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Weekly Comic Reviews – 8/14/2013

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse CusterIt’s been a hell of a week. Busy is the word I would use to describe it. But no in the “I have things to do” sort of way, more in the “why are so many things happening to me” sort of way. You know, viral infections, dead car battery, relationship drama; the usual. I haven’t had much time to blog it up, but thankfully things have quieted down enough that I can slip in and do some reviews. Not many, because there wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in diving into this week just from a casual glance. As I climb deeper into the rabbit hole of reading weekly books on the regular, I’m sure the number of reviews that pile up each week will expand. That said, what I did read carried some heft, so we’ll dive right in and get right to it.

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BATGIRL # 23
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The new “Batgirl: Wanted” epic begins here, as Commissioner Gordon must track down his son’s murderer—who happens to be his daughter! But has Barbara already given up the Bat?

I stepped away from Batgirl when Gail Simone was ceremoniously booted from the title a short while back. When she reentered the fray I neglected to jump back on board but the storyline here intrigued me enough to pick up last month’s issue as a refresher and threw this one on the stack as well. For those not in the know, Batgirl is on the hook for the death of her brother and that isn’t sitting all too well with their respective father, Commissioner Gordon. Barbara is going through much in her life at this point. She’s beginning to date a reformed criminal who can’t seem to escape his past and trying to reconcile what happened with her brother at the same time. She’s a big ball of emotions and her father is looming over her in more ways than one, needling her about staying safe and afraid of losing another child as well as chasing Batgirl down in a way that even Batman remarks is dangerously close to a vengeful tirade. The rooftop scene between Batman and the Commissioner is excellently written and gives the reader a good idea of what we can expect in terms of character beats from Jim Gordon.

That is really what drives this book and makes it such an interesting work; the character beats. Barbara is heavily conflicted here, and conflict makes for compelling reading. Barbara Gordon, at least as Batgirl, has never come across as a character who really elicits much of a response from me because she reads as cut-and-dry in most respects. I only really started to get a feel for her as a fleshed out human being when she became Oracle. We got to witness her deal with so many different types of adversities while she was in that chair in the clock-tower. Gail Simone has taken that development on the character and given us a new lens to look at Barbara. She feels full. She appears realized. She makes mistakes and deals with the consequences.

All in all, my first reaction is that I should go back and pick up what I missed to fill in the gaps, because I am enjoying what I’m reading. There are a few downsides, mostly having to do with some predictability regarding Barbara’s love interest that are far too telegraphed to be enjoyed fully on my end, but I imagine the narrative beats that will result from certain decisions will translate into some payoff in regard to Barbara’s development later down the line. At least I hope so.

Rating 3 and 1/2 out of 5
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INFINITY (2013) #1
Published: August 14, 2013
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Cover Artist: Adam Kubert
Price: $4.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipate Blockbuster summer event, chaning the way you view the Marvel Universe! • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them. • The world-shattering return of Thanos! • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY

If you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers you may have figured out that his handling of the team is pretty much the anti-Bendis in terms of plot progression, storytelling, and theme. Hickman’s take on the book has been much like Morrison’s deconstruction of the X-Men years back. It is as different from what preceded it as you can get and yet never feels like it isn’t true to what the book should be about. Jonathan Hickman writes the Avengers as a hard intellectual sci-fi yarn, recalling elements from classic Avengers lore like the Kree-Skrull war and Infinity Gauntlet while infusing it with his very distinct creative voice. There is never a time where you are not aware that you are reading a Jonathan Hickman story. Much as Bendis has come to be associated with abundant panels and fast, snappy dialog, the elevated science fiction overtones along with deliberate pacing and neo-modern graphic design stylings clearly indicate a Hickman joint.

Those familiar with his work on the main Avengers title and therefore comfortable with his style and pacing will find Infinity to be a strong book. He takes his time and gives us freedom to enjoy the world-building that he puts on display. We are introduced to an abundance of alien races and evil machinations. We only see the Avengers on panel for perhaps 1/4 of the book’s length. Front and center instead are the actions of our antagonists, razing worlds and infiltrating the highest order of the Inhuman’s stronghold of Attilan in a meticulously plotted cerebral espionage sequence. What I am trying to say is that people who are looking for the whiz-bang pacing of a Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, etc. may find themselves disappointed at the way the first issue plays out. I personally enjoyed it and I will do my best to explain why without sounding like a total idiot.

