Rude Chapbooks 07.02.12 | OMG, LOEG, ILY!

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Likely to no one’s surprise, our crusty columnist, who’s apparently practicing trendy communicative protocols for some reason, herein gushes about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century #3 and reviews four other new floppies, among them Fatale #6.

 
Following last issue’s hilarious introduction of Giles’ narcissistic and ageless great-aunts, Lavinia and Sophronia, Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith #11 commences a new arc that guests Willow, that handily metaphorizes real-world woes, that touchingly reintroduces Connor (Angel’s son), and that finishes with the creation of a temporary portal to the hellish dimension of Quor’toth, where Connor spent the first 17 years of his life, all the while deepening the conflicted friendship between the eponymous characters. Otherwise, not a lot really happens… Less jocularly, Christos Gage keeps heightening his profile as one of the mainstream’s finest younger writers; in particular, he crafts Swiss-watch dialogue of considerable wit. (Sophie: “Here, Vin. I found some earplugs in Faith’s vibrator drawer. They’ll keep the inevitable pity party from waking us again.” Faith: “Those are stakes, not—” Sophie: “Of course, dear.”) And artist Rebekah Isaacs? Damn! No, really—damn. From panel to panel and page to page, her work, at all levels, displays a deceptively easy discipline that beggars the imagination and rewards a second or third look. Neato-mosquito!
 
The title of the series notwithstanding, Fatale #6 should foster in all aficionados of the comic book as such a degree of (perhaps naive) faith in the form’s continued vigor. More specifically, the Image offering’s debut is reportedly fast approaching its 743rd printing, and at least in part because of its success, almost surely, writer Ed Brubaker plans to focus more and more of his time and energy on lively creator-owned efforts like this instead of moribund corporate properties like Captain America. That said, this issue opens “The Devil’s Business,” Fatale’s second arc, by extending the investigation by Nicolas Lash, our hapless hero, into the background of Josephine, the thriller’s supernatural temptress; tantalizingly, it fast flashes back to 1978 and two Hollyweirdos fleeing a religious cult rife with drugs and S&M, and their flight swiftly involves both a mysterious film—and the lovely Jo, now something of a recluse. Artist Sean Phillips, as usual, partners peerlessly with Bru, with an action sequence in the prologue particularly smashing. Indisputably one of the year’s best new series.
 
During his storied career as a writer, the late Graham Greene dichotomized his longer fictions between “entertainments” like This Gun for Hire and more consciously literary novels like The End of the Affair. One can’t help similarly classifying the opera of writer/artist Gilbert Hernandez into lighter works and his essential tales of Palomar and its citizenry. To the former class, add Dark Horse’s black-and-white Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1. The titular heroine—the latest addition, ponytailed and pistol-packin’, to a lengthy list of statuesque brunettes populating Beto’s comics—belongs to a near-future, as-yet-innominate black-ops organization tasked with interdicting Spin, “the worst, most addictive drug ever conceived,” which transforms its users into zombies. The narrative unfolds according to the traditions of japes featuring such menaces: The pharmaceutically undead threaten. Guns fire. Crania explode (the second and third pages alone boast 16 head shots). Entertaining enough—in the peculiarity of its presentation, the premiere of this quadripartite miniseries recalls certain of the prodigies of Basil Wolverton—but it should tempt no one to forget Luba & Co.
 
As darkling and wondrous a satire as one could want, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century #3, subtitled “2009” and published by Top Shelf Productions, closes writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill’s latest metatextual LOEG romp with nonpareil panache. Four decades have passed since the black-ops group’s disastrous prior adventure, praised in this column last August, and here, with a Tempestuous prod from their patron and assistance from a female ally with M-for-male appeal, they at last locate and battle a familiar Antichrist. (He wields a mean magic wand and at one point, after the revelation of a sorcerous Columbine, whines, “The education system’s really let me down…”) That valiant delaying action claims the life of one leaguer, leading to tandem farewells, one actual, the other symbolic, both tearful. Bloody glorious. One can scarcely wait both for the eventual compilation (the first such LOEG offering since Moore sundered all ties to a monolithic American publisher herein pointedly left unnamed) and for scholar Jess Nevins’ almost inevitable, if no less engrossing, gloss on the volume.
 
Two-thirds of the way through its nine-part run, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso’s latest Vertigo collaboration remains a crashing disappointment, as established once more by Spaceman #7. Risso’s visuals on the science fictional adventure, admittedly, inspire nothing but delight; as ever, he ranks as a Higgins wizard, working (pardon the pun) Black Magic issue after issue. The narrative, however, occasions roughly as much enthusiasm as a probe to Uranus. Yes, great charm infuses the interplay between Orson, the mini’s genengineered protagonist, and his dockside band of ragamuffins. Azzarello’s embedded media critique (the transparently staged kidnapping and its coverage formal and informal) feels less au courant than no courant, though, and the flashbacks to (was it?) Mars bring everything to a screeching halt worthy of the Zion-based sequences of The Matrix and its sequels. Moreover, the dialogue still “reads” all wrong. Apologists excuse it as “textspeak.” Only partially true. Even at that, such kind hearts should actually try dropping, say, an LOL as such into one of their own conversations without feeling unutterably foolish. | Bryan A. Hollerbach
 
Click here for a preview of Angel & Faith #11 and here for a preview of Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1, both courtesy of Dark Horse.
Click here for a preview of Fatale #6, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.
Click here for a preview of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century #3, courtesy of Top Shelf.
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