Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My first reviews

Welcome to my new comics critque blog. I've enjoyed reading others' so much that I figured that I'd start doing it myself, rather than posting my review in their comments section. I have borrowed the Savage Bloggers' rating system. EXCELLENT, VERY GOOD, GOOD, OKAY, EH, AWFUL/ASS/CRAP. I don't think you can get any better than that.
I myself only buy two comics, Astonishing X-Men and Exiles. I buy Astonishing because I'm a Joss Whedon fan, and I buy Exiles because I'm a Spidey 2099 fan. All the other books I review I read at my local Borders or WaldenBooks, which is why they often lag behind one issue. Sorry if I can't help more. My comments to the 52 series can also be found on Douglas Wolk's excellent 52 Pickup - at least until he askes me to stop posting them there.
I'm not going to repeat other people here, if I can help it. That said, I'm a regular reader of the X-Axis, Savage Blog, 52 Pickup, JOG, Fourth Rail, Comics 101, Seqart, and Comics Should Be Good!
Please post comments to let me know how I'm doing.
Spoilers abound, so read at your own risk.
Anyways, let's get started.

Spectacular Spider Man #26
They change primary artists in the middle of the arc. The new artist's work is beautiful, but the transition is jarring, their styles are so different
The new penciller makes Reed Richards look exactly like John Stewart on TV.
Editors comments that are missing: When did Vermin "die"?
Don't you miss editors' comments?
Who the hell are Stegron and Puma?

Batman #653
All due respect to James Robinson, his story thus far has been VERY GOOD but seriously: Harvey Dent just happens to have nitric acid lying around the house? Not only that, but he is able to treat his face with it exactly - and not die?!? I believe that this pushes credulity to the bounds of disbelief. Not only that, but once he's finished with the acid, he then takes a scalpel and uses it to make adjustments to his face. Whuh? Not only that, but the nitric acid only burns Harvey's face, not the rest of his body. Oh yeah, and apparently, Harvey changes his belt at least twice during the space of his conversation with himself. Check it out - see how the buckle design keeps changing. This issue was AWFUL.

X-Factor #7
Now here is one of the very very best Marvel currently has to offer. Peter David's latest run on Hulk was awful, but so far, his work on this title has been on the level of his Madrox miniseries, which is to say, EXCELLENT. Comments: Is "disempowering" even a word?
Note the BWWAAHAHAHA!!! Man, I miss the days of the BWAHAHA. But KG and JMD are back with Hero Squared so hopefully those days will be returning. And it would be nice if Peter David began to inject a little more humor into this title. It seems like he might - here's hoping.
Obvious Mistakes: Plotting - Jamie stands on a building opposite the Tryps' office. His dupes jump out of the window. He absorbs them. A little farther reaching than he's ever done before - what is the range of his ability to absorb duplicates? Nonetheless, I can accept that. However, how has he also absorbed what the duplicates were carrying in their pockets? That makes no sense. Still, that doesn't effect the overall quality of the story - although it does have a direct impact on the story itself.
Art Comments: The colorists make it very difficult for us to figure out which of the Tryps is talking - the father, or the son. They are standing with their backs to us, looking out the window that Jamie just jumped from, and the only obvious distinction between the two is the color of their shirts. That alone would be fine. However, even the colorist can't seem to figure out which is which, as the position of the shirts keeps swapping. I read their conversation three times and still couldn't figure out which one was talking...and it would have made a difference. Oh well, here's hoping that they fix the goof when the trade is published.
Next issue

Wolverine #42
Actually a VERY GOOD issue. Wolverine goes hunting for the lone survivor of the New Warriors - to what purpose, we're not sure, but whatever. The best line in the issue comes when Wolverine comments that sometimes it feels like he's in ten places at once! Continuity wonks rejoice! We have been acknowledged! Overall, a VERY GOOD issue - especially in light of the fact that it's a Civil War crossover.
Next issue

