Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Hulk

Film Review – The Avengers

I know I probably should have gotten this out there on, oh, Friday before everybody went and saw it. I know that. But at the same time, I think this is a film I needed to digest a little bit before I put my thoughts down on it. And by “digest” I mean, see it again. As of this writing I’ve experienced the film in both standard format and 3D. Each of these showings was packed to the brim. The first was on Friday at the first showing of the day at 10 in the morning. The next was a Saturday show at  1 PM. I need to point this out because the biggest surprise about The Avengers is that it even exists in the first place. The amount of planning and preparation that went into developing a crossover of this magnitude is mind boggling. There have been crossover films before this. Godzilla and King Kong fought it out, Freddy and Jason slashed at each other, the list goes on. It’s not that big a deal for cinematic properties to come together. What is unique is the idea of using individual characters and their films as a roadmap to an eventual crossover. In the world of cinema, it’s a miracle that it ever got made. Even more impressive is that Marvel was able to bring the viewing audience around as well. They sold the idea of this being on of the biggest movies ever and the audiences turned up. They invested their time in it. This is a movie that has been on everyone’s minds for close to five years. Ever since the end of Iron Man when Samuel L. Jackson walked in the room and told the world that the Marvel universe was going to be a shared experiment. This film is important.

That having been said, is it any good? I’m happy to say that everything you want out of this movie you will receive. Joss Whedon handles it as well as you would expect and we may finally have the shining definition of what it means to bring a comic book to life on screen. The final act is like watching a collection of “hell yeah” splash pages from a Marvel crossover brought to life. The film does not skirt the fact that comic books are writ large and with joyous bombast. The action sequences are everything that Michael Bay wishes he could accomplish. They are loud, they are big and at the same time they have a sense of direction that is managed and easy to follow. You never get confused watching the carnage and for that we should be thankful.

But what I really want to talk about is the character moments. The time between Norse gods fighting men in iron suits. Joss Whedon gives us a movie where the time spent with these character simply talking to each other are as gripping as the action sequences and set pieces. The interplay between these actors is something that holds the film together in a way that without it, the whole experiment would fail. Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo’s respectful banter is a highlight. Hell, anything Mark Ruffalo does is a highlight. I know folks liked Edward Norton but Ruffalo brings something that has always been missing from the big screen portrayal of Banner in the previous incarnations. He manages to portray Banner as a person who is angry at his own anger and yet somehow accepting of it all at the same time and he may very well be the MVP of the film. Downey does his usual great work with Stark, but here he really sells the trans-formative arcs that propel his character forward, and seeing him bounce of Chris Evans’ Captain America is a joy to watch. I will admit that I feel as if Evans didn’t get much to do until the final act when he really gets to shine as a team leader, but in a movie with this many characters to juggle it is a small conceit. Also, Tom Hiddleston needs some awards. All of them, really. Loki was a great villain in Thor, mainly because of Hiddleston’s ability to play the wounded creature. He was a tormented soul and that made him fun to watch. Here we get to see what happens when the soul is tormented for so long that it snaps. He plays the broken soul just as well and he sells it like nobody’s business.

The film is everything it needs to be and then some. There will be those who complain about the run-time or the way characters are handled but in the end this is a big win for Marvel and a bigger win for people who still enjoy the spectacle of seeing a true summer blockbuster on the big screen. I do not doubt that I’ll see it at least one more time in the theater because this is definitely a film that benefits from a big screen. I might even shell out the cash to see it in IMAX. It’s that good.

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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.


