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The Best Comics in November Part 1: Alice Cooper and Haunted Gotham

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Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review.

Tooth and Claw #1 Kurt Busiek's newest epic from Image comics had the potential to be one of the greatest fantasy books of all time. Though I'd still say that nothing can top Saga at the moment for sheer sprawling wonder, Tooth and Claw is a very close second.

It follows a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, each species segregated into castes. For instance, the Buffalo people are bottom feeding nomadic near slaves, while Eagles and Dogs live on high in floating cities. It's an amazing world that's beautifully rendered, but it is also dying as magic fades.

The answer from one wizard is to reach back through time and try to draw from antiquity a champion to open the gates of magic once more. It's like the Manhattan Project of sorcery, with even more tragic results. The giant-sized first issue is nearly a tale all on its own, and more than worth the cover price to check Busiek's strange and glorious vision.

Rating: 9 of 10

ODY-C #1 Matt Fraction is already well-known for thinking outside the box, and it's one of the things that makes his run on Hawkeye so endlessly enjoyable. This time, though, outside the box doesn't even begin to cover it. There is no box. The very concept of box has been eradicated from time and space. If Mark Z. Danielewski ever dabbles in the comic medium, this is the book he will be trying to live up to.

In simplest terms and most convenient definitions this is Fraction's take on Homer's Odyssey, which is of course one of the oldest and most understood epics in human history. However, Fraction's version re-imagines the Greek pantheon of gods as cosmos-spanning beings cursed with a variety of sexual oddities. The first page alone is actually a fold put poster taller than a kindergartner that lays out the whole stellar history in minute and bizarre detail.

Then you get into the story proper. It's hard to follow, I'm not going to lie. It reads like beat poetry shoved into an issue of Heavy Metal, but as lost as you feel in the pages there's no doubt that you are wondering among one of the great pieces of weird science fiction of the decade.

Rating: 8 of 10

Alice Cooper #1 I am a junkie for rock star comics, which is odd because they are terrible. Utterly terrible. I've picked up every KISS comic I could ever get my hands on and without fail they are unreadable garbage. Sadly, they are usually the best of the lot....

Except for Alice Fucking Cooper.

Cooper alone has really made a name for himself in comic books. it doesn't hurt that he often has talent like Neil Gaiman to work with, and now he's got Joe Harris writing his latest series.

It's no Last Temptation, sadly, but it does manage to miss harping on the self-indulgence of so many other rock books. Cooper exists both as a rock star and the secret lord of nightmares, but he has spent several years trapped by a demonic record executive that used him to snare current pop stars. Luckily, a boy band who idolizes the old monster and a young boy who picks up a vintage record help to free him and set the stage for his return.

It's quite silly, really, and Harris is borrowing rather heavily from Gaiman's own first Sandman story arc in crafting the book. Still, as far as rock comics goes Cooper is still the best, and this current series is worth of inclusion in his already excellent collection.

Rating: 7 of 10

This story continues on the next page.

Gotham by Midnight #1 I keep saying that we don't need anymore Batman spin-offs, and I keep getting proved wrong. Gotham by Midnight is definitely something you should be reading.

Ray Fawkes has assembled a group of Gothamites under the guidance of The Spectre in his Jim Corrigan guise to investigate supernatural goings on in the city as a sort of dark ops. Their work is clandestine to the max, with even Batman turning over cases to them when it involves things outside his knowledge.

Ben Templesmith is behind the art, and it's every bit as gruesome and dark as you would imagine. The old city we know so well gets a new side, and stories that turn out to be truly chilling. I honestly haven't been filled with a sense of such wonderful dread since Witch Doctor.

Rating: 7 of 10.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17 It was never supposed to succeed in the first place, and I'm just as bummed as humanly possible that Superior Foes is coming to a close. It was always to be expected, of course, but for a year and a half we've had the single greatest look at what it means to be an also-ran, punching bag in the Marvel universe.

How it all ends is really kind of academic. A few folks die, some get screwed, a few get happy endings, and all in all very few valuable lessons are learned because that's what happens when psychopaths put on costumes and rob banks with boomerangs. Plot was never the point in the book in the first place. Just a way to keep the madness in liquid form.

In fact, the whole ending is a joke on the ultimate pointlessness of it all. Fred Myers as Boomerang ends up relating the whole thing in a bar to the one guy that will either totally understand or is seriously about to beat him into a pulp. it's one more bad decision in a life full of them, but Myers simply wouldn't have it any other way. Superior Foes has been the best exploration of costume villainy ever written in comics, and it went out just as it came in; inexplicably. Pour one out for the Rogue's Gallery B-Team.

Rating: 8 of 10.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!

Jef has a new story, a tale of mad robot nurses and a man of miracles called "Sleepers, Wake!" available now. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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