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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.

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Every week I plan to bring you my personal reviews of the week’s releases, hopefully in a timely manner. This would be easier if Marvel and DC still sent out those preview copies a week ahead of time but those are a distant memory, like good hip-hop.

THE PULL LIST:
ACTION COMICS #885 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #6 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #617  3.99
ANGEL #29 3.99
AVP THREE WORLD WAR #1 (OF 6) 3.50
BATGIRL #6 2.99
BATMAN #695 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOOSTER GOLD #28 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #31 2.99
CATWOMAN #83 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN WEIGHT OF CROWN ONE SHOT 3.50
DIE HARD YEAR ONE #4 3.99
FEARLESS DAWN #2 (OF 4) 2.95
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #28 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22 2.99
MARVELS PROJECT #5 (OF 8 ) 3.99
NATION X #2 (OF 4) 3.99
PSYLOCKE #3 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHERMAX #3 (MR) 3.99
RED HERRING #6 (OF 6) 2.99
SECRET SIX (BLACKEST NIGHT) #17 2.99
SWORD (MARVEL) #3 2.99
TITANS #21 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #3 3.99
UNWRITTEN #9 (MR) 2.9

Horny much?
Amazing Spider-Man # 617

Here begins another chapter in the “Gauntlet” arc of Amazing Spider-Man, detailing one of the viallians who I felt should have been included in the film series somewhow (and hopefully will be when this reboot gets going), the Rhino. Why do I like the Rhino? Because he’s got that classic element of emotional scarring through physical trauma that I like my villains to have. (See also Two-Face, Killer Croc, etc.)

Here we see Rhino doing the whole “I’m a good guy because I found a woman” routine and we’re introduced to a new character taking up the Rhino moniker. How many of the original Spider-Man rogues are actually the people they were when they debuted nowdays? Kraven and Scorpion have been replaced by younger more female-type persons, the new Vulture spits acid blood or something like that, now the Rhino is getting an overhaul. I’m not complaining, though. When it comes to the stories presented, if you’d been beaten up by Spider-Man for years you would likely abdicate your cirminal moniker too. The old guard fading away is a big part of what makes certain stories work. By progessing the villains, you progress your hero by proxy. It works.

The main story here is a bit hollow, aside from the fun interplay between Peter and Norah, there’s not much meat to the story. It’s clearly a setup for what will follow in subsequent issues. Even the advancement of Rhino as a character isn’t truly fleshed out until a very well done backup story after the main meat n’ potatoes of the lead-in.

Again, I seem to like where all this is going, and I attribute that mostly to Joe Kelly who is an underappreciated writer in many ways, but I think my feelings toward this issue will be altered one way or the other by how it is followed up down the line.

I Have Nothing Funny To Say
Batman # 695

I’m going to try not to review books, such as this one, that are in the middle of an ongoing arc if I can avoid it. That having been said, I think this issue finally revealed what I’ve been feeling about the “Dick as Bats” experiment and made me grasp what had only been an inkling until reading a few panels presented here; I forgot that Bruce was gone.

Tony Daniel has been doing something that seems to counter-act what Morrison has been doing in “Batman & Robin.” Whereas that book works off of the relation between Damien and Dick and how both are coming to terms with Bruce Wayne’s absence, the main Bat book goes long stretches where Batman is doing his thing and the inner voice of the character is 100% identical to Bruce, generally speaking. It feels as if Daniel is writing Bruce Wayne as Batman and then out of nowhere we are reminded that it’s not Bruce.

Part of me thinks it’s written this way to make the reader accept Dick as the subsitute, leaving the reader in a comfort zone and not changing the tone of the character in any major way. Another part of me thinks that Daniel is not as experienced a writer as he is an artist, and therefore has trouble writing discernable voices for multiple characters. He doesn’t write Dick in the suit, he writes the suit, so to speak.

The book itself feels like a book out of the 80’s or 90’s. It’s very self contained to it’s own universe and almost a slave to it’s own past. The art is solid, which I attribute to Daniel basically writing to his own strengths, seeing how he’s handling the art along with the scripting. It’s refreshing to read a fairly straight-forward Batman narrative again, even if we know that it’s techically just filler until Morrison pulls Bruce out of the past and re-inserts him into the now.

My God, It's Full Of Stars!
Booster Gold # 28

Why are you not reading this? It’s such a great book. I know a few people must have been suckered in during that Blackest Night crossover, but that’s just not enough. This book craves attention. Just like Booster himself, this book is constantly seeking validation. It shouldn’t, because it’s just plain good and that should stand for itself, but everyone should read this book at least once.

This issue is a great place to start. It’s a good jumping on point, with Booster and his sister delivering a nicely done exposition dump and getting everyone back up to speed. The story centers around the “if you travel to the past you can’t change anything” device and takes a look at how, if given the opportunity, such things might play out in the DCU. In this case, it’s trying to avoid the Cyborg Superman Coast City disaster. With time travel being a regular staple of the DC universe, it’s suprising that we don’t see more stories centered around the government or certain heroes trying to go back and reverse history. I mean, Superman flew around the world so fast he turned back time in the original Superman film, so it’s not like it hasn’t been thought of, but Booster Gold seems to be the only series that bothers to look at certain angles of the time-travel element.

I think that’s what I’ve been liking so much about this book. Aside from the Blackest Night tie-in, the book completely covers its own little niche of the DCU that nobody else tramples on and the book acknowleges and presents a reasoning for occupying that very same niche. It’s clever writing at its best and the fact that it makes logical sense is refreshing, especially given what goes on in certain parts of the DC publishing web.

Shiny Pussy
Catwoman # 83

I think out of all the resurrected titles that came about because of Blackest Night, Catwoman was the one I was most looking forward to. I was terribly disapointed when they cancelled the book in the first place. Seriously, it was a solid book and it didn’t need to go away. I love Gotham City Sirens, and that has helped to lessen the blow but crowding the book with three leads makes it hard to really focus on any one character’s needed arcs. It’s almost as if that book was meant to introduce a new status quo in a manner that we all slowly forget what came before and only focus on the current developments.

Resurrecting the Catwoman title proper, allowed the reader to get a little closure in regard to the Black Mask murder storyline that pretty much dangled after the cancellation of Selina’s title. This book puts the endpiece on that particular storyline and organically presents a followup that can be built upon in “Sirens” down the line.

While the Blackest Night banner seems to indicate a quick cash-grab in bringing books like Catwoman back, the content and the fact that it is used to further the development of the character and put old business to bed justifies their existence.

Nazi Sexy Wonder
Fearless Dawn # 2

There are Nazis. And I don’t really understand much else. Part of me wants to peg this book as a sort of T&A throwaway book but, there’s not actually much T&A on display. It’s really just an oddball fun book that isn’t too deep or well constructed, but it’s a fun read in the end and considering I only picked up the first issue because the cover looked interesting and I’ll buy anything with Nazi’s as the villain (see also Hellboy) I can’t complain too heavily about what’s presented between the covers.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD CHARLES!!!
Invincible Iron-Man # 22

I recently named Fraction’s “World’s Most Wanted” arc one of my favorites of 2009. He’s still continuing that with the “Stark Disassembled” arc here, but I can’t help but have flashbacks to that season of The Sopranos where Tony was in a coma and we spent so much time in a dream world that interest soon started to dwindle.

That isn’t a problem here, because now Doctor Strange is here and Doctor Strange is awesome.

I predict that the end of this arc will make me do a little fanboy squeal but if I do I won’t tell you about it because I’d like to retain some of my objective dignity, of which I have very little.

Jubilee > You
Nation X # 2

Jubilee. That is all you need to know.

Fatty Fatty Fat Fat
PunisherMax # 3

Holy fuckshit Jason Aaron is impressing me left and right. His Weapon X book is the best Wolverine in years and now we get a Punisher story that lives up to the legacy that Garth Ennis left with “Welcome Back Frank” without completely aping everything that Ennis did with the character.

The smartest thing Aaron has done is focus more on the Kingpin than on Frank Castle. We’ve seen everything in Frank’s arsenal, honestly. But this new Kingpin is an unknown entity. By establishing this new character and framing the development through the lens of the Punisher and the thugs on the street, we are left wondering if this Kingpin is going to wind up like the rest of the Punisher’s rogues and be dead by the end of the arc or if we’ll finally get another recurring villain worth getting excited over. Ennis gave us Barracuda and The Russian, it seems like Aaron is trying to do the same thing with the Kingpin, and give us a new recurring foe who isn’t named Jigsaw.

This book is everything you could wan’t in a Punisher story. It also has saggy old lady tits, though I’m not sure if that counts for the book or against it.

I Swear This Was Supposed to be a Wolverine cover...
Transformers Ongoing # 3

Ultra Magnus is a dick and a half. Seriously, the guy is so oblivious to his own dickishness that he makes Silver-Age Superman look like a cognitive genius. I’m not exactly sure what continuity this book follows, considering that I haven’t read a Transformers comic in ages, but if there’s one thing that all of them share it is that Ultra Magnus is a total douchebag and he doesn’t even know it. Also Hot Rod.

This book is frustating for me in that I feel as if nothing seems to happen in any of the issues until the final page. It’s like 31 pages of filler and then shocking cliffhanger. It is already getting tiresome. That having been said, I like the angle they’re playing where the Autobots and Decepticons put aside their differences out of a shared sense of nihilistic apathy/exhaustion. It’s basically as if both camps said “screw it,what else is on TV?” It’s different, at least to me, and story structure aside, I want to see where it leads.

***

And that wraps it up for this week’s reviews. I would like to finish the post with something witty but I really want to finish watching LOST on bluray, so that isn’t gonna be happening.