Saturday, May 8, 2010

Magdalena #1 / The Brave and The Bold #33

When my fortnightly comic book delivery arrived earlier this week - somewhat delayed by a combination of volcanic ash and the May Day public holiday - there were a couple of titles that particularly caught my eye.

First up, is The Magdalena #1, the new ongoing series from Top Cow. I'd been looking forward to reading this issue for a while - I'm a big fan of Top Cow in general as regular readers will know and I'd enjoyed the previous Magdalena stories that I'd read: this first issue certainly didn't disappoint.

I was initially a little apprehensive about the book to be honest - early page previews (albeit unlettered) that I'd seen didn't quite connect with me: I thought the art looked a little 'cold' in places, some of the figures appeared a bit 'starchy'.

Thankfully, on the printed page my concerns were dispelled as I was treated to a fantastic read - what else would you expect from Ron Marz? - complemented by some impressive, distinctive interior art and a stunning cover (of the seven different covers I received cover A).

The book will satisfy, I suspect, readers new and old, those that have a history with the character and those that don't - there was just enough explanation that it didn't feel laboured whilst at the same time enough story progression that this didn't feel like an 'origins' issue.

With a hefty dose of intrigue, cynicism, danger and the depth of back-story I've come to expect from books set within the Top Cow Universe this book was a treat from cover to cover and I'm already looking forward to the second issue.

The Magdalena #1
Written by Ron Marz with art by Nelson Blake II, Sal Regla and Dave McCaig, cover A by Ryan Sook
Published by Top Cow Productions, April 2010, $3.99

From one female lead to three and The Brave and the Bold #33 - not a book I usually pick up and as such I started reading with little or no expectation of what to expect: I'd hoped to be entertained and have some fun ... and that's exactly what I got - plus plenty more.

This particular 'lost story of yesterday' - Ladies' Night - featured Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Batgirl - Barbara Gordon's Batgirl no less - coming together for a girls-night out on the town. Led initially by Zatanna the three women put aside their regular 'duties' and head for the nightclub where we see an initially shy, somewhat timid Barbara finally letting her hair down in the company of her friends.

Expecting little more than a light-hearted story - dare I say a 'romp'! - I didn't, on first read at least, pick up on some of the strange behaviour and comments from both Zatanna and Wonder Woman and it was only when the name Oracle started to be bandied about that I realised there was something going on ... and even then I just assumed it was nothing more than a clumsy nod to young Barbara's future: I really should have known better.

I'm not going to say much more about the storyline, as I wouldn't want to lessen the impact of the 'punchline', other than to say I've found my mind wandering back to this story countless times since first read and feeling a curious mix of enjoyment, sadness and regret.

Superbly written by JMS - of course - with some delightful interior art from Chiang - who I've not always been a huge fan of but in this book, for me, he's found the right combination of 'light-hearted' without being too 'cartooney'. The cover, by Jesus Saiz, is also particularly eye catching - another candidate for a great looking poster I think.

Very much a bitter-sweet tale - if you wouldn't usually read The Brave and the Bold but have even just a passing interest in the three central characters I heartily recommended picking up this book.

The Brave and the Bold #33
Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Cliff Chiang and cover by Jesus Saiz
Published by DC Comics, June 2010, $2.99