Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Week #6

Quote of the Week #6
And for this week, I figured that I'd posit (that's not a spelling error) the following:

"The Civil Crisis of Identical Wars"? Classic.
And in response to Mxyzptlk:

"Best Story Ever!!" or at least that I've read so far this week.
(From Superman/Batman Annual #1)

Last week's Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week #5
Sorry, I haven't had much time to post, as I explained in my earlier post. I had meant to post this image, but things were quite crazy, as you can imagine.
In Wolverine #47, Wolverine sums up the state of the union much better than has been done previously, in just one panel. This reflects both the state of the Marvel union and the state of our union currently. He pinpoints and addresses the most pertinent problem facing citizens of this country:

'Nuff said.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shadowpact #6

Shadowpact #6
Approaching this as someone who hasn't read the first four issues of Shadowpact, hardly remembers Day of Vengeance, and never really read magical comics - with the exception of the Delano and Ennis trades of Hellblazer, and obviously anything Gaiman - in the first place, you can trust me when I tell you that this is a GOOD book. I'm not very familiar with the characters, I have no idea who the guy in his underwear is, and yet, I am entertained. What more can you ask from a single issue of any comic? The dialogue is witty and the ideas are original - as far as I can tell. The only problem I have with this issue is the villain. What's his motivation? Who is he? Has he ever appeared before? How is he dispatched so easily by Blue Devil? For that matter, how does he defeat Enchantress and Ragman so handily? And what do the dogs do? Who were they? The cover tells me that this is the Wild Huntsman, so does this have anything to do with the Welsh/British legend of the Wild Hunt? Or is this just some random meta who thought it'd be a cool name?
Still, since the fight isn't the point of the issue - rather, the point of the fight is to turn Enchantress and Ragman into dogs - I'd say that this is a GOOD issue. I can't say that I'm looking forward to the next issue, but I'll definitely read it (as oppsed to saving it for later).

Heroes 1x03-04

Heroes 1x03-04
Giving credit where credit is due, my wife pointed this out to me:
At the end of "One Giant Leap", Claire gets "killed" while being raped. Brody, the quarterback, disposes of her body, and it is discovered later that night.
Question: How was the body discovered so soon? Who found it? Seeing as Claire was wearing a cheerleader's outfit, and that her school was having a party that night, why wasn't her school informed? How was nobody but Brody aware that she had been killed? Makes no sense. And even on second viewing, I didn't pick up on this. Hum.
Still, it's a GOOD show.

Union Jack #2

Union Jack #2
EH. I really don't see why this title was needed, or why this story needed to be told. Honestly, it's a poor imitation of Greg Rucka's "Queen and Country", tweaked for superheroes. Yet another of last week's titles that's really just not interesting at all. A waste of time. Not bad per se, just an utter waste of time.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #35

Ultimate Fantastic Four #35
So, when is this title getting cancelled? It used to be good, but this issue is just CRAP. There's no point in even elaborating on it any further. It's just really not any good.

Catwoman #60

Catwoman #60
Wherein Selina busts Holly out of jail. Explain something to me...Holly was a prostitute, right? So how is it possible that her fingerprints aren't on file, and the cops know exactly who she is and where she lives? Why don't they know?
Grant Morrison kills some more people, and sets King Kong loose from Cadmus. Sorry, I meant to say Film Freak. Selina knocks out Kong in time to stop him from killing any cops.
And Karon figures out the M.O. behind Film Freak's activities, thus revealing him to have been their perpetrator.
But me, I'm just not caring any more. One year later started off okay, but has gotten progressively more EH. And this issue is no exception. EH.

52 #24

52 #24
OKAY. What this title really needs is all Ambush Bug all the time! And is that Captain Jack Sparrow on the front page of the Daily Planet? I'm disappointed that in Booster's origin, they completely glossed over the fact that BG's original equipment was destroyed by Doomsday and successive battles, and he then had a cybernetic suit of armor (along with a new arm) built by Blue Beetle. What happened to all that? And perhaps this question is late, but how did he revert to his most recent incarnation?