The first issue played out, for the most part, like an episode of a TV show. The story beats are concise and structured for maximum effect, but it is the final pages of the book, where we see our heroes putting a plan into action and a final page cliffhanger that could easily have been followed with a meme image of Michael from Arrested Development saying “I Have Made A Huge Mistake” where things really clicked for me. You see, those last few pages didn’t feel like part of the narrative of this issue so much as a quick flash of what’s to come, similar to a “Next Week on MARVEL” montage at the end of a TV show. The pacing and the implications make for effective drama, and while Infinity # 1 is definitely a slow burn, it is also very much indicative of a quality mini-series that seeks to tell its story in a very deliberate way.

Simply put, Hickman delivers a standout first issue that couldn’t be further from what I have come to expect from a Marvel event series while at the same time giving me everything I want from a Marvel event series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

COLLID_Cv1_PRINT_3pncuy4wjo_COLLIDER (AKA FBP: FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS) # 1
Written by:  Simon Oliver
Art by:  Robbi Rodriguez
Cover by: Nathan Fox
U.S. Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Jul 31 2013

It started small: temporary gravity failures, time reversal loops, entropy reversals. With much fanfare a new government agency was formed with a mandate “to prevent and protect.” Its official title: The Federal Bureau of Physics. Humans, if nothing else, adapt to the changing parameters of their existence. What was extraordinary soon became ordinary, a part of people’s daily lives. They move on and do what people have always done: survive. But even that new status quo is now under threat. Things are getting worse, and it falls to Special Agent Adam Hardy and his FBP team to figure out what’s going on, before it’s too late… 

I know I’m late to the party on this one but following all the hubbub surrounding the abrupt title change (Beginning with issue 2, Collider will be renamed to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) I decided to throw this one on the reading pile and give it a go. Writer Simon Oliver has done work previously for Vertigo on Hellblazer and The Exterminators and while I may have read his work before I cannot remember if I formulated an opinion so I am going into this 100% blind.

Collider feels like a Vertigo book. It takes a premise and runs with it. There is mystery and the promise of expanded world building and solid character work along the way with artwork that, were it on a mainstream book, would be decried for not fitting the mold. As it stands, it is a fine book. The premise, that the foundation of universally accepted laws of physics are starting to crumble and the fallout surrounding that hornet’s nest, is one worth delving into. It hooks you and keeps you there until the end. I’ve read comments about the book being boring but I had no such qualm with the book. But then again, I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and that book was admittedly a chore to get through sometimes.

For regular devotees of Vertigo content, this will not disappoint. For those who fall more squarely in line with the mainstream, I’m not so sure you’ll enjoy this one. It has all of the hallmarks that most people mock “indy” comics for; strange yet alluring artwork, strange premise, heightened dialog… you get the idea.

I don’t want to write much about it because I feel people will enjoy it more if they just go in blind. It’s sometimes the best way to enjoy a work of art and I’ll wager that this is the sort of book that benefits heavily from a clean frame of mind. It certainly helped when I read it, as I had zero knowledge of the title when I turned the cover. Whatever you do, just don’t dismiss it outright. Give it a chance.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5


Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) – Episode 1 : Rise of the Turtles

My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had all the toys, I had VHS tapes of the show out the wazoo and I enrolled in a martial arts class at age six just because I wanted to be a ninja. My sensei made me do fifty pushups for taking too long in the bathroom once. I didn’t stay in the class long. That didn’t discourage me from watching the cartoons and playing with the action figures though. Nothing could put the kibosh on that.

I never read the comics of TMNT at any point until around 2006 when I was able to get my hands on some of the reprinted oversize editions that went back and colorized some of the original stories. I knew there were differences between the version I had grown up with and the original source material, but I never really had any idea of that until I got those books. Even then it was only a miniscule sampling of the original Turtle stories and I didn’t get to really delve into that world until around 2010 when IDW started reprinting those issues in omnibus style trade paperbacks. I really enjoyed reading those books and I think that it gave me an appreciation for h0w there can be several interpretations of the same property and have it work out for the better.

