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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.)

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

So I’ve been battling a cold that’s primary affliction to my system has been a severe sense of apathy. I don’t think I’ve ever moved slower on a Wednesday than I did at work yesterday, but when the fever broke in the night I realized that I had a blog to update, and thus I started work on this week’s reviews, which will begin momentarily.

THE PULL LIST: 2-17-2010

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #621 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN #696 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #9 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #4 (OF 4) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #4 (OF 4) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #603 3.99
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT IS ALL I NEED (ONE SHOT) 3.99
DAREDEVIL #505 2.99
DARK AVENGERS #14 SIEGE 3.99
DEADPOOL #19 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #8 2.99
DOOMWAR #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #51 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #45 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #20 FOH 3.99
IGNITION CITY TP 19.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #3 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #607 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #2 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #42 3.99
POWER GIRL #9 2.99
PSYLOCKE #4 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHER #14 2.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #6 2.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS VOL. 4 49.99
SUPERGIRL #50 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THOR BY DAN JURGENS & JOHN ROMITA JR TP VOL 02 24.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #521 2.99

And so, I begin:

Amazing Spider-Man 621

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 621

I feel like I’ve heaped sufficient praise on this book over the course of it’s “Gauntlet” storyline. This issue is worth picking up for Michael Lark’s art alone. That man could draw Daredevil making a sandwich for 32 pages and I’d buy two copies. (Grilled cheese variant?)

This issue catered to me in numerous ways. It had Black Cat, who I effing love. It had Mr. Negative, who I honestly believe is one of the better additions to Spidey’s rogues gallery that we’ve seen in the last few years. Honestly, it was just a good Spider-Man comic. And while the previous few issues have felt decisively like old-school Spidey, this one feels frighteningly modern, and I think alot of that comes from Michael Lark’s artwork. While not overly realistic, the tones are muddied and contrasting as opposed to the clean cut-and-dry work of the last few issues. I like both styles, and the art definately worked for this story, but the change is a litle jarring when held up to what had come before. The saving grace comes in the form of the writing, which doesn’t shift tone nearly as radically and keeps the story on course.

Again, I really only have good things to say about this series at this point, and if you’re not picking it up I think you’re probably just still bitter over the One More Day angle. We get it, you feel slighted, but at this point you’re just denying yourself some quality entertainment with a character you claimed to love.

Chase Variant
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT

Rich Johnston is basically what would happen if I went around shouting a bunch of stuff I heard and considered it hard journalism. I won’t deny that the man gets his shit right every so often, as the man does have some sweet hookups and his site is a go-to for many people. I consider him and people like him to be the reason that Wizard has lost it’s relevance to the comic community and that in itself sort of makes him relevant.

Does any of that qualify him to write a comic book?

I don’t know. If it does, I’m hoping someone at Image calls me because I’ve got a great pitch about a Texas ranger who fights ronin-Samurai in a post-apocalyptic California with the help of a cat named Asshole. (Seriously, call me.)

I don’t know if he’s ever written anything outside of an editorial before this book, but if he’s a newbie he didn’t do too bad for his opening shot. If nothing else, the book has a pretty cool framing device, with unseen hands dealing magic-style dueling cards that shape the flow of the narrative. Such a framing device would be especially interesting in an ongoing series, where it could be explained in detail, but as it is not an ongoing and simply a one-and-done sort of deal, part of me wonders what their purpose was. Though that’s just me contemplating what could be or should have been and not what is.

As far as what the book is, I would say that Chase Variant is decent but it feels like an anachronism. A sort of throwback to the 90’s Image that I never really got into. There’s no character development or plot that runs beyond a few lines of dialogue, but there is some well-developed imagery and the potential for impressive worldbuilding. Environment and aesthetic over true content, honestly.

That doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish, because at least the book feels like it moves forward given it’s limited frame of existence. It’s not like it treads water trying to stay afloat. The book may not be the best thing ever written, but none of the effort was phoned in and it feels genuine, which is more than can be said for some books.

Merc With A Mouth 8
DEADPOOL : MERC WITH A MOUTH # 8

I’ve gotta nominate this one for turnaround book of the month, because the last issue to hit stands was downright atrocious. I was literally floored by how asinine that book was. This issue on the other hand seems to work well to regain focus and present a singular path for the book that I hope isn’t lost next month for some reason nobody can explain to me.

Instead of disjointed mini-sodes with a hodge-podge of different artists breaking up the flow, we get Deadpool and co. sucked into the Marvel Zombies universe where Deadpool goes all Tom Savini on a bunch of undead superheroes. The art is clean, crisp, and fits the tone preented by the writing and the jokes don’t completely suck the life out of the book.

Thank god, I was afraid I was going to have to drop this book. And how damned ironic would it be if after clinging to Cable and Deadpool because I didn’t want to see DP’s only book get cancelled would it be for me to be able to drop a Deadpool book and not be concerned because he has two other books I could read? I’d love to go back to the 90’s and drop that bombshell on someone. The look on their face would be priceless.

SUPERGIRL # 50

I’m glad that we have a Supergirl book that isn’t a horrible trainwreck. The current team has been doing a bang up job with the character, and though I’m not a big fan of the huge line-wide crossovers the Superman family seems to be enduring until the end of time, this book has been doing the best with what it’s been given from the get-go. The character development they’ve been working with Kara and Lana is refreshing, as both of them have drastically needed to be refocused for quite some time.

This issue feels like a good old fashioned Superman story to me. I mean, replace Supergirl with Clark and you would swear that this story belonged in one of those Black and White SHOWCASE books. Giant wasps? Lazer beams! GANGBUSTER?!?!?!

Yeah, epic.

The backup story is short and essentially unnecessary, but the tone was on the money and I’m sure putting Helen Slater’s name on the book bumped sales by a fair margin, though what size that margin is could be anybody’s guess. Either way, the total package was worth the extra dollar on the price tag.

Uncanny 521
UNCANNY X-MEN # 521

If all they had printed in this book was that final page, I still would have loved it. I won’t spoil it, but they made me a very happy nerd.

Very very happy nerd.

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And I’m done for this week. Check back next time, when maybe I’ll review a comic that totally sucks. It’s kind of odd when I don’t read anything that makes me wanna hurl.


Weekly Comic Reviews

Reviews

It’s that time again! Time for me to tell you what sucked and what did not. I should caution you that most of what I review will be positive, as I don’t often buy books that I feel I won’t enjoy. However, I am making a point to pick up new books simply to give insight that otherwise wouldn’t be offered on this blog.

THE PULL LIST:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #618 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #8 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #3 (OF 4) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #602 3.99
DARK AVENGERS #13 SIEGE 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #82 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #7 3.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #44 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #19 FOH 3.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #2 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #606 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #1
MIGHTY AVENGERS #33 2.99
PHANTOM STRANGER #42 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
POWER GIRL #8 2.99
SONIC UNIVERSE #12 2.5
SPIDER-WOMAN #5 2.99
STARMAN #81 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
STREET FIGHTER IV TP VOL 01 12.95
UNCANNY X-MEN #520 2.99
WOLVERINE FIRST CLASS TP CLASS ACTIONS 14.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #9 3.99
YOUNG LIARS TP VOL 03 ROCK LIFE (MR) 14.99

Amazing Spider-Man 618
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 618

I think that Marvel is doing an excellent job of capturing the feel of classic Spider-Man nowadays. The voice the writers are projecting onto Peter Parker here is highly reminiscent of the best Spidey stories of yesteryear. From the quips to the inner monologue, to the actions of his supporting cast, it’s all very much in tune to the earlier Spidey stories than anything we saw during the JMS years. And while I dug JMS’ run, and think it will be remembered fondly by those who were first introduced to Spider-Man during his tenure, I cannot help but have my cockles warmed by what we have on display here.

The story looks like it will finally tie up some loose ends with Mr. Negative, and his connection to Aunt May, as well as give us the return of Mysterio, who last had successfully scratched an itch in the back of his head with a shotgun. Is this Mysterio back from the dead or another new name throwing on the suit? Given what we’ve seen in Brand New Day thus far with new iterations of the characters, the latter seems possible but given the classic tone of the arc, I wouldn’t put it past the team to pull a full resurrection.

The book lacks the emotional resonance of last week’s Rhino tale, but is a satisfactory story all the same.

Captain America 602
CAPTAIN AMERICA # 602

Well, the regular Captain America title returns, and honestly from the pages of this book, aside from a few lines of dialogue referencing it, you never would have known the whole “Reborn” situation ever happened. Bucky is still the central focus of the narrative, and the plot threads from prior to Steve’s return are being followed up on in true Brubaker-ian fashion. The man lives to tell these sorts of stories. They have that Marvel feel, utilizing the eccentricities of the universe with uniformed henchmen and acronymed evil organizations; but every bit of Brubaker’s storytelling prowess in the realm of the hyper-realistic, drawing from his work in the street-level drama that he does so well, is on full display here.

