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Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Best Books You Didn't Read this Week, Issue 2

WildCats #1
Written by: Christos N. Gage
Art by: Neil Googe (with back-up art by: Trevor Harsine)

Years ago, about 8 years ago to be accurate, the Wildstorm Universe became one of the most interesting and exciting of all of the different comic universes. At the time Joe Casey was writing WildCats and perhaps more importantly Warren Ellis was writing The Authority. There had been times when other big creators had been working on Wildstorm titles (in the mid 90's Warren Ellis was working on Stormwatch and Alan Moore was working on WildCATS ... mind boggling) but this was a rather exciting time and it brought a lot of readers to the titles. For the last several years however the majority of the Wildstorm titles have been par to sub par with occasional moments of brilliance interspersed. But that was thanks, in most part, to intermittent release schedules for the big hitter titles, Authority and WildCats. But now, growing out of recent events and recent mini-series, that may have been overlooked but will have lasting ramifications on the Wildstorm Universe as a whole, a new push for the Wildstorm Universe is underway. Here we have one of the most exciting and under rated new writers to come to comics lately, Christos Gage, taking the helm at WildCats (and helping Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett out over on The Authority, helping out Scott Beatty on Gen 13 and helping out Ian Edginton on Stormwatch P.H.D.) . It's interesting to see that the higher ups at Wildstorm are letting so much of their creative output lay on the shoulders of just one creator, and ultimately the success or failure will either cause Christos Gage's career to either sail or sink. And if this first issue is any indicator then look to see a new bird among the soaring flock. Gage has a skill with action sequences that rivals all others in the industry currently and has a great ability to show character interaction that makes characters seem individual without sounding like all voices of one creator just altered slightly like team books can sometimes become. Also the art by Neil Googe is really great and if he can keep to the schedule and keep his pages looking as good as they do here then we are looking at another star on the rise. Definitely one to check out, and if you are looking for more back story as to what has happened to make the world look like it does in this issue then dive into the back issue bins and find the totally underrated Number of the Beast mini-series.

Pigeons From Hell #4 (of 4)
Written by: Joe R. Lansdale
Art by: Nathan Fox

This has been a really great horror mini series based on the short story by Robert E. Howard. To be honest this will become a really fantastic little trade paperback. Nathan Fox is a killer artist who reminds me a whole lot of the art of Paul Pope. I don't want to ruin the really fantastic slow burn that this book became, if you missed out on this, which you probably did, then I really recommend that you make sure that the store that you shop at stocks the trade paperback once it is released. Lansdale has a great grasp on how to adapt short stories to comic mini-series/story arcs, especially when he gets his hands on Robert E. Howard. Seriously, check it out.

Blue Beetle #29
Written by: Matthew Sturges
Art by: Rafael Albuquerque

One Year Later. It seems so long ago now. A little over two years ago the whole of the DCU was shaken to it's core by Infinite Crisis and the ramifications are, to a certain extent, still being felt throughout the disparate corners of the DCU. One of the big things to come out of the One Year Later event was the beginning of a quiet little book called Blue Beetle. Written by Keith Giffen and John Rogers with art and character design by Cully Hamner. The continuation of the Legacy of the Blue Beetle mantle had fallen to El Paso's own Jamie Reyes, a high schooler who encountered the Scarab that gave the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, his powers and that had been holed up in the Rock of Eternity for quite some time. He found himself in a symbiotic relationship with the technology of what he would come to know as the alien race known as The Reach. The book has been a really fun roller coaster ever since it's inception and to be honest the character has a lot going on that fans of Ultimate Spider-Man and Invincible would instantly recognize. This is a really good book that has a new writer and a really fantastic artist who started his mainstream career on the title. Matthew Sturges has become known as writer Bill Willingham's protege and has worked with the Fables' creator on such projects as Jack of Fables & House of Mystery, followed Willingham on Shadowpact & Salvation Run and did the Eclipso storyline in the recent Countdown to Mystery mini-series (His first solo work not following his mentor in comics). Now he takes on El Paso's own Superhero, and to be totally honest I had high hopes heading into the issue ... and they were met. Sturges falls right into the voice of the character as established by it's longest running writer John Rogers, and creates his own feel for the book in such an interesting yet familiar way that anyone who was already reading the title will retain the feeling of home that has been established in this book. The artist, Rafael Albuquerque just continues to get better and better, and crafts such interesting looks for the characters that we encounter throughout the world of Jamie Reyes. Both of these creators are talents that are incredibly deserving of wider recognition and anyone looking for a great place to jump onto one of the quiet hits at DC and one of the most entertaining and interesting books in all of the industry then look no further.

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