Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “New Avengers

Weekly Comic Reviews

Yesterday I bought a statue. Yeah. I didn’t have a whole lot of comics this week to put my money into so I bought that Bowen designed Kitty Pryde with Lockheed statue. It’s amazing. Okay, well, I didn’t BUY it as much as make a down payment because the thing is expensive as hell. But it’s a twelve inch statue so I should have expected the damned price to be up there in the multiple digits. I’m rambling again. This happens usually whenI know there’s not much in the way of substance to put into the review section. Check out the pull list and guess why.

ARRIVALS 12-08-2010
BATGIRL #16 2.99
HALCYON #2 2.99
LADY MECHANIKA #1  2.99
NEW AVENGERS #7 3.99
SHADOWLAND AFTER FALL #1 3.99
THOR #618 3.99
THOR MIGHTY AVENGER #7 2.99
WIDOWMAKER #1 (OF 4) 3.99

Yeah, a whopping eight books total. You can thank the light week for the reviews being on time at least, I suppose that counts for something.

HALCYON # 2

I’m really glad I picked this up. This book is a perfect example of the world that exists due to a series of books having been published over time. Specifically this is the child that Watchmen, Wildcats, The Authority, and The Ultimates spawned. As an Image title, we expect a certain tone and attitude from the book, and it’s there in place but at the same time it seems to be making a statement on the way modern comics work. The story of malice being erased and thus making the superheroes obsolete runs parallel to the current feeling that perhaps the overwhelming negativity and bleak cynicism of the modern comic reader is making them obsolete as well. The book seems to be working out in a way that champions the idea of things running their course in due time. It’s a thesis that warns that if things don’t change, nature will erase their usefulness.

It’s good to see Image is publishing so many great titles again. Image more than any company has re-invented itself in the last few years. With Invincible, Chew, The Walking Dead, as well as new titles like this one and Morning Glories, they’ve proved that there is an audience for books that don’t fit the mold that Marvel and DC seem to have poured by pushing writers like Bendis and Johns to the forefront. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those writers, it can’t be argued that they don’t write for the masses in a way that makes the overall product seem diluted and repetitive.

Halcyon, along with the rest of the Image books I’m addicted to at the moment, do a great job of breaking from the norm and that is where their true value lies.

LADY MECHANIKA # 1

Aspen Comics have a certain tone in the same way that Image books do. There is a pattern that is followed in the style that tries to echo that of the late Michael Turner. The artists seem to subscribe to his school of thought in the way they design and push the product. Michael Turner was a nice guy who I was lucky enough to meet before his untimely passing and it pains me to speak ill of the departed but I was never a fan of his style when it came to interior artwork. I love his covers, and always will. It’s the same with Alex Ross in that regard. But the Turner style doesn’t do anything for me as far as interior storytelling. There’s shades of his work here in Lady Mechanika but at the same time it’s not a carbon copy. While I find that the style is all too familiar, as is the steampunk setting, the book itself is interesting and does a good job of giving us interesting characters that feel developed enough to care about, which is a problem a lot of books can’t seem to overcome.

I can say that steampunk fans will immediately love this book, as far as anybody else, that remains to be seen. I think fans of Warren Ellis would enjoy the backwards retro-science sensibilities of the story and I think fans of Turner would appreciate the style and tone. The uninitiated could go either way. It’s $2.99, so you could do worse for your dollar. That much is certain.

NEW AVENGERS # 7

This issue is nothing but talking but all of that is okay because Squirrel Girl is in this issue. So is D-Man. Seriously, for that alone you ought to pick this one up. I can’t really go into more detail than that because I’m still fanboy-ing out over the Squirrel Girl thing. Bendis basically implied that she and Wolverine did the horizontal mambo, so he’s my hero at the moment.

Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.

WIDOWMAKER # 1

While I’m sad to see Hawkeye and Black Canary Mockingbird go, at least they’re getting a proper sendoff in what seems to be one of the more intriguing miniseries of the last few months. Someone is killing off spies in the Marvel universe and so Hawkeye, Mockingbird, her team of espionage masters and the Black Widow must team up to stop it all before it’s too late. The premise is simple but the manner that the action is handled makes it a step above what it might have been under lesser writers. The fact that they’re dealing with the Ronin identity that Hawkeye took up for a while makes me happy, as I was wondering what the hell they were going to be doing with that following Barton’s return to his original mantle.

