Hello from 30k feet!
Well, no, not exactly -- I'm writing this on a plane, coming back from Chicago, where I went to my cousin Ian's wedding (Ben was the ringbearer, and looked crazy awesome in a suit), but I won't post this until I hit the ground again. I only took a handful of comics with me, and only have something to say about maybe half of those, but I've been trying hard to have reviews every week, and I won't let something as small as "not being in town" stop me!
Nice town, Chicago -- last time I was here I was maybe 12 or so? Also for a wedding, for that matter, between my dad and stepmom, and I'd love to come back, so someone get married, and invite me! I had a chance to visit Chicago Comics, and see Eric Kirsammer and his kids, and that is a swell store, one of the better I've seen; and one I'd certainly shop at if I lived locally. I wanted to see several other stores (including Challengers, which I've heard nothing but swell things about), but, y'know, family obligations and all that.
Anyway, I don't want to write a travelogue, and I promised myself I'd tear through these books before I landed, so on with the show...!
ACTION COMICS #10: Wait... when is this taking place? It has to be just after the last storyline, I think, not in modern times, as the Justice League portion is a flashback. But why does he bounce back and forth between the t-shirts and armor, with no real mention of what's going on? I was a little excited, actually, about the notion of the death of Kent, and a new secret ID, because if anyone could actually make that happen (yeah, yeah, I'm a sucker), it would have to be Grant, but if this is still in flashback mode, obviously that's all garbage. Bah, for a time when I was less bitter and jaded, and when we'd just accept a premise straight-forwardly. I'm *liking* this, still, but I desperately want to be *loving* this, and 10 issues in and I'm not. 'sfine, but I want better than just GOOD, y'know?
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #5: that's a fun little plot twist, "the phoenix five" and all that, and while I'm totally willing to wait and see what they actually DO with it, it's hard to see in my head how characters used to/used by vast otherworldly power, like Peter and Illyana will work in this context. Or will they just ignore, wossname, cyttorak, is that the Juggernaut's mentoring power? I'm still deeply disliking the art, but the story is sorta kinda growing on me as act one closes. GOOD.
FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN MINUTEMEN #1: As I said, I've not be in SF all week, so I haven't the foggiest notion as to how this is selling, but, after reading issue #1, if I was "just" a reader, I'd definitely not be coming back for issue #2. Not because it's badly crafted -- because it is very well-illustrated and written, indeed -- but because it didn't tell me anything I already didn't know, and, as a first issue, it was PAINFULLY "recappy". Absolutely nothing "happened", it just assembled everything we already knew from WATCHMEN into a chronological order. What the hell is the point of that? Darwyn Cooke was the one BW creator that I thought might actually make something I want to read (on this project, I mean), and was the one who, potentially, had the biggest canvas to play with, since the Minutemen characters aren't exactly character, but world-buildy background, but there's just nothing here at all. 17% of the page count gone, for shit-all purpose, foo. That's bad enough with "normal" comics, but on something as divisive as this? Ugh, no way. This was perfectly OK, but if you're going to take a big shit on Alan Moore, you've got to do a whole fucking better than this.
I ganked this picture from here
CREATOR OWNED HEROES #1: Really? Man, so first, that's a fucking AWFUL title for a comic, as it says just nothing about content. (Seriously, find me 50 people in the entire nation who inherently cares about the ownership of a work, rather than "is it any good?" I'll wait -- I had a "self published" section in the store until I got sick of answering people what that MEANT, so trust me, I KNOW) And second, the content is more padded than a twelve year old's bra. If what you want to do is "A magazine nowhere near as good or relevant as fucking HERO ILLUSTRATED, with a bunch of mediocre comics", that's cool, but shit, you could have told us that's what you were delivering. I Just don't give a damn about your convention snapshots (that's what Facebook is for, not something you're charging me $4 for!!), or features on cos-players, or, and this is the one that really got me, creator interviews that aren't ABOUT creator-owned work! I mean, the VERY FIRST LINE of the Gaiman piece is "I love his work on SANDMAN", which, y'know, is a notoriously creator-owned comic book, right? What a mis-thought project from ship to stern. AWFUL.
