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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.

PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50

Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…

Batman 698
BATMAN # 698

After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.

I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.

Brightest Day 0
BRIGHTEST DAY # 0

The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.

Aqauaman is afraid of the water.

It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.

Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.

Flash # 1
FLASH # 1

And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.

Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.

Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.

Green Arrow 32
GREEN ARROW # 32

Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.

I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.

Oh well, bring on the relaunch.

Black Widow # 1BLACK WIDOW # 1

Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.

This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.

We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.

Iron Man Legacy 1
IRON MAN LEGACY # 1

I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.

I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.


NEW MUTANTS # 12

I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.

PunisherMax6
PUNISHERMAX # 6

Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.

There. I said it.

There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.

Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.

Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.

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And that’s it for this week. These reviews were especially hard to type, what with the huge cut I have on my left index finger, but I pushed through. For you guys. Because I love you. For realisies.
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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Every week I plan to bring you my personal reviews of the week’s releases, hopefully in a timely manner. This would be easier if Marvel and DC still sent out those preview copies a week ahead of time but those are a distant memory, like good hip-hop.

THE PULL LIST:
ACTION COMICS #885 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #6 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #617  3.99
ANGEL #29 3.99
AVP THREE WORLD WAR #1 (OF 6) 3.50
BATGIRL #6 2.99
BATMAN #695 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #3 (OF 4) 3.99
BOOSTER GOLD #28 3.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #31 2.99
CATWOMAN #83 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN WEIGHT OF CROWN ONE SHOT 3.50
DIE HARD YEAR ONE #4 3.99
FEARLESS DAWN #2 (OF 4) 2.95
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #28 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22 2.99
MARVELS PROJECT #5 (OF 8 ) 3.99
NATION X #2 (OF 4) 3.99
PSYLOCKE #3 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHERMAX #3 (MR) 3.99
RED HERRING #6 (OF 6) 2.99
SECRET SIX (BLACKEST NIGHT) #17 2.99
SWORD (MARVEL) #3 2.99
TITANS #21 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #3 3.99
UNWRITTEN #9 (MR) 2.9

Horny much?
Amazing Spider-Man # 617

Here begins another chapter in the “Gauntlet” arc of Amazing Spider-Man, detailing one of the viallians who I felt should have been included in the film series somewhow (and hopefully will be when this reboot gets going), the Rhino. Why do I like the Rhino? Because he’s got that classic element of emotional scarring through physical trauma that I like my villains to have. (See also Two-Face, Killer Croc, etc.)

Here we see Rhino doing the whole “I’m a good guy because I found a woman” routine and we’re introduced to a new character taking up the Rhino moniker. How many of the original Spider-Man rogues are actually the people they were when they debuted nowdays? Kraven and Scorpion have been replaced by younger more female-type persons, the new Vulture spits acid blood or something like that, now the Rhino is getting an overhaul. I’m not complaining, though. When it comes to the stories presented, if you’d been beaten up by Spider-Man for years you would likely abdicate your cirminal moniker too. The old guard fading away is a big part of what makes certain stories work. By progessing the villains, you progress your hero by proxy. It works.

The main story here is a bit hollow, aside from the fun interplay between Peter and Norah, there’s not much meat to the story. It’s clearly a setup for what will follow in subsequent issues. Even the advancement of Rhino as a character isn’t truly fleshed out until a very well done backup story after the main meat n’ potatoes of the lead-in.

Again, I seem to like where all this is going, and I attribute that mostly to Joe Kelly who is an underappreciated writer in many ways, but I think my feelings toward this issue will be altered one way or the other by how it is followed up down the line.

I Have Nothing Funny To Say
Batman # 695

I’m going to try not to review books, such as this one, that are in the middle of an ongoing arc if I can avoid it. That having been said, I think this issue finally revealed what I’ve been feeling about the “Dick as Bats” experiment and made me grasp what had only been an inkling until reading a few panels presented here; I forgot that Bruce was gone.

Tony Daniel has been doing something that seems to counter-act what Morrison has been doing in “Batman & Robin.” Whereas that book works off of the relation between Damien and Dick and how both are coming to terms with Bruce Wayne’s absence, the main Bat book goes long stretches where Batman is doing his thing and the inner voice of the character is 100% identical to Bruce, generally speaking. It feels as if Daniel is writing Bruce Wayne as Batman and then out of nowhere we are reminded that it’s not Bruce.

Part of me thinks it’s written this way to make the reader accept Dick as the subsitute, leaving the reader in a comfort zone and not changing the tone of the character in any major way. Another part of me thinks that Daniel is not as experienced a writer as he is an artist, and therefore has trouble writing discernable voices for multiple characters. He doesn’t write Dick in the suit, he writes the suit, so to speak.

The book itself feels like a book out of the 80’s or 90’s. It’s very self contained to it’s own universe and almost a slave to it’s own past. The art is solid, which I attribute to Daniel basically writing to his own strengths, seeing how he’s handling the art along with the scripting. It’s refreshing to read a fairly straight-forward Batman narrative again, even if we know that it’s techically just filler until Morrison pulls Bruce out of the past and re-inserts him into the now.

My God, It's Full Of Stars!
Booster Gold # 28

Why are you not reading this? It’s such a great book. I know a few people must have been suckered in during that Blackest Night crossover, but that’s just not enough. This book craves attention. Just like Booster himself, this book is constantly seeking validation. It shouldn’t, because it’s just plain good and that should stand for itself, but everyone should read this book at least once.

