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Blood in the Gutters: Week’s New Crime Comics – Scalped, Sherlock, Kick-Ass, and Parker
This week on the ol’ spinner racks: The rez continues to get bloody; Holmes takes on some of his weirder cases; the sequel really tries to outdo the original; Darwyn Cooke’s masterpiece (so far).
Scalped #54–The thing about a title like Scalped is whenever a book like this debuts, I always think it’s never going to last. Partly because I don’t trust the general comics-buying public to recognize greatness when it sees it (although it has plenty of times), but mostly because I think either the premise is going to quickly run out of steam or that all the principle characters are going to get killed before the issue ends. This latter notion is where I think writer Jason Aaron has achieved his greatest victory with Scalped. For over four years now, the guy has held me in near-complete suspense as to the destiny of every single character in this quite large cast. Compare that to your average schlock Hollywood production with its obscene budget and which fails to even interest me for two hours. Comic books are still the best value for your entertainment dollar, and this current arc of Scalped is probably my favorite since way back to the second arc, “Casino Boogie.” I’d tell you why exactly, but it’d totally blow the story for you.
Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes graphic novel–IDW has now done three hardcover volumes of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with new illustrations by the great Kelley Jones. Personally, I’ve never been much of a Holmes guy, even after enjoying the Guy Ritchie flick a couple years ago. But the IDW reprints look pretty nice and are priced equally as nicely. This book here, the Curious Cases, I’m a little more wary of. For one thing, it looks as though these are new stories, ones not of the Doyle canon. That doesn’t really bother me, but y’know, it is a consideration. Secondly, I don’t recognize the names involved here, writers Gary Reed and Stephen Phillip Jones, and artists Aldin Baroza, Seppo Makinen, Wayne Reid (who also did the cover), and Michael Zigerlig. Again, this is no reason alone to dismiss the book, but for a twenty-dollar black-and-white book that doesn’t even top 200 pages, I’m probably gonna be a little reluctant to roll those dice. If you’re a hardcore Holmes fan, though, you’ll probably dig it.
Kick-Ass 2 #5–This book sells itself as a super-hero book, but as grounded as it is in reality, it actually plays out more as a wacky (if a pretty grim sort of wacky) gang war. Kick-Ass’s nemesis, The Red Mist, has returned to exact his revenge, and it has not been pretty. I’ll tell you, kids, your uncle Jimmy here has got a pretty strong stomach, but some of the events in last issue were enough to turn that pretty strong stomach. When writer Mark Millar gets kinda kicked around by his detractors for whatever reason, I tend to point out that the guy still delivers some high-quality books. But after last issue, I’m starting to think the guy is a bit more of a schlockmeister than I wanna admit. I still dig the John Romita, Jr. art quite a bit, though. This book is really gonna have to suck, I think, for me to give that up. But it does seem to be heading down that road.
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition hardcover–I’ve said before that I think Darwyn Cooke is kind of over-rated, but it’s with this book that I really must eat those words. Whatever else Cooke does in his already extensive career, this is likely to be the work I remember him for, and quite fondly. This over-sized hardcover edition of Cooke’s adaptations of the works of Richard Stark contains the first two books in the series, The Hunter and The Outfit. Aside from not digging Cooke overly, the main reason I passed these up at first was because I’ve read both those novels a million times. Thing of it is, nobody has ever read those books like Darwyn Cooke presents them. There’s a damn good reason Stark gave these books his official blessing and allowed Cooke to use the actual Parker name, something he’d never allowed in any of the film adaptations of the character. This so-called “Martini Edition” also features 65 pages of bonus material. I imagine a lot of this will be sketches and stuff like that, which I am almost never that interested in. But the advance press also claims that there will be a brand-new story. Call me cynical if you want, but the press release is worded a little too carefully, and I have a feeling the brand-new story in question may not be a Stark story at all. Personally, I’m not gonna risk it at seventy-five bucks, but that’s only because I already have the two original editions. If you don’t have these books, you quite simply need to get a hold of them, and trust me, it’ll be worth every last penny of that $75 for this fancy-pants edition. Food is for people who don’t read comics.