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Weekly Comic Reviews

And as the cold weather breezes into Houston about a month later than it should have, we get the first new books of November. It’s an interesting haul of titles filled with debuts and final touches. This is all very poetic and whatnot, but the truth is I’m hopped up on leftover Halloween candy and could make a bowel movement seem melodic.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647 4.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #6 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #16 3.99
BOYS #48 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #38 2.99
BULLSEYE PERFECT GAME #1 (OF 2) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA MAN OUT OF TIME #1 (OF 5) 3.99
GENERATION HOPE #1 3.99
JONAH HEX #61 2.99
PUNISHER IN BLOOD #1 (OF 5) 3.99
SCARLET #3 (MR) 3.95
SECRET SIX #27 2.99
SUPERBOY #1 2.99
WOLVERINE #3 3.99
WOMEN OF MARVEL #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #6 2.99

I’ve bolded the issues I will review. Which is redundant, as the reviews will now begin and you will be able to see what I have reviewed.

FinBATMAN & ROBIN # 16

Here it is. The conclusion of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman & Robin before he jumps onto the new “Batman Inc.” title which should be one hell of a ride given the setup he provides for us in this issue. Morrison has been the architect of the Batman universe now for about as long as I’ve been working in comic book retail. Close to five years or so. He’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. It seems like he’s moving into the third act of his overall story with Batman Inc. The fact that his overarching story has an act-structure ties into the melodrama he’s crafted. His Batman reads like a sci-fi/action opera and it’s evident that he’s put a great deal of effort in making sure the parts all come together.

The biggest achievement that he can lay claim to in regards to his Batman ouvre is his ability to shake things up in ways that other writers have teased for the short term but never committed to in any real way. Plot twists that Morrison uses as the long-term theme of his story seem like ideas that other writers would love to pursue but only for six issues or less. Morrison seems to think that shaking things up and doing so in a way that shifts the paradigm of how Batman operates on a level that is not easily reversible is the key to telling a good story. I won’t argue that it’s made for some of the most compelling reading for quite some time.

What I really appreciate about Morrison on the Bat books is that in a few years time we’ll be able to view him as one of the better Batman showrunners in the history of the character. There aren’t many creators who leave such a lasting mark on the character that fans can easily identify. Most of the time you get the requisite Denny O’Neil or Frank Miller. Morrison is going to be the next name on the immediate go-to list when all is said and done.

Strike!BULLSEYE : PERFECT GAME # 1

Bullseye is a character who can be used to absolute perfection or to an end that simply does not work. There’s not a whole lot of middle ground when it comes to the character. He’s been front and center for so many great and memorable moments and then again he’s been wasted or misused by writers who simply want to use him in a way that doesn’t really make sense.

Here we get a story where there’s very little actual Bullseye. The story is all second-hand, but it gives us an insight into how the character operates that we don’t really see. That part that deals with how and why he picks his targets. The montage showing some of his more unique and violent kills is a perfect example of why Bullseye sometimes doesn’t work out in the hands of an unskilled writer. He’s the perfect killer. He knows he’s the perfect killer. He’s got the same problem Superman does in the sense that he’s so above and beyond the range of his peers that he can come off as boring in his superiority.

The biggest downfall of this book is that lack of Bullseye. The second hand narrative structure is interesting but ultimately unless they give us something a little more substantial it’s basically not even like reading a comic at all but reading a comic about someone who read a comic about what Bullseye did for a year. That sounds stupid, but it gives off a little of that vibe.

Good Book Is GoodCAPTAIN AMERICA : MAN OUT OF TIME # 1

It’s a Captain America miniseries written by Mark Waid. I’m not going to pass that up. Seriously, I don’t care that it’s essentially a retread and that no matter how they take the story it’s essentially inconsequential because it’s one of a hundred takes on the same story because it’s such a great part of the Captain America mythos that’s being retold.

The stuff set in World War Two is pretty good. We get some fun banter between Bucky and Cap amongst some soldiers who don’t know who they are and we get some fun, if cliched, introspective moments where the two discuss what they would like to do when the war is over and the fighting is done. Of course all of this happens mere moments before Bucky gets caught in the explosion that “kills” him and Cap winds up frozen in the ice.

What really works in this issue is the dichotomy between that old world and the new one that Cap wakes up to. You really can feel how directionless and confused Steve is when confronted with a world that has grown leaps in bounds in technology and regressed equally in its brutality. The dangers of being a hero in such a world become readily apparent and the ending of the book packs quite a punch.

