It’s been a hectic week at the store, getting ready for our big ol’ 35th Anniversary celebration. The boss put a lot of money into getting the building repainted and the store looks almost brand new. We’ve got a local comics publisher coming in on Saturday to do a meet and greet. I’ve got copies of my first book on hand to sign for anyone masochistic enough to want one.
But the books still came in as usual, and I have opinions, as usual.
Avengers # 5:
Okay, I’m getting the feeling that this book just isn’t for me. The storyline seems typically Avenger-y and all, but the artwork just doesn’t do it for me, and I feel like my sensibilities are better suited with Bendis’ New Avengers or over at Avengers Academy. I feel like Bendis is trying to write in a manner consistent with the old Avengers tone, but he just isn’t pulling it off. I think this title would be better under the direction of someone like Dan Slott or Mark Waid. I’m basing that entirely off of what I’ve seen on their other work, so maybe I’m just pining, but I’m not sure.
Fantastic Four # 583:
Jon Hickman has been doing some really good FF work. He’s easily the best fit for the title since Waid and Ringo left a few years ago. His proto-philosophical scientific jargon and interwoven narrative patterns fit the book like a Kirby-drawn glove. His work thus far has been building to this issue and I can say with ease that this could be the defining FF run of the decade. Also, Doom. It’s easy to get Doom wrong and Hickman seems to be giving us a Doom that we’ve been clamoring for. Can’t wait to see how this all pans out.
Justice League – Generation Lost # 10
I feel like this series is way too decompressed. Every time I see the solicits and I fail to see “final issue” I wonder how long they can drag it out. It seems until they cross paths with every last entity in the DCU. Seriously. It’s not a horrible book. I like the ideas behind the story, I just don’t care for the obvious filler. It’s like Dragonball Z’s Namek saga. It just goes on and on and on, obviously leading to something, but by the time the climax comes, we’ll all be numb and immune to it’s effectiveness.
Power Girl # 16:
At least this time, we don’t get shoehorned into Generation Lost at random. We see that there is an endgame in place for the events that happen to Power Girl’s civilian life and the interpersonal drama feels organic and appropriate. Winnick seems to handle the characters in a way where everything seems like a seamless transition from where they were previously. There hasn’t been a dynamic tone shift in character portrayal the way I expected. He’s writing a very consistent book, fumbled only by the occasional intrusion by the Generation Lost plots.
Shadowland Moon Knight # 2:
I’m getting fatigued by the whole Shadowland thing, admittedly, but this has been a good mini-series and I’m really digging it. Chicken-Khonshu aside. I still can’t get over how much that guy looks like a giant chicken. The reveal at the end of the issue was pretty telegraphed, but I still enjoyed the issue. I really do want to see how they resolve all this in the next issue.
Thor # 615
The long awaited arrival of Matt Fraction on Thor begins with his typical flair for dialogue setting up what looks to be an important status-quo changing event for Asgard. The whole time Asgard has been on Earth nobody bothered to ask the question of what happened to the space that Asgard once occupied. Fraction seems to want to answer that question with a battle between mystical creatures that will offer some good therapeutic violence for Thor and his brethren following the Siege of Asgard.
Fraction seems to have a handle on Thor’s psyche the way he did with Tony Stark’s and he definitely has a way of setting the stage for things to come. The first issue does take some time to get rolling, but Fraction has a handle on how to work a slow burn when it comes to working a narrative and whatever he has planned will most definitely be interesting, if he holds true to his usual calibre of writing.
Uncanny X-Men # 528
It looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot of intrigue when it comes to Emma and Namor. I didn’t think Namor was going to be sticking around here due to his own series starting up, but it looks like he’s going to be a major part of the things to come.
Emma is dealing with her issues with Sebastian Shaw, who I suspect will stick around for a while to raise his profile to coincide with the release of the new X-Men First Class film. Kitty Pryde finally gets some real face time besides being shown in her little bubble, which is fine by me because I love Kitty almost as much as I love Dazzler, WHO IS ALSO IN THIS ISSUE.
So, yeah, good book.
And that’s it for this week. Need to prepare for the sale at work. Where’s my name badge?
Ben Affleck isn’t what everybody had made him into following the disaster that was Gigli. Sure he’d been in some pretty bad movies, but he’s always been a talented actor and back when he made Gone Baby Gone, it reminded everyone that he had some real credibility when it came to filmmaking. The guy won an Academy Award for writing with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting and that wasn’t a fluke. His work on The Town proves that he does have a solid eye for putting together a good film.
