Friday, February 09, 2007

Spider-Man: Reign #3

Spider-Man: Reign #3
I can't even begin to express just how much this book sucks. The art is indecipherable for the most part, and the story is mostly incomprehensible. Why anyone would have ever greenlit this project is beyond me. There really should be some sort of accountability between Marvel and its readers, because lately, it seems as if all of their editors have come down with acute cases of brain fever. Perhaps dementia and/or senility. There's just no other explanation. Other than that Marvel's editors aren't fit for their positions. Of course. This book is just all kinds of AWFUL. And that's being kind. Give it a miss.

X-23: Target X #3

X-23: Target X #3
Another VERY GOOD issue of this series, with drop dead gorgeous artwork. In fact, it's the artwork that elevates it to its current status from a high OKAY or low GOOD. But this is essentially a middle issue. Which is fine. But nothing much happens. The setup is completed for X-23 to murder her aunt and cousin. The last three pages had me rushing through. The final page had me sick to my stomach. But that's precisely the intended reaction, so it deserves the VERY GOOD rating.
Of particular note is the extremely poignant scene wherein Laura sees Wolverine's image on TV for the first time - which is placed precisely at the beginning of the Academy X storyline, when Charles Xavier revealed publicly that he was a mutant and that the Westchester Academy was, in fact, a training academy for mutants.

The All New Atom #7-#8

The All New Atom #7-#8
This was a VERY GOOD story. I laughed so hard reading the last issue, especially during the scene with the ginormous floating head watching TV. So the weirdness is here to stay. It appears to be status quo for this series. I can live with it. As long as Gail Simone keeps writing to her usual level, I can handle it. At least she makes it all make sense. Sort of. By god, I laughed hard when I saw the cover of this issue. That joke just really got me. So I'm weird. So what? This is one of the most pleasant post crisis series, and I hope it'll be around with Simone on it for a long time to come.

Fell #7

Fell #7
Finally! Issue #7 comes out! Yay! Fell!
You know, as this book really only comes out every so never, they don't even bother putting the date on the cover. But hey, it's still worth it. 16 pages of EXCELLENT done in one story every so often, and I'm clamoring for more.
Boy, this issue is a downer. Fell gets a perp in, with a slam dunk murder conviction - or so he thinks. His genuine disgust for the perp and his rage at the injustice committed here lead him to totally blow the case. He opens up his big mouth and never shuts up. And he gives the case away. He gives the defense attorney enough ammunition to bargain the case down from lethal injection to a goddamn two years! Fell is upset. And he rages. The end.
I'm sure that every good cop has had a case like this. One where the evidence is just so damning, that they get cocky and totally blow it. And this issue really lets you feel the soul-suckingly awful feeling that has to accompany such an event. God, do you feel it. We all know what a great detective Richard Fell is. And for him to be so completely undone by his own hubris really jars.
Some reviewers have been knocking this issue. I completely understand. It just feels so awful at its conclusion. Pair that with the knowledge that another issue may not be headed our way for another six or so months, and one can easily understand why this issue has drawn such negative reviews. But in fairness, Warren Ellis warned us a long time ago that we would receive these issues only as he found time to publish them. They are a labor of love, but he pays for them himself, and can only work on them in his spare time, which one can only imagine must be very infrequent for such a prolific writer. So I'll take what I can get.

[This post has been reprinted over at Sequart.]

Action Comics Annual #10

Action Comics Annual #10
First story: "The Many Deaths of Superman"
A very clever recap of the many ways that have been found to destroy the supposedly invulnerable Man of Steel. Art by Art Adams is beautiful as always. But what's with his rendition of Mr. Mxyzptlk? VERY GOOD.

Second Story: "Who is Clark Kent's Big Brother?"
I had a mixed reaction to this story. On the one hand, it provides a very clean explanation for the origin of the legend of Superboy, the fact that Lar Gand has also been known as Mon-El and as Valor, and the imprisonment of Lar Gand in the phantom zone. It wraps everything up in a nice little bow for current and future writers to take advantage of without the difficulties posed by convoluted backstory. completely eradicates the post-Crisis origin of Lar Gand as following the Invasion! event, and puts the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event into serious continuity limbo as well. Not only that, but Lar Gand's entire legacy, that of his having seeded the worlds which would one day become the United Planets, is nullified as well. So, unless this is to be the new status quo in the NEW DCU, I can't help but find fault with this story. It's well written, and the art by Eric Wight is reminiscent of Stuart Immonen's work on Secret Identity, but that only redeems it so much. OKAY.
And Lar Gand's cries from his sleep translate as "I don't belong here".

Third Story: "Mystery Under the Blue Sun"
Wow! Nearly full art by the incomparable Joe Kubert. My mouth hangs slack-jawed. Once again he draws Hawkmen, and even some Bizarros for good measure. But seriously, is this a joke? God, I hope so. Because I laughed at it. EXCELLENT. But it's a shame the master couldn't spare himself for more than two pages.

First Special Feature: "Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude"
Most notable is the new status quo for the bottle city of Kandor: "Named after the fabled Kryptonian city of Kandor, this diverse metropolis of extra-terrestrial races was shrunken down using Coluan science and kept by the wizard Tolos until Superman rescued it."
It's official: Brainiac did NOT create the bottle city of Kandor in the new DCU. However, it was Coluan science that shrunk it, so it's possible that he may have had something to do with it. The new origin of Kandor was explored in December '95's Superman #107. But it is NOT the original Kandor. So it could have a cork. EH.