I think this one could be one that people regret not picking up if they let it slip under their radar because it is an excellent read. However, Marvel needs to learn that these arbitrary books aren’t going to get the same readership they would at a lower price point. $3.99 is a warning siren to a lot of consumers nowadays, even if the book is worth the cash, as this one seems to be.

Generation Unnecessary MiniseriesGENERATION HOPE # 1

They’ve been building to this one for a while. I need to begin by saying that I would have been just as happy had this been the central running plot of Uncanny X-Men or Legacy. Or hell, run it through both titles as a crossover. It would have worked just as well. This has the smell of a cash grab by throwing it out as an independant mini-series. It’s like if Marvel had done the Inferno followup they’re doing in New Mutants as a mini-series and let the ongoing title move along as if nothing happened. I think the logistics of this miniseries are flawed, and I needed to get that out of the way up front.

As to the book itself, it’s hard to tell what direction it will take. Whether the fifth “light” will be the villain for the whole of the series or if there is something more is not readily apparent. The book seems to indicate as much, but to what end they are going with the character in question is unknown.

If you haven’t been reading X-Men, this book is not very new-user friendly. All the characters have been introduced over in Uncanny, which backs up my assertion that it should have been continued there. So if you need the background, pick up the last few months of Uncanny after the end of Second Coming. That should fill in some gaps for you.

I’m hoping there’s a bigger endgame here than I’m seeing at the moment. To justify its existence, the miniseries better have one hell of a closer.

Punisher ClassicPUNISHER : IN THE BLOOD # 1

All you whiney fanboys can quit your bitching, Frank Castle is back in non-monster form to do what he’s done for the last thirty or so years. It’s still got the same gritty flair that Remender brought to the title under the Franken-Castle banner but in an easily digestible, familiar package so that frightened fans don’t feel offended by change.

The first issue feels like a classic Punisher riff, it builds upon years and years of 616 Punisher lore, with Microchip and the long feud with Jigsaw coming back into play. It feels a bit more natural than the early parts of the last volume did, as Punisher shouldn’t be anywhere near storylines that have anything to do with alien invasions. He’s at his best when the capes don’t make an appearance.

This could be the beginning of a great new chapter for the character, if Remender’s past work is any indication of what he can do with Frank now. He certainly kicked the show off with an impressive debut, so it’s his ballgame to lose. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get too inventive, or people will get frightened and claim that he’s “ruined the character again” and run to the hills like stampeding fear-cattle.

Book of the Week?SUPERBOY # 1

Jeff Lemire is in a position to be a hot item. Sweet Tooth is an amazing book and he’s got that good buzz to his credit as well as being hailed by just about everyone as the next big thing. With Superboy he has the chance to really let loose and show the world what he can do with the mainstream DCU characters. Superboy isn’t a sacred cow. He has a following but he has room to be molded into something more concrete. The building blocks are there, Lemire just needs to move them around.

He certainly doesn’t waste any time with this issue, utilizing a familiar old Superman villain to write some great action scenes that are drawn out spectacularly by artist Pier Gallo whose work has a very classic feel to it, which fits the Smallville setting wonderfully.

Where Lemire also garners some good will is the manner in which he sets up the supporting cast. This is the first issue, and for many new readers this is their first exposure to the character, but the interactions with the Smallville community are written in the same manner that they would be had the title been running for five years. The familiarity works. Lemire doesn’t get overly expository with everyone in the first issue. He knows that the time will come to fill people in when the moment is appropriate. He gives just enough to let the story work itself out organically and the book is better for it.

I think this one could end up being a long-running fan favorite. Let’s just hope Lemire stays on the title for a long enough time to truly leave his mark on the character, because judging from the first issue it could be quite an interesting and fun take on a character who until this point has basically been defined by his association with the Titans, his relationship to Wonder Girl or his overly violent death.

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And them’s the reviews. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings. Now I’m going to finish this bowl of leftover candy and watch old episodes of the Simpsons while I work on a poetry paper for my creative writing class.

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

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

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

Now let’s do this thing.