In a way, The Town is like a less obtrusive companion piece to The Departed. Where Scorcese played to his image and rode the tropes that made him a powerhouse in the crime genre, Affleck paints a rougher and less refined portrait of Boston crime. The Town is a film that borrows from many great films before it, most notably from Michael Mann’s Heat, as you can see an easy influence of his heist and shootout style imprinted on Affleck’s gang of crooks, but at the same time, he never apes the style in a way that makes it seem like a carbon copy or a ripoff.
Affleck is smart enough to know that it’s the characters that make movies like this work. Well staged heist sequences alone aren’t going to make the film stand out. So here we get Affleck turning in his best acting work in ten years while Jeremy Renner revels in playing a character that in the seventies would have gone to a young Joe Pesci. He’s a violent hot-head with no sense of conscience. He has his own moral code, but societal values mean nothing to him and Renner plays it with a level of authenticity that will earn him more than a fair share of accolades to pile on top of his praise for The Hurt Locker. Jon Hamm does a good job with what he’s given, though he really doesn’t get enough time to develop into a well rounded character. We don’t really see what motivates him to be the kind of cop that he plays, but this isn’t his story, so it’s not that big a gripe. Blake Lively scores some major points for pulling off the trashy ex-girlfriend character and it’s obvious she’s trying to distance herself from Gossip Girl here, but she’s also a victim of not enough screen time syndrome.
All in all, this is still one of the best fims of the year. I imagine it’s really the first great movie of the fall season, and we’ll see how the rest of the Oscar bait stacks up in the coming weeks.
Part of my daily routine here at the blog is deleting spam comments. I get a ton of them. But this one is funny to me because it looks like someone genuinly tried to put up a statement that resembled a compliment except for the fact that it looks like it belongs on Engrish.Com.
Just thought I’d share.
Can You Guess Why?
I wasn’t kidding when I said that school was going to interrupt my working on this site. I didn’t get to do the reviews last week because I was working on another paper. Priorities are making this a bitch to write, so the reviews are going to be a little shorter than usual. Also, the format is going to get a little change. I’m going to review EVERYTHING I possibly can, but they’ll be shorter reviews. Basically I’m trying to cover more ground by hitting the major points as directly as possible. If nobody likes the changes, I’ll switch back, but I think this is better for everybody.
Let’s attempt this, shall we?
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 643
I’m still washing the bad taste of OMIT out of my mouth. It seems like the book is back on the right track, but once again, the issue feels a little light. I feel like if I had paid a full 3.99 for this issue I would be a little disappointed because this was probably the quickest read of the week.
BATMAN BEYOND # 4
We find out who Hush is in this issue. And once again, I feel like the reveal was a bit of a cop out. I won’t tell you who it is, I’ll just say that it fits with everything I’ve come to expect both from the Hush character and the Batman Beyond universe. From what I’ve seen so far with this miniseries, I don’t expect myself to pick up the ongoing when it hits stands.
BIRDS OF PREY # 5:
Gail Simone kicks off a new arc on Birds of Prey picking up where she left off last month with Babara trying to make things right with Creote and Savant, and Dinah flying off to China with the White Canary. The issue has Simone’s usual flair for dialogue and the storyline is progressing in a way that seems interesting, with the action having a good amount of organic flow to it, but the artwork leaves something to be desired this time around. It seems like the very definition of “Fill In,” with sketchy line work that seems a bit rushed and doesn’t convey the same amount of detail that there was in the debut arc of the new volume. It’s not horrible, it’s just distracting.
DEADPOOL # 27:
This book is becoming so middle of the road that it frightens me. I think they’re trying to keep the tone at a certain level so that the upcoming MAX title seems to have an edge over the regular 616 version. That’s not to say that the book isn’t worth a read. It’s fun and light. It’s basically worth reading if you want something that makes you laugh while you read it and not much else.
HACK/SLASH : MY FIRST MANIAC # 4
Hack/Slash is pretty consistent. This issue hits all the marks that the series should and I’m primed and pumped for the relaunch under the Image banner. I think having the ongoing back will make up for the flaws of the miniseries, which feels almost too small compared to the overarching continuity of the regular series.
THUNDERBOLTS # 148:
I don’t know why they decided to work this title into the Shadowland crossover. I mean, yeah, Luke Cage is in it, but beyond that it doesn’t seem to fit. I thought the crossover with Avengers Academy made more sense. The issue itself isn’t really bad, especially in the moments that have nothing to do with Shadowland. Anything dealing with the Thunderbolts in the prison setting, where Crossbones and the rest of the team really get a chance to shine are some great moments indeed. It’s only when Luke Cage shows up and reminds us that since he’s involved the Thunderbolts have to be involved as well. Sadly, once the action does move into Shadowland territory it seems to fall apart. It’s all a matter of abrupt change that doesn’t seem to really do much for the story we’ve had thus far.
