Sunday, October 31, 2010

What I Read - Sleeper: Season Two #12

#12 Heroes and Villains - In the end I am not disappointed. Brubaker didn't take the easy way out. It isn't a happy Hollywood-style ending. Carver gets what he wants at a price, or does he? He's out of the game but in a "permanent vegetative state". I think he would have preferred death but that wasn't his number one priority so maybe he is or he would be okay with how things turned out for him.

It's tough for me to argue with Carver's logic. He saw everything he knew and loved destroyed. What was left for him? What way out was there for him, other than removing the alien artifact from his body? The day he accepted the mission from Lynch he found himself on a path that couldn't lead anywhere good. As he got deeper and deeper into Tao's organization he found increasingly less that he liked about himself or his life.

His love for a sociopathic killer, Miss Misery, is an expression of how he felt. Embracing her was akin to embracing the life he was forced to lead as a sleeper agent. He learned to let his inner sociopath be his outward self but ultimately that was extremely damaging. Unable to be the person he wanted and needed to be he became suicidal.

Lynch is a manipulator. There's no question in my mind about that fact, but what was he thinking (or was he) when he sent Carver to infiltrate Tao's organization?

I love this series. Worth the read for most people but some patience is needed because the early chapters of both seasons can be a bit frustrating. Hopefully, one day I will find the time and read it again.

Sleeper: Season Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Read - The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy #5

#5 Readers of the Wheat - A couple things are becoming clear to me about this series. First, I think I was wrong when I said that the story moves very fast it. It doesn't. It is told in short bursts.

My mistake was to assume that each chapter was a single unit. I no longer believe that to be the case. Each chapter can be divided into three or more segments. In this way each chapter moves the story ahead by leaps and bounds but should be read not as a single unit but as a collection of them.

Second, I'm able to appreciate the artwork, in particular the facial expressions much more at this point in the story. I'm not sure exactly why. My first thought was that it took me time to get used to the faces of the mice. It also occurs to me that it might just be that Mike Oeming's artwork has evolved, become more subtle. I'm leaning towards the former explanation but the latter may have also contributed to my ability to appreciate the visual nuances of the storytelling.

The Mice Templar by Brian J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming, and Will Quintana

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What I Read - Sleeper: Season Two #11

# 11 In the Crossfire - That's some heavy shit. The ending to this chapter just blew my mind. I wanted to keep reading but past experience tells me that it is best to let it wait until next week. Better to enjoy the mind-blowing experience than to be satisfied with nothing to look forward to.

Some of my guesses were correct, about how to interpret what I read in the past couple chapters. Things weren't as cut and dried as they appeared. Miss Misery has a little too much ego to be satisified to be Tao's stool pigeon. The cover to this issue did kind of give away or at least hint at this reveal.

Now I'm left wondering about what happened at the very end of the chapter. Tao seemed very pleased, Cole did not. Its hard to say if either of the women is still breathing. Obviously, hopefully, this won't get wrapped up nice and neat with a bow on top but there needs to be some resolution, some more answers in the final chapter.

Even though I was right about who was deceiving whom I didn't forsee the ultimate events in this chapter. Brubaker kept my mind occupied with other shit such that I wasn't as concerned with how things would turn out as much as I was with guessing whether and how Brubaker was misleading his audience. That impresses me.

There was a point in each of the two seasons that I felt as if I had wasted my money. Regardless of how things turn out I feel as if I have got my money's worth. Might I change my mind after reading the final chapter? Yes, but I doubt that will happen; primarily because of how he wound up Season One.

Sleeper: Season Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I Read - The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy #4

#4: Black Anaius - Its weird how the story is unfolding. It seems both fast and slow. Karic and Pilot's journey progresses slowly, but there is a lot of back story. That information, knowledge is being dispensed in little pieces. It doesn't feel like it is coming at me too quickly but there is a lot of it and for the most part it is background material. It does not relate directly to the unfolding story for the most part, so it is somewhat disjointed and doesn't seem as vital.