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

As you can probably tell by the excessive and gratuitous swimsuit posts this week, it’s spring break for me and that’s the only excuse I have for these reviews going up a day later than usual. In my defense I don’t often have a lot of no-strings-attached free time and so I used that time wisely because I probably won’t have anything else like it until next year. But you don’t care about that, you just want the reviews:

THE PULL LIST 3:17:2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #625 2.99
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #1 (MR) 3.99
BATMAN #697 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #30 2.99
BRONX KILL HC (MR) 19.99
CHOKER #2 (MR) 3.99
DARK AVENGERS #15 3.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #9 2.99
DOOMWAR #2 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN ARROW #31 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #46 3.99
HULK #21 FOH 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #608 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #3 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #3 (OF 5) 2.99
SIEGE #3 (OF 4) 3.99
SIEGE EMBEDDED #3 (OF 4) 3.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #7 3.99
SUPERGIRL #51 2.99
WONDER WOMAN CHRONICLES TP VOL 01 17.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #1 3.99
X-MEN LEGACY #234 2.99

And now, your local news.


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 625

This issue didn’t make me want to strangle myself while jumping in front of a bus, so there’s the upside. That having been said, this issue did feature a pretty tremendous case of “Women in Refrigerators” syndrome, which I’m going to speak about in detail so if you don’t want the issue spoiled, go ahead and jump down to the next review.

Okay, if you’re still here that means you want to hear my rant about how the recently created character of Oksana who they made as a means to push the old Rhino into his new position on the other side of the law gets horrendously fridged in this particular issue. If you’ll remember my review of the issue dealing with the Rhino and his new girlfriend, you’ll recall how I thought that it was one of the smarter things they’ve done with the character and the story was genuinely touching on a character level. The pathos that the writer sought to evoke clearly rang true and I accepted what was presented with no resistance.

If I had known that they created the character only to blow her up violently a month down the road for the sole purpose of getting the Rhino back into his old role, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the issue as much. Why? Because what is the point of creating a new direction for a character if you don’t take the time to expand on it?

Did the conversation that made this issue basically go like this?

Marvel Guy 1: We’ve changed the Rhino into a good guy!
Marvel Guy 2: People liked it.
Marvel Guy 1: Oh, fuck…Let’s go back!
Marvel Guy 2: So we wrote an issue turning him into a good guy just so he can turn back?
Marvel Guy 1: That’s a bingo.
Marvel Guy 2: Why didn’t we just keep him evil from the get-go?
Marvel Guy 1: *silence*

So, yeah. Amazing Spider-Man entertained me for months simply to lure me into a false sense of security and then confound me to the point of anger.


AMERICAN VAMPIRE # 1

Guys and gals, Vertigo seemingly can’t put out a bad book. Here we get a dense book with two well written stories, each with their own style and voice but both adhering to the principle that the less we see of the monster, the more intimidating they are.

Seriously, the vampirism doesn’t appear until the last few panels of each story, and we’re left waiting for it throughout the whole of the issue while KNOWING that it will come. The book is called American Vampire, it’s not like when the vampires show up we’re going to be shocked. What we’re waiting for is indication of what kind of vampires they’ll be. The genre and the archetype have been so played with over the course of literary history that it’s anybody’s guess what the rules for this new series will be.

Stephen King’s segment gives us the feeling that maybe we’ll be seeing a more realistic take on the vampire. That perhaps the “burning up in the sun” aspect isn’t an eruption of flame but something that could be solved with some SPF 15.

Either way, the intro issue is definitely worth reading. This looks like it could be the next big Vertigo hit if everything plays out as planned.


BRONX KILL

The Vertigo Crime imprint has been churning out some great stuff. This issue was basically like porn for me, because as a writer and the son of a cop I can totally relate to the main character…a writer and the son of a cop. After that the similarities disappear but the book is quite enthralling, following a writer in the throes of developing a new novel having to deal with the disappearance of his wife.

If you’re a fan of noir at all you should be picking up every book put out by this imprint. The writers are all A-list talent in the genre and the stories are about as complex and well written as you will see in the medium. I’ll admit that the art in this particular volume wasn’t my cup of tea, but it served the story well and it’s not really bad art, it’s just not the style I tend to enjoy.

Go buy this book. Try something new.



