Good evening, everyone. Reviews by me this week will be super-quick, in part because I was very impressed at Bri's succinctness with last week's books, and in part because work was such a complete and utter steamroller, I'm surprised my pancake flat fingers can summon enough tension to depress the keys. My hope is that Brian will take the initiative to review some books again even though all we did Friday at the shop was exchange groans about our impending deadlines. So without further adoo-dah:
ACTION COMICS #825: Hibbs thought I wouldn't like this because time travel makes my brain pan tilt crazily, but in fact, dammit, this was Good, if not almost Very Good: pushed by the deadline to wrap things up, Austen/Finn's accelerated storytelling produces an enjoyable, larger-than-life mini-epic, with thousands of Gogs versus the League of Supermen, and an ending that, because it's true to the spirit of Superman, rings believable as opposed to merely convenient. If this had been the third issue of Austen's run and not the end of it, I would have been talking with excitement about the book. Like I said: Good or Very Good.
ADAM STRANGE #6: Oh, great. L.E.G.I.O.N. and The Omega Men. On the one hand, I admire Diggle's craftiness: throwing in pre-established characters to save Adam's hash makes the editors happy while still fitting in with that classic Alex Raymond Flash Gordon formula. On the other hand, it strikes me as a bit lazy (no real effort made to make these characters work) and if you find those characters very, very dull (and God, do I!), it's not a strong incentive to read the book. And Ferry's feeling the burn a little bit--this wasn't quite up to the rest of the really sweet work he's been doing here. So, I dunno, OK, I guess.
AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS #3: Yeah, everything I said about issue #2 and then some--the scope of the book is just beyond the artist's grasp, and there's just not enough shtick to make up for the flatness of the characters. Shipping like clockwork, though. Eh.
AQUAMAN #28: There's always one thing I really like per Aquaman issue (here, the glass bottom boats filled with family members come to see their aquatic relatives) and a bunch of stuff I really don't: "Don't you see, Aquaman? They've patented your DNA!" I suspect that's a really, really awkward hook for next issue's 'Oooo, those corporations and their wicked drug patents' screed. Even Aquaman looks kinda bored at the prospect. Eh.
ATOMIKA #1: Ever read a book without checking the credits and you can just tell--it's just obvious--that it was created by an artist who has all these great ideas but no real desire to tell a story? And then a writer's brought in later who works double-time to make it seem like things are happening by really laying on the tortured prose? That would be this book. Very pretty, and nice of Alex Ross to do the cover, but you can color me underwhelmed. Eh, if that.
BLOOD OF THE DEMON #1: For half the issue, I really thought we were going someplace different than where we ended up at the last page. Mind you, I didn't know where Byrne & Pfeiffer were going, as Jason gets his face stuck in half-Etrigan mode, but at least we weren't going to end up at "Oh no, the Demon has broken free of Jason Blood's influence!" And then, of course, we get to the last page and guess what? On the other hand, as Bri pointed out, this is Byrne's best work, by far, in I don't know how long, and the inker did a great job with his stuff. So let's call it a high OK, even though I'm now dubious if this is going to go anywhere interesting.
BLOODHOUND #9: Caught between a rock and a hard place as far as having two very uninteresting villains (Zeiss and pyro guy) and being right near the end of its run. A shame since I really like and care about the main characters. The art change was noticeable too, although it seems like Robin Riggs worked really hard to keep the characters' features consistent and expressive which was great. Eh, but I might have worked that up to OK if the book wasn't going into limbo soon.
BLUE MONDAY PAINTED MOON #4: I know that people--and particularly teens--are resistant to change, but I still felt disappointed that the two scenes that seemed like they were going to change characters' relationships actually ended up changing nothing. The one change at the end really seemed the most inconsequential to me, and I finished up this otherwise strong mini feeling dissatisfied. And that may be what Clugston wants me as a reader to feel, but, uhhh, I think it was a bit of a mistake/cop-out, honestly. Eh.
CONCRETE HUMAN DILEMMA #3: We got some free Matrix Online promo rag and I thought it was pretty interesting that Paul Chadwick is the head writer for that game. But maybe that explains why this issue seemed really clunky--it was competing with paid work, maybe; or there's a very different kind of storytelling needed for a MMORG and Chadwick got a little rusty on his comic stuff. But all the scenes felt plot-hammered, big time. And those little factoids in the middle of the page made this read like some eco-friendly Jack Chick tract. Last issue pulled me in; this issue spat me back out. A very low Eh.
GOTHAM CENTRAL #29: Jesus, this came out this week? I totally forgot to read this. That can't be a good sign. No rating.
