Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Couple O' Reviews

Been putting these off for awhile, but here's some thoughts on a few recent reads:

Drawing on Your Nightmares $2.99 (Dark Horse Comics)

Creative Team: Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, Eric Powell, Brett Matthews, Sean Phillips, with some lettering by Pat Brosseau

What's it about? It's a trio of horror stories. The first focus' on Steve Niles' Cal McDonald, in a story called Letter From B.S. Cal gets a letter from a dead man who's trying to get to his dead girlfriend, but some dead mooks are keeping her from him. Enter Cal, who bullies the tough dead guys into giving up the girl, and it's happily ever after for the dead couple. The second features Eric Powell's The Goon in a story titled The Brothers Mud. This is really the story of a spider named Percival who's gambling debts become a problem. When the Brothers Mud are sent to rub him out he directs them to the Goon. Fighting ensues, and there's a few laughs thrown in for good measure. There's even a funny little twist at the end. The final tale claims it's part of the Buffy universe, but there's no sign of her here. Instead we get to meet a grifter who also happens to be a vampire. The story's titled Dames, and that pretty much says it all. This grifting vamp comes to the aid of a stunning woman, thinking it could be his lucky night, only for it to end up as his last night.

Why you shouldread it: Well, there's three pretty good stories here, so I'll tackle them indidvidually. The Niles/Templesmith Cal McDonald story is probably the weakest. It's not bad, but Templesmith's art suffers from the poor quality paper the folks at Dark Horse chose to print this with. I like the character Niles has created, but if I didn't know about the previous works of these guys, I'd definitely shy away from seeking out anymore, especially Templesmith's. It's just a shame the company couldn't shell out for some better paper stock. Next we have Eric Powell's The Goon. I liked this story, maybe not enough to pick up the floppies, but I'd definitely buy a trade if it's released. The Goon has a very blue-collar feel too it, and it's compared to Hellboy and the Spirit, and I think I can agree with that. But only in the blue collar sense. The concepts are different, thankfully, and I liked the fact that Powell infuses these characters with a sense of familiarity, even though I've never seen any of them. I was instantly drawn in by a spider gambling, and his escape gave me a laugh. The Brothers Mud were quite enjoyable, and the introduction to the Goon was great. Finally, we've got the Matthews/Phillips tale of a vampire who followed the wrong woman. I understand the need to plaster the Buffy logo with the story, to ground it in a universe, but I think that's a bit unfair to both sides of the fence. Buffy fans might feel let down and Buffy haters might avoid it (though this is a pretty old book, so it's not likely to bring in anyone or turn anyone off). This is the best of the three tales, and probably one of the best short stories I've read in quite some time. It captures the classic noir of older movies, and even though we're never properly introduced to the two characters we instantly connect with them. I've never been a fan of Phillips art, but here it's magnificent. Especially the last page. The story itself feels like some twisted amalgam of Elmore Leonard novels and Tales from the Crypt, and the dialogue is great, short, and to the point. While Niles and Templesmith may create great vampire-based horror fiction, Matthews and Phillips have created a new type of vampire tale, vamp noir if you will. Unfortunately with the demise of the lead character, it's not likely to feature him in a regular series.

Overall this was three bucks well spent. I wish the paper stock had been better, but only the McDonald story really suffers. I'm definitely interested in the Goon, and will have to lookout for some Matthews and Phillips collaborations, even if its on a Buffy book. Who knows, maybe they can get me to like the character.

The Authority: More Kev #1-3

Just a few short comments here, as I'm gonna review the series as a whole when it's completed. This book is wrong on so many levels I can't begin to count them. But, my God, is it hilarious. If rude, immoral, un-p.c., over-the-top, action/comedy is your thing, this is your book. If it's not, what the hell is wrong with you? Despite his recent Punisher offereings, this further proves why Garth Ennis is one of the best, most fascinating writers working in comics today. The man is either insane, or brilliant. Either way, I'm entertained.


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