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Posts tagged “Batgirl

Weekly Comic Reviews – 8/14/2013

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse CusterIt’s been a hell of a week. Busy is the word I would use to describe it. But no in the “I have things to do” sort of way, more in the “why are so many things happening to me” sort of way. You know, viral infections, dead car battery, relationship drama; the usual. I haven’t had much time to blog it up, but thankfully things have quieted down enough that I can slip in and do some reviews. Not many, because there wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in diving into this week just from a casual glance. As I climb deeper into the rabbit hole of reading weekly books on the regular, I’m sure the number of reviews that pile up each week will expand. That said, what I did read carried some heft, so we’ll dive right in and get right to it.

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BATGIRL # 23
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The new “Batgirl: Wanted” epic begins here, as Commissioner Gordon must track down his son’s murderer—who happens to be his daughter! But has Barbara already given up the Bat?

I stepped away from Batgirl when Gail Simone was ceremoniously booted from the title a short while back. When she reentered the fray I neglected to jump back on board but the storyline here intrigued me enough to pick up last month’s issue as a refresher and threw this one on the stack as well. For those not in the know, Batgirl is on the hook for the death of her brother and that isn’t sitting all too well with their respective father, Commissioner Gordon. Barbara is going through much in her life at this point. She’s beginning to date a reformed criminal who can’t seem to escape his past and trying to reconcile what happened with her brother at the same time. She’s a big ball of emotions and her father is looming over her in more ways than one, needling her about staying safe and afraid of losing another child as well as chasing Batgirl down in a way that even Batman remarks is dangerously close to a vengeful tirade. The rooftop scene between Batman and the Commissioner is excellently written and gives the reader a good idea of what we can expect in terms of character beats from Jim Gordon.

That is really what drives this book and makes it such an interesting work; the character beats. Barbara is heavily conflicted here, and conflict makes for compelling reading. Barbara Gordon, at least as Batgirl, has never come across as a character who really elicits much of a response from me because she reads as cut-and-dry in most respects. I only really started to get a feel for her as a fleshed out human being when she became Oracle. We got to witness her deal with so many different types of adversities while she was in that chair in the clock-tower. Gail Simone has taken that development on the character and given us a new lens to look at Barbara. She feels full. She appears realized. She makes mistakes and deals with the consequences.

All in all, my first reaction is that I should go back and pick up what I missed to fill in the gaps, because I am enjoying what I’m reading. There are a few downsides, mostly having to do with some predictability regarding Barbara’s love interest that are far too telegraphed to be enjoyed fully on my end, but I imagine the narrative beats that will result from certain decisions will translate into some payoff in regard to Barbara’s development later down the line. At least I hope so.

Rating 3 and 1/2 out of 5
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INFINITY (2013) #1
Published: August 14, 2013
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Cover Artist: Adam Kubert
Price: $4.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipate Blockbuster summer event, chaning the way you view the Marvel Universe! • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them. • The world-shattering return of Thanos! • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY

If you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers you may have figured out that his handling of the team is pretty much the anti-Bendis in terms of plot progression, storytelling, and theme. Hickman’s take on the book has been much like Morrison’s deconstruction of the X-Men years back. It is as different from what preceded it as you can get and yet never feels like it isn’t true to what the book should be about. Jonathan Hickman writes the Avengers as a hard intellectual sci-fi yarn, recalling elements from classic Avengers lore like the Kree-Skrull war and Infinity Gauntlet while infusing it with his very distinct creative voice. There is never a time where you are not aware that you are reading a Jonathan Hickman story. Much as Bendis has come to be associated with abundant panels and fast, snappy dialog, the elevated science fiction overtones along with deliberate pacing and neo-modern graphic design stylings clearly indicate a Hickman joint.

Those familiar with his work on the main Avengers title and therefore comfortable with his style and pacing will find Infinity to be a strong book. He takes his time and gives us freedom to enjoy the world-building that he puts on display. We are introduced to an abundance of alien races and evil machinations. We only see the Avengers on panel for perhaps 1/4 of the book’s length. Front and center instead are the actions of our antagonists, razing worlds and infiltrating the highest order of the Inhuman’s stronghold of Attilan in a meticulously plotted cerebral espionage sequence. What I am trying to say is that people who are looking for the whiz-bang pacing of a Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, etc. may find themselves disappointed at the way the first issue plays out. I personally enjoyed it and I will do my best to explain why without sounding like a total idiot.

