Jane Irwin's VOGELEIN has a beaut of a premise: a clockwork fairy makes her way through the modern world, with the help of human friends who wind her up. I'd picked up a preview excerpt of the second volume at a con somewhere, and it really worked for me.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't quite hold up to it. It's quiet, sure, but there's a difference between quiet and not enough happening, and Irwin doesn't do a good job distinguishing between the two. The storytelling is too deconstructed; scenes go on for too long, the scene-setting takes more preeminence than the storytelling. Also, the book suffers from noteitis. There are so many footnotes and behind-the-scenes things in the back that it's just eye-rolling, and you really don't care -- you don't really need to know that all the musicians in an Irish session scene are based on real people. And who they are. And what they do for a living. And from whom they learned. Some scenes have a real charm -- there's a bit with a wild fairy taking milk from an offered bowl that's a delightful page -- but the charm eventually wears a bit thin. Maybe the first volume had a little more oomph to it.
Kazu Kibuishi's DAISY KUTTER: THE LAST TRAIN, by contrast, is endlessly delightful. The pictures do most of the storytelling, and the plot is not complex, but the storytelling is terrific, and the art and characters are just charming. Daisy Kutter lives in the New West, which is an awesome place with trains and high noons and robots and single-action revolvers that fire unlimited amounts of ammunition without reloading -- I mean, it's pretty much *my* ideal place, so I'd get the book for the setting alone. (Think steampunk meets spaghetti western, and you've got it.) But there's also a charming and adventurous heroine, and warm character humor, and scenes where people shoot robots with what looks like a seven-foot-long ten-gauge shotgun, and these things are not bad. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes and tribute art in the back, but unlike Irwin, Kibuishi doesn't over-explain it -- most of it passes without commentary -- and so it works. Daisy Kutter is an ex-outlaw whose ex-partner is now a sheriff, and when she gets hired to pull an outlaw job, wackiness ensues. Definitely check it out. There's a little too much violence and spicy language for me to hand it to a kid, but the kid in me loves it anyway.
Rick Veitch's GREYSHIRT: INDIGO SUNSET. And all I have to say is, HOLY CRAP. If you like mystery/detective comics, buy this. If you like superhero/drama comics, buy this. If you like comics books, just go buy it, and thank me later. GREYSHIRT first saw life in Alan Moore's TOMORROW STORIES, which just contained endlessly wonderful and entertaining Eisner-esque adventures. I saw this, got it on a whim, and I don't think I've enjoyed such a stimulating, entertaining, beautifully constructed ride in years. You don't have to know anything about Greyshirt to pick up the trade. In fact, I couldn't think of a better introduction.