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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sneak Peek Reviews: 1/27/09

Battlefields: Dear Billy #1
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Peter Snejbjerg

I love war stories, I love War Stories as well (Garth Ennis' Vertigo series of short WWII stories now available in two awesome trade paperbacks), so it stands to reason that I would love Battlefields since it is for all intents and purposes an extension of the aforementioned War Stories ... but I never thought I would love it this much. Perhaps it's that it's been so long since I originally read War Stories or that I've just become so used to Ennis writing in the voice of Frank Castle and Wee Hughie ... but this book is terribly brilliant. It's also really interesting that for these first two stories that Ennis has chosen to write from the perspective of a female lead ... not something you immediately associate with a WWII story. Night Witches was a masterful telling of what it must have been to be on the Russian front, an effort of dismal attrition on both sides. I thought that after that I would be confronted with something entirely different with the second mini-series "Dear Billy". And I was. Here we are following the story of a young British woman in the Pacific theater who has undergone some really terrible encounters with the enemy, the kind that are only ever hinted at in most stories about this time but that we all secretly know must have been more frequent than we'd like to acknowledge. This mini-series is rather beautifully penciled by one of my favorite artists, Peter Snejbjerg. His way of working in a cartooning style mixed with comic style is reminiscent of creators like Darwyn Cooke and Chris Samnee ... I really think that this is a good marriage of writer and artist and that the story is going to be one you won't want to miss.

Faces of Evil: Kobra
Written by: Ivan Brandon
Art by: Julian Lopez

Fans of Geoff Johns' run on JSA will remember the death of Kobra at the hands of some of the cast of JSA who went on to question their decisions in many ways. Some of whom are still trying to get out from underneath the pall of their actions and subsequent decisions. Fans of Greg Rucka's Checkmate will remember that The Cult of Kali Yuga quite nearly destroyed the world and in the process created a handful of infants who would one day destroy the world. Despite their sometimes darker tendencies the royalty of the Checkmate organization decided to see if nurture could really overcome nature and kept the children secretly alive to see if they could be raised as forces for good. That leaves us pretty much where we are now. Ivan Brandon is a creator whose name is going to be mentioned more and more over the next year as he becomes one the kind of creator that a whole lot of people are going to want to read more from. He has this incredible skill for creating dastardly villains who also have really understandable motives, and showing aspects of heroes that most people would ignore or perhaps even more would just gloss over. He shows an insight into Superman in a short few pages that a lot of creators would never consider. Julian Lopez is an artist on the rise and should be getting more and more recognition from fans and the industry alike as he has an admirable eye for story-telling and form. Each one of these Faces of Evil one-shots have been really memorable and I think that they end on a really memorable note.

Avengers Initiative #21
Written by: Chris Gage
Art by: Humberto Ramos

Both Rob and I have spent a lot of time telling people that Avengers Initiative is a criminally overlooked book and I certainly don't think that things have changed all that much despite the creative team change on the title. Chris Gage is a phenomenally talented writer and he's getting more and more recognition among fans and the industry and it's all for good reason. He knows how to tell a story and he knows how to make characters very memorable and it's not like he's coming to this title cold, he's been co-writing the title with series creator Dan Slott for the last several issues and he certainly knows how each of these characters are unique and he does a very, very good job of keeping the tone and feel of the book consistent for those who have been following from the beginning. Add to it that there are finally no crossovers tying this book into unnecessary knots. The one thing that this book has been hamstrung by from day one is that it hasn't ever had the time to define itself and it's certainly not benefited from it. But now that The Dark Reign (read: Shit Storm) has come it's finally time to see what the recruits are really made of. There is nothing that I can say about artist Humberto Ramos that won't be controversial to someone. I will say that I have always been a fan of his and that this artwork is what I have come to know and love from Humberto but that I understand that some people might not find it as appealing as I do and that I hope that they can put that aside and read this title because it really is that good and more. I think that if you have an extra $3 tomorrow at the comic store that there are very few titles more deserving of your consideration.

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