The Comic Queen

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: Catch-up Edition

Styx Taxi 1 & 2
FWD Books; $2.50 and $3, respectively
Issue #1 Writer: Steven Goldman; Issue #1 Artist: Jeremy Arambulo; Issue #2 Writers: Steven Goldman; Issue #2 Artists: Dan Goldman, Leland Purvis, and Rami Efal
Set in New York City, the premise of Styx Taxi is that those who die on the streets of the city have two hours before they pass on to the next life (level of existence, heaven, or whatever you’d like to call it). During this time, the Styx Taxi drivers pick up their fares and for two hours the riders get to finish whatever business they’d like. Each taxi driver has his or her own personality and story, which the reader gets a glimpse of, and issue #1 tells several fares’ stories. As you can imagine, the dead people’s emotions and wishes vary radically. There’s the angry rabbi, the devoted husband, a clueless child – everyone has something different they need to wrap-up, and everyone has very different motives. Arambulo’s work on issue #1 reminded me of Brian Hurtt’s art with simple yet realistic people and detailed backgrounds. Both comics are very heartfelt and often moving. In issue two, the premise is the same, but this time it’s an anthology of three stories by three sets of creators. I enjoyed it too, but not as much as the first issue. I didn’t feel that the stories were as well formed and being an anthology, some of the art was uneven. Overall, though, I enjoyed these first two issues and hope more will follow.
Bottom line: B+ for issue #1 and B- for issue #2

Apocalypse Nerd #1 (of 6)
Dark Horse $2.99
By Peter Bagge
Bagge sets up a promising story – Perry and Gordo, a software engineer and his drug-dealing friend, are heading back to Seattle from a weekend trip in the North Cascades when they discover that North Korea nuked Seattle. The two head back up to the cabin they were staying at and begin to try their hand at survival. And survival is just not easy nor pretty. Perry’s nervous insecurity got on my nerves a bit, but otherwise I enjoyed the comic. Also a treat were the two “Founding Fathers Funnies” short comics (one a three-page story and the other on the back cover of the comic). You’ve got to read those to truly appreciate them – what a riot.
Bottom line: B+

Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #185-189
DC $2.50 each
Writer: Shane McCarthy; Penciller: Tommy Castillo; Inker: Rodney Ramos; Colorist: Tony Avina
Issue #189 came out this week wrapping up the five-part “Riddle Me That” storyline featuring a new (and improved?) Riddler. The art was kind of realistic expressionism – impossibly long stylized Bat-cape, psychedelic Riddler frames, and all. This along with the romantic – lighting in the background when Batman’s angry, etc.; you know, the classic human emotion reflected in nature thing. I dig this style, so it worked for me here. What I liked about this incarnation of the Riddler was that he wasn’t just psycho out-of-control crazy; instead he was calculated and suave, and, for a change, an actual challenge for Batman. Batman, though, was in fine form as the “world’s greatest detective.” The story had it’s twists and turns, but there were definitely plot points that were either strained or didn’t seem to come together like they could have. Overall, though, I thought this was a solid bat tale.
Bottom line: B


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