Friday, September 29, 2006

The Trials of Shazam! #2

The Trials of Shazam! #2
Okay, this series has suddenly gotten much better. Apparently, Billy is now the vessel for the power of Shazam, and Freddy must prove himself worthy to be the new Captain Marvel - to be called Shazam. (I guess Shazam will be the servant of Captain Marvel, but nomenclature aside, it's a good idea.) Anyways, Freddy was the lucky one. He wasn't in the air when the power flux occurred. So he's still in one piece. Poor Mary. She's comatose, severely disfigured, and utterly broken, because she was three miles up when she lost her powers. Poor Mary. If Winick kills her, I'll fucking hate him. Women in refrigerators anyone? Winick just loves to crap on the womenfolk. Most be some sort of inferiority complex. Whatever.
That aside, it's a good issue. Freddy is sent by Cap to go on a quest to meet with each of the sponsors: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury; and he must prove himself worthy to each one. Then he will be bestowed with the power of Shazam as Billy was, and the lineage of Captains Marvel will continue. Otherwise, it will be passed on to another lineage.
Why can't it be Mary? Why can't Cap fix her? Poor Mary.
As far as the new status quo for magic in the DC Universe, Freddy sums it up neatly with just one line, where nobody else could even make it coherent before: "it's like H.P. Lovecraft on steroids out there."
And the art is much more solid this time around. A low GOOD this time...but only because I appreciate Freddie as a character and appreciate them trying to do more with him in the way of character development. I sincerely hope that he will become the focus of this book.

She-Hulk #12

She-Hulk #12
We know that Shulkie doesn't wear panties. Does the Living Tribunal wear pants? See cover. "Judge" for yourself.
More later.

X-Factor #11

X-Factor #11
Another EXCELLENT issue, one that contributes to our overall understanding of mutants. As far as we've seen, mutants only begin to express their powers during puberty or times of great stress. Why did we never think about the fact that we knew that Jamie split when the doctor slapped his newborn bottom? And never once did anyone question why his mutancy displayed itself so early? Well, PAD did, and here, he adds to the mythology of homo-superior: mutants are an evolution of an earlier type of mutation which displayed itself far earlier, and was nearly always rewarded with death. So the mutant gene laid dormant until puberty, when its host would be in more of a position to control his abilities, or to defend himself.
It's a workable theory...the only mutants to survive in bygone times would have been the ones whose mutancy didn't display itself until adolescence. All those who exhibited mutant abilities earlier would have been killed, thus ending the evolutionary arm. However, even nowadays, there are people born with prehensile tails, webbed digits, and other atavistic traits - not all of which are the fault of the mother. Sometimes, it's just genetics. Our human bodies are such that they recognize most non-viable mutations, and the fetuses who display such mutations are aborted or stillborn. So, yes, it's a very scientifically sound theory. And in an age where it is not considered okay to leave your infant on a pile of manure on Christmas Eve to be replaced with a so-called "normal" child, it's quite believable that the occasional "atavistic" mutations would be able to survive. Hence, Jamie.
We also learn here that Tryp has many powers. Some which we have already seen are mesmerism, and immortality. He implies that he has weather-control capabilities as well. Apparently he is a multiplicant too.
And that's just the first four pages!
Then the team quickly figures out that Guido's switched his allegiances, apparently through a hypnotic suggestion, and we learn that when Quicksilver applies the Terragen Mists to an already-powered mutant, a sort of biofeedback ensues which knocks said mutant out. "Interesting development, isn't it?" he says. If PAD didn't already win quote of the week himself, this would do it!
In order to get into Singularity without tripping Tryp's (get it?) alarms, Madrox calls in a bomb threat to the FBI, Homeland Security, the fire department, and the police. They forcibly evacuate the building, leaving Terry and Julio free to walk in dressed in bomb suits. It's a brilliant plan. Jamie gives himself too little credit for being able to make decisions.
An EXCELLENT issue of an EXCELLENT title. Already one of my favorite monthly books.

Quote of the Week #3

This week's Quote of the Week comes from the recap page of X-Factor #11, where we learn that killing someone in cold blood is the same as killing someone in warm blood, except with the air conditioning on.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #22

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #22
I like this title. I really do. It's so much better than the crap published monthly in our eponymous heroine's own book.
One question: I understand why Karate Kid wears wristwraps, but why does he wear them all over his body? Is he a mummy or something?
This issue: Everybody Loves Supergirl! Well, so we're led to believe at first. But by issue's end, it turns out the only person in love with Supergirl is that ultimate of stalkers, Invisible Kid. Yuck.
Even though he's only doing layouts on this issue, I'm glad Kitson's still with us. And Bedard has joined Waid! He's just popping up all over the place, nowadays, isn't he!? Not much else to say. A solidly GOOD issue. And the upcoming elections should be fun.

