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Posts tagged “Gail Simone

Conan and Red Sonja Collide

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I am a pretty big fan of Conan. The current run at Dark Horse by Brian Wood is some of the best work the character has seen in a long time. The fact that he had some stellar runs by Kurt Busiek and Tim Truman prior shows how highly I think of the title at the moment. Now, Red Sonja has also recaptured my attention as of late. Gail Simone is doing some amazing work with the character at Dynamite. I admittedly fell off of the title a while ago, around the time they launched Queen Sonja if I recall correctly.

Now, as fans have been demanding they do so, they are coming together again for a multi-company crossover event with Gail and Brian working together to craft a story for our sword wielding heroes. CEO of Dynamite Nick Barrucci had this to say;

“Red Sonja and Conan are the power-couple of fantasy comics.  They define the genre together, the iconic figures by which all others are measured.  Their history is intertwined, and I suppose it was only destiny that would lead them together again.  Well, that and a lot of planning alongside great folks like Mike Richardson, Gail Simone, and Brian Wood and the editorial teams from both of our companies.  And the timing could not be better as this is a huge cross-over to hit as we go into our 10th Anniversary.  We couldn’t be more pleased to see the Robert E. Howard legacy made whole again with two Hyboria-shaking crossover events.”

I could not agree more. The current climate is perfect for this crossover. Brian Wood is set to wrap up his run and Gail is just making her mark with the character. Interest is at a high point for both characters and creatively we couldn’t hope for much better. Brian Wood was quoted as saying;

“Conan and Red Sonja together are a genre dream team, and I’m looking forward to not only working with Gail on the story, but creating a crossover story that is epic and huge as these things should be… and something that matters, that’s relevant, and adds something to each character’s rich history.”

With Gail of course adding;

“It’s only the crossover that readers have been begging to have for over a decade: the two greatest barbarian adventurers ever created in an epic tale of blood, lust, and vengeance.  This is the kind of stuff that made me a reader in the first place, and working with Brian Wood and his amazing version of Conan?  It’s just a sword-and-sorcery dream come true.  It’s sword vs. sword, Cimmerian vs. Hyrkanian, loincloth vs. bikini, and it’ll probably be the most fun you’ll have reading a comic all year.”

So if you’re not excited yet, you should be!


Weekly Comic Reviews – 8/14/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

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

Anyhow, here’s some reviews!

BATGIRL # 1

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

GREEN ARROW # 1

Oh boy…

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 2/5

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL # 1

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 4/5

DETECTIVE COMICS # 1

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

It’s not a bad book.

There, I said it.

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

ACTION COMICS # 1

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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


DC Comics Announces Line-Wide Reboot

I know that this year has been a bit different when it comes to the content I’ve posted on the blog. After leaving my job at the comic shop back in December I had to make the painful decision to alter my comic buying habits to accommodate my new lifestyle. As such, I’ve been getting my comics from an online retailer, mailed out once a month and as such I haven’t had much luck posting real reviews on a timely basis. It’s just a sad byproduct of my current situation. Another byproduct has been the steady decline of my interest in the mainstream comics scene. I have, sadly, been dropping titles I once considered vital with each passing month and have instead been focusing on creator-owned work that manages to resonate with me more than anything that DC or Marvel sends down the chute every month.

I never thought I’d see the day that I’d say this but I may just be done with DC comics. Lately the only books that I can say I’ve enjoyed fully are Morrison’s Batman Inc., Palmiotti & Gray’s Jonah Hex, Cornell’s Action Comics and Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Roberson’s handling of the Superman book has also been admireable. But that’s five books out of a line that will see 52 titles jump started with a new # 1 issue.

Dan Didio was quotes in the USA Today article as saying:

In September, more than 50 more first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.

“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio, who co-publishes DC with Lee. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”

Fans around the internet have been in an uproar over this and I have to say that I understand where some of them are coming from, in light of this news coupled with the rumors that have been coming out that have not yet been substantiated such as Lois & Clark’s marriage being lost in the new continuity as well as several creative team changes that are less than exciting including a possible loss of Gail Simone from Birds of Prey. The last time that happened it sucked just about all the energy from the book and it was left to die a slow death. On the other hand Grant Morrison is rumored to be taking over the central Superman title and it is confirmed we will be getting a Justice League book written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in a move that clearly parallels Marvel’s decision to put Bendis on New Avengers several years ago.

The problem I have with the Justice League book being handled by Johns & Lee, aside from the fact that the creative team is almost begging for publishing delays, is that it seems like they’re aping Marvel’s formula several years after it has already gotten stale. Granted, DC could never make such a move any time after Marvel does anything similar because it’s either too soon or too late after the fact for it not to seem like a stunt or playing catch up. My philosophy when it comes to the DC v. Marvel debate comes down to the way Marvel treats its writers. They sell the writers in a way that makes them out to be superstars. Marvel presents their writers as the A-list. The cream of the crop. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, et. al are sold as being equal commodities to the characters they write. DC does not seem to do the same for their writers outside of Morrison or Johns. They have a SMATTERING of amazing talent in people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, and so many others. But you don’t see DC publicizing them like walking gods of creativity the way Marvel does with their stable.

The whole line-wide reboot thing reads like a desperate stunt. DC loves to pull stunts. The repeated weekly series plan alone shows that. This stunt in particular will alienate a great deal of the fanbase and probably lose them for a good long time. They say that the point of all this is to garner new readers by eliminating the confusion surrounding certain characters and their continuity but they are failing to understand the simple reason why the comics market isn’t viable to younger readers and that’s that comic books are not cost effective to the consumer.

The article in USA today also mentions that beginning in September, DC comics will be going same-day release with digital and print copies. This is a major leap forward in the digital market but raises even more questions. Are the digital comics going to be significantly cheaper than the print counterparts? If DC wants to make me pay full price for a copy of the new Superman # 1 at $2.99 when I can get it from an online retailer for anywhere from a 10-40% discount, then what is the impetus for me to switch to digital? The price debate is probably the most important hurdle that the comics industry will have to face in the coming years. I bought a blu-ray movie yesterday for $8.99. That’s two plus hours of entertainment plus special features for roughly ten dollars with tax applied. A comic book is 20 pages of content for about $3.25 after taxes are applied and the best case scenario is usually a ten minute read-time if there’s actually any dense content to the book. If you’re trying to attract new readers, you have to give them more bang for their buck. I respect DC for trying to lower the cost of buying comics, but the content provided for the price is a huge turnoff to people who aren’t already hooked. Add to that the fact that comics aren’t readily available anywhere outside of specialized shops and you’ve got a major dilemma. All the continuity stunts in the world will not save you from that pitfall. Comics are being displayed at Barnes and Noble now, but I’ve seen that selection and it’s not very impressive and not too well organized.