Somebody help me identify all the characters in the snapshots surrounding Atom Smasher. I can identify the following: Bane, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang II, Clayface?, Goliath, Icicle, Onomatopeia(!!). Who are the rest?

Blade #2

Blade #2
I still don't understand Blade's reasoning for not ripping the unborn Doom from his mother's womb. Besides which, Doom has pre-birth memories? WTF is that? The best reasoning for not killing Doom before he's been born is that Blade would then be stuck in the past, since Dr. Doom wouldn't be able to activate the Time Platform to bring him back...nor send him there in the first basically, a time travel paradox would result - since Dr. Doom sent Blade back, Blade can't kill him before he can do so, because then he wouldn't be able to send Blade back, and thus Blade wouldn't be able to kill him. This issue, as you may have ascertained, is CRAP. And oh my god, Chaykin's art surpasses Liefeld's in terms of awfulness.

1602: Fantastick Four #1-2, Ultimate Power #1

1602: Fantastick Four #1-2, Ultimate Power #1
Really, I couldn't care less. This title seems absolutely pointless, and Peter David is writing far below his ability here. This just isn't an interesting story, by any stretch of the imagination, and I've only been reading it because Peter David's other recent work (X-Factor, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Fallen Angel) has been so good. But this really isn't.
And in a pre-emptive move, I'm going to show up the Nitpicker:
On the penultimate page, fifth panel, the coloring is completely wrong, and the inexactitude makes reading it very confusing. Reed is colored as Doris Evans, and John Storm is colored as Reed. The context and the oddball word balloons for Reed make this obvious. Oops. The situation is even more confused due to the fact that Reed's hand and arm are not stretched in this panel. I'm not sure how many Bizarres MaGnUs would give this, but it definitely warrants a mention.

And can I just say how sick and tired I am of the Ultimate Power solicits in the back of last week's mags? Especially since Ultimate Power #1 was released last week, and the Squadron Supreme don't even show up until the last page!!! So of what use is a solicit, when it just reads like a standard issue of Ultimate FF??? Besides which, Ultimate Power isn't even that good. It may get better once there's some actual interaction with the Squadron, but until then, its rating is the same as that of the issue being reviewed above (and its predecessor): EH.

Robin #155, Birds of Prey #99

Robin #155, Birds of Prey #99
There seems to be a theme in last week's Bat-titles - that newbies shouldn't get into the superhero game, ever. To my mind, this poses a problem. If the only individuals entitled to fight crime are those who are already established, the world will get old very quickly. Robin #155 "dodge"s the issue, because Robin was obviously a newbie at one time, and he pestered Batman to train him until he acquiesced. Likewise, Birds of Prey #99 dodges the issue as well - Barbara was a kid when she started as Batgirl, and although for a long time Batman tried to dissuade her from her activities, he eventually relented and began treating her as an equal. So why do both Robin and Barbara refuse to entertain the idea of training new superheroes? Why are Dodge and the new Batgirl unworthy of being heroes too? Sure, Dodge is a whiny brat, largely unskilled, and he puts very little thought into his actions. Rather, he reacts. But this is why he requires training! Batgirl is obviously very skilled, and she thinks before she acts. The only negative factor regarding her is her teeny-bopper-speak, and her enthusiasm for superheroing, which she treats as a game. But she approaches her self-appointed role quite competently, and she obviously has excellent detective and technical skills as well. So why won't Babs let her be a Bird? It's time for some new blood. And I really don't see why these new characters can't be incorporated into the family. In my opinion, they would add some elements which are currently missing. Robin used to be about a kid in training. Now, Tim has become so exceedingly competent in his job that it's merely about a teenager trying to fit teenage life into his superheroing. And Birds of Prey used to be about people learning to work together. But the current team has been established for such a long time that it's become somewhat stale. Obviously, Gail Simone realizes this as well, which is why she's having Dinah leave the team. I understand her reasoning, but Canary is too good of a character to relegate to the obscurity of longboxes. Sure, Meltzer may occasionally showcase her in Justice League, but probably just to rape her. Back in the early 90's, Canary's solo title faltered, because at that point the most exciting things about her were her relationship with Green Arrow, and her occasional participation in the JLI. But Simone has made her into a very deep character, one who is currently learning the joys and pains of motherhood, and I would like to see more of that. Unfortunately, it's probably not the type of subject material that's very well suited for its own miniseries, let alone an ongoing title, which is why it was perfect filler material for BoP. Hopefully, Gail will recognize this and give Dinah and Sin the occasional cameo, even if Canary is no longer a part of the team. The funniest thing about this all is that with the departure of Canary, there is not a single member of the Birds of Prey who actually have avian code names (as Jaime Reyes so astutely pointed out when they tried to recruit him).
That said, each of these issues is very EH, not really up to the standards which have been set on either of these books, certainly not BoP. Robin concludes the kidnapping plot, and wraps the Dodge subplot up as well, by putting him in a coma. BoP has a fight between Babs and Batgirl wherein each holds their own, shows Dinah getting out of shape, and features the departure of Canary from the book - boo hoo :(
I hope next month's issues are better.

