Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday Morning Reviews

Good morning, dear Readers! Here are a few reviews for those of you looking for something to grab at your local shop this Saturday.

52: Week 44

Well, the Great Weekly Comics Experiment is coming to a close in just eight more issues, and after a shaky start, I'd say it's a success. I'm progressively more excited for 52 every week as it ramps up to its conclusion - a sign that the exceptional group of writers they've put together is doing something right. Because of that eight week countdown (No pun intended. Wait, is that even a pun?) the book has begun to wrap up its stories at a startling pace.

We get the exposition needed to complete the rather gory twist from the end of last issue, and along with that, a fight finally worthy of the might of Black Adam. It's been too long since we've seen him cut loose against someone on his own level. But with that kind of build up, with the suspense of not seeing this character unleashed for 43 issues, the last blow ended up a little anti-climatic. We also finally arrive at the destination Montoya's story has been chugging towards for a month or so now... it's one that I've come to accept, if not celebrate. While this issue isn't the best DC has put out in recent weeks, I was sad and excited throughout, and provoking a real emotion out of me is rare enough in a capes and tights book to warrant recommendation.

Phonogram #5 (of 6)

One part Harry Potter and a second part High Fidelity, Phonogram is a book where people use magic through music, and Pop is a powerful force. Not taking us through the usual fantasy paces of introducing a new realm of magic (there's no bespectacled young lad stumbling into it, Phonogram a la books of magic or the aforementioned Potter series), Phonogram goes another route. It introduces us to David Khol, a phonomancer who's losing his power and his identity when the Goddess of Brit-pop is missing. Khol is long burnt out when we join him in the story, and grasping at straws - think John Constantine with a better record collection.

In Khol is where you'll find the beauty of Phonogram. It makes you feel for a truly worthless character. David Khol is self-centered, an outdated music snob, and uses women frequently and with wanton disregard. By all rights we should hate him. It's through a couple cute tricks that creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie keep us empathizing with him - The book is a black-and-white six-issue mini-series from an independent publisher, and David does have genuinely good taste in music. So in reading this, we're snobs right along with David, how could we judge him? In this issue, Khol finally finds his way through some demented memories of when his power and Brit Pop were at their peak, and we finally get some answers about him, and the goddess Britania.

Extra mention should be made of the Glossary of every music reference, along with an essay by Gillen, in the back of each issue. There's even still space and hard work left for a letters page. Well done all around.

Feeble Attempts
by Jeffrey Brown

This was a complete and pleasant surprise to me! Anyone who frequents this blog knows that I really feel for Jeffrey Brown, he manages to juggle real romantic joy and heartbreak in one book (like Clumsy) and then seamlessly move to absurd or satirical comedy (Bighead) in another. So when something as good as a new Jeffrey Brown sneaks up on me it's like forgetting it's Halloween and having trick-or-treaters giving me the candy.

With no introduction other than a comic about a young Jeffrey with dreams of X-Men pin-up artistry, Feeble Attempts presents itself as a collection of Brown's unpublished work to this point - work that is happily representative of Brown's aforementioned range, the self-deprecating title another piece of his unique brand of subjective honesty.

The stand-out piece of the book for me was Brown transcribing his day on September 11th, 2001. It's entitled "Ok, Bye" and while the attacks on that day dominate his comings and goings like it did everyone else's, the title shows what was most important to him - the panel where he and the girl in his life decide to stop talking for a while. This is the kind of understandable self-centered thinking we can all relate to. That relatability is the core of Brown's appeal.

At $5, this is the perfect Jeffrey Brown Primer - like the adventures of Cycloptopus? Pick up Bighead. Did "I'm Not Your Girlfriend, Jeffrey" cause tightness in your chest? Go read Clumsy or Unlikely. I cannot recommend this enough, and it's definitely:



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