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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I feel like these won’t be up to snuff. I’ve been off my game for the last few days, more focused on my novel than the content of the site, sad to say. I know it’s horribly short-sighted of me considering that the novel is in no way a sure thing whereas this site seems to have a dedicated audience if our recent web-numbers mean anything at all. (Hint, they don’t)

So here we go.

ARRIVALS 6-23-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #635 GRIM 3.99
AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #3 (OF 6) 3.99
COVER RUN THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES HC 39.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #866 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #580 HA 2.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #18 2.99
GREEN ARROW #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
HERALDS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
HULK #23 WWHS 4.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #3 2.99
JURASSIC PARK REDEMPTION #1 3.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #4 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #13 2.99
SEA BEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK #1 4.99
SUPERGIRL #53 2.99
SUPERMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THUNDERBOLTS #145 HA 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #4 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #14 3.99
X-FACTOR #206 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #237 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #2 2.99


GREEN ARROW # 1

I was so wary when I bought this title. I got the distinct feeling that it was going to be just downright abysmal. It had every indicator that it would be. In the wake of what’s going down with Arsenal, which may be the absolute worst storyline/title that DC has published in years, I expected to be equally disappointed in the new Green Arrow title. Despite the fact that I have every issue of Green Arrow from the moment Mike Grell took over the character to the end of the last series, I was seriously considering skipping it this time around because I didn’t have much faith that I would get my money’s worth.

The first issue was largely an exercise in getting people caught up, with Green Arrow telling a would-be victim everything the reader needs to know in order to jump aboard. It feels a little bit like a drag considering that I have been following Green Arrow for a while, but I suppose DC figured this new direction would hook a couple of new readers and they’d need the recap. Still, it could have been done a lot better without seeming like we were being led by the nose.

The new villain who takes control of Ollie’s old company is actually a pretty cool looking figure, she has a graceful mystery to her presence that makes her seem like less of a throwaway villain than other new arrivals, and thank god she’s not another archer (that we know of) because that’s just getting old.

The teaser reel at the end of the book that shows us where the book is headed helps to keep me interested, because it promises a few interesting possibilities. I’m not likely to drop the book as I’m a completist when it comes to Ollie, but I won’t regret my decision to stick around if things stay mostly as they are here.


JURASSIC PARK # 1

Man, this thing is a mess. The story is bland and overly familiar, and the art looks like amateur hour. Nostalgia aside, there is no reason for this book to exist because there is nothing to salvage it when it comes to quality. I imagine some people who are really die hard fans of the franchise will stick around to see its completion, but I would have to be handed this book for free the next go-around to read issue two. I really wish I could say more about the book, but it was so mediocre that while reading it, nothing sunk in except how much I disliked it. I even like the second and third films, so it’s not like I’m holding it to any high standard. It’s just not a very good book, and it really could have been. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. It’s just a mess of an issue that turned me off nearly immediately.


POWER GIRL # 13

Everyone here is probably well acquainted with my eternal love for Power Girl. I think she’s an underrated character who gets shoehorned into a stereotype because of the size of her bazongas. Everyone knows the story where she was supposedly drawn with bigger knockers every month back when she first debuted just to see how far they could go with it before someone noticed.

The thing is, as Jimmy Palmiotti (friend of the site, natch), Justin Gray and Amanda Conner can attest, you can squeeze some great stories out of her if you’re willing to think outside of the box and go places that aren’t readily visited by the majority of the characters in the mainstream. Power Girl operated for twelve months as the most legitimately fun book on the stands with some of the best expressive artwork this side of Kevin Maguire. It was earnest and endearing and I never wanted it to end.

Unfortunately it had to.

Now Judd Winick has taken over the writing duties while new artist Sami Basri has the unenviable task of following Amanda Conner. How do they do? I would put their efforts at “admirable.” Judd Winick does a good job of handling the tone set down by the previous team, but has to work in the events of Generation Lost, so things take a turn toward the more standard superhero fare. It feels kind of like a mash-up of the previous issues of Power Girl with a hint of Sterling Gates’ Supergirl work during the big crossover.

I think that Winick would have done better if he’d kept Generation Lost separate from the Power Girl ongoing, just as the previous team kept Power Girl separate from her interactions with the JSA. I understand the reasoning behind the move, but from a storytelling standpoint it feels like it’s trying too hard to fit into an overall continuity and not concerned with growing organically.

As far as the art is concerned, Basri does a good job but there are instances where it seems like there are three different renditions of Power Girl throughout the book where she doesn’t look like the same person. I think when the artist gets a better grasp of the character, those little nitpicks will slip away.

I just hope that Winick can manage writing the book without fretting over making the character “integral” to the overall scheme of the DCU, because crossovers kill interesting titles. It becomes less about the character and more about the universe and frankly I don’t want that to happen here.


SEA BEAR AND GRIZZLY SHARK

Uh, yeah. I don’t know what to think about this one. Well, I know what I think about it. I just don’t know what to think about my liking it. There is no setup, it’s just a dive-in and go with the flow sort of book. Like it’s an issue of a series that already has four issues on the rack and this is just the next one in the series. There is no rational explaination or origin given for these characters, and nothing makes any real sense but the artwork is genuinely amazing and I don’t think I’ve cough-laughed the way I did with this book in a long time. I mean, a lot of this book caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to think. I can’t really recommend it for general audiences but if you’re looking for dumb violent “WTF” style stuff, this is definitely worth a look.



