Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Batman and Robin

Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

It’s that time again! And lucky for you this time the reviews are on time. I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into that because I really don’t feel like being analytical at 8:00 am on a Thursday morning. I’m doing this all for you. Really. Because I sure as hell am not getting paid to do this.

BATMAN AND ROBIN # 1

I’m apologetically pro-Damien. I think he’s one of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. There’s something about him that sets him apart from all the other Robins and I would say that it’s mostly the fact that he’s what Jason Todd could have been. The whole “Sidekick with an attitude” thing works for some and doesn’t for others and Damien works. Now, I will admit that too much of his schtick can be tiresome. But the same can be said for any character. I love me some Deadpool but I got some serious DP burnout following the 87 series he had going on at once last year. Luckily, DC seems to realize that Damien provokes strong reactions and therefore uses him with a deal of finesse. What I mean by this is that usually his personality is either downplayed or dialed up depending on the context of the story. In this debut issue, he’s far more antagonistic than usual because we’re being reintroduced to his dynamic with Bruce. That level of mutual respect that we had seen in previous stories seems to have been scaled back because of this new timeline and as such we get some interesting character beats from both Bruce and Damien in regards to their views on the sentiment of death and the ethos of fighting crime.

Like some other books this week, it’s clear that some holdover elements from the old continuity will be front and center for certain characters. In this case, it’s the worldwide enterprise of Batman, Inc. The fact that Batman has only been around for five years in this continuity doesn’t seem to hinder that storyline at all. We’ve yet to see exactly what parts of Batman’s history are still relevant. I don’t know if Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Murderer/Fugitive, etc. have happened in this timeline but we do know that Damien is still around and Batman Inc is still happening around the globe. Again I have to point out how troublesome this is to new readers if that’s truly what DC is trying to draw in with this relaunch. Someone picking up Batman and Robin # 1 without a prior knowledge of Morrison’s work on the character might be a little perplexed as to when exactly Batman had a son and what the hell Batman, Inc. is. Fans of those particular storylines will not be let down however, as this is a pretty direct continuation of those themes in a similar sort of style.

Overall Rating: 3/5

DEMON KNIGHTS # 1

I’ll just go ahead and say upfront that this is my favorite title of the bunch so far and if you haven’t already you need to go buy a copy and read it right now. The rest of this review is just going to be me gushing over how amazing the book is and how lucky we as readers are to have someone like Paul Cornell writing a book like this. Seriously, if there is one thing that I have to applaud DC for in this whole stunt it’s giving good writers chances to work on books that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. There are a lot of people who are going to pick this up just because of its connection to the “new 52” and they’re going to find one of the most fun, well-written fantasy adventure comics to come along in a long damned time.

I’ve always been a fan of Etrigan. I think he’s one hell of a character and he really hasn’t been given his due in the last few years. That changes here and I think it’s mostly due to the fact that Cornell knows how to write him and that he is a character that works best when he has appropriate characters to bounce off of and he gets that here with Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and a whole host of medieval side-characters. The fact that this is set entirely in the middle-ages allows Cornell to go wild and do whatever he pleases without worrying about bumping up against someone else’s plans. The recent dust-up with Gail Simone being displeased about Batgirl’s appearance in Birds of Prey without her prior knowledge comes to mind. I don’t think anyone is going to try to appropriate anybody in Demon Knights anytime soon. There is an artistic freedom that comes with a book like this that I really can get behind.

Seriously, go buy the book. It’s the shining pinnacle of what this relaunch has to offer.

Overall Rating: 5/5

SUPERBOY # 1

This one is hard to review. It’s not a bad book. It’s actually quite an interesting read. It’s just so hard for me to disconnect this version of the character from the previous incarnation. Even more so than last week’s Green Arrow, not a whole lot of this book felt like what I would associate with Superboy. That having been said, what we’re presented with is a fresh take on the character. The scientific procedural element of the story is interesting and provides an excellent framework for progressing the issue. My only problem with the book has been that Superboy’s personality is defined by NOT having a personality. That can only last for so long before it becomes a chore to read through. I think that Scott Lobdell knows this, but he’s trying to match the character’s personality to the expected tropes of the genre he’s presenting the character in. He’s a clone, so he needs to be a blank slate at the beginning. That’s how these stories work. I think he’s trying to play with expectations a little bit and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with it.