Quick reviews

I apologize for the lack of posts last week. I was in a bad accident on Monday night, and the rest of the week was therefore somewhat crazy. Thank god I'm fine.

I'm away on business again, and I don't have my current issues with me, but I made some notes on the newest titles, so I'm going to post those, and hopefully I'll expand upon them later - if time allows.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Green Arrow #67

Green Arrow #67
Gee, this story's cover title isn't ripping anyone off, no sir - Survive: Exile Island! Nope, that's the most original cover title I've ever seen!
Anyways, but for Judd Winick reminding us that Mia has HIV, this was another solidly very good issue. Nearly very good, but for the HIV thing, which loses Judd points. Honestly, I'm hoping that the next writer just pulls a Shondra Kinsolving out of his ass so that we can finally get past it, because it was one of the stupidest writing decisions Winick has ever made.
Anyways, remember how Ollie kicked Deathstroke's ass? This issue explains how he got so much better. He trained with someone whose name is Satan spelled backwards, and always wears wooden double platform clogs - even when he fights.
This issue also introduces the prelude to and impetus for Ollie's run for Mayor. Basically, he decided to run when he heard about the wall, and he then finagled the stock market to make a huge killing in order to fund his run. Let's hope he never gets investigated by the SEC, or he'll be joining Martha Stewart in infamy.
We get some nice character moments with Mia and Conner, but they're colored by the HIV thing, so it really comes off as sort of insipid.
That's about it. A GOOD issue, no less.

New X-Men #31

New X-Men #31
I was satisfied with this story until I read the second epilogue. In the second epilogue, it implies that the Nimrod from this issue was cast into the ethers of time and emerged in Uncanny X-Men #191 (mistakenly referred to on the letters page as Uncanny X-Men #192). However, that cannot be the case. It was established years ago that when Nimrod arrived in our time, he followed Rachel Grey from her Days of Future Past timeline, with assistance from Dr. Strange (see Excalibur vol.1 #66 - I think...I couldn't find a copy to confirm this piece of information). So by trying to link this story to the stories from UXM#191, 193-194, 208-209, and, finally, UXM#246-247 (supplemented by the Machine Man/Bastion 1998 annual), the writers of New X-Men have screwed up continuity. My recommendation is to read the issue but omit the last page, or possibly the last two pages. Otherwise, continuity is damaged.
See, Nimrod was shoved through the Siege Perilous, and therein combined with Master Mold, to become Bastion, who, although he hasn't been seen in a while, still exists in the Marvel Universe, and should anyone decide to use him in the future, this second epilogue may prove problematic. Man, I really hate it when writers don't give a shit about continuity.

