Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Comic Book Reviews for the Week of Sept. 3, 2008

Since this is my first set of comic reviews, I thought I’d walk through a little rating explanation. The Cream of the Crop is the best books of the week. The Leftovers are decent, readable books, but there isn’t anything in them to just wow me. And the books in The Compost Pile are just stinky piles of vegetable matter.

Cream of the Crop

Doktor Sleepless #8

This is the end of book one, and I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on the title. I’ll read anything Warren Ellis writes. I’m sheep like that. But I freely admit that I don’t understand a lot of the stuff he does. Some of the ideas he’s put forth in this title went over my head. So this issue, which explained a lot, really helped me out. Unless Ellis is messing with us, we learn which John Reinhardt is the real deal and what happened to his parents. We also learn about the angels spotted around Heavenside. Because of explanations, this issue was probably my favorite of the eight so far.

Fables #75

Even after 75 issues, I still have yet to find an issue I don’t like. I think in this issue, though, the art outshone the story. How many double-page spreads were there? It was crazy! And I’m not knocking the story. It, like the 74 before it, was great. This whole war just seemed a bit too quick to me. I almost feel like Willingham made Bigby, Snow and the whole crew just a bit too…well, good, and Geppetto and his evil ilk a bit too incompetent. The major death in this issue (and I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t read it yet) seems thrown in so there would be a major death. Regardless, the story was excellently told, and in my opinion it’s the best book Vertigo’s putting out.

Amazing Spider-Man #570

It really didn’t take me long to adjust to the new Brand New Day status quo. My biggest problems have to do with nobody remembering his secret identity and the fact that Harry Osborn is still alive. Both of those stories, especially J.M. DeMatteis’ work on Spectacular Spider-Man that really focused on Harry and culminated in his death, were pretty big events. I’ve read in a couple of interviews that these two things will eventually be addressed, but they’ll bug me until they are. But back to the issue. Venom vs. Anti-Venom, with a bit of Spidey thrown in, and Norman Osborn in the background acting as sort of an anti-Nick Fury. He’s creepy and crazy and I love it. I actually loved the whole thing. Excellent writing and JR Jr. drawing what he draws best. Personally, I think it’s a great time to be a Spider-Man fan.

Angel: After the Fall #12

It is my belief that the final season of Angel was the best overall season of television I have ever watched. And I’ve watched a LOT of TV. I thought Buffy petered out after moving to UPN, and Angel got a little tedious during the 4th season, but wow, the writers and actors all delivered top notch episode all season. And while many people hated the gigantic cliffhanger ending, I thought it was excellent. It allowed each viewer to end the show the way they wanted it to end. Then Whedon announced both Buffy and Angel continuing their seasons as comic books. I’ve enjoyed Season 6 of Angel so far, but not as much as I’ve been enjoying Season 8 of Buffy. I think it’s because I built the ending of Angel up so much, that ANYTHING would have been a letdown. But this series is series is delivering everything a fan of Angel would want. We’ve seen just about every major character who appeared at some point during the 5 seasons. I love the characterizations of the major players. I love how they brought back a certain someone. I love the inner turmoil of Illyria, how she switches back and forth from Fred depending on the stress. And I love the dragon. I really should be enjoying this book more than I am. And this issue helped. The Shanshu prophecy and Angel’s role in the Apocalypse is explained. Oh, and he died.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #18

And speaking of Buffy, I found part three of this cross-over with Fray to be pretty lackluster. As much as my inner horn-dog enjoyed the Willow/Kennedy/Snake-Lady scene, I thought it was a little juvenile. She’s gotta have sex or an orgasm in order to meet with the Snake-Lady? And she’s gotta be naked? Really? And the big bad doesn’t seem all that big or bad. I hope it’ll make a bit more sense once we find out her motivation for doing what she’s doing. The best part of the issue involved Xander and Dawn and their flight from Castle Slayer. This book really should be with the Leftovers, but I’m too big of a Buffy fan to do that, and I’m hoping that the book will redeem itself by the end of the storyline.

Green Lantern #34

I’ve enjoyed this title since its beginning. It’s not due to the title character, but the writing talents of Geoff Johns. He’s one of a handful of writers whose comics will always get my money, regardless of the character or subject matter. This issue is the penultimate chapter of Secret Origins, which seems to be a retelling of the first Emerald Dawn mini, but with some changes that help set up the Blackest Night storyline. There’s a lot happening in the storyline: Abin Sur dying and Hal getting the ring, Hector Hammond gaining his powers as well as Black Hand, Hal’s training by Kilowog and tutelage by Sinestro. This issue has Sinestro and Hal up against Atrocitus (who seems to replace Legion from Emerald Dawn), with Sinestro showing Hal something he doesn’t know, and Hal doing something he’s not supposed to be able to do. I’m looking forward to the end of this storyline, and the beginning of Blackest Night.

Invincible Iron Man #5

I really need to start reading more stuff by Matt Fraction. His work on this title has blown me away for the past five issues. This issues sees Iron Man go up against what I’m assuming would be called the next Iron Monger, just a lot more streamlined. And he trounces Tony. As for the ending, we all know that’s not it. You don’t kill off a major title character without some hoopla surrounding it. So what do we have here? Was Tony not in the armor? Is Ezekiel nucking-futz crazy and imagining the whole thing, a la Norman Osborn/Green Goblin during the Final Chapter storyline that preceded the reboot of Spidey and his titles? I don’t know, but it’ll be a treat to find out.

The Boys #22

I guess the most important part of the story is the Legend finishing his story to Hughie. We also learn who one of his sons is/was. That’s all well and good, and hearing about the rise of superheroes and Voight-American was important. But as with the rest of this series, the best parts are the character moments. Hughie and Annie; Annie and A-Train, Hughie and the Butcher. I’ve never hated heroes as much as I do in this book. It’s great, and it’s filthy and way too over-the-top, and I won’t let my kids read it until they’re 18, but dammit if it’s not a great book.


Dead of Night: Devilslayer#1

I ended up being surprised by this book. It was more enjoyable than I thought it would be, even though it’s mostly a set-up issue. We’re introduced to Sgt. Danny Sylva, who I’m assuming will become Devilslayer. The rest of the book just sets the scene, Iraq, and we don’t get any action until the end. But as set-ups go, it was engaging, and I’m rooting for Danny. Maybe the next issue will be moved up into the Cream of the Crop.

Fringe #1

I enjoyed the first half, but I liked the second half when I saw it earlier this summer as an episode of Fear Itself. I’m intrigued by how it will tie into the TV series (which starts this week), but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I never finished this mini-series.

Secret Invasion: Frontline #3

I found this to be the least compelling of this mini so far. It just didn’t sit well with me. I would think that the cop would have been killed after doing nothing to the Skrulls except pissing them off. I want to know how that Skrull got into Stark Tower. Was he a mole that was in the building when it sealed up? And I don’t buy the last scene. I think it’s safe to assume that, were there not an invasion going on, the subway tunnels would be in use. Would a gang, after only an hour, already have territory claimed as their own? Like I said, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Secret Six #1

Good, solid story, but nothing that made me truly excited. I’ll definitely pick up the next issue, and more than likely the whole mini (is this a mini or an ongoing?), but it’s going to take a bit more to bump this out of the Leftover pile.

Sub-Mariner: The Depths #1

First off, I’m confused. I get that this is a Marvel Knights title and may not be in continuity. That doesn’t bother me. A good story is a good story is a good story. I’m confused as to when it takes place. If it was around the time of his published introduction, we’re looking at pre-WW II, or at least before America’s involvement. But at one point, a character calls Communists “Reds,” a term I associate with the McCarthy hearings in the ‘50s and the Cold War. But I guess that really doesn’t matter. For a book about a character I have no love at all for (and who didn’t actually show up in the book, unless you’re counting a possible shadow), it was surprisingly engaging. Both Peter Milligan and Esad Ribic are hit and miss with me. What work I’ve read by Milligan tends to lean on the weird side, often too weird and incomprehensible for me. But this was easy to follow and understand. For me, I tend to enjoy Ribic’s (every time I type that I end up thinking of a bullfrog) art when looking at the non-human elements, in this issue the city backgrounds and the ocean panels. I’m not digging his characters, especially the faces. But I’ll be back next month, if only for the story and hopefully some beautiful scenes of Atlantis. That might be enough to bump up the book.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1

I think the only story worth talking about out of the three presented here is the first one. To be totally honest, I’ve been an on-again off-again X-Men reader. I haven’t read Uncanny since Casey started around #390-something, and I ended up dropping it in the middle of Poptopia. I enjoyed Morrison’s New X-Men, but dropped the title after he left. I’m also a loyal Astonishing fan. But that’s it. So I’m not really up on the mutants at all. I had thought that Bobby lost his powers after House of M. Was that Mystique’s doing? Well, his is the story that looks the most intriguing. It’s somewhat reminiscent of when the White Queen had control of his body about 200 issues (of Uncanny) ago, how she did things with his powers that he had never thought about. I couldn’t care any less about Karma or Boom Boom. Since I don’t read issue previews or summaries, I don’t know what to expect with the mini. Will it be different focuses each issue, or will it focus on Iceman, Karma and Boom Boom?


El Diablo Volume 3 #1

The biggest flaw in this book is the overall premise: a guy on the brink of death become hell’s bounty hunter, a skull-faced character with a flaming steed exacting vengeance on those who prey on the innocent. He basically a Hispanic Ghost Rider who was a criminal in his previous life. It’s not necessarily bad, but really, we’ve seen this before. Jai Nitz, the writer, is a new name to me. I would hope that his execution will end up being more original than the premise, but I won’t be along for the ride.

Marvel Apes #1

If this were played for humor, okay, it’d be cute. But the Gibbon gets transported to a Planet-of-the-Apes type world that has monkey equivalents of Marvel’s superheroes and villains? Wow. This is so not good.

Rann/Thanagar Holy War: Adam Strange Special #1

That seemed vastly pointless and something that could have been handled in a couple of pages in the main mini-series. I’m sure it’ll have dire ramifications for the story, but really, I think you could probably just enjoy the mini by itself.

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