Monday, February 06, 2006

Chris' Reviews 2/1

Five, count 'em, five comics last week, with decidedly mixed results. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

RANN-THANAGAR WAR SPECIAL

Having been pleasantly surprised by the Day of Vengeance Special, I halfheartedly bought this one, despite the chaotic mess that was the Rann-Thanagar War series. Plus, I'd heard that major changes were afoot, and stupid completist that I am, I figure if I'm in for a penny, I'm in for a
pound.

Here we see Alex Luthor's golden hands reaching out from the space/time anomaly he created (that giant something in space that everyone's been talking about) and...firing giant lightning bolts at the gathered Rannian, Thanagarian, and other fleets. Yup. Giant lightning bolts. For no discernible purpose.

Anyhoo, the "Donna Troy Combat Whackers" (as I've dubbed her little New Cronus hunting party), L.E.G.I.O.N., the Green Lanterns, Omega Men, Hawks, and Adam Strange are simultaneously trying to stop Alex's Magic Fingers and the R-T War. This sentence describes approximately 3/4 of the comic.

Strange, Tigorr, and the Hawks come across surveillance footage that show Superboy-Prime moving Thanagar into position to start the galactic war, and use said footage to call a temporary truce between the warring parties. Kyle Rayner and Jade attempt to fend off Luthor's Lightning Bolts, and Jade...er...dies...or gets absorbed...or something...during the process.

Whew.

At the end, Kyle becomes Ion, which apparently means that the lower half of his face is now made of the same material as Donna Troy's costume. Whatever. I guess "Starfield Screen-Saver" is the new black.

Personally, I had five big problems with this comic:

1) Too little of the Hawks.

2) Too much of the Rannians.

3) Zero emotional resonance, particularly with Jade's death, but then again this is the same series that killed Hawkwoman without blinking twice.

4) The art, while nice on an individual panel basis, did a poor job of letting me know what planet we were on and who was where. Which for a planet-hopping space opera is a bad thing.

5) Luthor's Golden Fingers? Are you f!#$ing kidding me?

There's five bucks I'll never see again.

Best Moment: The forensic evidence that seals the case against Superboy is...I shit you not...a pair of handprints in a crater on Thanagar. *blink* *blink* I will now light myself on fire.

Worst Moment: The space scenes were cluttered to the point of unrecognizability. Too confusing by half.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. It's one giant plot hammer, folks, so unless you absolutely want to know every detail behind this particular aspect of Infinite Crisis, avoid this. At least the war is finally (hopefully) over.

X-FACTOR #3

Siryn and Madrox investigate their client's crime scene, Strong Guy and Rahne bust up a riot in Mutant Town, Rictor nearly gets killed but gets to see Monet dancing naked, and Layla Miller is one coldhearted bitch who knows things.

Wasn't that simple? Easy to follow, every character gets some meaningful screen time, and the overall plot moves forward. It's like the Anti-Rann/Thanagar War!

I loved this issue.

Ryan Sook's art is present (though, sadly, I believe this issue is his last) and used to great effect conveying the noir aspects and contrasting quiet environments with shocking effects.

House of M Plot Device (TM) Layla Miller acquits herself rather nicely here, as she shows an unwelcome intruder how useful "knowing things" in advance can be, then tells him as he's dying how many seconds he has to live, and who won't miss him when he's gone. Oh, and apparently, she's here to keep X-Factor from finding out the truth about the Decimation (i.e., Wanda's Mutant Makeover), but we don't know why. Good stuff!

Bonus points for the entertaining recap text at the beginning: "Mr. Tryp, the head of Singularity Investigations, is plotting in conjunction with an elderly guy who kind of looks like Merlin, but it's not. Trust us."

The bottom line is that this is a comic that strikes a great balance between serious action and comic relief, and it all comes off strikingly in character. Excellent stuff all around here, as PAD seems to be in the groove with this darker seriocomic corner of the Marvel Universe.

Best Moment: The Layla Miller scene at the end is both kickass and creepy, and suddenly I'm interested in her as a character, which is something Bendis couldn't do in 5 issues of House of M.