Supergirl #6
It's OYL and Kara Zor-El and Karen Starr/Zor-L are trapped inside the bottle city of Kandor, masquerading as Nightwing and Flamebird. To what end, I'm not exactly clear. How they got there is a mystery. Why they went there is likewise a mystery. Ooh, I feel my nose twitching. Anyways - not an entirely incomprehensible issue, which is good, but I don't find that the plot really intrigues me, so EH.
Oh, and for those who can't read Kryptonian, the signs on the first page say: LIVE SHOW and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. The first sign would seem to indicate that the speaker in the first page is broadcasting live. Not really sure what the second sign's relevance is - this is probably just an advertisement for the upcoming Superman Returns movie. Kara's tattoo translates as HOPE. Well, I HOPE this series finds direction soon.
Next issue

52 #4
Questions and Comments:
Cover: the monster here isn't the same one as inside the book! A little continuity please?

p.1 Kane St.

p.2-3 What does "Lightning that can't strike" mean according to Halo? Why does she talk like delirium (I like it though)? Where has she been for the longest time?

p.3 Yeah, who WAS Horne that he became president?

p.4-5 Why is Booster being such a dick? First off, he should know that everybody's alive, so why doesn't he play the big hero and help? Secondly, it's not like Bea's telling him to leave immediately - he could just join everyone else after his business meeting!

p.6 How did Question get into Montoya's car?

p.7 Notice Question's smoke in the shape of ?

p.8-9 When are these Steel flashbacks supposed to be from?

p.10 Who poisoned Steel?

p.12 How does Cassie know so much about Kryptonian lore? Where could she have possibly learned it? Heck, even Superman doesn't seem to know as much about Kryptonian religion as she apparently does. Did anyone notice how incongruous her portrayal here is with that in Graduation Day? When did Cassie become such a psycho hose beast? And Conner wasn't even really Kryptonian!

p.13 Why did Cassie and crew mug Ralph and steal his wedding band, and how did they disappear so quickly?

p.16 What IS that monster?

p.19 How could the astronauts speak to the Raanians WITHOUT using a Zeta beam? Zeta beams aren't made of light, so how could halo affect this one?

p.20 As far as we were told, there should have been no reason for the zeta beam tech to malfunction - and it shouldn't be able to trap anyone, let alone fuse them together. Either it transports them, or it doesn't. Wasn't the war over? Why do the heroes look like they just escaped with their lives? Where's Carter, Tigorr, Captain Comet, and Adam Strange? Why is everyone's proportions so wrong? Since when is Kendra a giant? And if it's this easy to get them home, why did Bea need Booster - in fact, why did they even need Bea?

p.21 Who are the other Flashes pictured (aside from Barry and Jay)?

p.22 How will they explain Grant Morrisson's recent "Earth 2", and all the subsequent crossovers by the Crime Syndicate into our reality in the pages of JLA?
Roll call: Psycho Pirate, ?, Looker?, Hawkwoman?, GeoForce, Beetle, John Stewart, Earth 2 Superman, Obsidian, some monkey?, Polaris, Firestorm, some chick hanging on to Firestorm's arm?, Cyborg, some dude with purple hair?
Who are the ones I couldn't i.d.?
And from which Universe did each of the pictured characters originate?

p.22 What possible connection would Donna have had with Earth 3?

p.23 Roll call: Legionnaires: Brainiac, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy?, Chameleon, and two others I can't i.d. Who are they?
Black Lightning, Batman, Mercury, Supergirl, ?, ?, Metamorpho, Dr. Fate, ?, Batwoman?, Alexander Luthor, Starfire, Warlord, Nightwing, Elastic Man, E2 Superman, Martian Manhunter, Robin (which one?), Lead?, giant guy?, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Spectre?
Who are the ones I couldn't i.d.?

p.23 Who is the bystander for Harbinger's apparent killing of the Monitor? Who is in the next panel? Then who are GeoForce, Firestorm, and Polaris fighting?

p.24 Was Donna even PRESENT for the original Crisis?

Since these past few weeks of HotDCU have ostensibly been the history of the Crisis, yet nobody who wasn't around for the Crisis in the first place can't understand what the fuck is going on in these segments, I'd say that this piece pretty much sucks. Give us 24 pages of 52, and not 4 pages of this crap. Do you think that the folks at DC will even bother listening to how much we HATE this feature and pull it early? If not, does that just show how much contempt they truly have for us?
Also, retconning a character to make into Batwoman is a very very bad idea.