The 2012 volume of the TMNT animated franchise seems to be a melding of the ideas from the early nineties cartoon and the one that hit air back in the early 2000s. The show does not attempt to downplay the humorous elements of the franchise and yet at the same time it appears that they will be eschewing the original series’ tendencies for the villains to be downright laughable. The threats to the heroes will feel realistic and the heroes’ response will be utterly sardonic. The melding of tone works well in the hour long first episode which introduces us to the turtles, Splinter, a now teenaged April O’Neil and a race of alien brains known as the Krang. The first series had Krang as a singular character, displaced from his homeworld. This time around they seem to be going with the hive-mind idea and some of the dialog that comes as a result is hilarious. Going back to the humor I mentioned, the show has a handle on it and knows when to use it.

The element that most will find polarizing will be the animation style. It is 3D but there is a somewhat overlaid 2D style, that at times feels heavily manga inspired, that will put off some viewers. I think those who get caught up on the style would do well to look at what else it is doing that works in its favor. I know plenty of people who had a problem with the animation style of something like Teen Titans, and while the anime styling lost that show a number of fans, most would argue that it was easily on par with the rest of the DCAU at the time, regardless of how it was drawn. The stories they told and the voice acting on display made me a fan and I was one of the people initially turned off by the design style. Here, the voice acting is equally good. Rob Paulsen takes over as Donatello and feels right at home. Sean Astin is our new Raphael and he does it well. Greg Cipes, who voiced Beast Boy in Teen Titans, gives Michelangelo a different spin than I was expecting but does a great job nonetheless. Jason Biggs as Leonardo takes some getting used to, as the characterization is different than previous incarnations in a number of ways. That said, it works for the style they have chosen.

I think that this has a lot to offer for fans of the old show and is a great introduction to the kid-friendly aspect of the series for younger viewers. I’m not ashamed to admit I have the new action figures posed on top of my iMac right now. This could be a great show if hard-nosed fans don’t give it too much grief. I personally can’t wait for the next episode.

And now, in a shameless ploy for hits. I present sexy pictures of the adult actress and sexy nerd icon April O’Neil, because I know what people like:


If you are of mature age and want to see more of Ms. O’Neil, check her out on twitter @Undeux.


Review – Gingerbread Girl

SYNOPSIS: There are many verifiable facts concerning 26-year-old Annah Billips. She likes sushi and mountains and piglets, but hates paper cuts and beer breath. She flirts with girls and boys, and loves to travel. She might have a missing sister… or she might be totally insane.

Did Annah invent an imaginary sister named Ginger during her parents’ traumatic divorce? Or did her mad scientist father extract part of her brain and transform it into a living twin? In this whimsical, thought-provoking graphic novel, a host of narrators (including boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, bystanders, magicians, and passing animals) try their best to unlock the mystery of Annah… and the Gingerbread Girl.

Reading this graphic novel will perplex a good many of its readers. There is a narrative here, and that narrative is delightfully constructed and handles multiple points of view well enough that I would venture to say that the manner that the story progresses is one of the more inventive devices I’ve read in recent years. The only problem that most readers will find is that, much like everything in life, at the end of it all no real clear answers to the pertinent questions are really given. There are suppositions and educated guesses, but nothing ever jumps out and puts the final seal on the major crux of the storyline.

But that’s not really all that important. The question of whether or not our protagonist is a loon really does not form the crux of the book at all, and the meat and potatoes of the story is really how the protagonist’s actions and beliefs force others to examine their own choices when it comes to dealing with her. This is a character study in 112 pages. It’s a psychological examination of how the world reacts to people who travel off the beaten path and though the conclusion of the tale may leave some a bit frustrated, it’s well worth a read. Writer Paul Tobin does an excellent job of making sure the thread of the narrative is carefully constructed and though some may find fault with it, I believe many complaints will be lodged by the book defying conventional expectation rather than due to any sort of failure on the part of the writer.

