Spring Break Reading, Part 2 - Dark Horse, Vertigo, & Wildstorm

by Brandon

The saga continues! But I'm afraid there won't be any foil-embossed, polybagged, or variant editions. I'm so sorry. What you are likely to find here is a ton of comic reviews. I continue my quest to catch up on the piles and piles of reading I have neglected the past few months. Enter all that are brave!

Conan the Cimmerian #'s 8-9
There are only a few individuals I would trust writing Conan these days and Tim Truman is one of them. I'm convinced he was born to write this title. With these two issues, the Cimmeria arc has ended and readers find Conan entering a pivotal part in his adventuring experience. Conan becomes are mercenary in only the way Conan can. The writing is crisp and appropriately "pulpy" while never entering farcical territory. The art provided by Tomas Giorello is just superb. With more action and intrigue than you can shake a battle-axe at, Conan remains ones of the better titles on the stand.

Kull #'s 2-5
I was never a huge Kull fan. Of the Robert E. Howard properties, I was always more partial to Conan and Solomon Kane than any of the others. I picked this mini up more out of respect to Robert E. Howard's creations than any desire to read a story about Kull. Imagine my surprise as I simply devoured these issues in rapid succession last Saturday night. The creative team of Arvid Nelson and Will Conrad have sculpted a fine story in this mini. Kull has been crowned King, but an ancient order of serpents has infiltrated Kull's kingdom with the desire to crumble it before any foundation is built. twists and turns abound in this mini. If you skipped this mini, shame on you! It''s probably the best story from a Howard property to see print from Dark Horse thus far. What are you waiting for? Get it now!

Solomon Kane #5
There's just something immensely appealing to me about stories crafted around a Puritan with a sword and gun. This mini comes to an end with this issue, and it's a shame. This was also a superior miniseries. The setting of Germany's Black Forest is creepy enough, but couple that with Mario Guevara's haunting art and Scott Allie's writing, and you have one chilling story. I want to see more Solomon Kane in the future. I have the old Marvel mini which adapted several of the old stories, but there is almost limitless potential here for future stories. He's a puritan with a gun. Come on, give us more already.

Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods #'s 3-4
It's been almost a year since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released, and we finally have the last issue of a miniseries that was intended to capitalize on the buzz of said film. Way to go Dark Horse! This miniseries dredges up several familiar items to the Indiana Jones mythos (Nazis, hidden temples, Marcus Brody, beautiful girls) but never catches a single spark of that previous glory. There were many things going against this title right from the outset. There wasn't too much that was special or memorable about this miniseries to set it apart from that previously mentioned mythos. It was a lot of "been there, done that" moments for both Indy and the reader. I would love to read a new Indiana Jones ongoing series. There are so many great stories to be told where you don't have to be restricted to Harrison Ford's aging acting abilities.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #'s 38-39
Now that Zayne Carrick, inept Jedi Padawan and titular hero of this book, has been cleared of all his wrongdoings, John Jackson Miller & Crew have a little fun with the book. Sith serial murderers and swoop-racing take center stage here in these issues. Each issue is just fun to read. And guess what kids? We get to see some more fisticuffs between Zayne and a Sith! Too bad Zayne fails miserably as usual to take on the Sith. For once, this reader would like to see some competency out of Zayne. Instead, it appears that Miller wants to make Zayne the Potsie Weber of the Star Wars universe. To each his own, I suppose. Regardless, these were some fun issues to read. They won't be winning Eisner Awards, but they were entertaining!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars #4
I loved the first season of the cartoon series from Cartoon Network. Don't believe me? Read here. The comic series has been okay thus far, but it hasn't been stellar. It's hard to translate the fluid nature of the animated cartoon series to a comic book page. The cartoon has its own style and it just dones't work as well when the comic books try to ape it. The story of trying to save slaves from the clutches of the Confederacy is decent, but not exactly original. Woohoo, Anakin wants to save the slaves. Woohoo.