I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, foretelling the end of comics or anything like that. The industry will adapt and survive in some manner, because too much money stands to be lost if they don’t. But the logic that has gone into DC’s latest stunt boggles the mind of anyone who takes the time to look at it carefully. Perhaps this whole article will be rendered worthless when more information becomes available. I hope everything does work out for the best. I still have friends who work in the retail level of the industry, and all the writers and artists who I’ve developed a rapport with since developing this blog don’t deserve to see their chosen profession crumble because the companies don’t know how to adapt. All I can do is sit and wait and see if what DC has to offer is worth paying for.


We Have A Wonder Woman And She’s Taller Than I Am So That’s A Pretty Good Start I Guess…

So we have a Wonder Woman. Adrianne Palicki (which is a last name sure to invite nerd-drooling innuendo for the foreseeable future) has been reportedly cast as the Amazonian princess in David Kelley’s adaptation of Wonder Woman set to air on NBC. Palicki stands at 5’11” and has the build necessary to pull off the character believably though she’s going to have to spend some time with a dye pack to get her hair to the jet-black sheen we’re used to seeing with Wonder Woman. All that truly is in question right now is how well she will be able to portray the character. I do not have any real idea of how well she can play the part as I honestly haven’t seen her in anything live-action, my only experience with her in any form is from her voice work in bits on Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum. Apparently she was in an episode of Smallville once upon a time but nothing about that show really left much of an impression on me other than how badly I want to make out with Allison Mack, because let’s face it, that woman is amazing.

So now we have our Wonder Woman, and the vocal Wondy fans will likely spend the next few months complaining about it as I’ve learned that Wonder Woman fans are 90% psychotic. Their obsession with the minutia of her character is unparalleled and this is equally insane due to the fact that Wonder Woman has to be the least consistent character in the DC universe, paling only in comparison to Donna Troy who herself is part of the Wonder Woman continuity clusterfuck. I’m not saying I don’t like the character, as I’ve got a pretty much a full run of her issues from the moment George Perez took over following the first Crisis through Rucka’s run up through Simone’s and even currently through this current JMS debacle but I’ll be damned if I ever met a Wonder Woman fan who didn’t make me raise my eyebrows and inch for the door just ever so slightly.


Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The new novel is almost finished…again. See, this is what happens when I work in “Drafts.” So in between that, school, work, and a revitalized social life that includes actually having to go outside of the house for stuff like concerts (on Thursday nights), don’t be surprised if the blog starts to lie dormant for chunks of time. I try to avoid it but I’m a one man operation here. That having been said, I’m not gonna deny you guys the comic reviews you so deserve. By that I mean that I’m going back to the old format of cherry-picking what issues to review instead of doing the whole stack because it’s getting harder to go through the whole stack in a single evening.

ARRIVALS 10-06-2010
AVENGERS ACADEMY #5 2.99
BOYS #47 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #37 LAST GLEAMING PT 2 (OF 5)  2.99
CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5) 3.99
DEADPOOLMAX #1 (MR) 3.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #11 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND SPIDER-MAN #1 SL 3.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 05 49.99
ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4) 3.99
UNCANNY X-FORCE #1  3.99
WOLVERINE #2 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #5 2.99

And let’s get this show on the road:

The Boys # 47 THE BOYS # 47:

Garth Ennis is underrated when it comes to giving us character moments that stay with the reader in their gut long after they’ve finished reading the issue. Here we get the inevitable confrontation between Hughie and his superhero girlfriend for the first time since he found out she was a supe and since he saw her “initiation” video into the Seven where she did more with her mouth than give a convincing presentation of her resume.

The pathos and emotion on display between Hughie and Starlight here is gutwrenching. While Garth Ennis is able to craft visceral gore and violence with reckless abandon, his ability to make you care for the characters he writes is generally overlooked, which is a huge shame because it’s stuff like this that shows what the serialized medium of comics is capable of pulling off with a competent writer at the helm. This issue has been building for some time. It’s not rushed, it hasn’t been drawn out or decompressed, it’s simply been building to a boiling point.

This may be some of Garth Ennis’ best work. I know it’s not as roundly applauded as Preacher or Punisher Max, but it is probably his most carefully crafted since Preacher ended and I think that in the end people will recognize it for the treasure that it truly is.

CHAOS WAR # 1 CHAOS WAR # 1:

I am happy to see Hercules back. I truly am. I love the guy. As far as this particular issue, I’m not so sold on the event after the premiere as I was with Shadowland a few months ago. I think that Greg Pak and company did a good job of getting us pumped up for some good old fashioned theological thrashing in what is coming down the road, but there was no big moment that made me step firmly on board with the series. That’s not to say that it’s a bad issue, there is some good stuff set up here, and it’s bound to get much more epic as it goes on. I simply think that a good portion of people are going to be underwhelmed by the debut issue, as not a whole lot really happens. It’s a setup issue pure and simple.

The question this series needs to answer is whether or not the setup is going to pay off. This is going to be one of those series that won’t have a whole lot of impact on the larger Marvel universe the way that Shadowland will because the Marvel Gods don’t seem to get a whole lot of focus in the grand scheme of things unless they somehow relate to Thor, but seeing how Fraction is doing his own thing with the Thor-verse, the reverberations of this series will have to be felt elsewhere, and unless they relaunch an ongoing Herc series, I’m not sure where that will be.

DEADPOOL MAX # 1 DEADPOOL MAX # 1:

This is the one people have been waiting a good long while for. We’ve wanted some unrestrained Deadpool action forever and we finally get it courtesy of Kyle Baker and David Lapham. In the first issue however, we don’t actually get a whole lot of Wade Wilson. We get a lot more Agent Bob and sodomy. The violence is there, as is the swearing and the sexual situations. It’s definitely a max book. What seems to be lacking is, well, Deadpool. He really only shows up for maybe 5% off the book.

What remains to be seen is how this book will work out in regard to how they want to portray Deadpool. I doubt he’ll be breaking the fourth wall or being as goofy as he is in the 616. We already know from this issue that Deadpool will be treated more as a government assassin than a freelance merc for hire, and that he’s more mentally damaged and dangerous than gutlaugh funny. This book follows the pervasive Marvel trend of waiting until issue two to give us the full picture of what the series will end up being like in the long run. Luckily, the first issue was entertaining enough that I won’t feel like an idiot for picking up issue three.

ULTIMATE COMICS THOR # 1 ULT. COMICS THOR # 1

Jonathan Hickman can do no wrong apparently. According to the internets, Kurt Busiek doens’t like him but he seems to be the lone dissenting voice. With Ultimate Comics Thor he gives us a look into the origins of the Ulimate U’s version of Thor and it seems to be a basic mirror of the regular Thor, except in the Ultimate scheme of things, there are a lot more nazis.

This series is likely going to be one of the best to come out of the Ultimate relaunch. It’s obvious that this one is being produced to be shoved into a hardcover and rushed into bookstores around the time the Thor film hits theaters. I’m not sure how that worked for the Black Widow miniseries from Paul Cornell, but it seems like a smart enough move. It helps that it’s a damned good read. If you’re going to try to introduce someone to a character, you could do worse than the setup they use here. It’s integrated enough into the Ultimate Universe that those with familiarity will be able to place it in continuity, but new readers will be able to jump in just as easily. That’s not an easy feat, no matter what universe you’re working in.

