Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What You Should Have Read #13

There’s snow on the ground, so I feel I need to be curled up somewhere with comics in my hands. Anything worthy this week?

Amazing Spider-Man #620
Dark Tower Battle of Jericho Hill #3
Enders Game Command School #5
R.E.B.E.L.S. #13
S.W.O.R.D. #4
Secret Six #18
Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #4
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7

Eight top-notch books. That’s pretty hefty for one week. Granted, I’ll be reading a lot more, but these eight will be read with a certain…care and consideration. I’m most interested in seeing how S.W.O.R.D. will play out after the surprisingly awesome issue last month.

Realm of Kings Books

All right, it’s about time we got to the menace that Quasar found out about a few months ago (in OUR time, not comic book time). I just didn't think it was going to be in the Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard book. You gotta wonder, though…what’s going on with Quasar? He obviously didn’t escape unscathed, so did he lead the invasion force here, or was that just a misdirect at the end of the Realm of Kings one-shot? And is this even the 616 Universe’s Quasar? It was mentioned in the one-shot that the Fault-universe’s Quasar had left also. I’m betting this Quasar and the one that returned to Project: Pegasus are two different entities. The question is, which is which?


Ultimate Books

As whole, I really enjoyed Ultimate Armor Wars. As a final issue, though, it just felt rushed. From the attack by Tony’s grandfather’s goons, to the revelation that the mastermind was in fact Tony’s thought-to-be-dead grandfather, to Tony’s miraculous 11th hour save, it was just too…darned…rushed.

I thoroughly dislike this faux-Manga artwork being used in Ultimate Spider-Man, but I can get past it because I like everything else about the book so much. I had forgotten all about the Watcher appointing a herald in the Ultimate Origin mini, but Johnny asking if it was him in the flashback brought it all (well, a bit of it) back. Having it be Rick Jones? Pretty cool. I can even get past the fact that he lives across the street from Peter and maybe has for quite some time, but Peter doesn’t even know who he is. I can’t wait to see where this is going.


X Books

I am really feeling no love for the New Mutants. Scott said it himself this issue, these guys and gals ARE X-Men. I understand that he’s looking for his future replacement, but wouldn’t it be better to look for that in a regular X-Men team rather than a team that just screams “NEWBIE” and “UNTESTED”? And the title is deceptive because there’s not one NEW mutant on the team. This is the original third wave (the first would be the original X-Men, and the second would be the team that Professor X gathered to rescue the originals from Krakoa); not everything old has got to be new again.

X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back was a confusing book. And not confusing in a good, I’ve-got-to-see-how-this-plays-out way, but confusing in an oh-my-God-this-is-stupid-and-I-want-nothing-more-to-do-with-it way. With the opening, I assumed that the teen X-girls were attempting to go to a normal high school, but that obviously isn’t the case. This is almost like a weird, stream-of-consciousness magic thing, where everybody is just talking, regardless of if they’re making sense or not. No more of this mini for me, thank you.

Deadpool Team-Up is a pretty much just one, long, over-used joke. And like all long and over-used jokes, it’s not funny anymore. Wade randomly teamed up with a space trucker and fought some biker raccoons? The whole time I was confused as to how the raccoons learned to ride bikes and fire weapons, but that was quickly explained away at the end. And I learned more about U.S. Ace than I ever wanted to know. It’s Deadpool and I expect a certain amount of frivolity and irreverence, but this was just plain stupid.

Okay, we’ve got another crack in Osborn’s armor in Dark X-Men. I can get behind that. I’m even okay with the Goblin persona taking over. I don’t think I buy it, though, that Weapon Omega was the lone voice of dissent. He never struck me as that clever. And Nate’s big plan was to unleash the Goblin? Is that so the world can finally (again?) see Osborn for what he really is? Okay, but four faux X-Men aren’t the world, and two of them are villains in their own right, so what’s he really accomplishing? And will this all end with Nate being Osborn’s secret weapon from the Siege: The Cabal one-shot? There’s a lot of speculation going around that that is in fact Nate. But who knows. After the most recent events of Siege, it could have been a Void-controlled Sentry. I guess we’ll get a better answer about Nate by the end of the final issue.


