Weekly Hit (and Miss) List 11/21/2011

by Ben Peirce

The Weekly Hit (and Miss) List is a rundown of the best and worst things I read this week regardless of their original publication date. It doesn’t have to be new – just new to me.


Xombi #1-6 | DC | John Rozum (w), Frazer Irving (a)

This is one of the easiest selections to the Hit List yet, and yet one of the hardest books for me to talk about. The short-lived relaunch of the mid-90’s property, Xombi packed more big concepts and stunning artwork into six issues than some series do in a decade. Xombi is the story of David Kim, who through a lethal combination of science and the supernatural, became an immortal creature created by artificial means … a Xombi. Kim has a Wolverine-like healing factor facilitated by nanomachines that inhabit his body and can transubstantiate matter into any form – hand him a banana and he’ll give you back a padlock. If you think that’s crazy, wait until you meet the superpowered posse of nuns he’s teamed up with. David’s powers make him a “magnet for weirdness” and John Rozum delivers one fantastic fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural element after the next. But while the story is anything but grounded, the storytelling really is. The same grandiose ideas in the hands of, say, Grant Morrisson would likely drift into the existential and get lost in poetic meandering. Rozum sticks to a tight narrative forcing you not to dwell on how or why a being that is rage-incarnate could inhabit the empty half of a schizophrenic who’d killed his other self, but instead grips you with the immediacy of when and where our heroes will defeat it! Superhero comics condition us to stories where the heroes are always one step ahead of the villians. But Xombie is a true adventure tale, where events unfold faster than the protagonists or the reader can keep up with like they might for Indiana Jones or Adèle Blanc-Sec. The story is a fun-filled cosmic thrill ride perfectly packaged in the amazing art of Frazer Irving, whose painterly style and strategic color work marries the whimsy of fantasy to the realism of science fiction. Xombi is one of the unfortunate casulties, thrown out with the bathwater to make room for the New 52, but if you track down these 6 issues you won’t be disappointed. BUY IT

Crécy | Avatar | Warren Ellis (w), Raulo Caceres (a)

If you’re like me, you probably have a soft spot for medieval warfare. You had plastic knights growing up. You’ve likely built a Lego castle or two in your day. And you probably checked out books with detailed illustrations of crossbows from your elementary school library.  If so, Crécy is right in your wheelhouse. Crécy tells the story of the medieval Battle of Crécy in which an overmatched English army invades France and where modern warfare was reportedly changed forever. This History Channel-like retelling of events is packed with factoids about medieval combat, humorously narrated by a foul-mouthed-fourth-wall-breaking English soldier.  Beautifly illustrated in B&W, almost woodcut-like inks, Crécy is the perfect blend of humor, edutainment and hating the French.  BUY IT


FF #11 | Marvel | Jonathan Hickman (w), Barry Kitson (a)

I’m not an unintelligent person. I’m not an inexperienced comic reader. And as evidenced by my first selection, I’m not opposed to big concept sci-fi-type stories. But I’m absolutely baffled and bamboozled by Jonathan Hickman’s run on FF.  Now admittedly, I haven’t read Hickman’s run from the beginning but I (like many others, I’d imagine) jumped on with the countdown to “3” and read right through the “death” of Johnny Storm and the first 11 issues of FF.  You’d think in 16 issues of reading, I’d have a pretty good grasp on the story and yet in this latest issue, I was met with characters I didn’t recognize, concepts I didn’t understand and conflicts I couldn’t explain.  There’ve been moments in this series that I’ve really enjoyed but lately it’s just felt like work to read … and there’s no room for that on my pull-list. I’m out.

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