Uncanny X-Force # 1 UNCANNY X-FORCE # 1

This one is the winner of the week. Rick Remender may be Marvel’s new secret weapon, as the man has yet to produce a book that doesn’t totally kick all sorts of ass. He’s managed to make Deadpool funny without being over the top. He’s made X-Force not seem like a cliche. He’s managed to give X-Force a purpose beyond being an unnecessary ancilliary title predicated on having a place where Wolverine can stab people with reckless abandon.

I was originally going to skip out on this one. The last X-Force title did nothing for me. Everything about it pretty much went against my established sensibilities. I was afraid this was going to be more of the same. I should have known better. Rick Remender, who is rapidly climbing the ladder of my favorite writers following Last Days of American Crime and FrankenCastle, brings us a new X-Force that seems fresh and new, despite building off of plot threads that have been hanging for quite some time. (Archangel, people. Archangel) And while it definitely plays off some rich history, it isn’t like say, New Mutants, where people unfamiliar with the original story of Inferno might be a little bit lost with the new storyline.

So, long story short, pretty please, go buy the damn book.

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And that does it for this week. Join us next time when hopefully DC puts something out worth Reviewing. (I’d review Secret Six, but c’mon, you know how I feel about that book. I’d marry it if I could.)


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I wasn’t kidding when I said that school was going to interrupt my working on this site. I didn’t get to do the reviews last week because I was working on another paper. Priorities are making this a bitch to write, so the reviews are going to be a little shorter than usual. Also, the format is going to get a little change. I’m going to review EVERYTHING I possibly can, but they’ll be shorter reviews. Basically I’m trying to cover more ground by hitting the major points as directly as possible. If nobody likes the changes, I’ll switch back, but I think this is better for everybody.

Let’s attempt this, shall we?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 643

I’m still washing the bad taste of OMIT out of my mouth. It seems like the book is back on the right track, but once again, the issue feels a little light. I feel like if I had paid a full 3.99 for this issue I would be a little disappointed because this was probably the quickest read of the week.

BATMAN BEYOND # 4

We find out who Hush is in this issue. And once again, I feel like the reveal was a bit of a cop out. I won’t tell you who it is, I’ll just say that it fits with everything I’ve come to expect both from the Hush character and the Batman Beyond universe. From what I’ve seen so far with this miniseries, I don’t expect myself to pick up the ongoing when it hits stands.

BIRDS OF PREY # 5:

Gail Simone kicks off a new arc on Birds of Prey picking up where she left off last month with Babara trying to make things right with Creote and Savant, and Dinah flying off to China with the White Canary.  The issue has Simone’s usual flair for dialogue and the storyline is progressing in a way that seems interesting, with the action having a good amount of organic flow to it, but the artwork leaves something to be desired this time around. It seems like the very definition of “Fill In,” with sketchy line work that seems a bit rushed and doesn’t convey the same amount of detail that there was in the debut arc of the new volume. It’s not horrible, it’s just distracting.

DEADPOOL # 27:

This book is becoming so middle of the road that it frightens me. I think they’re trying to keep the tone at a certain level so that the upcoming MAX title seems to have an edge over the regular 616 version. That’s not to say that the book isn’t worth a read. It’s fun and light. It’s basically worth reading if you want something that makes you laugh while you read it and not much else.

HACK/SLASH : MY FIRST MANIAC # 4

Hack/Slash is pretty consistent. This issue hits all the marks that the series should and I’m primed and pumped for the relaunch under the Image banner. I think having the ongoing back will make up for the flaws of the miniseries, which feels almost too small compared to the overarching continuity of the regular series.

THUNDERBOLTS # 148:

I don’t know why they decided to work this title into the Shadowland crossover. I mean, yeah, Luke Cage is in it, but beyond that it doesn’t seem to fit. I thought the crossover with Avengers Academy made more sense. The issue itself isn’t really bad, especially in the moments that have nothing to do with Shadowland. Anything dealing with the Thunderbolts in the prison setting, where Crossbones and the rest of the team really get a chance to shine are some great moments indeed. It’s only when Luke Cage shows up and reminds us that since he’s involved the Thunderbolts have to be involved as well. Sadly, once the action does move into Shadowland territory it seems to fall apart. It’s all a matter of abrupt change that doesn’t seem to really do much for the story we’ve had thus far.

X-23 # 1:

This one sort of comes off as a New X-Men reunion. It picks up on a lot of threads that have been gestating since the end of that particular series. The characters have been in use since then but it seems like this is the first time in a while since anybody did anything with them that advanced what had been set up before. X-23 was really the only one who had any sort of character development since then, and that’s because she had some time in X-Force to deal with her issues.

Now, with her own ongoing series, she should be able to continue to develop, and it looks like the New X-Men cast will be her supporting cast here. Which is definitely a good thing considering that I loved that series and I still get a little mad that its gone sometimes.  The story itself seems to be starting off by tossing Laura into a situation that’s more personal than the usual do-or-die situations she’s been dealing with in X-Force. Hopefully this can grow into a good series with a little time.

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It was a pretty small week this week. With the one book I didn’t read being the sixth volume of Empowered which is a perennial favorite of mine. Because, c’mon, bondage. Anyhow, next week might be a bigger one, so we’ll see how things pan out. Later!


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Fear not, helpless masses! I am returned! After delays and setbacks and general stuff happening in life that doesn’t have much to do with comic books, I’m back to tell you about the weekly pull and what it has to offer. This week was pretty darned massive. It was a tough choice figuring out what to review, because there’s not a much of a point in reviewing part three of a given series, you’ve largely made up your mind by then. I’m more of a startup/wrapup sorta guy. I like to review the beginning or the end, thus chronicling the entirety of the story. Luckily I was able to find some criticism fodder in the pile this week.

ARRIVALS 08-04-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #639 3.99
AVENGERS PRIME #2 (OF 5) 3.99
BATMAN ODYSSEY #2 (OF 6) 3.99
BOYS #45 (MR) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #608 3.99
DEADPOOL #1000 4.99
GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #157 3.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #5 2.99
IZOMBIE #4 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX #58 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #9 3.99
LOSERS TP BOOK 02 (MR) 24.99
SECRET SIX #24 2.99
SHADOWLAND #2 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND BULLSEYE #1 SL 3.99
SUPERGOD #4 (OF 5) WRAP CVR (MR) 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #6 (OF 6) 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #3 2.99

And let’s hope I can remember how to do this!

DP *heh*
DEADPOOL # 1000

Let’s get this out of the way right now, this book didn’t need to exist. As such, it fits in well with the majority of the Deadpool books being published right now. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that this one is actually pretty damned good. Unlike that 900 fiasco, which was largely hit and miss. Every segment in this issue was darned entertaining. Especially the Blackest Night parody which I feel was written just for me to warm the cockles of my still-beating black heart! Also of note is the Canada-man segment, which was downright hilarious.