Superboy is a title that I’m cautiously optimistic about. The final page seems to indicate that this storyline somehow informs the new Teen Titans, which doesn’t look very interesting at all to me. I can’t really say for sure how much I’ll enjoy this past the first issue. I’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Overall Rating: 3/5

SUICIDE SQUAD # 1

I am very tempted just to write *facepalm* and leave it at that. There really are no words to express how much I disliked this book. Anything not involving King Shark (he’s a shaaaaarrrk!) was pretty much terrible. Deadshot has lost his mustache and Amanda Waller is a young, thin slice of bland. This was just…well, a mess. I don’t imagine any other DC book has missed the mark as hard as this one has. Or let us hope, at least. I’d hate to see what could be worse than this slap in the face to what was once an amazing title.

I don’t want to sound like a cranky fanboy, but seriously…I just can’t imagine how anyone would find this interpretation of the title appealing. It’s generic, bland, and brings nothing new to the table while disregarding the elements of the characters involved that made them interesting in the first place. It’s just one big ball of missed opportunity, because these characters in their pre-reboot forms on the same team would have been interesting to see. Now? not so much.

Overall rating: 1/5

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN # 1

So, controversy, huh? We’ve got an African-American/Hispanic Ultimate Spider-Man and that has some people angry and other people bored and other people happy as hell. Emotions! Does any of that have any bearing on how good the book is or isn’t? Not really. The initial PR stunt nature of the book is a bit disheartening because I think it might have been a little bit better received if it had come out of the box as a surprise. It’s actually a pretty decent book. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of the old series as much as it feels like an entirely new story where someone who isn’t Peter Parker somehow winds up getting spider-based powers. It’s got Bendis’ usual sense of story-flow, that is to say that it begins a bit slowly, but the slice-of-life soap-opera elements of Bendis’ writing were what made that book work so well in the early days.

I’m not going to call this one better or worse than the Parker years because it’s only been one issue and it’ll be another twenty-three or so until I’m able to see what sort of book this is really going to be. All we know right now is that Miles is going to have a little bit of a different power-set from Parker judging from that final page cliffhanger, and that he probably won’t have a costume until around issue six if Bendis keeps to his usual pace. But if everything between then and now is well written as it was back when he first launched USM, then I doubt we’ll really care.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

***************************************************************

And that’s our show everybody. Join us next week for another round of my telling you what you should do with your money. See you then.

Advertisements

Weekly Comic Reviews

And as the cold weather breezes into Houston about a month later than it should have, we get the first new books of November. It’s an interesting haul of titles filled with debuts and final touches. This is all very poetic and whatnot, but the truth is I’m hopped up on leftover Halloween candy and could make a bowel movement seem melodic.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647 4.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #6 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #16 3.99
BOYS #48 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #38 2.99
BULLSEYE PERFECT GAME #1 (OF 2) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA MAN OUT OF TIME #1 (OF 5) 3.99
GENERATION HOPE #1 3.99
JONAH HEX #61 2.99
PUNISHER IN BLOOD #1 (OF 5) 3.99
SCARLET #3 (MR) 3.95
SECRET SIX #27 2.99
SUPERBOY #1 2.99
WOLVERINE #3 3.99
WOMEN OF MARVEL #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #6 2.99

I’ve bolded the issues I will review. Which is redundant, as the reviews will now begin and you will be able to see what I have reviewed.

FinBATMAN & ROBIN # 16

Here it is. The conclusion of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman & Robin before he jumps onto the new “Batman Inc.” title which should be one hell of a ride given the setup he provides for us in this issue. Morrison has been the architect of the Batman universe now for about as long as I’ve been working in comic book retail. Close to five years or so. He’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. It seems like he’s moving into the third act of his overall story with Batman Inc. The fact that his overarching story has an act-structure ties into the melodrama he’s crafted. His Batman reads like a sci-fi/action opera and it’s evident that he’s put a great deal of effort in making sure the parts all come together.