Is That A Goth Cinderella?HACK/SLASH ANNUAL 2010

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

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

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

EXPLOSION!!!!INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 31

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

 

 

'Ello Chaps!KNIGHT AND SQUIRE # 1

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

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

 

 

 

 

Space MonkeysSUPERIOR # 1

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

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

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

Nothing Witty, The Book SucksSUPERMAN # 703

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

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

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

Wampum!TUROK # 1

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

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

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


Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The new novel is almost finished…again. See, this is what happens when I work in “Drafts.” So in between that, school, work, and a revitalized social life that includes actually having to go outside of the house for stuff like concerts (on Thursday nights), don’t be surprised if the blog starts to lie dormant for chunks of time. I try to avoid it but I’m a one man operation here. That having been said, I’m not gonna deny you guys the comic reviews you so deserve. By that I mean that I’m going back to the old format of cherry-picking what issues to review instead of doing the whole stack because it’s getting harder to go through the whole stack in a single evening.

ARRIVALS 10-06-2010
AVENGERS ACADEMY #5 2.99
BOYS #47 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #37 LAST GLEAMING PT 2 (OF 5)  2.99
CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5) 3.99
DEADPOOLMAX #1 (MR) 3.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #11 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND SPIDER-MAN #1 SL 3.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 05 49.99
ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4) 3.99
UNCANNY X-FORCE #1  3.99
WOLVERINE #2 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #5 2.99

And let’s get this show on the road:

The Boys # 47 THE BOYS # 47:

Garth Ennis is underrated when it comes to giving us character moments that stay with the reader in their gut long after they’ve finished reading the issue. Here we get the inevitable confrontation between Hughie and his superhero girlfriend for the first time since he found out she was a supe and since he saw her “initiation” video into the Seven where she did more with her mouth than give a convincing presentation of her resume.

The pathos and emotion on display between Hughie and Starlight here is gutwrenching. While Garth Ennis is able to craft visceral gore and violence with reckless abandon, his ability to make you care for the characters he writes is generally overlooked, which is a huge shame because it’s stuff like this that shows what the serialized medium of comics is capable of pulling off with a competent writer at the helm. This issue has been building for some time. It’s not rushed, it hasn’t been drawn out or decompressed, it’s simply been building to a boiling point.

This may be some of Garth Ennis’ best work. I know it’s not as roundly applauded as Preacher or Punisher Max, but it is probably his most carefully crafted since Preacher ended and I think that in the end people will recognize it for the treasure that it truly is.

CHAOS WAR # 1 CHAOS WAR # 1:

I am happy to see Hercules back. I truly am. I love the guy. As far as this particular issue, I’m not so sold on the event after the premiere as I was with Shadowland a few months ago. I think that Greg Pak and company did a good job of getting us pumped up for some good old fashioned theological thrashing in what is coming down the road, but there was no big moment that made me step firmly on board with the series. That’s not to say that it’s a bad issue, there is some good stuff set up here, and it’s bound to get much more epic as it goes on. I simply think that a good portion of people are going to be underwhelmed by the debut issue, as not a whole lot really happens. It’s a setup issue pure and simple.

The question this series needs to answer is whether or not the setup is going to pay off. This is going to be one of those series that won’t have a whole lot of impact on the larger Marvel universe the way that Shadowland will because the Marvel Gods don’t seem to get a whole lot of focus in the grand scheme of things unless they somehow relate to Thor, but seeing how Fraction is doing his own thing with the Thor-verse, the reverberations of this series will have to be felt elsewhere, and unless they relaunch an ongoing Herc series, I’m not sure where that will be.

DEADPOOL MAX # 1 DEADPOOL MAX # 1:

This is the one people have been waiting a good long while for. We’ve wanted some unrestrained Deadpool action forever and we finally get it courtesy of Kyle Baker and David Lapham. In the first issue however, we don’t actually get a whole lot of Wade Wilson. We get a lot more Agent Bob and sodomy. The violence is there, as is the swearing and the sexual situations. It’s definitely a max book. What seems to be lacking is, well, Deadpool. He really only shows up for maybe 5% off the book.

What remains to be seen is how this book will work out in regard to how they want to portray Deadpool. I doubt he’ll be breaking the fourth wall or being as goofy as he is in the 616. We already know from this issue that Deadpool will be treated more as a government assassin than a freelance merc for hire, and that he’s more mentally damaged and dangerous than gutlaugh funny. This book follows the pervasive Marvel trend of waiting until issue two to give us the full picture of what the series will end up being like in the long run. Luckily, the first issue was entertaining enough that I won’t feel like an idiot for picking up issue three.

ULTIMATE COMICS THOR # 1 ULT. COMICS THOR # 1

Jonathan Hickman can do no wrong apparently. According to the internets, Kurt Busiek doens’t like him but he seems to be the lone dissenting voice. With Ultimate Comics Thor he gives us a look into the origins of the Ulimate U’s version of Thor and it seems to be a basic mirror of the regular Thor, except in the Ultimate scheme of things, there are a lot more nazis.