I have to say that for the 4.99 price, you get a hell of a lot for your dollar. I mean, yeah there’s a superflous catalog of artwork showcasing Deadpool comprised of mostly covers from the Deadpool variant month that does nothing but add heft to the book and could have been tossed aside. But then again, this entire book is technically superflous as it adds nothing to Deadpool’s ongoing arc and is simply a showcase of Marvel talent having a go at the merc with a mouth.

One thing that stood out for me when reading this particular issue, is that it’s been so long since I saw Deadpool kill anyone that it was actually kind of shocking how much actual killing he does in this issue. I know it’s odd to say that, but it’s the truth, at least for me. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of an interesting look at what Deadpool has become as opposed to what he began as. Something to ponder…

JoJo 58
JONAH HEX # 58

I need to reiterate that Jonah Hex is probably the one book I would keep reading if I dropped everything else altogether. Or possibly Secret Six, but we’ll get to that later. With this issue, we get what is essentially a poem about the nature of a bullet’s reason for existence juxtaposed against the wild west backdrop of Jonah Hex’s world. The issue deals with a revolving door of people with revolvers and the intent to use them and the consequences of their decision to cock the hammer.

It’s just the sort of thing that works for this book. It’s probably the most oblique type of subtlety you can get. You know there’s a message but with the shades of grey that our characters occupy, the reader can take the message in all sorts of directions. There’s been a lot of good literature written about the toll that the soul takes when confronted with the realities of vengeance and the guilt of taking a life. My next novel touches on just such subjects. Jonah Hex isn’t high literature, but it’s not schlock either. It’s almost the perfect venue to air such a debate. The book is as unflinching as the impact of a bullet.

Also, for no reason, here’s a picture of Jimmy Palmiotti as Watchmen‘s the Comedian taken from Dave Gibbons’ twitter:

That shit is uncanny...

Yeah, that’s about right…

Secret Six
SECRET SIX # 24

After a brief guest writer spot, Gail Simone returns to write the six again in a weird little story that sees the group transplanted into the old west. It’s an interesting little what-if story that confused the hell out of me for a while because I spent more time than I did reading the issue trying to understand its implications. Were they in some sort of virtual reality? Were they transplanted through time? Is Gail Simone a timelord? Is this a one-shot or a full arc? Will we ever get another tub-sex scene as awesome as the one in this issue?

Seriously, it’s a perplexing issue. It’s interesting, just like the entirety of the series has been so far, but it’s jarring as all hell. There’s no segue into the issue, it just hits you and tosses you into this alternate reality with no regard for your brain’s safety. You just have to roll with it. Listen to Ragdoll’s little puppet show and shut your mouth, there is no refuge for you here.

Also, I totes have a crush on Cowgirl Scandal now.

I Say You He Dead...
SHADOWLAND : BULLSEYE # 1

I was going to pass on ALL the Shadowland spinoffs. I was just gonna get Daredevil and the main mini-series and wouldn’t allow myself to get suckered down the long and winding road of books that I don’t normally read. That plan was torpedoed however when I noticed that this particular issue was written by John Layman, him of Chew fame. And so with full faith in the authorship I put the book in my stack, because I figured I’d regret it later if I didn’t.

I was right.

The issue concerns itself with members of the criminal underworld hosting a funeral for the recently perforated Bullseye in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen Park with a kidnapped Ben Urich there to cover the story. The principle character in the narrative is a fellow who can supposedly commune with the dead, and the dead person currently on his telepathic telephone is Bullseye, constantly screwing with his head the whole of the issue.

I would say that this issue acts as an excellent sort of #1.5 interlude between issues one and two. It feels like a story that needed to be told. The underworld’s reaction to Bullseye’s death isn’t something that needs to mentioned in periphery, it’s an important detail and it deserved a full issue. We get the heroes’ reaction in Shadowland 2, but this presented a different perspective that I think readers will definitely enjoy.

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Well, there you go. Tomorrow is my birthday so I may be out of action once again for a little while, but I’ll try to make it up to all of you with something appropriately trashy.
Toodles.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Here’s the deal. I’ve been busy with a TON of stuff today. Like, just about everything that I need to do in a given month I had to get done today and then some. So you’ll have to apologize when I eschew the typical format of these reviews and go about this a little differently this week. This week’s reviews will be comprised of just two books, Batman and Superman # 701. Basically, the biggest two books to hit this week. I mean, Birds of Prey # 3 was awesome, and a bunch of people who went apeshit over certain events in the second issue had eat some serious crow. I finally picked up a copy of The Sixth Gun which I recommend to anybody who likes Jonah Hex but wants a little bit of mysticism thrown in without being outright terrible like the film. Also Generation Lost made me fall in freaking love with the Rocket Reds.

Let’s start with Superman # 701.

The S stands for "SHIT" #sickburn

Dear god, this whole issue seems like 32 pages of JMS trying to justify the premise of his arc to us by hammering us over the head with apathetic retreads of tired philosophy and even more tired retreads of scenes that Grant Morrison already did to perfection a few years back with All-Star Superman. Seriously, that suicide jumper scene was basically everything Morrison did but stretched out for a few pages with no sense of gravitas. It’s so mind-numbingly blunt that it looses any and all effect.

I think my biggest problem with JMS’s retread of Hard Travelin’ Heroes starring Superman is that JMS doesn’t seem to write Superman in the classic sense. The Superman I know is not the spiteful, sarcastic, embittered abuser of power that we get in this issue. This feels like Stracynski trying to finish out what he had wanted to do with Thor but couldn’t because he got tossed to the curb by Marvel editorial. I think that a lot of the bitterness that he feels over how that panned out is being transferred onto his Superman. Superman here doesn’t feel like he needs to answer to anybody. Not reporters, not the man on the street, nobody. He is sick and tired of everyone’s impatience and expectations. The problem is, he’s made Superman borderline unlikeable in this instance.

I’ve seen just as much love for this issue as I have hate, so obviously he’s struck a chord with people. But I’ve noticed that a lot of the praise is coming from people who are new to reading Superman on a regular basis. A lot of first timer’s interested by the premise got drawn in, and having no attachment to everything that makes Superman…well, Superman, they find this sort of bland retread to be new and fresh and exciting.

It’s not.

It’s lazy and it doesn’t really work for anyone who has any real understanding of Superman as a character. Some would argue that JMS is attempting to write away the flaws of Superman, but by turning him into a cynical jerkwad doesn’t do anything but create more flaws. It alienates the previously faithful readers and the new readership is not likely to stick around in the long run.

It’s not the worst issue of Superman ever written, it’s just an egregious slap in the face to fans of the character. It collapses under the weight of it’s own self importance and in the end will just be another footnote in the long history of the book that people look back on and sort of chuckle at.

