Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Steve McNiven

Timely Review Is Timely – Captain America # 1

WARNING! REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR FEAR ITSELF # 3/4

The regular ongoing Captain America series, which has been damned amazing since Brubaker came on board with # 1 a few years back has become Captain America & Bucky, and will retain its original numbering, focusing on the pair of heroes and their numerous adventures under the watchful eye of a new creative team. A brand new Captain America # 1 hit stands last Wednesday, again under the direction of Ed Brubaker with art by Steve McNiven, he of Civil War and Old Man Logan fame. It marks a new chapter for the Captain America saga. One that builds off of Brubaker’s already elaborate work and provides a new jumping-on point for new readers as well. It’s a strategy that has worked well for other books in the past, with Invincible Iron Man under Fraction and The Mighty Thor under…Fraction again.

The book begins in a cemetery where Cap is mourning the loss of an old friend. If you’ve been reading Fear Itself, you’re almost immediately convinced that it’s (**spoiler alert**) the recently deceased Bucky Barnes. But that’s not the case at all. In fact this introductory issue doesn’t address Bucky at all. Brubaker instead hits the ground running and plunges us into the story that, in a manner consistent with the rest of his run, is tied heavily to Steve’s adventures in World War II. The interplay between the past and the present is a defining element of Brubaker’s run. The Winter Soldier storyline would have had no impact if Ed and company hadn’t been able to skillfully craft the narrative in such a way that all the pieces fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Steve remarks that he sometimes still has trouble reconciling the fact that even after all these years he is still a man out of time. He’s displaced. Despite being the representation of America itself, the modern landscape is never fully going to be his home. While some writers take this and run with it in precisely the wrong direction, as was the case with Civil War Frontline, Brubaker’s Steve Rogers is a character who always tries to retain the elements of himself that shine brightest while trying to evolve to fit into a world that, quite frankly, does not deserve a hero of his caliber.

Some fans will be put off by the fact that the manner in which Steve becomes Captain America once again is not immediately addressed, but this is just as much a book for new converts from the film as it is for longtime fans. Brubaker is not one to ignore those elements, but they will have to be introduced organically over time so that everyone feels at ease. This is a very classically written book in that regard. Half of the fun will be having answers revealed over time as it is appropriate. Brubaker’s crime-fiction background shows heavily in his writing here. Little snippets surface to make the big picture appear clearly but they don’t come at you on every panel. Brubaker is a master of the slow burn, if his prior work on the title has shown us anything. I would expect that tradition to carry over here.

As for McNiven’s art, it’s as clean and crisp as ever and I can only hope that he’s got the issues finished because I would weep at the thought of a fill-in artist. He draws Cap with amazing skill and his artwork matches the tone of the book perfectly. You couldn’t ask for a better artist, though many in his caliber have worked with Brubaker on Cap in the past and I’m hoping that Steve Epting and Michael Lark get their turns on the new title as well. Rotate them all through the different arcs and you’d have as close to a perfect Captain America title as could be managed.

I strongly advise picking this up. Captain America is and has been one of Marvel’s best properties for quite some time now and this issue seems to indicate that’s not changing anytime soon.

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Millar’s Nemesis Coming To The Screen

No, KickAss Made KickAss Look Like Shit...
So, not too long ago the news broke that Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott and maker of multiple films featuring Denzel Washington would be directing a feature film adaptation of Mark Millar’s latest magnum opus, Nemesis. I think most of you know how I feel about that book. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Frankly, I think it’s the laziest sort of comic writing. The more I think about it, the less redeeming value I see in it outside of Steve McNiven’s excellent artwork. Let’s not kid ourselves, that guy can draw and he can make the set pieces and action sequences that Millar concocts look breathtaking. But the book itself is pretty much a shallow husk. All of it seems like the sort of thing a kid playing in the sandbox would come up with, if that kid were Sid from Toy Story and he had been watching the Nightly News cover domestic terrorism four weeks in a row.

Now, as much as I dislike the book, and I do, I also hated KickAss in it’s initial print incarnation. I mean, it was trite and not very well written and Millar seemed to want to do eight different types of book at once and never really found his footing, which is why the overall tone of the book seems so shaky. But then, when that film was adapted to film by Matthew Vaughn I enjoyed the everloving hell out of it. The book remains a shaky modest attempt hindered by Millar’s ego and inability to sell his own product properly. The film seems to have a singular purpose and tone that helps keep the narrative moving and manages to fix a lot of the flaws in the book with the personalites of the people portraying their character. Case in point, Big Daddy. Nicholas Cage turned that character into something memorable while as a comic character he’s utterly forgettable. And let’s not even get started on HitGirl.

So can Tont Scott do the same thing? I would like to think so. I haven’t really enjoyed many of his last few films however. Pelham 123 did nothing for me, Domino was near unwatchable, and I could go on and on. But at the same time, Scott at least has a bit of depth and understands the internal motivations of any given character. He may be able to make these childish one-note characters come alive in a way that connects with me.

I’ll tell you all one thing, I will thank God every day for the rest of my life that this film didn’t end up in the hands of Michael Bay…


Serious Blogger Is Serious

Earlier today, I engaged in a debate about the merits of Old Man Logan on Twitter with Sex Food and Comic Books contributor and nerdress Satine Phoenix. It all began with a simple tweet:

To which, I responded:

Leading to:

All of which leads me to post this:

Please note that I’m only posting this because I’m incredibly bored and I think it’s funny. Satine is great and so is Joe,  her co-conspirator over at SFCB. They run an awesome site and though our tastes may run in different directions sometimes, it’s nice to have someone to discuss these things with.


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.

******************

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.


Flipside Post : The WORST Comics of 2009

I kicked the blog off with a rundown of 2009’s best storyarcs, an entry that was hard as hell to write because honestly there were tons of good books last year and while I wanted to showcase only a chosen few, I didn’t want to leave out anything that needed to be showcased. On the other side of the coin, we have today’s entry, a look at 2009’s most abysmal outings. My criteria for this list is not quite as exclusive as the “best of” list, because sometimes you don’t need a story to be finished to realize it’s a piece of shit. Usually if it’s three issues in and you’d still rather pluck out your own pubic hairs with a rusty pair of tweezers, it won’t change by the end of the arc.

So here we go!

Magneto looks bored...must have read ULTIMATUM
1. ULTIMATUM (Marvel)

It started in ’08 but it ran through the first chunk of ’09 and as far as I can tell, I swear to God, Jeph Loeb is a sleeper agent, placed in the Marvel offices by DC to destroy their publishing lineup from the inside. It’s like a retarded 24 plot played out in slow motion so every mind-numbing detail can be drawn in until the mind can’t handle it anymore.

I’m not going to go after the book for being dumb. I mean, it’s an event book and nobody can make an event book NOT dumb. (I’m looking at you Geoff Johns.) My main problem with the book is that it is so sloppily written, and so disjointed that as a reader you sometimes don’t even know how bad it truly is until you go back and re-read the pages over again trying to figure out exactly what the hell you missed that led you to be so confused.

Also, the Blob eats the Wasp. That’s just wrong.

He'll Be Hungry Again In An Hour


Giant Size Disappointment
2. Wolverine : Old Man Logan (Marvel)

I’m probably gonna catch flak for this one but people, this shit was sub-par and the publishing delays only made it worse. The fact that the “epic conclusion” was a veritible anti-climactic letdown is all you really need to look at in order to see what a throwaway piece of tripe this storyline really is. Aside from some nice art, this whole thing was a wash, no matter what the sales say. People buy dumb shit all the time. Don’t believe me? Go talk to the guy who invented the “Snuggee.”

The truly sad thing is, everybody ate this thing up like it was the best thing since sliced bread when Jason Aaron’s excellent Weapon X book doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. That book utilizes the continuity of Wolverine without being confusing, moves at a breakneck pace and is worth every penny while still managing to come out on a monthly basis. Old Man Logan was an uninspired and unoriginal idea that people went nuts over for a reason that eludes me entirely.

Gonna Party Like It's 1994!
3. Image United (Image)

Let’s take everything that drove me away from comics in the 90’s and put it in a single book. That’ll work right? *facepalm*

Google : Facepalm
4. Female Force : Stephanie Meyer (Bluewater Comics)

I would say that my hatred of the Twilight phenomenon is completely rational. After all, how any sane person would look at the success of such a lazy and contrived series and still manage to think that our society hasn’t sunk into an irrepairable cavern of stupidity that is only 15 degrees off “Idiocracy” is completely beyond me. The fact that someone decided it would be a good idea to publish a comic book biography of the woman responsible for this crime against humanity simply edges me toward clawing my own brain out with an olive fork.

The fact that the book exists is enough to qualify it on sheer “WTF-factor” alone, but the book having art so bad that it borders on the laughable earns it a legitimate spot on the list. Not to mention that Stephanie Meyer is essentially the most boring person this side of John Kerry and thus the book itself is nothing short of a chore to read even if you never look at the art.

Comics Alliance basically said everything I ever could in the review they posted back when the book was released on shelves. The only difference is they still have the energy to mock the book whereas I can only shake my head and try not to vomit.

Let's hope this doesn't last forever...
5. X-Men Forever (Marvel)

This should have been excellent, but then I remembered that Chris Claremont hasn’t written anything of any quality since the 80’s and by then it was too late. I had already added the book to my pull and was damned to read what may be one of the most effortlessly tired books in the Marvel publishing line.

The problem with the book is that it wants us to get all nostalgic for the days of Claremont and Byrne but the Claremont we all fell in love with is gone and what remains is a madman who is following up on his own work in such a manner that it’s hard to tell that the same person who wrote all those classic stories is able to give us such a winded and uninteresting take on the X-Men.

This one takes the coveted biggest disappointment award for 2009. Such a tragedy.

NOOOOOOOO JOE!
6. G.I. Joe – Origins (IDW)

Like X-Men Forever, this one makes the list out of disappointment. Larry Hama writing a GI Joe origin story from scratch? Yes please! Wait… What the hell is going on here? What am I reading? MAKE IT STOP! WHY LARRY?!?! WHY?!?!

Yes, the former master of the Joes has turned in one of the sloppiest and mind-boggling Joe stories of all time. Considering that Hama is the man who made GI Joe what it is today, for him to do such a disservice to the franchise by delivering such a bland and cliche outing in the Origins book, it’s like watching your childhood hero bang a tranny hooker on the hood of your car. You’re willing to put up with a lot, given that he’s your hero and all, but this is JUST. GOING. TOO. FAR!

****

And there are others; Green Arrow/Black Canary continued the downward spiral for both characters, Superman didn’t even have Superman and seemed like the title had died but continued on only out of habit, Justice League of America languished in mediocrity, and there are others that fit the bill just as badly. The above are the ones that really stand out as the losers of ’09.