X-23 # 1:
This one sort of comes off as a New X-Men reunion. It picks up on a lot of threads that have been gestating since the end of that particular series. The characters have been in use since then but it seems like this is the first time in a while since anybody did anything with them that advanced what had been set up before. X-23 was really the only one who had any sort of character development since then, and that’s because she had some time in X-Force to deal with her issues.
Now, with her own ongoing series, she should be able to continue to develop, and it looks like the New X-Men cast will be her supporting cast here. Which is definitely a good thing considering that I loved that series and I still get a little mad that its gone sometimes. The story itself seems to be starting off by tossing Laura into a situation that’s more personal than the usual do-or-die situations she’s been dealing with in X-Force. Hopefully this can grow into a good series with a little time.
It was a pretty small week this week. With the one book I didn’t read being the sixth volume of Empowered which is a perennial favorite of mine. Because, c’mon, bondage. Anyhow, next week might be a bigger one, so we’ll see how things pan out. Later!
I’ve been doing this blog for 9 months now. If this were a baby, it’s gestation period would be up and it’d be slowly draining my bank account and keeping me awake at night by now. I didn’t set out for this to be a comedy blog, nor did I set out for it to be a serious one. But I did hope to gain some sort of recognition for the effort I’ve put into this site. Since starting the site I’ve had my reviews quoted at Comic Book Resources and my opinions have seen publication in Wizard magazine’s Shop Talk feature.
Early last week I was interviewed by Examiner.com about the recent changes to Superman and Wonder Woman and today the article went live over on that site. So basically, this is all just a big roundabout way of saying that you should listen to my opinions because someone other than myself thinks they’re valid. So, there you go.
Anyhow, go READ THE ARTICLE so that my ego can continue to grow.
People ask me why I buy certain series. For example, I picked up Freedom Fighters # 1 despite the fact that I was very vocal about how much I disliked the previous two mini-series by the same creative team. I think for this particular book it came down to three things:
1. I trust Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. They constantly hammer out great stuff and their misfires are the anomolies.
2. Phantom Lady’s Cleavage.
3. I needed review material for the dead days following Labor Day holiday.
As I told Palmiotti on Twitter earlier this morning, I disliked the previous two mini-series but this one connected better in my opinion. I stated that the main cause of that is probably that it doesn’t have ties to any event book. The first mini-series from the team spun out of Battle for Bludhaven, a book that was not that great in its own right. This one doesn’t seem to have ties to anything in the larger scheme, it’s not a Brightest Day crossover at least as far as I can tell. It’s just a superhero book that wants to do its own thing.
A few sites have complained that there is too much jammed into the issue. That the flow doesn’t feel right and that it’s compacted. I disagree completely. For 2.99, I feel this is one of the best comics for your money that DC has published in a while. Just because a book doesn’t fall into the post-Bendis decompression phenomenon doesn’t mean that it’s crammed. I think we as a fanbase have grown content with padded books that don’t live up to what can be done with the storytelling medium. Here we get a fight with superpowered neo-nazis, an asteroid threatening to destroy the earth, an alien parasite destroying a town, and a government conspiracy about the foundations of the US. None of it feels obtrusive however, because it serves to reintroduce the characters in a manner that shows that they’ve been active in the DC universe even if they weren’t getting much stage time.
I think of Freedom Fighters as sort of like a more easily accessible Doom Patrol. All of these people have something they are struggling with internally, whether it’s the Human Bomb whose troubles are pretty apparent or Black Condor who has serious emotional baggage in regards to his native American heritage, there is that internal strife that makes for intriguing characters. Unlike the Doom Patrol however, you don’t feel sorry for these characters for having to put up with an asswipe like Niles Caulder. While Uncle Sam is a hardcase, he’s no self-serving jerk. He has the weight of the nation on his shoulders, literally as his power is connected to the soul of the country, but he doesn’t come off as completely unlikeable and that’s why I really like the book; I like the characters. They’re relateable and interesting. They may not be the biggest names in the business but they’re not complete throwaways. Jimmy and Justin do a good job of infusing them with life, which I hope will sustain the title long enough to get some good stories. Unfortunately DC doesn’t seem to be pushing the book very hard, which is a shame. Then again, they don’t push Jonah Hex very hard either and that doesn’t affect its fanbase much at all. I hope the same will be able to be said for Freedom Fighters.