The biggest achievement that he can lay claim to in regards to his Batman ouvre is his ability to shake things up in ways that other writers have teased for the short term but never committed to in any real way. Plot twists that Morrison uses as the long-term theme of his story seem like ideas that other writers would love to pursue but only for six issues or less. Morrison seems to think that shaking things up and doing so in a way that shifts the paradigm of how Batman operates on a level that is not easily reversible is the key to telling a good story. I won’t argue that it’s made for some of the most compelling reading for quite some time.

What I really appreciate about Morrison on the Bat books is that in a few years time we’ll be able to view him as one of the better Batman showrunners in the history of the character. There aren’t many creators who leave such a lasting mark on the character that fans can easily identify. Most of the time you get the requisite Denny O’Neil or Frank Miller. Morrison is going to be the next name on the immediate go-to list when all is said and done.

Strike!BULLSEYE : PERFECT GAME # 1

Bullseye is a character who can be used to absolute perfection or to an end that simply does not work. There’s not a whole lot of middle ground when it comes to the character. He’s been front and center for so many great and memorable moments and then again he’s been wasted or misused by writers who simply want to use him in a way that doesn’t really make sense.

Here we get a story where there’s very little actual Bullseye. The story is all second-hand, but it gives us an insight into how the character operates that we don’t really see. That part that deals with how and why he picks his targets. The montage showing some of his more unique and violent kills is a perfect example of why Bullseye sometimes doesn’t work out in the hands of an unskilled writer. He’s the perfect killer. He knows he’s the perfect killer. He’s got the same problem Superman does in the sense that he’s so above and beyond the range of his peers that he can come off as boring in his superiority.

The biggest downfall of this book is that lack of Bullseye. The second hand narrative structure is interesting but ultimately unless they give us something a little more substantial it’s basically not even like reading a comic at all but reading a comic about someone who read a comic about what Bullseye did for a year. That sounds stupid, but it gives off a little of that vibe.

Good Book Is GoodCAPTAIN AMERICA : MAN OUT OF TIME # 1

It’s a Captain America miniseries written by Mark Waid. I’m not going to pass that up. Seriously, I don’t care that it’s essentially a retread and that no matter how they take the story it’s essentially inconsequential because it’s one of a hundred takes on the same story because it’s such a great part of the Captain America mythos that’s being retold.

The stuff set in World War Two is pretty good. We get some fun banter between Bucky and Cap amongst some soldiers who don’t know who they are and we get some fun, if cliched, introspective moments where the two discuss what they would like to do when the war is over and the fighting is done. Of course all of this happens mere moments before Bucky gets caught in the explosion that “kills” him and Cap winds up frozen in the ice.

What really works in this issue is the dichotomy between that old world and the new one that Cap wakes up to. You really can feel how directionless and confused Steve is when confronted with a world that has grown leaps in bounds in technology and regressed equally in its brutality. The dangers of being a hero in such a world become readily apparent and the ending of the book packs quite a punch.

I think this one could be one that people regret not picking up if they let it slip under their radar because it is an excellent read. However, Marvel needs to learn that these arbitrary books aren’t going to get the same readership they would at a lower price point. $3.99 is a warning siren to a lot of consumers nowadays, even if the book is worth the cash, as this one seems to be.

Generation Unnecessary MiniseriesGENERATION HOPE # 1

They’ve been building to this one for a while. I need to begin by saying that I would have been just as happy had this been the central running plot of Uncanny X-Men or Legacy. Or hell, run it through both titles as a crossover. It would have worked just as well. This has the smell of a cash grab by throwing it out as an independant mini-series. It’s like if Marvel had done the Inferno followup they’re doing in New Mutants as a mini-series and let the ongoing title move along as if nothing happened. I think the logistics of this miniseries are flawed, and I needed to get that out of the way up front.

As to the book itself, it’s hard to tell what direction it will take. Whether the fifth “light” will be the villain for the whole of the series or if there is something more is not readily apparent. The book seems to indicate as much, but to what end they are going with the character in question is unknown.

If you haven’t been reading X-Men, this book is not very new-user friendly. All the characters have been introduced over in Uncanny, which backs up my assertion that it should have been continued there. So if you need the background, pick up the last few months of Uncanny after the end of Second Coming. That should fill in some gaps for you.