Blue Beetle #7

Blue Beetle #7
Okay, we're back on track here. This title is back to being very VERY GOOD, after the massive whatthefu#$? that was the last two issues. Part of that is Duncan Rouleau's fault. Part of it. But whatever, Giffen's back to form here, giving us a recap issue (for those who missed out on Infinite Crisis, it fills them in on all the pertinent aspects of the story) where we find out why Jaime had a missing year. And the answer is actually pretty simple and straightforward, considering...the Scarab shunted Jaime into the space between dimensions that Brother Eye had been occupying before it blew up. However, since it blew up, it destabilized that entire region, causing time to move quicker, and Jaime never actually lost any time - he just skipped it. And apparently, the Scarab was created by a race with something to fear from the Green Lanterns. Which explains why Guy Gardner attacked Jaime when he crashed. Anyways, the supporting cast is all here, the backstory is all told, and now, it's time to hit the road! Please let further issues be similar to this one and not the last two...please, please...VERY GOOD.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

JSA Classified #27

JSA Classified #27
Ever since reading Swamp Thing's post on Ralph Dibny's blog, which he directed at Rick Tyler, I have wondered what this issue would bring. Basically, it confirms Rick's and Ralph's worst fears, and proves the point: "Swamp Thing is a Massive Asshole". Apparently Swamp Thing is currently running the Santa Priscan mobs, and is using his knowledge of all things botanical to create a new Venom drug which, once administered, is lethal to withdraw from. (Kindof like in Spider-Man 2099 - I'll have to look that up.) Anyways, knowing that Rex Tyler could find a way to undo the addiction caused by this new drug, Swamp Thing sent Bane to kidnap him. Things got worse when Rick and Bane broke into Bannerman pharmaceuticals, the company Rex was working for when he discovered Miraclo. Apparently, they hijacked the incomplete research on Miraclo, and used it to create a Super-Soldier Serum which eventually was transmuted into Venom. So now, Bane wants to kill Rex Tyler for discovering the whole thing. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Rex Tyler is Bane's last hope to be cured of his addiction. Without him, Bane will die! What a nutball. This is a GOOD issue, and, obviously, all references to Swamp Thing are completely this author's invention...or are they?

Teen Titans #39

Teen Titans #39
Well, I've gotta tell you, I'm seriously underwhelmed by this arc. The concept holds so much promise, yet nothing much comes of it. You could even drag this arc out to 12 parts, each one focusing on flashbacks of one of the rejects' time as a Titan, and it would be more interesting than this. The only character from the last two issues who interests me in the slightest is the Martian "Girl"hunter. Because, it appears from the last page, she is actually a White Martian. Yet, not the traitor. Is the traitor Rose? I hope not. She's too promising a character to remove, and anyways, there's a history of Deathstroke's children partnering with the Titans. Still, this issue is better than last issue, but not yet more than OKAY.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Deadman #2

Deadman #2
What the hell was that? I have no idea what the fuck I just read. It's nonlinear in the extreme, even more so than Grant Morrison's "Invisibles" (which I hated), and makes no sense! Is Brandon Cayce dead? Alive? Married? Not? Lucid? Dreaming? Hallucinating? Is Sara a Physics teacher? Psychology teacher? What the FUCK is going on?
AWFUL...just AWFUL. I really was looking forward to reading this after last month's setup issue. I figured that Bruce Jones couldn't completely suck. As usual, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the wrong person and I got burned. This book is a sheer waste of trees. Do NOT buy it. If you have bought it, see if you can return it. What a fucking waste. Not as bad as Nightwing, but very fucking close.

(At least Justice League proved that Boston Brand is still around.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Quote of the Week #2

Quote of the Week #2
Well, this one isn't really current, and it's rather long winded, so instead of copying it word for word, I'll post scans and you can see what I mean.
The following sequence come from the final pages of Ultimate Spider-Man #49, which is quite an EXCELLENT issue.
I'm including the entire sequence, because it's more entertaining that way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brilliant new meme

This new meme was composed by bully in response to a challenge at The Absorbascon. It's a riff on the upcoming cover for Teen Titans, and the fact that many believe Blue Devil to be gay. Enjoy!

Ultimate Six

Ultimate Six #1-7
Well, I've been catching up on my Ultimate reading lately. Since I only started reading Ultimate Fantastic Four from the beginning, and I started reading Ultimate Spider-Man from Annual #1, I really felt like I was missing something. So I started reading USM from the beginning. I've got to say, I love it. It's a VERY GOOD series. But that's not the point of this review.
Ultimate Six, at least according to the timelines I've been able to locate, occurs following USM #45. So at that point in my reading, I read Ultimate Six. It's obvious that Bendis and Millar have very different ideas of the Ultimates and Nick Fury in the Ultimate Universe. Any of you reading my blog will know what I think of Millar's portrayal of the Ultimates. But Bendis is a different matter, and truthfully, I am once again optimistic...well, I'll save that for later. Analysis first.

