I’ve been a Deadpool fan for a long time. Long enough that the current Deadpool craze kind of fascinates and infuriates me. I remember telling anyone I knew who read comics at the time that they needed to be reading Cable & Deadpool because it was one of the best books on the stands and that by passing it by they were really missing out. And now that series is regarded as somewhat of a modern classic, with the issues being a little bit more expensive to pick up even before the Deadpool popularity boom and the original trade paperbacks damned near impossible to track down, at least down here in my neck of the woods. While that book was coming out, I was one of its biggest champions, espousing its virtue to every comic fan I knew. But the pervasive culture of comic collecting that centers itself around the importance of continuity and the so-called “big picture” left that book mostly ignored by the general readership of Marvel Comics.
Fast forward to today and that series is getting re-collected into trades, this time with Deadpool’s name taking top billing over Cable and the merc with a mouth has three monthly series going on at once, with one or two mini-series going on at the same time as well. When one ends another starts, so that might as well be another monthly as well. The point is that Marvel is definitely putting some effort into the Wade Wilson division of their publishing. The flagship eponymous title is pretty consistent. In many ways it feels like a spiritual parallel to the series from the nineties. Don’t believe me? Read a couple issues of the old series and then a few of the new series. There are striking similarities, and I’m not going to slam the book for not breaking new ground because it is still constantly entertaining which is the one thing I really look for in a Deadpool book. Deadpool TeamUp is the definition of hit or miss. The quality of that particular book is entirely dependent on both the writer and the guest star of the moment not completely sucking, and getting both to match up seems to be a bit of a problem. Usually only one or the other is on their game.
Then there’s Deadpool Corps, which turned me off before it even launched through the Prelude title which I thought was pretty much unreadable. I don’t know what it was that turned me off, aside from the fact that it just didn’t feel like Deadpool in my opinion. The tone seemed off and something about it left me feeling like the entire mini-series was a misstep. So I initially decided not to read the title that it spawned. I like Vic Gischler’s work, mostly. I don’t think he’s written much that I didn’t like, so I was sad that I didn’t get hooked in with DPC. I didn’t give it much thought after that, because I haven’t given any real thought to any book Rob Liefeld has been on since…well, I guess New Mutants. I know it’s easy to bag on Rob, but I won’t because some people think he’s a great artist. Some people dig his style. He’s supposedly a nice guy. All I know is that his art doesn’t speak to me on any level, and unlike his peers at the time he really hasn’t grown as an artist at all in the time since he rose to prominence. Just about everybody else who founded Image went on to improve leaps and bounds. Except Rob. Rob just stayed Rob. And if he can still move books, I suppose that’s fine. I still think that part of what sealed the deal for me not to pick up the book when it hit stands was his art. The mediocre lead-in was the crux of it, but the thought of forcing myself to stare at his artwork sure as hell didn’t help. If they’d had the art team from Merc With A Mouth or something, I might have been more easily persuaded to give it a try.
So cut to a few months later, I’m at Half Price Books over in Rice Village and I found the issues in the cheap-o bin and picked them up with the sole purpose of forcing myself to read through it and review it for the blog. I hesitated at first because I didn’t think I’d be able to really make any comments beyond the artwork. The thing is, I don’t have much to say about the artwork beyond the fact that it’s everything you would predict it would be. It’s not like you’re going to be surprised by anything anymore when it comes to Rob’s artwork. It simply exists. Do you want me to make a joke about feet? Too bad, it’s all been done and I’d rather focus on something else. I might point out that it looks like everybody’s facial skin has been stretched out around the skull and is slowly being pulled back toward a black hole where the nose should be, but there’s no joke there. Just a consistant oddity to the facial expressions of every character in the book.
