Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “X-Men

And Now, A Random Deadpool Moment…

Deadpool 17From Deadpool v. 2 # 17

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And Now, Another Stupid Moment in Comics…

Vulcan Death Grip

A true fan would have had Bones taking out Wolverine. For real.


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.

***

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.)


Comics as Curriculum

I think a little background would serve well to illustrate why I am writing this entry. I am an English major, in addition to a comic enthusiast/shop manager. I published a novel early last year, that can be found on Amazon though I don’t ask that you read it, as there are literally thousands of books that you could better spend your time delving into. If you still wish to purchase it, I certainly won’t stop you, but you have been warned.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a good deal of the last few years reading different works of literature from a varied selection of genres and time periods, and in the course of my readings only one comic book was entered into discussion, that of course being Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.”

I haven’t taken a course centered around comic books, though I’m told one is offered at the university. I would like to take it if time permits, but here and now I would like to offer up the selection I would offer if I were a professor teaching a class on the intricacies of graphic literature as a medium. This will be a recurring column, with new entries added every week in the hopes of compiling a sort of omnibus of books that just beg to be read and analyzed.

Strangers in ParadiseUp first is one of the greatest pieces of graphic literature in the history of the medium. One of the longest running and critically acclaimed indy series in the history of comics, “Strangers” has the sort of intricate plotting that wins countless awards for cable television shows, blending humor and pathos with vivid characterization and close attention to detail that is unparalleled in a medium known for continuity flubs and retroactive continuity fixes.

Writer Terry Moore poured his heart and soul into this book for over a decade, and the care he put into the characters shows with every panel. That alone earns it a spot as worthy of study and dissection on a scholarly level. Any work that has such a lengthy run by a single creator is worth a cursory glance, in this age of revolving door creative teams. Add to that Mr. Moore’s masterful storytelling and wonderful art, both of which are astonishing in their realistic portrayals of human emotion and anatomy, and you have a book that could be dissected a million times over.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Moore at a gathering for the 2009 “Free Comic Book” day event where I was signing my own book. A highlight of the day being when he jokingly referred to me as “a real writer,” when flipping through my clumsy prose. Aside from being one of the more talented creators in the medium, he is also a gracious and hospitible man who I was able to discuss, at some length, topics ranging from the local music scene to the state of comics both indy and mainstream. He clearly has a great deal of love for his own creations, and yet he never came off as a man of inflated ego.

“Strangers” is definately the kind of book that deserves to be studied. To be honest, a single issue of this series could be dissected for hours on end. The whole series would likely require at least a whole semester, if not two.

You got the touch...YOU GOT THE POWERS!

Next up is Brian Michael Bendis’ first appearance on this list, and believe me he will show back up again later. “Powers” is the kind of book that defines a writer’s style and sensibilities so well that every reader who picks it up knows what to expect out of that writer down the line. That isn’t to say that all of Bendis’ work is identical to “Powers” but it definately establishes Bendis as a writer whose main talent lies in crafting character voice and fluid dialogue. The people that populate the world of “Powers” are a diverse and eclectic group, with every character’s arc taking them somewhere that the reader may not have expected.

Bendis’ work here will make you angry. You will experience emotion while reading this book. In that, he is special. There are few writers who can write a book filled with people you actually care about. How many major characters have the big two companies killed off where the reaction you experienced was akin to passing a car wreck on the side of the road where your only thoughs are centered on how horrible it really looks without giving a second thought to the emotional weight of the situation?

That is not what happens in “Powers.”

Bendis writes a comic book that utilizes everything the medium has to offer in the forms of storytelling technique and at the same time writes in a manner that nobody else can quite nail down without coming off as skewed and off balance. Bendis has critics that feel his style doesn’t work within the traditional confines of the comic book medium, arguing that he comes off as dense and needlessly wordy, whereas I would argue that he simply knows how to tell a story and those who don’t like his style are simply too familiar with the tried-and-true mainstream storytelling methods to truly appreciate his work.

While his style doesn’t truly fit other projects like the “Secret Invasion” mega-event, where people expected a Michael Bay-style thrill-a-thon and instead got seven issues of Bendis’ hyper-realistic character interaction, books like “Powers” prove exactly how talented Bendis is as a writer.

This is NOT CNN!

Jonathan Hickman is proof of evolution. Where Bendis, Kirkman, Johns, and a whole slew of others are the logical progression of what Alan Moore and Grant Morrison ushered in with “Watchmen” and “Doom Patrol,” Hickman is the evolution of the Image generation and the post-modern revivial of comics.

Where Bendis is all about the dialogue in the context of the medium, Hickman is all about manipulating the confines of the medium to fit the message and all of that can be seen on display in “The Nightly News” which is about as perfect a book as one can possibly fathom. It blends the sort of graphic design wizardry that has come about in the fast-paced media sphere we now occupy with the biting social commentary of the eighties boom.

This is a book that begs to be read and re-read in order to capture every detail. The truth of the matter is that the book is somewhat hard to read, because we as readers are not used to this sort of stylistic delivery of the narrative, but when you find the rythym that Hickman has created, the book cracks along at breakneck speed and weaves a tale that would not be done justice by any other creator.

Originality is the name of the game here, and I don’t doubt that others will shamelessly ape this approach in the years to come, because it really is quite effective.

***

That concludes the first installment of this series. Next week another selection will be added to the syllabus and if there are any suggestions that you’d like to see covered down the line, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments section, as I assure you I want to cover as many diverse titles as I possibly can.


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.