GREEN ARROW # 31

Okay, I actually have a lot to say about this particular direction for Green Arrow, but most of it seems dependent on the current status quo for Green Arrow sticking around for more than a few issues, but with the news breaking of a new # 1 for the character and the promise of a turn coming for the storyline that shifts gears pretty dramatically, all I can really comment on when it comes to this particular issue is what is contained within, with no thought given to anything that came before or what comes next.

The issue itself is kind of light. A lot of it seems derivative of the JLA special from last week and what’s left is just an extended inner monologue by Ollie as he wanders through the remains of Star City. The only real interesting part of the issue comes at the end, and I’m not going to spoil it. But the final few panels lead me to believe that the changes we’ve been promised prior to that new shiny # 1 issue, will hit hard next issue.

If nothing else, I give them kudos for ending on a cliffhanger that I honest to God did not see coming, which doesn’t happen often.


SIEGE # 3

BOOM! KRAAWWW! KRAKABOOM! SMASH! BOOOOOOM!

*Squee!!!*


X-FACTOR FOREVER # 1

Having read X-Men Forever by Claremont and not being all too impressed, I was hesitant to pick this one up, but unlike it’s counterpart, the X-Factor Forever series is reportedly a mini-series, which I take as an indicator that the story will be more focused and not as rambling and bumblefuck insane as Claremont’s series.

And the first issue packs in a LOT of info. I would have been lost if it weren’t for the fact that they printed a handy-dandy X-Factor saga time line and reference list in the back of the issue. It was a lifesaver, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve read the old X-Factor stuff.

The one thing I’ll say is that the mood seems consistent with the old series. Whereas Claremont now doesn’t seem anything like Claremont then, Louise Simonson writes some old-school X-Factor in the manner to which fans would be accustomed. I doubt that anybody in the customer base for this particular title could be disappointed in the slightest.

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So that’s it for this week. Sorry for such a light list, but like I said, it’s spring break and my reading schedule is somewhat off-key for the moment. Next week will supposedly be a bitch and a half, so I’ll try to live up to that with a hefty review section. Remember, if there’s anything in particular you want reviewed you can always shoot an e-mail, leave a comment, or let us know in the forum.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

So I’ve been battling a cold that’s primary affliction to my system has been a severe sense of apathy. I don’t think I’ve ever moved slower on a Wednesday than I did at work yesterday, but when the fever broke in the night I realized that I had a blog to update, and thus I started work on this week’s reviews, which will begin momentarily.

THE PULL LIST: 2-17-2010

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #621 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN #696 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #9 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #4 (OF 4) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #4 (OF 4) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #603 3.99
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT IS ALL I NEED (ONE SHOT) 3.99
DAREDEVIL #505 2.99
DARK AVENGERS #14 SIEGE 3.99
DEADPOOL #19 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #8 2.99
DOOMWAR #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #51 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #45 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #20 FOH 3.99
IGNITION CITY TP 19.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #3 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #607 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #2 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #42 3.99
POWER GIRL #9 2.99
PSYLOCKE #4 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHER #14 2.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #6 2.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS VOL. 4 49.99
SUPERGIRL #50 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THOR BY DAN JURGENS & JOHN ROMITA JR TP VOL 02 24.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #521 2.99

And so, I begin:

Amazing Spider-Man 621

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 621

I feel like I’ve heaped sufficient praise on this book over the course of it’s “Gauntlet” storyline. This issue is worth picking up for Michael Lark’s art alone. That man could draw Daredevil making a sandwich for 32 pages and I’d buy two copies. (Grilled cheese variant?)