I like the Question's portrayal in this book. It's probably the best thing so far. It's a perfect mix of Ditko and JLU. Who else wants to see a Question continuing series? Or at least give him a 12 issue maxi - if they can do it for Kyle, why not for Vic?

52 #3
I'm nearly positive that the body in question is NOT that of Alex Luthor. He looked so completely different from Lex in...well always! Also, it IS three weeks since the end of IC. This must be some sort of belated ploy, ie: Lex realizes..."hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have let the Joker BURN ALEX's FACE OFF WITH ACID?!?!?! Now who am I going to blame?" So, he constructs an imperfect duplicate, perfect in all aspects but the eye color, and claims that THIS was the imposter who had been masquerading as Lex Luthor the whole time. Hell, he can even blame his disastrous tenure as president on this guy...who'd be the wiser?

Nightwing WAS supposed to be at the memorial. As I noted in my earlier comment, I'm sure that this is meant to be Jason Todd, masquerading as NW for the first time, to see if anybody will be on to him. Guess what? Superheroing obviously doesn't require much recall of faces, personalities, or the like...since NOBODY NOTICES!!!

How does Black Adam have an EXACT figure for the number of people who died in the crisis? Does that include people who were wiped out of the continuity or merged together? Does it also include people who died in the ORIGINAL crisis, which, theoretically, everybody should remember now?
Also, interestingly enough, the figure begins with a 5 and ends with a 2. Coincidence? I think not!

How would Terra-Man have known about Power Girl's being from Earth 2? I thought that only Alex and Psycho Pirate knew that, apart from the heroes who were made aware. And when was Terra-Man even IN Infinite Crisis? And what's he doing with Wonder Girl's lasso?
And what in the world (definitely Morrison, though) is the point of "Telescopic Vision's got Butch Cassidy"?
Since when is Terra-Man a thief? He's always been an eco-terrorist like Ra's Al Ghul or Woodrue or even Ivy (as she should be). And what's with the rocket bike?

Who is Doctor Avasti? Have we seen him before?

52 reference: NX-520

John Irons' expression when on the phone he has been told that he is required to identify a body makes no sense. Why is he shocked? He should be puzzled! And why is he needed in the first place? Shouldn't everyone know what Luthor looks like? Why does Steel have to be there? Couldn't anybody else figure out about the contacts? And what's the point of the contacts anyways? Who REALLY would know that Lex has Blue or Green eyes?! Do you know what color eyes George W. Bush has? How about Bill Clinton? What about your worst enemy? I mean, come on!

Note that Khandaq has now been given an actual geographical location other than "North Africa": it connect Africa to the Missle East - thus, it must be in the Southwestern portion of the Sinai desert, between Egypt and Israel. Unless DC has written Israel out of continuity, and I wouldn't put it past them. We all know that history is not sacrosanct in the DC Universe.

Is there actually a pitcher named Zachary Edward on the Cardinals?

Has Shockwave appeared ANYWHERE since Action Comics #818 in 2004? If so, what has he been doing with himself, and why chose now to come out of retirement? And since when is he a thief? He's more of a contract killer! And what's with the new suit?

Is Rip Hunter missing?

When was Lex trapped in Alex's world?

What's in that cocoon?

We should start keeping a Black Adam body count.

It's true, if they tell us to pay extra special close attention to detail in 52, then THEY SHOULD AS WELL!!! Is that too much to ask? I mean, seriously, with a comic written by comittee, one would thing that such glaring continuity errors would/should be caught...and if they aren't, well then, the experiment doesn't work.

Does anybody have a roll call for the two versions of the Legionnaires pictured in the History of the DCU section?
And why does this feature suck so hard?

52 #2
p.3 What does "Paris, Cairo, Monte Carlo" have to do with anything?

p.6 T.O.Morrow's name is hinted in panel #3: "Things of Tomorrow"

p.7 What's with the constantly shifting clippings on Morrow's bulletin board? I was also annoyed with the sloppy text in the articles, ie: attourny(!), proper nouns not being capitalized, articles repeating themselves.