I’ve been a big fan of Robert Rodriguez for a long time. He’s essentially the guy who made me want to make movies. I went through an independant film director phase before I got more heavily into writing and photography and it was guys like him who had me convinced I could do it. El Mariachi is the gold standard in low budget independent films for me. It proved that you could make a genre movie with a handful of cash and enough people willing to help you out along the way. I directed a few short films and one feature length movie. Nothing to write home about, but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. And I have to imagine that Robert had that same kind of fun when making Machete, because it sure as hell feels like he had a blast making it.
Machete is of course the full length version of the faux-trailer that Rodriguez put before Planet Terror, his section of the double-feature Grindhouse, which I’m still waiting for a full uncut DVD or (preferably) BluRay of in the near future. It focuses on a illegal Mexican day laborer set up in an assassination attempt gone wrong on an anti-immigration senator (played by Robert DeNiro, who is clearly having the time of his life chewing some scenery).
But Machete is no normal Mexican immigrant, oh no, he’s an ex-federale who lost everything when he attempted to take down, and I’m not making this up, Mexican Druglord Torrez played by Steven mothereffing Seagal. While DeNiro chews scenery with reckless abandon, Seagal has his own little buffet which he devours at his leisure. His accent, his demeanor, every last bit of it is like a glistening ham that the audience can’t get enough of, because he’s just plain great.
But the performances are just window dressing, really. This movie is about the action. There is no holding back here. It’s wet and juicy red stuff splattering every wall possible and while some of it was obviously CGI’d in post production, Rodriguez knows better than to go completely digital when he’s got Tom Savini on the set. Best not to try and pull that kind of BS with one of the masters of practical FX sitting a few feet away. And so squib hits and blood splatter with resounding effectiveness and some of the more outlandish violence serves to give Machete a very distinct feel. While it’s not trying to be the faux-grindhouse experience that Rodriguez went for with Planet Terror, it is most definitely a callback to exploitation action films in a way that not many other films are willing to touch. A lot of those exploitation movies dealt with serious issues in a not-so-serious way. Drugs, urban decay, etc. was all fodder for these sort of films back in the seventies and early eighties. With Machete, we get the action set against the backdrop of the immigration debate. And while the film doesn’t make a statement about immigration in any real way, because I doubt anyone would take it seriously if it did, the film does manage to feel more authentic than some of the other low-budget new-wave exploitation films.
Of course the film has its flaws, but the fact of the matter is that they mostly work toward the films favor. There are some abrupt moments that come from some choppy editing, but considering that this is a movie where a guy goes around killing people with knives for 75% of the movie, I don’t think they were going for any sort of technical awards. The movie seems to win over the audience, and with something like Machete that’s the test that needs to be passed.
And so I leave you with the recomendation to go see the damn movie and this picture of me with Danny “Machete” Trejo back in 2008. (I’ve lost a lot of weight since then, yeesh)
Man, this week has been hectic. I had to write a 2,000 word short-story for my creative writing class in addition to a two page essay on the importance of studying history as it relates to current events all on the first week of the semester. And then new comic book day rolls around and bombards me with a friggin’ huge stack of books, all of which are the ones that I eagerly anticipate every month. (Secret Six and Jonah Hex, yo.) So I’m not sure what kind of creative mojo I have left for the reviews but an attempt will be made anyhow.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOYS #46 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #36 LAST GLEAMING PT 1 (OF 5) 2.99
CHOKER #4 (OF 6) (MR) 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #20 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULKS #612 3.99
IZOMBIE #5 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX #59 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #10 3.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #3 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV 4.99
SCARLET #2 3.95
SECRET SIX #25 2.99
SHADOWLAND #3 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND ELEKTRA #1 SL 3.99
STUMPTOWN #4 (OF 4) (RES) (MR) 3.99
VERONICA #202 2.99
WOLVERINE #1 3.99
X-MEN CURSE OF MUTANTS SMOKE AND BLOOD #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #4 2.99
So, yeah, lots of good stuff. Let’s get started, shall we?
It’s been months since the last issue of BTVS hit shelves. So long in fact that I cannot remember for the life of me what the hell was going on in the series at the time. I remember Spike came back and Angel was boffing Buffy again. But that’s really about it. I understand why they went on hiatus, but it really caused me to lose interest in the series while it was away. With its return this issue, we get a sort of hazy explaination for Angel’s motives as Twilight and Spike makes with the witty banter for a few panels, but not much else happens. It’s probably the quickest issue of any comic book I’ve read in quite some time, which is saying something considering I still read Archie books on occaision and that sort of light-hearted fluff still takes longer to digest than this particular issue.
