Thursday, 28 August 2014

All-Star Western featuring Jonah Hex #34 review

He's had a fine run, pre and post-New 52, but this issue the curtain falls for Jonah Hex as All-Star Western is cancelled. Launched with Batman links in a bid to widen the audience, ASW has also seen Jonah spend time in the 21st century, but he's been back home in the 19th for a while - that's where he works best, and that's certainly where I want him as he leaves us for now. 

This issue sees Jonah and partner Tallulah Black head for a small town where someone is impersonating Jonah, classic scars and all, trading on his reputation to take over with his gang. It's safe to say Jonah and Tallulah deal with things the way they usually do, with lots of bullets and no bull. 

By the end of the book Jonah and Tallulah are off in an unexpected new direction, one I hope is followed up on soon. For now, we have a sharp, satisfying tale by writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Darwyn Cooke that cleverly leaves the future open. I won't say any more because despite the writers playing extremely fair, I never saw it coming, and you'll enjoy discovering it for yourself. 

I will say that the predictable last-issue re-scarring of Jonah - his face was restored during his trip to the future - doesn't come, and I couldn't be happier. I'm sure it'll happen eventually, but just this once, Jonah gets a happy ending.

Cooke's interiors are a delight. The first scene, with Jonah and Tallulah enjoying a morning dip, is open and optimistic, the town moments crowded and depressing. There's real personality in the faces of the players, short, effective bursts of action and a perfect final page. And I like the signage nods to previous artists, which are fun without being too distracting. Great colours, too, from Dave Stewart, a master of lighting a scene, and letters from the reliable Rob Leigh. And thanks, also, to editors Harvey Richards and Brian Cunningham, for steering the ship. Sorry, stagecoach. Then again ... 

I'd say this is a great issue to go out on, but Jonah Hex stories have maintained this quality for years now, with Gray and Palmiotti writing consistently excellent instalments and a battery of fine artists drawing up a storm. If you've never tried the Western bounty hunter's stories, grab a trade, or just this issue. You won't regret it. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Superman #34 review

The Ulysses story continues with the new hero being introduced to his birth parents, the Quinns, who sent him off to another dimension because the world was ending, then, two minutes later, found it wasn't. Oops. Bit of a parenting fail there.

But Ulysses is an understanding fella, and he had a nice upbringing on the Great World with alien adoptive parents. There he gained the enmity of bad guy Klerik (Kenit?), who followed him back to Earth, and was defeated with Superman's help. So everything's good now, and Ulysses - Neil to his parents - can get to know the folks.

His mother, Mrs Quinn, asks Superman to help him adjust to Earth (translation: persuade him to cut that ridiculous lank hair).

Later, a sleeping, half-naked Superman wakes to find Ulysses at the end of his bed, watching him. Rather than toss the super-stalker out on his ear, Superman listens to Ulysses' explanation that he doesn't sleep, likely because he has so much energy in his body that resting isn't necessary. Which, of course, means he doesn't dream - that's never good, in comics it tends to drive people maaaaad, but Superman doesn't raise the point.

Rather than let Clark have his kip, Ulysses takes him off to trace the source of the robots that attacked Metropolis earlier. The trail takes them to the Scrap Yard - where off-cuts of war machines are left out in the open for would-be conquerors to steal and use in their upcycling projects.

A  'mind-tick' attaches itself to Ulysses, sparking a brief battle with Superman. Soon Ulysses is down, the bug removed and sanity restored. That's when the man behind the creation, and Metropolis' recent troubles, makes his entrance, 

The Machinist is a metal-masked figure, but he's less Dr Doom than Dr Bong, his hoodie making him look singularly unthreatening. His confidence and demeanour, though, make him imposing - change the look and we may have something here. He tosses his robo-wolves at the good guys and they're dispatched as quickly as you'd expect. Then he unleashes a cloud of mind-ticks on Superman, but a recovered - and mind-ticked-off - Ulysses isn't having it, and he blasts the Machinist ... unleashing a killing blow.

Oh dear, Ulysses is one of those guys. A hero willing to too easily cross the line. That's him dead before the year is out.