I’m hoping there’s a bigger endgame here than I’m seeing at the moment. To justify its existence, the miniseries better have one hell of a closer.

Punisher ClassicPUNISHER : IN THE BLOOD # 1

All you whiney fanboys can quit your bitching, Frank Castle is back in non-monster form to do what he’s done for the last thirty or so years. It’s still got the same gritty flair that Remender brought to the title under the Franken-Castle banner but in an easily digestible, familiar package so that frightened fans don’t feel offended by change.

The first issue feels like a classic Punisher riff, it builds upon years and years of 616 Punisher lore, with Microchip and the long feud with Jigsaw coming back into play. It feels a bit more natural than the early parts of the last volume did, as Punisher shouldn’t be anywhere near storylines that have anything to do with alien invasions. He’s at his best when the capes don’t make an appearance.

This could be the beginning of a great new chapter for the character, if Remender’s past work is any indication of what he can do with Frank now. He certainly kicked the show off with an impressive debut, so it’s his ballgame to lose. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get too inventive, or people will get frightened and claim that he’s “ruined the character again” and run to the hills like stampeding fear-cattle.

Book of the Week?SUPERBOY # 1

Jeff Lemire is in a position to be a hot item. Sweet Tooth is an amazing book and he’s got that good buzz to his credit as well as being hailed by just about everyone as the next big thing. With Superboy he has the chance to really let loose and show the world what he can do with the mainstream DCU characters. Superboy isn’t a sacred cow. He has a following but he has room to be molded into something more concrete. The building blocks are there, Lemire just needs to move them around.

He certainly doesn’t waste any time with this issue, utilizing a familiar old Superman villain to write some great action scenes that are drawn out spectacularly by artist Pier Gallo whose work has a very classic feel to it, which fits the Smallville setting wonderfully.

Where Lemire also garners some good will is the manner in which he sets up the supporting cast. This is the first issue, and for many new readers this is their first exposure to the character, but the interactions with the Smallville community are written in the same manner that they would be had the title been running for five years. The familiarity works. Lemire doesn’t get overly expository with everyone in the first issue. He knows that the time will come to fill people in when the moment is appropriate. He gives just enough to let the story work itself out organically and the book is better for it.

I think this one could end up being a long-running fan favorite. Let’s just hope Lemire stays on the title for a long enough time to truly leave his mark on the character, because judging from the first issue it could be quite an interesting and fun take on a character who until this point has basically been defined by his association with the Titans, his relationship to Wonder Girl or his overly violent death.

**************************

And them’s the reviews. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings. Now I’m going to finish this bowl of leftover candy and watch old episodes of the Simpsons while I work on a poetry paper for my creative writing class.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I had a horrible night last night. Like, soul crushingly horrible. I  was crestfallen and engulfed by rage. I ripped the towel rack out of the wall in the bathroom and punched a wall. Luckily, all of this happened after I read this week’s comics because I’m sure my feelings would have tainted my reading experience. Maybe they’ll hamper my reviewing experience but I can’t say for sure. You’ll have to judge that.

ARRIVALS 7-8-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #636 GRIM 3.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 2.99
BATMAN ODYSSEY #1 (OF 6) 3.99
BOYS #44 (MR) 3.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #4 2.99
JONAH HEX #57 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #8 3.99
SCARLET #1 (MR) 3.95
SECRET SIX #23 2.99
SHADOWLAND #1 (OF 5) SL 3.99
STEVE ROGERS SUPER-SOLDIER #1 (OF 4) 3.99
X-FORCE #28 XSC 2.99
X-MEN #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #2 2.99

Now let’s get to it…

BATMAN AND ROBIN # 13

Yeah, Grant Morrison may have written his best issue of Batman yet. Everything that he has laid the groundwork for comes to a head in this issue. Morrison is not a fool,  nor has he done anything that didn’t have a point. All the attention to detail that has gone into creating a tapestry of different plot threads that all reveal themselves in this issue.

I explained to people when it was finished that Batman RIP was not a self contained story. Everyone looked at it like a graphic novel in and of itself, this simply isn’t the best way to view the story. It’s a chapter in the overall story the same way that The Black Glove or Batman and Son were. It all is a piece of the puzzle that Morrison has presented. The events of this issue would not have worked without the events of RIP.