Bendis portrays Nick Fury as a genuinely concerned parental-type figure when it comes to his dealings with Peter Parker. He also characterizes Captain America in a completely different manner: in this series, Captain America shows that he is visibly outraged at the actions taken by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US government to try to create more super-soldiers like him. Far from his fascist portrayal in the pages of The Ultimates, this Cap is a genuinely concerned individual, with a clear moral conscience. Likewise, Hank Pym is not portrayed herein as a psychopath, but rather as a man who has given his life for science, to the extent that he has let his relationships with others suffer. And thus Janet Pym is truly concerned for him, out of love, not out of some twisted masochistic urge.

However, I read this series for Spidey, not for the Ultimates, and, frankly, was a bit disappointed. Spider-Man is no more than a supporting character in this drama, even though he gets marquis billing. In fact, it's not even Spidey who's the character here, it's Peter Parker, as not once does he wear his mask. This isn't a story about Peter Parker, though, it's a story about the weird freaks he's come into contact with over his first 27 issues: Green Goblin, Electro, Doc Ock, Sandman, and Kraven. They have been incarcerated by S.H.I.E.L.D. (man, typing that really gets annoying) for illegal genetic augmentation, although it was my impression that Doc Ock's transformation was completely accidental, so it seems they're just creating a charge in order to hold him securely. Anyways, S.H.I.E.L.D. (cut and pasted that time!) has been trying to glean as much as they can from Norman Osborne and Otto Octavius, and Ock seems to go along with their efforts, except that really he's setting up an escape. They all escape, blackmail the President, blackmail Fury, kidnap Peter, threaten May and MJ, and then try to take over the White House, though I don't exactly understand why. It seems as if Bendis lost sight of where he was trying to go with this series by the time he got to issue six, so he had to create a new ending for it. One that doesn't really make much sense. My only idea about it is that he was trying to figure out a way to motivate Harry Osborne into hatred for Spider-Man (whom he finds out is Parker) and S.H.I.E.L.D., in order to make him the Hobgoblin. However, why S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't erase this incident from Harry's mind with hypnosis or psychic surgery is mystifying, and seems very irresponsible of them. Like I said, the ending doesn't make much sense.
Also, I'm confused as to why the President is kept completely in shadows in every scene he's in, when The Ultimates makes it quite obvious that he is George W. Bush. Maybe Bendis is trying to say "he's not my president", and frankly, I wouldn't blame him, but this isn't a political blog, so I'll shut up now.

I was saying earlier that this series makes me hopeful for the future of the Ultimate Universe. Since Bendis has written so many books set in this universe, it's clear that he has some sort of vision for it, but that apparently his vision differs quite profoundly from Mark Millar's. However, back to the point, seeing how the Ultimates are treated in such a different manner in Bendis' book makes me realize that no matter what series they show up in or crossover into, their attitudes and personalities will always be controlled by that book's particular writers, and not by Mark Millar. So even though Millar might be a fascist goon, it does not necessarily follow that he will succeed in molding the rest of the Ultimate Universe to the whims of his peculiar beliefs. What I mean to say is that I no longer fear Ultimates appearances in the other books in the Ultimate line...although I may be completely wrong, and we should be afraid...very afraid.

Ultimate Six: OKAY
Ultimate Spider-Man: VERY GOOD
The Ultimates: Still ASS

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Ultimates

The Ultimates
The Ultimates #1-13; The Ultimates Annual #1; The Ultimates 2 #1-11
I'm a fan of the Ultimate Fantastic Four and of Ultimate Spider-Man, and I just recently started getting into Ultimate X-Men and I mostly like that title too. However, there is something wrong with a line that has The Ultimates as its namesake book. I could see myself living in the main Marvel Universe, twisted as it has become nowadays. I pray to God that I never end up living in the Ultimate Universe. This title is an embodiment of everything that is most wrong with America and the world. Where America is nothing less than a benign fascist dictatorship, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is basically its SS. Sure, our country is headed in a direction that scares me, but it's still nowhere near this interpretation. Nick Fury is a power-hungry globally-manipulating hawk, Captain America is a fascist nutcase, Giant Man is an abusive psychopath, Wasp is a masochist, Betty Ross is a manipulative two-faced bitch, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are incestuous lovers...and Iron Man is basically the same as in the normal Marvel Universe. The most empathetic/sympathetic character on the entire team is the depressed, crazed, mass-murdering Hulk, so what does that say about the rest of them?
I like Thor a lot, but honestly, he's not really part of the team.
Reading the book is addictive, for precisely the same reason as Tom Clancy novels are. It's just so WRONG it make you want to choke, yet keeps you reading to see what ridiculous notions they have for the rest of our world. They truly seem to feel that this is the way the world should be, because nowhere in the book does it even imply from a mainstream point of view that something is terribly wrong with S.H.I.E.L.D., and especially Nick Fury, not discounting the rest of the Ultimates team.
This title makes me glad that I don't live in the Ultimate Universe, and I'm glad that there is very little crossover between the Ultimates title and the other ongoing series, which I happen to like. However, I just read all of the Ultimates, volume 1, and as much of volume 2 as has been released, and, honestly, I'm a bit sickened. The art is solid, and the writing is good, but the feeling and the idea is just complete wrong. This series deserves an ASS rating for that reason alone, aside from the fact that it's been chronically late. I really hope that their stories do not impact the rest of the Ultimate Universe, because when they do, I may stop enjoying the rest of the titles altogether. The only reason to read this title is Thor. I hope he gets his own Ultimate book.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