I will say that the book’s final page did surprise me, although it probably shouldn’t have. It’s sort of a “pandering to the fans” move that comics like this one pull on a regular basis, that having been said, I’m interested to see where Joss goes with it. I’m still a Buffy fan at heart and no matter how blah the book has been over the last few months it’s still got the nostalgia bump going for it that forces me to see past the major flaws and enjoy it for all its worth. I don’t know how much mileage anyone else would get out of the book, but I doubt there are many people out there who aren’t already die-hard fans picking up the book on a casual basis. This book is for the people who stuck with the show to the end and then some.
We get a title change this issue, and a major tone shift from the events of World War Hulks. In the first of two stories, a gamma-family barbeque goes haywire when Betty and Bruce get into a little disagreement over their relationship as it relates to the whole “Betty Was Dead” thing and it escalates, as it always does, into a super-powered fight between Hulk and Red Shulkie.
I think what sets this book apart from Loeb’s Hulk book is that if the same scenes were tackled in the other book, the character development which is handled so masterfully here would have been lost in the manic insanity of the action. Hulk reads like a cartoon show while Pak’s reads more like a melodramatic stage play. I’m not going to call this issue high-art, as it doesn’t come close to matching issue #609, which I think might have been one of the best issues of Hulk I’ve ever read. But it still works on multiple levels because of the way the interactions feel so genuine. I really look forward to seeing how the multiple Hulks come to terms with each other.
In the second story, we catch up with the other Son of Hulk, who I admittedly have not been following and thus didn’t really understand where everything was coming from. They did their best to catch me up but I still felt a bit lost and I think that more people will enjoy the second story if they followed that character from the beginning, which I admittedly did not. I really didn’t care. I might have to find some Son of Hulk trades and get myself up to speed, because the mythology seemed interesting, I just wish I could have grasped it a little better.
Even if this weren’t a pretty good issue, it would be essential reading just so people could understand where the hell Elektra comes from when she shows up out of the blue in Shadowland # 3. I get the feeling that Shadowland might have a bit of Infinite Crisis syndrome when collected in trade unless they do it omnibus style and present all the side-stories in the collection in chronological order.
This one fills in some important gaps in the timeline while at the same time giving a damn interesting glimpse into Elektra’s mind and her feelings about Matt’s turn to the dark side, especially as it pertains to the death of Bullseye. As you can imagine, Elektra has some pretty raging emotions when it comes to that particular psycho, and the scene where she witnesses his death on a big screen in the heart of the city with the rest of the natives is particularly well written.
I am really enjoying Shadowland, but I think that in order to fully enjoy it you have to immerse yourselves in the tie-ins, and that’s something not a lot of people can do. It’s part of my complaint about Marvel’s business strategy. I know it makes them money, but in the long run they are going to burn folks out if this continues in such a fashion.
People have been talking about this one for a while now and I think it’s kind of funny. There’s nothing here that could possible offend anybody and yet neo-con right wingers are using it as an example of how the liberals are infecting children’s entertainment and trying to brainwash children to homosexuality and blah blah blah.
The fact that in this book the new gay character who Veronica lusts after is a well-adjusted healthy young man is admirable. His parents don’t in any way give him the side-eye, nobody bats an eye when he admits his sexual orientation, and there is not a hint of judgment. It’s a subtle message that tolerance should be the immediate reaction, and in that I have to applaud Archie comics for what it’s done here. Nevermind the fact that the issue is actually pretty freaking hilarious, with Jughead trying to keep Veronica from finding out the truth and thus driving her insane. There are some great gags here and I think it’s admirable that Archie can still be worth reading after all these years.
I wasn’t going to buy this one. I was going to pass it by and not look back. I read Wolverine in like eighteen other books and quite frankly I don’t really have much interest in him anymore. But then I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Weapon X and how Jason Aaron has never really written anything I didn’t like, and so I threw it on the stack anyway.
I’m glad I did because he once again manages to knock it out of the park. I think that for the longest time most people didn’t know what made a decent solo Wolverine story. They simply tried to ape the parts of stories that they themselves liked when the first became enamored with the character and it never quite worked. Aaron is able to create something that builds off of Wolverine’s over-arching history while at the same time feeling fresh and modern. The amazingly beautiful art by Renato Guedes only serves to better bring the action to life. I’ve loved Guedes since I discovered his art on Supergirl and think he’s one of the most talented artists working right now. The level of detail he gives is astounding and here he sort of reminds me of Steve McNiven, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me.
Either way this looks like it’ll be a series to keep on the pull list. I don’t see this one taking a downward turn anytime soon. If it’s anything like Weapon X was, it’ll only get better with each subsequent arc.
And that’s it for this week. If you take away anything from these reviews its that you should probably be buying more Archie comics. Seriously. That stuff is a gold mine.