After another brief hiatus the reviews have returned, and I’m sure you were all so worried that I’d never get back to the weekly review schedule. Well, here I am. I can’t say much for this week’s crop of books because it was a light week all around. Picking what to review was actually the hardest part of this little endeavor because everything I picked up is in the middle of an arc and if you haven’t made up your mind on a book by part four I doubt my little review is gonna sway you either way. If you do get to part four then read my review and go “well I’m not picking that up!” maybe I need to consider a career as a hostage negotiator.
ACTION COMICS #892 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #35 2.99
AVENGERS #4 3.99
BATMAN #702 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #5 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #609 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #582 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #15 2.99
GREEN ARROW #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
SHADOWLAND MOON KNIGHT #1 (OF 3) SL 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #613 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #602 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #239 2.99
Now let’s get this over with.
I praised the first issue of Avengers as a return to the classic feel of the title with a little bit of Bendis’ trademark style. Four issues in, I still get the classic vibe but I don’t so much think that Bendis’ Bendis-ey tendencies (that’s an odd rhyme) are all that suited for this sort of book. Contrast this with New Avengers where he’s really feeling his groove and hasn’t lost a beat since the last volume and you can see where he feels more comfortable. Bendis likes to do epic on a small scale. Epic as it pertains to the individual or a group of individuals. In New Avengers, it’s really Bendis’ statement on how Cage has grown as a leader and Doctor Strange’s role in the world of magic. You can boil the importance of the arc down to two characters, in essence. With Avengers it’s a little harder to do that. And while it’s still a good book and an interesting read, I’m not sure if it has Bendis’ singular focus. However, Bendis does get major brownie points with me for his use of Killraven. I mean, when was the last time we saw that guy? All I know is that its cool that he’s getting a little face time because I think he’s a great character.
Where I’m sure I’m going to lose alot of you is my feelings on the artwork. Now, I like JRJR, I think he’s a great talent and he’s practically synonymous with Marvel. That having been said, his work here looks rushed. I don’t doubt that he was rushed. But this is the Avengers we’re talking about. The Avengers should have the best art in the damned company as far as I’m concerned. New Avengers looks amazing. Avengers looks like a sketchbook that’s been colored in. There’s none of the finished nuance of his work on Amazing Spider-Man or KickAss (though Kickass took like three years to finish eight issues, so he probably wasn’t as rushed.) But all the same I would rather the book come out every five weeks to give the man some extra time than have an Avengers book that looks like it was drawn by someone with shaky hands and blurry eyes.
The book is still strong, it’s just weakened by Bendis being out of his comfort zone and Romita’s art running at about 50% his usual standard. But it’s good to have the real Avengers doing stuff that the real Avengers would do. Thor smashes a martian spacecraft in this issue. That’s the Avengers I love.
Marjorie Liu finishes the first arc on Black Widow as well as her tenure on the title with the fifth issue here. Next month Duane Swiercanspellhislastnameski takes over and crosses the title over with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don’t know what the tone shift between the two writers will be like but I’m pretty sure it’ll be minimal. This issue basically serves as a 32 page “exhibit A” as to why Black Widow is a badass. She does a lot of ass kicking here, and proves that in addition to being a spy and an Avenger she’s also a pretty good nude bondage model. (Yeah, I’ll scan that panel later, I promise.)
They’ve done a good job with this book. Black Widow isn’t the most amazing character in the world. She’s essentially a female Jason Bourne at this point. Effecient, badass, and portrayed by an A-List actor on film. As far as the writing on the book is concerned, Marjorie Liu is able to pull together the personal narrative with the spy action well enough that you’re left wondering why Black Widow hasn’t had a monthly title for so long. If there’s one thing that she does right with Natasha it’s that she makes her an organic and viable character that has room for years worth of stories based just off of the work in this introductory arc. Whatever comes next, it won’t feel like they’re trying to cash in on the character because of her appearance in Iron Man 2 but instead because there are stories that need to be told based off of what has been established.
I’m not sure what Duane is going to bring to the book, but he has big shoes to fill. Actually, I don’t know what size shoes Marjorie Liu wears. He’s got a lot to live up to that’s for sure. I expect at least one more equally awesome cold-storage bondage moment out of him before I think he’s anywhere near Liu’s level.
When I first picked up Shadowland I promised myself I wasn’t going to get the tie-ins. I was going to give Marvel the finger when it came to the side-books that had no real bearing on the actual story. Now we’re about two months in and I’ve gotten every tie-in they’ve released so far. Congrats Marvel, you’ve got your hooks so far into my hide that I can feel it in my colon. Anyhow, it’s not a bad thing because every tie-in book thus far has been worth the money. I haven’t been let down by anything in the Shadowland pantheon as of yet. I picked up this one because I was hoping to figure out where Moon Knight plays into the whole thing and how he wound up in the underground prison in the main series.
While the book does address those issues it also seems to focus on the themes presented in the Vengeance of Moon Knight book with Moony becoming a less violent hero and Khonshu taking it the wrong way, seeing as how he lives off of the blood that his avatar delivers to him through acts of vigilantism. I assume I’m getting that right, Moon Knight can be confusing sometimes. So Khonshu is haunting Moon Knight in his dreams and his waking hours in the visage of a gigantic chicken (I know he’s not really a chicken, but he looks like one and I find that funny) and another nutjob is running around as the “Shadow Knight” giving Khonshu the blood he wants and making Moon Knight feel all guilty. It’s a damned odd book but the way they weave it through the Shadowland tapestry makes it worth picking up.