Other Marvel Books

I used to really like the monthly What If series from Marvel. I’m somewhat a fan of alternate versions of things. It’s probably why I like song remixes and mash-ups so much. But these past few years, with Marvel’s new What If non-series, I’ve been less than impressed, and the reason is illustrated with What If: World War Hulk. Rather than spending a whole issue on fleshing out a good thought, the book is split into two stories, which are pretty watered down. I enjoyed the premise of the main story, but too many things were glossed over or under-explained.

The best thing about each issue of Vengeance of the Moon Knight is the cover by Leinil Francis Yu. Everything after that is confusing, at least to a less-than-casual reader of the hero. I get the premise, that he was bat-shit crazy in his previous series and incredibly violent, very much like the Punisher, and now he’s toned down and is trying to be a better hero while keeping the crazy to a minimum. What did he do to piss off Osborn, though, and have him send the Hood to get him? The fights this issue were short, peppered throughout the book, and somewhat pointless. He’s supposed to be fighting Bushman, but he can’t get past his random lackeys? And why was Spidey even here? That was pretty pointless.

The scathing wit and humor weren’t quite as prevalent in this issue of S.W.O.R.D., but it showed up where it could, and that’s all right. Brand handled the Metroliths wonderfully. And Gyrich, with his not backing down to Osborn and claiming that the symbiote will eventually have to go, is classic Gyrich. I want to know who/what that robot thing is. He’s like Loki, but more likeable and less slick and slimy.

Daniel Way must be the best writer ever, because, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Hit-Monkey was one of the best books of the week. With a book about an assassin monkey (monkey assassin sounds like someone who kills monkeys), you’d think this would be a story with tongue firmly planted in cheek. But it’s not. Way gives Hit-Monkey a somewhat serious origin. And other than the ridiculousness of seeing a monkey practice martial arts and then kill a hit squad, there’s really nothing funny about the book. And that’s what makes it good.

I have the same problem with Ender’s Game: Command School that I had when I finished Ender’s Game, the book. It all happens so fast. I love the idea of the kids actually fighting the war and Ender not knowing this. But once Ender got on Eros and was “introduced” to Mazer, everything just happened so fast. It came as quite a shock after the somewhat more leisurely pace of battle school. That doesn’t diminish the fact, though, that this is probably the best science fiction book I’ve ever read, and rereading it in this medium did not lessen that experience.

Have I mentioned that I’m really liking the direction that Amazing Spider-Man is going lately? I do. I really do. This go-around, Mysterio didn’t really get a power-up, per se, but he attempt to up his “street cred” a bit by taking over the destroying the Maggia as well as Mr. Negative’s gang. It didn’t work out, but I like the ambition. And it didn’t seem to phase him all that much that Spidey won out at the end of the day. I can’t wait to finally see what the Kravinoffs have in store for Spidey, and this reunion of the Sinister Six (‘cause I promise that’s what’s happening) has the makings of something epic.


Blackest Night Books

What an awesome ending to the Secret Six/Suicide Squad clash. Last issue was a bit bumpy, but this one finished off the crossover quite nicely. I think Waller, and at the end Flagg, let the Six go all too easily, but if that’s what it takes to keep this team together and this book going, then that’s perfectly fine with me. The cool moments and verbal jabs were wonderful. Savage admitting that she was allowing Bane to think he was in charge. Waller’s revelation at the end (which was news to me even though I’ve been reading the SS books since Infinite Crisis…had that nugget of info already been mined?). Lawson’s apparent indifference at the possible death of Catman. Excellent stuff.

Sometimes a book starts out well, but a company-wide crossover comes a long and just about destroys any momentum that may have built up. That’s what has happened with Adventure Comics. It was going along great for a few issues, then Blackest Night came along and we got all of the Superboy Prime crap, and now we’ve got the Nekron-controlled Superboy. Aren’t Luthor and Brainiac plotting something somewhere? Isn’t that what’s supposed to be going on? That said, I thought Conner’s solution was pretty ingenious. Can we back to the regular story now, though?