Colleen Coover has a very distinctive artistic style that absolutely compliments the story here and it would be hard to make a case against her minimalist technique when it comes to the aesthetic of this particular story. She would not be the right fit for an X-Men title, but for stories like this she reminds me a great deal of someone like Darwyn Cooke, whose style could hardly be called realistic but is the very definition of evocative. It really is some great work and the color scheme, muted and dulled with blues and soft earth tones really sets the mood for the story that unfolds.

If you’re looking for something that will make you reflect on the contents of what you’ve just read you really should give the book a chance. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it’s a nice change of pace from the mainstream comic work that I’ve been reading as of late.

Supplemental:

Interview with Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover at Under The Radar
Order Gingerbread Girl at Top Shelf Productions


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.


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’.

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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

Ah hell, it’s that time again. Where I sit down and type out a bunch of snarky retorts to the weekly comic offerings I put money down for on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, a bulk of the week’s pull was in trade form and I can’t write up a timely review of collected stories so this column might be on the slim side this week. I’ll try to make for it in repetitive ramblings throughout the reviews.

The Pull List:
BLACKEST NIGHT WONDER WOMAN #3 (OF 3) 2.99
BOYS #39 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #32 TWILIGHT PT 1 (OF 5)  2.99
CINDERELLA FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVE #4 (OF 6)  2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #18 2.99
CRIMINAL SINNERS #4 (MR) 3.5
DARK TOWER FALL OF GILEAD PREM HC 24.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #896 2.99
FABLES TP VOL 13 THE GREAT FABLES CROSSOVER (MR) 17.99
GI JOE ORIGINS #12 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #23 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA ANNUAL #2 4.99
QUESTION #37 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
RED ROBIN #9 2.99
SIEGE #2 (OF 4) 3.99
SUPERMAN WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #12 (OF 12) 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #10 3.99

Boys # 39

The Boys # 39

Not a whole lot goes on here, traditionally speaking. There are maybe three plot movements in the entirety of the book, but this single issue does a great deal to set up the next major arc of the overal narrative because Butcher FINALLY finds out about Hughie banging a supe.

A great deal of the drama thus far has been the reader wondering what will happen when the Boys find out about who exactly Hughie is giving the high hard one to on a nightly basis, given that she’s a part of the group they are ACTIVELY seeking to bring down. And at this point in the issue we get a window into what is going to be coming down the pipe. Butcher reacts not with anger or a sense of betrayal but with a disappointment that he hadn’t been able to figure it out before this very moment. It’s a quiet moment that tells us even more about Butcher as a character. How will he handle the fallout? That remains to be seen. But reading the issue you can tell that Ennis put a great deal of thought into how he was going to handle this moment.

The majority of the issue is spent with Hughie and his girl Annie, exploring the boundaries of their relationship (“LET’S PURCHASE OUR HARDCORE PORN!!!”) and showing what kind of growth their coupling has forced upon them both fundimentally as characters. There is some hint that perhaps being in a relationship with Hughie has changed her in ways that might be driving a gap between them, just in the differences between what the need as far as intimacy and mutual interests. It could be read that Hughie feels a twinge of responsibility for Annie’s sudden personality shift. But, that’s just speculation on my part.

A great many people like to dump on Garth Ennis because his writing veers toward ultraviolence and sophmoric humor, but the man does character moments just as good as any other major writer, and better than some I could mention. The book also has the expressive art of Darick Robertson working in its favor.

Deadpool Team Up 896Deadpool Teamup # 896

I think I’m getting burnt out on Deadpool. And gee, with around six regular series and eighty appearances a month, who would have thought that would happen? This particular issue suffers from the same problems I mentioned in my review of Merc with a Mouth # 7, in that the humor is entirely forced and derivitive. It doesn’t have the voice of Deadpool, that casual zaniness that seems to compliment the character so well. Instead we get cheap trucker jokes and some talking raccoons. Sorry to say, while that would normally have me giddy in my seat, this one just seems to fall flat.

Cover A
GI Joe Origins # 12

Two things made me pick up this issue; Marc Andreyko’s name in the credit list and that awesome cover. I have to admit that interior artist Ben Templesmith’s art styling is not my cup of tea, the issue itself is a pretty good standalone Baroness tale that gives us the new-canon origin of the character and a glimpse into what molded her morals and values before becoming the character as we’ve come to know her.