Still better than Electric Blue Supes.

Batman Farts Explosions

On the flipside, we have Batman 701, which goes back to the moments immediately following Batman R.I.P. and leading up to Batman’s collision course with Darkseid in Final Crisis. This issue is the first time in a while we’ve seen Bruce Wayne in the suit for the main story. I think Morrison was wise to hold off on this issue until now, simply because it gives the audience a broader understanding of his entire overall story and allows for the reader to follow the action with greater ease than if it had come immediately following R.I.P.

The artwork is just amazing, a step-up from Daniel, whose work seemed to be rushed while he had to perform the writing duties as well. There is more definition, more style on display here. It matches the mood of the story perfectly, and I think that goes a long way towards crafting an excellent issue.

The basic premise is centered around Hurt’s declaration that following the events of R.I.P., if Bruce were to wear the cowl again it would be the last time. A prophetic curse that weighs heavy on Bruce. It’s interesting that he takes this to heart the way he does, seeing how he comes down on criminals as being overly cowardly and superstitious and I don’t think that is an accident. Morrison doesn’t do coincidence.

His reaction to the death of a New God shows us exactly how Morrison feels about Batman as a character and it works well within everything that’s come to be associated with Bruce as far as his determination and his psyche. It’s the exact opposite of Stracynski’s Superman in that regard. Nobody will accuse this Batman of not being in character. He is the driven detective, the dark knight and he acts as such.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this arc.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I’m not even gonna lie, folks. Yesterday I was on the verge of lashing out at anybody who looked at me the wrong way. Some people said some things that I felt were highly disrespectful, and then they followed up on that by asking me to go out of my way to do something that I am not actually able to do without significant time spent doing so. Why would I do this when I don’t get treated with any measure of respect in the course of my regular comings and goings? All I can say is that luckily the day was salvaged by a date with a beautiful girl and a stack of mostly excellent comics.

Yesterday was really the kind of day that comics were invented for. I was in a foul mood, the rain outside was just nasty, nothing was on TV; it was just a day meant to be ended laying on the couch reading about super powered people in bright costumes punching bad guys in the face. Honestly, yesterday would have been almost a total down note if it weren’t for my weekly pull.

ARRIVALS 6-30-2010
ACTION COMICS #890 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #34 2.99
BATMAN BEYOND #1 (OF 6) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #607 HA 3.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #892 2.99
DEATH OF DRACULA ONE-SHOT 3.99
FLASH #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #13 2.99
HERALDS #5 (OF 5) 2.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 4.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40 2.99
SECRET AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
THOR #611 HA 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #600 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99

And now that my personal bitching is out of the way, let’s do this shit.

Action # 890
ACTION COMICS # 890

Lex Luthor takes over the protagonist duties on Action Comics this week, with former Captain Britain and Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell taking the reigns and bringing us a story that spills directly out of Blackest Night, which most of my readers will recall me as christening a “steaming pile of Geoff John’s diaretic feces” or something similar. And while my feelings on that particularly shoddy mini-series haven’t changed, the fallout here with Luthor, whose power hungry ego was out of control before he got ahold of an orange ring, is actually intriguing and well plotted. I attribute this mostly to the fact that Luthor is one of the better multi-faceted villains DC has at their disposal. I mean, the Joker has a lot of different degrees of crazy he can go in, but he’s still going to be the Joker. With Lex we can get mad scientist Lex or evil industrialist Lex or actually-not-evil Lex, his lack of true definition isn’t a fault of the writers it’s a byproduct of his psyche as a character. Luthor truly does not know what he wants to be. Really, he just doesn’t want to be Superman, despite what Geoff Johns would have you believe.

This particular issue knocks it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The story is obvious setup, where we learn of Luthor’s plan to quest for the rings (which sounds a little more Tolkien-esque than I thought when I typed that out). But while it’s definitely an issue meant to catch up readers who may be jumping on board as well as giving us a clear direction for where the title is headed, we also get Cornell’s Luthor clearly defined in the span of one issue. We know which Luthor we’re going to be getting. Cornell writes a very compelling Luthor, with his actions making complete sense in the context of who we’re dealing with. The way he treats Lois in this issue (probably my favorite aspect of the series thus far) is probably as good a gauge of character as we’ll ever see.

Oh, and the surprise reveal of the villain at the end made me squee, because he’s a personal favorite and I’ve been waiting for him to pop back up for a while now. But that’s just personal bias.

BB1
BATMAN BEYOND # 1

I only vaguely remember Batman Beyond as a show. I mean, I watched it because I was young and there wasn’t much else on but I didn’t latch onto it the way that I did with Batman The Animated Series. Chris Sims over at ComicsAlliance said that he enjoyed the show because it was basically Batman meshed with Spider-Man but set in the future. I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. The character is more Spidey than Bats most of the time, and I think that’s an interesting dynamic but it was never something that hooked me. I mean, if I want to watch Spider-Man I’ll go watch Spider-Man. Batman has a specific style and tone that I identify with and Batman Beyond didn’t really hit that note for me.

That having been said, I felt compelled to pick up the first issue of the mini-series because I’ll be damned if I’m not going to at least give it a fair shake to make me a convert. I won’t say that it has, but I think that is because a lot of what did make the show work in terms of style was lost when translated with it’s adaptation to a different medium. I think that regular fans will enjoy it more than I did because they’ll just be happy to see Terry McGinnis back in some form.

I will say that Beechen gets kudos for surprising me with the villain, if they do in fact go where they suggest at the end of the issue. He’s not my favorite villain by any means, in fact I hate the living hell out of the story that introduced him while a lot of people hold it up as some paragon of Batman lore, but given that this is an alternate reality maybe they can fix him in some small degree, although any progress made won’t resonate in the regular titles and so I’ll likely end up dissapointed either way. As you can tell, I am still harboring some residual pessimissm left over from yesterday.

DoD
DEATH OF DRACULA

Spoiler Alert – Dracula dies in this issue. Yeah, I know some people will actually complain that I mention that. Despite having the central premise of the book right there in the title. Though Marvel has thrown swerveballs at us in regards to titles and events and covers that bely my point, but this is my blog so deal with it.

Anyhow, all I have to say about this issue is that it is a damn fine little vampire story that follows the logic and style I prefer in my vampire fiction. I was hoping for a Blade cameo, but no such luck, this one is all about the fanged dudes. The clear definition that Gischler gives to the vampire sects is refreshing rather than having a catch-all group of undead with no real regard to locale or backstory. I particularly liked the hot dominatrix female vampire sect. (The fact that I almost typed that as “Sext” seals the deal. Hot vampires for the win. Good job Gisch!)

