As always, Geekanerd brings you Snap Judgements: short, spoiler-free, and... I forgot the other S...
Brawl #1 (of 3)
Gets an A from AHR
I already read both the stories contained in this comic on Act-i-Vate, an online comix collective where creators put up their comics page by page, as they finish them. It's awesome. But I got this print version because Immortal is the sort of story that should really be read in a suitably moody location, say, an empty beach or a end-of-the-line bus station. Dean Haspiel has created a truly memorable character in Billy Dogma, a hard man with a heart of gold who inhabits a stylized world of crazy love and sexy absurdism. The high romanticism and abrupt action creates a mood you can sink into like a waking dream. Cut into pieces for this three issue series, the first chunk of Immortal is over all to soon, and it would have been nice to sustain the mood by releasing the story as a one-shot. But then we'd be missing out on the second story, Mike Fifee's Panorama, a gritty, surreal noir rendered in splattery black and white that really benefits from the transfer to good old fashioned scratchy paper. I enjoyed Fiffe's story more the second time around, particularly the inner monologue narration which, in contrast to pulp patter of Immortal, ticks along to a realist beat even as the hero's flesh drips off his face and takes on a mind of it's own.
Another Brawl opinion after the jump, plus Judgments for Batman Confidential #10, New Avengers #35 and Simon Dark #1
Brawl gets a C from Albo
I hate being a negative Nancy, but Immortal made no damn sense. I liked alot of the individual panels, but the storytelling was so scattershot I honestly thought maybe they printed the pages out of order. Panorama shared this tendency a bit, but by the end I was with it and really enjoying the bizarre reality Fiffe had crafted. All told, from my POV you would be wise to stick with the free online version. (side note: The clerk at Midtown very politely asked me why I was buying this book. I've never been asked that before. I suspect he had already read it.)
Batman Confidential #10
Gets an A from AHR
I'd like to say that Confidential scribe Michael Green is currently writing one of the best takes on the Joker I've ever read. But I can't, because the character that Green has been writing is the man who existed before mutating into the mass murdering clown we all know and love. This allows Green to sidestep the "unreliable narrator" problem common in writing the Joker - because the character doesn't take the literal plunge into craziness 'till close to the end of this issue, Green has this Man Who Would Be Joker tell his own story without having to interrupt the thought process with non sequiturs and jokes just to stay in character. Green makes the most of this lucidity, demonstrating a Frank Millerian ability to offer insight into action sequences with present-tense narration, while maintaining a sense of chaos and violence. Denys Cowan's art continues to impress, although neither he nor Green manage to make the fully realized Joker as disturbing as the awesome cover might have lead readers to expect. But we've got two more issues to see how they handle the J-Man in his all his psychotic glory, and I for one expect great things.
New Avengers #35
Gets an A- from Albo
The minus in my score is solely because the image from the cover has nothing to do with the contents of this issue. Last ish ended with a big symbiote invasion, then we see this cover and of course we flip: It's goddamn Venom Wolverine! Well, instead of telling that story, this issue flashes back a few months and tells the tale of the Red Hood gathering a bunch of D-rate villains (seriously, I know some Marvel mythos and I recognize maybe two of these guys) together and organizing them into a new crime syndicate. And it's awesome. Bendis' common sense originality (as in, "duh, how come no villain's ever done ____ before") shines, his dialogue snaps, his pacing... I'm out of flashy verbs, but it's good. This is the centerpiece book of the Marvel Multiverse, the only place where shit is really going down. If you care at all: buy it.
Simon Dark #1
Gets an A from Albo
Gotham City has a new protector, and he's... different. 30 Days of Night creator Steve Niles writes this book about a guy who doesn't really know who he is, but protects the innocent by decapitating suckas with a wire. He's also homeless, begging for money from those he saves so he can buy some food. He is the anti Bruce Wayne. He's apparently been prowling this little outskirt of Gotham for a while, and the people seem to love him even though he doesn't want much to do with them. Not out of contempt (he's actually quite sweet), but some teensy social phobias. I really hope The Bat ignores the headless corpses, because he would kick Simon's ass. And I like Simon. A lot. It's original, moody, and I can't wait to see where it goes.