Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chris' Reviews 8/31 Pt. 2

Good tidings to all; on a serious note, if you haven't already, give to the Red Cross to help the Katrina victims and survivors. They need all the help they can get.

On a MUCH less serious note, here's the other 4 comics I came home with last week and, lucky reader, my opinions on them. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


OK, it's the end of the "Sidekicks" arc, and I've gotta say...thank goodness. In this issue, Iron Lad (Young Kang) kills Future Kang (Old Iron Lad), which gives the time stream an aneurysm, and threates to reshape the present...yadda, yadda, yadda, you've heard it all before. After a lot of bickering, it's decided that Iron Lad must go back to his own time to become Kang in order to save the present world order. He exits tearfully, then the actual grown-up Avengers (well, Cap and Iron Man, anyway) threaten to CALL THE YOUNG AVENGERS' PARENTS if they don't quit the superheroing biz.

So, the Young Avengers do what any band of 16-22 year-old-superheroes would do: ignore their elders, come up with lame codenames, and join together to fight evil! You know, just like in that other comic, Runaways, only without the strong characterization!

(I can only assume that fighting evil is their purpose. It's not really made clear what their purpose is yet other than to cash in on the Avengers name. Har!)

Cheung's art is good in the action scenes, but I've gotta say that almost every single face looks the same. Gets tiresome, especially because 9 times out of 10 they're all wearing that sullen teenage "I'm going through so much internal pain that you can't possibly understand what I'm feeling" look. You know the one.

So, who are the Young Avengers? Let's break it down:
  • Patriot: descendant of Isaiah Washington (the first Captain America), with super-soldier-y stuff running through his veins. Of all the YA, he's by far the most interesting as a concept, which is probably why he doesn't get to do much.
  • Hulkling: a shapeshifter who...likes to look like the Hulk? Is contractually obligated to the Jolly Green Giant? Dunno, because they don't tell us. Incredibly uninteresting, because, well, why ruin a good shapeshifting concept by tying in the Hulk?
  • Wiccan: He's magical, get it? "Asgardian" was a much better name. On the Official Superhero List of Names Designed to Strike Fear in the Hearts of Enemies, "Wiccan" ranks just below "Goose-feather Pillows".
  • Stature: Ant-Man's daughter, only she grows instead of shrinks. So they named her "Stature". The over/under on how many times Allan Heinberg mistyped "Statue" instead of "Stature" has gotta be hovering around 20.
  • Girl Who Knows How To Shoot Arrows And Stuff: I can only guess at this, because she hasn't got a codename yet. (Although I do like "Hawkingbird".)

So, there you have it, after 6 issues the team is introduced and ---grrr--- assembled. And after 1 minor battle and a 3-issue fight with Kang, they've discarded too many cool ideas (Vision, Iron Lad/Kang) and kept too many bad ones (Stature, Hulkling, aimless purpose) for me to keep picking this up.

Oh, and apparently Wiccan and Hulkling are gay, which I fail to see either A) making them any more interesting than if they were heterosexuals or B) being such a big deal. I guess a lot of people on the Internet are pissed about this. I have no idea why.

Best Moment: Iron Lad's departure is really well done. Is it dusty in here?

Worst Moment: "We can't stop just because Captain America thinks we're too young!" Yes. Yes, you can. And probably should.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. It sure seems like it took a long time to get here, and "here" doesn't look anything like it did in the brochures. I'll still follow from afar, and there's a chance I might start getting this again after a couple more arcs have passed.


Simone Bianchi, you have my permission to draw any comic any time any where. The art in this has been nothing short of astounding, mixing surreal photorealism with Dali-esque backgrounds and personifications. (Oh, yeah, didn't think 2 Guys Buying Comics could throw out the multisyllabic art terms, didja? Boo-yeah!)

Enough with the hoity-toity, tho. In the concluding issue of this particular Seven Soldiers mini, Sir Justin faces off with the Sheeda Evil-ized Sir Galahad, while Mafia boss Don Vincenzo and Vanguard the talking horse fight their final battle with the Sheeda over the Cauldron of Youth. Which is exactly as cool as it sounds.