JLA Classified #27

JLA Classified #27
This title has really been AWFUL since the "Formerly Known as the Justice League" arc. Or at least, there's not been a single storyline which stands out in my mind as having been enjoyable. This current story is no exception. I don't care about it, there's no imminent threat to any members of the JLA or to the USA, and the JLA is portrayed as acting completely counter to their long standing ethics, but specifically acting on behalf of the United States' interests in two totally fictional countries. Just AWFUL. This title could be used so much better, but instead they just keep churning out CRAP every month.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wolverine: Origins #6

Wolverine: Origins #6
Wha? Did I miss an issue? I've heard of in media res, but this is ridiculous! Suffice it to say that this issue begins oh-so poorly. How did Wolverine get on a boat? Why is he on a boat? Does the boat have something to do with his son? Or is it merely conveyance from Vietnam? And if that's the case, why not take a plane? Why didn't he catch a lift home with the X-Men? Why stow away? Why isn't Wolvie's scar healing? Where has his healing factor gone? Where's his costume? Why does he take his clothes off? Why does he jump ship? If his healing factor is failing him, wouldn't a swim in icy cold waters kill him? And why does his son need to be taken down? Why does Wolvie need to disable his son's healing factor? And obviously, he got better, so who's to say his kid wouldn't? And does he intend to murder his son? This series needs so much more narration - or just better narration - because we have no clue why Wolverine is doing the things he's doing. If this series is supposed to be about uncovering the origins of Wolverine, then let it do that! Start telling past continuity stories. Stop mucking about in the present day Marvel Universe. This is getting ridiculous, and is validating every suspicion and apprehension I had of this title when it was announced. In one place, I compared it to a steaming bowl of elephant piss. I take that back. It's worse. Who decided that Daniel Way was such a good writer? Was there any fanbase to support this contention? Do the sales back up Marvel's claims?
And that final sequence: is Jubilee dead? If not, then how is Wolvie "too late"? If so, WTF??? Women in refrigerators, indeed! Maverick? Why would he be in a depowered mutant center, merely because he lost his healing factor? He was a gun toting badass, wouldn't he have a job somewhere? A stupid issue. A boring issue. An issue where even Steve Dillon seemed off his game. Omega Red? Please, come on, be serious! If that was him earlier in sillouhette, then where were all those extra appendages? Remember how I said this is worse? It is. It's steaming mounds of elephant CRAP. The printed word can't convey just how disappointed I am with this series. It had the potential for so much, and this is what we get? Ugh.

Justice League Unlimited #25

Justice League Unlimited #25
Another EXCELLENT one-off issue from this book. Isn't it interesting how they can manage to make single issue stories work every month, yet DC continues to publish 3,4, and 6 issue storylines that seem to drag on endlessly? Let alone Marvel, whose arcs just feed into each other in one big giant interconnected mess.
This issue features Blue Devil having a personal crisis when he encounters fear of his devlilish visage from the people he's trying to save. He goes to Dr. Fate to help him out, but alas, as he is now a real devil, there's nothing Fate can do. Devil considers giving up the hero gig completely, until, when forced on another mission to battle Dr. Destiny and his nightmare minions, he saves a group of schoolkids who reward him with adulation. He then realizes that even if his appearance is sometimes feared, nothing outweighs the good he is able to do as a practicing superhero.
The best detail in this issue is when Fate relates to Cassidy that even Superman, hulking through the flaming wreck of an airline to save a trapped child, has been feared by those he tried to protect.
Like I said, an EXCELLENT issue of an EXCELLENT book. I save this book for one of my final reads every month, to overpower the taste of the crap I've read before it (the things I do for you folks!)...or read it as one of the first, depending on my mood.

New X-Men #30

New X-Men #30
A very fast read. Not much to say about this issue, except that as a penultimate chapter to this arc it is sufficient, with a classic Deus Ex Machina gone severely, but predictably, awry. I am so glad that Duncan Rouleau is gone. Man, that's the second title recently I'd have to say that about. Fortunately for New X-Men, his stint as guest artist didn't affect the momentum or development of the plot very much. That's not the case with Blue Beetle which was battered into near incomprehensibility by his guest spot and subsequent departure, and now seems to have lost my interest. Too bad.
But this title is OKAY.

On another note, I apologize for being incommunicado since Saturday night/Sunday morning. I've been out of town on a business trip, and stupidly forgot to bring my laptop charger with me, so all battery power (all 2:08 of it!!) had to be saved for essential activities such as navigation, and everything else, including blogging and email had to take a rest. And what a restful rest it was! Not really...I value the time I spend online much more than having nothing better to do than watch reruns on the telly. Next time I'll remember.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2
My back hurts. I can't sleep. I need something to do to take my mind off the pain. This is it.