But what about the story? What about the book on a whole? There’s more than just pictures to comic books, ya know. When it comes down to it, the book is mostly forgettable. There are some amusing gags here and there, like Lady Deadpool’s instistance that they name the unnamed galactic enemy they’re facing down “Frank” after an ex who she deemed equally destructive. Or the crew’s constant shuffling off of the Lobo-analog champion who keeps hounding them. But these are momentary diversions from the fact that the book is actually pretty dull for a bunch of Deadpools in space. Everything feels generic and uninspired. I feel like Gischler needs a harder edge to make his Deadpool work, as this has none of the gutteral power of Merc with a Mouth. I think that in trying to reach a more general audience and appeal to all the new folks who have latched onto Deadpool as their own, Gischler lost the edge that Deadpool needs.
It’s not the worst Deadpool book on the market. (I couldn’t stomach Wade Wilson’s War) but it doesn’t need to exist. Let Gischler write an arc on DeadpoolMAX where he can really work to his more twisted talent level, with an artist who can make those scenes come alive in vivid detail. Basically go back to what made Merc with a Mouth so damned funny. Because Deadpool needs to be hilarious or it’s just not Deadpool. I think sharing the spotlight among several Deadpools might be the problem. When it comes to Wade, you just need to remember one thing; There can be only one!
I learned something this week. Comic books are not an easy habit to downgrade. While last week I remarked that due to my financial situation, comic books would have to be scaled back for a little while alongside other things like blu-ray movies and steak dinners in order to help me build up a little extra cash in the bank, this week I found out that I can’t seem to stop myself from throwing stuff on the pile. Let me just say that while I still am going to try to restrain myself, hard as it may be because there is so much good stuff out there that I really want to read, I’m not going to hamstring myself either. If you can’t enjoy your hobbies the way you want, they sorta cease to be hobbies in my opinion.
ACTION COMICS #889 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #629 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 3.99
DEADPOOL #22 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #864 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #4 (OF 4) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #578 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #11 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #32 A CVR SEELEY (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 HA 3.99
JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 29.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #38 2.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #2 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV (MR) 4.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #36 SIEGE 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #64 SIEGE 3.99
PREVIEWS #260 MAY 2010 (NET) 2.7
PUNISHER #16 2.99
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE GN (MR) 6.99
SHUDDERTOWN #2 (MR) 3.5
SUPERMAN #699 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #3 (OF 3) 3.99
THOR #609 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #6 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #1 3.99
X-FORCE #26 XSC 2.99
And now, your weekly biased opinions.
I love a good one-off Deadpool story in which all kinds of ludicrous wackiness ensues. When you try to go epic with this particular character you can either get some amazing results like the Cable/cult stuff in Cable & Deadpool or you can get something like Deadpool Corps which doesn’t have quite the same *oomph*. This story has Deadpool being Deadpool somewhere in Georgia and wreaking vengea-justice against some corrupt backwoods hillbilly cops. It’s not high art in any way shape or form, but it feels like Deadpool, moreso than any universe-hopping counterpart he may have in another book.
In all fairness, this is the only Deadpool book on my list now. I cut off DPC and Team-Up because I wasn’t caring for them at all. They felt empty and bloated at the same time and didn’t give me anything that I was looking for in the character. Merc With A Mouth is still mostly excellent but it ends in three issues, so it might as well be gone already. I’m going to hold off on the upcoming Wade Wilson’s War mini-series, despite my immense love for Duane Sweircantspellhislastnameski because I’m pretty sure they’re gonna make an oversized hardcover for it that will look nice next to my Suicide Kings hardcover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of a bookshelf brimming with Marvel hardcovers.
My point is that the main Deadpool book is actually better than it gets credit for, and that I find it interesting that writers at Marvel, like the fanbase, have such wide and varying ideas of what a Deadpool book should be like, given that a few short years ago, Deadpool was one of the simplest characters to write. But exposure has forced multiple interpretations and I’m glad that I found the one that works for me. Maybe Deadpool Corps is the one that works for you. I can’t say. I barely made it through the first issue without vomiting in revulsion.
This issue featured maybe one of the most horrible and obvious plays on words that I’ve ever read in a comic book. I mean, it was too easy and it was telegraphed a mile away and I can’t believe that Paul Dini wrote it. The rest of the comic was pretty damned good. But I keep going back to that one cringe-worthy panel, which I would totally scan if my machine weren’t on the fritz. (Yeah, that’s why the panel of the week segment got cut, because I spend too much money on comics to afford a new scanner. I have no shame.)
