Greetings from Austin, Texas where I’m having just a huge blast at the Wizard World Austin Comic Convention. Our first day here has been productive, as I’ve procured commissions from Mike Grell as well as Chew artist Rob Guillory. We ran into our good friends over at Angel Comics pretty early and if you’re in town for the convention be sure to drop by their booth and mention that you read about them on this blog. I try to give the guys as much publicity as I can muster because they do some great work and hopefully they’ll all be big names sometime in the future.
Met up with and got signatures from Mike McKone, Michael Golden and Greg Horn. All of whom are great guys who do great work. If you’re not enjoying McKone’s work on Avengers Academy you’re just plain wrong. Or not reading the book, either way you make me sad. Golden signed the first issue of Micronauts for me, which will be hung with care beside the original art page from a later issue of that series drawn by Gil Kane. I was happy that Greg Horn made it to the convention today as he was twittering quite ferociously yesterday about travel issues at the airport he was flying out of that included a plane on fire. Not his, mind you, but still a flaming plane.
Managed to snag a decent copy of Conan The Barbarian # 1 for about 1/2 of guide price for myself and then decided to retire for the day because there weren’t any panels I was particularly interested in, although I will probably get into one or two tomorrow if I can possibly manage it. I know I’m meeting up with a friend for lunch so it’ll be a task to juggle the scheduling.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you miss me? I bet you did. How would you know what comics to buy if I didn’t tell you what was good or not? Surely you would be lost and you would have to find a new hobby. Like knitting. I’m sure you could do that on your own. Can you tell I’m completely rambling right now? Sorry. I went to a Dropkick Murphys concert last night and didn’t get any sleep afterward. Oh yeah, comics!
THE PULL LIST:
ADVENTURE COMICS #8 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623 2.99
BOYS #40 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 TWILIGHT PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHEW #9 (MR) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #19 2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #862 3.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #1 (OF 3) FOH 3.99
FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) 4.99
GREEN HORNET # 1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #4 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #1 (OF 5) 3.99
PUNISHER MAX BUTTERFLY #1 (MR) 4.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #11 3.99
And now, my humble opinions…
I’ll start off by saying that, yes, the art has taken a bit of a nosedive for this issue. The art isn’t horrible. It’s a bit muddy, but it’s not indecipherable and it clears up in scenes set in daylight. However, I believe that any art will look lackluster when following Michael Lark. Because, c’mon, it’s Lark.
The story however is right up my alley. We finally get a little background on this new Vulture and we get some throwback to JJJ’s involvement in crafting the original Scorpion. There’s a lot to love for Spider-Man purists here, while being modern enough to appeal to people who think that the old Lee/Ditko Spidey stories were too cheeseball.
One thing I would like to point out is that we once again get some acknowledgment of the daughter of Kraven’s existence. She’s been on the periphery for a while now but hasn’t been directly involved in the proceedings, it looks like we’re finally getting to the crux of the story, and I’m anxious to see how things play out.
First of all, how weird is it that this book has reached issue forty? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for that long. And yet, it’s been on shelves for over three years, and chugging along like a juggernaut each and every month.
This issue sees the fallout from the last issue, which I reviewed HERE starting to shape up. It plays with the common storytelling trope where the reader knows everything but the parties involved know only pieces of the puzzle, thus creating a sizeable bit of tension and drama. Here, Butcher has drawn his own conclusions upon finding out about Hughie’s relationship with a known supe. Hughie is unaware of Butcher’s knowlege and we start to see a bit of a breakdown within the group. As readers we’ve come to really like Hughie and hate to see him put in such a position, and we hope that nothing bad happens as a result of Butcher’s rash and brash nature, but this being a Garth Ennis book, we have a sinking feeling in our gut that something REALLY bad is going to happen soon, and so we are forced to keep reading with mindless zeal.
Batman does not appear in this book. Unless he was stealthily hiding in the shadows or something. I just feel like I should point out that this intro issue is definately a showcase for Doc Savage and the Question, providing the new readers with an insight into the diversity of their crime-fighting styles. Throwing Batman in there might have muddied the waters, I suppose. Still, I’m never going to say that something should have less Batman. I mean, wouldn’t Avatar have been even more awesome if there were some Batman in it? I just imagined There Will Be Blood with a Batman cameo. That would rock.
As far as the issue goes, they do a good job of setting up the story. It’s full of classic noiry intrigue. The kind that Brian Azzarello does so well. And the art by Rags Morales is quite effective. Remember that book called Identity Crisis (aka Mindwipe & Rape : A Musical Revue)? That was a detective story at its core, albeit a shoddy one. But the art was very well done. Morales knows how to capture the tone of a pulp/noir/detective environment and here it most definately shows.