This series is likely going to be one of the best to come out of the Ultimate relaunch. It’s obvious that this one is being produced to be shoved into a hardcover and rushed into bookstores around the time the Thor film hits theaters. I’m not sure how that worked for the Black Widow miniseries from Paul Cornell, but it seems like a smart enough move. It helps that it’s a damned good read. If you’re going to try to introduce someone to a character, you could do worse than the setup they use here. It’s integrated enough into the Ultimate Universe that those with familiarity will be able to place it in continuity, but new readers will be able to jump in just as easily. That’s not an easy feat, no matter what universe you’re working in.

Uncanny X-Force # 1 UNCANNY X-FORCE # 1

This one is the winner of the week. Rick Remender may be Marvel’s new secret weapon, as the man has yet to produce a book that doesn’t totally kick all sorts of ass. He’s managed to make Deadpool funny without being over the top. He’s made X-Force not seem like a cliche. He’s managed to give X-Force a purpose beyond being an unnecessary ancilliary title predicated on having a place where Wolverine can stab people with reckless abandon.

I was originally going to skip out on this one. The last X-Force title did nothing for me. Everything about it pretty much went against my established sensibilities. I was afraid this was going to be more of the same. I should have known better. Rick Remender, who is rapidly climbing the ladder of my favorite writers following Last Days of American Crime and FrankenCastle, brings us a new X-Force that seems fresh and new, despite building off of plot threads that have been hanging for quite some time. (Archangel, people. Archangel) And while it definitely plays off some rich history, it isn’t like say, New Mutants, where people unfamiliar with the original story of Inferno might be a little bit lost with the new storyline.

So, long story short, pretty please, go buy the damn book.

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And that does it for this week. Join us next time when hopefully DC puts something out worth Reviewing. (I’d review Secret Six, but c’mon, you know how I feel about that book. I’d marry it if I could.)


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Man, this week has been hectic. I had to write a 2,000 word short-story for my creative writing class in addition to a two page essay on the importance of studying history as it relates to current events all on the first week of the semester. And then new comic book day rolls around and bombards me with a friggin’ huge stack of books, all of which are the ones that I eagerly anticipate every month. (Secret Six and Jonah Hex, yo.) So I’m not sure what kind of creative mojo I have left for the reviews but an attempt will be made anyhow.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOYS #46 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #36 LAST GLEAMING PT 1 (OF 5)  2.99
CHOKER #4 (OF 6) (MR) 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #20 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULKS #612 3.99
IZOMBIE #5 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX #59 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #10 3.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #3 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV 4.99
SCARLET #2 3.95
SECRET SIX #25 2.99
SHADOWLAND #3 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND ELEKTRA #1 SL 3.99
STUMPTOWN #4 (OF 4) (RES) (MR) 3.99
VERONICA #202 2.99
WOLVERINE #1 3.99
X-MEN CURSE OF MUTANTS SMOKE AND BLOOD #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #4 2.99

So, yeah, lots of good stuff. Let’s get started, shall we?

Buffy # 36
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER # 36

It’s been months since the last issue of BTVS hit shelves. So long in fact that I cannot remember for the life of me what the hell was going on in the series at the time. I remember Spike came back and Angel was boffing Buffy again. But that’s really about it. I understand why they went on hiatus, but it really caused me to lose interest in the series while it was away. With its return this issue, we get a sort of hazy explaination for Angel’s motives as Twilight and Spike makes with the witty banter for a few panels, but not much else happens. It’s probably the quickest issue of any comic book I’ve read in quite some time, which is saying something considering I still read Archie books on occaision and that sort of light-hearted fluff still takes longer to digest than this particular issue.

I will say that the book’s final page did surprise me, although it probably shouldn’t have. It’s sort of a “pandering to the fans” move that comics like this one pull on a regular basis, that having been said, I’m interested to see where Joss goes with it. I’m still a Buffy fan at heart and no matter how blah the book has been over the last few months it’s still got the nostalgia bump going for it that forces me to see past the major flaws and enjoy it for all its worth. I don’t know how much mileage anyone else would get out of the book, but I doubt there are many people out there who aren’t already die-hard fans picking up the book on a casual basis. This book is for the people who stuck with the show to the end and then some.


INCREDIBLE HULKS # 612

We get a title change this issue, and a major tone shift from the events of World War Hulks. In the first of two stories, a gamma-family barbeque goes haywire when Betty and Bruce get into a little disagreement over their relationship as it relates to the whole “Betty Was Dead” thing and it escalates, as it always does, into a super-powered fight between Hulk and Red Shulkie.