I agree...Montoya is just a slob, hence the extra clothes around her apartment, but isn't it interesting that both she and her lover wear the EXACT SAME bra?

Regarding the "mad" scientists mentioned by T.O. Morrow:

Ira Quimby (I.Q.): Five total DCU appearances; first app. in Mystery in Space #87 (Nov '63); most recent app. in Brave and the Bold #192 (Nov' 82)

Dr. Cyclops: First/only app. in Brave and the Bold #64 (Feb/Mar '66)

Jeremiah Clugg: unknown, but referenced in Entry (p. 97) in The Encyclopedia of Super Villains / Jeff Rovin (New York : Facts on File, 1987)

Doctor Tyme: First/only appearance in Doom Patrol, vol.1 #92 (Dec'64)

Doctor Death: oldest reference; first/only app. in Detective Comics #29 (July '39)

What's up with the obscurity? I'm sure there are mad scientists who have ACTUALLY APPEARED in post-crisis comics...aren't there?

52 #1
A few comments and questions on #1:
Another 52 reference - notice that on Day 4 when Steel is chatting with the firemen, their helmets read Dept 52.

Who is consoling Cassie along with Beast Boy/Changeling?

Is that Raven in the hood with her back to us?

Is that Mera with Aquaman?

The Nightwing pictured MUST BE Jason Todd.

Who's talking to Black Lightning?

Who's with GeoForce?

Who's the guy talking to Ray and the Guardian?

Who is the blue chick flying down?

Who is the chick standing next to Frankenstein?

Who's the guy wearing all green with his back to us?

Who is the guy landing? Is that Dr. Midnite? Since when can he fly?

Is that a Grundy standing next to Klarion?

Who is the chick flying in with wings and flaming hair?

Roll Call at the memorial(of those I've identified) by most recent team:
JLA: Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Green Arrow I (Olliver Queen), Green Arrow II (Conner), Dr. Light (II) (Kimyo Hoshi) , Vixen, Gypsy, Zauriel, Booster Gold, Tazmanian Devil, Plastic Man

JSA: Sandman II (Sanderson Hawkins), Power Girl, Dr. Midnite(?), Hourman III, S.T.R.I.P.E., Stargirl, Mr. Terrific, Flash I (Jay Garrick), Wildcat, Jakeem and Thunderbolt

Outsiders: Black Lightning, Thunder, Metamorpho (or is it Shift?), Katana, GeoForce, Grace

Doom Patrol: Robotman, Beast Boy/Changeling, Negative Man, Niles Caulder

Teen Titans: Wonder Girl II (Cassandra Sandsmark), Kid Flash

Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner

Seven Soldiers: Mr. Miracle,
Zatanna, Frankenstein, The Manhattan Guardian, Klarion, Bulleteer

Birds of Prey: Huntress

Batman Family: Nightwing II

Freedom Fighters: Ray II

Shadowpact: Ragman II, Enchantress, Nightmaster, Detective Chimp, Blue Devil

old comment from Douglas Wolk

Wow. That's pretty comprehensive. The woman with wings and flaming hair is pretty definitely Firehawk; I'm assuming the person next to Klarion is either a Grundy or Mr. Bones, as Steven said; that sure looks like Mera with Aquaman; and otherwise I'm not really sure... but I also like the idea that there would be characters we've never heard of here--that just because we haven't read stories about them doesn't mean they haven't been active super-types.