After last issue's thoroughly decent issue, this was a bit of a disappointment. I liked the scene between Superman and Mrs Quinn, and the Machinist quickly grew on me, but really missed the Daily Planet staff. Having given us some good scenes with Lois, Perry and co in his first two issues, writer Geoff Johns doesn't use them at all here. Instead, Superman gets to interact mainly with Ulysses, who here adds 'creepy' to his existing character portfolio of  'naive' and 'dumb'. And I recoil at his every appearance, he looks so stupid. It's 2014 DC, do you know where your stylist is?

Good on Johns for having Mrs Quinn tell Superman that most people trust him, in contrast to what we've seen in the last couple of years, and I like the emphasis on the power of hope. And Neil's bed at the Quinn's home is just perfect.

There is one bit of subplottery, as the mystery person watching Superman from afar continues to watch him. We now see that he's not been talking to himself, but to a second mystery person behind a Ruddy Big Door. I wonder if that's the prison Darkseid's Daughter was being held in, in the pages of the much-missed Vibe title.

John Romita Jr's art is a tad pedestrian for most of the issue, and my eyes were continually drawn to the odd noses. Things improve massively once we reach the Scrap Yard, and Romita, inker Klaus Janson and colourist Laura Martin start firing on all cylinders. Suddenly there's mood, pace and power to spare.

The cover doesn't work: the Machinist's head is too big - I took it for a wall on the first several looks - while the Superman figure just looks weird. The horrible New 52 costume remains the biggest problem, but Romita needs to give Superman less leg, more bum. Plus, Ulysses. Just ... Ulysses.

There's no obvious conclusion date for the Ulysses storyline, though I expect the close will see him sacrificed to some extradimensional incursion, a panel or two of sad Superman, then regular visits to the Quinns until they're forgotten about. It's funny, growing up I loved the many Superboy stories in which he gained a super-friend, then they died, but Ulysses just isn't hitting my sweet spot. Annoying in personality and looks, he can't go soon enough. Is it a coincidence my spellcheck wants to replace 'Ulysses' with 'useless'?

Let's keep the Machinist, though. And if that means the hoodie stays, fine.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Supergirl #34 review

When is a SuperDoom crossover not a SuperDoom crossover? When it's a superb issue of Supergirl written by Tony Bedard. 

I wasn't too hopeful going into this issue. Just look at that cover. It's well drawn by Cameron Stewart and lushly coloured by Nathan Fairbairn, to be sure, but check out poor, sad Kara - if this were the Sixties, a mob of family and friends would be stoning her, saying 'get off this planet, Super-Loser!' Look at that title: On a Lonely Planet. 

Look inside and it's a different story. Here we have a pretty-much self-contained tale which sees Kara getting to know her new home planet, and rather liking what she finds. Falling to Earth due to the green Kryptonite poisoning unleashed in the Superman titles, the unconscious supergirl is found by a young wheelchair user. Michael nurses her back to health, keeping her out of sight of the authorities, whom he's pretty sure would persecute her due to her relationship with Superman. 

Supergirl learns why Michael is so concerned for her - having seen her fighting the Worldkillers in Washington, he knows she's a good person. It turns out that his parents are missing amid the Doomsday shenanigans so Kara, despite the continued risk of K-metal poisoning, flies out to look for them. Along the way she helps the rescue services find victims, get them to hospital. They're initially suspicious - or at least a tad wary – of her but Supergirl insists she's there to help, and they realise what an asset she is. 

There's a happy ending as Kara finds Michael's parents and gets them to hospital, and a happier one as Kara admits she likes this guy and gives him a kiss. And decides she'd rather like another – but it's the end of the issue, so cue cliffhanger. Think Cyborg Interruptus. 

Tony Bedard gets everything right this issue. Tasked with crossing this book over with the interminable, patchy SuperDoom crossover, he chooses to skirt around the edges; the story is recapped, the green K cloud is a factor and Kara's rescues take place while Wonder Woman is fighting Lois Lane, but that's about it. She's kept well away from the gathering of heroes that's been trying to protect the Earth over in the Superman titles, allowing room for her own story, for character growth. 