I have to appreciate Marvel’s recent revival of their vampire community. The upcoming trade reprints of Tomb of Dracula have me positively giddy as I can finally replace my Essentials. Cornell’s Vampire State arc of Captain Britain was phenomenal and every time I see a copy at the shop I get really angry that the book got cancelled because it truly was a gem. But luckily Marvel has good, talented writers like Gischler handling their vampires because they seem to understand what makes them work. Vampires are supposed to be creatures of horror. There is a lamentation in the book that humans don’t fear vampires the way they should, despite being creatures of fear by nature. And that’s the crux of this. There is a regal fearsomeness to the vampires presented in this issue. I want to thank Vic Gischler for righting the wrongs brought on by vampires like this:

Gayer Than 8 Guys Blowing 9 Guys

Yeah, seriously. Read Death of Dracula. It’s not lame.

IIMA 1
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL # 1

First, let me state how awesome it is that Matt Fraction was able to throw in a nod to Immortal Iron Fist in this annual. I think that was wicked awesome, especially for those of us who loved that book unconditionally. I will say that for the five bucks I paid to pick up this book, I got about as much content as your average trade paperback. Fraction knows how to give his readers bang for their buck, and here we got an interesting look at the life story of the Mandarin through the eyes of the director he shanghai’d to film his biopic. It’s filled with fabrications and lies mixed with fact. Kind of like a White House press conference (BA-ZING!).

It’s a hefty book, with a sprawling story that weaves itself around Iron Man without ever being about him. Which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. I did like how Fraction essentially updated Tony’s origin to mirror the one in the film, with the terror sect from the first movie being utilized and the escape sequence recreated almost identically. We knew it was going to happen eventually, I’m just glad it was done in a way that was organic and didn’t feel forced. Like some stupid mini-series launched simply to cash in on the movie. I get tired of that. Quickly.

This annual has a lot going for it the way that Action Comics did. We get a character who is well known but not defined in any real manner. Fraction plays with that a bit to create a character who is defined by the smokescreen created by his own illusionary presence. The Mandarin is a villain who needed an issue like this to give us a reason to care about his existence. I can’t wait to see what Fraction does with the character in the pages of the book proper.

JLA 46
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 46

Christ on a cracker, Robinson. You’re killing me here.

JLA has turned into a solid gold turd. I mean, it started off pretty bad with Meltzer, and McDuffie’s run was a mediocre bore, but now it’s just a walking joke. Bagley’s pencils are great and all but they cannot salvage this dreck. It’s poorly written, poorly plotted, and doesn’t feel like a JLA book at all to me. There’s none of the gravitas of Morrison or Waid’s run, and none of the fun that was so prevalant in the cartoon. JLA is supposed to be big and bombastic, it’s supposed to be all that’s great about the DC characters in one book but instead I find myself reading this issue and wondering how anyone could enjoy it. It’s full of faux importance but everything rings hollow. If it weren’t crossing over with JSA, which I’m loving, I never would have put money down on this title. It’s sad to see how far Robinson has fallen since Starman, it really is.

Wonder Woman 600
WONDER WOMAN # 600

All anyone is talking about is that damned costume redesign. Which basically confirms my suspicions that Wonder Woman is more an image than a catalyst for stories. She’s a fetishized figure that hearkens to teenage masturbatory fantasies whose value as a character is largely ignored. I personally liked every little story in the book, with my favorite of course being the one by Amanda Conner, who may be the most talented working artist around. I mean, come on. You have Power Girl and Wonder Woman teaming up to punch a giant walking egg. Don’t tell me that’s not great!

But all the coverage of this milestone issue has been about the damned costume. It only appears for one of the five stories in the issue and that seems to be the only thing that every article I’ve read since the beginning of this week has focused on. Not the fact that Gail Simone teamed up with George Perez to tell a Wonder Woman story that builds on years of Diana’s legacy for a truly genuine story. One that demonstrates how just about every other female character in the DCU is beholden to Wonder Woman in some way, shape or form. Whether in the context of their existence in the mainstream DCU or in a meta-textual manner that references the way Diana trailblazed female heroes, that story spoke volumes. And it made the message while she was wearing the classic costume. If there is anything wrong with that costume it’s simply that George Perez can’t draw every issue of Wonder Woman as well as her every appearance in every DC book. Between Gail and George’s enormous talent, their worst work would be better than the best work of some other talented creators. I stand by that firmly.

Of the Trinity’s anniversary issues, this one was probably the strongest. There was a respect to the character that was lacking in Superman’s, like the point of Superman 700 was to expose the flaws of Superman and somehow right them. Which felt a little like arrogance on the part of Stracynski. With Wonder Woman, he’s also trying to revise her and bring her some place new. But he didn’t do it at the expense of saying “your personality is wrong, this shall be fixed.”

Still not sold on him as the ongoing writer, but this issue was solid. I just wish people could see the reason why.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Well, it’s time for me to rant and rave about comics again. It feels like it’s already later in the week than it really is so you’ll forgive me if everything feels a bit “off” today. I’m not sure why I feel so damned disoriented but I do. I spent Tuesday playing Red Dead Redemption, which I finally managed to complete and it was worth it because that game is all kinds of amazing right up to the very end. I want a sequel now. But games are more my brother’s department, so I’ll let him tell you about that if he ever decides to do another editorial for us, the lazy bastich.

ARRIVALS 6-16-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #633 2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #634 GRIM 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #1 (OF 4) 3.99
BIRDS OF PREY #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #3 HA 2.99
BOYS #43 (MR) 3.99
DEADPOOL #24 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #12 (OF 13) 2.99
HER-OES #3 2.99
HERALDS #3 (OF 5) 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #610 WWHS 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #14 XSC 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS X #3 3.99
WITCHBLADE TP VOL 07 14.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #4 3.99

So let’s hop to it. No sense in wasting time.

Grim Hunt
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 634 (Grim Hunt Part One)

Two issues of Amazing Spider-Man hit the shelves this week. Three if you count the Black Cat mini-series. The finale of SHED was passable, but the overall quality of the arc is tainted for me by Bachalo’s artwork, which I find to be damn near incomprehensible. Seriously, I have no clue what in god’s blue balls is going on when that dude draws an issue. I’m not saying that he’s a bad artist, as there’s obviously talent there. I certainly can’t draw with any degree of his skill, his style simply aggrivates me and if Spidey weren’t a title I’d been collecting for around six years straight I would probably skip the story just so as to avoid looking at his clusterfuck linework.

Skip to the next issue however, and it looks like we’re in for a ride and a half. The Kraven saga is finally coming to a head, with the Kravinoff family hunting down members of the “Spider” family in some sort of scheme that I guess will either redeem Kraven’s honor in the family’s eyes or straight up resurrect him. I’m not sure. There seems to be a lot of misdirection on the part of the Kraven family. They were straight up trying to explode Arachne with a rocket launcher in the streets of New York while they had much more elaborate and detailed plans in their hunt for Mattie Franklin, the other, OTHER Spider-Woman who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

But honestly, the best part of the issue for me was seeing Kaine get his ass handed to him. I’m no fan of Kaine. He oozes 90’s psuedo-cool-lameness and seeing him get beat up and sliced to ribbons was just a treat for me. Like a free dessert at a restaraunt I was already enjoying.

