Flush with gift certificates and xmas cash, I took a trip to my local video distributor and comic book shop, respectively, this week. Just in case you were wondering what to read, watch, and why:
THE OFFICE SPECIAL: 90 minutes and a few extras, wrapping up most of the loose-ends from Series Two. It's one of those things I'm sorry to see end, but all the same, it has the best ending I could have hoped for. It's TV done right, folks.
JLA CLASSIFIED 1&2 by Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness: Nearly 10 years ago (egads!) Grant Morrison helped start a trend in superhero comics that is only now quieting down, and in the first two parts of this three-part story he's returning to the JLA for a spell. I liked issue one a lot, introducing menacing villains and lots of supporting characters that I don't know but get the gist of all the same; issue two felt a little flat, however, as if it was simply taking 20-odd pages to make sure I understood all that happened in the last issue. I'll definitely pick up the next issue to see how it all turns out, but I'm grateful that this is only a brief return for Grant. I'd rather see him do new things, like We3 and the upcoming Seven Soldiers project for DC.
CONCRETE: THE HUMAN DILEMMA 1 by Paul Chadwick. I was surprised to see this one out. I haven't kept up on Previews in a long time, and it seems like it's been a good five years since the last CONCRETE series. I picked it up, but I wasn't sure what to expect after all that time--if the series would still hold up, or if I'd still be interested in it. There were a few neat tricks--the x-ray shot into Larry's brain on page 7 was neat--but mostly it feels like Paul and the character are revisiting themes that have already been covered. THINK LIKE A MOUNTAIN seemed to move the character in a new direction and STRANGE ARMOR was a way to re-examine the character's beginnings through that new lens, but one issue in to this six-part series, THE HUMAN DILEMMA feels like a step backwards. But I'm interested enough to see how it pans out. I thought it was interesting that the cover is signed "Paul Chadwick '01."
THE SHAOLIN COWBOY 1 by Geoff Darrow. Also a surprise--I had no idea Darrow had a new project coming out, and I don't even remember his last one. I've also never heard of "Burlyman Entertainment," but the inside cover says it's a Wachowski Brothers venture. The plot feeds off of cliched characters I feel like I've seen a thousand times, but Darrow's art is intricate and itriguing. I especially like the ten-page panel in the middle of the book, and the lizard's movement across panels in the beginning. If it survies to issue 2, I'll pick it up again.
QUIT CITY by Warren Ellis and Laurenn McCubbin. This is the only title from Ellis's Apparat project that I picked up--though I love Carla Speed McNeil, the artist on FRANK IRONWINE, it looked like the sort of character and story I've seen from Ellis before. QUIT CITY did too, but I don't have as much work from McCubbin as I do from McNeil on my bookshelf. McCubbin's faces are strange, beautiful and familiar--almost distractingly so, but I was alright with that, considering the plot was nothing new from Ellis. I wonder if he's more interested in packaging than story these days, and if he'd just be happier as an editor/publisher than a writer. That way he could wonder and experiment with form and format all day, and let other folks craft the stories that utilized them. He's been dipping his toes in a lot of different pools since TRANSMET ended, and with the exception of the soon-to-conclude PLANETARY (which, admittedly, is a holdover from the project he started while TRANSMET was still alive), none of them have really flipped my skirt. That said, it's well worth the price for McCubbin's work. That said:
OCEAN 1&2 by Warren Ellis and Chris Sprouse. Much of the above applies here; it looks wonderful, blue and big, but Ellis isn't doing anything he hasn't done before. His main character here has appeared other places, in other forms, many times before. I don't mind reading Morrison tread on old ground in JLA CLASSIFIED because he's doing We3 at the same time; with Ellis, I don't see that same kind of newness and boundary-pushing.
BELLY BUTTON COMIX #2 by Sophie. I haven't read all of this one yet--I flipped through it and got caught up in two pages of a longer story about a guy and gal meeting on a train (or bus, perhaps), looking at each others' sketch books, and going home to sleep together. I wanted to see how it ended, so I picked it up. Artistically, it has a polished-Jeffrey Brown kind of feel to it, from the two pages I saw, at least.
DIRTY FOUND #1. I love FOUND magazine, and this is a special issue with "the KINKIEST, RAUNCHIEST submissions to've been passed to your friends at FOUND." Dirty emails, dirty photographs, dirty drawings, dirty love notes, and best of all, stories of where and how they were discovered. If you like peeking into other people's sock drawers, and by god I know that you do, go find you some Dirty Found.