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Friday, February 12, 2010

Comic Reviews: Week of Feb 10th


Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill #3
: I almost didn’t write a review for this because I’ve already expressed my disdain for it. But after reading it, my “Tower Love” kept gnawing at my conscience, and I felt a need to unload on this. The series is called “Battle of Jericho Hill” and while we’re three issues in, there hasn’t been a damn battle yet, nor the beginnings of one. I understand that Robin Furth is trying to weave her own Tower story using King’s ideas, but this is one moment that is alluded to by Roland in both Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. It’s an important moment in the Tower mythos because it shows how Alain, Jamie, and Roland’s best friend Cuthbert, all die. So far, we’ve been given a convoluted buildup involving slow mutants, a group of Amaco worshipping cultists, and a traitor whose been able to fool the greatest gunslinger ever to come from Gilead since the time of Arthur Eld. I don’t buy it. Roland is too smart and too clever to fall for such a ruse, and while Furth attempts to make Roland into the cold, remorseless leader he becomes in the Dark Tower series, the character holes are too great to ignore. This entire series has been a disappointment. I think Marvel made some poor choices with this series, and you can see it in the way they’ve constructed both The Stand and The Talisman comics -- better art, better writing, closer attention to story.

Ultimate Armor Wars #4:

This is another one that I almost didn’t write about, but man oh man -- from Tony meeting his mechanical grandfather to producing an alternate beheaded Tony Stark, Warren Ellis wrapped up this series with a bang. Plus, there are numerous references to a greater event that is yet to take place in the Ultimate Universe. One of my complaints with comic writers is that when they get into a rut, they rely on writing stories that play off of the character’s powers. When this happens, people forget what made the character so great in the first place. Luckily, Ellis reminds us that Tony Stark is pretty damn smart, and wouldn’t allow himself to played so easily. I was shocked at the ending because the set up had been there the entire time, the clues laid out nicely for the reader, but I still had the rug pulled out from under me. If you like Warren Ellis or Iron Man, pick this series up. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as I did. Plus, Steve Kurth’s art is amazing, and he constructs incredibly detailed panels, and captures a pretty heart-wrenching moment at the end.

Hit-Monkey #1:

This comic is exactly what it says. There’s an assassin that is saved by a tribe of monkeys, one of whom learns to mimic his movements. This is as farcical as one can get, but it’s actually a fun read. DC has it’s own chimp hero in Detective Chimp, so it’s about time Marvel attempted something similar (if they haven’t already). It’s an interesting idea, and what I enjoyed most about it is that the monkey can’t speak, nor does he understand the human language. Instead, he just knows how to fight with his hands and with guns. He’ll be appearing in the pages of Deadpool, so now would be the time to get to know him. Dalibor Talijic does some great pencil work here, specifically during the action sequence at the end. There’s an “Oh shit” moment when the hitmen turn to see the monkey standing before them with two loaded uzis in hand. This has the makings of a silly, yet entertaining series.

Amazing Spider-Man #620:

Spider-Man wraps up his conflict with Mysterio, and the ending is the proverbial bang, not the whisper. Dan Slott does a good job balancing the A plot (Spider-Man vs. Mysterio), with the B plot (Carlie’s realization about her dead father). Plus, it’s revealed that in the end, Mysterio was playing everyone against each other. It’s a shame this character didn’t appear in the movies because under Slott’s guidance, he’s brutal, clever, and funny. Spider-Man’s interactions with Quentin Beck showcase Spidey’s humorous side, and while Slott’s issues with Rhino and Sandman were pretty heavy handed, this is more light-hearted and provides a nice respite for the next arc of “The Gauntlet.” I can’t keep saying this enough: Read Amazing Spider-Man. This is Spider-Man as it should be.


Batman and Robin #8:

Batman vs. Batman?!? Master vs. Student?!? If you’re not familiar with Final Crisis, you may be a little lost here. During Final Crisis, Darkseid manufactured an army of Batmen to fight his unholy war. Here, the best of the Batmen, all others having been destroyed, is resurrected by Dick Grayson and a spectacular fight ensues. In the end, Psuedo-Bruce returns to Gotham only to encounter a wheel-chair bound Damien. This is definitely worth checking out. I wasn’t sure if DC could pull of a Bruce-less Batman, but they’re giving a good go. What I enjoy most is how Morrison makes Dick slightly different in an attempt to distinguish him from Bruce. The differences are subtle, but they showcase Morrison’s attention to detail. I’m excited to see where this keeps going.

Human Target #1: I took a chance on this hoping that it would show more of the character’s internal thoughts and really give the reader a good insight into how strong/intelligent/awesome Christopher Chance is. But, the comic is loaded with every clichéd line, action, and plot piece imaginable. There’s little substance to the comic, from what I can tell immediately, and nothing that would make me interested in reading more. I’ve never seen the show, so I don’t know if it’s as mediocre as the book, but I hope the series develops the characters more than the comic.