Star Wars: Legacy #'s 33-34
Issue number 33 wraps up the Mon Calamari story, and not a moment too soon. Who. freaking. Cares. Nuff said. The next issue takes the reader back to what is actually important, dealing with the aftermath of the Vector storyline and the death of a certain main villain that has been plaguing Cade Skywalker since the first issue. The new status quo set up by Vector will be interesting to watch over the next few months, so long as they can avoid Mon Calamari stories in the process. This still remains the best Star Wars book on the stands.

Grendel: The Devil Inside #'s 1-3
This is an oldie, but goody. The second Grendel is dead, but her boyfriend's slow decent into madness leads to the arrival, albeit short, of the third Grendel. Matt Wagner's exploration of violence is frantic and dark, drawing the reader in one maddening journal entry at time. The journey Brian Li Sung takes to the bottom is fascinating. If somehow you missed any of the old Grendel tales, please do yourself a favor by seeking them out. You will not be disappointed!

The End League #7
This series continues to shine with each successive issue that hits the shelves. First designed as a monthly title before delays forced it into a bimonthly schedule, this title has now been placed on an indefinite hiatus. This issue only serves to highlight what the comic world will be missing. What's not to love about a world where the heroes are on the ropes struggling for survival? The Smiling Man (think Joker) has shot Thor's hammer, the magical key to all the heroes problems, into space. Or has he? I won't spoil the ending, but it sets up an interesting dynamic for the next issue. Only two more issues to go before Remender's self-imposed hiatus for this title. Damn.

The X-Files #5
Oh, this was great. Thus far, the new Wildstorm mini featuring everyone's favorite FBI agents has been serviceable, but nothing special. The fifth issue, however, was the first issue to really capture that eerie quality the series managed to maintain for much of its run. You could just feel the ambiance of the series bleeding through the pages. It's too bad the mini didn't catch on because I think the further adventures of Agents Mulder and Scully could be fun to read in this format.

Top 10: Season Two #3 & Special #1
You get the feeling that this series could be better if Moore were still on the creative team, but the premise of this series is just so wacky and strange that it is impossible not to find some joy in the series. While the special was pretty much useless, the main miniseries has been fun. In the third issue, readers are treated to a self-help Origin Weekend put on by the Premise Keepers for heroes who are having a costumed identity crisis. The results are hilarious. Peregrine's husband apparently no longer wants to be the costumed hero he is. Despite having reservations a deep-seeded feelings of shame over her husband's identity problems, she supports his going on a Origin Weekend. This story is so clever and unique that it seems like something that Moore really would come up with. I hope there are future seasons of this title around the corner. I'm a sucker for a good cop drama and the art always provides the keen reader with some unusual and fun treats.

Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #'s 1-5
I found these issues swirling around some dollar bin recently and I had to pick them up. This was a great miniseries about a drug epidemic amongst robots. There were subplots galore and plenty of zany action in this miniseries that takes place five years after the Smax miniseries of a few years ago. This really should be considered a "season" of the series. As I mentioned above, look carefully at the art for some nice Easter Eggs.

Fables #'s 81-82
This is another one of those books that always delivers in terms of quality, and these two issues are not exceptions! These issues deal with a major death from the Fables crew. Longtime readers will be crestfallen by the death, but the knowledge that a fable may return from the dead does keep some alive, though Willingham goes to great lengths in issue #82 to point out that this character only appears in one short nursery rhyme and may be dead for good. On the villainous end of things, Mr. Dark is being established as the new bad guy in Fabletown and he's turning out to be a worthy replacement for the Adversary. Many comic books claim to change the status quo nearly on a monthly basis, but Fables is the real deal. The new setup will service a wide range of new stories that should continue to maintain the quality of this book for quite some time to come.

That's it for today... and for the remainder of the week! I'll be back next Sunday or Monday with the third and final installment of Spring break Reading. Why? Because I'm actually going to do something with my Spring Break; I'm going camping! But fear not, I'm bringing a whole stack of comic books for my reading pleasure. Be back next week for some reviews of some golden oldies including The Spirit, Elementals, Justice League International, Savage Dragon, Suicide Squad, and much, much more.

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