But the next issue better have some Batman or I’m gonna start wrecking shit.
In the same comic we get a cute little comic about Venus trying to prove her worth to the male gods of the pantheon by working at a fashion magazine and a story where the Punisher goes all Chris Hanson to the nth degree on a pedophile at an amusement park.
Kind of a striking dichotomy no?
Everything about this felt…wrong. It was too modern and too keen on being hip to feel like The Green Hornet. The voices of the characters seemed off. I know that characters are open to different interpretations and that no one embodiment can be considered definate because it could always be replaced down the line. I mean, c’mon, look at Batman. But in this instance it just seems like it doesn’t fit anything previously established with the character. Like, if Superman started saying “Yo, man. Stop the crime, dude.”
I spent an entire review praising Kevin Smith’s work on Cop Out, but I cannot do the same here. It just doesn’t feel right. It just didn’t click with me. I hope it clicked with someone because Dynamite put out EIGHTEEN variant covers for this issue, and that’s a lot of effort gone to waste if everyone felt like I did about this particular issue.
The ending of the Tony Stark : Dissassembled arc hits home with a fairly anti-climactic final issue. I think that attempting to balance a fight with Ghost against the cerebral surrealism inside Tony Stark’s head led to a contrast of intent and could only really be resolved in a manner that felt overly simple in the end.
What the book has going for it however, is the last few pages which really drive home how much has changed for Tony Stark. During Civil War someone commented that they wished Tony Stark from years back could see his actions during that crisis, and here we sorta get that but with none of the satisfaction. It’s more of a shallow pity and it does a great deal toward redeeming Stark as a character. Which needs to happen considering he’s just as recognizable as Spider-Man in the public eye now.
The issue begins with a panel of Lady Deadpool seen from behind where her leg tapers off into something that looks like a suction cup. It’s supposed to be her foot.
Did I just start this review with the statement that Rob Liefield can’t draw feet? A fact that is pretty much abject fact at this point? Yes I did. And do you know why? Because it doesn’t get any better from there. The book is one long rambling fight sequence, then Deadpool shows up and drafts Lady DP into some mission and the issue ends.
There is NO substance here. And for a character where razor-sharp wit is the defining characteristic, this issue is filled with some of the dullest humor and sloppiest attempt at witty writing this side of a Dane Cook special.
My fears have been realized. Deadpool is no longer infallible in my eyes. Excuse me while I weep.
I think this book simply proves my point that the Punisher is only as interesting as the people he kills. Garth Ennis knew this. Jason Aaron knows this. And Valerie D’Orazio knows this.
If you don’t know Valerie’s story, and believe me it is a long surreal tale unlike any you’re likely to hear in the world of comics again, you might want to take the time to give her pseudo-memoir/blog “Goodbye to Comics” a look-see. It’s not a short read by any means, but it is something that begs to be read. For a quicker bio, you can click HERE.
There are two ways to read the book. You can read it knowing Valerie’s story or going in blind. If you’ve read Goodbye to Comics you can get an inkling of how cathartic writing this book must have been for her. There are themes that are definitely derived from her experiences in the publishing world and it helps to make the book feel genuine. If you know nothing about the writer, you’ll either bitch that there’s not enough Punisher in the book or you’ll comment on how the best Punisher stories of the last few years seem to use the actual character of Frank Castle sparingly. Like the shark in JAWS.
Jeph Loeb didn’t make me want to kill myself while I read his latest offering to the Ultimate universe. You may remember how I called Ultimatum one of the worst books of 2009. I stand by that. UCNU (because typing out that long ass title every time would make me want to kill myself) is about as middle of the road as you can get. It is not excellent nor is it bad. It simply is. I like where Loeb hs put Tony Stark. I like that we got to see Frank Cho draw Hela undressing herself seductively in an attempt to get Thor to “raise his hammer.” I like that nobody was eaten alive.
It’s like when Homer Simpson invented the Flaming Homer; “It passed the first test…I didn’t go blind.”
Wolverine celebrates the resurrection of Steve Rogers by having Nightcrawler fly them around the world to different bars where they get drunk and form a nice little bromance. Also there are multiple Deathloks going all Terminator on the progenetors of the next generation of heroes.
Yeah. I dug it.
Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.
The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99
And here come the reviews:
AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32
Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.
BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.
The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.
It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E
DETECTIVE COMICS # 861
Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.
While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.
RED HULK # 1
A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41
I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.
Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.
ROBOCOP # 1
I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1
I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.
WONDER WOMAN # 40
Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.
And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?