This week left me with a stack of comics about women doing interesting things (no, these are not the comics in the blacked-out bags). Mostly. I also picked up Blackest Night: The Flash #1, which I’m saving for a later Blackest Night catch-up, and Jack of Fables #40. I kept Jack in the list because I thought he’d be happy to be surrounded by ladyfolk, but he’s at the end because, well, he kinda deserves to be. And that’s including the Archie comics.
Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #2 of 6 ($2.99 shelf grab): After a vivid if unremarkable first chapter, Cindy gets moving a bit in this issue. That swarthy guy with the knife last time? Totally a Fable (but I’ll leave you to find out who. it’s really not hard). This issue largely continues the spy genre business, with our heroine paired with a dashing-yet-possibly-untrustworthy ally to infiltrate the scene – it’s predictable but fun. Perhaps more notably, the B-plot of Cindy’s shoe shop flunky’s ambitions picks up here, with Crispin Cordwainer (nice Fable find here – I don’t know why I didn’t look him up last time) cutting a deal that may be too rich for his blood. Still kind of a slow start, but entertaining, and McManus’ Cinderella remains the most adorably world-weary ass-kicker (those lines under the eyes are a nice and consistent touch) in comics.
Empowered one-shot ($3.99 shelf grab): Never heard of Empowered? That’s not surprising. Even if you’ve seen it, you may well have written it off as either a) yet another crappy manga, or b) yet another T&A superhero. And writer/artist Adam Warren (of Dirty Pair fame) knows exactly where you’re coming from … which is why Empowered exists.
On its face, Empowered is a cheesecake book about a voluptuous blonde superheroine who tends to have her outfit ripped off and gets tied up. A lot. And it totally IS that. But it’s also ABOUT that, man. Empowered is both a cutting parody of manga, superheroes, and tired damsel-in-distress stories and a story in its own right with way more investment in its plot and characters than one might think it has a right to. It’s way too easy not to notice that, while laughing at the jokes and catching the reference, you wind up caring about these characters and what happens to them.
This issue, one of Dark Horse’s one-shot projects, is a standalone that explores Emp’s expressive range of “sigh”-ing. It’s a simple piece that doesn’t influence the main story, but a solid installment and a good entry point for newcomers. Does the plot sound paper-thin? That’s balanced by the extensive cross-cutting between Emp’s buddies back at the apartment and our heroine’s own struggle with villain of the week “Irresistimmovable.” Like that name? You’ll like Empowered.
Archie #603 ($2.50 shelf grab). Look, I said I was gonna read this. Archie resets his Memory Lane trip to the beginning (college graduation) and proposes to Betty, leaving Veronica to have a fit. Gotta say, while this is still a goofy Archie story, I’m glad they held the Betty plot until second because there’s a lot more weight to it (relatively speaking). They have no jobs, no money, Betty’s dad’s getting laid off, and Veronica hates everyone. Two more to go. While I’m not going to stick with Archie after this, it’s worth my $2.50 a month to see how the writers handle an interesting idea.
Blackest Night Wonder Woman #1 of 3 ($2.99): Wonder Woman’s always seemed a strangely cold heroine to me (actually, that’s my complaint for just about every main DC character other than the Flash), so it’s interesting to see her through a Black Lantern’s emotion-hungry eyes. What fills Wonder Woman is Love. Consistently and without fail, even when faced with the risen, mass-murdering corpse of Maxwell Lord. WW was the one to put Lord down in the first place (the backwards-facing head is a nice touch), and he wants her Rage, but all he gets is Love – her love for humanity. This is a step back in time from Blackest Night #5, which kinda … changed … Wonder Woman (among others), and while that storyline apparently will commence in BN:WW #2, this was a nice little vignette.
(Also although I’ve complained previously about the high prices of many Big Two books – I’m just not consistently feeling like I’m getting $3.99 in value – I’ve noticed these Blackest Night spin-offs are only $2.99. Nice to see SOME concessions in this gigantic cash-grabbing crossover.)
Jack of Fables #40 ($2.99 pull): This book really drives me nuts. It’s just … it’s all over the place. I get it. I really do. Jack is the classic hero, destined to have adventures but never enjoy their spoils, therefore it makes sense that his book is a constant progression of Doing with precious little reflection. But Christ, there’s so rarely a time where even an attempt is to make sense of anything that’s happening. It just happens. War? Incest? Turning into a dragon? Let’s give ’em a quick explanation and move the hell ON.
In this issue, Jack remains a dragon and eats a cow, while Jack Frost beats the evil wizard and (in a time lapse) peace is brokered between the people and monsters being antagonized by said wizard. Simple on paper, but the book never takes a breath. Like I said, I get it, but some times it’s like hearing a six-year-old tell you about the dream he had – eventful but lacking in connective tissue.