This issue catered to me in numerous ways. It had Black Cat, who I effing love. It had Mr. Negative, who I honestly believe is one of the better additions to Spidey’s rogues gallery that we’ve seen in the last few years. Honestly, it was just a good Spider-Man comic. And while the previous few issues have felt decisively like old-school Spidey, this one feels frighteningly modern, and I think alot of that comes from Michael Lark’s artwork. While not overly realistic, the tones are muddied and contrasting as opposed to the clean cut-and-dry work of the last few issues. I like both styles, and the art definately worked for this story, but the change is a litle jarring when held up to what had come before. The saving grace comes in the form of the writing, which doesn’t shift tone nearly as radically and keeps the story on course.

Again, I really only have good things to say about this series at this point, and if you’re not picking it up I think you’re probably just still bitter over the One More Day angle. We get it, you feel slighted, but at this point you’re just denying yourself some quality entertainment with a character you claimed to love.

Chase Variant
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT

Rich Johnston is basically what would happen if I went around shouting a bunch of stuff I heard and considered it hard journalism. I won’t deny that the man gets his shit right every so often, as the man does have some sweet hookups and his site is a go-to for many people. I consider him and people like him to be the reason that Wizard has lost it’s relevance to the comic community and that in itself sort of makes him relevant.

Does any of that qualify him to write a comic book?

I don’t know. If it does, I’m hoping someone at Image calls me because I’ve got a great pitch about a Texas ranger who fights ronin-Samurai in a post-apocalyptic California with the help of a cat named Asshole. (Seriously, call me.)

I don’t know if he’s ever written anything outside of an editorial before this book, but if he’s a newbie he didn’t do too bad for his opening shot. If nothing else, the book has a pretty cool framing device, with unseen hands dealing magic-style dueling cards that shape the flow of the narrative. Such a framing device would be especially interesting in an ongoing series, where it could be explained in detail, but as it is not an ongoing and simply a one-and-done sort of deal, part of me wonders what their purpose was. Though that’s just me contemplating what could be or should have been and not what is.

As far as what the book is, I would say that Chase Variant is decent but it feels like an anachronism. A sort of throwback to the 90’s Image that I never really got into. There’s no character development or plot that runs beyond a few lines of dialogue, but there is some well-developed imagery and the potential for impressive worldbuilding. Environment and aesthetic over true content, honestly.

That doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish, because at least the book feels like it moves forward given it’s limited frame of existence. It’s not like it treads water trying to stay afloat. The book may not be the best thing ever written, but none of the effort was phoned in and it feels genuine, which is more than can be said for some books.

Merc With A Mouth 8
DEADPOOL : MERC WITH A MOUTH # 8

I’ve gotta nominate this one for turnaround book of the month, because the last issue to hit stands was downright atrocious. I was literally floored by how asinine that book was. This issue on the other hand seems to work well to regain focus and present a singular path for the book that I hope isn’t lost next month for some reason nobody can explain to me.

Instead of disjointed mini-sodes with a hodge-podge of different artists breaking up the flow, we get Deadpool and co. sucked into the Marvel Zombies universe where Deadpool goes all Tom Savini on a bunch of undead superheroes. The art is clean, crisp, and fits the tone preented by the writing and the jokes don’t completely suck the life out of the book.

Thank god, I was afraid I was going to have to drop this book. And how damned ironic would it be if after clinging to Cable and Deadpool because I didn’t want to see DP’s only book get cancelled would it be for me to be able to drop a Deadpool book and not be concerned because he has two other books I could read? I’d love to go back to the 90’s and drop that bombshell on someone. The look on their face would be priceless.

SUPERGIRL # 50

I’m glad that we have a Supergirl book that isn’t a horrible trainwreck. The current team has been doing a bang up job with the character, and though I’m not a big fan of the huge line-wide crossovers the Superman family seems to be enduring until the end of time, this book has been doing the best with what it’s been given from the get-go. The character development they’ve been working with Kara and Lana is refreshing, as both of them have drastically needed to be refocused for quite some time.

This issue feels like a good old fashioned Superman story to me. I mean, replace Supergirl with Clark and you would swear that this story belonged in one of those Black and White SHOWCASE books. Giant wasps? Lazer beams! GANGBUSTER?!?!?!

