Best Of The Best Trade Post: Preacher Vol. 5 & 6

Written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Steve Dillon
Collects Preacher #27-33, Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
EXPECT SPOILERS AHEAD After reading through the first three volumes of Preacher, I skipped the fourth because it collects most of the one-shots and minis related to the book. Usually, I read them in order, but this time I decided to just stick with the issues and whatever extras might be included in those collections. The Blood & Whiskey issue shows Cassidy meeting his first ever fellow vampire a few years before meeting Jesse and Tulip. This guy’s a complete wanker–to use Cassidy’s colorful language–who plays up on the whole Interview With A Vampire style. It seems like it might be a throw away one-shot, but it comes back into play later on this issues.

The other early comics reunite Jesse and Tulip, remember, he left her in France before going off to get Cass back. Arseface also shows back up wanting vengeance against Jesse for his father’s death but instead gets turned into a pop star. The book ends with Jesse trying to find out what Genesis knows by meeting with a witch doctor acquaintance of Cassidy’s who asks a snake god to get inside Jesse so he can ask it questions about Genesis. While that’s going on, the dead vampire from the one shot’s former acolytes show up for their revenge.

Most importantly though as far as the overarching story goes, Cassidy professes his out-of-nowhere love for Tulip which skeeves her out as you might expect. Tulip also finds out from the witch doctor that Cassidy tends to leave chaos in his wake, even if he doesn’t mean to. Overall this is a solid trade, it’s not one of my favorites–the I do love Blood & Whiskey and the voodoo stuff–but it’s also not my least favorite. There’s a lot of important steps and moments that help us get towards the end, but it gets a little–wait for it–preachy. Not in the way that anyone’s up on a soap box telling you what to think, but sometimes Jesse and company go on these long monologues about political correctness or psychobabble that make the book feel a little dated. It gets worse in the next volume though.

Written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Steve Dillon and Peter Snejbjerg
Collects Preacher #34-40, Preacher Special: One Man’s War
War In The Sun is my least favorite Preacher trade. It’s not awful and a bad Preacher trade is still better than the best of some other books. My problem with it is that it feels kind of like filler and it seems to have more of the preachy stuff I mentioned above than any of the other volumes. But like I said, it’s still a good read. The one-shot explains Herr Starr’s history, which is good because he plays a big part in this book, going so far as to requisition a whole tank division of the United States Military through his Grail connections and using them to attack the Saint of Killers while he tries to separate Tulip from Jesse. He figures that if he has Tulip he can control Jesse. It’s probably a pretty good bet, but things go to shit and Starr gets out by having a nuke dropped on everyone. Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are in a plane, but Jesse’s falling out and Cass him, but Jesse uses The Word to get Cass to drop him so he doesn’t burn to death thus setting up one of the most heartbreaking things in the book: Tulip and Cassidy shacking up in a haze of drug and drink. It’s unclear if Cass is completely manipulating her or if Tulip wanted to loose herself in these things, but the moment when Jesse sees Cass lay a kiss on her literally knocks him on the ground and me too, even though I’ve read this three times and knew it was coming.

Maybe it’s the sadness that makes me not like this book as much. It’s kind of the Empire of the series with everything ending on a pretty down note. Even Herr Starr has to deal with cannibals trying to eat him which kind of makes me feel bad for him (I’m a sucker for a guy whose leg gets cut off and eaten while the other one is chained to a wall in a old mine, I guess). However, all the business in the desert with Herr Starr, the Army and the Saint is tight and crazy.

Even after writing all this, I feel like I’m being too hard on this collection. It’s funny how that works out. The next trade has traditionally been my favorite, so I’m excited to check it out again and see if it still holds that spot.

Trade Post: This Week’s Pile 7-17-09

I read a lot of trades in a week. In addition to the bursting-at-the-seems shelf of things I’ve read at least once, I also have two long boxes full of books I need to work my way through, plus things I borrow from other people and work. It’s a lot to get through, but with my train ride and nightly reading, I’m at least putting a dent in those boxes.

So far this week I’ve finished two books I started reading a while ago, read three complete books, started and quit one and and halfway through two others. That’s a total of 8 trades this week on top of Gulliver’s Travels which I’m slowly getting through. Anyway, here’s a few brief (I promise) thoughts on these books).

NORTH WORLD VOL. 2 (Oni) by Lars Brown
I haven’t read the first volume of this book, but I enjoyed this one enough to go back and read te original. The idea is that the main character used to be a fighter in the vein of World of Warcraft or something and has since settled down to do taxes with his dad. I’ve heard the first volume gets a bit mired in the MMORPG in-jokes, but Volume 2 doesn’t have those pitfalls. There are definitely aspects of the story I wasn’t very clear on, but I’ll chalk that up to me coming in part-way through the story and not as a fault of the author for now. Aside from entertaining me on the train ride home, I also used Brown’s book as a reference for how to draw cartoony figures and had some success. Figuring out how he drew his main character lead directly to the creation of the nameless party guy I drew yesterday.