SUPERMAN # 700

There has been a lot said about Stracynski’s arrival to the Superman title. Everyone by now knows the premise that Superman will be walking across America trying to reconnect with the people he’s supposed to protect. What I’m wondering is if this little pseudo-art vanity project will end up like Brian Azzarello’s run from a few years back that everyone dismisses as pretentious garbage. I suppose it would be worse if it were happening in Action comics, because I don’t know how much Action you can get out of a brisk jog, but considering that it’s been a while since Superman even appeared in his own book, I don’t know if Superman going through a pseudo Kung Fu “walk the earth” trek is really what we need right now.

I think that the War of the Supermen story was really well done and it had the sort of epic edge-of-your-seat stakes that I require from a Superman story. I doubt I’m going to get that in Stracynski’s run. I don’t doubt that it will be well written, because when he’s not hamstrung by editorial mandate, JMS can crank out some good stories. He knows how to write characters to thei strength and I don’t doubt that we’ll get some interesting moments out of this story arc. What I’m afraid of is when it fails to generate interest and gets cut short because editorial wants to see a bump in numbers but modern comic readers don’t have the patience for a slow burn anymore.

All I’m saying is  that it’s off to a decent start, and it has a good chance to be something really great, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t seem like it’s not going to end well. No matter what happens.

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So there you go. Next week I’ll try to have these up in a more timely fashion. But, I’ve said that before and you get where I’m going with this.

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Oh my god! I actually managed to get these reviews up on time for once! Is that some sort of startling indicator of the end of times? I would normally think so, but the truth is that I just couldn’t sleep last night so I have a little extra time to spend reading instead of snoring heavily and dreaming about being the new cast member on “Community.” Yeah, it’s a great show and I think I could improve the dynamic. Plus I totally have the hots for Alison Brie. Now I’m just wasting time.

THE PULL LIST: 3-24-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #626 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #34 SIEGE 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #604 3.99
DEADPOOL #21 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #3 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #52 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GUILD #1 3.50
JUSTICE LEAGUE THE RISE OF ARSENAL #1 (OF 4) 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #35 SIEGE 2.99
NEMESIS #1 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #63 SIEGE 3.99
POWER GIRL #10 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
QUEEN SONJA #5 2.99
SHUDDERTOWN #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGOD #3 (OF 5) (MR) 3.99
SUPERMAN #698 2.99
THOR #608 SIEGE 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #522 3.99
X-FACTOR #203 2.99

And here’s your weekly dose of criticism:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 626

Every time I read this book now it feels like I’m going on a date with someone with whom I had an abusive or otherwise temeritous relationship in the past. There’s definately a spark there, a lingering sign that the love that once existed between us is there but it stands obscured by the baggage of our prior relationship. In the case of ASM, it’s two solid issues of ripping complacency from characters who hadn’t had a chance to fully adjust to their new status quo in favor of tepid melodrama.

This issue manages not to incite any anger in me, and in fact I’m happy that the new Scorpion is getting some face time, as I thought she was an interesting character the last time I saw her, which I guess was around the time of World War Hulk, which as fast as comics move nowadays might as well have been a decade ago.

This issue sees Parker deciding he doesn’t like the vibe he gets off his roomate’s boyfriend and follows him to an abandoned construction yard (man, that has to be like the # 2 comic book set piece of all time, along with the sewers or a busy city street/bridge) where it turns out that the Hood is holding a boxing tournament to determine who will be the new Scorpion, or rather, win the old Scorpion’s suit and take up the mantle.

Of course the new Scorpion gal shows up, with a new tail that injects S.P.I.N. tech, which is a nice touch that I can get behind, as if you’re just going to use the tail as a club you might as well call yourself the Beaver. Form follows function, and all that.

Anyway, the issue is your generic fight with the goons and all that jazz, but the part that saved the issue for me is the way Peter finally mans up and deals with the situation left in the wake of the Chameleon putting the moves on his room-mate. That was never resolved to my satisfaction and it diminished Peter’s credibility as a stand-up guy which is not something you want lingering around if you’re supposed to be a hero.

So major points for a half-way decent issue. Sad that half-way decent is a step up after the last few weeks, but I’ll take what I can get.

DEADPOOL # 21

This Hitman Monkey storyline is absolutely ludicrous, but the fact that it gives us some wonderful Spider-man team up moments is enough to justify it’s existence. This issue concludes that little romp with a fun little trick on Deadpool’s part where he steal’s Spider-Man’s costume and tricks New York into thinking that the wall-crawler is dead. The subsequent chaos is quite entertaining and the issue, to me at least, hints at what Marvel wants to do with Deadpool in the near future. If they go down the path that is foreshadowed at the end of this book, maybe having mutliple Deadpool books every month wouldn’t be such an absurd idea, as there would be room for different interpretations in each book.

Who knows, I could be reading it the wrong way. I’ve done that before.

THE GUILD # 1

Ah, Felicia Day. *swoon*

Yes, I admit that I have a soft spot for that cuke like geektress. I admittedly have not watched all of the web-series that spawned this comic book, but luckily you don’t need to have any working knowlege of the series to enjoy the comic. It’s a nice little starter kit and the humor hits all the right marks. The in-game sequences reminded me of that WOW episode of South Park, which is never a bad thing.

Major kudos must be awarded for being able to make me care about the characters involved right off the bat. I think the fact that our lead character’s garage-band boyfriend is the kind of guy that most dude’s hate to see their lovely lady friends attached to is indicative that as a writer, Felicia Day understands her audience to the point where she’ll throw in those kind of empathetic elements without seeming overly pandering.

If you want something that’s all kinds of a fun, well drawn, and new-reader friendly, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this book but you’re not likely to find much better.

JUSTICE LEAGUE : RISE OF ARSENAL # 1

By now I’ve pretty much run my feelings about this whole Green Arrow saga into the ground. I know that what they’re doing with Ollie isn’t going to be a permenent shift and that I can be able to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is, but with Arsenal I don’t know what will happen in any way shape or form. The fact that this issue surprised me with where it went is indicative of that. I’m going to say right now that I can’t really review this issue without giving out some major SPOILERS so if you don’t want to know some pretty integral plot elements, you might wanna skip along to the next review.

Still here? Okay, in this issue, writer J.T. Krul does something that I hadn’t even considered being an option, that being turning Roy back into a drug addict. This time around it’s not heroin, it appears to be pain killers, but the mindset and the implications of dependency are still there. I don’t really have as much a problem with this as you might think. Let’s be honest, DC has a tendency to regress their characters to points in their timeline that hit home with DC readers. The internet is always in a roar over DiDio’s apparent fetish for reverting things back to the way they were in the Silver Age. In the midst of all this, Roy Harper battling a drug addiciton seems like an obvious move. And given the events that have transpired, it’s not like it’s coming out of the blue.

What really matters is whether or not they find a logical conclusion to the arc. If the ending comes out of left field and makes zero sense to the readers, then they have failed. If they can get even a few people to agree with the reasoning, then they have done their job. Try as I might, I cannot honestly say that character history doesn’t lead me to believe that Ollie Queen wouldn’t murder the man behind destroying his entire city. Logic also tells me that someone with an addictive personality who loses a limb might get addicted to pain killers and regress a little bit. All that matters is how Krul handles the manner in which the stories are told, and I think he’s doing a fair job so far.

NEMESIS # 1

Mark Millar might have shot himself in the foot on this one. In his attempts to elevate the villain as the protagonist, much like he did back in Wanted he may have finally gone too far. With Nemesis, it’s obvious that Millar is trying to build the Batman of all villains. One who always wins and whose plans are elaborate and downright terrifying. We are supposed to be in awe of how well Nemesis’ plans work out, with buildings blown to smithereens, trains de-railed and police chiefs crushed under the aforementioned trains while tied to an office chair. It’s violent spectacle and Millar almost presents the story in a way that we are supposed to cheer for this son of a bitch, who is, let’s not kid ourselves, a fucking terrorist. Mark Millar thinks he’s such a good writer that he can make us applaud the acts of a terrorist. You don’t think that he wanted us to think that Nemesis shooting the pilots of Air Force One while riding the nose-cone isn’t cool? No, he obviously wants to inspire that adrenaline rush. That’s what makes this book feel so dirty. The visuals are astounding and the sheer one-upmanship of Nemesis’ actions beg the reader to be impressed and yet this is the villain. Contrast those actions with that of the “hero,” a DC police chief who swiftly and efficiently kills multiple armed robbers in the span of a few panels and is rewarded and applauded for his cowboy gunslinging.

Millar has created two characters who are obviously both people who garner the same sort of awe in the readership. I think your enjoyment of this title will come out of how far you can distance yourself from reality. I find that in a time where terrorism is such an everyday occurance, it’s hard to take myself out of a book where the title character crashes the president’s plane into the middle of a crowded city.

I haven’t made up my mind yet. So maybe Millar has done his job.

POWER GIRL # 10

Still Awesome, thanks for asking!

SHUDDERTOWN # 1

Seeing how I haven’t seen a new issue of Stumptown hit the shelves in a while and the last good noir book I’ve picked up since then was Last Days of American Crime back in December, Shuddertown should fill the noir-shaped hole in my pull list nicely. The art is dark and muddy, and the narration is full of overwraught metaphors. It’s everything you want in a crime book. Here we get a detective who is battling his own personal demons and trying to figure out if he’s the one mucking up his own investigations or if there’s something deeper.

The story could go in any direction, and I’m on board no matter which way that might be, because damnit I’m a sucker for this kind of stories. It’s my weakness.

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Another week, another group of reviews. Nothing really abysmal that I read this week, and for that I thank my lucky stars. Next week sees the end of Blackest Night, so expect a nice handy writeup about that. I’ll probably review the whole damn series as a whole just to get everything out in the open.

Until then, cheers.