disbanding after being called communists, Superman attempting to take out Batman, the death of Hourman, the rise of another Suicide Squad, and finally an older Hal fighting for his life after being shot down in Korea. This book spans decades of "history" and leaves you wanting more, and on top of that took well over thirty minutes to read. It's been awhile since I've bought a single issue of a series and felt I've gotten my money's worth, I'd have gladly paid ten dollars for this, so it's a steal at under seven. This will likely be the best book published by either of the "Big Two" this year, and I strongly recommend you buy it.

Freaks of the Heartland #1 $2.99

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from this. My only experience with writer Steve Niles has been 30 Days of Night and the Follow up Dark Days. Both of those are vampire books, and both of them are fabulous, and do more for the horror genre than anything since the days of EC Comics. The artist, Greg Ruth, is unknown to me, so I had nothing to go on there. That said, this isn't a book about vampires, and it really isn't horror, per se. It's (apparently) the story of a young boy, Trevor, and his brother, Will. Their father is the typical menacing type, and the mother is your typical cowering type, and Trevor seems somewhat content to let things lie. Will, however, isn't normal at all. What's wrong with him isn't exactly clear, but he's kept chained up in their barn. Trevors talk of "something that never should have happened" keeps you in suspense for most of the story, and the fact the he plans on sneaking himself and his brother out for the evening leaves you wondering until the next issue. It's a fairly quick read, which is usually a downfall, except here the art completely overshadows that. Like the previous Niles stores I've mentioned (which were illustrated by Ben Templesmith), Freaks of the Heartland must be read at least twice to appreciate it. First to take in the story (which moves pretty quickly) then to take in the art (which is breathtaking). Niles is on his way to becoming one of the greatest writers the comics world has ever known, and this book is sure to be one of the best reads of the year.

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