Teen Titans #36
Johns seems to waffle over portraying Mallah and the Brain as lovers. Just go with it GJ, we can handle big monkey lovin'.
I missed Morrisson's Doom Patrol...but, wasn't Elasti-Girl dead? I mean, dead dead?
Since when have the DP been headquartered in Prague? I mean, sure, apart from Jerusalem, you couldn't pick a more beautiful city, but...Prague? It's kind of in the middle of nothing!
We are told that Vox and Bumblebee were lost in deep space. Now, I never noticed that they had accompanied Donna Troy into space. Were they actually shown as having been there? Or is this just a sloppy retcon? And why would she take them at all? It's not like their abilities would really be useful in space.
Caulder uses Elasti-Girl to HOLD A STITCH IN PLACE. Great use of her powers, don't you think? He has one of the most advanced medical theaters in the world, yet he needs a tiny person to hold a stitch for him? Please.
I really miss the days of editors' comments. There's a throwaway line about a mural that almost ate a city. Presumably something deep in continuity. Why aren't we allowed to know where and when that happened? An issue reference would suffice.
Likewise for the reference to Colonel Zahl and the brotherhood.
Now here's my main contention with this issue: When did Caulder become such an ASSHOLE? Seriously folks, am I missing something?
Where does Negative Man's wheelchair come from? Look at the art: in one panel it's not there, and in the next panel, which presumably occurs only a second later, he is sitting down into it...is it a magical wheelchair?
Why in the world does Robin leave his cellphone on "Ring"? And why doesn't he have a headset hooked up to it? Tim is supposedly brilliant, so why can't he figure out that it might be a good idea to turn his cellphone OFF before going snooping?

In terms of plot, however, this was a pretty solid issue. I am actually interested in where the story is going. However, all of the above combine to rate this book no better than OK, and more fittingly EH, but I'm enjoying the underlying plot, so it's OK.

Ion #2
When we first see Kyle, he seems to be having sex with the bounty hunter. The art is very bad - it should be amusing to see what Kyle dreams up...not puzzling.
This title is AWFUL.

Green Lantern #11
GL roll call: Tomar Tu of sector 2813, Salakk, Guy Gardner, Greet, Turytt, Ke'haan of sector 786, Kilowog, Horoq Nnut - 885, and other unidentified members.
Captives: Laira -112, Kreon - 2002, Jack T. Chance (he's alive!), five others.
Global Guardians roll call:
Jet, Tazmanian Devil, Freedom Beast (- South Africa), and two unidentified others.
How does Hal know the name of the Manhunter homeworld is Biot?
Overall, the issue was OKAY. I'm intrigued to learn more about the tortures endured by the GLs captured by the Manhunters and the Cyborg Superman after Hal Jordan's rampage years back. Also, I'm a sucker for the Cyborg Supes.

Ultimate Spider-Man #95
Bendis and proper usage of commas don't go well together, so sometimes you wish that the editors would do their jobs. Good reporter that he is, Ben Urich would not have given his source's full name. Other than that, another VERY GOOD - another competent issue.
Next issue

Ultimate Fantastic Four #30
The Sudoku puzzle that Zombie Reed is working on? It can't be a real puzzle! In the right-most column, five rows down, there's a ZERO! How bad is it when the editors of a mag are so far removed from pop culture that they don't even understand a simple Sudoku layout? That's an idiotic mistake. This story line leaves me going EH. I can't see it really having lasting ramifications in the Ultimate universe, because we already have Marvel Zombies. They didn't work so hard putting out good work to turn the new Ultimate Universe into Marvel Zombies 2.
Next issue

Iron Man #8
The text on the page says Mahwash, so why does Nick say Wahwash? And isn't Nick supposed to be in hiding following the events of Secret Wars? Maybe Superboy punched something. When did Ho Yinsen save Tony's life? How could Graviton survive a blast of 6327K-10073K? That's hot enough to incinerate a human being. Yet he's not even obviously burned? Whatever.
Not worth reading. CRAP.

Green Arrow #62
EXCELLENT! Green Arrow has been one of my most consistently satisfying reads for a long time now, with the exceptions of that awfully drawn-out Dr. Light storyline, giving Mia AIDS, and sabotaging Ollie and Dinah's relationship. Also, many issues have become a game of "Where's Conner?". But this issue was so much fun to read! The last page upped the enjoyment factor tenfold with Ollie delivering a priceless "You're under ARREST!!!" to Deathstroke. EXCELLENT stuff. Well drawn, clever fight scene. My only quibble is: how in the world is Ollie able to get into his GA uniform in the space of a few seconds? Maybe Superboy punched something. But if you're going to read this issue, overlook that inconsistency and just enjoy - this good of an issue is something of a rarity nowadays.
Next issue(s)