Otherwise, this issue is OKAY. We finally get some character development, the New X-Men finally work together as a team, and the death-fest of this past year ends - hopefully for good.

So, in the final analysis, the first 34 pages of the book are OKAY, followed by an odd, nearly unrelated epilogue which is EH, followed by the second epilogue which is ASS.
Make of that what you will.

Uncanny X-Men #479

Uncanny X-Men #479
I'll admit, I haven't read the last several issues of this title...once they got into space, I got bored. However, I've read people's reviews where they said that each issue in this arc could be taken as a story unto itself, and I've wanted to read a good X-Men comic for some time, so I read this issue. And it is good. VERY GOOD, in fact. And even beyond the merits of the story told in this issue is one huge point to Brubaker's credit: he actually manages to make sense out of Claremont's whole Shiar Deathwatch Phoenix Rachel Grey Family Murderers Squad with Awful Names story. According to his explanation, the entire Grey clan was murdered because there was a possibilty that each of them contained the genetic potential to host the Phoenix entity. Thus, they were massacred. And the brand applied to Rachel's back allows the Shiar to know whenever she's around, so that they can dispatch someone to finish her off. Which is what they do here. They dispatch someone whose ancestor also once played host to the Phoenix entity, and upon his death was able to save a small portion of the Phoenix force inside his huge honkin' sword - which could thereafter only be wielded by his genetic descendants. Sure, it's a bit convoluted, but Brubaker has to make sense of years worth of sloppy storytelling, and, to his credit, he does it very well. Anyways, when the Phoenix descendant dispatched to kill Rachel finally encounters her, she mind melds with him, and they discover that their lives have been Uncannily similar. His whole family was wiped out by the Shiar, as was hers; he was conscripted to serve evil masters against his will, as was she; and they share a moment. She also drains the sword of its Phoenix force. (Rachel needs some good lovin' - she and this Shiar dude should hook up.)
Meanwhile, the Professor is kidnapped by the Shiar who the X-Men had taken aboard their vessel, and Darwin follows by hanging on to the ship - from the outside!!!

A VERY GOOD issue, and I'm not burdened by the fact that I haven't read the last few. That's how a good comic should be.

Wolverine: Origins #7

Wolverine: Origins #7
Why do I keep punishing myself every month and keep reading this garbage? There's only one reason: Steve Dillon's art. If not for that, I would have been running away screaming a long time ago. Is it wrong to hope that he leaves soon so that I can feel okay about stopping this title entirely? Of course, if Way would ever get around to actually telling entire stories set in the past, as opposed to random time-displaced flashbacks that don't make much sense, the entire series might be worthy of its name. However, as it is, this book is no good. Utter CRAP.
And remember that whole controversy regarding the supposed "death" of Silver Fox from issue #5? Well, when called on it in the letters page by two astute readers, the editors pass it off by saying that the apparent continuity error is all part of Way's grand scheme. Personally, I think they're covering for him. I think he forgot, and then when the fans reminded him, rather than admit his mistake and say "whoops!" he started lying and saying this was all part of his grand plan for the title. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not buying that. Way fucked up. End of story.
What CRAP.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ebert's Law

For those who aren't yet aware of it, there is a giant flame war in progress between Greg Burgas, one of the reviewers at Comics Should Be Good, and Tom Beland, writer of True Story, Swear to God.
Essentially, Greg panned Tom's work, and Tom got all pissy about it, so he posted a comment to Greg's review which included a challenge for Greg to do better.
Man, if that isn't the cop out to end all cop outs. Take reviews for what they are: one person's opinions, mostly gut reactions to the work we've read. I personally don't think that I'm an imaginative enough writer to script comics, but you never hear any creators challenging their negative reviewers to get into comic book editing, do you? I think that I would excel in that position, and that comic book editors should be self-professed, proven, comic book fans, otherwise, what use is their okay on a product which is unreadable to the majority of comic book purchasers?
Anyways, the title of this post refers to a very astute observation on the part of a fellow blogger concerning the opinion that many creators seem to have with reviewers who challenge their work. (For those who can't tell that Ebert's Law is meant to be satirical...well, it is.)