The first issue played out, for the most part, like an episode of a TV show. The story beats are concise and structured for maximum effect, but it is the final pages of the book, where we see our heroes putting a plan into action and a final page cliffhanger that could easily have been followed with a meme image of Michael from Arrested Development saying “I Have Made A Huge Mistake” where things really clicked for me. You see, those last few pages didn’t feel like part of the narrative of this issue so much as a quick flash of what’s to come, similar to a “Next Week on MARVEL” montage at the end of a TV show. The pacing and the implications make for effective drama, and while Infinity # 1 is definitely a slow burn, it is also very much indicative of a quality mini-series that seeks to tell its story in a very deliberate way.

Simply put, Hickman delivers a standout first issue that couldn’t be further from what I have come to expect from a Marvel event series while at the same time giving me everything I want from a Marvel event series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

COLLID_Cv1_PRINT_3pncuy4wjo_COLLIDER (AKA FBP: FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS) # 1
Written by:  Simon Oliver
Art by:  Robbi Rodriguez
Cover by: Nathan Fox
U.S. Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Jul 31 2013

It started small: temporary gravity failures, time reversal loops, entropy reversals. With much fanfare a new government agency was formed with a mandate “to prevent and protect.” Its official title: The Federal Bureau of Physics. Humans, if nothing else, adapt to the changing parameters of their existence. What was extraordinary soon became ordinary, a part of people’s daily lives. They move on and do what people have always done: survive. But even that new status quo is now under threat. Things are getting worse, and it falls to Special Agent Adam Hardy and his FBP team to figure out what’s going on, before it’s too late… 

I know I’m late to the party on this one but following all the hubbub surrounding the abrupt title change (Beginning with issue 2, Collider will be renamed to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) I decided to throw this one on the reading pile and give it a go. Writer Simon Oliver has done work previously for Vertigo on Hellblazer and The Exterminators and while I may have read his work before I cannot remember if I formulated an opinion so I am going into this 100% blind.

Collider feels like a Vertigo book. It takes a premise and runs with it. There is mystery and the promise of expanded world building and solid character work along the way with artwork that, were it on a mainstream book, would be decried for not fitting the mold. As it stands, it is a fine book. The premise, that the foundation of universally accepted laws of physics are starting to crumble and the fallout surrounding that hornet’s nest, is one worth delving into. It hooks you and keeps you there until the end. I’ve read comments about the book being boring but I had no such qualm with the book. But then again, I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and that book was admittedly a chore to get through sometimes.

For regular devotees of Vertigo content, this will not disappoint. For those who fall more squarely in line with the mainstream, I’m not so sure you’ll enjoy this one. It has all of the hallmarks that most people mock “indy” comics for; strange yet alluring artwork, strange premise, heightened dialog… you get the idea.

I don’t want to write much about it because I feel people will enjoy it more if they just go in blind. It’s sometimes the best way to enjoy a work of art and I’ll wager that this is the sort of book that benefits heavily from a clean frame of mind. It certainly helped when I read it, as I had zero knowledge of the title when I turned the cover. Whatever you do, just don’t dismiss it outright. Give it a chance.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

It’s been a while since I’ve done any weekly comic reviews, but with day-and-date digital becoming more common it’s easier for me to do timely reviews for you folks. I hope to keep a regular schedule when I can, with new reviews available every Thursday. I would have kept to that schedule this week but I was involved in an auto accident and have been dealing with the fallout from that little debacle.

Anyhow, here’s some reviews!

BATGIRL # 1

Here’s one I was looking forward to. Gail Simone has hardly ever steered me wrong. Just about every book she’s written I’ve given golden reviews to because she knows how to balance character, plot, and wit with equal measure to the betterment of any book she’s placed on. She’s one of the biggest talents that DC has and it’s nice that she’s getting one of the most high-profile books of the relaunch to play with as her own.

The book begins with a mystery villain called “The Mirror” assaulting a man who he believes cheated death when he escaped a sinking boat where the rest of the souls aboard perished. He then proceeds to rectify this problem by drowning the man with a water hose. I don’t want to make any Final Destination jokes because I only vaguely remember watching the third one one night on Showtime when I couldn’t sleep and therefore don’t have a whole lot of reference but it does seem like a strikingly similar concept and I would be a bit disappointed in its inclusion if it didn’t tie in well with the idea of the overall plot, being that Barbara Gordon is on the list of people who should have died; an obvious first reference to The Killing Joke that will probably drive a lot of the drama as the series unfolds.