Of course the artwork is gorgeous.

I'm not sure why I wasn't as moved by the battle with the giant, red ants as I was by the sacking of Cricket's Glen, in the second chapter. Maybe because the ants didn't talk. Maybe because I never felt like Karic and Pilot were in any real danger. I'm not sure.

The Mice Templar by Brian J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming, and Will Quintana

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I Bought: Oct 16, 2010

Even though I've got a ton of trades to read at the moment I still took the time to made a trip to Barbarian for the first time since before the Baltimore Comic Con.

House of Mystery v3 - I'm finishing off v2, just one more chapter to go, and I am eager for more.

20th Century Boys v10 - I'm a little behind in this series but I'm enjoying it enough that I picked up the latest even though I've only read through v7.

What I Read: The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans

The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans by Chris Claremont (writer), Walt Simonson (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), and Tom Orzechowski

This DC/Marvel single-issue crossover event is not classic, more of a rarity: the one and only time that these two teams crossed paths. The story is pretty standard fare for the era it was created in.

Visually it is still very appealing. One striking thing about the art is how Terry Austin's inks wax and wane. At times it is very apparent he is inking and the panels look much more like something out of the pages of his run with John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men; in other places Walt Simonson's distinctive style comes through much more clearly.

Walt Simonson spoke about this book on Comic Geek Speak Episode 814: Meet the Simonsons. An audience member asked him about the crossover event around the 40:45 mark and Walt's response lasted about 8 minutes.

For a plot summary and more information visit the Wikipedia page devoted to The Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Read - The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy #3

#3 In the Beginning... - Karic and Pilot flee Karic's hometown. Pilot aims to train Karic. Meanwhile another Templar is on their trail.

The story continues to unfold. Karic has dreams that help to explain some more of the world he lives in and its past. Pilot starts to teach him how to be a Templar.

This is a slowly evolving story, with a lot of exposition. The first chapter focused on the present and gave the story a point of departure from which it launched in the second chapter. The third chapter focused on the past, started painting the bigger, broader picture.

I get the impression that not everything is at it seems or has been presented. Karic and Pilot are being pusued by an unnamed mouse, presumably another Templar. The text implies that this is a rogue Templar, at least at first it does, but later there is a hint that maybe it isn't. I'm starting to wonder if Pilot isn't the one that Karic should be wary of.

The Mice Templar by Brian J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming, and Will Quintana

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What I Read - Sleeper: Season Two #10

#10 Good Offenses - This chapter was much more plot heavy than most in this series. Usually things happen with out much in the way of clear connection to the overarching story. This time around I can see the plot getting moved forward by more than just inches

Not only has Miss Misery betrayed Cole to Tao but he knows it too. I wonder if this isn't a bit of misdirection on Brubaker's part. Could it be part of a scheme that Cole and Misery planned out in advance? It doesn't feel like it but there may be some twist that I just can't forsee.

I am nonplussed by how Cole's relationship with Lynch seems to have improved. As with Miss Misery's betrayal I am hoping that there is more to this development than what I am seeing. I can't think of anything more boring than the story ending with Cole coming in from the cold and back to the fold. I want to believe that Brubaker has a more interesting and/or twisted end in mind than that.

The artwork is cartoony but not knocking my socks off. I may have commented on this before but it feels as if there is a lack of consistency in Philips work, from chapter to chapter. Even the way he draws characters like Cole and Misery seems to shift. There could be a method, a story-related reason behind the shifts in style but I can't see it.

Sleeper: Season Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I Read - The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy #2

#2: The Calling - This chapter flowed quickly, like the first one, but unlike the previous one it wasn't weighed down with exposition. It was all action. Michael Avon Oeming's art was gorgeous. Will Quintana's colors were stunning. I dunno if they were holding back last chapter or if there was a conscious reason for taking things and slowly as they did.

The story seems to be shaping up to be a standard quest type story with Karic as the hero in training.