New readers should be able to follow the action easily, it’s not so entrenched in any particular character’s lore to the point where you can’t pick up the plot threads. Everything seems to be handled organically within the story in a way that makes it seem like the first issue of a new ongoing series. They know they have to inform new readers but they don’t spend time bombarding you with unnecessary exposition. That sort of thing kills momentum and its better to just go with the flow in instances such as these.

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And that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my words.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This week I had more than a few papers due in more than a few classes so the reviews weren’t the first thing on my mind. I’m trying to better myself through education and whatnot. Anyhow, I did read quite a few books and some of them surprised me so I figured it’d be a waste not to get something posted.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #645 2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #4 (OF 4) 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #5 (OF 6) 3.99
BOOSTER GOLD #37 2.99
DAKEN DARK WOLVERINE #2 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #58 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
HACK SLASH ANNUAL 2010 MURDER MESSIAH #1 CVR A (MR) 5.99
INCREDIBLE HULKS #614 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #31 2.99
JONAH HEX #60 2.99
KNIGHT & SQUIRE #1 (OF 6) 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #5 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND #4 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND BLOOD ON STREETS #3 (OF 4) SL 3.99
SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY HC (MR) 19.99
SUPERIOR #1 (OF 6) (MR) 2.99
SUPERMAN #703 2.99
THOR #616 3.99
THOR MIGHTY AVENGER #5 2.99
TUROK # 1 3.50
X-MEN #4 3.99

Now let’s do this thing.

Is That A Goth Cinderella?HACK/SLASH ANNUAL 2010

Tim Seeley has me hooked on Hack/Slash. It’s a great book that is easily accessible if you’re willing to deal with the content and manages the kind of self-referential tone that a lot of books try to reach but can’t because they don’t know how to handle it. With this Annual, we get the bridge between the old Devil’s Due series and the new relaunch coming around at Image. It’s got a definite middle ground feeling to it, where I’m sure new readers could catch what was going on while long-time fans like myself are happy to see plot threads start to re-align after a four month mini-series that felt a little too much like wheel-spinning.

I seriously cannot wait for the upcoming relaunch. I hope that people will take a chance on the book and hop on when the new #1 issue comes out because Hack/Slash is one of those books that understands that comic books can be fun. It’s not a full on comedy book, and it’s not always serious. Which makes me happy because a lot of books nowadays cannot balance tone at all. It’s an art and Seeley should give lectures.

Also, whoever had the idea to have Six Sixx wear a Fastway shirt in the opening part of the book is my hero, because I freaking unabashedly love that band.

EXPLOSION!!!!INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 31

Matt Fraction is writing the definitive run of Iron Man for the modern age. The world he is creating for Tony Stark here is one that builds not only off of Marvel’s rich history but off of the technological and political history of our own world. Fraction is saying something about technology and society that others have tried to in the book before but never found the right tone to make the story click. Here we’re getting an Iron Man that works on multiple levels. Stark’s unending quest for personal worth through altruism and progressive thought that has become the defining characteristic that pushes the narrative forward and it feels genuine. Tony Stark has truly become a multi-layered character in the last decade and Fraction is doing a good job of building Tony as a character while at the same time giving us the kind of story that we expect to read in an Iron Man comic.

 

 

'Ello Chaps!KNIGHT AND SQUIRE # 1

I’m just not British enough to like this book. I love me some Doctor Who and I thought Blackadder was hilarious, but even still, Cornell’s first issue of this mini-series went over my head like nobody’s business. I think that it could possibly be a great series for those who understand what happened. But that’s not me. I’m admitting this up front so that you know I can’t accurately criticise the book. It’s just the truth. I’m sorry.

The art was pretty though. So there’s always that. *sheepish grin*

 

 

 

 

Space MonkeysSUPERIOR # 1

I’ve been a massive detractor when it comes to Mark Millar. I really haven’t enjoyed anything he’s written since Ultimates 2 or thereabouts. He’s obviously capable of writing some amazing stuff, as I loved Red Son and his work on The Authority but his recent output hasn’t been in any way intriguing to me. Kickass was a solid concept made better when translated to film, Old Man Logan was inconsequential and Nemesis just doesn’t work for me.

