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!
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
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
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
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
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
And there you have it. Next week should see more reviews for your reading pleasure. See you then.
I feel like these won’t be up to snuff. I’ve been off my game for the last few days, more focused on my novel than the content of the site, sad to say. I know it’s horribly short-sighted of me considering that the novel is in no way a sure thing whereas this site seems to have a dedicated audience if our recent web-numbers mean anything at all. (Hint, they don’t)
So here we go.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #635 GRIM 3.99
AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #3 (OF 6) 3.99
COVER RUN THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES HC 39.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #866 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #580 HA 2.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #18 2.99
GREEN ARROW #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
HERALDS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
HULK #23 WWHS 4.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #3 2.99
JURASSIC PARK REDEMPTION #1 3.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #4 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #13 2.99
SEA BEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK #1 4.99
SUPERGIRL #53 2.99
SUPERMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THUNDERBOLTS #145 HA 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #4 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #14 3.99
X-FACTOR #206 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #237 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #2 2.99
I was so wary when I bought this title. I got the distinct feeling that it was going to be just downright abysmal. It had every indicator that it would be. In the wake of what’s going down with Arsenal, which may be the absolute worst storyline/title that DC has published in years, I expected to be equally disappointed in the new Green Arrow title. Despite the fact that I have every issue of Green Arrow from the moment Mike Grell took over the character to the end of the last series, I was seriously considering skipping it this time around because I didn’t have much faith that I would get my money’s worth.
The first issue was largely an exercise in getting people caught up, with Green Arrow telling a would-be victim everything the reader needs to know in order to jump aboard. It feels a little bit like a drag considering that I have been following Green Arrow for a while, but I suppose DC figured this new direction would hook a couple of new readers and they’d need the recap. Still, it could have been done a lot better without seeming like we were being led by the nose.
The new villain who takes control of Ollie’s old company is actually a pretty cool looking figure, she has a graceful mystery to her presence that makes her seem like less of a throwaway villain than other new arrivals, and thank god she’s not another archer (that we know of) because that’s just getting old.
The teaser reel at the end of the book that shows us where the book is headed helps to keep me interested, because it promises a few interesting possibilities. I’m not likely to drop the book as I’m a completist when it comes to Ollie, but I won’t regret my decision to stick around if things stay mostly as they are here.
Man, this thing is a mess. The story is bland and overly familiar, and the art looks like amateur hour. Nostalgia aside, there is no reason for this book to exist because there is nothing to salvage it when it comes to quality. I imagine some people who are really die hard fans of the franchise will stick around to see its completion, but I would have to be handed this book for free the next go-around to read issue two. I really wish I could say more about the book, but it was so mediocre that while reading it, nothing sunk in except how much I disliked it. I even like the second and third films, so it’s not like I’m holding it to any high standard. It’s just not a very good book, and it really could have been. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. It’s just a mess of an issue that turned me off nearly immediately.
Everyone here is probably well acquainted with my eternal love for Power Girl. I think she’s an underrated character who gets shoehorned into a stereotype because of the size of her bazongas. Everyone knows the story where she was supposedly drawn with bigger knockers every month back when she first debuted just to see how far they could go with it before someone noticed.
The thing is, as Jimmy Palmiotti (friend of the site, natch), Justin Gray and Amanda Conner can attest, you can squeeze some great stories out of her if you’re willing to think outside of the box and go places that aren’t readily visited by the majority of the characters in the mainstream. Power Girl operated for twelve months as the most legitimately fun book on the stands with some of the best expressive artwork this side of Kevin Maguire. It was earnest and endearing and I never wanted it to end.
Unfortunately it had to.
Now Judd Winick has taken over the writing duties while new artist Sami Basri has the unenviable task of following Amanda Conner. How do they do? I would put their efforts at “admirable.” Judd Winick does a good job of handling the tone set down by the previous team, but has to work in the events of Generation Lost, so things take a turn toward the more standard superhero fare. It feels kind of like a mash-up of the previous issues of Power Girl with a hint of Sterling Gates’ Supergirl work during the big crossover.
