The playwright is a dark, romantic comedy about the sex life of a celibate, middle-aged man. The book is printed as if it is a collection of newspaper comic strips with text above the panels and the words in a series of introspective monologues. The book is illustrated in an artistic water color fashion and the art style fits the story well. The Playwright is semi erotic and has quite a lot of nudity but it isn’t pornographic. The nudity is done in an artistic way so it isn’t shocking but you still wouldn’t want to read it on a train. A good book but for some reason it never really captured me. [ISBN-13: 978-1603090568] . 5/10
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alex Maleev, Brian Michael Bendis, Daredevil, David Mack, Joe Quesada, Michael Avon Oeming
Volume 3 of the deluxe hardcover Daredevil books Collects issues #38- 50 and has three main story arcs “Out”, “Lowlife” and “Hardcore”. The First part (Out) collects issues #38-40 and is the story of a semi-retired super hero, White Tiger, who interrupts a robbery in progress when he hears a shot. Unfortunately for him, the shot he heard was some young thugs killing a cop and after a scuffle with them he is left standing over the body just as back up arrives. The cops assume he is the guilty party and arrest him for murder. Murdock is persuaded to defend “White Tiger”, despite his misgivings, with the help of several other supers. “Out” is a bit light on action but strong on drama. What basically boils down to a CSI style courtroom drama helps to hammer home the impression that Daredevil is the thinking mans superhero. Such a storyline could be considered a bit of a risk in the action orientated superhero world but Bendis manages to pull it off nicely. Great artwork by Manuel Gutierrez on issues 38-39 and Terry Dodson on issue 40 and some great splash pages/covers.
The second part “Lowlife” (issues #41 – 45) carries on with the story of Daredevils ongoing battle with the press and his fight to protect his identity. The pressure really starts to get piled on in this installment as organized crime under the wing of the “Owl” and Kingpin’s ex lawyers begin to attack Daredevil in inventive new ways. He also falls for a blind girl who instantly sees through his disguise and even his old friend “Matt Cage” starts to turn against him after the “White Tiger” incident. Bendis does a great job of creating suspense in “lowlife” and you can almost taste Murdock’s desperation as he is backed into what seems to be an inescapable corner. I really enjoyed this storyline. I am not a big fan of Maleev’s sequential artwork and “Lowlife” does nothing to change that. Malleev’s poster and cover work is a much better demonstration of his talents and there are plenty of good examples in this book.
Part 3 “Hardcore” (issues #46 – 50) deals with the return of Daredevils arch nemesis “Kingpin”, his most hated adversary “Bullseye” and the insane “Typhoid Mary”. It’s a great story that builds up to a fantastic brutal climax. The final issue (#50) is also special in that it has the work of many guest artists (Alex Maleev, Gene Colan, Lee Weeks, Klaus Janson, John Romita, Joe Quesada, Michael Avon Oeming, David Mack). “Hardcore” is a great read and a real shake up in the Daredevil world. [ISBN-13: 978-0785111061]. 8/10
“Back to Brooklyn” is a mob style crime drama featuring the talents of Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti. This is a much better effort than their previous project “the Pro”. Although the story is based on a pretty familiar theme of a family member turning evidence against the mob, the execution is inventively crafted and it keeps you on the edge of your seat right up to the very end. The book is very violent but in a realistic way (not like the Punisher) which makes it all the more shocking . The artwork is soft focussed with an almost sepia tone palette and I found it to be a bit drab. This TPB has plenty of shock value and reads like watching a good R rated movie. Jimmy Palmiotti’s background articles are also a nice touch and well worth a read. [ISBN-13: 978-1607060604]. 8/10
Filed under: 8 Stars, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jonah Hex, Justin Gray, Luke Ross, Tony DeZuniga
Face Full of Violence Collects Jonah Hex Issues #1 to #6 . Jonah Hex is a grotesquely deformed bounty hunter roaming the nineteenth-century West. The setting has a classic western feel to it with Jonah having a more than a passing resemblance to Clint Eastwood’s great Western heroes. The stories are short, easy to follow and have a strong old school western plot line which makes them very satisfying. The artwork is spot on and has a gritty and almost epic feel to it. I didn’t enjoy Tony DeZuniga’s artwork in the 5th story quite as much as Luke Ross’s excellent work in the other episodes but this is more a reflection on what an excellent job Ross does rather than a slur on DeZuniga artistic talent. This is a great book for fans of the Western Genre and good value too. [ISBN-13: 978-1401210953]. 8/10.
