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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comic Reviews: Week of March 3rd

DC:

Adventure Comics #8:

Going into this issue I already had some reservations, and unfortunately they were all valid. This issue is complete filler. The main story is broken into two prologues, each leading into the upcoming "Last Stand of New Krypton" Superman event. Across these two intros, we're given a lot of set-up explaining how and why all these various superheroes (superteens mostly) came together before heading off to the main event. The only thing I liked about this issue was the first four pages, which detailed Brainiac 5's lifelong struggle with his namesake. I've never read much of anything featuring Brainiac 5, but within these few opening pages writer Sterling Gates creates an excellent and interesting take on the character. There's also a third back-up feature that also ties into the upcoming event, but it would be pretty pointless for me to attempt to describe it here, since I don't recommend buying this issue unless you are either invested in Adventure Comics, or you're planning on reading Last Stand of New Krypton.

Detective Comics #862:

Could there be a better Batwoman writer than Greg Rucka? So far his run on Detective Comics is everything I'd hoped it would be. The parallel Batman/Batwoman timelines of the "Cutter" arc are each executed perfectly, and the work of artist Jock and colorist Dave Baron is something to see. More than just a narrative trick, the dual investigations draw the reader deeper into the story, revealing more and more about each character through their respective methods. Other than Batman and Robin, this is the best Bat-book currently hitting the shelves. If you're a Batman fan and not reading this book, you're obviously not paying enough attention.

First Wave #1:

Dusting off characters from the Golden Age is often an ill-fated move. From what I've seen, this can go one of two ways: either the story comes off as a boring, kitchy gimmick, or the characters are given new life thanks to a thought-out revitalization of their core characteristics. I think it's safe to say that thankfully, First Wave is going the way of the latter. Unlike Frank Miller's horribly executed Spirit film, First Wave feels like real pulp, not an overly-stylized imitation. It's a testament to Brian Azzarello's skill as a writer that although I was only fairly familiar with Doc Savage and the like, I never felt lost. And while Azzarello has proven himself in the past to be a writer of the highest caliber, there is a welcomed restraint to First Wave that already sets it apart from Azzarello's pulp styling of 100 Bullets, Joker, or Filthy Rich. Having said that, this is only the first issue (not counting the Batman/Doc Savage Special), so hopefully I'm not speaking too soon.

Jonah Hex #53:

This is the first full issue of Jonah Hex I've ever read, and I can already say that I'm excited to stick with the series from here on out. "You'll Never Dance Again" is a fairly stereotypical Western train heist tale, full of fantastically gory action and tough-as-leather characters. For me, an important criteria of one-and-done issues is how much you need to know about the characters to understand and follow the story. To that end, all I know about Jonah Hex is his occupation and appearance. Knowing nothing else, I enjoyed the story immensely, and that says a lot.


IMAGE:

Chew #9:

Off all my favorite off-kilter titles, Chew is quickly emerging as the best. There are few comics out right now that are as colorful, imaginative, or gleefully as self-aware as Chew. The penultimate chapter in the title's second arc, Chew #9 leads us deeper into Tony Chu's investigation of the Gallsaberry plant, an extra-terrestrial chicken substitute that is causing more problems than it solves. Issue #9 also introduces us to a possible vampire and to super chef Fatanyeros, who can induce feelings through his cooking. With each passing panel and page, I find myself more and more surprised and entertained by Layman and Guillory's miraculous world of culinary delights. In Image's emerging kingdom of weird, Chew is the crown jewel.

Undergound #5:

It's amazing what an accomplished creative team can accomplish with such a straight-forward story. More survival adventure than crime comic, Underground has been a refreshing read for several reasons. First, it's beautiful to look at. Steve Lieber's art is top-tier stuff, and colorist Ron Chan deserves to be recognized for crafting a vivid sense of place both inside the caves and out. Second, I don't know if I've ever read a comic like this before in my life. That's not to say that the story is life-changing or particularly groundbreaking, but more that the survival adventure is not a staple of the contemporary comic book marketplace. This makes me think that maybe it should be. As Underground proves, there is still no defined parameter for what works in comics. Unorthodox in it's simplicity, rewarding throughout, Underground is a sleeper story that delivers.


MARVEL:

Ultimate Avengers #5:

It's hard to tell where Ultimate Avengers is headed. The current story feels like a Captain America spin-off more than anything else, although careful readers will note that Millar has been dropping in enough side characterization so that he can easily shift the focus to new characters in the next arc. And in true Millar/Marvel fashion, Ultimate Avengers #5 is mostly action followed by set-up for more action, with just enough space leftover for a quick jab at the French. Making for some of the more memorably disturbing panels in recent Marvel history, Ultimate Red Skull's villainy knows no depths, and he's everything you could want from a sadistic super-villain. By no means perfect, Ultimate Avengers is entertaining enough; and given a choice between Millar's vision of the Utlimates and Jeph Loeb's, the decision is painfully obvious.

Wolverine Weapon X #11:

In as much as Bendis and Brubaker are in charge of the Heroic Age, it seems that Rick Remender and Jason Aaron have been given the keys to the Marvel's darker heroes. Though his run on Ghost Rider recently wrapped, Aaron's work with PunisherMAX and Wolverine is just getting started. Despite my problems with the way Aaron writes the Kingpin, his Wolverine is exactly as he should be: violent, conflicted, and always in need of a drink. For a character who currently appears in at least five separate series, the best Wolverine out right now is in Weapon X. Though he spends most of this issue drinking around the world with Steve Rogers, it looks as though next issue will be Wolverine and Bucky Barnes fighting an army of Deahtloks, which should be good and violent, given the characters' shared history of brainwashed bloodshed.


MISC:

Muppet King Arthur #2 (BOOM KIDS):

Judging from this second issue, I may have been too harsh with my last review. Muppet King Arthur #2 is a vast improvement over the debut issue. The jokes aren't quite as forced, and we get some fun name plays such as Sir Cumnavigate, who is my favorite Muppet construct of the series so far. There's also a long-running joke featuring Bip Bippadotta (yes, he has a name), and the Mah Nà Mah Nà Muppets. One thing I've learned from all things Muppet: if you want to win your audience over, use Bip Bippadotta. Like the previous issue, the A cover by David Peterson is well worth your attention. Never before has Gonzo's questionable love for chickens looked so good.

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad to read your review on Ultimate Avengers: loved the Red Skull introduction. Super work by Millar. And I loved First Wave as well. I think Azarello brought some real substance to The Spirit and Doctor Savage. Plus, the art is phenomenal.

    I almost picked up Wolverine for the cover alone! I passed on Wolverine Weapon X, but I may have to go back and pick up a trade because it sounds like it's a good series.

    And lastly, poor Adventure comics. I LOVED the first arc, and I hoped against hope that it wouldn't descend into mediocrity. Guess it didn't pan out.

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  2. Looks like you got quoted for your review of Underground #5. http://periscopestudio.com/

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