The majority of this issue centers around Selina and Harley searching for a lost dog while Poison Ivy makes a first impression at her new job. I will say I was surprised by how that little section of this issue turned out. It looks like they’re not going with the secret identity idea for Poison Ivy as a long-term idea, which I was interested in seeing play out over the course of a few issues.
I think this is a good book. I really do. But this issue is a definate drop in quality from the last arc with Riddler. But then again, that could be on account of my epic Riddler-positive bias. I truly do love the Riddler, I think he’s underappreciated and misunderstood. Thankfully, Dini gets the Riddler better than just about anybody and I think he’s got plans for him down the road.
The heroic age is here. Kind of odd that Siege still technically hasn’t ended and we’re already moving on to the aftermath. Better than holding up all the books while we wait but still a bit odd. This issue is just about everything you could want in an Iron Man comic. Matt Fraction might be God, I’ll have to ask his wife if their new baby was immaculately conceived in order to prove my hypothosis. (Congrats to the both of them on that, by the way)
One thing I think that is immediately noticeable about this book is the timing. A week before the new film drops and we get a comic featuring the return of Hammer Industries, the company founded by Justin Hammer, a prominently featured character in the new movie. Coincidence? I doubt it. Just as when this book launched in the wake of the first film with a story featuring Ezekiel Stane, Fraction has organically found a way to grab the interest of any new readers who might jump on board following the release of the new movie.
The tone of the book has reverted to the same sort that it had around it’s launch. Whereas the last arc was very hyper-real with a good chunk taking place in Tony’s mind, we’re now back to the corporate warfare and industrial terrorism actioner vibe that started in The Five Nightmares. It’s a tone that really works for Iron Man, and even with all the changes Stark is going through, he seems to fit into the puzzle with ease. This truly is some of the best Iron Man writing in ages.
Here’s one of the books that proves my point about the inevitability of my comic collecting nature. I didn’t know this book was coming out this week. I completely overlooked it. But when presented with it, I took one look at the cover, saw Palmiotti and Gray’s name on the credits and tossed it on the pile. If there ever were a dream-team of comic writers, those two are it. Right up there with Brubaker/Rucka as far as I’m concerned. I mean, have you read Jonah Hex? Power Girl? Those guys are amazing.
This book utilizes what they know about the comic book business and builds an effective meta-textual story that comments on the world of comics from the inside and out. From publishing to the fans that read the product, to the media that capitilizes on its burdgeoning popularity. At the same time they manage to make a statement about the current state of the horror genre, both in the world of film and in the graphic literature medium. It’s a mixed message that they put out, I’ll admit, but then again that mirrors the content that they’re deconstructing here. Honestly, the book feels very cinematic. It has a very clear first, second, and third act and is illustrated in such a way that I felt like I was reading an adaptation of a mini-series on HBO.
I’m not going to say that this is their best work, but it is an interesting read. My only real complaints stem from the fact that due to the nature of the book, which seems to be a deconstruction of the modern horror story, the plot turns seem telegraphed and predictible. A problem that seems to plague a great deal of horror movies/novels/comics nowadays. Aside from maybe The Walking Dead, I can’t recall being shocked by a horror title in a long time. Crossed came close, but Garth Ennis can’t stop himself from being Garth Ennis, so a good deal of that book felt predictable as well, sad to say.
However, in the case of Random Acts of Violence, I can say that for the price tag, you get your money’s worth and then some. It’s a very meaty book, it feels full and complete without the need for decompression or rushed…anything. It’s simply a well put together book with a few slight snags applied due to the nature of the beast.
Optimus Prime gets dropped out of a helicopter onto Swindle. Of course I fucking liked it.
See you next week….maybe. I’m taking a trip to Louisiana that weekend and I might space out between the middle of next week and the following Monday.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.