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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

This week begins a drastic reduction in the amount of money I put forward toward weekly books. I’ve come to the point where storage space is becoming a problem, and honestly I just can’t justify spending around $200 per month on comics anymore. I’m trying to cut back to a absolute maximum of $30 per week. I’d prefer to stay around $25 but that’s probably a pipe dream. This week I was JUST over my self-imposed limit, but still better than my usual 45-50 dollar pull.

Unfortunately this means that the reviews will vary from week to week, as there may not be a whole lot worth reviewing in my stack. On new series I’ll always try to pick up the number one just to see if it’s something I might want to continue with while another book gets bumped off, but there will be a lot of trial and error in the coming weeks.

ARRIVALS 4-21-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #628 3.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #10 (OF 13) 2.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #2 (OF 3) 3.99
FEARLESS DAWN #3 (OF 4) (C: 1-0-0) 2.95
GREEN LANTERN #53 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
HER-OES #1 2.99
POWER GIRL #11 2.99
SPIRIT #1 3.99
SUPERGIRL #52 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #6 3.99
X-FACTOR #204 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #235 XSC 2.99

Like I said, a shorter week than usual. But I’ve still got some things to say about ’em, so let’s go for it.

Green Lantern # 53
GREEN LANTERN # 53

I was very close to dropping this particular title in the cull of my pull-list. I’ve been very vocal of how much  I didn’t like Blackest Night, and I already dropped Brightest Day after a single issue. Logic would dictate that this title would follow suit and end up as a casualty of my reading list dissection. But I’ve generally enjoyed the ongoing series of Green Lantern since it’s inception and I felt it deserved a shot, so I gave this issue a chance to keep me on board.

The problem with this issue is simply that it’s 95% setup for something else. That might not be a problem if the setup were for plots to be fleshed out in this book, but the ending sets up the forthcoming stories in the new Guy Gardner lantern book and Green Lantern Corps, both titles that I will not be picking up.

I suppose that if someone were picking up all the GL books right now, this wouldn’t be as bothersome. But to me, it’s a little frustrating. It’s the same issue plaguing the Superman books right now, where the reader is essentially forced to read all the titles if they want to understand anything. How is that a good thing for someone on a budget who just wants to read a single Superman book? I feel like the same effect is radiating off of the lantern books right now.

Luckily, it doesn’t look like the books cross over in the sense that one chapter begins in one book and you have to pick it up in another, like the aforementioned Superman titles. So hopefully now that the setup has been fleshed out, the main title can remain independent of the other books. Or at least, such is my hope, as I will not be defacto coerced into buying more monthly GL books. I’d sooner drop the main title and be done with it. Which is not something I want to do, because complaints about the nature of the issue aside, I actually enjoyed the book. Mahnke’s art is a great fit for Green Lantern and Johns gets in some decent character moments with Hal and Carol. If the book didn’t sidetrack itself trying to pimp the side-series, I don’t think I would have had much bad at all to say about the issue.

I think my contention that Johns is an excellent writer when applied to the right kind of series stands with this issue. Last week, his Flash proved this as well. He’s much better suited for monthly titles where he can work his magic over a longer period. Mini-series where he has to go straight to the finish line in the span of a few months seem to undercut his ability to build his characters and his story. Then again, if he has too much time to play with we get “Thy Kingdom Come” which ran for about six issues too long.

Johns needs to settle back in to the healthy middle.

Her-oes # 1
HER-OES # 1

This kind of reminds me of Spider-Man loves Mary Jane, but slightly off kilter. It deals with established female superheroes transplanted into the world of high school and centers around Janet Van Dyne aka the Wasp, who really always felt like she was a high school stereotype most of the time ayway.

The book is interesting in the way things are revealed, as we know that Janet can become the wasp and hints of teenage Jen Walters being able to turn into the She-Hulk are dropped, but we don’t get any explaination as to how these girls have their powers at this point in their life. I think that’s a little refreshing that establishing a continuity for this universe doesn’t seem to be a major concern and that more time is spent establishing the characters in the book. Janet puts on a bold face but never follows through with her boasts, all the while taking on the role of the fringe set outsider, a position that some readers of the book will most assuredly be able to connect with.

All in all, it’s a harmless little book that’s gotten too much crap dumped on it because of the title. Yeah, it’s a dumb pun and it’ll probably put some people off buying it. But it’s also a fun read, which I find myself drawn to more and more these days in the wake of my favorite heroes being ripped in half by my least favorite heroes and melodramatic schlock where Aquaman won’t even get in the water.

