Desiato Reviews Some Indies

Antoine Sharpe: The Atheist #1 [Desperado] (****)

There are a couple reasons why I picked this book up. I keep hearing about this Phil Hester guy and how he’s awesome and everybody loves him, and I required empirical evidence. The book was also featured as a Indie Challenge on Comic Geek Speak (less than two weeks to the Super Show!). This, however, did not stop me from completely forgetting to buy via DCBS, so I made sure to pick it up at the store when I went to get Secret Invasion. Good book. It’s not the first book to feature the character (there was a four issue mini preceding it simply called “The Atheist,” but they ended up changing the name due to the general fervor and malcontent surrounding a word like “atheist”), but I didn’t feel lost at all in discovering who this titular character is. There’s a pretty simple and effective premise as work here. Antoine Sharpe is basically a skeptical detective that is called upon to investigate paranormal cases outside of the realm of standard private investigation work. He’s brought in to cut through the mumbo jumbo and see what’s actually going on here. This story begins with Mr. Sharpe being sent to a mountain town where wives have a tendency to disappear. We don’t get much of the mystery here yet as things are still being set up, but it’s a pure concept and has been executed well so far.

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #1 [Red 5] (****)

Atomic Robo is a wisecracking robot that was built by Nikola Tesla. He was the star of an awesome five issue miniseries that I read earlier this year that was tons of fun and a sort of light, cheery throwback to the atomic age. I’ve been a fan of the sort of 1950’s retro cold war chic since I played Fallout oh so many years ago, and that first mini had a very similar feel. This one is set in World War Two, so it has a decidedly different aesthetic to it (which is not a bad thing, despite my preference toward the 50’s), but that doesn’t change the series overall to the point of making it read any differently. This issue reads fast, as Robo is parachuting in behind enemy lines to take out some German “laufpanzers” (walking tanks. Five years of German pays off!) that were made partially off the specs that created Robo himself. There are a lot of sparse and wordless panels, and the issue is mostly action, which is why I didn’t like it as much as some of the issues from the first mini, but there’s also an amusing little four page backup that retains that silly vibe. It’s a very good book and I would recommend picking it up, but I would definitely start with the first mini, which’ll be out in trade soon if it’s not on the shelves already.

Angel: After the Fall #11 [IDW] (*1/2)

Comic fans are often referred to as masochistic. We buy books we hate because we have a love for the characters or don’t want to interrupt the run (collector’s mentality). I’m in the camp of the former when it comes to Angel After the Fall. I love the characters, and I’m legitimately intrigued by the overall storyline and where the story is headed, but the writing is SO BAD and the art is SO BAD that the book is just painful to read. The art is completely inconsistent and rushed, and there are a couple instances of Lynch trying to crowbar in some pop culture referency Whedonisms that ring completely false. But the saddest thing about all of this is the fact that I’m probably going to keep buying the thing. And that really is masochism in action. Because they’re doing some cool things in the overall scheme. But that doesn’t stop the individual pieces of the story from being just awful and sad.

Spike: After the Fall #2 [IDW] (***)

Well this one actually got better. Who knew? It’s still not great, but it’s a lot better than its bigger brother right now. We continue to follow Spike as he moves toward the status quo that was set up early in Angel: After the Fall, and this issue specifically deals with Spike and Illyria coming face to face with the Lord of Beverly Hills, who’s not a nice customer. The art is still muddled, but the writing is a lot more bearable than what Lynch is doing on Angel. This book is showing signs of life, and it’s enough for me to buy into the next two issues.