Morrison is doing some of the best Batman work of all time, and it’s not a gimmick. It’s not like Dark Knight Returns where it has no real bearing on the character aside from what writers choose to take from the message. This is a book that takes major risk on a monthly basis, in continuity. It’s not easy to do stuff like that and get away with it. Fanboys do not like change. And while we know that the status quo will eventually return, it will be changed by the events of this book in a manner that will almost be undetectable. After a run like Morrison’s, it will be hard to accept anything less than what he has delivered. It’s why what came after Hush was so rejected. Not that Hush is anywhere in the league of what Morrison is doing, but it hooked readers in and it had people looking for things that weren’t there in an attempt to keep up with the writer’s pace.

Seriously, I would rank Morrison as one of the best Bat writers of the last twenty years thanks solely to what he has done since launching Batman and Robin as a title. This is just another direct example I can point to when people ask me why.

BATMAN ODYSSEY # 1

This was probably my most anticipated book this week. I adore Neal Adams. I think he is the definitive Batman artist, alongside Jim Aparo of course. That having been said, I have never been exposed to anything that he has done as a writer. He may be one of the greatest artists ever to work in the comic business but as a writer, he’s largely a blank slate as far as I can tell. With the first issue of Odyssey, we can see that his writing style is clearly influenced by the writers he worked with back in the glory days of the dark knight. There is a little Denny O’Neil in his wordsmithery. I’ll admit that alot of the dialog seemed forced, and the flow of certain word balloons was distracting, but then again, that can be said of alot of comic books nowadays. I think it was just more noticeable because I was aware of the fact that Adams was writing for his own pen. I saw the same stuff on Tony Daniel’s work on the main Bat title.

Is the book good, though? That’s the main question that needs answering I suppose, and it is a decent little Batman yarn. The art is great, as if it needed to be said. I think the thing that strikes me is that it’s clearly a tale set in Batman’s past, though I can’t place where. I would have loved to see Adams write a contemporary Batman. I’m sure that would have sold better than a mini-series, as I can see a bunch of people trade waiting on this one. I won’t, because I want to support Adams in whatever he does, but I think from a marketing standpoint they may have stumbled a bit.

Still, no matter how you read it, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

THE BOYS # 44

So we finally get the moment we’ve known was going to happen since early on in the series. The only problem is that Garth Ennis gives it to us in the last panel so we have to wait a month to see the aftermath. Fuck you, Garth. Your mastery of toying with your audience is unparalleled.

Seriously, Ennis knows exactly when to drop the necessary bomb on the readers. He’s been escalating things for months now and everything is coming to a boil. I think the fact that Ennis stated when he began that the series would be finite with a pre-established ending helps to inform the reader that the pacing is deliberate. There are moments where the book comes close to seeming dull and then the veil is removed to show us something we didn’t expect.

This is definitely some of Ennis’ best work. I say that with conviction. I find it on par with his Hitman run and a shade close to matching some of the stuff he did on Preacher. The reason people don’t latch on to this book the way they did with Preacher is that The Boys isn’t as broad as Preacher was.  Ennis knew that he could stir up controversy with the tiniest flair on Preacher. With the Boys he’s not really seeking to offend, but to play with heroes in a way that makes a statement on how he feels about the world in general. I don’t believe that Ennis believed everything he did in Preacher but I’m almost sure he does when it comes to The Boys.

SCARLET # 1

I think the easiest way to describe Scarlet is that Bendis has written what Millar wishes he could have with Nemesis. We get a violent subversive anti-hero protagonist who is introduced in the middle of murdering a cop and who is clearly willing to upset the system in any way she can. But unlike Millar who goes broad stroke in every manner imaginable, Bendis prefers to focus on the character first rather than the spectacle of the character’s actions. I think that the narrating directly to reader helps to facilitate this. Nemesis blows up a train to make a point and I felt nothing except dirty because the book wants me to view his actions as extreme with a measure of awesome, whereas when Scarlet chokes out a cop the gut reaction I had was one of knowing there was probably a reason for it beyond “here’s a villain.”

Bendis knows his storytelling. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be teaching classes about it at the collegiate level. It all comes down to whether you like his style. If you enjoy his work on Goldfish, Jinx, or the Powers books, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But there will be a number of people who hate it without reading it just because it has Bendis’ name on it.