And we learn that Sir Justin is a little lacking in the twig-and-berries department, if you know what I mean. That's right: Justin is a girl, which is actually a pretty neat twist, since we learn that she was Galahad's apprentice and all, which gives the final face-off a lot more meaning that it would have otherwise had, i.e. none.

At this point, you've probably all read some sort of story arc by Grant Morrison, so you know the drill.

It's like riding an old wooden roller coaster: you start off excited by the novelty of it all, experience that first rush, then about a third of the way through you start feeling the track coming apart and you're wondering if your insurance is paid up and start picturing your last moments, and then it picks up exhilarating speed towards the end and finally the ride is over and you're not sure you'd go on it again, but you're damn glad you have the experience to remember and relate to others.

I figure we're about a third of the way through this Seven Soldiers hoo-ha, and given the ending to this, I can start to feel the bolts in the coaster track coming loose. But see, I know it's Morrison, and that's just what he does. So hang on.

Note: Randy stopped reading this after the second issue, and I can't blame him. This book won't please a lot of people, just on terms of sheer weirdness.

Best Moment: The scene of Don Vincenzo going all Scarface on the Sheeda, riding the flying horse with tommy guns blasting from each hand. That was awesome.

Worst Moment: The ending left a lot in question plot-wise, and the action is hard to follow at times. I don't care. Bianchi even makes confusion beautiful.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. There's such an awful lot of goings-on here that it was hard to follow at times, but overall a fairly decent mini with an interesting hook and lovely art.


The "origin" of the Sentry arc continues as Bob Reynolds is the Sentry, only he doesn't know it. In fact, it turns out Mastermind and a Supervillain To Be Named Later Who Looks Suspiciously Like A Nazi made Bob forget the fact that he was a superhero. And so, for some reason, there's a bit about the Sentry being a comic-book hero (how depressingly "meta"), and there's a monster attacking all the heroes outside Bob's house, and Emma Frost is in Bob's mind, and...and....you know what? I don't care.

It's a mess, and an overpraised one if other reviews of this comic that I've read are any indication. Does anyone care about the Sentry? Does anyone else feel like Bendis is trying too hard to get us to care? Wouldn't it have been more interesting to learn about his origins if Bendis had dropped hints here and there as the series progressed naturally, instead of force-feeding us this "arc"? I don't know.

What I do know is that this issue should have not been titled "New Avengers". This issue should have been titled Reed Richards and Emma Frost Counsel K-List Hero. Because with the exception of Bob (who I don't count), this issue sure as hell is weirdly devoid of any Avengers.

I usually like this book a lot, but they need to hurry the hell up and get this Sentry crap over with and get back to "making with the 'biff' and the 'pow' ". (Thanks to Hannibal Tabu for the phrase.)

Best Moment: Charles Xavier drawn (I swear) to look just like Nosferatu, telling Reed, "I think someone has been tampering with your brain without your permission." And Chuck's got this expression on his face that says, "Those sons of bitches! They got to Reed's voluptuous brain before I did! Dammit, Reed, if I can't get in your lovely brain, NO ONE CAN!" Hey, I'm trying here, people.

Worst Moment: Realizing that what once was a fast-paced superhero action comic has become an episode of Dr. Phil, only Dr. Phil is wearing a silver halter top, white lipstick, and thigh-high boots. (I think I just made myself throw up.)

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. The only salvation comes from the occasional splash of all the Marvel heroes getting their collective ass handed to them by the Void (who is apparently the dark side of the Sentry, and he....oh, forget it.)


Jackpot! You want some superheroes? We got superheroes. You want nice art? We got nice art. Action? Gotcha covered. You want cool character moments for Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Green Lantern? We got those too. You want a mystery that might actually go somewhere that ISN'T tied into Infinite Crossover Crisis? Buddy, have we got the comic for you. Step right up to JLA Classified.

See, it's comic stuff like this that gives me hope for Warren Ellis and almost makes up for the Steaming Pile O' Jack Cross. The members of the JLA each respond to an individual catastrophe that turns out to be a way for someone to leave messages ---individual parts of a whole, apparently--- for them to decipher. After this issue of action vignettes, they finally call Martian Manhunter who hooks them up to Oracle, and the stage is set for a neat adventure.

