Monday, February 21, 2005


Written by John Layman and Drawn by Georges Jeanty
Published by Marvel

GAMBIT rolled in last year as part of the usual new glut of X-Men related product. Normally, I tend to avoid those types of things like the plague, but since I’ve had the pleasure to get to know scribe Layman a bit, I checked it out. Mind you, I like John, but you couldn’t pay me to buy an issue of THUNDERCATS, but GAMBIT was close enough for me to ring up. The series started out a bit slow, but by part four of the six part opening storyline, Layman really seemed to find his voice and the book kicked into gear. Unlike many Marvel books these days, Gambit gets back to the character’s original essence, rather than trying to modernize it or attach it to some sort of hip pop culture phenomenon. Remy LeBeau is a thief, a scoundrel, and a womanizer, and Layman embraces those traits rather than ignoring them. This issue kicks off a three-issue story that finds Gambit bedeviled by a sexy cop who’s not all she seems, and a young mutant whose death is only the beginning of a much bigger problem. This has turned into a terrific piece of monthly entertainment, and even with the glut, it’s proved itself.

Written and Drawn by Paul Chadwick
Published by Dark Horse

I reviewed issue one here a few weeks ago, and I’m pleased to say that issue two is even better. Chadwick is crafting an elegant and layered tale about the current state of the human race in this small, intimate character study. He’s also creating plot points that are not only interesting for the new reader, but that also pay off threads that stretch back to the first stories told with the character. In particular, Chadwick finally addresses head-on that Concrete has been in love with his scientist handler Maureen for all this time. Indeed, we’ve often wondered about how she feels about him as well, whether it’s with scientific detachment or any sense of caring, even though she’s always called him by his human name, Ron. Of course, a man made of rock (and no genitalia) has more than a few issues with what love and sex mean to him, and beyond that, he must for the first time contemplate that he may be immortal in that body. There’s so much great stuff in here that I feel sorry for comics that aren’t this good. Chadwick may not return to the character very often, but it is always, always, worth the wait.

Written by Howard Shum and Drawn by Joey Mason
Published by Axiom

GUN FU is just good, clean, loopiness. When you have a Hong Kong cop from 1936 traipsing around the world and speaking in modern hip-hop, you either love this kind of thing, or you leave it on the shelf. Personally, I fucking dig it. Shum and Mason have created a book that rewards the atypical comics fan, the one who has a deep and abiding love for both classic pulp and neo-modern pop culture. This is the final issue of “The Lost City” mini-series, which found hero Cheng Bo Sen heading to the jungles of South America to stop a Nazi plot and falling in love with a native girl. Each of those classic tropes was treated with the complete disrespect they deserved, maximizing the laugh quotient. There are only two real problems with GUN FU; one, it takes too long between issues (though I totally understand it) and two, there’s an ad on the back cover announcing the next GUN FU mini, but the bastards don’t say when it’s coming out. Evil!

Written by Giffen and DeMatteis and Drawn by Kevin Maguire
Published by DC

This is basically issue one of the classic creative team’s sequel to FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, and as per usual, it’s fuggin’ funny. The team, calling itself “Super Buddies,” is settling into their new offices when a supervillain decides to move in next-door and open a bar. Plus, Fire buys Mary Marvel her first ever cup of coffee, there’s some confusion about Sue Dibny’s reproductive system (this story takes place before the wretched IDENTITY CRISIS), and that supervillain has a silent partner known to the team who isn’t. Quite. So. Silent. The gags fly fast and furious from page one, panel one, and Maguire lends his usual beautiful art work to the proceedings. To this day, no one else in comics has displayed his skill and ability to render facial expressions and body language. I first became a JLA reader and fan when this team got together to make magic nearly twenty years ago, and they still have the goods.

Written by Damon Hurd and Drawn by Tatiana Gill
Published by Alternative

I ordered this because the solicitation really stuck out to me. STRANGE DAY is the story of a young man who skips school to buy the new Cure album and winds up meeting a girl who does the same. I read that and immediately found myself drawn backward fifteen years. Yeah, I could totally remember those years. Sold. I sat down to actually read it this past weekend, and it was just as charming as it sounded. Teenage love stories can be a sticky wicket; there’s plenty of room to over-write the pathos of the young heart, but Hurd manages to keep the characters on a fairly even keel as their attraction to one another develops. He’s abetted nicely by Gill’s relaxed and loose art; the kids look like kids, and more so, they look like kids who would skip school to buy a Cure album. I’m a sucker for sweet love stories, and I don’t apologize for it. I haven’t read other work from either creator, but I’m certainly going to keep my eyes open for it now.