Black Widow
BLACK WIDOW # 3

I’m not gonna really review this issue, I just wanted to post a picture of Black Widow’s wicked awesome “Srsly?” face as drawn by Daniel Acuna.

Seriously. Epic bitchface.

Eye see you...
INCREDIBLE HULK # 610

You know what? This may be the single best issue of Hulk of the decade. It’s definitely the best to come out since the Planet Hulk saga ended. It feels like the Hulk should. It’s got all the melodramatic pathos, all the internal emotional struggle worked out through unrepentant violence. In short, it’s just a really amazing piece of Hulk. So much of what happens in this issue builds off of years and years of Hulk history, so much so that every event that happens in the pages of the issue carry an emotional weight that has been missing from the series for a while. I think that running parallel to Loeb’s overblown lunacy has caused the Incredible Hulk book to suffer by association. Pak has had to work within the confines of what Loeb has been building up to with the Red Hulk identity mystery and the introduction of gamma-radiated heroes, but he maneuvers in between the raindrops of insanity here to put out a classic Hulk issue that I think people will be talking about YEARS down the line as a perfect example of what makes The Hulk work as a character.

I will admit that the issue did have a bit of sensory overload. A lot of what happens happens very, very fast and there’s a lot of information to process. That having been said, it’s not so mindbogglingly convoluted that you can’t fully understand what’s going on. Compared to something like, let’s say, last week’s issue of SHIELD which just about made my brain crap itself. (Thanks Jonathan Hickman, you magnificant bastard)

In short, it may not be a great jumping on point if you’re unfamiliar with what’s been going on, but this issue should be a treat and a half for true died-in-the-wool Hulk fans who have been waiting for an issue like this for a long, long time.


The NEW New Avengers
NEW AVENGERS # 1

If Avengers was Bendis doing the Avengers in a more classic mold, New Avengers certainly continues the work he did in the previous volume, with all the stuff that will make Bendis haters gnash their teeth and complain until they’re blue in the face while ignoring the fact that it’s still a damned fine book that is in no way inferior to what he’s doing over in the flagship title or anything any other Avengers writer has done before him. He even has the requisite Avengers trope of having everyone sitting around the table at the Avengers mansion and talking. Which happened ALL THE MOTHERFLIPPING TIME back in the old days, so it’s not as if his “overly talky” style is in any way counter to what the Avengers have done in the past. Plus we get some serious mystical mania with Hellstorm, Strange and the new sorcerer supreme, Dr. Voodoo.

Seriously, to prepare for this review I stalked message board topics about it. Just to see what other people were thinking and I have to say that the majority of comic book readers are a bunch of jaded cynics and hypocrits who really would only be happy with any given title that they claim to love if they were working on it with an artist of their choosing. Of course then only one person would be happy with the book and the rest of us would still be complaining. Lighten up fanboys, you guys are killing me.

Also, my new comic nerd-crush is Victoria Hand. In this issue she has a big gun. She’s won my heart.

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Now I have to head back into the shop for a few hours on my day off to continue pulling books for subscribers. UPS lost another one of our boxes and so there’s a few things that we have to finish up today. I swear, in between Diamond Distribution and UPS, it’s a wonder we have any comic books to complain about on a weekly basis AT ALL.


A Blue Beetle Live Action TV Show?

According to SuperHeroHype and Geoff John’s manic twitter feed, there is talk of a live-action Blue Beetle series being developed.

According to Johns, it is the Reyes character that would be featured in a live action show, having been introduced on the animated “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” last year with plans to play a larger part on the show. The first stage of development in a live action show are recent tests to replicate how Reyes might activate his suit from the magical scarab that attached itself to his spine after Kord’s death. (courtesy SuperHeroHype)

If this turns out to be true, I will be freaking ecstatic. I love Blue Beetle. I think Jaime Reyes is one of the best new legacy characters DC has cranked out in a while. All respect to Gail Simone, I could never get into her All New Atom, but Blue Beetle suckered me in immediately and I stayed with his book all the way through to it’s eventual cancellation.

The prominent placement in the Brave and the Bold cartoon had me wondering if they were testing the waters for something bigger, and I hope that this pans out. That would just go a long way toward shutting up some fanboys who spend most of their time bellyaching about DC’s inherit “racism” in regards to their characters.


Weekly Comic Review

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

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

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

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

BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE # 1

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

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

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

BIRDS OF PREY # 1

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

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

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

Aside from that quabble, great book all around.

NEW AVENGERS FINALE

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

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

Simply put, Bendis got this one right.

FRENEMY OF THE STATE # 1

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

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

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

So, next time, then…


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This 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.

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*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.


The Best Comics You’re Not Reading

Yesterday I did a little post about the creative shift on Power Girl, a book which I alone seem to be reading. That got me thinking about books that REALLY need to be getting some more attention. I thought I’d provide a public service by putting together a list of such books, in the hopes that you might put down that Avengers title long enough to read something a little different.

# 1 : POWER GIRL

This seems like the logical point at which to begin, considering that this is the title that spawned the list in the first place. The book is one of the best being published by DC at the moment and I’m not just saying that because of the boob jokes. I mean, yeah, they’re awesome. But the minute details thrown in to the characterization makes for a rich read without being too unwieldy. It’s not saddled with continuity, despite being about a character with the most convoluted history this side of Donna Troy.

I enjoy reading this book more than just about any other book out there, because the intent of the narrative seems to be to entertain rather than to advance some company-wide initiative or other such drollery. The book is able to stand on its own merit which is something a lot of titles nowadays seem to lack.

2: JONAH HEX

A western book that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in a book that doesn’t have the Vertigo banner on the cover. This is a gritty book with sharp writing and intensive art that doesn’t fit into any mold whatsoever. No other current western book has this kind of feel. Granted, there aren’t that many other western books, but in that short category, Jonah Hex is the obvious winner.

3: BOOSTER GOLD

I feel the same way about this book as I do about Power Girl. It’s one of the most entertaining books being published at the moment. Unlike Power Girl however, this book thrives on continuity. This is for the true geek out there, the one who has read every DC mega event of the last thirty years and loves alternative history books. This is for the true DC aficionado. And at the same time, it’s a great way for the newbie to learn about those same events without diving in head first. That’s the charm of Booster Gold; it’s a double edged sword of awesome.

4: SECRET SIX

No book on the market can merge dark subject matter and gallows humor into such a fun book. Gail Simone really does have an outstanding talent for creating something unlike anything else on the stands on a month by month basis. It’s no wonder that this book seems to inspire such amazing fan loyalty. And not just to the book itself or to the writer, but to the individual characters. Everybody has their favorite, and they will fight to the death over said character’s value and worth to the DC Universe at large.

5: S.W.O.R.D.

Too late on this one, as the final issue just hit stands. You missed the boat on this one. But when that trade hits stands, I’m begging you to pick it up. As a bridge between the Dark Reign events and the cosmic universe being run by Abnett and Lanning, this is one of the most unique titles that Marvel published this year. It really is worth giving a read.

