The Comic Queen

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Single-Panel Reviews 12/23/04

Queen & Country #28
Oni Press $2.99
Writer: Greg Rucka; Artist: Mike Norton

This issue marks the third and final chapter in the “Saddlebags” mission. In the previous two issues, an agent of the U.K.’s version of the FBI is suspected of dealing in oil with Russians. Minders Tara Chace and Chris Lankford are dispatched to St. Petersburg to find out exactly what he’s been up to; unfortunately things don’t go as planned. Rucka has done a good job in this series writing a balance of successful missions, disastrous missions, and just unsuccessful ones. This balance keeps the series fresh, unpredictable, and more focused on the characters than on the latest hijinks of the minders. This mission may not be successful, but Rucka and Norton were in showing, by the end of the issue, Chace at her most fragile. We’ve certainly seen her come apart at the seems, but this is different, and deeper. As I have said in the past, I highly recommend this series. For comparison, I enjoy “The Losers” but it just doesn’t quite seem to satisfy me like “Queen & Country” does. This series is more focused on characterization and intrigue (although there is ample action) than “The Losers.” I haven’t read the most current issue yet, but “The Losers” is starting to fall flat with me. Meanwhile, “Queen & Country” just keeps getting better.
Bottom line: A-

Astonishing X-Men #7
Marvel $2.99
Writer: Joss Whedon; Artist: John Cassaday; Colorist: Laura Martin

Speaking of getting better and better, “Astonishing X-Men” does just that in this second storyline of the series. I almost gave up on the X-Men, but Whedon and Cassaday have renewed my faith that superhero stories can be told well and look beautiful at the same time. The only part that didn’t quite do it for me this issue was the team up with the Fantastic Four. Don’t get me wrong, I like the FF, but it just didn’t seem to serve as much of a purpose as perhaps it could have. I won’t ruin anything, but the ending leaves even more promise that this book has a lot more to give the reader. This series, and especially this new storyline, is definitely worth a look-see.
Bottom line: B+

The Goon #10
Dark Horse Comics $2.99
By Eric Powell

Fair warning: While this issue consisted of a comic and short story, I’m only going to review the comic-book part of the issue (simply haven’t had a chance to read the short story yet). This time Powell takes his own Goon-like take on Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” While it was good, I can’t say I completely enjoyed it overall. I haven’t read every issue of this series, but of the ones I have read I always leave the book feeling that the art is by far the best thing about this series. In issue #10, the artwork once again outshines the writing. There are several funny moments, but I think most of the best parts of the issue are the panels without dialog. Powell shows he can be successful with many different styles of art, this time pencils and muted colors are employed to give the book an “old-timey” feel. That being said, the best part of the issue was the cover, which shows a giant Goon as the ghost of Christmas present sitting surrounded by a feast, including a Christmas boar so large the usual apple in the pig’s mouth is replaced with a pumpkin instead.
Bottom line: B

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