The issue hits all the right notes, and while the story is nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s a change of pace from where the book has gone previously and I felt I got my money’s worth out of it. Also, nice cover.

SIEGESIEGE # 2

Okay, here’s the one people have been talking about. And it’s impossible to review without major spoilers so just turn back now if you don’t want to know who died and how and what I feel about it.

Gone?

Okay, let’s go.

So Sentry rips Ares right in half. Yep, it’s Ares who was the “big death” Bendis was hyping. And while the fight leading up to it was pretty cool, it’s not all that impressive considering how many people we’ve seen ripped in half over the years, partiularly in Bendis-penned comics(Vision and Carnage, anyone?). Remember in my review of KICKASS where I said that Millar was the best hype man in the game? Bendis is kind of the opposite. Whereas we believe Millar every damned time despite the fact that we’ve been fooled by him before, everytime Bendis says something will be shocking or unexpected, we know that it’s just going to be one of his old tricks. At least this time he didn’t claim that the event would “rip the internet in half.”

Waitaminute…holy shit…

Guys, is that Ares death supposed to be some kind of wink-wink joke? FUCK YOU BENDIS YOU SELF-CONSCIOUS WHORE!!!

****

That’s it for this week. I’m going to go punch a wall and calm down. *deep breath*


Arc Review : KICKASS

KICKASS

The final issue of Kickass hit stands last week after a very long delay. I had let the last few issues pile up unread, not sure when the arc would ever conclude. I figured it would happen before the film hit theaters, but the specifics were pretty much unknown and so I put the book to the back of my mind and waited patiently for the climax to hit stands. So with the book finally complete, I decided it was time to read it from cover to cover, starting all the way at issue one.

I would like to begin this review by giving a little bit of my take on Mark Millar as a writer. I think that Mark Millar is a competant writer. He’s not a revolutionary, a visionary, or a sign of what comics should or will be. I have enjoyed his comics about as often as I have slapped myself in the face wondering what the hell he was thinking putting such schlock on the page. I think Civil War was a great idea tarnished by shoddy execution but The Ultimates is one of the best comic works of the last decade. Now, regardless of my opinions of the man as a writer, Mark Millar is most assuredly one of the best hype-men in the business. Even if half of what he says never comes to fruition (he once proclaimed that Kickass would be a modern day Watchmen), he can sell a project like no other in the game.

I think that Millar’s hyping of this particular project led to my eventual decision to forego reading it on a monthly basis and wait until it’s conclusion to read it in it’s entirety. He repeatedly described the story to be one thing and then delivered something that was basically 180 degrees off what was promised.

So, reading the book in it’s entirety, and putting aside what the writer intended the book to be and looking at it for what it is, the book seems oddly reminescent of one of Millar’s earlier works, that of WANTED. It has that same juvenile “fuck authority” attitude as well as an irreverant poke-in-the-eye outlook toward the comic industry itself. In Kickass, Millar makes little jokes at the expense of the books on the stands and the culture surrounding them, (fairly accurately, I might add. The message-board nerd fights are pretty much spot on) whereas he actively played with superhero/supervillain tropes in Wanted.

I am not going to say that Kickass isn’t a decent book, because it works on some level as pure fun and is content to stand tall in it’s own self-concious absurdity. It’s like if Kill Bill were written by Dane Cook. It certainly appeals to a certain audience on more than a few levels, but the book is flawed in one major way. Because it is so derivitive of other comic schemes and tropes, while it makes a tongue in cheek statement about such comics, it does nothing to elevate it above what it attempts to satirize.

And in the end, that is what the book is. A sort of “well, almost” approach to satirizing the over-the top, post-Frank Miller world of comics. The fact that the book LOOKS absolutely amazing, and has Romita Jr. drawing the sort of crap you’d normally never get the chance to see him draw, gives the book another notch in the postive column, but if the story had the panache of a more skilled writer, I wouldn’t be so down on it as a whole.

All that having been said, everything that works against this book will work FOR it as a movie. Trust me on this one.