Worst Moment: I'm all for M dancing naked listening to the iPod, but Right Said Fred? Really? I mean....really?

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. The X-Factor keeps on a-rollin' as Peter David just knows how these characters work. Buy the first three issues of this series and give it to your friends who keep telling you that every X-book stinks and watch how fast they shut up. (OK, so every X-book stinks but this one, but that's besides the point.)

BULLETEER #3

Alix Harrower goes to a superhero convention, Grant Morrison makes fun of Superhero Conventions, and Alix goes home to find out that the person she's been renting a room to is in fact the person her late husband was trying to have an affair with, e.g. Sonic Sally.

Snore.

Despite a few good lines, this series actively bores me --- Alix is still a cipher to me, there hasn't been any real superheroey-action, and Morrison is in danger of overstating his point with this series --- WE GET IT ALREADY. COMICS OBJECTIFY WOMEN. You have made this point in a variety of entertaining ways. We all understand this. Now get on with the damn plot!

To be fair, there's a neat sequence in which I, Spyder (yup) tries to assassinate Alix but fails, and the Vigilante from Seven Soldiers #0 appears to deal out some old fashioned western vengeance (we assume). That was neat.

But the main character is still the thinnest of thin when it comes to character and motivation, and it seems to me that Morrison seems to have put the least amount of thought into this series than any of the other 7S series thus far.

And yeah, the convention scenes were a little too in-jokey for me, with a lot of extraneous stuff that I either didn't understand or didn't care about. But that's just me.

I'm on record as still loving the whole 7 Soldiers series overall, and this issue hasn't done anything to change that. I just think that next to Mr. Miracle this is the weakest link thus far.

Best Moment: "Aquaman just walked off with Best Comeback! All he did was shave!"

Worst Moment: There's a conversation scene between Alix and a random hero getting drunk in a hallway that just seems interminable. Actually, most of this comic seemed interminable, since the convention stuff didn't grab me.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Would you like some comics to go along with your metatextual observations on the industry and art form as a whole? Look elsewhere. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but I just do not like Bulleteer.

GREEN LANTERN #8

Upon further review, this turned out to be a decent little inconsequential story arc after all, and for all my bitching I do about decompression, I should mention that Johns did this in 2 issues, so points for that.

The first third of the issue takes us inside Hal and Ollie's dreamworlds brought on by the Black Mercy plant, and while I couldn't care less about Ollie's perfect life, I found Hal's idea rather touching...and it was creepily weird to see Sinestro and Hal acting as friends and brothers at
arms.

The second third deals with Mongul and his sister in an entirely forgettable battle with Hal and Ollie, then each other, which culminates in Mongul punching his sister's head off. Yeah.

The final third is is basically Hal and Ollie talking about what they felt in the Black Mercy-induced dream, then Ollie pointing out that Hal needs to remember that taking your loved ones for granted is wrong, then scenes of both heroes attempting to get back in touch with said loved ones.

Nothing earth-shattering, nothing world-changing, nothing out of the ordinary. Just a nice little non-Infinite Crisis-related two-parter with a little action and a sweet ending, and there certainly isn't anything wrong with that.

Best Moment: Watching Hal and Sinestro fight alongside each other and realizing that Hal wishes things had turned out differently between them. It's an interesting bit of characterization, and hopefully one that sticks.

Worst Moment: Mongul punched his sister's head off...I got nothin'.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. It is what it is. There are far worse books on the rack (I'm lookin' at you, Rann-Thanagar Special).

ALSO THIS WEEK: Marvel Team-Up #17 hits the expected pothole, as it's largely filler leading up to the big battle next issue. Points for the recap again though, as each member of the "Legion of Losers" gets their own lineup mugshot...including "Arana's Arm". Heh.

Only three comics coming this week, true believers, so reviews should be a tad more timely!

2 Comments:

Blogger markus said...

I wholly agree with X-F #3 being excellent and R/T War being horrible crap. Especially since the heroes didn't seem to achieve anything beyond finding evidence of Superboys involvement.

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