Yeah, epic.

The backup story is short and essentially unnecessary, but the tone was on the money and I’m sure putting Helen Slater’s name on the book bumped sales by a fair margin, though what size that margin is could be anybody’s guess. Either way, the total package was worth the extra dollar on the price tag.

Uncanny 521
UNCANNY X-MEN # 521

If all they had printed in this book was that final page, I still would have loved it. I won’t spoil it, but they made me a very happy nerd.

Very very happy nerd.

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

And I’m done for this week. Check back next time, when maybe I’ll review a comic that totally sucks. It’s kind of odd when I don’t read anything that makes me wanna hurl.


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 Comic Reviews

Reviews

It’s that time again! Time for me to tell you what sucked and what did not. I should caution you that most of what I review will be positive, as I don’t often buy books that I feel I won’t enjoy. However, I am making a point to pick up new books simply to give insight that otherwise wouldn’t be offered on this blog.

THE PULL LIST:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #618 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #8 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #3 (OF 4) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #602 3.99
DARK AVENGERS #13 SIEGE 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #82 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #7 3.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #44 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #19 FOH 3.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #2 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #606 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #1
MIGHTY AVENGERS #33 2.99
PHANTOM STRANGER #42 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
POWER GIRL #8 2.99
SONIC UNIVERSE #12 2.5
SPIDER-WOMAN #5 2.99
STARMAN #81 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
STREET FIGHTER IV TP VOL 01 12.95
UNCANNY X-MEN #520 2.99
WOLVERINE FIRST CLASS TP CLASS ACTIONS 14.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #9 3.99
YOUNG LIARS TP VOL 03 ROCK LIFE (MR) 14.99

Amazing Spider-Man 618
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 618

I think that Marvel is doing an excellent job of capturing the feel of classic Spider-Man nowadays. The voice the writers are projecting onto Peter Parker here is highly reminiscent of the best Spidey stories of yesteryear. From the quips to the inner monologue, to the actions of his supporting cast, it’s all very much in tune to the earlier Spidey stories than anything we saw during the JMS years. And while I dug JMS’ run, and think it will be remembered fondly by those who were first introduced to Spider-Man during his tenure, I cannot help but have my cockles warmed by what we have on display here.

The story looks like it will finally tie up some loose ends with Mr. Negative, and his connection to Aunt May, as well as give us the return of Mysterio, who last had successfully scratched an itch in the back of his head with a shotgun. Is this Mysterio back from the dead or another new name throwing on the suit? Given what we’ve seen in Brand New Day thus far with new iterations of the characters, the latter seems possible but given the classic tone of the arc, I wouldn’t put it past the team to pull a full resurrection.

The book lacks the emotional resonance of last week’s Rhino tale, but is a satisfactory story all the same.

Captain America 602
CAPTAIN AMERICA # 602

Well, the regular Captain America title returns, and honestly from the pages of this book, aside from a few lines of dialogue referencing it, you never would have known the whole “Reborn” situation ever happened. Bucky is still the central focus of the narrative, and the plot threads from prior to Steve’s return are being followed up on in true Brubaker-ian fashion. The man lives to tell these sorts of stories. They have that Marvel feel, utilizing the eccentricities of the universe with uniformed henchmen and acronymed evil organizations; but every bit of Brubaker’s storytelling prowess in the realm of the hyper-realistic, drawing from his work in the street-level drama that he does so well, is on full display here.

I cannot help but think that we’ve been cheated by having this title sidelined while the “Reborn” miniseries ran it’s course. Brubaker’s Cap book is a serial masterpiece, one that really needs to build on monthly steam. I guess I should just be grateful the train is back on schedule.