I think that Winick would have done better if he’d kept Generation Lost separate from the Power Girl ongoing, just as the previous team kept Power Girl separate from her interactions with the JSA. I understand the reasoning behind the move, but from a storytelling standpoint it feels like it’s trying too hard to fit into an overall continuity and not concerned with growing organically.
As far as the art is concerned, Basri does a good job but there are instances where it seems like there are three different renditions of Power Girl throughout the book where she doesn’t look like the same person. I think when the artist gets a better grasp of the character, those little nitpicks will slip away.
I just hope that Winick can manage writing the book without fretting over making the character “integral” to the overall scheme of the DCU, because crossovers kill interesting titles. It becomes less about the character and more about the universe and frankly I don’t want that to happen here.
Uh, yeah. I don’t know what to think about this one. Well, I know what I think about it. I just don’t know what to think about my liking it. There is no setup, it’s just a dive-in and go with the flow sort of book. Like it’s an issue of a series that already has four issues on the rack and this is just the next one in the series. There is no rational explaination or origin given for these characters, and nothing makes any real sense but the artwork is genuinely amazing and I don’t think I’ve cough-laughed the way I did with this book in a long time. I mean, a lot of this book caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to think. I can’t really recommend it for general audiences but if you’re looking for dumb violent “WTF” style stuff, this is definitely worth a look.
There has been a lot said about Stracynski’s arrival to the Superman title. Everyone by now knows the premise that Superman will be walking across America trying to reconnect with the people he’s supposed to protect. What I’m wondering is if this little pseudo-art vanity project will end up like Brian Azzarello’s run from a few years back that everyone dismisses as pretentious garbage. I suppose it would be worse if it were happening in Action comics, because I don’t know how much Action you can get out of a brisk jog, but considering that it’s been a while since Superman even appeared in his own book, I don’t know if Superman going through a pseudo Kung Fu “walk the earth” trek is really what we need right now.
I think that the War of the Supermen story was really well done and it had the sort of epic edge-of-your-seat stakes that I require from a Superman story. I doubt I’m going to get that in Stracynski’s run. I don’t doubt that it will be well written, because when he’s not hamstrung by editorial mandate, JMS can crank out some good stories. He knows how to write characters to thei strength and I don’t doubt that we’ll get some interesting moments out of this story arc. What I’m afraid of is when it fails to generate interest and gets cut short because editorial wants to see a bump in numbers but modern comic readers don’t have the patience for a slow burn anymore.
All I’m saying is that it’s off to a decent start, and it has a good chance to be something really great, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t seem like it’s not going to end well. No matter what happens.
So there you go. Next week I’ll try to have these up in a more timely fashion. But, I’ve said that before and you get where I’m going with this.
This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.
PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50
Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…
After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.
I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.
The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.
Aqauaman is afraid of the water.
It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.
Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.
And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.
Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.
Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.
Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.
I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.
Oh well, bring on the relaunch.
Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.
This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.
We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.
I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.
I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.
I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.
Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.
There. I said it.
There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.
Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.
Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.
Presented without comment…
Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99
And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624
Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.
Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.
I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.
BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10
This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.
This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1
Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.
I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2
This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.
SWORD # 5
I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.
And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?
And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.
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.
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…
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.
MINDLESS ZOMBIE BATMAN!
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.
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.
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.
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’.
And that’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I don’t rant quite so much*.
(*totally not gonna happen)
Every week I plan to bring you my personal reviews of the week’s releases, hopefully in a timely manner. This would be easier if Marvel and DC still sent out those preview copies a week ahead of time but those are a distant memory, like good hip-hop.
THE PULL LIST:
ACTION COMICS #885 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #6 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #617 3.99
ANGEL #29 3.99
AVP THREE WORLD WAR #1 (OF 6) 3.50
BATGIRL #6 2.99
BATMAN #695 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOOSTER GOLD #28 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #31 2.99
CATWOMAN #83 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN WEIGHT OF CROWN ONE SHOT 3.50
DIE HARD YEAR ONE #4 3.99
FEARLESS DAWN #2 (OF 4) 2.95
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #28 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22 2.99
MARVELS PROJECT #5 (OF 8 ) 3.99
NATION X #2 (OF 4) 3.99
PSYLOCKE #3 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHERMAX #3 (MR) 3.99
RED HERRING #6 (OF 6) 2.99
SECRET SIX (BLACKEST NIGHT) #17 2.99
SWORD (MARVEL) #3 2.99
TITANS #21 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #3 3.99
UNWRITTEN #9 (MR) 2.9
Here begins another chapter in the “Gauntlet” arc of Amazing Spider-Man, detailing one of the viallians who I felt should have been included in the film series somewhow (and hopefully will be when this reboot gets going), the Rhino. Why do I like the Rhino? Because he’s got that classic element of emotional scarring through physical trauma that I like my villains to have. (See also Two-Face, Killer Croc, etc.)
