So, the part where I implied that I was done with graphic novels last month? Not entirely accurate. But let’s do this batch quickly.

Mike Carey’s Lucifer: Inferno and Lucifer: Mansions of the Silence are the fifth and sixth volumes of — surprise — his Lucifer series, and maintain an even quality keel with the previous four volumes, so go back and look at what I said about those. (Capsule summary: Really great, go buy them.)

Joss Whedon’s Tales of the Vampires is, as with his earlier Tales of the Slayers, a collection of short stories written by various people. As with that earlier book, the quality of the stories ranges from basically okay to pretty good. If you’re a Buffy fan and someone hands this to you, you might as well read it, but it’s not worth going out of your way to read.

Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days gets classed as “too early to tell.” The premise of the book is that an accident with a mysterious object has given a guy control over machinery, making him the world’s first (and, apparently, only) superhero. As the book starts, he’s already given up the superhero business and used his tough-guy celebrity to go into politics as the mayor of New York. This is very much a contemporary book, with references to Gov. Schwarzenegger and the like; it also has a heavy 9/11 theme, which makes sense since our protagonist was the mayor in 2001. This first volume mostly feels like setup, and therefore isn’t particularly compelling; but it is interesting, and if the setup starts to pay off in later volumes, could be very good

Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call is one of the few graphic novels that I’ve nearly quit reading halfway through. Much of the book takes place in the ghetto, and the dialogue is written in a phonetic dialect that varies between highly annoying and damn near unreadable. Add to this sloppy art, sleazy characters, and loose plotting, and the result isn’t especially great. Worse yet, the concept behind the book is lame: We start off with some loser who’s been unfairly screwed-over, and then this mysterious guy comes in and gives them a gun and 100 “untraceable bullets” with which they can take their justice/revenge, and then see what the loser does. This is one of those things that probably sounds cool to a rebellious high school student, but is kinda lame. Why 100 bullets? In both the story arcs in this book, no more than a half dozen would have been needed. And why the focus on “untraceable bullets”? Is it really going to matter how traceable the bullets are if you’re witnessed shooting someone down? Is tracing bullets back to their purchaser the main way murders are solved these days? The concept is flimsy, and the execution is worse. Avoid.

Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country: Operation: Broken Ground and Queen and Country: Operation: Morningstar are spy books. I wouldn’t have expected to like these much, as spy stuff isn’t a genre that I’m particularly fond of, but they’re good, with a nice mix of character stuff, bureaucratic politics, and field action. I’ve got future volumes ordered.

Bill Willingham’s Fables: Animal Farm, Fables: Storybook Love, and Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers follow up to the first volume of his Fables series, which I logged last month. My reaction to the first was that it was good but not great; I’m sticking with that here. These are enjoyable books with some interesting conceits competently executed, but they’re never more than that. Worth reading, if you’re looking for fantasy graphic novels, but not something I’m going to push on people.


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