We then are treated to Batgirl doing her thing and taking down a particularly vicious group of serial murderers all the while getting glimpses of Barbara’s mindset in the process. The internal monologue here gives us a good idea of who this Batgirl is in the scheme of the new DCU. I have to admit that a lot of Barbara’s dialogue and internal thought process felt…off. Not particularly wrong but just a bit off base. I’m not going to lie, she has some lines that seemed more in tune with Frank Miller’s DKR Batman than what you would expect with Batgirl, but I’m thinking it may be more of Barbara trying to effect a different persona while on patrol than a struggle to find her voice on the part of Simone.

Compared to last week’s JLA # 1, this is a stellar intro issue. We don’t get many answers as to why Barbara is able to walk again or much in the way of true world building but we get the foundation laid for those things to emerge organically which I find to be far more important. The only problem I found with the book really was that a lot of the dialog felt a bit over-the-top in what seemed like an attempt to feel more like the silver-age comic book writing of the seventies. It felt jarring at some points, especially on the last page where a Gotham cop shouts some dialog that feels like it belongs on the cover of a sixties-era Detective Comics issue. But it’s not enough to dissuade me from finishing out the rest of the arc and perhaps staying on for the long haul.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

GREEN ARROW # 1

Oh boy…

Listen, I’m a fairly big Green Arrow fan. I’ve got a complete run of the title going back to Grell’s run in the eighties. I think he’s one of the best B-list under-the-radar characters that DC had for a while and I appreciated his push to the forefront of the DCU in recent years but lamented the fact that it diluted his character and made him somewhat less interesting as a consequence. I was happy to see him married to Black Canary but saddened by how mediocre that book was aside from some amazing art on the first arc by Cliff Chiang.

This book gives us a reinvention of Green Arrow that I don’t find particularly interesting. They’re touting him as sort of a vigilante Steve Jobs and they’ve given him a personality that falls more closely in line with the Smallville interpretation of the character. I can’t fault them for doing this as that is the version that most of the mainstream identifies with but at the same time for those of us who have been reading Green Arrow for over ten years it’s hard to swallow. It doesn’t feel like Oliver Queen. It may have worked with a new character, but for Green Arrow fans its a disappointment.

The story is nothing to write home about, Ollie is overseas in Paris stalking some low-grade super-villains and it seems mostly written as a way to introduce his methodology and support team which includes his own personal Oracle-who’s-not-Oracle and a pacifist weapons developer. Oliver’s belief system is still intact from previous versions of the character but his attitude has changed. I know that this is an all new continuity but there seems to be almost too much overhaul here. It would have been nice if there were more balance between the old and new on display but as it stands there’s not much to interest already established fans of the character and therein lies one of the problems of the relaunch. They’re hoping to bring in new readers but they’re only going to be replacing the old readers they’re alienating with the changes. I’m not going to be sticking around for this title, for example, despite the fact that I have been on-board for about as long as I’ve been collecting. That should say something.

Overall Rating: 2/5

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL # 1

I fully expected to hate this. I really did. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy this one quite a bit. Is it the “bwaha-ha-ha” style of the original? No, it’s something different. The dynamic here works, though. Also, unlike JLA#1 we get the whole team assembled within the first issue AND thrown into their first mission. It’s not very decompressed the way that some other books have been. It’s got a brisk pace and a lot is established in the very first issue.

Booster Gold leads the team, chosen because he’s a glory hound who can be easily controlled by the UN so that his PR image doesn’t get tarnished, and this immediately sets up some conflict with resident Green Lantern Guy Gardner. In a few panels we get to know everyone’s feelings on each other. It’s a nice quick buildup and helps establish characters that most people might not be familiar with in a short little exchange of dialog. It works. I will admit that there’s not much in the way of explaining the backstories of a lot of these characters. I am willing to bet new readers will be confused as to exactly who Godiva is and what the hell she’s doing on the team, but this is a serialized medium and I’m sure things will be fleshed out as the series progresses.

This one could easily be one of my favorites of the relaunch because it isn’t written in a way that makes it feel decompressed or empty. There is a lot to like in this book. If you want bang for your buck, this is one of the titles I suggest you pick up. Really. Plus it has Batman and you know you need more Batman.

Overall Rating: 4/5

DETECTIVE COMICS # 1

I was hesitant to read this one. Tony Daniel is not high on my list of most-admired Bat-writers. His recent run on Batman was pretty much horrible. I almost dropped it entirely until I realized I’m pathetic and need a complete unbroken run in my boxes because I’m a nerd like that. So it was with reluctance that I picked this one up. Though I did it entirely for review purposes. Because I love you guys.

It’s not a bad book.

There, I said it.

Of course it’s a Joker story, because you have to come out of the box hot and capitalize on what people are expecting and the new DCU needs to establish the Joker as much as it does Batman early on or people will think things are amiss. It’s the sort of well-established formula Joker story we’ve seen before but at the same time it feels well put together and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen in a while. It’s sort of like a forced in-continuity version of Brubaker’s Man Who Laughs with more focus on Batman’s drive to be a good enough detective to anticipate what the Joker can and will do.

We also establish Batman’s relationship with the police. That is to say, he and Gordon are buddies and everyone else wants to shoot him repeatedly. It’s a classic dynamic that I think most Bat-fans will appreciate because it’s what they’re used to and at the same time it feels like an organic part of the idea of Batman. That he works in the shadows and people are immediately distrustful of him. It adds something to the character when he’s working alone and under the radar. How this jibes with there being so many other members of the Batfamily operating at the same time is yet to be seen but at the moment it seems to work just fine.

It’s not the best Batman story ever, but it’s a strong enough effort coming out of the gate that I have to tip my hat to Tony Daniel for upping his game. He really did a good job with this one, which is not something that’s easy to do when so much is riding on a single issue. So, kudos.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

ACTION COMICS # 1

This is the big one. The one that I was anticipating above all others. Grant Morrison back on a Superman book. I was anticipating All Star levels of amazing. I was hoping that finally Superman would be getting the sort of widespread attention he deserved and not for shitty PR stunts like rejecting American citizenship or walking across America like a hobo. I was hoping for a total reinvention of the Superman mythos in a single issue and a literary orgasm.

Was it all that? Not really, but it was still one of the best books to come out of this relaunch. This new young Superman, fresh into the world and looking to make a difference, isn’t what you would expect out of Superman. There’s more edge and attitude to him than you would expect. The way he intimidates criminals, which is something he’s always done but albeit more playfully, makes him seem as if he’s working from Batman’s playbook and so when he transitions back into Clark Kent the shift is so much more immediate and dynamic. It’s a change that I agree with, although seeing as this is sort of a “year one” story for the character I don’t think it will stay forever, it’s too much of a change to be entirely permanent.

We also learn that he’s still friends with Jimmy Olsen but in a shocking turn of events he’s working for a rival newspaper and Lois Lane doesn’t like the idea of Mr. Kent beating her on a scoop. Lois only appears for a few panels here but she’s still the same spunky independent woman that she’s always been and I hope that in coming issues we’ll get more of her because Morrison truly does write her well, even in short snippets.

My favorite element of the issue however was Morrison’s Lex Luthor, seen here working in conjecture with the government to bring down Superman. He’s relaxed and sure of himself with no sign of bluster or bombast. This is the same Lex Luthor that we saw in All Star. The sort of man who would be bemused at the idea of finding himself on death row. A man with a plan. He executes a Goldberg machine style plan to bring down Superman that ends in an amazing final page cliffhanger and I simply cannot wait for the next issue.

Seriously. Buy this book. Or I will hurt you.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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And there you have it. Next week should see more reviews for your reading pleasure. See you then.


Weekly Comic Reviews

Yesterday I bought a statue. Yeah. I didn’t have a whole lot of comics this week to put my money into so I bought that Bowen designed Kitty Pryde with Lockheed statue. It’s amazing. Okay, well, I didn’t BUY it as much as make a down payment because the thing is expensive as hell. But it’s a twelve inch statue so I should have expected the damned price to be up there in the multiple digits. I’m rambling again. This happens usually whenI know there’s not much in the way of substance to put into the review section. Check out the pull list and guess why.

ARRIVALS 12-08-2010
BATGIRL #16 2.99
HALCYON #2 2.99
LADY MECHANIKA #1  2.99
NEW AVENGERS #7 3.99
SHADOWLAND AFTER FALL #1 3.99
THOR #618 3.99
THOR MIGHTY AVENGER #7 2.99
WIDOWMAKER #1 (OF 4) 3.99

Yeah, a whopping eight books total. You can thank the light week for the reviews being on time at least, I suppose that counts for something.

HALCYON # 2

I’m really glad I picked this up. This book is a perfect example of the world that exists due to a series of books having been published over time. Specifically this is the child that Watchmen, Wildcats, The Authority, and The Ultimates spawned. As an Image title, we expect a certain tone and attitude from the book, and it’s there in place but at the same time it seems to be making a statement on the way modern comics work. The story of malice being erased and thus making the superheroes obsolete runs parallel to the current feeling that perhaps the overwhelming negativity and bleak cynicism of the modern comic reader is making them obsolete as well. The book seems to be working out in a way that champions the idea of things running their course in due time. It’s a thesis that warns that if things don’t change, nature will erase their usefulness.

It’s good to see Image is publishing so many great titles again. Image more than any company has re-invented itself in the last few years. With Invincible, Chew, The Walking Dead, as well as new titles like this one and Morning Glories, they’ve proved that there is an audience for books that don’t fit the mold that Marvel and DC seem to have poured by pushing writers like Bendis and Johns to the forefront. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those writers, it can’t be argued that they don’t write for the masses in a way that makes the overall product seem diluted and repetitive.

Halcyon, along with the rest of the Image books I’m addicted to at the moment, do a great job of breaking from the norm and that is where their true value lies.

LADY MECHANIKA # 1

Aspen Comics have a certain tone in the same way that Image books do. There is a pattern that is followed in the style that tries to echo that of the late Michael Turner. The artists seem to subscribe to his school of thought in the way they design and push the product. Michael Turner was a nice guy who I was lucky enough to meet before his untimely passing and it pains me to speak ill of the departed but I was never a fan of his style when it came to interior artwork. I love his covers, and always will. It’s the same with Alex Ross in that regard. But the Turner style doesn’t do anything for me as far as interior storytelling. There’s shades of his work here in Lady Mechanika but at the same time it’s not a carbon copy. While I find that the style is all too familiar, as is the steampunk setting, the book itself is interesting and does a good job of giving us interesting characters that feel developed enough to care about, which is a problem a lot of books can’t seem to overcome.

I can say that steampunk fans will immediately love this book, as far as anybody else, that remains to be seen. I think fans of Warren Ellis would enjoy the backwards retro-science sensibilities of the story and I think fans of Turner would appreciate the style and tone. The uninitiated could go either way. It’s $2.99, so you could do worse for your dollar. That much is certain.

NEW AVENGERS # 7

This issue is nothing but talking but all of that is okay because Squirrel Girl is in this issue. So is D-Man. Seriously, for that alone you ought to pick this one up. I can’t really go into more detail than that because I’m still fanboy-ing out over the Squirrel Girl thing. Bendis basically implied that she and Wolverine did the horizontal mambo, so he’s my hero at the moment.

Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.

WIDOWMAKER # 1

While I’m sad to see Hawkeye and Black Canary Mockingbird go, at least they’re getting a proper sendoff in what seems to be one of the more intriguing miniseries of the last few months. Someone is killing off spies in the Marvel universe and so Hawkeye, Mockingbird, her team of espionage masters and the Black Widow must team up to stop it all before it’s too late. The premise is simple but the manner that the action is handled makes it a step above what it might have been under lesser writers. The fact that they’re dealing with the Ronin identity that Hawkeye took up for a while makes me happy, as I was wondering what the hell they were going to be doing with that following Barton’s return to his original mantle.

New readers should be able to follow the action easily, it’s not so entrenched in any particular character’s lore to the point where you can’t pick up the plot threads. Everything seems to be handled organically within the story in a way that makes it seem like the first issue of a new ongoing series. They know they have to inform new readers but they don’t spend time bombarding you with unnecessary exposition. That sort of thing kills momentum and its better to just go with the flow in instances such as these.

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And that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my words.


Fine, I Give In! Here’s Some Bondage…

There, Happy Now?

So yeah, I didn’t want to have to resort to this, but you leave me no choice. It’s the gratuitous superheroine bondage update! That should nudge the traffic numbers to where I want them.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Man, this week has been intense. I’ve been working on some major renovations inside the store, trying to make room for all the cool new shipments of figures and statues and assorted awesomeness that’s set to be hitting the shelves within the next month or so, which has left my body sore and weak from the labor. I’m not sure if you know this, but comic books in bulk start to get heavy. Especially hardcover collections. I swear it felt like moving baby cows on my shoulder at some points. But it all was worth it for how great the new setups look and the fact that this week’s new books are pretty much the pinnacle of awesome.

ARRIVALS 6-9-2010
ASTONISHING X-MEN XENOGENESIS #2 (OF 5) 3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #1 HA 3.99
BATGIRL #11 2.99
BATMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
BOOSTER GOLD #33 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #606 HA 3.99
CHRONICLES OF CONAN TP VOL 19 DEATHMARK  17.99
DAREDEVIL #507 2.99
DOOM PATROL WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE TP 14.99
HACK SLASH MY FIRST MANIAC #1 (OF 4) CVR A (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #27 HA 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
NEMESIS #2 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
PREDATORS #1 (OF 4) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #8 (MR) 3.99
SECRET SIX #22 2.99
SHIELD #2 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #3 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #11 3.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #525 XSC 2.99
YOUNG ALLIES #1 HA 3.99

And as always, I will tell you why you should buy things.


AVENGERS ACADEMY # 1

Wasn’t initially going to get this one, but Christos Gage is one of those writers who has a tendency to churn out some amazing stuff out of concepts I initially hesitated on. He’s a solid writer who is well on his way to getting the name recognition he deserves. With Avengers Academy, he may have found that project.

If there is one flaw with the book it’s simply that, by nature, it’s sort of the black sheep of the Avengers family. The “heavy hitters” in the book as far as star power goes are Hank Pym, Justice and a newly reformed Speedball. Gage plays with this by saying that we’ll get some big names as “guest instructors” over the course of the book, to show that those characters care about the events transpiring in the book, so we should as well. LISTEN TO CAPTAIN AMERICA! HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT!

So yeah, the book has that hurdle to overcome in the mind of the financially conscious fanboy, who may not view the book as “essential reading.” But the book hits all the notes it aims for, and the new characters introduced in the book are all interesting and get a fair share of development in their debut. Reptil shows up, having gained some exposure through the Superhero Squad cartoon. Other members of the group seem to establish their niche right away, with Finesse and Hazmat being the darker foils to Reptil, Mettle and our primary protagonist Veil. Personally I think Mettle has the chance to grow into a really great character. He seems to echo the greatness that Rockslide projected back in New X-Men.

The reasoning behind using these characters, and why the program exists, parallels the Heroic Age’s overall theme of rectifying the wrongs of the Dark Reign era. It probably won’t be the theme for too long, as the status quo will likely shift again fairly soon, but it’s an excellent way to get the ball rolling and they’ve hooked me in for another one.

700 Issues
BATMAN # 700

Man, this one was epic. It’s not exactly a new-reader friendly jumping-on point as one would figure, as it hearkens back to Grant Morrison’s issue # 666 as well as the two-part Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader arc and we even get a segment (albeit a short one) that jumps into the Batman Beyond universe. It’s a veritable garbage-bag cocktail where every last drop of alcohol at the party gets mixed together in the hopes of making a concoction that will give you a kicking buzz without making you go blind.

The story has time travel, the Joker acting bat-shit insane, an appearance from the Mutants that harkens back to The Dark Knight Returns, Two-Face 2 who may be the greatest idea for a new villain that won’t be able to recur due to where he made his debut, and an amazing pin-up art gallery at the back end featuring drawings by some of the greatest artists ever to draw the Dark Knight.

I wish this review could be longer, but honestly the book is one that you have to read for yourselves. I don’t think it is an issue that everyone will enjoy, but I think that it’s definitely a ballsy choice for an anniversary issue this large. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a read just for the sake of seeing if you understand what the hell was going on.

606
CAPTAIN AMERICA # 606

Captain America has been firing on all cylinders for around five years now. Brubaker knows that book like the back of his hand and refuses to let up. This issue deals with the fallout from the last arc where Bucky had to put an end to an evil Steve Rogers clone with a bullet to the dome. It doesn’t sit well with Bucky, as you can imagine the boy has some issues when it comes to Captain America dying, real or not.

While all this is happening, Baron Zemo seems to be working some machinations, which makes me happy as I friggin’ love Baron Zemo. I hope to god he at least gets name dropped in the Cap movie, because I think he’s just one of the most awesome characters Marvel has. Don’t believe me? Go read some Thunderbolts before Warren Ellis turned it into some sort of twisted abomination from the depths of hell. Zemo is a multi-faceted villain who simply does not get his due nowadays and I’m glad that between this and the new Thunderbolts, he seems to be making a comeback.

My only squabble with this issue is the fact that I’ve not yet determined where the hell it fits in with what’s going on over in Thunderbolts. I’m sure they’ll work that out sooner or later, but for the moment I’m trying to place it myself. With all the time line jumping in the Cap book, it’s a chore for sure. But continuity isn’t as important as everyone makes it out to be, especially when the book is this good.

As for the Nomad backup, I’m certainly enjoying it. I like the world they’ve established there, I’m just tired of Nomad ending up in peril so often due to her own naivety. It’s repetitive. Luckily, she seems to not have that shortcoming over in Young Allies, which I’ve reviewed further down the page.


HACK/SLASH : MY FIRST MANIAC # 1

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is one of the more consistantly fun and entertaining books on the rack and when I heard it was moving over to Image, I thought “Oh thank the Lord, something good to read by that company that’s NOT written by Kirkman!” (All praise, be to the Kirkman)

With this mini-series, you get a fresh jumping on point if you’ve ever been interested in reading about Cassie’s exploits bashing the brains of creepy stalkery torture-killers with the aid of her hulking sidekick Vlad, who may currently be my favorite recurring comic character. He’s all kinds of awesome and unfortunately he doesn’t make an appearance in this first issue. He’s probably off in a corner reading Chippy Chipmunk at the moment.

