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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of May 26th


Brave and the Bold #34: It’s hard to review this issue of Brave and the Bold as this was the first part of a two-part story, one that is especially heavy on time-travel. So though there were hints about what is to come in issue #35, it’s incredibly hard to critique the overall story without knowing how it will end. I will say that once again Straczynski is really in his element writing stories that don’t have to be overly concerned with continuity. Plus, I’ve never really cared much about the Legion of Super-Heroes, nor have I ever read any Doom Patrol stories, but despite my lack of knowledge I never felt lost. I’ll go ahead and save my final judgment on this story until we get the second half next month, but I will say that this was a good, action-packed read, with some strange moments of uncharacteristically (for JMS) irreverent humor.

Detective Comics #865: It was real hard to read this without already feeling nostalgia for Greg Rucka, because this was a prime example of a (for the most part) disposable Batman story. Writer David Hine isn’t bad by any means, but it’s hard to compare to Rucka's short-lived run on the book. So, this month was all about Jermiah Arkham and just how deep his split Black Mask persona goes. Spoiler alert! Turns out it runs real deep. Dude’s crazy. The end. Anyway, my main problem with this issue is that it felt a bit too much like something mainly written by the plot team at DC, with the dialogue details filled in by the writer. It falls into that ever-growing category of forgettable Batman stories. Despite this, that Re-Animator jocking Cliff Chiang cover did win back a lot of points with this reviewer.

Scalped #38: While I normally don’t mind the one-off issues of Scalped, I’m dying to see what is going on with the main cast of the book, characters who we haven’t directly seen in several months now. Sure, we did get that AMAZING set of Shunka-issues, but other than that nothing in the way of Bad Horse and the like. However, that’s really my only complaint, as this month’s Vietnam-based story provided quite the shocker in regards to the history of Dash’s father, the "lucky" Ward. I’m hoping that this somehow comes back to bite the present day events of the story, and knowing the way Aaron writes, it definitely http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=6281001892066804055will. Plus, this issue carries special significance, as that Full Metal Jacket cover is more than just an homage to the film (Jason Aaron factoid: his uncle was Gustav Hasford, the Vietnam-vet who penned The Short-Timers, which was the basis for Full Metal Jacket). My brain is running on auto-pilot these days, so what can else can I say other than READ SCALPED FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Unknown Soldier #20: Coming on the heels of Unknown Soldier’s cancellation announcement, this issue officially marks the beginning of the end. Whether or not this issue was written pre- or post cancellation, I’m not sure, but it certainly feels post, as this issue shows our psychotic hero running on fumes. One thing I love about Unknown Soldier is that they really make you feel the violence. It's not a pretty picture, but death rarely is. There’s so much good about this series that I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am that it will end a short five issues from now. We’ll save that for another post. What I will say is that this issue continues the high quality of Unknown Soldier by being ridiculously compelling, violent, scary, as well as better than almost everything else on the rack.


Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock? #1: A comic by Rob Zombie? “Sure, why not?” I said to myself last week, as I added a copy of the book to my stack of books. I used to rock the Zombie-A-Go-Go everyday as an adolescent, and I still love House of 1,000 Corpses and (to a lesser degree) Devil’s Rejects, so why not check out the man's comic. How was Baron Von Shock? Well...pretty underwhelming to be honest. It wasn't horrible, but I feel like (and this is a problem with lots of celebrity-penned comics) Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock? is a sort of mix between a film pitch and a comic. What do I mean by this? Well, reading the story, you know that it is obviously placed in reality, but at the same time the idea that a public access host would ever gain this kind of fame, notoriety, or wealth, is completely unbelievable even by comic book standards. Then there’s a bit of a mix-up involving the time line (1985 sure looks more like 1975), but whatever. The real problem here is that despite an interesting premise, the execution is just too bland to compel me to want more.


Marvel Zombies 5 #3: This book just continues to wow me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but in my opinion, this has been the best of the Marvel Zombies titles. This is mainly thanks to 1 person and 1 feathered alien: Fred Van Lente and Howard the Duck. When I picked this title up last week the guy behind the counter mentioned that the Duck is really the reason to read this book, and though I couldn’t agree with him more, you have to give credit where it’s due. Through books like Incredible Hercules, Van Lente has quickly become one of the most enjoyable writers in the Marvel bullpen, mainly because he knows how to write comics that are both funny and fun to read. Seriously read this guy. Marvel Zombies 5 also gains points for being tailor-made by (and for) rabid zombie fans, as each issue contains numerous nods to the work of such masters of the genre as Romero and Raimi. There’s a lot of people out there who feel the “Marvel Zombies” might’ve worn out their welcome, and I actually agree; the difference here is that we’re not dealing with “Superheroes turned into Zombies” (snore) but instead a rag-tag team of C-list characters flying through the multiverse on a mission to blow away a variety of undead types. It's a blessing that these characters aren’t the A-listers, because it has allowed Van Lente to turn Marvel Zombies 5 to be a purely enjoyable, no-pressure kind of book.

Wolverine: Weapon X #13: Not to say that I’m hating the current time-travelin’, Deathlok-centric storyline, but I think I’m just ready for it to be done. It’s a painfully stale idea (time traveling assassins), and though I’m sure the identity of the future-villain will be fun enough, I really just want to see what’s coming next for Wolverine, namely the teased "Wolverine Goes to Hell" story. I’m not saying that this current arc is poorly written or anything, as there are some genuinely fun moments (seeing Spider-Man get iced in the future was the highlight of this issue), and I always enjoy Aaron’s writing style, but overall I'm not invested. I feel like we're just biding our time, waiting for the next arc. Basically, it's boring. However, I’m such an Aaron fanboy that I’ll stick with pretty much anything he writes, unless there is a MAJOR drop in quality. What can I say? The guy writes Scalped.


Green Hornet Year One #3: If you would’ve told me last year that I’d actually be reading and enjoying a comic about the Green Hornet, I probably would’ve asked you to stop doing drugs (or at least take a break). Yet here I am, loving Matt Wagner’s Green Hornet Year One more than probably any other masked-hero books currently coming out. It’s a simple, straight-forward origin story, but Wagner takes it above and beyond. Having Green Hornet and Kato meet at a pivotal moment of the Second Sino-Japanese War was a stroke of genius, and it really elevates both characters to a new level. It’s books like this that remind me that there’s still something to be said for a well-told vigilante story. This issue is also great because it features more of Aaron Campbell’s wonderfully atmospheric art as well as more of Wagner’s over-the-top 1930s gangster speak.

Robocop #4: Now that we’ve reached what is essentially the end of the first arc, it will be interesting to see where Dynamite takes Robocop. Seeing as how these initial issues played like a direct sequel to the original film, it made sense for the book to be full of ED-209s, fired police officers, and OCP-meddling; but now that the ED-209s have failed (again), I wonder what kind of antagonist-bot writer Rob Williams will come up with. Will every story revolve around OCP? Or will we get to see other evil mega-corporations? I certainly hope so. One things for sure, from the way this issue ends it's clear there won't to be a break in the action between this and issue #5. They've given me no reason to worry yet, so here's to hoping that the team of Williams/Neves knows that to survive, Robocop better keep running on it's two strongest legs: violence and satire.


  1. Jon -- I wish I had gotten into unknown soldier. Hearing that it's canceled, after reading your reviews, is pretty saddening. Maybe I'll pick up a trade.

    It looks like I'll have to do the same for Scalped. I've looked at it several times, but seeing how far in its gotten, I thought I'd be too far behind to understand. I love the covers, though.

    JMS on continuity? You totally nailed it -- he's a much better writer when he doesn't have to rely on continuity. His Spider-Man run was atrocious. And he's taking over the writing duties on Superman (yikes!) which is a continuity heavy character.

    Laslty, Marvel Zombies isn't just kicking a dead horse; it's beating the rotting corpse into the ground. I love zombie stuff (and have you seen the new Walking Dead AMC pics!!!) but this is beyond ridiculous. They're milking the cash cow to the point where she ain't producing milk, just spitting white powder. I hate that they're continuing with this because Zombies used to be so awesome. Now? They're losing their luster. Maybe they should just give in and create a Marvel Zombies series rather than these sequels.

    Great reviews this week, Jon!

  2. I'm really hoping that they at least put out a big hardcover edition of Unknown Soldier sometime in the future. It deserves some sort of nice collection, because I'm fairly certain it will go down as a series that people will revere once it builds an audience through trades/word of mouth. It will be too little too late by then though. Thankfully, I actually believe Dysart when he says that the ending will be satisfying, although with only 4 issues left, there's going to need to be a lot of explaining. Whatever happens, it won't be as unsatisfying as Lost.

    I guess now we can get excited for his wok on Neil Young's Greendale...(I actually am a bit excited about it, especially since there will be some Cliff Chiang art).

    As far as MZ5 is concerned, the real appeal of the series for me is the team (Machine Man and Howard the Duck). I would watch them do anything; unfortunately the "house of ideas" probably thinks that they can only sell a book starring these characters if there's a gimmick involved, so this time it's zombies. I wish they'd give them a decent shot in their own book, but who am I kidding? For now I'll take what I can get.

    I'm just really happy that MZ5 doesn't have any of the actual "zombiefied superheroes," because I hate that idea. I know I've read this elsewhere, but why is it that in DC/Marvel comics, undead superheroes just turn into obnoxious, unfunny dickheads? All the "Black Lanterns" weren't as evil as they were annoying, and the same goes for any of the Marvel Super-Zombies. Since when did "He's a zombie" = "He has to act like an unfunny 13-year old"

    Oh, and JMS hates continuity like a kitten hates a bath.