With Superior, Millar finds his once impeccable knack for dialog and pathos that was so prevalent in his Red Son days. The story works with established superhero tropes but doesn’t seek to subvert them the way that Kickass or Nemesis do. Instead he shows that an interesting story can be told out of tried and true ideas and still feel fresh if you have a story worth telling. I didn’t think Millar had it in him to create sympathetic characters, or characters that didn’t feel paper thin for that matter. His recent work certainly wouldn’t indicate that as being the case. However he downright surprised me here.

I think this could be the strongest work he’s turned in for quite some time, though I doubt it will be his most popular because so far it’s a solid book but lacks the hyped up sensationalism that makes Millar’s books fanboy-bait. I hope people will look past the fact that there’s no forced incest or pre-pubescent female murderers and pick the book up knowing that it’s a glowing testament to the superhero genre.

Nothing Witty, The Book SucksSUPERMAN # 703

It’s hard for me to say this, as a Superman fan, but the current run of the title is just about the worst Superman stuff I’ve ever read. No middle ground to this anymore, it’s just steadily headed toward absolute horrendousness since the second JMS took over the title. And like 90% of bad Superman stories it comes from the writer just not getting what makes Superman work. Superman is not a thug who holds a stalker hundreds of feet in the air and threatens to drop him if the man doesn’t change his ways. That’s kind of what Batman does, but not Superman. Superman would talk to the guy and the mere experience of meeting Superman would cause him to re-evaluate his life and that person would go on to do great things.

Superman also doesn’t lecture Batman about saving ordinary folk. I’m sorry. I know Superman is on some sort of self-reflection kick, but he cannot reshape his entire worldview in three issues to the point where he can lecture Dick Grayson about staying grounded to reality.

I get that some people don’t like the fact that Superman isn’t edgy. But JMS doesn’t need to try to “fix” all of Superman’s percieved problems. He needs to take what works with the character and go from there, not write a character that barely resembles him in any way shape or form. For the love of God, let this little expirement wrap up soon so we can get back to the title just being mediocre instead of nearly unreadable garbage.

Wampum!TUROK # 1

My only experience with Turok comes from wasting several hours playing the N64 game back in the late nineties. That’s about it. I never read any of the classic comics or anything of that nature. I picked up the new series wondering what it was like and it felt fairly generic and tepid, so far as I could tell. It feels about the same as the other relaunched-through-Dark Horse properties like Magnus or Doctor Solar. There’s obviously some effort put into making a modern feel to a classic character but the story progression feels choppy and though I’ve never read Turok before in my life, a lot of this felt like a rehash of something I’d read before.

The series has potential to grow, obviously, as the character wouldn’t have warranted a relaunch if there wasn’t something worth exploring with the property. I just hope that the flow of the book gets a little smoother because it certainly felt rough around the edges throughout the course of the first issue.

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The End. I’m gonna go have a sandwich and watch all the crap I’ve DVR’d this week but haven’t had a chance to watch.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

After another brief hiatus the reviews have returned, and I’m sure you were all so worried that I’d never get back to the weekly review schedule. Well, here I am. I can’t say much for this week’s crop of books because it was a light week all around. Picking what to review was actually the hardest part of this little endeavor because everything I picked up is in the middle of an arc and if you haven’t made up your mind on a book by part four I doubt my little review is gonna sway you either way. If you do get to part four then read my review and go “well I’m not picking that up!” maybe I need to consider a career as a hostage negotiator.

Arrivals 8-25-2010
ACTION COMICS #892 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #35 2.99
AVENGERS #4 3.99
BATMAN #702 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #5 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #609 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #582 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #15 2.99
GREEN ARROW #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
SHADOWLAND MOON KNIGHT #1 (OF 3) SL 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #613 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #602 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #239 2.99

Now let’s get this over with.