The issue gives us a quick origin storry for Cassie that, while familiar to long-time readers, does not feel repetitive or dull. That was my main concern when the book was announced; that the mini-series would mostly be rehashed from prior events that we had already seen and therefore be of no consequence to those of us who have been onboard since the start.

And while I am certainly familiar with Cassie’s origin, the events presented here seem fresh and new even if parts of it do seem familiar. I like that Seeley is simply moving forward with the series rather than using this label-hop as an excuse to do a reboot. Because as we all know, reboots are all the rage in the horror genre right now. Because everybody wanted a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, right? Whatever.

Get the book, hop on board now so that you can be like me and stand around telling everybody that they should have been reading this years ago. It’s a fun feeling. A nice boost to the ego. I love it.


YOUNG ALLIES # 1

I picked this one up out of my love for Nomad. I loved her mini-series, I love the backups over in Captain America, and I think that it’s amazing that a character who was borne out of such a horibble event (Heroes Reborn. *shudder*) could end up being such a great addition to the mainstream Marvel landscape. Teaming her up with Araña was a stroke of genius, because that girl, while an interesting concept, needs a foil to work to her fullest potential, as evidenced by her appearances in Ms. Marvel.

The book starts off somewhat dark, giving us the origin of a couple of kids who are ripped from their families and trained to be death soliders for some South American Generalisimo. If it were drawn by someone like Mike Deodato it’d be downright frightening and hard to bear, but artist David Baldeon has a light tone that doesn’t strive to be hyper-detailed or stylized, and so while the impact is effective, it does not make you want to rip out your own soul. This is a comic book after all.

The issue plays out much like New Avengers # 1 did a few years back, with the team being brought together by a single circumstance and a whole lot of coincidence. The formula works well this time around, because even the villains remark before they pul their caper that they’re looking for heroes to be in the area and expect them to show up. It’s a little touch that makes the book run a lot smoother.

Between this and Avengers Academy, Marvel seems to be doing all they can to get their readership invested in the next generation of Marvel heroes. Meanwhile, DC is probably trying to find a way to kill off Jaime Reyes. The butchers.

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So there you have it. Go out and buy those things. From my store if possible. That’d make me happy. I’ll give you a hug. (*hugs not available on days ending in “y”)

Weekly Comic Review

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I think I may have bought more books this week than I did all of last month. My box got flooded with books, a lot of them new titles that I decided to pick up not realizing they would all be dropped on my broke ass in a single day. Curse my undying love for Booster Gold and Birds of Prey!

MAR100190 BATGIRL #10 $2.99
MAR100185 BATMAN #699 $2.99
MAR100178 BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #1 (OF 6) $3.99
MAR100169 BIRDS OF PREY #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) $2.99
MAR100222 BOOSTER GOLD #32 $2.99
MAR100171 FLASH #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) $2.99
MAR100165 JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) $2.99
MAR100201 SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #2 (OF 4) $2.99
MAR100499 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #631 $2.99
MAR100473 ASTONISHING X-MEN XENOGENESIS #1 (OF 5) $3.99
MAR100526 BLACK WIDOW #2 HA $2.99
FEB100427 DARK AVENGERS #16 SIEGE $3.99
FEB100436 FALLEN SIEGE $3.99
MAR100540 HULK #22 WWHS $3.99
MAR100542 INCREDIBLE HULK #609 WWHS $3.99
MAR100551 IRON MAN LEGACY #2 $2.99
FEB100435 NEW AVENGERS FINALE #1 SIEGE $4.99
MAR100590 NEW MUTANTS #13 XSC $2.99
FEB100421 SIEGE #4 (OF 4) $3.99
FEB100426 SIEGE EMBEDDED #4 (OF 4) $3.99
MAR100610 X-FACTOR FOREVER #3 $3.99
MAR101102 FRENEMY OF THE STATE #1 (OF 5) $3.99

And I actually read some of them. And here’s the reviews…

BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE # 1

You know, the general consensus on the work of Grant Morrison seems to be that he deals in the utterly cerebral. The subtle hints dropped throughout his Batman run that led up to this mini-series being a perfect indicator of how he works within the confines of Bruce Wayne’s mind. He understands characterization better than just about anybody, and a good number of people miss out on this because they’re too eager to shoehorn him into an all-encompassing category, usually that he’s “weird” or some other descriptive adjective that doesn’t do his work justice.

