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Monday, February 09, 2004

 

The Week in Comics -- Here's a rundown of some noteworthy comics arriving in shops this Wednesday.

TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS

JAMES KOCHALKA'S SKETCHBOOK DIARIES VOL. 4 $7.95 -- Here's cause to celebrate. The Sketchbook Diaries are Kochalka's most intimate, spontaneous and revealing works, and because of the format you don't have to have read any of the previous volumes to get what's going on. It's just the life story of one of America's most fascinating cartoonists.

AVATAR

ALAN MOORE'S THE COURTYARD TP $6.95 -- A lot of Alan Moore's Avatar work is obscure, insignificant or badly drawn. Not the case in any way with The Courtyard, a creepy and surreal take on the Lovecraft style with first-rate artwork by Jacen Burrows. Highly recommended.

WARREN ELLIS SCARS TP $17.99 -- It's not often you get two excellent graphic novels in the same week from Avatar, and both with art by Jacen Burrows, who if there were any justice at all would be considered a superstar artist. In Scars he brings humanity and realism to Ellis's bleak, horrific police procedural. This is a substantial chunk of great comics, and probably Warren Ellis's best scripting outside of his work on The Authority and Planetary.

DARK HORSE

CHOSEN #1 (Of 3) $2.99 -- Mark Millar resurrects Jesus, just to make sure he's going to hell in the wake of The Unfunnies. So far the Millarworld experiment (multiple titles from the same writer published by different companies) is working creatively for me -- and I'm definitely interested in Chosen. You can read a preview at the Dark Horse website.

HELLBOY WEIRD TALES #7 $2.99 -- This anthology title doesn't always entertain from cover to cover, but there's always at least one or two stories that justify the purchase, and it's interesting to see other creators play with Mike Mignola's toys.

TALES OF THE VAMPIRES #3 $2.99 -- This surprisingly strong anthology should ditch the framing device in each issue, as it's really aggravating. Other than that, so far I've been shocked at how good each issue has been.

DC COMICS

BATMAN DEATH AND THE MAIDENS #7 (Of 9) $2.95 -- This mini-series started out with a promising setup (Batman and Ra's al Ghul vs. an old ally of the Batman villain), but has really run off the rails, with a full issue dedicated to murdering Talia again and again, and another one with an issue long chat between Bruce Wayne and his dead mother. I suppose these could be handled well, but in Death and the Maidens they just seem directionless and a bit misogynistic. Klaus Janson provides much better art than the story deserves, and that's the only reason I'm sticking with it to the end.

COUP D'ETAT STORMWATCH TEAM ACHILLES #2 $2.95 -- Loved last week's Sleeper tie-in by Ed Brubaker and Jim Lee. If they were doing the entire four issues, I would be buying it with no qualms. Unfortunately, the remaining three issues, including this one, each feature either a writer or artist whose work has disappointed in the past.

GOTHAM CENTRAL #16 $2.50 -- Thank God, the Joker story is over.

TOMORROW STORIES BOOK TWO HC $24.95 -- I've bought every ABC hardcover to date, because I love this Alan Moore-driven line of comics. Tomorrow Stories, unfortunately, is extremely hit-or-miss for me, and I'm not sure I'll be picking this one up. But hardcore Moore fans may feel there's enough good material to justify the purchase.

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