Kara has met a a guy she liked, and he likes her right back! Awhile ago, there were the beginnings of romance with Silver Banshee Siobhan's brother, but he was written out. Which is fine by me, he was connected to demons and I'd rather Kara were with a more regular guy. And that's what Michael is - a big-hearted fella who isn't bitter about what he lost in a car smash, who'd rather concentrate on the gifts he still has - life, and the future he makes for himself. Without ramming it down our throat, Bedard gives Kara something to think on, and she's receptive, having last issue realised that yeah, she's had an awful  time, but how she reacts to the cards life has dealt is up to her. And like Michael, she's choosing to move forward. 

Bedard also gets major points for having Kara make an effort to be accepted by the emergency crews - the early New 52 version would have steamrolled past, shown them up while helping people, but now Supergirl wants to be just a member of their team. Thank you Red Lanterns!

I also like that in Michael he has a regular person who agrees with readers who think the authorities' mistrust of the Super Family is over the top. 

Regular artist Emanuela Lapuccino isn't around this month but filling in we have Karl Moline - remember him from Joss Whedon's Fray? - and he's perfect for this low-key issue. He's great at telling little expressions and body language, meaning it's easy to believe Kara and Michael are quickly connecting. He draws Kara's hair a little longer, and messier, than have previous artists and it's a look I like, it makes Kara look a warmer person. Partnered with inker Jose Marzan Jr, Moline gives an effective jagged energy to the SuperDoom recaps. Also worthy of mention are the final pages, in which the mental energy of New Yorkers is stolen by Brainiac - they're nicely drawn, but really brought to life by the colours of Hi-Fi. 

What else is there to say but, I'm terribly sorry to hear - only a day after an encouraging interview about his plans for this book - that Tony Bedard is leaving. He's been the best Supergirl writer since Sterling Gates and I can't understand what DC is thinking here. This issue is further proof that he's the writer Kara needs, the one who can make her the inspirational heroine she should be. I wish returning writer Mike Johnson and new co-writer Kate Perkins the very best, and I may well love their work, but dang, this book is terrific under Bedard. 

Ah well, one more Bedard issue to go. It's a Futures End tie-in with the ruddy Cyborg Superman, but I bet he makes even that sing. 

Multiversity #1 review

A few years ago DC published Final Crisis. This comic tells the story of the one after that. It mirrors the original Crisis on Infinite Earths by having heroes from parallel universes gathered in a Monitor satellite to be told by Harbinger that Something Awful is Coming. 

It differs in that the writer behind this comic - the prologue to a six-issue look at some of DC's alternate Earths - is Grant Morrison. So where COIE was densely plotted but pretty straightforward, this is trippy from the start. Big ideas are tossed out scattershot style and it's far too soon to say which will prove throwaway and which vital to the series. 

So, we have Nix, the Last Monitor from the Final Crisis crossover, summoned to Earth-7 where an Australian hero named Thunderer is in big trouble. Nix urges him to leave in his own dimension-spanning craft to get help, while he remains behind to face a terrifying, yet stupid-looking, world destroyer. Thunderer winds up in the Monitors' satellite, along with President Superman of Earh-23, Captain Carrot, Dino-Cop and dozens of other strangely familiar, and attractively novel, heroes. After hearing the message from a holographic Harbinger, a few of them set off on a factfinding mission in Nix's living music craft, the Ultima Thule, passing through the Bleed, the extra - or is it, inter? - dimensional spacecraft that allows them to see all 52 parallel worlds. They land on one of them, Earth-8 (they were hoping to reach Thunderer's planet) where there's a new batch of weirdness to face.  

Which is quite enough recap - it ain't easy!

Concepts in this issue feel as if they're newly born from the forehead of Morrison, but of course, such things as parallel worlds vibrating on different frequencies, and comic books that fictionalise real events from sister Earths, go back to the early Sixties, the dawn of DC's Silver Age. Morrison mixes them with his own concepts, such as supergods and under-realities, to make one very out-there, complex comic. 

The opening pages with the by-now expected brand of Morrisonian metafiction and studied weirdness, tried my patience - all surreal entities spouting dramatically enigmatic words and claiming that we readers are part of the story - but when the heroic counterparts and coolest Captain Carrot ever showed up, I began having a whale of a time. 

won't be surprised if the end of this event frustrates me as did Morrison's Final Crisis, but the upcoming issues focusing on particular Earths look very promising. And I love Dinocop, and the return of Lady Quark and Lord Volt, and the JLA Babies, and President Superman's Brainiac belt, and Nix's most surprising sidekick, and ...