***

So if you get a chance, give those titles a try. Diversification, people. It’s important. Or else soon everything published will be an Avengers book by Bendis, and then I’ll have to punch myself repeatedly into a coma.*

*Please note that I enjoy Bendis’ Avengers titles but if you have steak day after day after day, eventually you’ll get tired of steak.

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?

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


Panel of the Week

Panel of the Week

From Secret Six # 18


Weekly Comic Reviews

I’m back. Though I’m completely sore and drained after an amazing concert last night at the House of Blues, I have found it in my heart to post up this week’s reviews in a manner that vaguely resembles professional.

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The Pull List 2-10-2010

ACTION COMICS #886 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS WITH BLACK LANTERN SUPERBOY #7 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #620 GNTLT 2.99
BATGIRL #7 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #8 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #29 3.99
COLT NOBLE AND MEGALORDS (ONE SHOT) 5.99
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #29 3.99
HAUNT #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #3 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #10 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #4 (MR) 3.99
QUEEN SONJA #4 2.99
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY ILLUSTRATED #1 4.99
SECRET SIX #18 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SWORD #4 (MARVEL) 2.99
TITANS #22 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7 3.99

And now, on with the show…

ASM 620
Amazing Spider-Man # 620

Amazing Spider-Man has become a freight train style juggernaut that moves along at seemingly breakneck speed without any signs of slowing down. The 3x a month format allows for a cacophony of plot development in a VERY short span of time. What amounts to the third arc of the Gauntlet storyline has come to a close. Were this a traditional Spider-man story, played out once a month, it would have taken 3/4 of a year to get where we are.

Thus far the story has been like the beginnings of a chess game, with pieces being carefully put into position in ways that we can see that an endgame is approaching but don’t yet know how it will truly play out. In this week’s issue, we get a classic Spider-Man throwdown between the webslinger and Mysterio, who constantly plays mindgames with Spidey and the reader, keeping us guessing as to whether he truly is Quentin Beck come back from the dead. Ambiguity breeds interest, and this arc certainy has it in spades.

And, I must once again take a moment to praise the art of this particular story, as it reminds me very much of the 70’s styled Spider-Man stories that I enjoyed so much, with none of the hyper-realistic definition that seems to have plagued the book in the wake of McFarlane in the 90’s. The art is a key componant here in making the story feel like classic Spidey.

Batman and Robin # 8
Batman & Robin # 8

MINDLESS ZOMBIE BATMAN!

GLEE!!!!!

Colt Noble
Colt Noble & The Megalords

I am an unabashed lover of Hack/Slash and its creator Tim Seeley, who writes stuff that will never be considered high art but could definately be called high concept. His sense of comedic timing is a wonder to behold and his latest venture, a sci-fi/fantasy romp with a sarcastic comedic flair tossed in to make things interesting is truly worth a read.

Now, at 5.99 it’s a bit pricey. But let me tell you this, the issue had more damned story and content than the majority of the books on the rack this week. Compared with Zenoscopes Sci-Fi Illustrated (Which I will get to in a moment…) which held a pricetag of 4.99 with about 1/4 the content, you cannot argue that you’re not getting a good value.

And honestly, you’re getting more than a good value. One of my major complaints with the comic book industry and its followers today is an overwhelming tendency toward constant negativity and adherence to canon/continuity. Fans tend to feel like everything must be kept in strict order and the line must be towed at every turn. For example, take a look at the fanboys who got worked up into a sweat about how Dick Grayson could have POSSIBLY had Batman’s body at the point in the timeline where Batman & Robin # 7 took place when it was contradicted by Blackest Night. Those questions were answered in # 8 but some fans got so worked up in the specifics that they COMPLETELY sucked all of their own enjoyment out of the issue in question.

Books like Colt Noble and the Megalords are a breath of fresh air. In an industry that seems to be trying so hard to be looked upon as a mature art form, where genuine fun is tossed aside for stern-faced seriousness, Seeley presents us with a book that does exactly what a comic book should; entertain. Look, I get it. There are comics out there that are just as legitimate as certian works of prose fiction and should be regarded as such. Whatever. Don’t act like it all has to be like that. For every “Pride and Prejudice” there is a whole rack of novels that don’t aspire to be “art” or “literature.”

Colt Noble is like the dirty girl you take home from the bar and do things that the Bible expressly forbids. You know that you liked it but you’re not gonna go mouthing off about it to your parents in polite company.

JSA All Stars 3
JSA All-Stars # 3

The cover has Magog getting punched in the face. Of course I bought it!

The book has Power Girl beating the snot out of Magog. I think I want to make out with Matt Sturges.

Fuck this book
Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustrated # 1

Look folks, you remember how I went on a rant about how comic books don’t have to be serious? Yeah, I stand by that. But that doesn’t mean that comic books get a free pass for being utter crap. And they certainly throw away any right to critical fairness when they charge you $4.99 for such crap.

Science Fiction Illustrated is like bad fanwank to classic Twlight Zone and Outer Limit episodes, spliced with the worst heavy-handed pseudo Skinimax artwork one could possibly lay their hands on. It panders to the comic geek who can’t get a girl with a story about buying a perfect robotic woman that then spends spash pages dressed in various naughty outfits cooking and cleaning for the protaganist schlub.

I love me some smut, but let’s be honest, and I mean brutally honest, if I so chose, I could download multiple terabyte hard-drives full of the most disgusting pornography on the planet for free with a click of a mouse. Why would I pay $4.99 for cheaply and crudely drawn comic book girls if not for a compelling story to go along with it. Remember Boogie Nights where Burt Reynolds got all pissed off about porn without a plot. THIS IS WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

There is no fathomable way anyone could read this and say they got their money’s worth. That’s just the plain truth.

The Secret Is That The Book Is Awesome
Secret Six # 18

Gail Simone is awesome. This issue has explosions and zombies and twisty endings and whatnot. It’s part of a crossover and it didn’t suck. Gail Simone obviously made a pact with the devil. That devil might be John Ostrander. Just sayin’.

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And that’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I don’t rant quite so much*.

Cheers..

(*totally not gonna happen)


Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

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
ARCHIE #605
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?


Weekly News Roundup

  • Wolfman & Perez to make a return to TITANS [BleedingCool]
  • Geoff Johns returning to Titans, too. Only tinier. [ComicsAlliance]
  • Iron Man 2 to screen in IMAX [JoBlo]
  • Marvel Offers Deadpool Variant for stripped DC Books [ComicBookResources]
  • Gail Simone re-launching Birds of Prey in April [DCUNiverse]
  • Producers eying Jackie Earle Haley for Sinestro? [CHUD]
  • Sony puts the kibosh on Spidey 4, reboots franchise [ComicBookResources]
  • DC to follow “Blackest Night” with bi-weekly “Brightest Day” [DCUniverse]