SHADOWLAND # 1

This is gonna be a good one folks. Daredevil has been on a tear for years and finally he’s getting the spotlight he deserves. Each successive writer on the title has been outdoing the last since Bendis took over the book and we’ve finally reached a place where the boiling point has been hit.

Writer Andy Diggle has taken Matt Murdock to a place that we never really could have expected. It’s a shocking turn to see him in charge of the Hand, but at the same time the events that led to where Matt has ended up in no way work against what has developed. Normally, you would think there would be no way Matt Murdock would become the leader of the Hand. It just goes against everything that Daredevil has fought for, but the way that it’s been set up makes you feel like if it didn’t work out this way, it would be a cop out.

As for the issue itself, let’s just say that you know how it’s going to end a few pages in but you don’t care because you want to see it happen and you know that the ensuing shitstorm will be an amazing story. Simply put, it does not disappoint in any department. It’s an event book done right and I cannot wait for the second issue.

X-MEN # 1

I don’t know Vic Gischler personally. He bought a Lady Deadpool poster from my store on the one day that week I wasn’t at work. We banter about really dumb shit on twitter from time to time and that’s about it. So don’t think there’s some conspiracy when I praise his work on a regular basis. He just happens to write stuff that I think is really good. If I can ever find a damned copy, I’d like to review his book The Deputy but none of the local bookstores carry it and I don’t feel like ordering anything else off of the internet until I pay off my latest Amazon bill.

Anyway, yeah, X-Men # 1 is pretty good. It’s got Jubilee, so you know I’m going to like it. But it also isn’t the unending doom and gloom that’s taking place in every other title, and while Second Coming has been awesome thus far, it’s also starting to wear me down with it’s unending bleakness. It’s almost too much to take sometimes. So it’s a welcome change just to get Wolverine slashing apart a bunch of vampires. It’s just the sort of thing I want in an X-Men title right now. Problems solved with claws and laser eyes.

And Jubilee. I freaking love Jubilee.

*****************************************************************************

And we’re done. I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of Predators.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This was not a huge week as far as comic books go. Thank god, because my wallet needed a break after the companies seemingly unleashed every major title in their arsenal on me last week, a volley I was not prepared with and was nearly washed away by. This week however, we got a different sort of approach. A few books came out that I was downright looking forward to, and some new titles launched that I was able to pick up because  the rest of the week was so slim. Touche marketing department, touche.

ARRIVALS 5-5-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #630 2.99
ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN WOLVERINE #1 3.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #12 2.99
BOYS #42 (MR) 2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #1 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #35 TWILIGHT PT 4 (OF 4) 2.99
IZOMBIE #1 (MR) 1.00
JSA ALL STARS #6 3.99
MANY LOVES OF AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 3.99
RED ROBIN #12 2.99
SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN TP VOL 07 (C: 0-1-2) 19.99
SECRET SIX #21 2.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #1 (OF 4) 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #524 XSC 2.99
WALKING DEAD HC VOL 05 (C: 0-1-2) 34.99

It took a lot of willpower not to throw aside this week’s books and just read Walking Dead, as I’ve been waiting for that book since…well, for-fucking-ever. But you people need to know what I thought about Brightest Day, so I have restrained myself.


ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN & WOLVERINE # 1

I love Jason Aaron. I think he’s one of the fresher talents that Marvel has and I love that he’s getting more exposure. I think that he’s doing better work with the Punisher than Garth Ennis did in the last years of his run. If he can make the Punisher seem fresh, he might be some sort of genius. So obviously I was going to pick up this issue. In all honesty, the first issue is a slow burn that slightly turned me off of picking up the subsequent issues. In a six issue miniseries, decompression can be a killer and this issue is fairly decompressed. There is great effort taken to establish the world that these two characters now occupy, a world at the dawn of time with giant spiders and neanderthals who think Wolverine is their god. The narration by Parker and Logan is very much in line with the characters but it seems very roundabout at times.

If there is one saving grace for this book it is that the final page begs the reader to return for issue two. Jason Aaron realizes that the previous content of the book was indeed a very slow, methodical setup for a killer finale and the reader can’t help but jump on board. Unless they just don’t like comics that rock harder than Judas Priest on a Wednesday.


