Man, this week has been hectic. I had to write a 2,000 word short-story for my creative writing class in addition to a two page essay on the importance of studying history as it relates to current events all on the first week of the semester. And then new comic book day rolls around and bombards me with a friggin’ huge stack of books, all of which are the ones that I eagerly anticipate every month. (Secret Six and Jonah Hex, yo.) So I’m not sure what kind of creative mojo I have left for the reviews but an attempt will be made anyhow.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOYS #46 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #36 LAST GLEAMING PT 1 (OF 5) 2.99
CHOKER #4 (OF 6) (MR) 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #20 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULKS #612 3.99
IZOMBIE #5 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX #59 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #10 3.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #3 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV 4.99
SCARLET #2 3.95
SECRET SIX #25 2.99
SHADOWLAND #3 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND ELEKTRA #1 SL 3.99
STUMPTOWN #4 (OF 4) (RES) (MR) 3.99
VERONICA #202 2.99
WOLVERINE #1 3.99
X-MEN CURSE OF MUTANTS SMOKE AND BLOOD #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #4 2.99
So, yeah, lots of good stuff. Let’s get started, shall we?
It’s been months since the last issue of BTVS hit shelves. So long in fact that I cannot remember for the life of me what the hell was going on in the series at the time. I remember Spike came back and Angel was boffing Buffy again. But that’s really about it. I understand why they went on hiatus, but it really caused me to lose interest in the series while it was away. With its return this issue, we get a sort of hazy explaination for Angel’s motives as Twilight and Spike makes with the witty banter for a few panels, but not much else happens. It’s probably the quickest issue of any comic book I’ve read in quite some time, which is saying something considering I still read Archie books on occaision and that sort of light-hearted fluff still takes longer to digest than this particular issue.
I will say that the book’s final page did surprise me, although it probably shouldn’t have. It’s sort of a “pandering to the fans” move that comics like this one pull on a regular basis, that having been said, I’m interested to see where Joss goes with it. I’m still a Buffy fan at heart and no matter how blah the book has been over the last few months it’s still got the nostalgia bump going for it that forces me to see past the major flaws and enjoy it for all its worth. I don’t know how much mileage anyone else would get out of the book, but I doubt there are many people out there who aren’t already die-hard fans picking up the book on a casual basis. This book is for the people who stuck with the show to the end and then some.
We get a title change this issue, and a major tone shift from the events of World War Hulks. In the first of two stories, a gamma-family barbeque goes haywire when Betty and Bruce get into a little disagreement over their relationship as it relates to the whole “Betty Was Dead” thing and it escalates, as it always does, into a super-powered fight between Hulk and Red Shulkie.
I think what sets this book apart from Loeb’s Hulk book is that if the same scenes were tackled in the other book, the character development which is handled so masterfully here would have been lost in the manic insanity of the action. Hulk reads like a cartoon show while Pak’s reads more like a melodramatic stage play. I’m not going to call this issue high-art, as it doesn’t come close to matching issue #609, which I think might have been one of the best issues of Hulk I’ve ever read. But it still works on multiple levels because of the way the interactions feel so genuine. I really look forward to seeing how the multiple Hulks come to terms with each other.
In the second story, we catch up with the other Son of Hulk, who I admittedly have not been following and thus didn’t really understand where everything was coming from. They did their best to catch me up but I still felt a bit lost and I think that more people will enjoy the second story if they followed that character from the beginning, which I admittedly did not. I really didn’t care. I might have to find some Son of Hulk trades and get myself up to speed, because the mythology seemed interesting, I just wish I could have grasped it a little better.
Even if this weren’t a pretty good issue, it would be essential reading just so people could understand where the hell Elektra comes from when she shows up out of the blue in Shadowland # 3. I get the feeling that Shadowland might have a bit of Infinite Crisis syndrome when collected in trade unless they do it omnibus style and present all the side-stories in the collection in chronological order.
This one fills in some important gaps in the timeline while at the same time giving a damn interesting glimpse into Elektra’s mind and her feelings about Matt’s turn to the dark side, especially as it pertains to the death of Bullseye. As you can imagine, Elektra has some pretty raging emotions when it comes to that particular psycho, and the scene where she witnesses his death on a big screen in the heart of the city with the rest of the natives is particularly well written.
I am really enjoying Shadowland, but I think that in order to fully enjoy it you have to immerse yourselves in the tie-ins, and that’s something not a lot of people can do. It’s part of my complaint about Marvel’s business strategy. I know it makes them money, but in the long run they are going to burn folks out if this continues in such a fashion.
People have been talking about this one for a while now and I think it’s kind of funny. There’s nothing here that could possible offend anybody and yet neo-con right wingers are using it as an example of how the liberals are infecting children’s entertainment and trying to brainwash children to homosexuality and blah blah blah.
The fact that in this book the new gay character who Veronica lusts after is a well-adjusted healthy young man is admirable. His parents don’t in any way give him the side-eye, nobody bats an eye when he admits his sexual orientation, and there is not a hint of judgment. It’s a subtle message that tolerance should be the immediate reaction, and in that I have to applaud Archie comics for what it’s done here. Nevermind the fact that the issue is actually pretty freaking hilarious, with Jughead trying to keep Veronica from finding out the truth and thus driving her insane. There are some great gags here and I think it’s admirable that Archie can still be worth reading after all these years.
I wasn’t going to buy this one. I was going to pass it by and not look back. I read Wolverine in like eighteen other books and quite frankly I don’t really have much interest in him anymore. But then I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Weapon X and how Jason Aaron has never really written anything I didn’t like, and so I threw it on the stack anyway.
I’m glad I did because he once again manages to knock it out of the park. I think that for the longest time most people didn’t know what made a decent solo Wolverine story. They simply tried to ape the parts of stories that they themselves liked when the first became enamored with the character and it never quite worked. Aaron is able to create something that builds off of Wolverine’s over-arching history while at the same time feeling fresh and modern. The amazingly beautiful art by Renato Guedes only serves to better bring the action to life. I’ve loved Guedes since I discovered his art on Supergirl and think he’s one of the most talented artists working right now. The level of detail he gives is astounding and here he sort of reminds me of Steve McNiven, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me.
Either way this looks like it’ll be a series to keep on the pull list. I don’t see this one taking a downward turn anytime soon. If it’s anything like Weapon X was, it’ll only get better with each subsequent arc.
And that’s it for this week. If you take away anything from these reviews its that you should probably be buying more Archie comics. Seriously. That stuff is a gold mine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?!?!?!
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.
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.