Fallen Angel #1 (IDW): Peter David’s intriguing DC anti-heroine settles into her new digs at IDW, though the mysterious, menacing city of Bete Noire is still her most significant co-star. I’ve no idea if this first issue would make any sense to a reader who didn’t follow the original DC series. That said, I think it does a nice job explaining prior circumstances while highlighting some interesting new dynamics among the citizens of Bete Noire. Painted art by J.K. Woodward is lovely, but it might almost be too highfalutin for this particular story. I thought the pulpy, almost crude quality that previous illustrators brought to the book served it very well. I’ll certainly stick around to try and get used to it, though, as I’m very eager to see where David takes this story.
Nodame Cantabile Vol. 3 (Del Rey): Tomoko Ninomiya’s manga about music students hits its stride with this volume, telling a longer and more focused story while retaining the quirky, character-driven charms of the previous two. This time around, lecherous Maestro Stresemann has dumped leadership of the quirky S Orchestra into protagonist Chiaki’s hands. The would-be conductor is torn between ambition and impatience as he deals with an ensemble full of talent but decidedly lacking in focus. Can Chiaki pull the group together without cracking under the strain? It’s fun, funny stuff that plays to Ninomiya’s strengths – putting quirky, endearing characters in a room and letting them bounce off of each other in entertaining and unexpected ways.
Owly: Flying Lessons (Top Shelf): I always mean to review Andy Runton’s lovely, heartwarming books when they come out, but I find myself at a loss when I sit down to write. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I find the Owly books so comforting and such pure pleasure that I can’t quite bring myself to examine them too closely. I’d rather just bask in them. This one has all the ingredients of the previous two (wonderful illustrations, lovable characters, and a moving and optimistic story), but it’s even more accomplished, with higher emotional stakes. Runton has built a delightful world here.
Paris #2 (Slave Labor Graphics): Second verse, same as the first. I’ve heard croissants described as “just enough flour to hold the butter together.” That would apply here as well, with Andi Watson creating just enough of a narrative framework for Simon Gane’s ravishing illustrations. I love croissants, and I love Paris.