The Mice Templar by Brian J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming, and Will Quintana

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I Read - Sleeper: Season Two #9

#9 Deja Vu All Over Again - Call me skeptical but until I've finished this book I'm unwilling to take what I just read at face value. Even though it looks as though Miss Misery just betrayed Carver, I'm not buying it. Her actions in the previous chapter say more to me than her words. I can accept that she may have betrayed him for her own reasons, but at the moment it is being painted as if she did it out of a sense of duty to Tao. Ed Brubaker is too good a writer and Miss Misery is too egotistical for it to be that cut and dried.

The last couple chapters have on the surface been the least mind-fucky chapters so far in Season Two. I'm starting to wonder and (to a degree) hope that Brubaker is doing this on purpose; just to lull the reader into a false of security. That way, when the next twist in the tale surfaces, it will be that much more shocking. The only thing more shocking would be if there are no more twists in the tale.

The visuals are back to where I remember them being in Season One: cartoony. I'm not expert enough to tell how Philips' cartoony art in this season differs from the cartoony art in this season. My untrained eye says that they resemble one more that either one remembles the majority of the art in early chapters of this season. I'm glad the cartoony art is back but now I'm wondering why there was a temporary change in the look. Was Philips just experimenting or was there a method to the madness, a hidden message concealed in the shift?

Sleeper: Season Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I Read - The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy #1

#1 The Dark Lands - So far I'm not wildly impressed. There's a lot of exposition in the first chapter; too much in my opinion. In general I think the story flows a little too quickly, I do like the way the chapter ends, with Karic becoming the more serious one and Leito the more playful one, which is a reversal of the roles they played through out the chapter up to that point.

I some had trouble keeping track of all the characters. There aren't that many of them but they are all mice and to my eyes they all looked fairly similar, at first. I got about halfway through the chapter before I had to go back and reread what I had just read (a couple times) before I was able to more easily identify all of the names, faces and personalities.

What drew me to this series is Michael Avon Oeming's artwork. I love the look of it. The coloring by Will Quintana only intensifies the job Oeming did penciling the story. So far no complaints here.

The Mice Templar by Brian J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming, and Will Quintana

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I Read: Jack of Hearts #1-4

Jack of Hearts by Bill Mantlo (writer) and George Freeman (artist)

After rereading this 4-issue limited series for the first time in the past 20-25 years I can see why I liked it so much. The story has the kinds of characters and elements that I liked to see in sci-fi/fantasy stories back then. The hero is both reluctant and willing to sacrifice his life. He is taken from a world he knows but hates to one that is very different and to which he has a connection previously unknown to him. I can also see the story's flaws, now, but they weren't numerous or significant enough to interfere with my ability to enjoy the story for what it is.

Despite the poor shape my issues are in I think George Freeman's art is gorgeous. I'm a little surprised that I liked the look of the book back then. It is a little more expressive than what I remember liking at the time. Its a shame that this has never been reprinted in a collected format.

Links: covers

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I Read - Sleeper: Season Two #8

#8 Misery Loves... - Whose side is Miss Misery on? Who means more to her? Carver or Tao? This chapter provides conflicting answers. I'm left thinking I know what the correct answer is but then second guessing my initial conclusion. Ultimately I come to the conclusion that this is just issue 7 of 12 and that it is more than likely that she may betray both of them before the story is finished.

If nothing else, this chapter is all about reinforcing how twisted and sick Miss Misery can be. She kills damn near everyone (a crack dealer, an old man in a wheelchair, a cab driver, and several I/O agents) she runs into while completing a mission for Tao. The only one she shows any mercy towards is Veronica St. James, Carver's ex, and she comes close to killing her too. The fact she doesn't kill Agent St. James is telling or at least I want to think so; I want to believe that it is an impotant piece of evidence but I also harbor doubts. How she feels today may not be an indicator of how she'll feel tomorrow.

Sleeper: Season Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips