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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Man, this week has been intense. I’ve been working on some major renovations inside the store, trying to make room for all the cool new shipments of figures and statues and assorted awesomeness that’s set to be hitting the shelves within the next month or so, which has left my body sore and weak from the labor. I’m not sure if you know this, but comic books in bulk start to get heavy. Especially hardcover collections. I swear it felt like moving baby cows on my shoulder at some points. But it all was worth it for how great the new setups look and the fact that this week’s new books are pretty much the pinnacle of awesome.

ARRIVALS 6-9-2010
ASTONISHING X-MEN XENOGENESIS #2 (OF 5) 3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #1 HA 3.99
BATGIRL #11 2.99
BATMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
BOOSTER GOLD #33 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #606 HA 3.99
CHRONICLES OF CONAN TP VOL 19 DEATHMARK  17.99
DAREDEVIL #507 2.99
DOOM PATROL WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE TP 14.99
HACK SLASH MY FIRST MANIAC #1 (OF 4) CVR A (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #27 HA 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
NEMESIS #2 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
PREDATORS #1 (OF 4) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #8 (MR) 3.99
SECRET SIX #22 2.99
SHIELD #2 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #3 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #11 3.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #525 XSC 2.99
YOUNG ALLIES #1 HA 3.99

And as always, I will tell you why you should buy things.


AVENGERS ACADEMY # 1

Wasn’t initially going to get this one, but Christos Gage is one of those writers who has a tendency to churn out some amazing stuff out of concepts I initially hesitated on. He’s a solid writer who is well on his way to getting the name recognition he deserves. With Avengers Academy, he may have found that project.

If there is one flaw with the book it’s simply that, by nature, it’s sort of the black sheep of the Avengers family. The “heavy hitters” in the book as far as star power goes are Hank Pym, Justice and a newly reformed Speedball. Gage plays with this by saying that we’ll get some big names as “guest instructors” over the course of the book, to show that those characters care about the events transpiring in the book, so we should as well. LISTEN TO CAPTAIN AMERICA! HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT!

So yeah, the book has that hurdle to overcome in the mind of the financially conscious fanboy, who may not view the book as “essential reading.” But the book hits all the notes it aims for, and the new characters introduced in the book are all interesting and get a fair share of development in their debut. Reptil shows up, having gained some exposure through the Superhero Squad cartoon. Other members of the group seem to establish their niche right away, with Finesse and Hazmat being the darker foils to Reptil, Mettle and our primary protagonist Veil. Personally I think Mettle has the chance to grow into a really great character. He seems to echo the greatness that Rockslide projected back in New X-Men.

The reasoning behind using these characters, and why the program exists, parallels the Heroic Age’s overall theme of rectifying the wrongs of the Dark Reign era. It probably won’t be the theme for too long, as the status quo will likely shift again fairly soon, but it’s an excellent way to get the ball rolling and they’ve hooked me in for another one.

700 Issues
BATMAN # 700

Man, this one was epic. It’s not exactly a new-reader friendly jumping-on point as one would figure, as it hearkens back to Grant Morrison’s issue # 666 as well as the two-part Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader arc and we even get a segment (albeit a short one) that jumps into the Batman Beyond universe. It’s a veritable garbage-bag cocktail where every last drop of alcohol at the party gets mixed together in the hopes of making a concoction that will give you a kicking buzz without making you go blind.

The story has time travel, the Joker acting bat-shit insane, an appearance from the Mutants that harkens back to The Dark Knight Returns, Two-Face 2 who may be the greatest idea for a new villain that won’t be able to recur due to where he made his debut, and an amazing pin-up art gallery at the back end featuring drawings by some of the greatest artists ever to draw the Dark Knight.

I wish this review could be longer, but honestly the book is one that you have to read for yourselves. I don’t think it is an issue that everyone will enjoy, but I think that it’s definitely a ballsy choice for an anniversary issue this large. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a read just for the sake of seeing if you understand what the hell was going on.

606
CAPTAIN AMERICA # 606

Captain America has been firing on all cylinders for around five years now. Brubaker knows that book like the back of his hand and refuses to let up. This issue deals with the fallout from the last arc where Bucky had to put an end to an evil Steve Rogers clone with a bullet to the dome. It doesn’t sit well with Bucky, as you can imagine the boy has some issues when it comes to Captain America dying, real or not.

While all this is happening, Baron Zemo seems to be working some machinations, which makes me happy as I friggin’ love Baron Zemo. I hope to god he at least gets name dropped in the Cap movie, because I think he’s just one of the most awesome characters Marvel has. Don’t believe me? Go read some Thunderbolts before Warren Ellis turned it into some sort of twisted abomination from the depths of hell. Zemo is a multi-faceted villain who simply does not get his due nowadays and I’m glad that between this and the new Thunderbolts, he seems to be making a comeback.

My only squabble with this issue is the fact that I’ve not yet determined where the hell it fits in with what’s going on over in Thunderbolts. I’m sure they’ll work that out sooner or later, but for the moment I’m trying to place it myself. With all the time line jumping in the Cap book, it’s a chore for sure. But continuity isn’t as important as everyone makes it out to be, especially when the book is this good.

As for the Nomad backup, I’m certainly enjoying it. I like the world they’ve established there, I’m just tired of Nomad ending up in peril so often due to her own naivety. It’s repetitive. Luckily, she seems to not have that shortcoming over in Young Allies, which I’ve reviewed further down the page.


HACK/SLASH : MY FIRST MANIAC # 1

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is one of the more consistantly fun and entertaining books on the rack and when I heard it was moving over to Image, I thought “Oh thank the Lord, something good to read by that company that’s NOT written by Kirkman!” (All praise, be to the Kirkman)

With this mini-series, you get a fresh jumping on point if you’ve ever been interested in reading about Cassie’s exploits bashing the brains of creepy stalkery torture-killers with the aid of her hulking sidekick Vlad, who may currently be my favorite recurring comic character. He’s all kinds of awesome and unfortunately he doesn’t make an appearance in this first issue. He’s probably off in a corner reading Chippy Chipmunk at the moment.

The issue gives us a quick origin storry for Cassie that, while familiar to long-time readers, does not feel repetitive or dull. That was my main concern when the book was announced; that the mini-series would mostly be rehashed from prior events that we had already seen and therefore be of no consequence to those of us who have been onboard since the start.

And while I am certainly familiar with Cassie’s origin, the events presented here seem fresh and new even if parts of it do seem familiar. I like that Seeley is simply moving forward with the series rather than using this label-hop as an excuse to do a reboot. Because as we all know, reboots are all the rage in the horror genre right now. Because everybody wanted a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, right? Whatever.

Get the book, hop on board now so that you can be like me and stand around telling everybody that they should have been reading this years ago. It’s a fun feeling. A nice boost to the ego. I love it.


YOUNG ALLIES # 1

I picked this one up out of my love for Nomad. I loved her mini-series, I love the backups over in Captain America, and I think that it’s amazing that a character who was borne out of such a horibble event (Heroes Reborn. *shudder*) could end up being such a great addition to the mainstream Marvel landscape. Teaming her up with Araña was a stroke of genius, because that girl, while an interesting concept, needs a foil to work to her fullest potential, as evidenced by her appearances in Ms. Marvel.

The book starts off somewhat dark, giving us the origin of a couple of kids who are ripped from their families and trained to be death soliders for some South American Generalisimo. If it were drawn by someone like Mike Deodato it’d be downright frightening and hard to bear, but artist David Baldeon has a light tone that doesn’t strive to be hyper-detailed or stylized, and so while the impact is effective, it does not make you want to rip out your own soul. This is a comic book after all.

The issue plays out much like New Avengers # 1 did a few years back, with the team being brought together by a single circumstance and a whole lot of coincidence. The formula works well this time around, because even the villains remark before they pul their caper that they’re looking for heroes to be in the area and expect them to show up. It’s a little touch that makes the book run a lot smoother.

Between this and Avengers Academy, Marvel seems to be doing all they can to get their readership invested in the next generation of Marvel heroes. Meanwhile, DC is probably trying to find a way to kill off Jaime Reyes. The butchers.

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So there you have it. Go out and buy those things. From my store if possible. That’d make me happy. I’ll give you a hug. (*hugs not available on days ending in “y”)
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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.

PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50

Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…

Batman 698
BATMAN # 698

After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.

I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.

Brightest Day 0
BRIGHTEST DAY # 0

The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.

Aqauaman is afraid of the water.

It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.

Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.

Flash # 1
FLASH # 1

And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.

Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.

Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.

Green Arrow 32
GREEN ARROW # 32

Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.

I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.

Oh well, bring on the relaunch.

Black Widow # 1BLACK WIDOW # 1

Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.

This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.

We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.

Iron Man Legacy 1
IRON MAN LEGACY # 1

I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.

I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.


NEW MUTANTS # 12

I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.

PunisherMax6
PUNISHERMAX # 6

Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.

There. I said it.

There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.

Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.

Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.

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And that’s it for this week. These reviews were especially hard to type, what with the huge cut I have on my left index finger, but I pushed through. For you guys. Because I love you. For realisies.

Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Did you miss me? I bet you did. How would you know what comics to buy if I didn’t tell you what was good or not? Surely you would be lost and you would have to find a new hobby. Like knitting. I’m sure you could do that on your own. Can you tell I’m completely rambling right now? Sorry. I went to a Dropkick Murphys concert last night and didn’t get any sleep afterward. Oh yeah, comics!

THE PULL LIST:

ADVENTURE COMICS #8 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623 2.99
BOYS #40 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 TWILIGHT PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHEW #9 (MR) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #19 2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #862 3.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #1 (OF 3) FOH 3.99
FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) 4.99
GREEN HORNET # 1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #4 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #1 (OF 5) 3.99
PUNISHER MAX BUTTERFLY #1 (MR) 4.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #11 3.99

And now, my humble opinions…

ASM 623
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 623

I’ll start off by saying that, yes, the art has taken a bit of a nosedive for this issue. The art isn’t horrible. It’s a bit muddy, but it’s not indecipherable and it clears up in scenes set in daylight. However, I believe that any art will look lackluster when following Michael Lark. Because, c’mon, it’s Lark.

The story however is right up my alley. We finally get a little background on this new Vulture and we get some throwback to JJJ’s involvement in crafting the original Scorpion. There’s a lot to love for Spider-Man purists here, while being modern enough to appeal to people who think that the old Lee/Ditko Spidey stories were too cheeseball.

One thing I would like to point out is that we once again get some acknowledgment of the daughter of Kraven’s existence. She’s been on the periphery for a while now but hasn’t been directly involved in the proceedings, it looks like we’re finally getting to the crux of the story, and I’m anxious to see how things play out.

Boys 40BOYS # 40

First of all, how weird is it that this book has reached issue forty? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for that long. And yet, it’s been on shelves for over three years, and chugging along like a juggernaut each and every month.

This issue sees the fallout from the last issue, which I reviewed HERE starting to shape up. It plays with the common storytelling trope where the reader knows everything but the parties involved know only pieces of the puzzle, thus creating a sizeable bit of tension and drama. Here, Butcher has drawn his own conclusions upon finding out about Hughie’s relationship with a known supe. Hughie is unaware of Butcher’s knowlege and we start to see a bit of a breakdown within the group. As readers we’ve come to really like Hughie and hate to see him put in such a position, and we hope that nothing bad happens as a result of Butcher’s rash and brash nature, but this being a Garth Ennis book, we have a sinking feeling in our gut that something REALLY bad is going to happen soon, and so we are forced to keep reading with mindless zeal.

First Wave # 1FIRST WAVE # 1

Batman does not appear in this book. Unless he was stealthily hiding in the shadows or something. I just feel like I should point out that this intro issue is definately a showcase for Doc Savage and the Question, providing the new readers with an insight into the diversity of their crime-fighting styles. Throwing Batman in there might have muddied the waters, I suppose. Still, I’m never going to say that something should have less Batman. I mean, wouldn’t Avatar have been even more awesome if there were some Batman in it? I just imagined There Will Be Blood with a Batman cameo. That would rock.

As far as the issue goes, they do a good job of setting up the story. It’s full of classic noiry intrigue. The kind that Brian Azzarello does so well. And the art by Rags Morales is quite effective. Remember that book called Identity Crisis (aka Mindwipe & Rape : A Musical Revue)? That was a detective story at its core, albeit a shoddy one. But the art was very well done. Morales knows how to capture the tone of a pulp/noir/detective environment and here it most definately shows.

But the next issue better have some Batman or I’m gonna start wrecking shit.

Girl Comics # 1GIRL COMICS # 1

In the same comic we get a cute little comic about Venus trying to prove her worth to the male gods of the pantheon by working at a fashion magazine and a story where the Punisher goes all Chris Hanson to the nth degree on a pedophile at an amusement park.

Kind of a striking dichotomy no?

Green HornetGREEN HORNET # 1

Everything about this felt…wrong. It was too modern and too keen on being hip to feel like The Green Hornet. The voices of the characters seemed off. I know that characters are open to different interpretations and that no one embodiment can be considered definate because it could always be replaced down the line. I mean, c’mon, look at Batman. But in this instance it just seems like it doesn’t fit anything previously established with the character. Like, if Superman started saying “Yo, man. Stop the crime, dude.”

I spent an entire review praising Kevin Smith’s work on Cop Out, but I cannot do the same here. It just doesn’t feel right. It just didn’t click with me. I hope it clicked with someone because Dynamite put out EIGHTEEN variant covers for this issue, and that’s a lot of effort gone to waste if everyone felt like I did about this particular issue.

Invincible Iron Man # 24INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 24

The ending of the Tony Stark : Dissassembled arc hits home with a fairly anti-climactic final issue. I think that attempting to balance a fight with Ghost against the cerebral surrealism inside Tony Stark’s head led to a contrast of intent and could only really be resolved in a manner that felt overly simple in the end.

What the book has going for it however, is the last few pages which really drive home how much has changed for Tony Stark. During Civil War someone commented that they wished Tony Stark from years back could see his actions during that crisis, and here we sorta get that but with none of the satisfaction. It’s more of a shallow pity and it does a great deal toward redeeming Stark as a character. Which needs to happen considering he’s just as recognizable as Spider-Man in the public eye now.

Prelude # 1PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 1

The issue begins with a panel of Lady Deadpool seen from behind where her leg tapers off into something that looks like a suction cup. It’s supposed to be her foot.

Did I just start this review with the statement that Rob Liefield can’t draw feet? A fact that is pretty much abject fact at this point? Yes I did. And do you know why? Because it doesn’t get any better from there. The book is one long rambling fight sequence, then Deadpool shows up and drafts Lady DP into some mission and the issue ends.

There is NO substance here. And for a character where razor-sharp wit is the defining characteristic, this issue is filled with some of the dullest humor and sloppiest attempt at witty writing this side of a Dane Cook special.

My fears have been realized. Deadpool is no longer infallible in my eyes. Excuse me while I weep.

Punisher Max - ButterflyPUNISHER MAX : BUTTERFLY # 1

I think this book simply proves my point that the Punisher is only as interesting as the people he kills. Garth Ennis knew this. Jason Aaron knows this. And Valerie D’Orazio knows this.

If you don’t know Valerie’s story, and believe me it is a long surreal tale unlike any you’re likely to hear in the world of comics again, you might want to take the time to give her pseudo-memoir/blog “Goodbye to Comics” a look-see. It’s not a short read by any means, but it is something that begs to be read. For a quicker bio, you can click HERE.

There are two ways to read the book. You can read it knowing Valerie’s story or going in blind. If you’ve read Goodbye to Comics you can get an inkling of how cathartic writing this book must have been for her. There are themes that are definitely derived from her experiences in the publishing world and it helps to make the book feel genuine. If you know nothing about the writer, you’ll either bitch that there’s not enough Punisher in the book or you’ll comment on how the best Punisher stories of the last few years seem to use the actual character of Frank Castle sparingly. Like the shark in JAWS.

UCNU#1ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES # 1

Jeph Loeb didn’t make me want to kill myself while I read his latest offering to the Ultimate universe. You may remember how I called Ultimatum one of the worst books of 2009. I stand by that. UCNU (because typing out that long ass title every time would make me want to kill myself) is about as middle of the road as you can get. It is not excellent nor is it bad. It simply is. I like where Loeb hs put Tony Stark. I like that we got to see Frank Cho draw Hela undressing herself seductively in an attempt to get Thor to “raise his hammer.” I like that nobody was eaten alive.

It’s like when Homer Simpson invented the Flaming Homer; “It passed the first test…I didn’t go blind.”

Weapon X # 11WOLVERINE WEAPON X # 11

Wolverine celebrates the resurrection of Steve Rogers by having Nightcrawler fly them around the world to different bars where they get drunk and form a nice little bromance. Also there are multiple Deathloks going all Terminator on the progenetors of the next generation of heroes.

Yeah. I dug it.

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Once again, I’m sorry for the lack of DC material but there were only three books on my pull from that particular company this week and the only one that would make a good review is the one I’m not caught up to in my reading.  Hopefully next week I’ll do good by DC again, so as not to incurr the wrath of Dan DiDio.

Weekly Comic Reviews

I’m back. Though I’m completely sore and drained after an amazing concert last night at the House of Blues, I have found it in my heart to post up this week’s reviews in a manner that vaguely resembles professional.

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The Pull List 2-10-2010

ACTION COMICS #886 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS WITH BLACK LANTERN SUPERBOY #7 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #620 GNTLT 2.99
BATGIRL #7 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #8 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #29 3.99
COLT NOBLE AND MEGALORDS (ONE SHOT) 5.99
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #29 3.99
HAUNT #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #3 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #10 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #4 (MR) 3.99
QUEEN SONJA #4 2.99
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY ILLUSTRATED #1 4.99
SECRET SIX #18 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SWORD #4 (MARVEL) 2.99
TITANS #22 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7 3.99

And now, on with the show…

ASM 620
Amazing Spider-Man # 620

Amazing Spider-Man has become a freight train style juggernaut that moves along at seemingly breakneck speed without any signs of slowing down. The 3x a month format allows for a cacophony of plot development in a VERY short span of time. What amounts to the third arc of the Gauntlet storyline has come to a close. Were this a traditional Spider-man story, played out once a month, it would have taken 3/4 of a year to get where we are.

Thus far the story has been like the beginnings of a chess game, with pieces being carefully put into position in ways that we can see that an endgame is approaching but don’t yet know how it will truly play out. In this week’s issue, we get a classic Spider-Man throwdown between the webslinger and Mysterio, who constantly plays mindgames with Spidey and the reader, keeping us guessing as to whether he truly is Quentin Beck come back from the dead. Ambiguity breeds interest, and this arc certainy has it in spades.

And, I must once again take a moment to praise the art of this particular story, as it reminds me very much of the 70’s styled Spider-Man stories that I enjoyed so much, with none of the hyper-realistic definition that seems to have plagued the book in the wake of McFarlane in the 90’s. The art is a key componant here in making the story feel like classic Spidey.