I cannot help but think that we’ve been cheated by having this title sidelined while the “Reborn” miniseries ran it’s course. Brubaker’s Cap book is a serial masterpiece, one that really needs to build on monthly steam. I guess I should just be grateful the train is back on schedule.

Helping me forget my complaints is the excellent Nomad backup story that picks up immediately after the excellent “Girl Without A World” series. I know it’s a secondary feature, and thus it is going to have to be limited in length, but I definately wanted more by the end of the issue. Still, better for Nomad to see publication in the back of a book that will run indefinately, rather than get her own book and get published before a sixth issue like SOME TITLES I COULD MENTION. (***Grumble***)

Dark Avengers 13
DARK AVENGERS # 13

Brian Michael Benids has had this weird facination with the Sentry that I just did not understand. The Sentry, as a character, is quite bland and really doesn’t work on any other level than the occaisional joke at his expense. So in this issue Bendis finally reveals his master plan for the character and essentially rewrites the whole book on his existence (yes, again).

I won’t spoil the revelations, but I will say that they’re not even shocking at this point. Just confounding given that for the emotional weight behind them to truly work, we as readers would have to give a damn about the character, and I personally do not. I know I am not alone in that regard either. While the changes Bendis makes open up interesting possibilities for the character, I wager that those changes will not resonate either. Given the character’s history of retcon after retcon, how can we expect whatever change that follows this revelation to be any more valid than the last?

If any word describes the developments of this book, it would be “frustrating.”

Dark Wolverine 82
DARK WOLVERINE # 82

I have largely ignored Dark Wolverine, choosing to focus on “Weapon X” as my go-to Wolvie title. I decided I would give it a go with this issue as part of my imperitive to follow the event through the majority of it’s tie-ins. I was a little surprised by the book, given that the characterization of Daken in his own title as compared to the Avengers appearances I’ve read seems somewhat off kilter. I suppose it could be the characterization in the Avengers titles that is off, but I suppose that’s a matter of perspective.

The book itself is actually quite interesting, and the ending actually shocked me. I know that what we see is some sort of narrative trick, but damned if it didn’t make me want to pick up the next issue.


DEADPOOL : MERC WITH A MOUTH # 7

Deadpool goes dimension hopping, a bunch of artists illustrate the different worlds. Jokes are made, and oddly enough I wasn’t very entertained. The humor on display here wasn’t really up to the general Deadpool snuff. In fact, aside from one panel, I didn’t really so much as chuckle. I find this extremely odd because the previous issues of the book practically had me dying from laughter. I hope the book picks up with the next issue, because Deadpool has three titles, and they had better all be excellent otherwise I might get bitter about Deadpool having multiple titles that aren’t all that good when OTHER AWESOME BOOKS GET THE PLUG PULLED ON THEM UNDESERVINGLY!!!!

Hulk 19Inc Hulk 606

HULK # 19/INCREDIBLE HULK  # 606

I admit that I have not been following these titles as of late, and so I’m going into this whole Fall of the Hulks thing completely blind. That having been said, I think Incredible Hulk did a great job of bringing me up to speed with the book’s status quo without feeling like a major exposition dump and Hulk # 19 was somewhat jumbled but not nearly the clusterfuck I had been led to believe Jeph Loeb would be making out of the title.

I’m not big on the format of this event. I would prefer that the books led into each other in some way rather than telling independent parts of a larger story, as I cannot seem to place the books along any real timeline, though I think that longtime readers may have a better grasp on the comings and goings than I do.

Another small note, the art in Incredible Hulk is some of the best stuff I’ve seen in a while. Stylistically interesting while still being technically solid. I wish more books could find that balance.

Joe
Joe The Barbarian # 1

Grant Morrison is an amazing writer. Sean Murphy is an amazing artist. Together what they create should be interesting to say the least. Unfortunately not a whole lot happens in the first issue. The idea is presented but we have no real inkling of the direction it will take. I’m going to pick up the second issue, just to get a grasp on where they’re going with this, but if they really wanted to take advantage of that $1.00 cover price, they probably should have given us a little more content.

Power Girl 8
Power Girl # 8

In this book, the words “Pregno Ray” are used. Beyond that, you really should not need any more information.

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And that’s all I’ve got for this week. Join us next time when I’ll have more than one book from DC on the list (I Hope.)