In this issue we get:

  • A cool Flash-back (heh) to Wally's origin, coupled with a great scene of him saving the day.
  • More Lois and Clark banter, which actually works like a charm
  • Kyle Rayner creating giant vacuum cleaners to put out a fire
  • Wonder Woman, in one word, manages to convey the resolve and stoicism of her character
  • Batman isn't a jerk, and actually cracks a joke. (Shhh! Don't tell DC!)

And the nicest part? Butch Guice ROCKS the art, yo.

And Ellis is firing on all cylinders here. Finally, a Superman who looks older than 27. Who wears glasses frames that normal people would wear. A Lois who reports. A Batman who acts like a detective. A Green Lantern who still is amazed at the power he wields. A Flash who's a working man's hero, mindful of the legacy he bears. And a Martian Manhunter who knows his place as the Telepathic Plot Device. (I kid! I kid because I love.)

And yes, the last panel with Marty Manhunter and Oracle comes straight out of Global Frequency, but it's cool.

The amazing thing is, this is shaping up to be an action-packed JLA romp, kickin' it Old Skool. The art fits the somber (but not depressing --- I'm lookin' at you, Identity Crisis) tone, and the overall sense of heroes having to deal with something larger than the league is prevalent.

Best Moment: "The bar I tracked my perp to exploded. Which was irritating."

Worst Moment: In an odd bit of cognitive dissonance, we see Wonder Woman flying...while her invisible jet is parked right behind her. But this is nitpicky.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Want to see heroes being heroes? Buy this comic if you have any love for the JLA or superheroes. It's not that overrated "Silver-Agey" stuff, it's not "grim and gritty". It's perfectly balanced in between.


Anonymous jake said...

I finally figured out who Brian Bendis is. He's that guy who's in a class with you or plays on your softball team or works with you who is always witty and clever and fun to be around. Then your roommate moves out or your looking for a new dormmate for the next semester and you think, "Hey, I'll ask Bendis to move in."

Suddenly, when he's around all the time, you start to realize how he starts telling the same jokes over and over. You notice annoying things about the way he talks and how he smells and how he leaves his towel just laying in the middle of the floor after his shower. This guy who was once so cool in small doses sucks major ass when he's invloved in every aspect of your life!

Bendis, who was so great writing Powers and Daredevil and USM, now writes everything, and what he doesn't write, he helps plot out. His style is tired and it's taken over the Marvel Universe. The occassional Night Nurse cameo was cool, but forcing every (to borrow a quote) K-List hero and villian down our throats gets old and boring faster than you can imagine. Updating Luke Cage was cool for about the first year, but now that he's in more books than anyone not named Peter Parker, I'm pretty damn sick of him. Full issues of characters talking and being introspective (like the USM where Aunt May talks to the therapist about Ben dying) can be very moving, but they have to be about a character we care about (i.e. not Sentry) and be rare enough to have an impact.

10:51 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Chalk me up as one of the few reviewers who's not been praising New Avengers to the blue rafters.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Avengers supposed to be Marvel's flagship superhero team book? I'm sure that's what Busiek said. So I'm a bit baffled as to why we've had two-thirds of a year of people standing around chatting, and about two months' worth of actual plot...

12:04 PM  
Anonymous spencer said...

Have you kids not read the Sentry trade? Its good stuff! Actually, don't read it. Ok read it, but it'll just make you more upset about the clusterfuck that is this New Avengers arc.

As for YA taking 6 issues to get together and form a team, I harken back to my Nicenza/Bagley era of New Warriors and smile, for it only took them like 10 pages to band together AND beat Terrax. And that was just the first issue. Ten issues later, they fought the Mad Thinker, Psionex, the Punisher, Emma Frost and the Hellions, Bengal Tiger, and Midnight's Fire. Ahh yes. Good ol' New Warriors..

Ok, I'm done. Sorry.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Scipio said...

I like the JLA thing so far, too!

And, I agree, Batman definitely got the best line...

5:41 PM  

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