George Pelecanos & David Simon @ The Prince Charles Cinema, 22 July

Graphic Novel Round-up: Yellow-bellied Scoundrels

Daredevil Daredevil: Yellow (Loeb / Sale): This is the first Loeb & Sale excursion since the epic disaster that was Catwoman: When in Rome, and I was pleased to discover that - when you don't read their work chronologically, they've regained their old skill. (Yes, that was an insult, but so was Catwoman). 

Yellow is a retelling of the Daredevil origin story - with a focus on the hero's human side. While Matt Murdock struggles with some unspecified ennui, he recounts his early days as a superhero and his romantic entanglements with Karen Page. Sale's bright colors and cartoony style fit perfectly with Loeb's attempt to make a bittersweet romcom out of the Daredevil story. 

Although certainly nowhere as good as as Brian Michael Bendis' lengthy run on Daredevil, Yellow was still a nice surprise. Loeb and Sale are pretty decent at what they do - when they stay in their bittersweet, four-color box. 

Preacher: War in the Sun (Ennis / Dillon): Bit by bit, I've managed to reconstruct a set of Preacher from second-hand stores. I'm not sure why I didn't just get the full whack through Amazon at once, but this kept things nicely spaced. War in the Sun is book six in the series (of 9), but the last one I've slotted into place. Although not the best in the series, that's still a relative measurement - Preacher is terrific from start to finish. 

War in the Sun has Jesse Custer taking a back seat to Starr, the foul-tempered head of The Grail. The collection begins with Starr's 'origin story' and then returns to the main story-line in time for a major showdown between Starr and Custer (hint: everyone loses). As much as the Cassady / Custer / Tulip interpersonal struggles upset me, I admit they're well-written. I'd happily get blind drunk with any of the three of them, which is why their conflicts (internal and external) are so affecting.

Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame
(Ennis / Dillon): The Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon run on Hellblazer is a mixed bag. I like the focus on Constantine as a man (and not a mythic entity) and his weaknesses. I like the grittiness and the boozing and the dirt. However, I don't like how bizarrely ineffectual Constantine becomes at points in the story, and I often don't like the choppiness of the narrative. 

In Damnation's Flame, these are both real problems. Hellblazer is an occult whipping boy, and there's no virtually connection between the stories in this volume. Constantine spends most of the volume in a poison-addled state - alternating between horrible things in a homeless shelter and horrible things in a psychic hell-America (a little reminiscent of John Wagner's Last American). The other stories in the volume are odd tales - bits and pieces of self-reflection from the self-absorbed (but - thankfully - not whiny) Hellblazer.