DARK AVENGERS #175: I'm mostly writing this bit for anyone writing up sales chart analyses: Marvel kept the NUMBERING of THUNDERBOLTS here, but did a really really weird thing after that -- it had Diamond assign the book a new SERIES code. A series code is an invisible-to-consumers code that allows retailers to sign up customers, well, to a series. Like (say) 123456 is the code for CAPTAIN FANCYPANTS, and it allows the computer to know that CAPTAIN FANCYPANTS #1 and CP #2 are *the same thing*. It also allows me to, say, take the various BPRD series, and assign it to a custom series code (like CUST123), so that every BPRD series gets pulled (even though Dark Horse treats them as *entirely separate* things, go figure) In the past, when Marvel changed, say, INCREDIBLE HULK to INCREDIBLE HERCULES they kept the series code the SAME, which meant that all of the preorders AUTOMATICALLY transferred, here they consciously did NOT do that, in other words: eliminating 98% of the marketing-driven reason to carry over the numbering. What's even weirder, is that it really IS TBOLTS #175, and it's a bit hard to follow if you haven't read those previous issues (well, or the last year or so at least), while at the same time kicking off all of the people who WERE buying it. I don't get it. The comic itself was perfectly OK.
EARTH 2 #2: Normally I despair against "decompressed" comics, but I have to say that I find the very slow world-building on display here to be very fine. I'll probably want it to move a whole lot faster once all of the players are on stage, but for now? I'm loving the hell out of this. VERY GOOD, and easily the best comic I read this week.
Right, almost time to turn off electronics, so ending it there. What did YOU think?
Haven't finished reading everything yet for the week, so this is just part one... but I'll be pretty close to Old School Savage Critting, here...
ANGEL & FAITH #4: I'm kind of loving this book. I suspect that's because both the premise, as well as the motivation of the protagonists is significantly more focused than over in BUFFY SEASON 9. The art's fab, too. I honestly think this is VERY GOOD stuff. BATMAN ODYSSEY VOL 2 #2: What. The. Fuck? I didn't read #1 (and stopped reading v1 at #4, I think?), but whoa this has taken a serious turn towards the inexplicable with Caveman Batman and Robin, and dinosaur riding and man oh man Neal Adam's style is kind of inherently "serious", y'know, and completely works against what I think is meant to be a Silver Age Pastiche. Or tribute, maybe? Hard to actually tell. His Batman is zooming all around here, at one point really even sounding like a teenage girl (with an "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this." as he starts to ride a giant flying bat, followed by a big ol' "I love this!", yowsers!) I m just utterly baffled at what Adams is going for, and it is ultimately stiff and awkward and weird. So much "Work For Completionists Only", and kind of crazily AWFUL, sorry. DAREDEVIL #6: The idea of a villain with sponsorship patches, like an anti-Booster Gold, is sort of amusing, but that was a bloodier end to the fight than maybe was needed. The McGuffin of the patch was likewise interesting, but I guess I just don't see what the stakes are for DD. The art as is nice as always, but I just couldn't wrap my head around how this was a Daredevil story, and not a Spidey story. still, even with that, it's still a low GOOD. FF #12: I didn't say last week, but I thought FANTASTIC FOUR #600 was pretty terrific, but no I didn't like this. Maybe it's because in a FF book, I want to see one of a quartet of individuals specifically driving the action; or maybe it's because Bobillo's art (dunno for certain if it's a change in base-style, or the inker's work) went from sweet cartoony (like in his run of SHE HULK, man, those are great) to like harder edge euro-styled art. Like, dunno, Alex Nino, and that whole school of Philippine artists that was most prolific at Warren in the 70s? Either way, not a change I liked personally. So, yeah, while I can appreciate the intricacy of FF, this left me feeling pretty distant, so best I can must is a weak OK.