The Spirit # 1
SPIRIT # 1

This reads more like Frank Miller’s take on the Spirit than it should. The brooding narration, the dark and moody Central City, the fact that the Octopus isn’t hidden in the shadows like he damned well should be…

Honestly, I don’t think the Spirit needs to be published anymore. Without Will Eisner to take the reins, anybody doing the book will be doing the character and his creator a grand disservice. The only person who even came close was Darwyn Cooke, but then again Darwyn Cooke might be some sort of wizard. I’m not sure. It’s only conjecture at this point. But this “First Wave” incarnation of the Spirit seems to be slightly wrong. There’s no warmth to this book. I think that might be because he doesn’t have a little Ebony White driving him around and cracking wise. Darwyn Cooke pretty much prooved that you can make the character work without seeming hokey and/or racist, so why leave him out? He’s a big part of what makes the Spirit feel like the Spirit, and this Spirit doesn’t feel like the Spirit.

This issue makes me wish that Azzarello were doing the book. In First Wave # 1 we got a little bit more of a classic take on the Spirit. A guy who relied on his wits to keep him sane in a world where you would have to be insane to do the things the Spirit does. The Spirit in that book had the warmth and (groan) spirit that the character should have. Maybe things will shift around in issue two, but I can’t bank on that.

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Like I said, not as many reviews, but I try to do what I can. Join me next week, when maybe I’ll have better luck in the pull list lottery.

Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Did you miss me? I bet you did. How would you know what comics to buy if I didn’t tell you what was good or not? Surely you would be lost and you would have to find a new hobby. Like knitting. I’m sure you could do that on your own. Can you tell I’m completely rambling right now? Sorry. I went to a Dropkick Murphys concert last night and didn’t get any sleep afterward. Oh yeah, comics!

THE PULL LIST:

ADVENTURE COMICS #8 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623 2.99
BOYS #40 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 TWILIGHT PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHEW #9 (MR) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #19 2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #862 3.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #1 (OF 3) FOH 3.99
FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) 4.99
GREEN HORNET # 1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #4 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #1 (OF 5) 3.99
PUNISHER MAX BUTTERFLY #1 (MR) 4.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #11 3.99

And now, my humble opinions…

ASM 623
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 623

I’ll start off by saying that, yes, the art has taken a bit of a nosedive for this issue. The art isn’t horrible. It’s a bit muddy, but it’s not indecipherable and it clears up in scenes set in daylight. However, I believe that any art will look lackluster when following Michael Lark. Because, c’mon, it’s Lark.

The story however is right up my alley. We finally get a little background on this new Vulture and we get some throwback to JJJ’s involvement in crafting the original Scorpion. There’s a lot to love for Spider-Man purists here, while being modern enough to appeal to people who think that the old Lee/Ditko Spidey stories were too cheeseball.

One thing I would like to point out is that we once again get some acknowledgment of the daughter of Kraven’s existence. She’s been on the periphery for a while now but hasn’t been directly involved in the proceedings, it looks like we’re finally getting to the crux of the story, and I’m anxious to see how things play out.

Boys 40BOYS # 40

First of all, how weird is it that this book has reached issue forty? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for that long. And yet, it’s been on shelves for over three years, and chugging along like a juggernaut each and every month.

This issue sees the fallout from the last issue, which I reviewed HERE starting to shape up. It plays with the common storytelling trope where the reader knows everything but the parties involved know only pieces of the puzzle, thus creating a sizeable bit of tension and drama. Here, Butcher has drawn his own conclusions upon finding out about Hughie’s relationship with a known supe. Hughie is unaware of Butcher’s knowlege and we start to see a bit of a breakdown within the group. As readers we’ve come to really like Hughie and hate to see him put in such a position, and we hope that nothing bad happens as a result of Butcher’s rash and brash nature, but this being a Garth Ennis book, we have a sinking feeling in our gut that something REALLY bad is going to happen soon, and so we are forced to keep reading with mindless zeal.

First Wave # 1FIRST WAVE # 1

Batman does not appear in this book. Unless he was stealthily hiding in the shadows or something. I just feel like I should point out that this intro issue is definately a showcase for Doc Savage and the Question, providing the new readers with an insight into the diversity of their crime-fighting styles. Throwing Batman in there might have muddied the waters, I suppose. Still, I’m never going to say that something should have less Batman. I mean, wouldn’t Avatar have been even more awesome if there were some Batman in it? I just imagined There Will Be Blood with a Batman cameo. That would rock.

As far as the issue goes, they do a good job of setting up the story. It’s full of classic noiry intrigue. The kind that Brian Azzarello does so well. And the art by Rags Morales is quite effective. Remember that book called Identity Crisis (aka Mindwipe & Rape : A Musical Revue)? That was a detective story at its core, albeit a shoddy one. But the art was very well done. Morales knows how to capture the tone of a pulp/noir/detective environment and here it most definately shows.

But the next issue better have some Batman or I’m gonna start wrecking shit.