The stuff off Legend looks like a kids book but it has a story and theme that can be enjoyed by all ages (I wouldn’t recommend it for young kids as it is a bit dark). The artwork is gorgeous and the book is printed as if was a 1940’s journal in resplendent sepia tones. The story starts with a boy asleep in his bedroom when the bogey man comes out of the cupboard and drags him off into the dark. The boys toys and his pet dog are distressed by this so they set off on a journey into the dark to rescue him from the bogey mans forces. It sounds like “Toy Story” but this book is far more sombre and macabre than that. An interesting read. [ISBN-13: 978-0345521002]. 6/10
This book collects Spawn Issues #1 to #8 and #11 to #12. It is disappointing that it doesn’t include Spawn #9 and #10. I can only guess that the authors of these two editions (Neil Gaiman and Dave Sim) had contract obligations that prevented them from being included. It does ruin the continuity especially the introduction of the character “Angela” and really annoys me. I am not sure if these two editions are collected elsewhere. Spawn is the story of a government assassin and family man who is murdered and then makes a deal with a devil to come back to earth, to see his wife, in exchange for his soul. Unfortunately for him he is returned back to earth as a Hellspawn and his wife is now married with a Kid.
Spawn is a fantastic story of betrayal and revenge. It also is filled with a great cast of characters and absolutely fantastic artwork by Tod McFarlane. Key characters that are introduced in this first volume are his family and best friend, his ex boss, the Violator (great Killer clown artwork on this one), Overt-Kill, Tommy Kincaid and the detectives Sam and Twitch. The main storyline running through the book is Al Simmons trying to remember exactly what happened to him, who he was and his struggle with his powers. He finally remembers who killed him in Issue #12.
The majority of the book is written by Todd but there are two stories that are crafted by other authors. Issue 8 “In Heaven” is written by Alan Moore and doesn’t really have much Spawn in it at all. It is a bizarre story about child killer Kincaid’s time in hell and definitely has an Alan Moore Feel to it. Alan isn’t credited at all in the book. Issue 11 is written by Frank Miller who is an author that I have little to no experience of. It is really good action tale of some wacky gangland warfare on Spawn’s turf and I especially enjoyed Todd’s artwork on this one.
This Collected Edition has excellent art, great presentation and an engaging story line. Spawn is a true comic milestone but it is a great shame that this first collected edition of the storyline is incomplete. [ISBN-13: 978-1582405636]. 8/10
Filed under: 7 stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea, Steve Pugh
This collected edition contains Hitman#4 to #8 and Hitman Annual 1. Garth Ennis’s second DC Hitman collection has two stories “Ten Thousand Bullets” illustrated by John McCrea and “A Coffin Full Of Dollars” illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra and Steve Pugh. It also has a short bonus story called “The Final Night ” which also features the artwork of John McCrea. 10,000 bullets continues on from Hitman Volume 1 and the fight with bizarre gangster Mr Dublez. Tommy has his work cut out with an over the top dishonest super hero, a host of would be assassins and one other hit man that seems to be more than a match for out hero. It is a good “Punisher” type story with no strange demons or aliens that made the first volume so unusual. A coffin full of dollars pits Tommy against the inhabitants of Tiburon when he is hired to make a hit for a bent Sheriff against a Mexican gang. There is definitely a hint of “The Preacher” in this one. Out of the two stories I think I enjoyed the second one the most. This is another solid effort from Ennis but lacks a few touches to make it stand out from the crowd.
The artwork throughout the collection is classic limited color palette comic book style and it fits pulp fiction nature of the story well. It looks like Carlos Ezquerra only illustrated part 3 of the final story but it still probably my favorite art in the book. [ISBN-13: 978-1401218423]. 7/10