This month’s little batch of books was a little on the disappointing side; pretty good stuff, for the most part, but nothing that blew my doors off.
My favorite of the three — although probably not the best — is The Homeland Directive, a nicely self-contained contemporary thriller set in the “Orwellian present.” This one follows the ordeal of a CDC epidemiologist, Dr. Laura Regan, whose life is turned upside down when her research partner is killed and she realizes she’s the next target. Rescued by a Lone Gunmen-like trio of rogue government agents, Regan becomes a fugitive. The group desperately attempts to uncover who’s trying to kill her, and why. For the most part it’s smartly written, and Mike Huddleston’s artwork is strikingly different: crude but evocative, and the use of color throughout is quite interesting (ranging from black and white, to monotones, to occasional bursts of full color, all artfully done to signify changes of scene). Unfortunately, there are hiccups. As a protagonist, Dr. Regan seriously fails to “protag,” and the ending is a let-down; once the mystery is revealed, the story slams to a halt, as if the writer’s more interested in the plot than in his characters’ participation in it. Worthwhile, but less than perfect.
Better, but somehow less satisfying, was Fatale from the long-time team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. This too is strikingly different, an intriguing crime noir story set in 1950s San Francisco about a mysterious femme fatale, a reporter, a cop, and the occult. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but to me this one just didn’t live up to Sleeper, although I actually prefer the artwork here. Though I was slightly underwhelmed, I think it will strike a chord for others; fans of this team will find plenty to enjoy.
Finally, I checked out the second Avatar: The Last Airbender comic, The Promise Part 2. I’m enjoying this series as light reading, and a fun return to the characters from the original Avatar cartoon. This volume felt like an improvement over the first, thanks largely to an expanded role for my favorite character: Toph!