If there’s a way to describe this particular mini-series, it’s simply a true high-concept piece. The idea of Batman interjected into different time periods and forced to deal with his situation in the manner that Batman would. It’s really quite brilliant. We begin with Batman in the caveman era, seemingly confused to the point of being rendered unable to process speech. So we get what is essentially the basest concept of the Batman dealing with the basest form of humanity. It feels like something that Kirby would have done if he had a shot at the Dark Knight.

I won’t delve too deeply into the book, because in all honesty you could write a thesis on Morrion’s take on the bat. I will say that this issue indicates, to me at least, that we’re going to get a damned fine miniseries out of all this.

BIRDS OF PREY # 1

I quickly got tired of Birds of Prey after Gail Simone left a few years back. Everything that came afterward felt like a car spinning its wheels in a pit of mud and never being able to find any traction. With Gail back however, it seems like whatever element was missing after her exodus is tossed back in and the book is able to find its footing with a real sense of authority. We get the whole old crew back together again, interacting in a way that feels realistic and human and recent Blackest Night resurrectees Hawk and Dove find a spot in the book as well, giving us a reason for that Brightest Day banner splashed across the cover.

I’m glad that aside from the characters themselves appearing in the book that the issue seems more focused on moving forward from the point the old series left of rather than turning this into a de-facto spin off of Brightest Day. While I am forcing myself to continue that series out of some sort of literary masochism, (I should read that book wearing a ball-gag, I swear) I have no desire to read about the event anywhere outside of the main title. I read Birds of Prey because I like Birds of Prey, not because a Green Lantern event forced me to.

Let me say that I did love the book. And if Gail is reading this she should know that I am eternally grateful for giving us a book that has strong characterization placed alongside a tightly plotted narrative. The writing is not decompressed or padded, and everything moves along in a way that feels appropriate. That having been said, where is Misfit, Gail? Her exclusion gives me the sads. BRING BACK MISFIT!

Aside from that quabble, great book all around.

NEW AVENGERS FINALE

I want to say first and foremost, that the idea of calling the a “Finale” seems odd in the face of the book continuing with a new number one. It’s actually more of an interlude, I guess. But it does seem like a finale in the regard that it caps off the last few years of the book and makes the series seem like a self-contained entity. I think this is perhaps to differentiate this incarnation of the book from the next, which doesn’t seem to bare much similarity to this one aside from Bendis’ name on the cover. It will have an entirely different tone, from what I’ve seen and it makes me wonder why they didn’t choose a different title.

The book itself feels like a mixture of an unofficial fifth issue of Siege as well as an epilogue to the series itself. The scope of the book is great, and the action contained within the book feels like classic superhero storytelling with the stylistic flair of Bendis’ modern age. It’s a book that if it were a movie would have people cheering as the bad guys finally get their comeuppance and the world is set right again.

Simply put, Bendis got this one right.

FRENEMY OF THE STATE # 1

Oni Press does some good work. They put out entertaining books that don’t fit the mold of other publishers. This in particular feels like something that JJ Abrams would have put together as a spinoff from Alias. The meshing of social media and the inner circles of celebrity madness with undercover spy action seems like something that would make for really great television but it also comes together really well as a comic book.

The book is notable for being written at least in part by utterly adoreable Rashida Jones, which is partially why I picked the book up in the first place. I’m going to admit that it makes no sense for me to do so because it’s not like her presense is really in any way tangible. I didn’t know she had ever written a word of anything in her life before this, I just think she’s cute. Now I know that she’s talented beyond what I’ve seen on Parks & Rec. Who knew?

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That’s it. I’m not reviewing the Hulk books because I don’t really think I can say anything without ranting about the identity reveal in Hulk 22. Jeph Loeb inspires many emotions in me, and this one brought out the bad ones. Bad, bad emotions!

So, next time, then…


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.

PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50

Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…

Batman 698
BATMAN # 698

After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.

I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.

Brightest Day 0
BRIGHTEST DAY # 0

The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.

Aqauaman is afraid of the water.

It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.

Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.

Flash # 1
FLASH # 1

And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.

Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.

Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.

Green Arrow 32
GREEN ARROW # 32

Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.

I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.

Oh well, bring on the relaunch.

Black Widow # 1BLACK WIDOW # 1

Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.

This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.

We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.

Iron Man Legacy 1
IRON MAN LEGACY # 1

I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.

I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.


NEW MUTANTS # 12

I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.

PunisherMax6
PUNISHERMAX # 6

Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.

There. I said it.

There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.

Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.

Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.

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And that’s it for this week. These reviews were especially hard to type, what with the huge cut I have on my left index finger, but I pushed through. For you guys. Because I love you. For realisies.