GREEN ARROW #48: God help me, I liked the Duke of Oil. For some reason, I don't mind an utterly goofy stereotype if he's also an absurdly berserk robot. And Judd didn't go for any of the totally easy George W. jokes I thought he might, so that was kind of impressive. And yet the ending to the Duke fight and to the issue were both formulaic as all hell. And have I mentioned I don't like the Eurotrash ninja guy? I don't like him. Still, OK.
MAJESTIC #3: Sigh. I miss Metamorphosis Alpha. OK.
PROJECT SUPERIOR: I'm going to follow Hibbs' lead and treat this like it was one big comic book anthology and review it here. It is very much worth the coin thanks to some high production values and a lot of different voices, some of whom produce really great work. I was a little worried this would be the typical "indie guys transfer their loathing for superhero fanboys onto superheroes" (and even more worried after the first story which read like exactly that) but then it goes all over the map and enjoyably so. I'd point out the highlights but I don't have the copy near and I found Hibbs and I had completely different stuff we liked so I think the point is there will be something for everyone in the book. I can only give it a Good because there was some stuff I really, really didn't like in here, but it's a Good rating where I heartily encourage you to find a copy and try it out yourself.
SHINING KNIGHT #1: Hmmm. The first issue didn't really go anywhere unexpected, which is probably more my fault with having read all the solicit info for the title (and it actually being accurate for a change) rather than any shortcoming in the book. But at this point it feels like a high fantasy rewrite of Grant's Marvel Boy miniseries and if that's all it ends up being, I might be kinda bummed. Too soon to tell so a low Good for now.
SPIDER-MAN TEAM UP SPECIAL: Sadly, this wasn't a SPIDER-MAN TEAM UP SPECIAL, it was a FANTASTIC FOUR EARTH DAY SPECIAL that got passed off as something else when presumably some distribution deal fell through. It brought me back to the days in elementary school where they'd pass out those half-sized comic books with the Brady Bunch showing you how to build kites. Remember those? On the one hand, they weren't particularly good. On the other hand, they were still better than this. This was kinda Awful.
STREET ANGEL #5: Great fun, particularly if you read Project Superior first (which I did). I'm a little troubled by Maruca and Rugg's lack of, I dunno, ambition or something but if they're content to produce a spectactularly charming and energetic, immensely slight comic book, more power to them. It's winningly done, and, for what it is, Very Good.
SUPERMAN #214: Hibbs read the whole issue and somehow missed that they're turning the priest into a cancer-powered OMAC. Or maybe I misunderstood that part. We both re-read it, and still couldn't be quite sure. Finally, there's lots of hitting, but the hitting seems very, very dull, either because I can't figure out what's going on and therefore have no idea what's at stake, or because Jim Lee's got some new pastures to go frolic in (courtesy of All-Star Batman & Robin) . Either way, dull and Awful.
TALES OF THE THING #1: This book had so many hands in it, they only put half the art guys on the cover--and I'm still trying to figure out how/why Steve Gerber had a hand in plotting it. It's a shame, considering how much really strong work DC has done with superheroes for the all-ages market, to see Marvel think of all-ages material the way a lot of fans seem to: as third-rate, passed-off junk that wouldn't pass muster in the regular market. Because between this and the Team-Up Special, that's pretty much how this reads. Just a bit above Awful.
THE PUNISHER #18: A pretty nice wrap-up to the story, so much so I kinda want to put the issues together and see if it reads that strong all the way through. Good.
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #16: Way too long to wait for it, but a really enjoyable issue. Everything from the explanation of the Negative Zone to the characterization of Ultimate Anihilius was thoughtful, clever and apt. I'm not a super-big fan of Kubert's art but it worked pretty well here. Good.
VIMANARAMA #2: Weirdly, didn't work for me. Although I'm not saying they should be joined at the hip or anything, I think if, say, Quitely had done the art, there's a chance the balance of big, super-splodey and small, human moments might have worked quite nicely. But while Philip Bond nails the human drama, the big stuff was like watching luminescent jellyfish having a punch-out. There are pages here and there where the material connected with me, but by and large, Eh.
WOLVERINE SOULTAKER #1: I don't know why I read this. If you like art where nobody has elbows, or plots are so underwhelming they read like overly verbose coloring books, or a book about Japan done so unconvincingly you first wonder if the creators are Japanese American rather than Japanese, then think maybe they're untalented white guys hiding under Japanese names, before finally doubting they were human at all and are instead a disguise for some prototype auto-manga generation software Marvel keeps trying...then this is the book for you! Awful.
And that's it, more or less. Fortunately, Paul O'Brien's strange case of OCD keeps him reviewing all the X-books over at The X-Axis, even though he's a much better writer than most of the people writing the material itself, so I don't even have to touch any of the AoA stuff. Thank God.
So, that's me. Will Hibbs go for two weeks in a row? Place your bets now, and remember to say nice things to him in the comments field, if he does.