Action Comics #886:

In contrast to James Robinson’s Superman, Greg Rucka has penned a tight story that involves Nightwing and Flamebird, as well as a group of Rogue Kryptonians released from the Phantom Zone, and the Kryptonian god, Rao. I was impressed by the way in which Rucka returns to plot threads planted issues before. I’m finding the characters much more interesting than Big Blue, and I hope that when he returns to Earth, Nightwing and Flamebird are tossed to the side because they’ve been given depth and personality, as well as shown to be new heroes who are still developing their powers and who, occasionally, make mistakes. I’d love to see how Rucka writes Superman (even though he cowrites world of New Krypton, I’d like to see him work without Robinson’s influence), if he incorporates Supes into the world of Chris and Thara Ak-Var. I guess I’m just surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the new take on these old characters. But it seems in the hands of Greg Rucka, they’ve become relevant to the DC Universe, as well as important the Superman mythos.


The Anchor #1 (Hester/Churilla -- Boom):

I picked this up on recommendation. The Anchor is an interesting character because he’s God’s warrior. He’s interesting in that he’s not sure where he is or what he’s doing at any point in time, but he’s a brutal beast who gets the crap kicked out him, who wears the scars of his past, and who can continually heal despite the gashes in his thick skin. It took me a while to realize that I’d seen Phil Hester’s art before -- in the pages of Green Arrow (a comic I thoroughly enjoyed). So while there’s not much given to the character yet, the story is set up enough that it leaves A LOT of room for expansion. I think this is a good read for people who are looking for less mainstream comics. Plus, Hester is able to get away with a lot more blood and gore -- cool stuff to see illustrated.

Haunt #1 (Kirkman/Ottley -- Image): I know Kirkman has a plan, so I’m not going to shit-can Haunt yet. My comic guy recommended this too, and while I loved the art, there’s still a lot of explanation that needs to be done for me to buy in. The main character is a priest who appears, as of right now, as a less than stellar example of the clergy. His brother is murdered, and his ghost can communicate with him. The Priest, Daniel Kilgore, is able to bond with his brother’s spirit to become a superhero. I don’t think the first issue is very strong; it feels forced. A non-priest like priest gets mixed up in his brother’s international espionage shenanigans, while a mysterious doctor who does awful experiments on humans is murdered and a secret book of his is taken. Okay. There’s nothing original about this idea, so it’s hard for me to immediately buy in. I can seek Kirkman’s immediate character depth -- we know we’re going to learn more about these characters and what motivates them, but if I had to compare this first issue with The Walking Dead, I’d say this is a step back. The Walking Dead works well because it’s realistic characters in an horrific situation. Kirkman can write great characters, but this time he feels out of his element. I won’t, however, give up on this because I know Kirkman is a big-picture guy and he probably has big plans for this book, so in the end it will make perfect sense. I hope.

Chimichanga #1 (Powell -- Albatross Exploding Funny Books): I’ve never read The Goon, but Eric Powell is never spoken of negatively, so I had high hopes for this comic. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wacky story involving a bearded woman, a failing circus, a strange, egg-regurgitating bird, and a witch who creates a potion of hair and liquid that helps people with excessive gas. Chimichanga is a giant, wooly beast who follows the bearded woman around and whom, it seems, will be the savior of the story. It’s also just pencil work on traditional paper pages. This seems promising, and I recommend people pick up a copy of it if they have or haven’t read any Eric Powell.

Demo #1: (Wood/Cloonan -- Vertigo):

Again, this was another recommendation. It’s a single episode tale, which is nice, but it’s also very predictable. Within the first two pages, I knew who the girl was going to be at the end, and how she would end up in a situation where she’s falling from the ledge of a basilica. Becky Cloonan provides impressive pencil and ink work, however, but the story just doesn’t hold up. I guess there’s an earlier version of this, and maybe that ties in with this, but I don’t think I’ll be picking this up again. However, in a world full of story arcs, it’s nice to get a single story in 22 pages.


  1. SO many great covers this week! I've been loving your Spidey round-ups, and those have been the best covers I've seen in a long, long time.

    Also, good to see you picked up Demo. I've met Becky Cloonan a few times, and keep threatening to make her come on the show. She's too cool to not have her come on!

  2. I unfortunately have to skip some of your reviews as I plan to read some of that stuff eventually. But for things like Hit Monkey...

    Well, I was less than excited for it. I don't like monkeys. Well, maybe Lancelot Link. But when all the JLA turned in gorillas, ugh, then Marvel did Marvel Apes, double ugh (although Reilly's art on Spider-Monkey was fab!), I was beyond over it.

    But the fact that this is a monkey, an actual doesn't-speak-English monkey that learned from watching a hitman? Holy crap. That's awesome.

    I'd like to pick up Demo, but I'll get the trade. I just love Becky's art on the first series and the short vignettes are refreshing. Wood's writing can be hit or miss though, and it was on in the first Demo series. Hope it redeems itself enough for me to get it.

    I read a preview of Haunt. I can't believe they make crap like this still. I hated everything about it. Cliche fanboy bleh.

    Cool that the Anchor was good. Hester is really amazing. I can't recommend his The Wretch series enough. Weird, surreal, goofy, dark. If you dig his art, you'll love this B&W oddball series.

    Sounds like Human Target's new book is just trying to cash in on the TV series which is about as cliche action hour drama as it gets. Although, the main actor is enjoyable to watch. Too bad they cut out the interesting aspect of the character, the fact that he disguises himself as the intended victim and therefore loses his own identity. Check out the Vertigo series for this concept/character done to perfection.

    I'll get back to you on the Supes and Batman & Robin stuff. Got a LOT of DC catching up to do.

    Thanks for the reviews! Keep em coming.