Helping me forget my complaints is the excellent Nomad backup story that picks up immediately after the excellent “Girl Without A World” series. I know it’s a secondary feature, and thus it is going to have to be limited in length, but I definately wanted more by the end of the issue. Still, better for Nomad to see publication in the back of a book that will run indefinately, rather than get her own book and get published before a sixth issue like SOME TITLES I COULD MENTION. (***Grumble***)

Dark Avengers 13
DARK AVENGERS # 13

Brian Michael Benids has had this weird facination with the Sentry that I just did not understand. The Sentry, as a character, is quite bland and really doesn’t work on any other level than the occaisional joke at his expense. So in this issue Bendis finally reveals his master plan for the character and essentially rewrites the whole book on his existence (yes, again).

I won’t spoil the revelations, but I will say that they’re not even shocking at this point. Just confounding given that for the emotional weight behind them to truly work, we as readers would have to give a damn about the character, and I personally do not. I know I am not alone in that regard either. While the changes Bendis makes open up interesting possibilities for the character, I wager that those changes will not resonate either. Given the character’s history of retcon after retcon, how can we expect whatever change that follows this revelation to be any more valid than the last?

If any word describes the developments of this book, it would be “frustrating.”

Dark Wolverine 82
DARK WOLVERINE # 82

I have largely ignored Dark Wolverine, choosing to focus on “Weapon X” as my go-to Wolvie title. I decided I would give it a go with this issue as part of my imperitive to follow the event through the majority of it’s tie-ins. I was a little surprised by the book, given that the characterization of Daken in his own title as compared to the Avengers appearances I’ve read seems somewhat off kilter. I suppose it could be the characterization in the Avengers titles that is off, but I suppose that’s a matter of perspective.

The book itself is actually quite interesting, and the ending actually shocked me. I know that what we see is some sort of narrative trick, but damned if it didn’t make me want to pick up the next issue.


DEADPOOL : MERC WITH A MOUTH # 7

Deadpool goes dimension hopping, a bunch of artists illustrate the different worlds. Jokes are made, and oddly enough I wasn’t very entertained. The humor on display here wasn’t really up to the general Deadpool snuff. In fact, aside from one panel, I didn’t really so much as chuckle. I find this extremely odd because the previous issues of the book practically had me dying from laughter. I hope the book picks up with the next issue, because Deadpool has three titles, and they had better all be excellent otherwise I might get bitter about Deadpool having multiple titles that aren’t all that good when OTHER AWESOME BOOKS GET THE PLUG PULLED ON THEM UNDESERVINGLY!!!!

Hulk 19Inc Hulk 606

HULK # 19/INCREDIBLE HULK  # 606

I admit that I have not been following these titles as of late, and so I’m going into this whole Fall of the Hulks thing completely blind. That having been said, I think Incredible Hulk did a great job of bringing me up to speed with the book’s status quo without feeling like a major exposition dump and Hulk # 19 was somewhat jumbled but not nearly the clusterfuck I had been led to believe Jeph Loeb would be making out of the title.

I’m not big on the format of this event. I would prefer that the books led into each other in some way rather than telling independent parts of a larger story, as I cannot seem to place the books along any real timeline, though I think that longtime readers may have a better grasp on the comings and goings than I do.

Another small note, the art in Incredible Hulk is some of the best stuff I’ve seen in a while. Stylistically interesting while still being technically solid. I wish more books could find that balance.

Joe
Joe The Barbarian # 1

Grant Morrison is an amazing writer. Sean Murphy is an amazing artist. Together what they create should be interesting to say the least. Unfortunately not a whole lot happens in the first issue. The idea is presented but we have no real inkling of the direction it will take. I’m going to pick up the second issue, just to get a grasp on where they’re going with this, but if they really wanted to take advantage of that $1.00 cover price, they probably should have given us a little more content.

Power Girl 8
Power Girl # 8

In this book, the words “Pregno Ray” are used. Beyond that, you really should not need any more information.

***

And that’s all I’ve got for this week. Join us next time when I’ll have more than one book from DC on the list (I Hope.)