FLASH GORDON ZEITGEIST #1: Back to the top start again on this venerable property, and it is done with adequate style -- more enjoyable than the BUCK ROGERS reboot from last year, say. I'm just kind of loath to recommend any Dynamite book to people because I know if it show the slightest chance of catching on, Nickie will commission three different spin-off series, and we'll lose all of our readers for it, and have to stop ordering it. But, anyway, that's too meta! There was also an interesting choice at the end to have the rebel aliens come to Earth before ever encountering Flash, which would seem to me to be extremely likely to dramatically shear the central appeal of Flash which would be "Rugged American Individual goes to weird (and primitive, except for the spaceships) alien planets, shows them how incredible fucking awesome Rugged American Individuals are". Tell me you can't picture TEAM AMERICA's "America: Fuck Yeah!" playing behind any filmed Flash Gordon to date, right? Well, we'll see how that thread plays out, but I'm not optimistic on that. The rest of it I quite liked, though -- and that is a pretty awesome Ming, so, sure, I'll say this comic is a strong OK.
GAME OF THRONES #3: A lot of good choices in this adaptation, but the art's a little cutsie to work, I think. EH.
HAUNT #19: New Direction! Jump On Now! I thought the Kirkman/Capullo run was just too much trying to evoke a Spawny/Venomy kind of 90s feeling, but Joe Casey and Nathan Fox really change it up well here. I'm going to put the bulk of that on Fox, I think, as this looks pretty much the opposite of a Capullo comic. Solidly GOOD, though I can't say I would rush to buy another issue, necessarily.
STAR TREK ONGOING #3: Loving this, as well. Really, it's kind of a brilliant idea to adapt the old episodes with the new cast, they've got 150+ issues of material on tap, without having to generate a new story idea, yet they seem fresh because of the new dynamics among the characters. Solidly GOOD.
THUNDER AGENTS VOL 2 #1: A much better first issue than the last one -- action, AND plot movement, AND mysteries for the future AND soap opera is really the format that each issue of a super hero comic should deliver, and the first run had issues with only half or less of those in any average issue. Still, dang, in any incarnation of these characters, I'd have to say I think the appeal tended to be the artists drawing them (from Wood to Kane to Perez), and this is a writer-driven run, I think, from Nick Spencer. That's not to say that CAFU isn't fine (he [?] is), but not really in that same kind of weight class as many of the others. Ultimately, I kind of don't care about these guys outside of that art nostalgia, so you'd have to be exceptionally exceptional for me to say anything better than an OK on this. And while this is competently done, that's about it. If you have a jones for these guys, you'll probably rate this much higher than I.
THUNDERBOLTS #166: I'm going to kind of recycle the last few lines of the previous review for this -- this is competently done, but I have nothing emotionally invested in these characters, and this issue doesn't do anything to change that, so, sure, it is therefore kind of EH.
ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #4: First issue of the 4 that I liked on its own merits. I think this miscalculated on scale -- millions more dead, and this after the earlier devastation of New York... these things would dramatically change a world and how it operates, and it's exhausting as a reader to boot. THIS issue seemed a lot more personally driven, and so worked for me much better. It's a low GOOD.
UNCANNY X-MEN #2: That's all weird, and not really very X-Men-y (though, yes yes, I get "new premise" and all; whatever, I stand by that assessment), and it doesn't suck, but it sure ain't for me. OK
WOLVERINE #19: I like Funny Jason Aaron, I think, better than All Serious one. Very enjoyable, low GOOD
X-MEN LEGACY #259: I feel like I can see the sets, and someone left the script pages in the shot, and no no no no, you're supposed to emote, dear! and it's just little stick figures being moved around, and it's no different than the rest of Carey's run, mostly, and I think its unfortunately pretty AWFUL. I almost upgraded that just so we wouldn't end this session on a down note, but ugh, can't do it.
Right, more tomorrow (I think!), what did YOU think?