I hate to double link to the same post, but I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been reading this brand new collection of all things Barry Ween from Oni for the past few days. I’m about halfway through and I’m loving the foul mouthed adventures of the smartest kid (person, really) on earth, his friend Jeremy and his love interest Sarah. If you liked Dexter and have no problem with a deluge of profanity and pop culture references (some of which have gone completely over my head), then you should definitely check this book out. I haven’t enjoyed a reading experience this much in a long time.

LIGHT BRIGADE (DC) written by Pete Tomasi, drawn by Peter Snejbjerg
AS anyone who read my review of the Nightwing Freefall trade knows, I really enjoy Pete Tomasi’s writing. So, when I was offered someone’s copy of his first(?) comics work Light Brigade I jumped at the chance. I’m also a big fan of Peter Snejbjerg because he was involved with the second half of James Robinson’s excellent Starman run (and the artist behind two pieces of original art I have from that last issue). The story focuses on a group of soldiers during World War II who get mixed up in the war between the renegade angels and God. I’ve seen a lot of stories like this (try and find a Hellboy comic that doesn’t mention deities and Nazis), but I liked the yarn Tomasi wove here, especially the character who’s a fan of DC comics of the time, going so far as to give their group a team name and make them shirts with a logo. Definitely worth checking out if anything above sounds even remotely interesting. Also, this is the best I’ve ever seen Snejbjerg. The colors really seem to leap off the page. Good stuff.

HELLBLAZER: THE FEAR MACHINE (Vertigo) Written by Jamie Delano, drawn by Mark Buckingham, Richard Piers Rayner, Mike Hoffman, Alfredo Alcala
I first got interested in Hellblazer back when Brian Azzarello started writing the title. At that point I was heavily into 100 Bullets and would read pretty much anything with his name on it. Those were good comics, but I had trouble getting a grasp on exactly what John Constantine could do. I knew he had some kind of magical powers, but beyond that? No clue. I’m still not really sure about the dude’s powers even after reading this arc which comes from his earliest adventures (Hellblazer #14-22), but I still really like this enigmatic character. The funny thing about jumping into any Constantine story is that you have no idea if the old friends/acquaintances/enemies/lovers he runs into have been established in previous comics or just made up by the author. This story surprised me because of how far away from the John Constantine rubric it runs. You’ve got John joining up with some hippies, liking it, trying to find a missing girl and sporting (get this) a BLACK trench coat and even sunglasses, instead of a tan one. Remember how angry people were when Keanu wore the black coat in the movie?

Apparently it has precedence.

The story is very deep and involved and it took me quite a while to get through it because of waning interest and the absolute literariness of the whole thing, but by the end I had a great time and really enjoyed this seemingly atypical Hellblazer adventure. I’ve got one more Delano trade I’m interested to burn through now (PUNS!). I also want to get my hands on the Ennis/Dillon books.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel) By Jim Valentino
If you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the hell out of Guardians of the Galaxy which spun out of Annihilation Conquest’s Star-Lord miniseries. That got me curious about the previous incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so when it popped up on someone’s Sequential Swap list, I swapped for it. And man, there’s no more 90s story than this one, which collects the first 6 issues of the series. The idea is that this is set in an alternate future where War of the Worlds happened on the 616 and wipes out all the heroes. This is way in the future and the Guardians end up fighting a group called The Stark who, through means I care not to spoil, evolved with full-on Tony Stark technology. I liked the “what happened to THIS character” feel of the story and would definitely read an Essential volume or two to see where the full story went, but, like I said, it’s very 90s. In addition to briefly explaining every team member’s origin, powers and home planet with almost the exact same wording every issue and coming in that same weird size as the Armor Wars trade I read, there’s also Taserface:

Nuff said.

CLASSIC G.I. JOE VOL. 1 (IDW/Marvel) Written by Lara Hama (mostly), drawn by Herb Trimpe (mostly)
I really, really wanted to love this book, but just couldn’t. The book collects the first 10 issues of the series originally done by Marvel, but IDW put out the particular volume I read. These aren’t bad stories, they’re just not all that interesting, which goes for both Hama’s stories and Trimpe’s art. Maybe it’s that I’ve seen so many spy/military-based stories that almost anything feels been-there-done-that. I had high expectations because I know a lot of people who sing the praises of this comic, including Kiel, so hopefully they’ll jump on to let me know what it gets really good.

BAT LASH: GUNS & ROSES (DC) Written by Sergio Argones, drawn by Peter Brandvold
I got interested in this book after reading the latest issue of Jonah HEx which features a very well spoken Bat Lash. Unfortunately, this mini doesn’t really pick up on any of those themes and just came off kind of boring to me. How cool would it have been if Sergio drew this bad boy though? That being said, I still really liked Bradvold’s art, though I’m not familiar with him at all. This is the book I didn’t get all the way through.

This is the other book I haven’t finished yet. That’s because the entire story is told in text boxes instead of dialogue balloons. It fits the story just fine, it just takes me longer to read. Tor’s a prehistoric character who got kicked out of his tribe for being smart and awesome and is having crazy adventures in parts unknown. So far I really like this book, it’s a great showcase of the senior Kubert’s style, which is one of the most recognizable in comics (I bet he could draw a stick figure and you’d still know it’s him). He definitely hasn’t lost his touch.

Anyone else read any of these books? Thoughts? If not, what are you reading and digging right now?