This is a VERY GOOD issue. Having come in to the Ultimate universe only recently, having missed all previous appearances of Punisher, Daredevil, and Moon Knight, it's a very self-contained story. You don't need to know who all these people are in the Ultimate universe, nor do you need to know where they've been. That's one of the benefits to only having three true ongoing titles in this universe. Ultimates comes out only infrequently, special minis never get finished, and minis that do finish really don't impact on X-Men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four very much. And the ongoing titles don't impact one upon the other very much either. It's nice. You get the benefits of continuity in a shared universe without having any of its negative aspects. For the moment, that means that you get a nice little story where Spider-Man, Punisher, and Daredevil are all set on the trail of a rival of the Kingpin, deliberately, by the Kingpin himself, albeit through channels. They all show up at roughly the same time. And Moon Knight just happens to show up in the same place to comlpicate matters. Mayhem ensues, and the Kingpin wins...or does he?
That's not even the best part of the story. The best part comes at the end where Daredevil meets Moon Knight at his home and proposes putting together "a bunch of us" to counteract the corruption on the streets as a unified force. That's interesting. It could actually end up leading to another ongoing Ultimate title, but with what corrollary in the mainstream Marvel universe? I have no idea. But it would certainly be an interesting concept, one which I would readily read monthly. Since Bendis is apparently leaving Spider-Man after issue 100, (wow - even James Robinson or Neil Gaiman has never hung on for that long. Is this a modern age record?) perhaps he'll be writing that title. I can't figure out enough stories to make this title last longer than 12, maybe 24 issues, but maybe that's why I'm not a comic book writer - yet. Still, it's an intriguing concept. One can only hope.

Good night, I'm going to try to sleep now.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Updated links

I don't have much time for a new posting tonight, but in the meantime I have updated links to previous and next issues, and I added an image to the Quote of the Week.

I'm going to King Lear tomorrow night, so I'm going to sit down now and watch "Ran" to refamiliarize myself with the play. Sure, I've seen King Lear in multiple formats, multiple times, but every performance of a Shakespeare play contains different nuances that were either unstresed before, or went unnoticed.

This production, the last of Laurence Olivier's life, remains my favorite.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New feature: Quote of the week

Because I don't have much time left to blog today, I'm starting a new feature: Quote of the Week.
I'm going to post my favorite quote from whatever books I've read in a given week - provided anything stands out.
This week's quote comes from The All-New Atom #3 (review forthcoming) and narrowly edges out several excellent quotes from Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12.
Choi is speaking with a Lovecraftian sewer monster (I know, it's Weird) and shrinks even further when threatened. The sewer monster - aww forget it, here's the image:
"Weird Japanese sex cartoons!" 'Nuff said.
This panel sells the joke much better:

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12
Peter David does it again! Another EXCELLENT issue this month. It's too bad he's not writing a third title (or is he, and I'm just missing it?) so I could give him a hat trick.
Anyways, in what is rapidly becoming my favorite monthly Spider title, Peter David entertains us with his witty repartee and a plethora of pop-culture references. And he tells a pretty good story at the same time. He even gives the disposable characters good dialogue...that's how much he's got to offer. References abound, from "Airplane" to the "Spider-Man" movies and even to Batman, as in this exchange between the principal and Peter: "I hate bats!"/"Everybody does. Huh. Maybe I should've dressed up like a bat instead of a spider. Strike fear into my enemies...nah dumb idea."
Nothing much actually happens in this issue though, it's mostly setup - and leave it to Peter David to make a setup issue as good as one with action.
This arc is PAD's ode to the haunted houses of our youth, rigged with gimmicks and cool stuff to give youngsters a thrill. So a Mysterio wannabe (Mysterio III) has invaded the school, and is confronted by another Mysterio, who claims to be the original, Quentin Beck, although he supposedly committed suicide some years earlier. The second Mysterio shows up outside and offers his support to the police in bringing down the pretender, then, once inside, offers his support to Spider-Man.
And the big reveal? Well, the art kind of gave it away a long time ago. Notice that he who claims to be the original Mysterio is wearing a tattered red cape, a red suit, and when teleporting seems to be surrounded by flames rather than smoke? Think about it.
This is the perfect book for those who are pissed with Spidey's direction in the rest of the Marvel line. JMS has nothing to do with this book, so you don't have to worry about the memories of your childhood being pissed on - PAD is a self-professed fanboy; and Millar is likewise nowhere to be found, so you don't have to worry about him screwing longtime Marvel characters up just because he feels like it. A welcome breath of fresh air among the rest of the Spider books which really smell like they're burning right now. EXCELLENT.
One last quote: Peter speaking to Mysterio II with the principal at his side: "C'mon! Enough of this! Whatever sick jollies this is giving you, you know none of the others matter!" / (Principal) "Wait a minute! I matter! What happens to me matters!" / (Peter) "You know none of the others matter in the strict context of our interpersonal dynamics and your personal enmity for me!" / (Principal) "Oh. Okay."
Previous Issue