BRIGHTEST DAY # 1

I didn’t like Brightest Day # . This is well documented. I think that’s because Aquaman didn’t summon an undead Kraken to kill pedophile pirates in that particular issue. Yes, you just read that sentence. Geoff Johns is turning into some sort of mad scientist with a pen. I would love to see him write a Lex Luthor mini-seri at this point, because I’m pretty damn sure that Johns is bordering on that level of insane right about now. I’m pretty sure the pressure of his time at DC has melted his brain down to the point that he watched the scene from Megashark vs. Giant Octopus where the shark jumps out of the water and chowed down on a flying airplane and thought “What if that shark was a zombie and the plane were a person?”

Geoff Johns is my hero, for all the wrong reasons.

iZombie # 1

Vertigo really knows how to sell a book. The dollar intro issues are just the sort of thing that Marvel and DC proper should be doing with their series. I might have passed on this series if it had started out with a higher cost on the cover. In fact, since the dollar intro series has started, I think I’ve picked up all of them. Joe the Barbarian, Unwritten, etc., I picked them all up because for such a price it’d be stupid to pass up what could be an amazing series.

iZombie could be one of those amazing series. It’s an interesting premise, as allVertigo books are, with the all the style that Mike Allred’s art style can provide. I spent much of the issue trying to second guess the narrative in finding out what the crux of the story was really about. When the reveal finally comes, the simplicity of it sort of smacks you in the face. The multiple genre crossing looks like it could make it a classic, and I’m going to give at least the first arc a full read.


UNCANNY X-MEN # 524

This issue featured some great character moments. Especially from Wolverine. When was the last time we got some great character development out of Wolverine? Anyhow, the issue was essentially a breather issue. Where the action beats slow down long enough for the reader to catch his breath before they head into the final confrontation with Bastion and his minions. It’s obvious that this issue was basically a buffer; one where everything basically moves in slow motion. This issue was perfectly timed and really helped to drive home the importance of the crossover on both a small scale in how it affects the characters personally, in addition to the changes it will bring to the mutant community on a universal level for the months to come.

************************************

*Note: this post will be edited to include a review of War of the Supermen # 1 when I locate my copy. I think I may have left it at the shop. I have the dumb.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I actually arrived home from work yesterday to find a box full of manga on my front porch, which I really wish I could have read but I’m saving those little gems until after I’ve finished this week’s American output, which is what I’m primarily focused on reviewing here. I doubt there are many of you who read this blog who really give a damn about what commentary I could provide for Battle Vixens. I mean, it’s all panty shots and using fist-fights as an analog for sex, do you really need me to tell you to read it? I sure hope not.

ARRIVALS 4-7-2010
AME COMI BATMAN VINYL STATUE 70
AME COMI ROBIN VINYL FIGURE 60
AREA 10 HC (MR) 19.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #11 2.99
BOYS #41 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #34 TWILIGHT PT 3 (OF 5)  2.99
DEADPOOL AND CABLE #25 3.99
DEADPOOL CORPS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1 3.99
JSA ALL STARS #5 3.99
RED ROBIN #11 2.99
SECRET SIX DEPTHS TP 14.99
SHIELD #1 (MARVEL) 3.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #2 (OF 3) 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #5 (OF 6) (RES) 3.99
TURF #1 (MR) 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #523 XSC 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #12 3.99
WORLD WAR HULKS #1 WWHS 3.99

And here’s how that shit went down:

Invincible Returns
INVINCIBLE RETURNS # 1

I’ll probably catch a lot of hell for this, but I don’t read Invincible on a monthly basis. I get the trades, and I’m admittedly even a bit behind on those, being a cheap bastard and picking them up only through deep discount sales and whatnot. This comes after I bought 4,5,7, and 8 at 1/2 price and then filled in the gaps through Amazon and local clearance bins. I still haven’t read anything after volume 10, so I missed the whole “Conquest” storyline that this mini-series seems to come out of. Luckily, the book fills in the blanks well enough that even with my barely involved knowlege of the story’s progression I was able to understand what had happened in the gap where my reading had ended and the new story began. That isn’t really that amazing a feat, I mean, in reality that should be something that is a given, but luckily it’s done in a way that I feel like when I do pick up my next trade, I won’t feel like the story was spoiled for me.