Justice Books

Well, JSA All-Stars should have been read before the most recent Justice Society Annual. The brunt of the main story does nothing but set up the plot for it. We also get a little bit of Sandy being all ominous. That guy’s been pretty useless since the end of the last JSA series. And then there’s the Hourman/Liberty Belle back-up. It’s wonderful to see a superhero couple portrayed as having a normal, loving marriage…but it makes for some boring reading. I like the fact that they’ve got separate day jobs now, as referenced in the main story.


Superman Books

While being a bit wordy with the encyclopedic tidbits, Action Comics was pretty good. We learned about the history of Nightwing and Flamebird and the jealous third wheel. I can’t remember if it’s actually been stated, but that story combined with Jax-Ur having his hand in the Nightwing/Flamebird pie greatly implies that he is the vessel or reincarnation or whatever of the Builder/Breaker. Good history lesson, and good story.


Other DC Books

I have no idea what’s going on with the Titans. With half of them becoming members of the JLA, will there be a Titans team other than the Teen Titans? Does there need to be? I don’t think so. The last page says “End,” but I’m not sure if it’s the end of the series or the end of the two-part storyline. I’m kind of hoping it’s the end of the series.

I like the few similarities between S.W.O.R.D. and R.E.B.E.L.S.: they’re both acronyms, they’re both about aliens, and they both usually contain quite a bit of sarcasm. This actually has nothing to do with the issue, though. I’m worried about Starro’s fate. Dox’s team has a plan to stop and possibly kill him, as does Tigorr’s team. Usually when this happens, the two plans end up canceling each other out. There will be a lot of disappointed people, including some closest to Starro, if he doesn’t end up being killed by one of these methods. Oh, and small body/large head Despero was awesome, and it was an injustice to the reader to only see him for one panel. I’m just glad we didn’t have to see his “little conqueror.”

I have absolutely no knowledge of the Human Target. Before the show started a few weeks ago, I knew the character existed, but that’s it. I’ve never read a comic with him in it. So I don’t know how the show matches up with the original premise of the comic. What I DO know is that fans of the show will more than likely enjoy this comic. It captures the feel of the show perfectly. I can actually imagine Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley saying the lines of their respective on-screen characters. Other than that, though, the book is slightly corny.

All in all, the Shield is a good book. Good storytelling, good art, good character. Even the backup story with the Flame and Comet was good. But I just can’t get into the book for some reason. I’m not quite sure why that is. I really like the fact that the Shield is a soldier, not a superhero, and the suit is his weapon, nothing but a tool he uses. I like that we’re slowly being introduced to the other Impact/Archie characters, rather than just getting the thrown at us. I ALWAYS like it when Nazis get their asses handed to them. So why can I not get more excited about this book?

Booster Gold is an impotent hero. We know he’s always going to win. If a villain goes back in time, we know that somehow Booster will find a way to keep the timestream safe. Did you ever watch Quantum Leap? Did you see the episode where Sam leapt into Lee Harvey Oswald, and we went through this (I think) two-episode story where we think the purpose is to save JFK, but as it turns out, he was supposed to keep Jackie safe, which he did. But we know nothing…actually…happened. That’s what this book feels like. A lot of story with absolutely no payoff. The Blue Beetle back-ups have been nice, but this story seemed to end rather abruptly. Yay for Peacemaker, I guess. Let’s just nuke the hero.

Non DC/Marvel Books

I know I said that, so far, he’s not that great of a fit for the Justice Society, but I think Bill Willingham is doing a great job on Angel. He’s got the well-known characters down. I liked the flashback that explained Angel’s predicament. I always love Spike, so every time he opens his mouth, I’m entertained (that didn’t sound quite right). The back-up story was good, but I don’t think we know enough about Eddie Hope to care that he has a solo story.

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