Brian Gambols with 4/7 books

What?!?!? Reviews of the books that aren't even "5 minutes old" on the West Coast? Yeah, thought I'd try this for a week, and see the reaction. ReadySteadyGo! AVENGERS ORIGIN #1 (OF 5):  I don't know what all to say about the umpteenth retelling of the Origin of the Avengers -- it's a yeoman's job on the writing, and the Phil Noto art is relatively keen -- but I was much more interested that this is an "A" (ll ages) title from Marvel, and all of the house ads/etc, are aimed at a tween-or-younger audience. That makes it, somehow, not feel like the "real" Marvel U. I don't really think the book looks to appealing to tween-or-younger readers, however, and the retro-nature of it (Cunning, angry Hulk, pointy-headed Jan, Clunky Gold Iron Man) also works against that audience. If you're actually going for tween-or-younger, then more focus should have been put on Rick Jones and the other "kids" in his...gang? would that be the right word? But Rick is barely identified by name, and it's wholly unclear that he's the "leader" of the group, and there's less than no understanding of Rick's relationship to Banner... so I dunno. My point is target audiences are important things, and this wasn't properly presented as an "A" book in the initial wave of solicitations. This issue was solidly OK.

BOYS #41: I've kinda drifted away from THE BOYS lately -- feeling like Garth was sort of repeating himself over and over, but for some reason I grabbed the trades off my shelf when I went out for a smoke recently, and I chewed right through them in like a day. There's a real long game going on that's only barely discernible on an issue-by-issue basis, and there's lots of mythology going on that's just going to fly past you if you don't read it in big doses. On the other hand, the Annie/Hughie thing is much less plausible on the Long Game canvas, so I guess it's a trade off. I have to say though, I strongly disagree with the decision to mark "Herogasm" as THE BOYS v5 -- that storyline, despite having a few important moments in it, sucks so much forward momentum from the series that it isn't even funny. I think that's the reason that my sales on v6 have been so disappointing. Anyway issue #41 is part 2 of a storyline, so not a place to jump back on the book, if you've drifted away, but I wanted to mention that the book maybe reads better in collection anyway, and, perhaps, this is as major and transforming work for Ennis as something like PREACHER, it just hides that nature in jokes about penises and assrape. #41 was GOOD.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #34: I'm not sure how I feel about the hand-grenade that has just been thrown into Slayer continuity with this issue. In fact, I'm not even sure if I understand that ending particularly well. But I'm intrigued enough to come back next month to find out. I just wish the likenesses were as strong as they were early on. I still can't tell which character is which on more than a few pages. A reasonable GOOD.

FLASH SECRET FILES AND ORIGINS 2010 #1: Kinda-sorta "FLASH #0", but I have to say that, especially for $4, I was pretty bored with this. Barry Allen just isn't that compelling, and the continuity implant of his dead mom really isn't compelling at all -- it feels tacked on, and forced. The Flash shouldn't be coming from a point of tragedy, but of joy and continuity (After all, Barry is the one guy in the DCU that we KNOW read comics as a kid, and specifically modeled himself on his predecessor, rather than falling into sideways [GL, The Atom]) On the other hand, I really really like the Rogues, especially the "classic kind", so I'm willing to give the ongoing a chance. I guess I just feel like this is now the 10th issue of Barry, and I can't muster anything better than an EH about the whole affair...

INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1: Don't you have to go away before you return? A decent attempt at giving a jumping on point, but it just seemed like a lot of talk to me "I don't want to kill, so I'll change my costume", but what's going to happen when he walks back into war? I can't see the essential nature of the character moving in any real different direction. Solidly OK, but not amazingly stellar, and I don't think there's much here that would convince a newbie they HAD to jump on the "real" book next month.

NEW AVENGERS LUKE CAGE #1 (OF 3): Pretty ugly I thought, and it didn't seem to fill a point other than taking up a shelf-spot. Maybe too strong, but SC-scale-wise, I'll go with AWFUL.

SHIELD #1 (MARVEL): On the other hand, I really liked this one. I can't see how (at all) it has anything to do with Nick Fury, et. al., but, based on this first issue, I'm willing to give it the six months until they tell us the connections. It is kind of 1602-ish, except that it is actually IN 616 (at least I think so), and I can't really see the "natural Marvel constituency" really getting into all of the 15th century hijinx, and a S.H.I.E.L.D series is a hard sell in the best of times, so this might not make it through the first year, but I really thought it was VERY GOOD.

TURF #1: On the plus side this is one DENSE comic book. There's, what, 13 or 14 named, speaking characters? It took me TWO (different) smoke breaks to get all the way through this, and that's pretty much everything you might want from a $3 entertainment package. The characters are compelling, well-drawn and distinct. The world is interesting and rich, and for a talk-show host, it is clear that Jonathan Ross has, in fact, done his homework and "gets" how to write for comics, bringing a distinct voice, and I very much would like to see more comics work from him, going forward. In fact, from a certain POV, this was probably the very best thing that I read this week, and I'm going to go with a very easy VERY GOOD. On the minus side, I want to say that I think this would have been a better comic if it had had a strong editor reining Ross' obvious enthusiasm in just a tad -- virtually all of the dialogue could have been chopped down by 10% and retained the same meaning and richness, because economy is also a virtue. Also, though we'll see how it plays out, I'm thinking that Vampires vs Gangsters was probably enough for a first series without adding in the additional complication of the space aliens. We'll see though -- either way, I'm enthusiastically recommending that you check out this first issue.

WORLD WAR HULKS #1: This may represent what's wrong with Marvel in a snapshot: trading on the name of a successful crossover, and filling it up with a bunch of completely and totally inconsequential filler. I mean, I guess it is nice to know that Bucky Barnes and Glenn Talbot have a cold war connection... but WTF does that have to do with the Hulk, or even the thrust of this storyline? There was no "World War" here, or even a page of actual "hulk", let alone "(s)", and they are still no closer to resolving any of the various mysteries about the "red" characters than they were before. AND it is $4, AND it leads (badly) into another mini-series that just seems utterly bankrupt in idea AND execution from what they've shown us so far. Gawd, I thought this was complete CRAP on all levels, and cynical and hollow to boot.

That's what I have for you this morning... as always, what did YOU think?