I think what sets this book apart from Loeb’s Hulk book is that if the same scenes were tackled in the other book, the character development which is handled so masterfully here would have been lost in the manic insanity of the action. Hulk reads like a cartoon show while Pak’s reads more like a melodramatic stage play. I’m not going to call this issue high-art, as it doesn’t come close to matching issue #609, which I think might have been one of the best issues of Hulk I’ve ever read. But it still works on multiple levels because of the way the interactions feel so genuine. I really look forward to seeing how the multiple Hulks come to terms with each other.

In the second story, we catch up with the other Son of Hulk, who I admittedly have not been following and thus didn’t really understand where everything was coming from. They did their best to catch me up but I still felt a bit lost and I think that more people will enjoy the second story if they followed that character from the beginning, which I admittedly did not. I really didn’t care. I might have to find some Son of Hulk trades and get myself up to speed, because the mythology seemed interesting, I just wish I could have grasped it a little better.

ShadowLand Elektra
SHADOWLAND – ELEKTRA

Even if this weren’t a pretty good issue, it would be essential reading just so people could understand where the hell Elektra comes from when she shows up out of the blue in Shadowland # 3. I get the feeling that Shadowland might have a bit of Infinite Crisis syndrome when collected in trade unless they do it omnibus style and present all the side-stories in the collection in chronological order.

This one fills in some important gaps in the timeline while at the same time giving a damn interesting glimpse into Elektra’s mind and her feelings about Matt’s turn to the dark side, especially as it pertains to the death of Bullseye. As you can imagine, Elektra has some pretty raging emotions when it comes to that particular psycho, and the scene where she witnesses his death on a big screen in the heart of the city with the rest of the natives is particularly well written.

I am really enjoying Shadowland, but I think that in order to fully enjoy it you have to immerse yourselves in the tie-ins, and that’s something not a lot of people can do. It’s part of my complaint about Marvel’s business strategy. I know it makes them money, but in the long run they are going to burn folks out if this continues in such a fashion.

Yeah, Veronica > Betty
VERONICA # 202

People have been talking about this one for a while now and I think it’s kind of funny. There’s nothing here that could possible offend anybody and yet neo-con right wingers are using it as an example of how the liberals are infecting children’s entertainment and trying to brainwash children to homosexuality and blah blah blah.

The fact that in this book the new gay character who Veronica lusts after is a well-adjusted healthy young man is admirable. His parents don’t in any way give him the side-eye, nobody bats an eye when he admits his sexual orientation, and there is not a hint of judgment. It’s a subtle message that tolerance should be the immediate reaction, and in that I have to applaud Archie comics for what it’s done here. Nevermind the fact that the issue is actually pretty freaking hilarious, with Jughead trying to keep Veronica from finding out the truth and thus driving her insane. There are some great gags here and I think it’s admirable that Archie can still be worth reading after all these years.

Wolverine # 1
WOLVERINE # 1

I wasn’t going to buy this one. I was going to pass it by and not look back. I read Wolverine in like eighteen other books and quite frankly I don’t really have much interest in him anymore. But then I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Weapon X and how Jason Aaron has never really written anything I didn’t like, and so I threw it on the stack anyway.

I’m glad I did because he once again manages to knock it out of the park. I think that for the longest time most people didn’t know what made a decent solo Wolverine story. They simply tried to ape the parts of stories that they themselves liked when the first became enamored with the character and it never quite worked. Aaron is able to create something that builds off of Wolverine’s over-arching history while at the same time feeling fresh and modern. The amazingly beautiful art by Renato Guedes only serves to better bring the action to life. I’ve loved Guedes since I discovered his art on Supergirl and think he’s one of the most talented artists working right now. The level of detail he gives is astounding and here he sort of reminds me of Steve McNiven, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me.

Either way this looks like it’ll be a series to keep on the pull list. I don’t see this one taking a downward turn anytime soon. If it’s anything like Weapon X was, it’ll only get better with each subsequent arc.

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And that’s it for this week. If you take away anything from these reviews its that you should probably be buying more Archie comics. Seriously. That stuff is a gold mine.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Fear not, helpless masses! I am returned! After delays and setbacks and general stuff happening in life that doesn’t have much to do with comic books, I’m back to tell you about the weekly pull and what it has to offer. This week was pretty darned massive. It was a tough choice figuring out what to review, because there’s not a much of a point in reviewing part three of a given series, you’ve largely made up your mind by then. I’m more of a startup/wrapup sorta guy. I like to review the beginning or the end, thus chronicling the entirety of the story. Luckily I was able to find some criticism fodder in the pile this week.

ARRIVALS 08-04-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #639 3.99
AVENGERS PRIME #2 (OF 5) 3.99
BATMAN ODYSSEY #2 (OF 6) 3.99
BOYS #45 (MR) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #608 3.99
DEADPOOL #1000 4.99
GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #157 3.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #5 2.99
IZOMBIE #4 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX #58 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #9 3.99
LOSERS TP BOOK 02 (MR) 24.99
SECRET SIX #24 2.99
SHADOWLAND #2 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND BULLSEYE #1 SL 3.99
SUPERGOD #4 (OF 5) WRAP CVR (MR) 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #6 (OF 6) 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #3 2.99

And let’s hope I can remember how to do this!

DP *heh*
DEADPOOL # 1000

Let’s get this out of the way right now, this book didn’t need to exist. As such, it fits in well with the majority of the Deadpool books being published right now. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that this one is actually pretty damned good. Unlike that 900 fiasco, which was largely hit and miss. Every segment in this issue was darned entertaining. Especially the Blackest Night parody which I feel was written just for me to warm the cockles of my still-beating black heart! Also of note is the Canada-man segment, which was downright hilarious.

I have to say that for the 4.99 price, you get a hell of a lot for your dollar. I mean, yeah there’s a superflous catalog of artwork showcasing Deadpool comprised of mostly covers from the Deadpool variant month that does nothing but add heft to the book and could have been tossed aside. But then again, this entire book is technically superflous as it adds nothing to Deadpool’s ongoing arc and is simply a showcase of Marvel talent having a go at the merc with a mouth.

One thing that stood out for me when reading this particular issue, is that it’s been so long since I saw Deadpool kill anyone that it was actually kind of shocking how much actual killing he does in this issue. I know it’s odd to say that, but it’s the truth, at least for me. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of an interesting look at what Deadpool has become as opposed to what he began as. Something to ponder…

JoJo 58
JONAH HEX # 58

I need to reiterate that Jonah Hex is probably the one book I would keep reading if I dropped everything else altogether. Or possibly Secret Six, but we’ll get to that later. With this issue, we get what is essentially a poem about the nature of a bullet’s reason for existence juxtaposed against the wild west backdrop of Jonah Hex’s world. The issue deals with a revolving door of people with revolvers and the intent to use them and the consequences of their decision to cock the hammer.

It’s just the sort of thing that works for this book. It’s probably the most oblique type of subtlety you can get. You know there’s a message but with the shades of grey that our characters occupy, the reader can take the message in all sorts of directions. There’s been a lot of good literature written about the toll that the soul takes when confronted with the realities of vengeance and the guilt of taking a life. My next novel touches on just such subjects. Jonah Hex isn’t high literature, but it’s not schlock either. It’s almost the perfect venue to air such a debate. The book is as unflinching as the impact of a bullet.

Also, for no reason, here’s a picture of Jimmy Palmiotti as Watchmen‘s the Comedian taken from Dave Gibbons’ twitter:

That shit is uncanny...

Yeah, that’s about right…

Secret Six
SECRET SIX # 24

After a brief guest writer spot, Gail Simone returns to write the six again in a weird little story that sees the group transplanted into the old west. It’s an interesting little what-if story that confused the hell out of me for a while because I spent more time than I did reading the issue trying to understand its implications. Were they in some sort of virtual reality? Were they transplanted through time? Is Gail Simone a timelord? Is this a one-shot or a full arc? Will we ever get another tub-sex scene as awesome as the one in this issue?

Seriously, it’s a perplexing issue. It’s interesting, just like the entirety of the series has been so far, but it’s jarring as all hell. There’s no segue into the issue, it just hits you and tosses you into this alternate reality with no regard for your brain’s safety. You just have to roll with it. Listen to Ragdoll’s little puppet show and shut your mouth, there is no refuge for you here.

Also, I totes have a crush on Cowgirl Scandal now.

I Say You He Dead...
SHADOWLAND : BULLSEYE # 1

I was going to pass on ALL the Shadowland spinoffs. I was just gonna get Daredevil and the main mini-series and wouldn’t allow myself to get suckered down the long and winding road of books that I don’t normally read. That plan was torpedoed however when I noticed that this particular issue was written by John Layman, him of Chew fame. And so with full faith in the authorship I put the book in my stack, because I figured I’d regret it later if I didn’t.

I was right.

The issue concerns itself with members of the criminal underworld hosting a funeral for the recently perforated Bullseye in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen Park with a kidnapped Ben Urich there to cover the story. The principle character in the narrative is a fellow who can supposedly commune with the dead, and the dead person currently on his telepathic telephone is Bullseye, constantly screwing with his head the whole of the issue.

I would say that this issue acts as an excellent sort of #1.5 interlude between issues one and two. It feels like a story that needed to be told. The underworld’s reaction to Bullseye’s death isn’t something that needs to mentioned in periphery, it’s an important detail and it deserved a full issue. We get the heroes’ reaction in Shadowland 2, but this presented a different perspective that I think readers will definitely enjoy.

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Well, there you go. Tomorrow is my birthday so I may be out of action once again for a little while, but I’ll try to make it up to all of you with something appropriately trashy.
Toodles.


August Is Here

I don’t have anything prepared today, so here’s a sketch of Catman from Secret Six that I drew…

I'm better Than Jim Lee


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I had a horrible night last night. Like, soul crushingly horrible. I  was crestfallen and engulfed by rage. I ripped the towel rack out of the wall in the bathroom and punched a wall. Luckily, all of this happened after I read this week’s comics because I’m sure my feelings would have tainted my reading experience. Maybe they’ll hamper my reviewing experience but I can’t say for sure. You’ll have to judge that.

ARRIVALS 7-8-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #636 GRIM 3.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 2.99
BATMAN ODYSSEY #1 (OF 6) 3.99
BOYS #44 (MR) 3.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #4 2.99
JONAH HEX #57 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #8 3.99
SCARLET #1 (MR) 3.95
SECRET SIX #23 2.99
SHADOWLAND #1 (OF 5) SL 3.99
STEVE ROGERS SUPER-SOLDIER #1 (OF 4) 3.99
X-FORCE #28 XSC 2.99
X-MEN #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #2 2.99

Now let’s get to it…

BATMAN AND ROBIN # 13

Yeah, Grant Morrison may have written his best issue of Batman yet. Everything that he has laid the groundwork for comes to a head in this issue. Morrison is not a fool,  nor has he done anything that didn’t have a point. All the attention to detail that has gone into creating a tapestry of different plot threads that all reveal themselves in this issue.

I explained to people when it was finished that Batman RIP was not a self contained story. Everyone looked at it like a graphic novel in and of itself, this simply isn’t the best way to view the story. It’s a chapter in the overall story the same way that The Black Glove or Batman and Son were. It all is a piece of the puzzle that Morrison has presented. The events of this issue would not have worked without the events of RIP.

Morrison is doing some of the best Batman work of all time, and it’s not a gimmick. It’s not like Dark Knight Returns where it has no real bearing on the character aside from what writers choose to take from the message. This is a book that takes major risk on a monthly basis, in continuity. It’s not easy to do stuff like that and get away with it. Fanboys do not like change. And while we know that the status quo will eventually return, it will be changed by the events of this book in a manner that will almost be undetectable. After a run like Morrison’s, it will be hard to accept anything less than what he has delivered. It’s why what came after Hush was so rejected. Not that Hush is anywhere in the league of what Morrison is doing, but it hooked readers in and it had people looking for things that weren’t there in an attempt to keep up with the writer’s pace.

Seriously, I would rank Morrison as one of the best Bat writers of the last twenty years thanks solely to what he has done since launching Batman and Robin as a title. This is just another direct example I can point to when people ask me why.

BATMAN ODYSSEY # 1

This was probably my most anticipated book this week. I adore Neal Adams. I think he is the definitive Batman artist, alongside Jim Aparo of course. That having been said, I have never been exposed to anything that he has done as a writer. He may be one of the greatest artists ever to work in the comic business but as a writer, he’s largely a blank slate as far as I can tell. With the first issue of Odyssey, we can see that his writing style is clearly influenced by the writers he worked with back in the glory days of the dark knight. There is a little Denny O’Neil in his wordsmithery. I’ll admit that alot of the dialog seemed forced, and the flow of certain word balloons was distracting, but then again, that can be said of alot of comic books nowadays. I think it was just more noticeable because I was aware of the fact that Adams was writing for his own pen. I saw the same stuff on Tony Daniel’s work on the main Bat title.

