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The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 9/24/9

No news. Books of Magic, more Books of Magic, new Wonder Woman, and not so old Hack/Slash.

No news. Books of Magic, more Books of Magic, new Wonder Woman, and not so old Hack/Slash.

Employee’s Pick

Books of Magic 45

[DC] Books of Magic Vol. 2 #45-50
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Artists: Peter Gross (layouts, issues 45-50; finishes, issues 45, 49 & 50), Temujin (finishes, issues 46-49), Richard Case (finishes, issue 48)

Rieber’s run ends with the five part Slave of Heavens, erroneously labeled a six-parter on the first issue and not corrected until the final cover simply read “Conclusion.” Angels and demons are fighting over Earth, Tim’s dad is getting married, and Tim is finally Tim again. Hunter makes his triumphant return to boyhood, sans magical powers, while Molly is quietly written out. Just when we seemed to be going back to what I liked about this series in the first place, Rieber leaves and his pet character turns out not to be a favorite of the new writer.

Not that I’m missing Rieber terribly right now. Slave of Heavens is the best arc since Tim got tattooed, up until the ending. Then it all feels like a waste of time. Tim reminds you again and again that he’s not a hero, that even in his right mind he’s not a very good person. Early on, he seemed like that sort of character, someone who’d do the right thing and fight for what he believed in. He was always somewhat frustrating, but he came through when it was important. Then, for around twenty issues, he had an excuse for being awful. Now? Now, he’s an average teenager. Without his magic, there’s nothing exceptional about him. He’s neither evil nor good, and makes no special effort to qualify for either label. Mostly, he does whatever’s convenient. Deal with the devil? Sure, that couldn’t backfire. Make a real effort to win back Molly now that you’re physically able to try? Too much trouble, best to leave her be.

The most glaring is how he “throws away his magic,” and genuinely believes that he’s not a magician anymore. Like he can quit just like that, and oh, too bad about not having magic when his loved ones are in mortal peril. Wouldn’t want to go out of your way to help them, just do what a normal boy can and hope it all works out. Nevermind that normal boys can’t see Heaven and Hell at war on Earth, nor do factions from each side take an interest in just anyone. You’re through with magic and that’s that. Everyone else will have to realize it eventually and leave you to what passes for a life.

He almost sorta kinda figures it out in issue 50, but it takes another character explaining it to him for any real progress. If this were an ongoing series I bought monthly, I think I’d drop it now. If I’d spent more and meant for it to happen, I’d be upset that I own these fifty issues twice over, in periodical and trade paperback form. I wish it were something else, but you can’t get bargains on everything. Next, Peter Gross moves into the writer’s chair, and I learn whether this lot was worth buying. Will I find a new reason to care about Tim Hunter? Will I be able to half-argue that he’s an earlier, superior version of Harry Potter? These stories might be more mature, but I’m not so sure I prefer them anymore.

New-Type Books

Wonder Woman 35

[DC] Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #35
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti

Toys, ramen, and fighting. Lots of fighting. Issues like this make me think I’d be OK with anything Simone wanted to do. Alkyone becomes the lead character? Sure! Tons of fun. Diana gets turned into an angsty teenager and Donna keeps calling her “Wonder Girl” while gigglesnorting uncontrollably? Brilliant! That old weakness where Wondy loses her powers when she’s tied up resurfaces and every story becomes an excuse to cater to bondage fetishists? I’m sure it’ll work! Somehow.

Maybe Wonder Woman not being an Amazon isn’t as extreme as any of that, but it sure is a strange thought. And yet… All I see is great writing. Diana dealing with adversity, refusing to let it diminish her. Awesome dramatic moments and powerful women kicking ass. Ares’ “death” remains a mystery, and we haven’t truly addressed the new status quo yet. There are still many dangling subplots, some of which are conveniently advanced in this seemingly random sidestory. But damn, that is some good Canary. You should get some of this Canary, it’s really good. Best Canary in town. I hope we see more of her. Diana needs friends now more than she has in some time. Of course, friendship works both ways, and some of her friends aren’t happy with her at the moment.

Hack/Slash 20

[Devil’s Due] Hack/Slash #20
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Kevin Mellon, Tim Seeley (Lovebunny & Mr. Hell)

Cassie Hack wants to retire. That never works in these stories. You either die, or you go on fighting monsters forever. If she ever gets her happy ending, the series will end. That could happen – this isn’t a multi-million dollar franchise – but for now it’s a tease. Friendly monster Vlad and Cassie’s probably doomed girlfriend Margaret sit down to discuss Cassie’s future, which figures to involve one or the other much more depending on whether she retires. All Vlad knows is killing, and Cassie’s apparently the closest he’s had to a friend.

Samhain quitens the crowd

There’s also the aftermath of last issue’s big fight, and Cassie gets herself jailed, then kidnapped by the Society of the Black Lamp. Some sort of slasher cult, I guess. Pretty dense issue, plotwise, though it’s not particularly heavy on dialogue. Like last issue, there’s some unsettling stuff here, as you’d expect from a comic about a slasher killer. Kinda like an R-Rated Buffy. There are also laugh out loud moments, mostly with Vlad and Pooch, and the characters are far above the slasher standard. I’m not sure I can handle all the disturbing imagery, but I’m tempted to try so I can see whether these people eke out any happiness in a world where demons and hulking brutes with knives seem to lurk around every corner.

Back Issues

Books of Magic Annual 1

[DC] Books of Magic Annual #1
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Artist: Mark Buckingham

A standalone tale about some jilted girlfriend of Tim’s birth father, Tamlin. She wants revenge for a dubious offense, and targets a falcon she believes to be Tamlin. It’s not very clear and has nothing to do with the main plotline. You do get thirty-eight story pages for $4, with exceptional art, so there’s that. Worth reading if you enjoy trivial backstory, or you want to see more of Tamlin. Nice story, in and of itself, though there’s little reason for Tim to be present.


Books of Magic – More bitter than sweet. I’m disillusioned with the whole series now.
Wonder Woman – So. Much. Fun.
Hack/Slash – Grisly in a good way.
Books of Magic Annual – Skippable, but not bad.

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