Girl Comics # 1GIRL COMICS # 1

In the same comic we get a cute little comic about Venus trying to prove her worth to the male gods of the pantheon by working at a fashion magazine and a story where the Punisher goes all Chris Hanson to the nth degree on a pedophile at an amusement park.

Kind of a striking dichotomy no?

Green HornetGREEN HORNET # 1

Everything about this felt…wrong. It was too modern and too keen on being hip to feel like The Green Hornet. The voices of the characters seemed off. I know that characters are open to different interpretations and that no one embodiment can be considered definate because it could always be replaced down the line. I mean, c’mon, look at Batman. But in this instance it just seems like it doesn’t fit anything previously established with the character. Like, if Superman started saying “Yo, man. Stop the crime, dude.”

I spent an entire review praising Kevin Smith’s work on Cop Out, but I cannot do the same here. It just doesn’t feel right. It just didn’t click with me. I hope it clicked with someone because Dynamite put out EIGHTEEN variant covers for this issue, and that’s a lot of effort gone to waste if everyone felt like I did about this particular issue.

Invincible Iron Man # 24INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 24

The ending of the Tony Stark : Dissassembled arc hits home with a fairly anti-climactic final issue. I think that attempting to balance a fight with Ghost against the cerebral surrealism inside Tony Stark’s head led to a contrast of intent and could only really be resolved in a manner that felt overly simple in the end.

What the book has going for it however, is the last few pages which really drive home how much has changed for Tony Stark. During Civil War someone commented that they wished Tony Stark from years back could see his actions during that crisis, and here we sorta get that but with none of the satisfaction. It’s more of a shallow pity and it does a great deal toward redeeming Stark as a character. Which needs to happen considering he’s just as recognizable as Spider-Man in the public eye now.

Prelude # 1PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 1

The issue begins with a panel of Lady Deadpool seen from behind where her leg tapers off into something that looks like a suction cup. It’s supposed to be her foot.

Did I just start this review with the statement that Rob Liefield can’t draw feet? A fact that is pretty much abject fact at this point? Yes I did. And do you know why? Because it doesn’t get any better from there. The book is one long rambling fight sequence, then Deadpool shows up and drafts Lady DP into some mission and the issue ends.

There is NO substance here. And for a character where razor-sharp wit is the defining characteristic, this issue is filled with some of the dullest humor and sloppiest attempt at witty writing this side of a Dane Cook special.

My fears have been realized. Deadpool is no longer infallible in my eyes. Excuse me while I weep.

Punisher Max - ButterflyPUNISHER MAX : BUTTERFLY # 1

I think this book simply proves my point that the Punisher is only as interesting as the people he kills. Garth Ennis knew this. Jason Aaron knows this. And Valerie D’Orazio knows this.

If you don’t know Valerie’s story, and believe me it is a long surreal tale unlike any you’re likely to hear in the world of comics again, you might want to take the time to give her pseudo-memoir/blog “Goodbye to Comics” a look-see. It’s not a short read by any means, but it is something that begs to be read. For a quicker bio, you can click HERE.

There are two ways to read the book. You can read it knowing Valerie’s story or going in blind. If you’ve read Goodbye to Comics you can get an inkling of how cathartic writing this book must have been for her. There are themes that are definitely derived from her experiences in the publishing world and it helps to make the book feel genuine. If you know nothing about the writer, you’ll either bitch that there’s not enough Punisher in the book or you’ll comment on how the best Punisher stories of the last few years seem to use the actual character of Frank Castle sparingly. Like the shark in JAWS.

UCNU#1ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES # 1

Jeph Loeb didn’t make me want to kill myself while I read his latest offering to the Ultimate universe. You may remember how I called Ultimatum one of the worst books of 2009. I stand by that. UCNU (because typing out that long ass title every time would make me want to kill myself) is about as middle of the road as you can get. It is not excellent nor is it bad. It simply is. I like where Loeb hs put Tony Stark. I like that we got to see Frank Cho draw Hela undressing herself seductively in an attempt to get Thor to “raise his hammer.” I like that nobody was eaten alive.

It’s like when Homer Simpson invented the Flaming Homer; “It passed the first test…I didn’t go blind.”

Weapon X # 11WOLVERINE WEAPON X # 11

Wolverine celebrates the resurrection of Steve Rogers by having Nightcrawler fly them around the world to different bars where they get drunk and form a nice little bromance. Also there are multiple Deathloks going all Terminator on the progenetors of the next generation of heroes.

Yeah. I dug it.

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Once again, I’m sorry for the lack of DC material but there were only three books on my pull from that particular company this week and the only one that would make a good review is the one I’m not caught up to in my reading.  Hopefully next week I’ll do good by DC again, so as not to incurr the wrath of Dan DiDio.