Thursday, August 21, 2008

August 21st, 2008

It was a slow week for me, but i had a hankerin' for comics, so i picked up some things that weren't new or on my list.

Lucky Vol.2 #1 - I read part of an interview with Gabrielle Bell on The Daily Crosshatch, and liked some of the samples i found online. I haven't finished reading this one, partly b/c i read comics until i couldn't stay awake last night, and partly b/c it's got a lot of content. It's all six-panel grids with plenty of text. That's cool by me. So i don't have much to say about this one except so far so good and i like the use of blacks on the page.

New Tales of Old Palomar #2 & 3 - I told Chris that Gilbert Hernandez's stories are more depressing than Jaime's, but that's not the case here. (I'm not sure it's a fair comparison anyway; it's just that the later Palomar stories in the Heartbreak Soup trade i read had some pretty bleak moments.) If you don't know what Palomar is, it's a small town in an unspecified area of Central America (i think of it as a small island nation on the Pacific side of Central America, but can't remember if that's accurate). Moreso, it's the home of the characters who populate Gilbert Hernandez's stories. It has a lot of the familiar aspects of small towns in fiction: everybody knows everybody, eccentric characters, childhood adventures become the stuff of legend, etc. But it has a mystical side, too: ghosts and witches are real, and the ancient stone statues outside town have a magical presence. Mostly it's the sum of its inhabitants, whom Hernandez endows with remarkable humanity. They feel like real people, for good and ill.
Having read the first Palomar stories will help you recognize some characters here, but i don't think it's necessary. Each of the stories here are self-contained. In #2, some of Palomar's boys get kidnapped by some weird people in unitards who speak an unknown language (it's rendered as a bunch of hashes, kind of like Woodstock's word baloons in Peanuts). It falls, as usual, to Sheriff Chelo to rescue the boys, and she gets into quite a scuffle with the weird people. #3 has two stories. In the first, firecracker Tonantzin is haunted by the Blooter Baby. To get rid of it, she consults with the local "witch" (who has cool Ditko-Dr. Strange windows in her house; there's a lot of Ditko influence in los bros Hernandez' work, which is awesome). It works, but the result is a bit different than you'd expect. The second story sees the return of the hash-mark-speaking people, and their rather gruesome revenge on Chelo. These stories emphasize the otherworldly aspects of Palomar. There's more focus on being imaginative than on being dramatic, which is cool by me. I really liked these.
New Tales... is in Fantagraphics' "Ignatz" format, which is oversized. I thought i wouldn't be buying these b/c i think they're kinda pricey, but, well, they're really pretty, and i enjoyed them, so i guess it was a good buy afterall.

Trinity #12 - There's a lot of action in this one, and some character development/clues about Enigma. I'm curious to see what's up with these weird powers John Stewart is manifesting. And hats off to Busiek and Nicieza for packing plenty of story into each half--maybe that's part of what i like about this, that it moves at a pace a bit more akin to the stuff i grew up with. Is Madame Zodiac a new character? It seems like i would have heard about a mystical woman living in Gotham.

Madman #10 - It's the least experimental, but most solid issue of the series. A lot of events of the last several issues are in clearer focus now. I really like Haley and Whelworne. I feel like the Madman story is moving ahead again. I know that Allred will do some more experimental issues, and i'll probably like them (varyingly, of course), but it's really nice to have a more "traditional" issue like this (and hopefully we'll see some of those experimental things woven into, and enhance, "traditional" issues). Also, the first letter on the letters page, from a Kat Roberts, echoes a lot of how i feel about comic art. It's always encouraging and refreshing to know that there are kindred comic souls out there.