Here we see Rhino doing the whole “I’m a good guy because I found a woman” routine and we’re introduced to a new character taking up the Rhino moniker. How many of the original Spider-Man rogues are actually the people they were when they debuted nowdays? Kraven and Scorpion have been replaced by younger more female-type persons, the new Vulture spits acid blood or something like that, now the Rhino is getting an overhaul. I’m not complaining, though. When it comes to the stories presented, if you’d been beaten up by Spider-Man for years you would likely abdicate your cirminal moniker too. The old guard fading away is a big part of what makes certain stories work. By progessing the villains, you progress your hero by proxy. It works.
The main story here is a bit hollow, aside from the fun interplay between Peter and Norah, there’s not much meat to the story. It’s clearly a setup for what will follow in subsequent issues. Even the advancement of Rhino as a character isn’t truly fleshed out until a very well done backup story after the main meat n’ potatoes of the lead-in.
Again, I seem to like where all this is going, and I attribute that mostly to Joe Kelly who is an underappreciated writer in many ways, but I think my feelings toward this issue will be altered one way or the other by how it is followed up down the line.
I’m going to try not to review books, such as this one, that are in the middle of an ongoing arc if I can avoid it. That having been said, I think this issue finally revealed what I’ve been feeling about the “Dick as Bats” experiment and made me grasp what had only been an inkling until reading a few panels presented here; I forgot that Bruce was gone.
Tony Daniel has been doing something that seems to counter-act what Morrison has been doing in “Batman & Robin.” Whereas that book works off of the relation between Damien and Dick and how both are coming to terms with Bruce Wayne’s absence, the main Bat book goes long stretches where Batman is doing his thing and the inner voice of the character is 100% identical to Bruce, generally speaking. It feels as if Daniel is writing Bruce Wayne as Batman and then out of nowhere we are reminded that it’s not Bruce.
Part of me thinks it’s written this way to make the reader accept Dick as the subsitute, leaving the reader in a comfort zone and not changing the tone of the character in any major way. Another part of me thinks that Daniel is not as experienced a writer as he is an artist, and therefore has trouble writing discernable voices for multiple characters. He doesn’t write Dick in the suit, he writes the suit, so to speak.
The book itself feels like a book out of the 80’s or 90’s. It’s very self contained to it’s own universe and almost a slave to it’s own past. The art is solid, which I attribute to Daniel basically writing to his own strengths, seeing how he’s handling the art along with the scripting. It’s refreshing to read a fairly straight-forward Batman narrative again, even if we know that it’s techically just filler until Morrison pulls Bruce out of the past and re-inserts him into the now.
Why are you not reading this? It’s such a great book. I know a few people must have been suckered in during that Blackest Night crossover, but that’s just not enough. This book craves attention. Just like Booster himself, this book is constantly seeking validation. It shouldn’t, because it’s just plain good and that should stand for itself, but everyone should read this book at least once.
This issue is a great place to start. It’s a good jumping on point, with Booster and his sister delivering a nicely done exposition dump and getting everyone back up to speed. The story centers around the “if you travel to the past you can’t change anything” device and takes a look at how, if given the opportunity, such things might play out in the DCU. In this case, it’s trying to avoid the Cyborg Superman Coast City disaster. With time travel being a regular staple of the DC universe, it’s suprising that we don’t see more stories centered around the government or certain heroes trying to go back and reverse history. I mean, Superman flew around the world so fast he turned back time in the original Superman film, so it’s not like it hasn’t been thought of, but Booster Gold seems to be the only series that bothers to look at certain angles of the time-travel element.