Smallville 6x02 "Sneeze"

Smallville 6x02 "Sneeze"
Okay, so I'm watching this a week late, and yeah, it's the first episode with Ollie Queen, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. And Clark discovers "super-breath", but that's not it either.

At time index 38:33 we get a close up of the remote for Lex's security system. Does it look familiar? It should...note the peculiar symbol underneath its screen?
That's the Global Frequency symbol!
And this is the phone that was designed for the Global Frequency pilot which the goddamned WB didn't pick up, awesome as it was. And now they have the chutzpah to reuse the central prop from a show they couldn't be bothered to give a chance to in a completely different context? What absolute wankers!

Now that I'm good and pissed off (as a friend always told me, it's better to be pissed off than pissed on), why the hell are they making Oliver Queen a quasi-villain?

Goddamn WB (CW)!!!

Still, the sequence at the end, where Ollie is shooting arrows from his rooftop deck, and says "how about...Borneo", and then fires an arrow into the Daily Planet globe, is one of the best final moments from any Smallville episode in a very, very, long time.

The Nitpicker has returned

I got an email from MaGnUs today. His column is back online. I just read it at Jazma Online, but apparently, it is also available at Newsarama.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1
This is a welcome change of pace. A miniseries about Doctor Strange that's actually about Doctor Strange. One that doesn't try to revamp him and make him "hipper" for a new generation of comics readers. Doctor Strange has always been archaic, and that's part of his charm, but another essential part of his allure is that he is a licensed physician, well-versed in medicine as well as spiritual remedies. Sadly, this aspect of his personality is often neglected, in favor of the more mystical aspects of his nature. Yet they need not exist independently of one another. And this book gets it right.
It also provides insight into the complex nature of Strange's relationship with his servant, Wong, one that highlights the personal friendship between the two men, and shows how they complement each other's abilities.
And, as a hook, we get a glimpse of the "Night Nurse"'s waiting room, occupied by Arana and Iron Fist, both waiting to have injuries attended to, when Wong comes crashing in with his master, who has been shot. As the Night Nurse attends to Strange's injuries, his astral form converses with her, filling her in on the details of how he ended up in this condition. Apparently, Wong has an inoperable brain tumor, and has no more than three months to live. Characteristically, Doctor Strange wants a second opinion. He discovers a portal to another dimension where an elder god guards an elixir which can potentially cure Wong. Battling the god and emerging victorious, Strange performs tests on the elixir prior to administering it, discovering, to his surprise, that it is in fact the panacea for all cancers.
This is a VERY GOOD issue. I'm hesitant to rate it higher, because I've been burned before, but Brian K. Vaughan shows tremendous respect for his source material, as always, and his characters talk like normal people. With Marcos Martin pencilling, Alvaro Lopez on inks, and Javier Rodriguez coloring, the art is beautiful, and well-suited to a Doctor Strange tale. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Incredible Hulk #99

Incredible Hulk #99
A very EH issue. Basically, although this issue is supposed to be the conclusion of the "Planet Hulk: Anarchy" storyline, it doesn't actually resolve anything and leads directly into the next storyline. And I really couldn't care less about any of the supporting characters, as they're largely disposable anyways, there is no vested interest in any of them surviving. And Hulk himself seems to have gotten a tremendous power upgrade - to the point that he now seems to be invincible. This effectively removes any dramatic tension which might otherwise have been generated by the story. Like I said, EH.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Quote of the Week #4

Quote of the Week #4
In a shameless display of self-promotion, this week's quote comes from the letters page of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13.
"...witty repartee and plethora of pop-culture..."
Check that alliteration out!

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1
Quite an oddball little title. Which actually makes it somewhat endearing. Even though the main character is clearly a bit of a schmuck. But the title makes that point anyways, doesn't it?
A low level S.H.I.E.L.D. functionary discovers Hank Pym's new Ant-Man suit and uses it to score chicks. That's it. The rest of the issue is all backstory - which is still unfinished. The story was okay, but didn't really have very much of a conclusion - which is fine for the initial issue of a new title.
The art by Hester and Parks is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of the good old days on Green Arrow before Ollie and Dinah's relationship was so casually sabotaged, and Mia got given HIV. Love it. I'll definitely stick around for the rest.
As for Kirkman, his writing is usually pretty good, as long as he isn't just hacking it out like in Marvel Team-Up, or never sticking to his deadlines like on Walking Dead. If he stays serious (or Slott-serious at least), and gets this book out monthly, it has the potential to go further than merely six issues.
Unfortunately, the book may suffer somewhat from very little visible press coverage. I read it on a lark - not quite certain of what to expect within. I actually expected something completely outside of mainstream Marvel continuity. I picked it up based solely on the word Irredeemable in the title.
I hope that this GOOD book gets a chance to EXCEL.

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #2

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #2
So, apparently this book has nothing to do with the Phoenix entity, which leaves me wondering, why does it include "Phoenix" in the title?
So here's the point of this issue: the Stepford Cuckoos are not actually children...they're Weapon Plus constructs. Made of nanomachines, unable to truly perish, and actually five of a myriad number - and I can't help but wonder if each of the host of Cuckoos has a name, and if so, who had the arduous task of naming them all?
When the Cuckoos came to the school, they implanted psychic blocks in all the X-Men so that nobody would ever question where they had come from, or realize that they hadn't ever been medically scanned. Now Emma has removed those blocks.
And the three "living" Cuckoos have returned to the Weapon Plus facility and restarted the flow of time there, and the two "dead" Cuckoos are on their way.
That's it.
So, no longer ass, since it's obvious that this series does have a point - namely to remake the interesting Stepford Cuckoos into uninteresting Weapon Plus constructs. I don't agree with it, but it does have a point. So, OKAY. Let's see where it goes from here.

52 #22 / Heroes 1x02

52 #22 / Heroes 1x02
This EXCELLENT show, for which Jeph Loeb is an executive producer, is, to my mind, very like what 52 should be. Every week we get to see a little bit of each of the characters, advancing each of their plot lines, however so slightly. Questions are raised, small answers are given, clues to the future are present, and plotlines seem to converge somewhat.
52 should be the same way. Instead, this week we get ONE PAGE with actual dialogue from one of our main characters (Steel). The rest of the issue focuses on Doc Magnus (who at some point since T.O. Morrow's disappearance has apparently gone loony), Lex Luthor's not being able to metahumanize himself, and Jon Standing Bear - some Native American dude we've never seen before. And the profile of "Green Lantern", not "Hal Jordan" or "Green Lantern 2814.1", is incorrect - the yellow impurity was not "overridden by Hal's will", as anyone who read Rebirth knows. Also, as part of the essential storylines, Jordan's turns as Parallax and Spectre aren't even mentioned - nor is his death! An incomplete bio if I ever saw one. Instead of the John Stewart panel, how about one of him conquering Parallax? If this comic is ever going to actually tell complete stories, now would be the time to start doing so. I've basically lost interest in this book (which is why I haven't reviewed it in detail, heck, at all, for some time). Very much sub-EH.
But if you love comics you should definitely be watching Heroes. Don't let it get cancelled.

This video is awesome!

I'm too excited to do much else tonight: check out this clip.

Friendly Neigborhood Spider-Man #13

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13
Oh my god! This is so freaking cool! Not the issue, although it's pretty darn good, but check out the last page - no the one after that...the letters page...the last letter...THAT'S MINE!!! The first time I ever wrote in to this title, and it got published!!! So, I was going to say that this issue is only very good, because it left me more confused than I had been before, but OH MY GOD IT'S FREAKING EXCELLENT!!! (In case you don't read this title, check out my blog entry for last month's issue. That's the letter...just a bit longer.)

okay, i'm shutting up now.