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Comic Proportions

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The holidays may be over but the comic book industry is still suffering from a "holiday hangover." If you buy comics on a regular basis, you probably know that shipping schedules have been off for the last few weeks, pushing delivery dates from the normal Wednesday to Friday. As a result, my review schedule is off. So, this week, instead of the regular reviews, I'll provide some quick "snapshots" of comics I've recently checked out.

Action Comics No. 860 (DC Comics): No one seems to be checkin' for this comic. I don't see many comic magazines or Web sites covering what writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are doing in the pages of Action Comics, but everyone should be talking about it because it's damn good stuff. Johns has crafted an engrossing thriller of a storyline that expands on Supes' mythology, and Frank is cranking out some flashy-but-solid pencil work. Pick it up.

Hulk No. 1 (Marvel Comics): The art in this relaunch -- by Ed McGuiness -- is amazing; it's bright, crisp and cartoony without looking silly. The writing, on the other hand, ain't too impressive. The story seems throwaway ... especially coming on the heels of the status-changing World War Hulk miniseries. I'll probably pick up a few more issues just to see how everything shakes out.

Thunderbolts No. 118 (Marvel Comics): If this book had come out more last year, I would have put it on my list of "Best Comics of 2007." At any rate, writer Warren Ellis and artist Mike Deodato have crafted the first Thunderbolts published in 2008, and it's a doozy. The current story arc is unfolding slowly, but Ellis' entertaining dialogue and ultra-violent scenarios -- and Deodato's damn-near photographic pencils -- make it worth sticking around.

Potter's Field No. 2 and 3 (Boom Studios): Writer Mark Waid wraps up the first Potter's Field miniseries with these last two issues, and he's done a fine job. To a certain degree, Waid has shown with this three-issue detective series that writers don't always need six or more issues to tell a story. He packed a ton of story and background info in that trio of books. And he's set the stage for many more Potter's Field comics to come.

Legion of Super-Heroes No. 37 (DC Comics): Have you heard that writer Jim Shooter is back on Legion of Super-Heroes? Shooter originally wrote for the book back in the 1960s when he was only a teenager and hasn't done any regular comic book work in almost a decade -- so this issue marks a hell of a comeback. And the story, while not groundbreaking, is quite entertaining. Shooter has really captured the personalities of these kids who've chosen to carry the burdens of the universe. Some folks just don't like the Legion, and this comic won't do much to change their minds. But it's a fast-paced, energetic read with a ton of action, subplots and engaging human interactions.

The Twelve No. 1 (Marvel Comics): This book, created and written by J. Michael Straczynski, has been heavily promoted by Marvel Comics for months. Now that the book is finally out, the first of this 12-issue series doesn't exactly live up to the hype. Don't get me wrong: The story is engaging, and the art is detailed and attractive, but the high concept behind the book is nothing we haven't seen before. I won't write off this comic, though; Straczynski is no slouch in the writing department and may have a lot of good stuff planned. We'll see.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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