I think that’s what I’ve been liking so much about this book. Aside from the Blackest Night tie-in, the book completely covers its own little niche of the DCU that nobody else tramples on and the book acknowleges and presents a reasoning for occupying that very same niche. It’s clever writing at its best and the fact that it makes logical sense is refreshing, especially given what goes on in certain parts of the DC publishing web.
I think out of all the resurrected titles that came about because of Blackest Night, Catwoman was the one I was most looking forward to. I was terribly disapointed when they cancelled the book in the first place. Seriously, it was a solid book and it didn’t need to go away. I love Gotham City Sirens, and that has helped to lessen the blow but crowding the book with three leads makes it hard to really focus on any one character’s needed arcs. It’s almost as if that book was meant to introduce a new status quo in a manner that we all slowly forget what came before and only focus on the current developments.
Resurrecting the Catwoman title proper, allowed the reader to get a little closure in regard to the Black Mask murder storyline that pretty much dangled after the cancellation of Selina’s title. This book puts the endpiece on that particular storyline and organically presents a followup that can be built upon in “Sirens” down the line.
While the Blackest Night banner seems to indicate a quick cash-grab in bringing books like Catwoman back, the content and the fact that it is used to further the development of the character and put old business to bed justifies their existence.
There are Nazis. And I don’t really understand much else. Part of me wants to peg this book as a sort of T&A throwaway book but, there’s not actually much T&A on display. It’s really just an oddball fun book that isn’t too deep or well constructed, but it’s a fun read in the end and considering I only picked up the first issue because the cover looked interesting and I’ll buy anything with Nazi’s as the villain (see also Hellboy) I can’t complain too heavily about what’s presented between the covers.
I recently named Fraction’s “World’s Most Wanted” arc one of my favorites of 2009. He’s still continuing that with the “Stark Disassembled” arc here, but I can’t help but have flashbacks to that season of The Sopranos where Tony was in a coma and we spent so much time in a dream world that interest soon started to dwindle.
That isn’t a problem here, because now Doctor Strange is here and Doctor Strange is awesome.
I predict that the end of this arc will make me do a little fanboy squeal but if I do I won’t tell you about it because I’d like to retain some of my objective dignity, of which I have very little.
Jubilee. That is all you need to know.
Holy fuckshit Jason Aaron is impressing me left and right. His Weapon X book is the best Wolverine in years and now we get a Punisher story that lives up to the legacy that Garth Ennis left with “Welcome Back Frank” without completely aping everything that Ennis did with the character.
The smartest thing Aaron has done is focus more on the Kingpin than on Frank Castle. We’ve seen everything in Frank’s arsenal, honestly. But this new Kingpin is an unknown entity. By establishing this new character and framing the development through the lens of the Punisher and the thugs on the street, we are left wondering if this Kingpin is going to wind up like the rest of the Punisher’s rogues and be dead by the end of the arc or if we’ll finally get another recurring villain worth getting excited over. Ennis gave us Barracuda and The Russian, it seems like Aaron is trying to do the same thing with the Kingpin, and give us a new recurring foe who isn’t named Jigsaw.
This book is everything you could wan’t in a Punisher story. It also has saggy old lady tits, though I’m not sure if that counts for the book or against it.
Ultra Magnus is a dick and a half. Seriously, the guy is so oblivious to his own dickishness that he makes Silver-Age Superman look like a cognitive genius. I’m not exactly sure what continuity this book follows, considering that I haven’t read a Transformers comic in ages, but if there’s one thing that all of them share it is that Ultra Magnus is a total douchebag and he doesn’t even know it. Also Hot Rod.
This book is frustating for me in that I feel as if nothing seems to happen in any of the issues until the final page. It’s like 31 pages of filler and then shocking cliffhanger. It is already getting tiresome. That having been said, I like the angle they’re playing where the Autobots and Decepticons put aside their differences out of a shared sense of nihilistic apathy/exhaustion. It’s basically as if both camps said “screw it,what else is on TV?” It’s different, at least to me, and story structure aside, I want to see where it leads.
And that wraps it up for this week’s reviews. I would like to finish the post with something witty but I really want to finish watching LOST on bluray, so that isn’t gonna be happening.