And visually, this issue looks amazing, with former Aquaman artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado drawing up a storm, and Nei Ruffino colouring beyond the call of duty. The characters look splendid, the backgrounds amazing, the action immense. There's also fine work from letterer Todd Klein, whose facility with fonts assigns different voice 'signatures' to individuals, without giving the reader migraine. 

There is a bit of a visual disconnect towards the end as the explorer heroes hit the Marvel-style Earth 8, with scenes of Fantastic Four and Dr Doom analogues not meshing with scenes of the Not-Avengers nearby - I thought we were flipping between two worlds for a second there. 

But overall, I enjoyed this opener. It's big, it's splashy, it's daft - and we're only required to follow a handful of issues to get the story. It's also a callback to the old DC, before someone decided that multiversal adventures were off the table. Maybe Grant Morrison is right, and we readers are choosing the adventure? In which case, we chose well. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Batman #34 review

After the long look back at Gotham that was Zero Year, this issue catches the book up to the events of DC's weekly Batman Eternal series while introducing a new madman to the mythos. 

The Meek is wandering Gotham, murdering the patients of Dr Leslie Thompkins, not because of her link to Batman but because he disagrees with her belief that all life has dignity. 

Or something. As comic book killer motives go, it's a little opaque. I suppose if you're out to murder pretty much at random, a GP's patient register is as good a guide as any. And given what we learn about his 'career', it seems The Meek is more about quantity than quality. 

Regular writer Scott Snyder co-plots this issue with new-to-DC Gerry Duggan as a prelude to the latter's upcoming Arkham Manor series. And on the basis of Duggan's script, I'm in. Events are crystal clear, the script terse, and tense. And he writes a brilliant Harvey Bullock. 

Matteo Scalera's layouts are as thoughtful as they're enticing. His Gotham is haunted, a place of the dead. Standout pages include the Batman Eternal primer and the chilling final image, while a single panel of the Batmobile zooming away from Wayne Manor is a gem, with the colours of Leigh Loughridge making a big contribution to the mood throughout. Steve Wands' lettering is as excellent as ever, and Scalera's cover with colourist Moreno Dinisio perfectly sets the tone for the issue. 

With next month being a Future's End entry, and Snyder and regular artistic partner Greg Capullo set to start their next big storyline after that, it seems The Meek's tale will be picked up in the aforementioned Arkham Manor. I can't wait. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman #11 review

Last week we had three chapters of Superman Doomed, two of them giant-sized. It was all too much, I couldn't face reviewing them. A week later, there's a single chapter and things seem more manageable.  

We're pretty much where we've been for the last several chapters - most of the people of Earth are in a Brainiac-induced sleep and being psionically sucked dry. The remaining free heroes of Earth are based on Lex Luthor's new JLA satellite - confusingly called The Bunker - and formulating plans. The difference is that Superman has finally thrown off the Doomsday virus, he's himself again.  

The cliffhanger from the end of the last chapter - Mongul and Non escaping the Phantom Zone and about to ravage Earth - is quickly tossed aside. Realising there's a Brainiac plot on the go, they retreat back inside the ghostly world. 

The incident pretty much sums up this ongoing - and ongoing and ongoing - crossover in the Superman titles ... big threats quickly removed to be succeeded by more big threats and no plausible prospect of everything wrapping up. The Mongul/Non none-event is perhaps the most blatant bit of cliffhanger fodder yet. The rest of the issue is yet more scenes of heroes explaining previous chapters and Brainiac drones being bashed about. Superman works out that the alien 'Collector' is draining the Earth folk bit by bit and he hasn't got long to prevent their deaths. This drives Wonder Woman to the Phantom Zone and Superman to ... well, if you've been following this story, you can probably guess. 

Oh dear, wake me up when it's over. The promising Pak/Kuder Action Comics run has been utterly derailed by the overstuffed pudding of a storyline, while this series has simply lost its focus. There's a panel, maybe two, in which writer Charles Soule directly addresses the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, but otherwise this chapter could be slotted into any of the titles.  

My favourite moment doesn't feature either of the title characters, it's Cyborg making a last stand against some non-specific Brainiac thingies. It's rare for Vic to get a decent spotlight that shows why he's JLA-worthy, but here it is. 