Fourth Story: "The Criminals of Krypton"
Notable for lumping the destruction of the original Kryptonian city of Kandor into the tragedy caused by Jax-Ur when he destroyed one of Krypton's moons.
This story is definitely Donner's. It constitutes his official origin for General Zod and his cohorts, which, now, due to the restructuring of the DCU, can be identical with that of the original movies.
Interesting, but not a particularly good story. EH.

Second Special Feature: "Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted"
Toyman is one of Superman's top ten villains? Huh? Whatever. The shoddiness of this piece makes this issue poorer for its inclusion. CRAP.

Fifth Story: "The Deadliest Forms of Kryptonite"
This is a very poor story decision. Poor editorial decision as well. The inclusion of gold kryptonite into the new DCU is stupid. Since gold kryptonite removes Superman's powers permanently, it is not useful as a story device except in imaginary stories. Because once it's used, there's no point to anything else, ever again. Stoooopid. And why would blue kryptonite be useful for Lex to put into John Corben's chest cavity? And how is red kryptonite deadly? ASS.

This annual started out promisingly, but as the pages turned it just got worse and worse. I have to give it two grades overall: VERY GOOD, and ASS.

[This post has been reprinted over at Sequart.]

Supergirl #14

Supergirl #14
Once again, Supergirl is the creepiest book out there. And I don't think they intend it to be such. And that just makes it even more ASS. This, after last month's "please read us, we'll be your bestest friends" entreaty to female readers in DC Nation. You know, if you want girls to read you, you might try writing an actual girl. Or meeting an actual girl. Or even reading up on what actual girls are like. This is NOT how girls act. This is NOT how girls talk. This is, perhaps, some fat slob's dream idea of what a girl is like.
Storywise, this issue is so very badly disjointed that I had a hard time trying to figure out what was happening, and why, for the most part. I still haven't completely deciphered it. On the first pages, there are caption boxes, and it's nearly impossible to tell who's talking. It's quite AWFUL.
Oh yeah, and Kara is apparently the new DCU's Wolverine analogue, with razor sharp spikes which can extrude from her back, of all places. All the more argument to keep her on top of you, eh, comic book guy?
Just a suggestion: if you want chicks to dig this book, try putting an empowering writer on it, such as Peter David, Gail Simone, Devin Grayson, or Will Pfeifer. Joe Kelly has no idea how to write. Neither for girls, nor anyone else for that matter.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #5

X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong #5
Oh my god, that was so unbelievably AWFUL. Even the front cover, on which Marc Silvestri does an homage to, of all people, Greg Land???? How poor is that decision? If I were in the office when that illustration came in, I'd start laughing hysterically!
Although Top Cow's house art style is okay, for the most part, their artists apparently don't have any concept as to what Cyclops' optic beams are supposed to be or look like. They do NOT have tendrils of red gooey manga stuff emanating from them. Sure, it may make it more interesting, but it also is completely untrue to all previous characterisations of his powers.
They also seem oblivious to how to portray action sequences. Case in point: at one point, Kitty Pryde says "Wait. Listen. It's quiet. They've...stopped." Yet there is no indication that it was noisy before that. Perhaps the artists are so wrapped up in their own little universes, that they don't realize that comics are a visual art form. If it's supposed to be loud, we have no means of knowing, unless you tell us!!! Many artists are dynamic enough to convey sound without blatantly adding onomatopoeia to the page. Kirkham, Regla, and Starr are not. And they obviously think waaay too highly of themselves.
This entire issue makes nearly no sense, from John Sublime's disembodied orating from multiple monitor screens, to Kitty Pryde phasing herself through the cuckoos to disrupt the nanomachines in their bloodstream, to the last three surviving cuckoos imprisoning the Phoenix entity in their hearts, which they turn diamond so that it can't escape! Does any of that make sense? No! Not in the least! And then, get this - they say that since their hearts are permanently diamond, they'll never be able to feel again! Ummm - you feel with your brain! When people say that the heart is the seat of emotion, they're speaking metaphorically, not scientifically! Personally, if their hearts were locked in diamond form, I'd be more concerned about their ability to pump blood to the rest of their body, but perhaps that's just me. An absolutely ridiculously ASS ending to an absolutely godAWFUL series.
The trade should have caution tape strung around it warning purchasers of reading such AWFUL CRAP.

[This post has been reprinted over at Sequart.]

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Smallville 6x12 "Labyrinth"

Smallville 6x12 "Labyrinth"
Sorry. I know that I haven't posted in a few weeks, and I apologize for that, but I've been out of town. First I was on vacation in Orlando, and then I was sent out of town on business. I hope to have a regular column soon over at Seqart, so that'll probably get me to post more frequently as well.
Anyways, aside from the first facial appearance of J'onn J'onzz in this episode, we find out the Luthor mansion's address: 100 Sayour Rd. Additionally, Smallville's area code in 66684 - which, although non-existent, would put it immediately outside of Topeka, Kansas, 66683. And the drug that Martha's taking, Adalefline? It doesn't exist either. Nor does the "Fortress of Solitude" book on the shelf, nor does the "Phantom Zone" journal on the table, and of course Jorel soap is a sendup of Curel.
Product placement: "Since your superspeed's out of gas, take my Yaris". Sorry, that's just rude. Showing the car off is one thing, but even Hiro's "Nissan Versa!" on Heroes isn't this obnoxious.
Michael Rosenbaum has some excellent dramatic deliveries in this episode, though. Allison Mack was very good, as well. The rest of the cast were just off, though. Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk really can't act. Even Annette O'Toole wasn't good in this ep.
Every sci-fi show does their "it was all a dream" episode eventually, and mostly, they're pretty annoying. Buffy's was better than most. But this one is more annoying than most.
So, much as I hate to say it, this episode was CRAP.