Is the book good, though? That’s the main question that needs answering I suppose, and it is a decent little Batman yarn. The art is great, as if it needed to be said. I think the thing that strikes me is that it’s clearly a tale set in Batman’s past, though I can’t place where. I would have loved to see Adams write a contemporary Batman. I’m sure that would have sold better than a mini-series, as I can see a bunch of people trade waiting on this one. I won’t, because I want to support Adams in whatever he does, but I think from a marketing standpoint they may have stumbled a bit.

Still, no matter how you read it, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

THE BOYS # 44

So we finally get the moment we’ve known was going to happen since early on in the series. The only problem is that Garth Ennis gives it to us in the last panel so we have to wait a month to see the aftermath. Fuck you, Garth. Your mastery of toying with your audience is unparalleled.

Seriously, Ennis knows exactly when to drop the necessary bomb on the readers. He’s been escalating things for months now and everything is coming to a boil. I think the fact that Ennis stated when he began that the series would be finite with a pre-established ending helps to inform the reader that the pacing is deliberate. There are moments where the book comes close to seeming dull and then the veil is removed to show us something we didn’t expect.

This is definitely some of Ennis’ best work. I say that with conviction. I find it on par with his Hitman run and a shade close to matching some of the stuff he did on Preacher. The reason people don’t latch on to this book the way they did with Preacher is that The Boys isn’t as broad as Preacher was.  Ennis knew that he could stir up controversy with the tiniest flair on Preacher. With the Boys he’s not really seeking to offend, but to play with heroes in a way that makes a statement on how he feels about the world in general. I don’t believe that Ennis believed everything he did in Preacher but I’m almost sure he does when it comes to The Boys.

SCARLET # 1

I think the easiest way to describe Scarlet is that Bendis has written what Millar wishes he could have with Nemesis. We get a violent subversive anti-hero protagonist who is introduced in the middle of murdering a cop and who is clearly willing to upset the system in any way she can. But unlike Millar who goes broad stroke in every manner imaginable, Bendis prefers to focus on the character first rather than the spectacle of the character’s actions. I think that the narrating directly to reader helps to facilitate this. Nemesis blows up a train to make a point and I felt nothing except dirty because the book wants me to view his actions as extreme with a measure of awesome, whereas when Scarlet chokes out a cop the gut reaction I had was one of knowing there was probably a reason for it beyond “here’s a villain.”

Bendis knows his storytelling. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be teaching classes about it at the collegiate level. It all comes down to whether you like his style. If you enjoy his work on Goldfish, Jinx, or the Powers books, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But there will be a number of people who hate it without reading it just because it has Bendis’ name on it.

SHADOWLAND # 1

This is gonna be a good one folks. Daredevil has been on a tear for years and finally he’s getting the spotlight he deserves. Each successive writer on the title has been outdoing the last since Bendis took over the book and we’ve finally reached a place where the boiling point has been hit.

Writer Andy Diggle has taken Matt Murdock to a place that we never really could have expected. It’s a shocking turn to see him in charge of the Hand, but at the same time the events that led to where Matt has ended up in no way work against what has developed. Normally, you would think there would be no way Matt Murdock would become the leader of the Hand. It just goes against everything that Daredevil has fought for, but the way that it’s been set up makes you feel like if it didn’t work out this way, it would be a cop out.

As for the issue itself, let’s just say that you know how it’s going to end a few pages in but you don’t care because you want to see it happen and you know that the ensuing shitstorm will be an amazing story. Simply put, it does not disappoint in any department. It’s an event book done right and I cannot wait for the second issue.

X-MEN # 1

I don’t know Vic Gischler personally. He bought a Lady Deadpool poster from my store on the one day that week I wasn’t at work. We banter about really dumb shit on twitter from time to time and that’s about it. So don’t think there’s some conspiracy when I praise his work on a regular basis. He just happens to write stuff that I think is really good. If I can ever find a damned copy, I’d like to review his book The Deputy but none of the local bookstores carry it and I don’t feel like ordering anything else off of the internet until I pay off my latest Amazon bill.

Anyway, yeah, X-Men # 1 is pretty good. It’s got Jubilee, so you know I’m going to like it. But it also isn’t the unending doom and gloom that’s taking place in every other title, and while Second Coming has been awesome thus far, it’s also starting to wear me down with it’s unending bleakness. It’s almost too much to take sometimes. So it’s a welcome change just to get Wolverine slashing apart a bunch of vampires. It’s just the sort of thing I want in an X-Men title right now. Problems solved with claws and laser eyes.

And Jubilee. I freaking love Jubilee.

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And we’re done. I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of Predators.