I'm not familiar with artist Thony Silas, but I like his open, angular style. Mind, if he's going to draw Batman with trunks, he could at least give Superman his red shorts back. 

Two more chapters and we're done, according to the blurb at the end of this issue, and thank goodness for that. I don't know if it's the DC higher-ups, or Superman Group Editor Eddie Berganza, who keeps commissioning unwieldy crossovers such as Superman Doomed and the two H'el storylines, but the habit needs to be knocked on the head. Let the Superman titles go their own way, with occasional linked characters and plots, but no more half-year 'events' that try to be epic, but mainly try patience. 

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #10 review

The creatures of myth are on the loose and Mystery Incorporated are in the thick of it. Given that they're visiting Paradise Island, it's not so unexpected; what is weird is that the monsters are appearing, attacking ... then vanishing as if they'd never been. 

The opening instalment of this two-part "digital second' story ended with a Cyclops about to turn the gang, Wonder Woman and her Amazon sisters into pancakes. The conclusion opens with the giant heading for a fall before the mystery deepens. In short order the villain of the piece - a Golden Age baddie rarely seen since - is revealed and order is restored, but not before we've had plenty of great gags and good-natured action. 

Traditionalist Wonder Woman fans such as myself will be delighted by the revelation of the puppet master, as well as the nod to Diana's best pal and the inclusion of Kangas, not least old favourite Jumpa. 

The Hippolyta here isn't the decidedly dodgy figure of New 52 continuity, it's the wise Silver and Bronze Age version (OK, Diana's mom wasn't perfect, but she didn't lead a nation of murderapists). Diana's sister Nubia is on hand too, but it's Wonder Woman who really shines, leading the fightback against the dastardly foe. 

The members of Mystery Inc, likewise, are on fine form, with Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and, of course, Scooby all contributing to the solution of the mystery. 

Writer Sholly Fisch weaves an amusing plot around one of the best-known bits of Wonder Woman lore, Aphrodite's law that no man should set foot on Paradise Island. Given his knowledge of Diana's history, and obvious knack for using it as a jumping-off point for a fast-moving, fun tale, let's hope Fisch is tapped to contribute a few stories to the upcoming Sensation Comics digital first title. 

Daria Brizuela is a terrific draftsman, producing page after page of spot-on Scooby-Doo art and fitting Diana into that world with ease. Franco Riesco's sunshine colours make the pages glow, while Saido Temofonte's unobtrusive letters mean it's easy to forget we're not watching a first-rate TV cartoon. 

If you're yet to try Scooby-Doo Team-Up, this instalment and last makes for a great taster, showing the deceptive ease with which a top creative team can produce a smart, fast-moving, funny TV spin-off. 


Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #1 review

After more than 50 years, Wonder Woman returns to Sensation Comics - and this time it's digital!  

Writer Gail Simone and artist Ethan Van Sciver have Oracle summon Wonder Woman to Gotham after Batman's villains put the city's heroes out of action. And courtesy of Amazon armourer Io, Diana has some new tricks. 

I've heard some carping about the debut edition of Diana's new series being Gotham-set, but if a bit of Batmannery gets extra eyes on a a new Wonder Woman book, I'm all for it. Plus, an opening narration by Barbara Gordon, telephonist-cum-coordinator of the DC Universe, allows for contrasts to be made with other DC heroes. And so what if Diana isn't facing her own villains, this is a two-week deal, Cheetah and co will be along soon enough. 

Me, I'm just delighted to see the version of Wonder Woman jettisoned by the New 52 continuity revamp back for another adventure. This is a Wonder Woman I recognise, as much human as god, with well-defined relationships to the wider DCU. Simone and Van Sciver give us fast-moving, good-looking action alongside the novelty of Diana and the likes of Two-Face and Mr Freeze getting to know one another. 

And of course, with Simone we're never far from a great line or two. 

I'm actually surprised by how much of a kick I got from the mere mention of Io, the Paradise Island blacksmith with a crush on Diana from Greg Rucka's run of a decade ago. It's also great to see Barbara Gordon back as Oracle, and in a weird new control room that positions her as a cyber version of Marvel's Madame Web. 