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #1

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #1
One huge question comes to mind when considering the merits of this issue? WHY??? Why did Phoenix Endsong require a sequel? Answer - because you'll pay for it. That's right, boys and girls, there is absolutely no redeeming merit for this book, other than the fact that Marvel knows they can get away with it. Sure, the art is nice to look at, but the story doesn't make sense (sorry, if I can't figure out what the story is supposed to be saying after reading the first issue, then the rest of the series is worthless in my book). Here's what I was able to figure out: a malevolent presence infects the three surviving Cuckoos and transforms them into the Phoenix entity. And then their two dead sisters crawl out of the grave to join them. Yup, that's IT. Sounds interesting doesn't it? For me to poop on! Phoenix: Endsong was a beautiful book, and although it was hard to figure out, there were true pathos there. Not here. This book is CRAP. But the sheer obnoxiousness involved in its publication demotes it to the level of ASS. Because there's no good reason for this book to exist. At least the title isn't "X-Men: The End: Phoenix - Warsong" or even "X-Men: The End: Phoenix - Endsong, Book Two: Phoenix - Warsong". How overblown would that be? Although you just know that somebody out there is disappointed that he wasn't allowed to title it such. ASS.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ultimate X-Men #1-25

Ultimate X-Men #1-25
After way too long, I finally decided to get back to the beginning on this series. I had been giving it a miss for all this time because of the lame excuse that it wasn't standard Marvel continuity, and realized after a while that that was exactly the point! It frees writers to write characters that they find interesting without having to be mired in decades of backstory, and I therefore began reading Ultimate X and Ultimate Spidey several months back. But now, as I'm finally beginning to enjoy these stories for what they are, I realize just how much I missed out on at the beginning. So I went back to the first issues to give them a read, and for the most part, I haven't been disappointed. Sure, there were some lower points in the series, such as the Weapon X storyline where I kept feeling like I was missing pages, even though it was so overly decompressed; the short run of Bachalo on the Proteus storyline wasn't too awful when he was doing conversation scenes, but the man can't draw action sequences to save his life; Kaare Andrews guest stint wasn't too bad either, but displays either a lack of caring or a lack of understanding as to the basic proportions and contours of the human face - although honestly, sometimes it was sort of cute. But whenever Kubert was drawing it was wonderful. I could see him experimenting here and there with the look and feel of the series as it progressed, and it felt like his creative process was opening up for me. A great feeling, I must say. And Millar's writing is pretty good when he doesn't have any continuity to mess up. Since his style has been to take whatever characters he's writing and just write them as he sees fit, without feeling the need to be burdened by piddling concerns such as continuity or backstory, it helps when he can create the characters basically from scratch. Unlike much of the work he's done elsewhere in the mainstream Marvel universe, this work doesn't suffer for that conceit.
And I always love seeing the Kuberts' art on anything.
Overall, this series is a very solid GOOD, bordering on very good, but for the few weak patches noted above. Since Andrews provided the art on issues 23 and 24, that also brought the overall ranking down as well, because although some of his stuff is cute, it really slows down the story's pacing and makes it altogether too easy to skip pages...whereas artists like Kubert make you want to see each and every panel in sequence, as his stuff is just so darn beautiful.
Anyways, that's my post for today. Scott Tipton told me to update my site daily, as that's how he developed such a following, so, not to disappoint, I'm endeavoring to do so. Tell me if there's anything in particular you'd like me to write about.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Outsiders #39

Outsiders #39
I really don't know what to make of this issue. Plotwise, it's okay, with the Outsiders showing up at Brain and Mallah's home, fighting clones, getting caught, and having their DNA sampled. That's it. Pretty straightforward...pretty much the definition of an okay book. But then we have the writing. It ranges from pseudointellectual to insipid, and judging from some of the other work Winick's been doing lately, it really seems like he's just been hacking it out. The art is okay as well, pretty straightforward, but I still don't like the idea of drawing Metamorpho so that he looks like Shift. There was always a distinct difference between the two characters and their abilities, and now, without having been told that this was Metamorpho, I would think it to be Shift. I really wasn't looking forward to reading this. I only did so because I had a few extra moments, and I must say, I don't find myself at all enriched for the experience. EH. Oh, and apparently, Grace is a member of a different species of humanoid. Winick just throws this out there without developing it at all, and if recent trends on the title are any indication, he'll forget about it just as quickly.

All-Star Superman #5

All-Star Superman #5
This issue was the closest thing I've seen to a perfect comic in a long, long time. The attention to detail is astounding, fanboy moments abound, the writing is EXCELLENT, the story is EXCELLENT, the art is freaking fantastically EXCELLENT, and we actually get some forward momentum going on the Superman dying subplot (sub-sub-subplot!) that was introduced all the way back in issue #1. EXCELLENT. This title frequently succeeds in so many ways that the other Superman titles have failed in the past, ie: "For Tomorrow" and "Godfall", among others. An EXCELLENT issue.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Missing reviews?