Basically, Invincible Returns works as a GREAT jumping on point for new readers. Yes, there is a lot of backstory to take in, but it’s weaved into the book through character moments that help new readers get to know the cast. Truly, Invincible Returns is a damned fine read for die-hards as well as the new folks who are looking to try out the character.

One thing I want to comment on is how amazing Ryan Ottley’s art has become over the years. Looking at the first trade of Invincible and comparing it to the art of Invincible Returns, the characters still have the same style and look, but the definition is improved a great deal. Ottley’s art is truly underappreciated. His style is a huge part of what makes the book so amazing, and this single issue is a GREAT showcase for his talent. The backup work by Cory Walker is damned fine as well. I admit his style is just a few degrees off Ottley and so at first parts of it just seemed…different. But still, he nailed the look and did an admirable job.

SHIELD
SHIELD # 1

I fucking hate Jon Hickman. That guy is just too damned good. When Marvel finally caves in and lets this guy write a tentpole event for their entire company, you better hold on to your goddamn balls because he’s going to rock them off in ways you couldn’t imagine while mind-fucking your cerebral cortex at the same damned time. He’s currently writing the best Fantastic Four stories since Mark Waid and Wieringo left and he brings that same sense of otherworldly creativity to SHIELD, a book that sees Leonardo DaVinci creating a renaissance space-suit with wings and flying off into the cosmos.

This book is going to be one to watch. It might just be too good for the general comic-book fanboy crowd. It’s inevitably going to be called pretentious and slammed for overactive retconning, all the while ignoring how goddamn brilliant it is. This book is like touching Jesus’ beard; surreal and enlightening. Comic books were created for shit like this to exist.

TURF
TURF # 1

I dunno. This single issue was so damned dense that I think it’ll take another few reads to fully understand what’s going on. I mean, obviously it’s set in the prohibition era and there’s a gang full of vampires who are trying to take over the other gangs’ turf but some of them want to remain faithful to their old-country traditions of vampirism. And there’s alien spaceships for some reason. I’m not entirely sure where this is all going to lead, I just know I’m down for it, because, let’s face it, anybody willing to go this far out there in order to tell the story is worth giving the benefit of the doubt.

The only complaint I have is that this book is CROWDED with text. This compounds the already muddy art in making the issue slightly hard to read simply on an aesthetic level. The interesting story makes up for it, but I won’t lie, it did give me a little bit of a headache to read. Maybe when I revisit the issue, knowing what to expect will lessen the blow. Then again, you might not have this problem at all.

WWHs
WORLD WAR HULKS # 1

You know, when the talent pool writing the color spectrum of Hulks doesn’t include Jeph Loeb, the absurdity of the concept seems to be diminished by the fact that the characters are written with a modicum of subtlety, thus creating an enjoyable story. Jeff Parker, who is probably best known for somehow making Agents of Atlas so damned amazing, writes some great stuff here for A-Bomb, who up until this point has a generic walking ball of who-gives-a-fuck. He also writes a pretty good little Deadpool segment, featuring Bob aka everyone’s favorite agent of Hydra.

The rest of the book is just as well done. We get some good development for Talbot, who with all the focus they’re giving lately seems to be a front runner for the inner identity of Rulk. The talent assembled on the book really runs with the mediocre material they’ve been handed thus far. Kudos to everyone involved there.

************

So that’s it for this week. If you’ll excuse me I’ve gotta read some really filthy manga. Until next time…


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.

ARRIVALS 3-10-2010
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99

And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624

Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.

Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.

I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.

BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10

This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.

This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.

JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1

Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.

I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.

PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2

This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.

SWORD # 5

I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.

***

And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7  3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99

That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?

ASM 622
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 622

For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.

I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.

Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.

Choker # 1
CHOKER # 1

It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.

Captain Swing
CAPTAIN SWING # 1

Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.

Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.

Ms. Marvel Finale
MS. MARVEL # 50

It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.

The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.

Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.

Wonder Woman 41
Wonder Woman # 41

It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?

************************

And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.