Also, I guess Quesada pulled the stick out of his ass about the smoking edict because one of the characters is perpetually puffing away in this issue and that kind of made me chuckle.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week with more unless I get another superflu of some sort. If that happens I swear I’ll never leave the house again.
I actually arrived home from work yesterday to find a box full of manga on my front porch, which I really wish I could have read but I’m saving those little gems until after I’ve finished this week’s American output, which is what I’m primarily focused on reviewing here. I doubt there are many of you who read this blog who really give a damn about what commentary I could provide for Battle Vixens. I mean, it’s all panty shots and using fist-fights as an analog for sex, do you really need me to tell you to read it? I sure hope not.
AME COMI BATMAN VINYL STATUE 70
AME COMI ROBIN VINYL FIGURE 60
AREA 10 HC (MR) 19.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #11 2.99
BOYS #41 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #34 TWILIGHT PT 3 (OF 5) 2.99
DEADPOOL AND CABLE #25 3.99
DEADPOOL CORPS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1 3.99
JSA ALL STARS #5 3.99
RED ROBIN #11 2.99
SECRET SIX DEPTHS TP 14.99
SHIELD #1 (MARVEL) 3.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #2 (OF 3) 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #5 (OF 6) (RES) 3.99
TURF #1 (MR) 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #523 XSC 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #12 3.99
WORLD WAR HULKS #1 WWHS 3.99
And here’s how that shit went down:
I’ll probably catch a lot of hell for this, but I don’t read Invincible on a monthly basis. I get the trades, and I’m admittedly even a bit behind on those, being a cheap bastard and picking them up only through deep discount sales and whatnot. This comes after I bought 4,5,7, and 8 at 1/2 price and then filled in the gaps through Amazon and local clearance bins. I still haven’t read anything after volume 10, so I missed the whole “Conquest” storyline that this mini-series seems to come out of. Luckily, the book fills in the blanks well enough that even with my barely involved knowlege of the story’s progression I was able to understand what had happened in the gap where my reading had ended and the new story began. That isn’t really that amazing a feat, I mean, in reality that should be something that is a given, but luckily it’s done in a way that I feel like when I do pick up my next trade, I won’t feel like the story was spoiled for me.
Basically, Invincible Returns works as a GREAT jumping on point for new readers. Yes, there is a lot of backstory to take in, but it’s weaved into the book through character moments that help new readers get to know the cast. Truly, Invincible Returns is a damned fine read for die-hards as well as the new folks who are looking to try out the character.
One thing I want to comment on is how amazing Ryan Ottley’s art has become over the years. Looking at the first trade of Invincible and comparing it to the art of Invincible Returns, the characters still have the same style and look, but the definition is improved a great deal. Ottley’s art is truly underappreciated. His style is a huge part of what makes the book so amazing, and this single issue is a GREAT showcase for his talent. The backup work by Cory Walker is damned fine as well. I admit his style is just a few degrees off Ottley and so at first parts of it just seemed…different. But still, he nailed the look and did an admirable job.
I fucking hate Jon Hickman. That guy is just too damned good. When Marvel finally caves in and lets this guy write a tentpole event for their entire company, you better hold on to your goddamn balls because he’s going to rock them off in ways you couldn’t imagine while mind-fucking your cerebral cortex at the same damned time. He’s currently writing the best Fantastic Four stories since Mark Waid and Wieringo left and he brings that same sense of otherworldly creativity to SHIELD, a book that sees Leonardo DaVinci creating a renaissance space-suit with wings and flying off into the cosmos.
This book is going to be one to watch. It might just be too good for the general comic-book fanboy crowd. It’s inevitably going to be called pretentious and slammed for overactive retconning, all the while ignoring how goddamn brilliant it is. This book is like touching Jesus’ beard; surreal and enlightening. Comic books were created for shit like this to exist.
I dunno. This single issue was so damned dense that I think it’ll take another few reads to fully understand what’s going on. I mean, obviously it’s set in the prohibition era and there’s a gang full of vampires who are trying to take over the other gangs’ turf but some of them want to remain faithful to their old-country traditions of vampirism. And there’s alien spaceships for some reason. I’m not entirely sure where this is all going to lead, I just know I’m down for it, because, let’s face it, anybody willing to go this far out there in order to tell the story is worth giving the benefit of the doubt.
The only complaint I have is that this book is CROWDED with text. This compounds the already muddy art in making the issue slightly hard to read simply on an aesthetic level. The interesting story makes up for it, but I won’t lie, it did give me a little bit of a headache to read. Maybe when I revisit the issue, knowing what to expect will lessen the blow. Then again, you might not have this problem at all.
You know, when the talent pool writing the color spectrum of Hulks doesn’t include Jeph Loeb, the absurdity of the concept seems to be diminished by the fact that the characters are written with a modicum of subtlety, thus creating an enjoyable story. Jeff Parker, who is probably best known for somehow making Agents of Atlas so damned amazing, writes some great stuff here for A-Bomb, who up until this point has a generic walking ball of who-gives-a-fuck. He also writes a pretty good little Deadpool segment, featuring Bob aka everyone’s favorite agent of Hydra.
The rest of the book is just as well done. We get some good development for Talbot, who with all the focus they’re giving lately seems to be a front runner for the inner identity of Rulk. The talent assembled on the book really runs with the mediocre material they’ve been handed thus far. Kudos to everyone involved there.
So that’s it for this week. If you’ll excuse me I’ve gotta read some really filthy manga. Until next time…
Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.
The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99
And here come the reviews:
AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32
Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.
BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.
The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.
It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E
DETECTIVE COMICS # 861
Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.
While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.
RED HULK # 1
A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41
I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.
Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.
ROBOCOP # 1
I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1
I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.
WONDER WOMAN # 40
Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.
And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?