Sometimes I'll read an issue and just not have any idea what to say about it...sometimes it could be good, but if I just wrote "GOOD", that would really be pointless. It's information you could easily get elsewhere. Sometimes I don't like an issue, but I really get the feeling that it's just me, and that I'm just missing a reference or something. Other times, I don't have the patience to fully read through a certain issue, and instead, I just speed read it. Sometimes I'll open an issue of a title that I generally enjoy a lot, and, as in the cases of She-Hulk #10-11, I just feel like I've been left with an incomplete story. In that case, I'll wait until an arc's conclusion, rather than publishing a negative review which might lead one to give the issue a miss. I'm probably giving myself way too much credit here - my influence probably only extends to a few close friends, but whatever.
And sometimes, the general direction of a title has left me just so annoyed that I stop reading it altogether. If I hear great things about the title, I may go back and read it, as I did with Wolverine #45, but otherwise, I'll just save those titles for another day. For example, I've stopped reading X-Men for the time being because I can't stand Bachalo's art.
There are some books that I don't intend to review until their arcs or storylines are concluded, such as most of Civil War. I'm still reading Wolverine and the occasional unrelated Spider-Man book. Annihilation. I'm not even going to start until it's done.
However...if there's a title that you want to see reviewed here, just contact me and I'll see what I can do. I'm assuming, of course, that people actually read this site, as I've never gotten any feedback on it whatsoever - except for that which I have solicited directly. So let me know what you think, and let me know what you want, and I'll endeavor to please. You can leave comments on the site, or just email me at NOSPAMacespotATyahooDOTcomNOSPAM. I aim to please - or at least to entertain.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #33

Ultimate Fantastic Four #33
This issue was just not good. Not at all. Am I supposed to recognize these villains from somewhere? Are they completely made up? I just don't get it. Their motivations are completely opaque to me. AWFUL. This was the worst issue of this title since its inception, and there have been some pretty eh ones. And the art really doesn't match with the story least not with the Fantastic Four parts. Had this new art style been reserved solely for the aliens, that would have been a cool effect, but instead, everything just looks way too muted, dulling the urgency that the story is trying to provide. AWFUL.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #21

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #21
I'm wavering between VERY GOOD and EXCELLENT on this issue. First, the reasons this is an EXCELLENT comic:
The whole plot with Dream Girl, Nura Nal's death, and the resultant effects on Brainy's psyche. Rewriting a "comatose criminal's brain" in order to transfer Nura Nal's consciousness back into her body is insane...or is it? Remember, we're dealing with 31st century technology of which the Coluan's, primarily Brainiac's is the most advanced of any. So, it might just be possible. And Waid is brilliant for leaving the actuality of the matter obscure - so that we don't know whether Brainy actually knows what he's doing...or if he's certifiably insane. And still, his friends back him, even though he treats them like shit. Because they realize he's distraught, even if he doesn't realize it himself. So, in the conclusion, is Dream Girl actually alive (after a fashion) and presently occupying a sort of spectral spirit realm wherein she can only be perceived by Brainy? Or did he obliterate her through his efforts and now has been driven into sheer insanity? Is he hallucinating? Or is it really her? Personally, I hope Waid keeps the answers unknown for as long as he can, because I honestly find the psychological aspects of this story to be fascinating.
Another EXCELLENT thing about this series? Kitson. He draws Supergirl with actual humanoid anatomy, not making her a stick figure with no internal organs like everyone else draws her. Hopefully Waid will resolve the plot of Supergirl thinking she's dreaming all this, because honestly, it's really getting tired. It was cute for the first couple of issues, but with no forward progress on this at all since her introduction, it feels like a very stale subplot. And I can't imagine where Waid could be going with it. Unless he intends to take Supergirl into dementia as well, in which case we'd have scenes of her reacting nonchalantly to the death of teammates, and become altogether unreliable as a Legion team-member, thus leading her to reevaluate her status in this reality, once she has become an onlooker rather than an active participant. Maybe that is where Waid is going with this. It would certainly make for an interesting story. However, with no forward motion on the plot at all since her introduction, it's honestly begun to get stale.
The book gets dragged down into VERY GOOD territory with the entire teen rebellion subplot. It would be interesting if it were actually a competing league of super-heroes, but that doesn't seem to be where Waid is going with this. He seems to be merely using it as a buildup to the announced forthcoming league-wide leadership elections - something which has been done several times in League history, but which often makes for an entertaining story. However, as a buildup, it really doesn't work...yet. I'm inclined to give Waid a pass on things for the time being, because his work on this title has been absolutely fantastic thus far.
Overall, the issue gets a very high VERY GOOD. Close to excellent, but...just...not...quite.
And bring back the letters page!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

