Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comic Book Reviews for the Week of Oct. 1, 2008

Cream of the Crop

Doktor Sleepless #9

The first issue of Book Two. It looks like this time around we’re getting an outsider’s perception of Heavenside and all the crazy goings-on there. I like that angle. Using a relatively normal person, as far as we can tell from the first issue, allows the reader to immerse themselves in the weird a bit easier. It’s like gradually heating a pot of water with a frog in it to boiling rather than just dropping the pour amphibian into the boiling water. We were just hit with it last time around, and that usually doesn’t work for me when writers are trying to go all high concept. I’m not some gigolo you can bang right away; I need some romance and some get-to-know-you time first. After that, bang away my weird British friend, bang away.

March on Ultimatum Saga #1

Holy crap. If you’ve wanted to get into the Ultimate universe of books but have been put off by any continuity you might need to know, get this book. It’s a reader, mostly text with a few panels pulled from an issue here or there, but it’s well worth the time. This tells you EVERYTHING about the Ultimate universe beginning with the conflict between Atlantis and Lemuria and ending with the present. Even if you’ve been reading the Ultimate comics since the beginning, this is a wonderful reference to have.

The Boys #23

I’m waiting for the eventual payoff when Hughie realizes that he’s schtuping the only hero with a conscience on The Seven. That should be fun. This issue was all planning, but through the planning we learned a LOT about the G-Men, obvious parodies of the X-Men. Ennis has done what Liefeld never could when he started Youngblood, a group of heroes who were media and licensing darlings. Of course, I don’t think we were supposed to hate Liefeld’s characters (at least not on purpose) like we’re supposed to with Ennis’. Hughie’s girlfriend seems like the only respectable one we’ve seen yet, and that makes me dread her future.

Trinity #18

I love alternate reality stories, and I think I’m really going to enjoy the mystery behind this one. Busiek and Bagley have really found their stride with this book, and I hope they can keep it up for another 34 issues. And it looks like a new player has replaced Tarot as the lead in the back-up series, someone who knows something isn’t quite right about the world.


Civil War: House of M #2

Pretty good, if not quick issue. Last issue saw Magneto’s reason for fighting, which is more or less the same as his 616 reason. This issue sees him build his army and forge a short-lived friendship with Charles Xavier. It’s a simple and unnecessary story, but one that is told very well. I’m learning that Christos Gage is a consistently solid writer. Andrea Divito is a solid artist. Nothing flashy, but very clean. Sort of a Ron Frenz/Sal Buscema/Mark Bagley feel to it.

DC Universe: Decisions #2

My thoughts on this issue are split. 1) Winick and Willingham are excellent writers and they’ve crafted a solid story. 2) While I tend to find Porter’s line work a bit to sharp, it’s nice to see him drawling the JLA again. It’s a nostalgia thing; his and Morrison’s version of the JLA is my version. So we’ve got good writing with art I’m enjoying, but I’m not connecting with the story. I’m not a very political person at all, and the voice of celebrity has no effect on my political leanings one way or another. So superhero endorsement of fake candidates mean nothing to me. If this ends up being part of the villain’s plot, I’m okay with that. But if it’s just in the story because we’ve got an extremely important election in just under a month, then I’m a little put off by it.

Justice League of America #25

This ranks very low on my Leftovermeter. First off, we’ve got a continuity snafu going on. Isn’t Animal Man in space dealing with the Rann/Thanagar Holy War? So what’s he doing at home, and will Anansi clear this all up, like he cleaned up his power issue? I liked that he could take on the abilities of space creatures. It was a neat concept. And I really don’t mind the return of his original powers, I just wish it wouldn’t have been so easy. It smacks of Mephisto meddling with Spider-Man’s marriage. At least in that instance a choice was involved. I liked the different artists, although some of it seemed a bit too dark. Not thematically, just plain old dark. I’m ready for the Vixen stuff to end. As with Animal Man, I think she’s more interesting with her new abilities. But those are gone now, too.

No Hero #1

I had to think about where to place this book. It’s Warren Ellis, probably #2 on my list of favorite writers, and it’s a good set-up (if you don’t count issue #0 as the set-up, which actually was), but a fundamental reason is keeping me from placing it in the Cream of the Crop. It’s Ellis himself. I’m a member of his mailing list, a frequent visitor to his blog, and a Myspace friend. I get updates about the guy and general ramblings from him. I’ve also read my fair share of interviews. He has said on numerous occasions that he is sick of superheroes unless something different and new can be done. He might be nailing different on the surface of each new book he puts out, but the new isn’t really there. Underneath everything, underneath (or even right out in the open if I can notice it) The Authority and Black Summer and Planetary and Doktor Sleepless and Freakangels and now No Code is a firm belief in the failure of current leadership/authority and the belief that something better can and should be done. It’s all there, and maybe the methods or the outcome may be different, but the message is the same, “Fight for what you believe in.” At least that’s what I’m getting out of it all. I’m also having a little problem with some of the art. I’m used to seeing Juan Jose Ryp’s name on Avatar books. He seems to be a company man, and that’s cool. He’s ultra-detailed and very graphic, which seems to be at the core of Avatar release, which I’m also cool with. Maybe (probably) it’ll be explained in later issues, but what’s up with the “sand” that’s splashing around whenever Joshua hits someone? It even happens when Carrick claps his hands together and The Operator does something to her phone. I hope it has something to do with the story, because if it’s just an effect, it’s awful.

