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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of June 9th


Daytripper #7 (VERTIGO): While Daytripper never ceases to satisfy, I'm beginning to think the series might be suffering from a bit of thematic fatigue. This time around, the perennially doomed Brás De Olivia is finally the famous author he'd always dreamed he'd become; but things ain't all bananas and bikinis for Brás, as his long-missing best friend Jorge contacts Brás via a cryptic postcard, prompting Brás to track down his wayward amigo. I have to say that though this issue looked just as good as the previous six, something about this month's take on Brás' final days just didn't grip me quite like it has in the past. Like I said before, could just be a bit of fatigue on the series. Even though it though it lacked the profound impact of previous issues, it was still one of the best comics on the rack. Despite this minor misstep, I still believe that this series will be hailed as one of the best of the year. With only three issues left, I can't wait to see how Bá and Moon handle the rest of Brás' various fates.

Jonah Hex #56: This wasn't so much a new issue as it was a promotional piece for the Jonah Hex film, but it was nevertheless a good read. The two stories inside are meant to give new readers a sense of Hex's history both past and present: in "More Than Enough," Hex plays protector against land-hungry speculators, while in the follow-up story, "First True Love," we see Hex's youth as an Apache slave. The thought process here was probably "if you read these two stories you'll know enough about Hex to want to see the movie," and for what sounds like pure page-fodder it actually turned out alright. Granted, a fairly large chunk of the issue is devoted to an interview between the upcoming film's director Jimmy Hayward and regular Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, so there is some pure film-bait in here (not to mention the issue came with a poster for the movie). Overall, I'd say this was entertaining, but I still don't know how much faith I have in the movie. Call me crazy, but the previews for Jonah Hex have been bringing back a lot of unwanted flashbacks from the Judge Dredd movie. Yeeesssh


Chew #11: Another month of Chew, another great issue of the funniest gross-out comic to hit the stands in recent memory. In the first of the new "Just Desserts" arc, everybody's favorite FDA agent follows a lead on a club of debased diners, which convienently allows him to go on his first date with Amelia Mintz. Despite one exploding head, Chu finally gets...his...just desserts (I'm sorry, I had to!). Though the initial hype over this series might be dying down, it's still one the most purely enjoyable comics out right now.


Daredevil #507: That Paolo Rivera cover deserves better than this. Look, I've stuck with Daredevil for awhile now, but this latest lead-in to "Shadowland" does nothing but further the impending sense of suck for Daredevil's future. First of all, the issue starts with back-to-back splash pages that actually hurt my brain to try and follow. Things go from bad to worse as one of my new favorite character's fates is decided, and Matt Murdock acts like an easily-led moron in red tights. Yeah, he fights off some ninjas. Great. Maybe Diggle is just planning on pulling a "Batman" out of the hat and plans to reveal that Murdock is surreptitiously aware of the Hand leadership's conspiracy, but I seriously doubt it. A more likely situation is that Diggle and his Daredevil are blindly (heh) flailing around, convienently stupifying Matt Murdock and his readers so that we can all be easily led into Shadowland. And if there was any doubt that this is issue is just last-minute filler until Shadowland, on the last page somebody actually says "In Shadowland the Tree of our ambition shall bear bitter fruit." Something tells me the "bitter fruit" part of this prediction will turn out to be spot on.

Prince of Power #2: Oh Prince of Power, you make me hope Hercules never returns. Wait, scratch that. As long as Pak and Van Lente's amazing work with Hercules and Amedeaus Cho continues to be this awesome even after Herc's inevitable return, I don't care. If the cover didn't tip you off, this month Cho faces off against Hercules' other "best friend," and the result is just as full of onomatopoetic effects as I'd hoped. Books like Prince of Power make me seriously question if any other Marvel ongoing titles are even worth reading. They just aren't nearly as fun.

PunisherMAX #8: Last week I said that I didn't know if I'd read anything as inconsistent as Electric Ant. Nevermind, because Jason Aaron went ahead and delivered his second damn good issue of PunisherMAX in a row, a first for his run on the series. His version of Bullseye redefines the psychopath as a much more mentally unhinged and less humorous character than his 616-continunity contemporary. In my opinion this is undoubtably the right way to go; PunisherMAX's Bullseye is much more disturbing, and I actually cringe when I think about the things he's doing. Aaron's strength really lies in writing character-driven stories about violent men grasping for control, and for that reason this Bullseye arc is turning out to be a more satisfying and complex read than the initial "Kingpin" arc. Hopefully from here on out it will be smooth sailing story-wise, and PunisherMAX will fulfill it's potential as the logical next step in Aaron's bloody takeover of Marvel's A-list anti-heroes.

Spider-Man Fever #3: This has been one of the most fun Spider-Man stories to come along this year, and that's saying a quite a bit as both Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man have been pretty damn good (despite a few "American Son" and "New Ways to Die" missteps). For those who haven't been paying attention, Spider-Man: Fever is artist/writer Brandon McCarthy's icky sticky nightmare take on a Spider-Man/Dr. Strange team-up. If you're into that kind of thing, which I am, this comic rules. Even if you're not into that kind of thing this comic rules. The writing is good, but it's hard to pay attention to the words when the art is this vivid. The colorful world of Fever is playfuly psychadelic, shifting from the benignly bizarre to the outright horrific with the same disquieting ease one could expect from an honest-to-god hallucination. This is brainsick comics at their best. Marvel needs to take more risks like this. If you're in for an out-there Spider-Man story, I highly recommend picking up Fever.


CHEW #11 (IMAGE, John Layman, Rob Guillory): It was a close one between Fever, Prince of Power and Chew, but in the end I had to give it up for my favorite new series in the Image catalog. Chew managed to eek out the top spot for a very specific reason: Underneath all that irreverent humor and loose bodily fluids, Chew actually does touch on some serious subjects. The exticntion of animal species, an epidemic caused by a zoonotic disease, the pitfalls of genetically altered-food; all of these are very real issues that are only becoming more important as time progresses. Chew doesn't tackle these issues outright, but it at least makes you think about these things. Yet unlike other works of art with an animal/food rights message, Chew doesn't douse your furs in animal blood just to make a point; instead, it uses humor, satire, and damn good storytelling to keep it's audience interested enough to look beneath the surface of this endlessly enjoyable series. This issue is also an oddly timely one as well, given the recent passing of billionaire game hunter and all-around asshole Dan L. Duncan. Rich people acting outside the law, hunting (or in Chew's case, eating) endangered species? No, not in this world right? As Clay Davis says, "Sheeeeeiiiiiiiiiit."

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