X-Factor #10

X-Factor #10
OMFG!!! You BASTARD! How could you do that to Guido? On second thought, it's not like it hasn't been done before...remember his unrequited love for Lilah during the AoA? Hello, Gambit and the Externals anybody? OMG.
Heh. Madrox as Hef. Nice. Baggin'/Shaggin' two ridiculously hot chicks in the same night under the same roof. You go, boy. Nice to see that something can actually melt M's ice. That would be a great line for a future issue, no?
The issue has two very different tones. It starts off in the South of Wales in 1347, where Peter David shows us that humor need not be constrained by a particular era, and, apparently, Tryp was already around. Then it shifts to Tryp's office and then to the home of a soon-to-be ex-employee of his.
And then Jamie wakes up. Hilarity ensues. 'Nuff said.
And a very interesting scene with Rictor at the local medical center, where apparently Pietro has set up a clinic with the very specific goal of reempowering former mutants. Is Julio actually considering this? He's made some very interesting character development over the last ten issues. I think he may have come to the point where he realizes that he's no longer defined by his last name. We'll see. Meantime, Pietro is getting all holy and spiritual on us, saying that his terragen powers-granting only works out badly if the person being empowered had lame powers or was underserving of them, anyways. Serious ego trip. But not far out of character for Pietro, and therefore, a very natural development.
Another EXCELLENT installment from Peter David and company. Congratulations to Ariel David on her bowling prowess. May this be the first of many future accolades.

Superman/Batman #29

Superman/Batman #29
Total CRAP. I can't even figure out what's going on here. For the second issue straight. And though the art isn't bad, it appears that even Ethan Van Sciver can't figure it out either. Because the clarity of the art doesn't help in figuring out what the hell's going all. CRAP, CRAP, CRAPpity CRAP, CRAP. Oh yeah, and there's a cameo from that new Skrull on the block, the hero formerly known as the Martian Manhunter. CRAP. AWFUL.
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Action Comics #842

Action Comics #842
I love it!! Busiek takes Superman and has fun with him, and lets us have fun with him too! Gone is the dark age of superhero comics. The good old days are back! Fans of the Giffen/DeMatteis era rejoice! The villain in this piece is quite obviously lovingly parodying Lord Manga Khan, and Busiek even adds in Blue Jay for good measure! And he has a panel where Firestorm says "My head's cold. What happened?" That's great writing. Of course, you really can see Nicieza's hand in this. Only the guy who could take a concept like Cable/Deadpool and make it work, consistently, would bring this humor here. But he's a good influence on Busiek, so I really, really hope he stays partnered with Busiek for as long as Busiek continues writing Superman.
And what a great cover by Dave Gibbons! He constructs an actual newspaper page for the cover and even quotes Abraham Simpson of Springfield to boot!
I'll deconstruct it further later, but for now...pick this up along with the previous issue as well, if you didn't already. It's totally worth it. Great stuff.
Previous issue

Wolverine #45

Wolverine #45
Honestly, I only read this because Paul said it was good. And compared to last month's issue, it is. But still, why the hell is Namorita dead? My earlier criticism stands - if there is a null zone around Nitro, then being that she was ON TOP OF HIM wouldn't she have been in it? SO WHY IS SHE DEAD??? But that's not the point of this review.
This issue was actually pretty coherent. Some cute moments, such as Wolverine SNIKTing while wearing underwater Iron Man armor.
Quibble (minor): With his acute senses, and especially with the amplification of an Iron Man suit, wouldn't Wolvie have heard Politus' dying words? And (major) why would Nitro have even given up that little tidbit if he was about to blast Politus anyways? And why didn't his blast incinerate Politus? And what kind of name is Politus anyways? "He who is Polite?"
Quibbles aside, I liked the story. It seems my earlier guess was wrong, and actually a bit naive! Stamford wasn't a cog in the political machine, it was a MONEY MAKING OPPORTUNITY!!! Gee, I wonder how they thought that one up. Can anybody say Halliburton? Still, a nice instance of pop culture keeping its finger on America's pulse. It may turn out that I was right after all for all that. Since when was politics completely detached from the concerns of big business?
I don't like Namor calling Wolverine out as an honorless murderer. Wolvie lives by the code of the samurai, and he has more honor than somebody like Cyke, so, seriously, whatchu talkin' 'bout Mackenzie? But people say stupid things in the heat of the moment, so I'll let it slide.
Interesting lettercol as well. Apparently there have been other instances wherein Wolverine has regenerated after having been reduced to a skeleton or less...interesting that Wolverine, the original, now emulates the joke/parody, namely, Lobo. Wolverine has regenerated from a drop of blood? Man, how I miss the good old days when Claremont actually wrote good stories that made sense. Claremont was the first one to characterize Logan in any detail or depth, and it is upsetting to realize just how much he later betrayed these classic stories. Still, in light of this, you can't entirely blame Guggenheim. He's just playing the cards he's been dealt. But he could still have had better judgement - he could have consigned those awful stories to the discard pile, but instead he chose to hold onto them and use them to build his hand. Okay, I'm done running with that metaphor. Sorry.
Anyways, all said, this issue is OKAY. I'm still too pissed off too rate it any higher, and the art is woefully inconsistent, and darn near incoherent, at times. Sometimes, during action sequences, one really wishes that the linework would get tighter, rather than looser. I understand the artist trying to convey the mood of the scene through his art, but please have mercy on the poor readers who actually have to try and figure out what you're drawing, okay?
As far as Wolverine books go, I'll take Exiles (for now), but this is an OKAY second this month.
What did you think?
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