BEHOLD....MY BEARD!
AVENGERS # 4

I praised the first issue of Avengers as a return to the classic feel of the title with a little bit of Bendis’ trademark style. Four issues in, I still get the classic vibe but I don’t so much think that Bendis’ Bendis-ey tendencies (that’s an odd rhyme) are all that suited for this sort of book. Contrast this with New Avengers where he’s really feeling his groove and hasn’t lost a beat since the last volume and you can see where he feels more comfortable. Bendis likes to do epic on a small scale. Epic as it pertains to the individual or a group of individuals. In New Avengers, it’s really Bendis’ statement on how Cage has grown as a leader and Doctor Strange’s role in the world of magic. You can boil the importance of the arc down to two characters, in essence. With Avengers it’s a little harder to do that. And while it’s still a good book and an interesting read, I’m not sure if it has Bendis’ singular focus. However, Bendis does get major brownie points with me for his use of Killraven. I mean, when was the last time we saw that guy? All I know is that its cool that he’s getting a little face time because I think he’s a great character.

Where I’m sure I’m going to lose alot of you is my feelings on the artwork. Now, I like JRJR, I think he’s a great talent and he’s practically synonymous with Marvel. That having been said, his work here looks rushed. I don’t doubt that he was rushed. But this is the Avengers we’re talking about. The Avengers should have the best art in the damned company as far as I’m concerned. New Avengers looks amazing. Avengers looks like a sketchbook that’s been colored in. There’s none of the finished nuance of his work on Amazing Spider-Man or KickAss (though Kickass took like three years to finish eight issues, so he probably wasn’t as rushed.) But all the same I would rather the book come out every five weeks to give the man some extra time than have an Avengers book that looks like it was drawn by someone with shaky hands and blurry eyes.

The book is still strong, it’s just weakened by Bendis being out of his comfort zone and Romita’s art running at about 50% his usual standard. But it’s good to have the real Avengers doing stuff that the real Avengers would do. Thor smashes a martian spacecraft in this issue. That’s the Avengers I love.

Insert Sexual Innuendo
BLACK WIDOW # 5

Marjorie Liu finishes the first arc on Black Widow as well as her tenure on the title with the fifth issue here. Next month Duane Swiercanspellhislastnameski takes over and crosses the title over with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don’t know what the tone shift between the two writers will be like but I’m pretty sure it’ll be minimal. This issue basically serves as a 32 page “exhibit A” as to why Black Widow is a badass. She does a lot of ass kicking here, and proves that in addition to being a spy and an Avenger she’s also a pretty good nude bondage model. (Yeah, I’ll scan that panel later, I promise.)

They’ve done a good job with this book. Black Widow isn’t the most amazing character in the world. She’s essentially a female Jason Bourne at this point. Effecient, badass, and portrayed by an A-List actor on film. As far as the writing on the book is concerned, Marjorie Liu is able to pull together the personal narrative with the spy action well enough that you’re left wondering why Black Widow hasn’t had a monthly title for so long. If there’s one thing that she does right with Natasha it’s that she makes her an organic and viable character that has room for years worth of stories based just off of the work in this introductory arc. Whatever comes next, it won’t feel like they’re trying to cash in on the character because of her appearance in Iron Man 2 but instead because there are stories that need to be told based off of what has been established.

I’m not sure what Duane is going to bring to the book, but he has big shoes to fill. Actually, I don’t know what size shoes Marjorie Liu wears. He’s got a lot to live up to that’s for sure. I expect at least one more equally awesome cold-storage bondage moment out of him before I think he’s anywhere near Liu’s level.

Watch Me Brood, Yo
SHADOWLAND : MOON KNIGHT # 1

When I first picked up Shadowland I promised myself I wasn’t going to get the tie-ins. I was going to give Marvel the finger when it came to the side-books that had no real bearing on the actual story. Now we’re about two months in and I’ve gotten every tie-in they’ve released so far. Congrats Marvel, you’ve got your hooks so far into my hide that I can feel it in my colon. Anyhow, it’s not a bad thing because every tie-in book thus far has been worth the money. I haven’t been let down by anything in the Shadowland pantheon as of yet. I picked up this one because I was hoping to figure out where Moon Knight plays into the whole thing and how he wound up in the underground prison in the main series.

While the book does address those issues it also seems to focus on the themes presented in the Vengeance of Moon Knight book with Moony becoming a less violent hero and Khonshu taking it the wrong way, seeing as how he lives off of the blood that his avatar delivers to him through acts of vigilantism. I assume I’m getting that right, Moon Knight can be confusing sometimes. So Khonshu is haunting Moon Knight in his dreams and his waking hours in the visage of a gigantic chicken (I know he’s not really a chicken, but he looks like one and I find that funny) and another nutjob is running around as the “Shadow Knight” giving Khonshu the blood he wants and making Moon Knight feel all guilty. It’s a damned odd book but the way they weave it through the Shadowland tapestry makes it worth picking up.