This issue is a great place to start. It’s a good jumping on point, with Booster and his sister delivering a nicely done exposition dump and getting everyone back up to speed. The story centers around the “if you travel to the past you can’t change anything” device and takes a look at how, if given the opportunity, such things might play out in the DCU. In this case, it’s trying to avoid the Cyborg Superman Coast City disaster. With time travel being a regular staple of the DC universe, it’s suprising that we don’t see more stories centered around the government or certain heroes trying to go back and reverse history. I mean, Superman flew around the world so fast he turned back time in the original Superman film, so it’s not like it hasn’t been thought of, but Booster Gold seems to be the only series that bothers to look at certain angles of the time-travel element.

I think that’s what I’ve been liking so much about this book. Aside from the Blackest Night tie-in, the book completely covers its own little niche of the DCU that nobody else tramples on and the book acknowleges and presents a reasoning for occupying that very same niche. It’s clever writing at its best and the fact that it makes logical sense is refreshing, especially given what goes on in certain parts of the DC publishing web.

Shiny Pussy
Catwoman # 83

I think out of all the resurrected titles that came about because of Blackest Night, Catwoman was the one I was most looking forward to. I was terribly disapointed when they cancelled the book in the first place. Seriously, it was a solid book and it didn’t need to go away. I love Gotham City Sirens, and that has helped to lessen the blow but crowding the book with three leads makes it hard to really focus on any one character’s needed arcs. It’s almost as if that book was meant to introduce a new status quo in a manner that we all slowly forget what came before and only focus on the current developments.

Resurrecting the Catwoman title proper, allowed the reader to get a little closure in regard to the Black Mask murder storyline that pretty much dangled after the cancellation of Selina’s title. This book puts the endpiece on that particular storyline and organically presents a followup that can be built upon in “Sirens” down the line.

While the Blackest Night banner seems to indicate a quick cash-grab in bringing books like Catwoman back, the content and the fact that it is used to further the development of the character and put old business to bed justifies their existence.

Nazi Sexy Wonder
Fearless Dawn # 2

There are Nazis. And I don’t really understand much else. Part of me wants to peg this book as a sort of T&A throwaway book but, there’s not actually much T&A on display. It’s really just an oddball fun book that isn’t too deep or well constructed, but it’s a fun read in the end and considering I only picked up the first issue because the cover looked interesting and I’ll buy anything with Nazi’s as the villain (see also Hellboy) I can’t complain too heavily about what’s presented between the covers.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD CHARLES!!!
Invincible Iron-Man # 22

I recently named Fraction’s “World’s Most Wanted” arc one of my favorites of 2009. He’s still continuing that with the “Stark Disassembled” arc here, but I can’t help but have flashbacks to that season of The Sopranos where Tony was in a coma and we spent so much time in a dream world that interest soon started to dwindle.

That isn’t a problem here, because now Doctor Strange is here and Doctor Strange is awesome.

I predict that the end of this arc will make me do a little fanboy squeal but if I do I won’t tell you about it because I’d like to retain some of my objective dignity, of which I have very little.

Jubilee > You
Nation X # 2

Jubilee. That is all you need to know.

Fatty Fatty Fat Fat
PunisherMax # 3

Holy fuckshit Jason Aaron is impressing me left and right. His Weapon X book is the best Wolverine in years and now we get a Punisher story that lives up to the legacy that Garth Ennis left with “Welcome Back Frank” without completely aping everything that Ennis did with the character.

The smartest thing Aaron has done is focus more on the Kingpin than on Frank Castle. We’ve seen everything in Frank’s arsenal, honestly. But this new Kingpin is an unknown entity. By establishing this new character and framing the development through the lens of the Punisher and the thugs on the street, we are left wondering if this Kingpin is going to wind up like the rest of the Punisher’s rogues and be dead by the end of the arc or if we’ll finally get another recurring villain worth getting excited over. Ennis gave us Barracuda and The Russian, it seems like Aaron is trying to do the same thing with the Kingpin, and give us a new recurring foe who isn’t named Jigsaw.

This book is everything you could wan’t in a Punisher story. It also has saggy old lady tits, though I’m not sure if that counts for the book or against it.

I Swear This Was Supposed to be a Wolverine cover...
Transformers Ongoing # 3

Ultra Magnus is a dick and a half. Seriously, the guy is so oblivious to his own dickishness that he makes Silver-Age Superman look like a cognitive genius. I’m not exactly sure what continuity this book follows, considering that I haven’t read a Transformers comic in ages, but if there’s one thing that all of them share it is that Ultra Magnus is a total douchebag and he doesn’t even know it. Also Hot Rod.

This book is frustating for me in that I feel as if nothing seems to happen in any of the issues until the final page. It’s like 31 pages of filler and then shocking cliffhanger. It is already getting tiresome. That having been said, I like the angle they’re playing where the Autobots and Decepticons put aside their differences out of a shared sense of nihilistic apathy/exhaustion. It’s basically as if both camps said “screw it,what else is on TV?” It’s different, at least to me, and story structure aside, I want to see where it leads.

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And that wraps it up for this week’s reviews. I would like to finish the post with something witty but I really want to finish watching LOST on bluray, so that isn’t gonna be happening.