Batman and Robin # 8
Batman & Robin # 8

MINDLESS ZOMBIE BATMAN!

GLEE!!!!!

Colt Noble
Colt Noble & The Megalords

I am an unabashed lover of Hack/Slash and its creator Tim Seeley, who writes stuff that will never be considered high art but could definately be called high concept. His sense of comedic timing is a wonder to behold and his latest venture, a sci-fi/fantasy romp with a sarcastic comedic flair tossed in to make things interesting is truly worth a read.

Now, at 5.99 it’s a bit pricey. But let me tell you this, the issue had more damned story and content than the majority of the books on the rack this week. Compared with Zenoscopes Sci-Fi Illustrated (Which I will get to in a moment…) which held a pricetag of 4.99 with about 1/4 the content, you cannot argue that you’re not getting a good value.

And honestly, you’re getting more than a good value. One of my major complaints with the comic book industry and its followers today is an overwhelming tendency toward constant negativity and adherence to canon/continuity. Fans tend to feel like everything must be kept in strict order and the line must be towed at every turn. For example, take a look at the fanboys who got worked up into a sweat about how Dick Grayson could have POSSIBLY had Batman’s body at the point in the timeline where Batman & Robin # 7 took place when it was contradicted by Blackest Night. Those questions were answered in # 8 but some fans got so worked up in the specifics that they COMPLETELY sucked all of their own enjoyment out of the issue in question.

Books like Colt Noble and the Megalords are a breath of fresh air. In an industry that seems to be trying so hard to be looked upon as a mature art form, where genuine fun is tossed aside for stern-faced seriousness, Seeley presents us with a book that does exactly what a comic book should; entertain. Look, I get it. There are comics out there that are just as legitimate as certian works of prose fiction and should be regarded as such. Whatever. Don’t act like it all has to be like that. For every “Pride and Prejudice” there is a whole rack of novels that don’t aspire to be “art” or “literature.”

Colt Noble is like the dirty girl you take home from the bar and do things that the Bible expressly forbids. You know that you liked it but you’re not gonna go mouthing off about it to your parents in polite company.

JSA All Stars 3
JSA All-Stars # 3

The cover has Magog getting punched in the face. Of course I bought it!

The book has Power Girl beating the snot out of Magog. I think I want to make out with Matt Sturges.

Fuck this book
Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustrated # 1

Look folks, you remember how I went on a rant about how comic books don’t have to be serious? Yeah, I stand by that. But that doesn’t mean that comic books get a free pass for being utter crap. And they certainly throw away any right to critical fairness when they charge you $4.99 for such crap.

Science Fiction Illustrated is like bad fanwank to classic Twlight Zone and Outer Limit episodes, spliced with the worst heavy-handed pseudo Skinimax artwork one could possibly lay their hands on. It panders to the comic geek who can’t get a girl with a story about buying a perfect robotic woman that then spends spash pages dressed in various naughty outfits cooking and cleaning for the protaganist schlub.

I love me some smut, but let’s be honest, and I mean brutally honest, if I so chose, I could download multiple terabyte hard-drives full of the most disgusting pornography on the planet for free with a click of a mouse. Why would I pay $4.99 for cheaply and crudely drawn comic book girls if not for a compelling story to go along with it. Remember Boogie Nights where Burt Reynolds got all pissed off about porn without a plot. THIS IS WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

There is no fathomable way anyone could read this and say they got their money’s worth. That’s just the plain truth.

The Secret Is That The Book Is Awesome
Secret Six # 18

Gail Simone is awesome. This issue has explosions and zombies and twisty endings and whatnot. It’s part of a crossover and it didn’t suck. Gail Simone obviously made a pact with the devil. That devil might be John Ostrander. Just sayin’.

***

And that’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I don’t rant quite so much*.

Cheers..

(*totally not gonna happen)


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.