Also, I guess Quesada pulled the stick out of his ass about the smoking edict because one of the characters is perpetually puffing away in this issue and that kind of made me chuckle.

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Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week with more unless I get another superflu of some sort. If that happens I swear I’ll never leave the house again.


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

I learned something this week. Comic books are not an easy habit to downgrade. While last week I remarked that due to my financial situation, comic books would have to be scaled back for a little while alongside other things like blu-ray movies and steak dinners in order to help me build up a little extra cash in the bank, this week I found out that I can’t seem to stop myself from throwing stuff on the pile. Let me just say that while I still am going to try to restrain myself, hard as it may be because there is so much good stuff out there that I really want to read, I’m not going to hamstring myself either. If you can’t enjoy your hobbies the way you want, they sorta cease to be hobbies in my opinion.

ARRIVALS 4-28-2010
ACTION COMICS #889 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #629 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 3.99
DEADPOOL #22 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #864 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #4 (OF 4) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #578 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #11 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #32 A CVR SEELEY (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 HA 3.99
JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 29.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #38 2.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #2 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV (MR) 4.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #36 SIEGE 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #64 SIEGE 3.99
PREVIEWS #260 MAY 2010 (NET) 2.7
PUNISHER #16 2.99
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE GN (MR) 6.99
SHUDDERTOWN #2 (MR) 3.5
SUPERMAN #699 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #3 (OF 3) 3.99
THOR #609 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #6 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #1 3.99
X-FORCE #26 XSC 2.99

And now, your weekly biased opinions.

The Deadpool Went Down To Georgia
DEADPOOL # 22

I love a good one-off Deadpool story in which all kinds of ludicrous wackiness ensues. When you try to go epic with this particular character you can either get some amazing results like the Cable/cult stuff in Cable & Deadpool or you can get something like Deadpool Corps which doesn’t have quite the same *oomph*. This story has Deadpool being Deadpool somewhere in Georgia and wreaking vengea-justice against some corrupt backwoods hillbilly cops. It’s not high art in any way shape or form, but it feels like Deadpool, moreso than any universe-hopping counterpart he may have in another book.

In all fairness, this is the only Deadpool book on my list now. I cut off DPC and Team-Up because I wasn’t caring for them at all. They felt empty and bloated at the same time and didn’t give me anything that I was looking for in the character. Merc With A Mouth is still mostly excellent but it ends in three issues, so it might as well be gone already. I’m going to hold off on the upcoming Wade Wilson’s War mini-series, despite my immense love for Duane Sweircantspellhislastnameski because I’m pretty sure they’re gonna make an oversized hardcover for it that will look nice next to my Suicide Kings hardcover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of a bookshelf brimming with Marvel hardcovers.

My point is that the main Deadpool book is actually better than it gets credit for, and that I find it interesting that writers at Marvel, like the fanbase, have such wide and varying ideas of what a Deadpool book should be like, given that a few short years ago, Deadpool was one of the simplest characters to write. But exposure has forced multiple interpretations and I’m glad that I found the one that works for me. Maybe Deadpool Corps is the one that works for you. I can’t say. I barely made it through the first issue without vomiting in revulsion.

Bitches Leave!
Gotham City Sirens # 11

This issue featured maybe one of the most horrible and obvious plays on words that I’ve ever read in a comic book. I mean, it was too easy and it was telegraphed a mile away and I can’t believe that Paul Dini wrote it. The rest of the comic was pretty damned good. But I keep going back to that one cringe-worthy panel, which I would totally scan if my machine weren’t on the fritz. (Yeah, that’s why the panel of the week segment got cut, because I spend too much money on comics to afford a new scanner. I have no shame.)

The majority of this issue centers around Selina and Harley searching for a lost dog while Poison Ivy makes a first impression at her new job. I will say I was surprised by how that little section of this issue turned out. It looks like they’re not going with the secret identity idea for Poison Ivy as a long-term idea, which I was interested in seeing play out over the course of a few issues.

