No theme this time - just a grab bag of five graphic novels. Some classic talent in this batch - Stan Lee, Moebius and Kurt Busiek. As well as a few modern stars like Ben Templesmith and Mike Carey.
Thunderbolts (Busiek / Bagley): This feels unbelievably dated. A great concept, but such an artifact of the late 1990's. The costumes, the dialogue, the lack of teeth. Busiek is still clever enough to make it interesting, and the origin story alone is worthwhile. Busiek's talent ("Marvels", "Astro City") is to show how the 'man on the street' reacts to the superhero, and although that's a great fit with the concept, it doesn't feel like enough to keep this fresh. By the end of the fourth issue, things were starting to feel a little contrived. I'm interested enough to keep going - but I'm expecting to see a lot of changes.
Faker (Carey / Jock): Inexplicably weird but surprisingly strong Vertigo one-off. Difficult to describe (partially because I'm still a bit confused), but Carey does a good job making four utterly reprehensible protagonists into empathetic figures. The strange bio-nano-psycho-technology at the core of the story exists mostly as an excuse for Carey to do what he wants. Although there are a myriad of twists and turns, it is hard to muster a sense of surprise when there's no initial normality Supported by solid, but not great art - really liked the dyamic layouts more than the pictures within them.
The Definitive Silver Surfer (Lee / Kirby / Byrne / More): A decent collection of "classic Marvel moments" and one terrific surprise. The Surfer's origin - coupled with the first visit of Galactus - is, however silly it feels now, truly one of the defining moments in the Marvel Universe. Campy, but fun. And still not as goofy as the Dracula/Silver Surfer crossover or as ponderously melodramatic as the John Bryne retelling. The prize of the lot is the Stan Lee / Moebius collaboration - an out-of-continuity parable featuring Galactus. Moebius's stunning style adds a necessary weight to the otherwise cracker-thin Stan Lee philosophy, and the result is a beautiful and interesting stand-alone story.
Wormwood: Birds, Bees, Blood and Beer (Templesmith): Bizarre brilliance. Templesmith's scripting is as morbidly humorous as his art, and the result is a wacky, "New Weird" romp through the modern occult underworld. Although there's little time for explanation or backstory, Templesmith actually got me to care about his collection of misfit adventurers. Or, at the very least, to cheer them on as they thumped on the demon intruders. Not sure how to accurately praise the Leprechaun scene, other than to say it is a truly legendary moment in comic book history. (9/10)
Kane: Greetings from New Eden (Grist): I appreciate the unique style of art... but still don't like it, and, worse yet, had a hard time following the action because of it. The very stark art also didn't justify the amount of splash pages. Despite being the first book, I felt like I was thrown into the deep end when it came to plotting, and was on the back foot throughout.