Van Sciver's art, coloured by Hi-Fi's Brian Miller, is a treat; their Wonder Woman is as strong and beautiful as expected, while their Bat-villains are an unexpected delight - Man-Bat especially. The only regular Gotham baddie - well, sometimes baddie - not present is Catwoman, but we do see a few kitties around, so maybe next week ...

All in all, a fun start to Sensation Comics. We're promised different creative teams and approaches for as long as this series lasts - I hope it's a long while.  

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Grayson #2 review

Lor luv a duck, it's those bloomin' Yanks, writing about dear old Blighty again ...

Oh all right, the dialogue's not too bad in this England-set issue, as Agent 37 - better known as Dick Grayson - decides the best way to blend in with the Leicestershire locals is to use his stunning facility with accents.

Given that the rest of this issue is as camp as Christmas, there's every chance writers Tim Seeley and Tom King are taking the Michael. This is a comic in which Batman has been battling motorbike baddies Choker, Puncher and Drowner - the Cycles of Violence. This is a comic in which Matron Helena Bertinelli tells her teenage charges that the way to master the crossbow is to use their curves.

This is DC's version of the Avengers, with Helena as Purdey and Dick as Steed. Or something. It's hard to say.

I can say that the main storyline sees our agents tasked with tracking down a 'biomech digestive processor - an enhanced stomach'.  This leads them to a sleepy, sheepy town and some very unpleasant business involving agents from other shady DCU groups. 

The stomach somehow links to last issue's human bomb plot, and another holdover sees Midnighter developing an obsession with learning the identity of Agent 37 after Dick took him down. Intriguingly, he's on a sabbatical from the Authority and working with an elderly lady from an organisation named God's Garden.

Mind, I did a mental double take when Midnighter's ability to anticipate a foe's fight moves is suddenly exaggerated

Perhaps he's just being dramatic.

Spyral's the Hood seemingly doesn't know the difference between 'slacking off' and 'slagging off'. Then again, he's not feeling too well.

Things rattle along nicely, with mystery, action and characterisation nicely balanced, and some fine bits of Dick humour. 

The slight problem I have with this issue is the pacing. Dick and Helena separate in the village of Farmington, then we jump ahead three hours to find Dick in the midst of an attack. Had the Midnighter scene appeared in between, it wouldn't feel so weird. As it is, we get the action sequence, then Dick narrating what led up to the fight, then a bit more fighty fighty..

Guillermo Ortego and Juan Castro are credited alongside Mikel Janin as artists and I'm darned if I can't see the join. Add in the colours of Jeromy Cox and the book looks great from start to finish, with the close-ups of Dick and Helena especially impressive. Midnighter's new advisor, the Gardener, looks terrific too, it's unusual for comic artists to capture the beauty of a healthy older person, but Janin (and co?) do so here. Janin is certainly solo - lines and colours - on the cover, producing an image stunning enough for a Seventies movie poster.

Quibbles and oddities aside, I'm really enjoying this series, it's a different flavour for the DC Universe. And ain't that the truth, guv?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Wake #10 review

Last issue ended with the two story strands of this series drawn together, as 23rd-century woman Leeward met the 21st century's Lee Archer. Was the latter a ghost? A hologram? Somehow still alive after 200 years?

This issue we get answers, lots of them, as writer Scott Snyder and artist Sean Murphy bring their aquatic adventure to a close. I won't ruin the revelations - what The Wake is, for example - safe to say they're mindbending, and fit the wild sci-fi adventure we've been following this past year. Answers aren't definitive, but the theories of Dr Archer make sense, and there's a nice close to her emotional arc.

Snyder and Murphy's visual narrative is, once more, a treat, with loads going on in terms of character and setting. The words intrigue, the pictures fascinate - The Wake's genre-mixing carnival of ideas is something I'll be revisiting often over the years. And I bet I'll always find something new - a script subtlety I'd missed, or a clever visual nugget. 

Colourist Matt Hollingsworth and letterer Jared K Fletcher have also been along for the entire ride, and deserve credit for The Wake's steady pleasures, along with editors Sara Miller, Mark Doyle and cover artist Andrew Robinson,

The ending offers scope for more from this world Snyder and Murphy have so satisfyingly built, but if there isn't a sequel, fine - these ten issues will stand alone as a fine collected edition, just as they've been a superb monthly read.