Amazing Spider-Man #532
As good a Civil War tie in as Wolverine #42 was, this issue is bad. Just AWFUL/CRAP/ASS. I just can't get over how bad the issue is. Let's go through it, shall we?
Since when are superhero types in the Marvel Universe referred to as "Powers"? That's a Bendisism! Iron Man and Spidey show up in Stamford and people give them dirty looks, as if to blame them for the destruction. To blame them for causing it! Sorry, I'm not buying that. Sure, I could understand the crowds wondering where they were when the shit was going down, but blaming them for it? Nuh uh. Sorry, you lost me. Heck, if God forbid it happened in your town, who would you blame? The supervillains? The sloppy superheroes who were there -- and DIED? Or the rescue heroes who show up after the fact? Definitely blame the supervillains. Maybe blame the superheroes who failed to prevent the tragedy. Blaming the rescuers? No way - sorry. Crappy writing. I know it's a company mandate, and don't get me started on the reasons why a comics company shouldn't be helmed by a goddamn PENCILLER!
Why does JMS portray Spidey as a buffoon? Peter Parker is arguably one of the top ten most intelligent men in the Marvel Universe, yet JMS keeps characterizing him as a goofball. Seriously, that scene where he is clowning around by the bust of Abraham Lincoln outside the oval office? WTF! Straczynski just doesn't understand one very crucial character aspect of Peter Parker - the persona that he adopts when superheroing, the wisecracks, witticisms, etc? They are all done bluffingly to cover up his underlying insecurity so that the bad guys won't be realize that he feels constantly out of his element. It's a defense mechanism. There is no reason for him to emply this device when not in costume, and previous writers have understood that. Sure, Spidey may be overwhelmed by the drama in his personal life - but he doesn't allow it to make him into an idiot!
Why is Mary Jane sporting a wardrobe that should have been donated to goodwill thirty years ago? Is she shopping at goodwill now? And does Aunt May think that she is a Russian grandmother? What's with the Babushka? Awful art!!!
We were led to believe in earlier issues of this and related comics that the Superhero Registration Act is merely a private unmasking in front of a select Senate subcommittee. Nowhere was it ever stated that the point was for superheroes to lose all anonymity - merely a precautionary measure to ensure that they be held accountable for their actions. So why is Spidey agonizing over revealing himself to the world!?
Awful dialogue: Aunt May to Peter: "As I know you." Peter's response: "I know you ARE." Huh? Is that supposed to be half of "but what am I?" Then, get this: Aunt May tells Pete that the only reason that Governors, Lawyers, Judges, Prosecutors, etc. don't wear masks (and costumes) is that their LOVED ONES DON'T WANT THEM TO!!!! Oh my god, if that isn't the most irrational claim this old lady has ever made, then I don't know what it is...perhaps she's being mind-controlled by a moron...perhaps by JMS. Really. I mean, are you trying to tell me that most prosecutors really WANT to wear masks to work? Governors? Judges? And that if their families wanted them to, THEY WOULD? Does that make ANY sense to anyone? Ugh this issue is AWFUL.
Then, get a load of the awful art on the next page: are those glycerine tears on Mary Jane's cheeks, or what? They scream PHONY from across the room.
Then there's the press announcement. Spider Man says "Thank you all for coming", as if HE had called the press conference for this very reason! Umm, I thought Tony called it to announce his support of the registration legislation? And again, what's with announcing his identity to the world?? He doesn't have to! He shouldn't have to!! This issue is CRAP. Take my advice and give it a miss.

JSA #65
As the series comes to a close, the story is getting weird. It's not bad, just weird. Maximum weirdness: In the realm of ghosts, the Thunderbolt calls up a dead Batman! At least the characters recognize that this is weird. Hopefully it will all be explained before the end of the series. Hopefully the new series will breathe new life into this incarnation of the JSA, which has sunk far below the standards set for it five (and some) years ago by James Robinson. EH.

That's all for now. I'll post more after my next trip to the bookstore.

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