I think this is a good book. I really do. But this issue is a definate drop in quality from the last arc with Riddler. But then again, that could be on account of my epic Riddler-positive bias. I truly do love the Riddler, I think he’s underappreciated and misunderstood. Thankfully, Dini gets the Riddler better than just about anybody and I think he’s got plans for him down the road.

He Is IronMan
Invincible Iron Man # 25

The heroic age is here. Kind of odd that Siege still technically hasn’t ended and we’re already moving on to the aftermath. Better than holding up all the books while we wait but still a bit odd. This issue is just about everything you could want in an Iron Man comic. Matt Fraction might be God, I’ll have to ask his wife if their new baby was immaculately conceived in order to prove my hypothosis. (Congrats to the both of them on that, by the way)

One thing I think that is immediately noticeable about this book is the timing. A week before the new film drops and we get a comic featuring the return of Hammer Industries, the company founded by Justin Hammer, a prominently featured character in the new movie. Coincidence? I doubt it. Just as when this book launched in the wake of the first film with a story featuring Ezekiel Stane, Fraction has organically found a way to grab the interest of any new readers who might jump on board following the release of the new movie.

The tone of the book has reverted to the same sort that it had around it’s launch. Whereas the last arc was very hyper-real with a good chunk taking place in Tony’s mind, we’re now back to the corporate warfare and industrial terrorism actioner vibe that started in The Five Nightmares. It’s a tone that really works for Iron Man, and even with all the changes Stark is going through, he seems to fit into the puzzle with ease. This truly is some of the best Iron Man writing in ages.

Texas Comic Book Massacre
Random Acts of Violence

Here’s one of the books that proves my point about the inevitability of my comic collecting nature. I didn’t know this book was coming out this week. I completely overlooked it. But when presented with it, I took one look at the cover, saw Palmiotti and Gray’s name on the credits and tossed it on the pile. If there ever were a dream-team of comic writers, those two are it. Right up there with Brubaker/Rucka as far as I’m concerned. I mean, have you read Jonah Hex? Power Girl? Those guys are amazing.

This book utilizes what they know about the comic book business and builds an effective meta-textual story that comments on the world of comics from the inside and out. From publishing to the fans that read the product, to the media that capitilizes on its burdgeoning popularity. At the same time they manage to make a statement about the current state of the horror genre, both in the world of film and in the graphic literature medium. It’s a mixed message that they put out, I’ll admit, but then again that mirrors the content that they’re deconstructing here. Honestly, the book feels very cinematic. It has a very clear first, second, and third act and is illustrated in such a way that I felt like I was reading an adaptation of a mini-series on HBO.

I’m not going to say that this is their best work, but it is an interesting read. My only real complaints stem from the fact that due to the nature of the book, which seems to be a deconstruction of the modern horror story, the plot turns seem telegraphed and predictible. A problem that seems to plague a great deal of horror movies/novels/comics nowadays. Aside from maybe The Walking Dead, I can’t recall being shocked by a horror title in a long time. Crossed came close, but Garth Ennis can’t stop himself from being Garth Ennis, so a good deal of that book felt predictable as well, sad to say.

However, in the case of Random Acts of Violence, I can say that for the price tag, you get your money’s worth and then some. It’s a very meaty book, it feels full and complete without the need for decompression or rushed…anything. It’s simply a well put together book with a few slight snags applied due to the nature of the beast.

PRIIIIIIME!
Transformers Ongoing # 6

Optimus Prime gets dropped out of a helicopter onto Swindle. Of course I fucking liked it.

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See you next week….maybe. I’m taking a trip to Louisiana that weekend and I might space out between the middle of next week and the following Monday.


The Best Comics You’re Not Reading

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

# 1 : POWER GIRL

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

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

2: JONAH HEX

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

3: BOOSTER GOLD

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

4: SECRET SIX

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

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

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

***

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

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

Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7  3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99

That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?

ASM 622
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 622

For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.

I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.

Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.

Choker # 1
CHOKER # 1

It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.

Captain Swing
CAPTAIN SWING # 1

Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.

Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.

Ms. Marvel Finale
MS. MARVEL # 50

It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.

The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.

Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.

Wonder Woman 41
Wonder Woman # 41

It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?

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


Panel (Page, Actually) of the Week

New Avengers 61


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?