In lieu of actually furthering my quest to finish covering the 2009 books I want to get to, here are some other comics I've read recently (for values of "recently" that include the last few months):
Empowered: The Wench with a Million Sighs
By Adam Warren
The Last Days of American Crime #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Greg Tocchini
Greg Tocchini's art is responsible for at least half the equation here; he's got a stylish line, filling pages with moody colors that aren't the drab, dim hues expected in a noir tale, but still convey the settings perfectly appropriately. The garish reds, oranges, and yellows of the bar where Graham (the tough guy) and Shelby (the femme fatale) meet is a great example:
As is the nasty bathroom where they end up committing unseemly acts. Check out the way the smoke circles around Graham's forehead; the pages are full of those sorts of details which might not be noticeable at first glance, subtle gestures and expressions, the insertion of "patriotic" symbols like the white star tattoos on Shelby's chest and shoulder or the flags that hang in the backgrounds. He uses interesting effects, like mid-panel dissolves to flashbacks, or the framing of panels using negative space:
And when the action and violence occur, it's striking and memorable, not just another background element of this seedy milieu. It's one nice-looking comic, and if the next two installments are as interesting and eye-grabbing as this one, this will be another series to consider as part of the wave of quality crime comics in recent years. Be sure to grab your chance before time runs out.
The Talisman #1-3Written by Robin Furth
Art by Tony Shasteen
People sure seem to love Stephen King, but if all you read of him is the comics adaptations of his work, you'll probably be hard-pressed to understand what the big deal is. This series, which adapts a novel King co-wrote with Peter Straub in the early 1980s, follows a young boy named Jack who has the power to "flip" back and forth between the "real" world and a fantasy realm populated by equivalents of all the people he knows in his regular life. In "the territories", he's a magical warrior on a quest for the eponymous object, whatever that is, which can save his mom, who is dying of lung cancer in the real world but is a sleeping-beauty princess in the world of magic. There's a mean uncle who is an evil baron in fantasy-land, a magical negro type who provides the means to switch between worlds (drinking some sort of potion), and a bunch of other nonsense that probably makes more sense in the source material. It all ends up being fairly boring and weird, moving too slowly (as of the third issue, he's barely even embarked on his cross-country quest, which hasn't even been sufficiently explained), and full of extraneous bits that King acolyte Robin Furth probably couldn't bear to excise from the tale. Tony Shasteen's art is no great shakes either, with characters sporting bizarre, contorted expressions that make them look like inbred freaks rather than humans, whether they're fantasy-world denizens or supposedly regular folks. He does come up with some decent backgrounds (when they're not marred by intrusive computer effects), but even those often look like models populated with stiff figures rather than real, living environments. It's got the sheen of slaved-over professionalism, but it's an empty, glossy world, devoid of any soul. King's work might be excellent, but like most adaptations, this series proves that it is best experienced in its original format.