Wednesday Comments – The Baltimore Con Cometh

I didn’t attend any concerts in the past week. Sorry.

Well, the Baltimore Con is on the horizon. It’s time for me to buy a ton of comics that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, in some cases years. I’m looking for deals on trades and graphic novels. I’m also looking for complete runs or near complete runs. And of course I’m also looking for those few stray issues that are keeping me from having complete runs.

And of course what I pick up will probably just sit around collecting dust and I won’t get around to reading it for months. Truth be told; I’ve still got comics from the 2008 Baltimore Con that I still haven’t read yet. But I’m sure I’ll get around to it one day.

Anyway in preparation for the Baltimore Con I’ve been catching up on my voluminous backlog of stuff to read. Here’s another confession ; I rarely get the chance to read every comic that I buy on a certain week. I probably get an average of 13 books a week and if I’m lucky I read 10 of them before the real world catches up with me and they get pushed to the backburner.

Like I was saying, through some weird fluke of time management I’ve made a dent in “must read” pile. In the past month I’ve completely caught up on my “new releases.” Every one of those books at the bottom of my weekly list has now been read. I’m caught up on Greek Street, Doom Patrol and even Teen Titans. That last one was tough.

I’ve also gotten around to reading some of the stuff that I’d been meaning to read for awhile. And since I’ve got a column I figured I’d share my thoughts on them, because y’know I like giving my thoughts on comics.

The Bronx Kill – I’ve been picking up the Vertigo Crime graphic novels on a pretty regular basis. I’ve been a fan of Peter Milligan’s work for quite some time, so getting to read his take on a crime story was appearling. And from what I’ve seen of James Romberger’s work, basically in just the Vertigo anthologies, I’ve liked it.

I can’t say that The Bronx Kill is my favorite of the Vertigo Crime titles. I guess the story was fine, but I found the actual prose segments of Martin Keane’s novel within the graphic novel. I’m sure I missed tons of subtext, foreshadowing and parallel storylines, but the static black and white of the printed word just puts me to sleep and has since college.

Greendale – I’m a huge fan of Cliff Chiang. In fact I actually interviewed him for The Nexus nearly six years ago. I’m also a fan of Josh Dysart. His work on Unknown Soldier has been nothing short of remarkable. I’m really going to miss that book when it ends in a few months.

Their collaboration on Greendale was impressive. Chiang’s art is stellar as always. Dysart script manages to create a graphic narrative from Neil Young’s concept album. And Dave Stewart’s colors are subtle enough not to distract, yet vibrant enough leap off of the page. I’d recommend this graphic novel.

Major Bummer – I finally got the complete run of this short-lived title. Y’know how sometimes when you’ve looked forward to something that people have raved about, occasionally it fails to live up to the expectations? Well Major Bummer is nothing like that.

Acrudi and Mahnke deliver the goods. I love how they skewer the hero genre. The fact that Lou never really steps up to play the hero role slayed me. I love the cast of characters and Mahnke’s visuals. Plus it’s a book edited by Peter Tomasi who contributes greatly to the letter’s pages.

Acrudi, Mahnke and Tomasi on the same book? In this era name talent and collected editions, a) why isn’t this book traded by some company and b) why hasn’t this title been adapted to a television show?

Congo Bill – I picked up this Vertigo mini because of Corben’s covers and Zezelj’s inteiors. It’s an interesting story.

I can’t really say that I was a fan of it. I mean I love Zezelj’s art. And for the most part Scott Cunningham’s story succeeds. But the final issue feels clunky. There’s a bit too much exposition and the back-story sort of feels forced. I really ended up feeling flat by the time I ended the mini.

Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire – I’m really glad I finally got my hands on this trade. I’ve been trying to track it down for years. I wanted to snag the mini when it was released, but I only ever got the second issue. The trade sold out immediately and I’d actually given up all hope of getting to read this Azzarello/Bermejo collaboration.

So, I finally found it. And it’s a good read. It’s typically Azzarello grittiness and Bermejo darkness. It’s definitely a distant third to their Joker and Lex Luthor outings, but it’s a good read. Again, this is one of those stories from the Wildstorm’s golden age.

Dark Victory – I figured that since I’d picked up The Long Halloween last year I should try out the sequel. I got it at a reasonable price and I really couldn’t wait to read it.

Again, I felt disappointment. I could have done without the speculation on the identity of Catwoman’s father. The story was hyped as a Batman & Robin adventure, but “Robin” barely appears. And while I sort of appreciated the Freaks vs Mob story, I felt it was drawn on way too long and seemed to have been stretched to fit the whole year long arc.

I mean the art was swell and the story had some really powerful moments, but it just sort of didn’t measure up.

All in all it was a pretty good haul and I had some quality time with some quality reads.

Until next week.

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