Sub-Mariner: The Depths #2

This isn’t a story about Namor. This is a story about myth and legend and belief, about what men dream about and what their nightmares are, and about discovery of self. The reader isn’t sure if Namor ever even shows up in this issue. There are hints and conjecture, theories and possible dreams, but as the scientist said, if it were nothing but a dream, then what of the pool of sea water in his cabin? The book intrigues me. I have no love for Namor, so the less he’s in the book the more I’m enjoying it. I’ll wait until the end of the mini, though, to say if I like it or not. Right now I’m just intrigued.

Terror Titans #1

Decent story that picks up from the events in Teen Titans. Rose has been recruited by Clock King to work with and train his Terror Titans while he plots and maneuvers to take over the Dark Side Club. This whole Dark Side Club has my hackles up. I don’t like the way the New Gods were just wantonly killed off. As epic as the mini was, Death of the New Gods was anything but epic. I’m assuming this will be rectified in Final Crisis, but there are already contradictions in that, so I have no idea what to expect. While that’s usually a good thing, it’s leaving me cold.

Top Ten: Season Two #1

I didn’t jump on the America’s Best Comics bandwagon when it first rolled in. I should have. It’s a good story by Zander Cannon, I can only imagine what it would have been like under Alan Moore. And really, my hesitation a handful of years ago is the only thing keeping this out of the Cream of the Crop. I don’t know any backstory and I don’t know any of the characters. Looks like I’ve got some back issues to pick up.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #1

What is the fascination with Vixen lately? I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just more into Animal Man after reading Morrison and Delano’s runs on his book, but I’ll take him over Mari any day. The one thing that bumps this book out of the Compost and into the Leftovers is the art. I’ve never heard of Cafu. I don’t know if he’s new or if I just haven’t run across him, but wow. He’s not there yet, but I see big things in this…person’s (is this a guy or a girl?) future. I can’t wait to see what his work will look like in a few years. What we get in this issue is an unrefined beauty. And I think some credit also needs to go to the colorist, Santiago Arcas. Very soft colors here give the work a great depth. What I find lacking in interest for the hero is more than made up for by the art.


Aspen Showcase: Benoist #1

In all honesty, this wasn’t a bad book, but it was my first Aspen book, so I’m not sure if I’m missing the bigger picture. Is this a new character, or something that is a part of Fathom? The gist of the book is a guy finds out he’s doing work he didn’t know he was doing, and when his bosses find out they know, they kill him…or at least they think they do. He’s found, given bionic limbs, goes through some personal issues, and winds up stronger. Not a bad story, but not all that original, either. But it’s not something that I’m interested in pursuing, hence the Compost Pile.

Four Eyes #1

Imagine a cock fight during The Great Depression, except instead of being in a basement or somebody’s secluded back yard it’s in an arena or stadium, and instead of roosters it’s dragons. When I think of dragons, I think of something on a scale slightly larger than gambling. The script is serviceable, but I’m not sure what the plot is yet. The art smacks of Tim Sale, but with a looser style. Max Fiumara, a name I don’t recognize, draws gorgeous dragons, but there aren’t enough in here, and I don’t like his people all that much. Good effort, and maybe I’ll check on the book again at some point, but right now there’s not enough to keep me coming back.

Greatest American Hero Ashcan

Okay, I realize that it’s an ashcan edition that’s supposed to get us ready for the series to come, but it was ridiculous. They could have at least given us a complete section of the book or some sketches or notes or something. Instead they give us a few random pages that do nothing to get me excited for this comic about a TV series I have great nostalgia for.


Thea said...

Blah, I agree with you on Vixen. Mediocre character, bland writing, but the art is gorgeous (Cafu is a dude, I believe).

I picked up the Terror Titans issue too, but haven't had the chance to read it yet. Hmm...hoping I like it, since I like McKeever's Teen Titans run...

Rob Rosenblatt said...

I think I read that Cafu did some work on Black Panther, but since I'm not a Black Panther fan, I don't know when that might have been.

I've felt very bored with McKeever's run on Teen Titans, but I think that's more because of the characters than the writing. My Teen Titans are the original group from this current series. Now two of the characters are dead, three are back with the Titans in their new book, and it seems like new people are coming and going each issue. I like the new Blue Beetle's book a lot, but I'm not getting the same vibe from him when he's in the Teen Titans. I've never liked Wonder Girl as a Teen Titan (I didn't read Young Justice, but I've been meaning to, so I can't comment on her in that series), but I was interested in what Johns was trying to set up with Ares. It looks like we'll be delving into that a bit soon. Robin has a lot on his plate over in the Bat books, so he's either not in this book or is very behind the scenes. And it seems like almost everybody has their own Marvin and Wendi: Blue Beetle has his version, the new New Warriors have their version...okay, just two I can think of off the top of my head, but I think these examples are better characters than those in the Teen Titans. I miss Geoff Johns. He seemed to be always moving with the team, whereas now they just react.