Sunday, September 21, 2008

Comic Book reviews for the week of Sept. 17, 2008

Cream of the Crop

All-Star Superman #12

I don’t think I’m the only person who doesn’t always get Grant Morrison. But I still buy just about everything he writes, because when I DO get it, I always enjoy it. I enjoyed this series for the most part. I don’t think I’m enough of a Superman fan to get what Morrison was trying to tell us. I realize that there was some grand point to the series, but it was lost on me. Now, just as a Superman story, it was great. Each issue was fun, and they showed why Superman is widely considered the greatest hero. In this final issue, Superman comes back from death, defeats a super-powered Lex Luthor, and reignites the sun. All in a day’s work, right? Something else I enjoyed was Frank Quitely’s art. It’s a conundrum, really. His work isn’t pretty. Everybody looks lumpy and the women are not attractive, but somehow it works and looks great. I’m not sad that the series is over. It had an erratic release schedule, and Morrison was able to tell a complete story, so nothing else is needed. All that’s left to wonder about is the sequel. I’m sure there will be one, so all that’s left to wonder is will it be Morrison and Quitely again following up on that last page, or will it be someone else telling their own out-of-continuity story?

Amazing Spider-Man #572

Dan Slott is an excellent Spider-Man writer. I think I need to go back and read his Thing and She-Hulk books. I think he’s really captured everybody in Spider-Man’s world. I like Norman Osborn as sort of a psychopathic Lex Luthor type character. I’m liking Anti-Venom, and I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what’s going on with him. I like Mac Gargan as Venom more than I liked him as the Scorpion. He was always just some loser in a suit. I’m glad Norman was able to get the symbiote healed, but I’m not all that crazy about the Venom/Scorpion hybrid. I guess I’ll have to wait until the next issue before I really decide if I like him or not. There’s nothing new I can say about JR Jr.’s art, so we’ll just leave it at “Me likey.”

Captain Britain and MI 13 #5

I loved the introductory storyline for this series, which I had thought was only going to be a mini-series that tied into the Secret Invasion. I’ve not read much of Pete Wisdom. I stopped reading Excalibur before Ellis took over and made him into the character he is today. I read Pryde and Wisdom years ago, and I just recently read the Wisdom mini and really enjoyed it. Paul Cornell has really made me care about these characters that I new little to nothing about. I felt Captain Britain’s sacrifice and the death of Skrull John, and I cheered for Faiza when she pulled out Excalibur and for all of England when Captain Britain returned. This issue is a jumping-on point for those who didn’t pick up the first four but heard the good buzz. It re-introduces us to this new team and brings in a surprise (well, not if you look at the cover), somewhat odd member, Blade. Kind of risky with a vampire on the team, no? I guess we’ll see what happens with that next issue. I also really enjoyed the scenes with Dane and Faiza at Faiza’s parents’ house. This book was a pleasant surprise for me. It’s always exciting when you end up enjoying something that you’re not expecting.

Iron Man #33

‘Bout damn time, although I expected this story to happen in Avengers: The Initiative, where War Machine is a main character. But this is okay. This issue follows on the heels of Secret Invasion #1 and a recent issue of A:TI. The Skrulls have just disabled all Stark Tech, and Rhodey gets a message from Tony that sends him to a satellite. I’m not too big (no pun intended) on the big mecha War Machine, but we really do see War Machine live up to his name. Christos Gage delivers a great story, and it’s good to see Sean Chen on an Iron Man title again, even though we didn’t see much of Iron Man in the issue.

Mighty Avengers #18

Once again, it’s an Avengers book with no Avengers in sight. But that’s okay. This issue gives us a quick look into how Nick Fury trained his Secret Warriors, including lying, injecting them with explosive tracking chips, kicking the crap out of the, kidnapping them, and torturing them. What a great guy! He then makes them kidnap Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., telling them she’s a Skrull…which is another lie. It’s all a test for something bigger, which just happens to be the Skrull Invasion that starts on the final page. I’ve always known Fury was a badass, but I’ve never known him to be such a devious hardass. I guess have to kill your lover who is in fact a shape-changing alien will do that to a person. I’m loving this event, and I’m looking forward to some more of Bendis’ non-Avengers goodness in this Avengers title.

Trinity #16

After a somewhat slow start, this book is really starting to pick up. I’m glad we didn’t have to wait until the end of the series for the Trinity to battle their opposites. The blending of the personalities is a good idea, and I like how they’re using what was supposed to be a hindrance into a strength. It’s why these three heroes ARE the trinity. They can turn weaknesses into strengths and inspire others to do so. I’ve liked Mark Bagley’s work since I picked up the first issue of New Warriors on a spinner rack almost two decades ago. I was disappointed when he left the title, but thrilled when he showed up on Amazing Spider-Man, a title I was already reading. I didn’t read Thunderbolts, but I’ve been reading Ultimate Spider-Man since the beginning, and his run with Bendis is legendary. It’s nice to see him branching out to DC now, and I think he’s finally getting the hang of the characters...which is good since he’s drawing just about all of their heroes in these last two issues!

