I’ve heard a lot over the years about how brilliant David Sim’s CEREBUS is but after reading the opening volume I don’t feel the magic. The parody of Marvel’s Conan gets the art right (it’s a dead-on take off on Barry Windsor Smith’s style) but the stories are just dull, relying too much on the funny animal aspect (Cerebus is an aardvark), and throwing in stuff Just Because (like having Elric—visually modeled on his Conan crossover, I believe—talk like Foghorn Leghorn). From what I understand the really good stuff gets going in Vol. 2, but I don’t know if I want to make the effort.
I’ve also heard a lot about Alison Bechdel’s THE ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR but this one does live up to its press clippings.Bechdel’s strip—stretching out over 25 years in this collection—focuses on the perpetually activist Mo (having attended the same college as Bechdel, I must admit Mo has what I think of as an Oberlin voice to her), her various friends and their lives, loves and political battles. Very well done, though the politics gets a bit heavy during the Bush II years—but even then Bechdel’s capable of introducing a Republican Log Cabin lesbian and making her an individual, rather than just a foil for the more liberal characters. Very good (cover by Bechdel, all rights to current holder)
BUZZ by Ananth Panagariya and Tessa Stone is a quirky little story about a young nerd caught up in a world of spelling bees where the participants can actually throw physical words at each other. Is he good enough to stop the secret conspiracy of the Spelluminati from rigging the game? Will his participation in an outlaw street bee go on his record? The art didn’t really grab me, but this was still fun.
I’d assumed ARROW would be just a comic-book spinoff of the Green Arrow TV series, but it’s actually tied in closely, stories set in the middle of or around or before events onscreen in the first season: Moira discovering her husband’s boat, Laurel deciding to become a public defender, Diggle remembering Afghanistan, Helena Bertinelli becoming the Huntress. A bit slight to read two seasons later, but it would probably have worked better in monthly installments.