Young X-Men #6

As with the new X-Force book, I figured I’d start back into the X-world after the current calamity with some brand new books rather than jumping right into Uncanny X-Men or X-Men: Legacy. I’ve been very pleased with this book. The only character on this new team that I was even remotely familiar with was Dust since I read all of Morrison’s stint on New X-Men. But I didn’t feel knowing the team members intimately was all that important, and I was pretty much right. The first story arc had some double crossings in it and some good (if not a bit one-sided) battles with the original Young X-Men, the first group of New Mutants. When all was said and done, we had a traitor revealed, the villain revealed, and a team member dead. This issue was fallout from that, and it worked well. Now we’re getting the official formation of the team, and we’re seeing a lot of emotion and angst. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this will all play out.


Brave and the Bold #17

Okay, I don’t like Supergirl, or at least this one. I thoroughly enjoyed the previous incarnation written by Peter David. She was just so…pissy. Asking for help and then not really doing her best to use it. Snapping at the people attempting to help her. If I were Raven I would have swept her up in that cloak and left her in Azarath. Marv Wolfman did a good job with the story, and if I’m correct in my assumption as to who Jon’s father is, he pulled out a relatively obscure character from a little more than a decade ago. I didn’t read much of him when he was around, but I’ve got the gist of what happened with him. I’m not the biggest fan of Phil Winslade. He’s a very adequate artist, but it’s just not my thing.

DC Universe: Decisions #1

Hmm, not a bad issue, but I’m a little scared that it’ll get preachy, especially with Judd Winnick being one of the writers. He’s a good writer, as is his partner on this book Bill Willingham (Fables), but he’s been known to promote causes in the books he’s been writing. I’m not into politics in the real world, so unless we’re reading about a major character running for office (Lex Luthor for President! Again!), I may end up glossing over the actual political stuff in the series. I’ll be with the book for the detective work, and the obvious conflict that Green Arrow’s decision will create. As for the art, I’ve like Rick Leonardi’s work for some time now. Even after 20 years, his style is still very recognizable, but it’s cleaner. He’s a solid artist that always delivers a quality product.

Gravel #5

When Ellis wrote stories about Gravel, the weird shit he put on the page was sick yet compelling. I think Mike Wolfer is capturing the essence of Gravel, but it’s just not up to par with Ellis. I’m still enjoying the story, though, and I like the idea of a combat magician. It’s in this issue that we see that Gravel doesn’t win all the time. I mean, it’s his book, so I’m sure he’ll come through eventually, if not next issue, but he can still be outsmarted.

Greatest Hits #1

This book almost made it into the Cream of the Crop. I like behind-the-scene stories, but I like it interspersed with at least a bit of action, especially if we’re jumping into a story about a brand new team. I feel like I should know more about these guys than I do. But it was still a very solid story by David Tischman, and Glen Fabry’s art is almost always nice to look at.

Incredible Hercules #121

I thought this was the weakest issue of the series so far. Not bad, just a weaker issue in a run that’s been pretty darn good. There just wasn’t enough Amadeus or Hercules and too much set up for this new storyline. When we DID see the duo, it was really good. I liked the interaction between Herc and Namora, and Amadeus being a typical horny teenager was pretty darn good. Good, but not great.

Squadron Supreme #3

It’s just not the same without JMS, and it’s not the same without the MAX label. It’s still a very readable comic, but it’s not on the same level as when it began. I want the original Squadron to return, and I want Fury sent back to the Ultimate universe. I’m wondering if Ultimatum will deal with this at all. And what’s with the analogues to the regular Marvel Universe? We’ve seen a Spider-Man (woman), a Captain America and an Iron Man. Hmm, since the original Squadron Supreme members are analogues of the Justice League, maybe this is a sneaky way to have a Marvel vs. DC non-crossover.


Age of the Sentry #1

I liked this book…when Alan Moore did it with Supreme. This really felt like a DC book from the ‘60s. I like the Sentry as a schizophrenic hero who is also his own arch enemy. But I can do without these campy throw-back stories. No thank you, sir.

Walking Dead #52

I keep reading this because the beginning of this series was so good, and I keep waiting for it to get that good again, but it just stalled a handful of issues ago. It seems like we’re just going over things that have been done before.


Thea said...

You know, Grant Morrison is hit or miss for me--I love a lot of his work... but I just haven't been compelled to pick up the All Star Superman books. Considering your review though, I might have to give the softcover a try.

Totally agree with you re: Trinity. The first few issues were annoyingly repetitive--but definitely picked up with the crime syndicate appearance.

On Walking Dead...I enjoyed the first collections (sadly behind am I), but am noticing the beginnings of dratted rehash land. So...I don't feel so bad about being behind now :p

Rob Rosenblatt said...

If you want to read a well thought out essay regarding this series and Morrison's portrayal of Superman, check out: