Thursday, February 23, 2006

Chris' Reviews 2/22

Sadly, it was a pretty mediocre week for me. Some good, some bad, but hey; it's comics and it gives me a reason to talk to all of you lovely people reading the blog that put up with my longwindedness and crazily verbose opinions. (Damn, I did it again.) Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529

Let's get this out of the way now: I don't, and never have, particularly cared for or about Spider-Man. It's not that I don't like him, or bear him any ill will, it's just that I've never really been interested in him as a character or hero. Consequently, I haven't bought a Spidey comic in years, until now. I'm telling you this so that you'll understand the point of view I'm coming from when reviewing this issue.

Kay? Kay.

In this issue, Peter gets his new duds courtesy of Tony "The Style Of My Facial Hair Depends On The Day Of The Week" Stark. Spidey takes it out for a test spin, foils a kidnapping, and then agrees to be Tony's...something, ally I guess, in the Big Big Secret That Tony Can't Tell Anyone About, a.k.a. the Senate Committee on Metahuman Affairs that he's just been subpoenaed to testify at.

I bought this comic for two reasons: A) It featured Tony Stark in it, and B) it had the Civil War brand at the top, so I thought I'd see how it tied into that.

And you know what? I liked it. I actually liked it quite a bit.

Yes, the new costume looks hideous. It really does. And yes, some of the new abilities it has are ludicrous. But I'm not vested in Spider-Man, so it didn't bother me as much as it will some folks.

What I liked most in this issue is the characterization of Tony Stark, who we see as a secretive, manipulative, ruthless alpha dog trying to get his chess pieces lined up before anyone else. Which to my mind is PRECISELY the way he should be written, as I explained in one of my first posts ever here. (Added bonus: by clicking the link, you'll be magically transported back to the halcyon days of August 2005, when I was still recommending both New Avengers and Ultimates!)

So: decent action scene, advances the plot towards Civil War, and my favorite character in the Marvel U written exactly as how I see him. Yeah, I liked this comic...your mileage may vary.

Best Moment: "Well, yeah, except Logan."

Worst Moment: JMS references (I guess) a continuity bugaboo with a fourth-wall breaking panel---something about MJ's broken arm? I had no idea what the hell they were talking about until I read this on Comics Should Be Good.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Like I said, your mileage may (and probably will) vary. Especially if you're a hardcore Spider-Fan.



GREEN LANTERN #9

A new Tattooed Man shows up in Gotham, which means Batman and Green Lantern get to go all Brave and the Bold on us in a team-up comic. This being DC, though, it also serves to wrap up potentially interesting character dynamics because, you know, One Year Later is almost upon us.

This isn't really about the Tattooed Man, it's about Bruce and Hal clearing the air between them for no other reason than to tie up the plot thread before OYL commences. I went through stages when reading this comic four times:

I read this comic the first time. I really, really liked it. The conversations were packed with amusing moments and banter, nods to the DCU and it was a tidy little action story that wrapped everything up nicely.

I read it a second time. I still liked it, but I began to see how the end was just a little too pat and rushed given everything that's happened between these two; Hal lets Bruce try out the ring in an effort to give Bruce some peace about his parents' murder, Bruce uses the ring, says thanks, and oh, by the way, good to see ya again, Jordan? OK, but it had cool visuals, and it was Hal trying to make nice.

I read it a third time. It became clear that sequence at the end was this comic's entire raison d'etre, and that this comic was one big plot hammer so DC wouldn't get pestered with questions about the Hal/Bruce relationship for the next two years.

I read it a fourth time. I throttled back on the metacriticism and decided that it was a functional team-up comic with some heavy-handed plot hammering, but the art was nice and was done-in-one, so hey; not bad.

(Yes, I read this comic four times. Insert joke here.)

Can someone please tell me why the GL symbol on Hal's chest starts glowing and floating away from him when he's hit, or moves, or gestures, or whatever? I still don't get that.

Best Moment: "Boo."

Worst Moment: Batman punches Hal to get even, right out of the blue. It was a little jarring, but hey: let's face it, Hal probably deserves four or five more when you get right down to it. I believe the line forms right behind Kyle Rayner!

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Solid tale, had to be done eventually, good action and funny moments sprinkled throughout is my final answer, Regis. If you want a deeper interpretation of this comic, go see Kalinara.


IRON MAN: THE INEVITABLE #3 of 6

Another easy-to-sum-up comic: Ghost thinks he killed Iron Man, Spymaster points out that he didn't, parties are attended, dinners are eaten, and Iron Man sets a trap that the Ghost steps into, setting the stage for a fight next issue.

Hmmm.

I wanted to like this issue a lot more than I actually did. Truth be told, it's kind of a non-event, and a lot of the talkity-talk-talk. I am digging Frazer Irving's art more every time I see it, though. Even the strange "low-water-pressure in the shower" haircut he's given Tony.

We've got three issues left, so let's get going, Joe! I'm as big a fan of seeing Stark in his society function/CEO role as the next guy, but I was really hoping to see some iron-powered buttkicking in this issue, and I didn't get it. Darn.

Here's the really strange thing: between this, New Avengers, and Amazing Spider-Man, I've seen more of Tony Stark in the last two weeks than I did in the last six months (which means I'm a lot better off than Thor fans, anyway). That's a good thing, but a little more Iron Man would be nice as well.

Best Moment: "I'm a sucker for that look."---Tony Stark, making his hired metahuman psychologist wear a protective armor-like suit for talking to the Living Laser.

Worst Moment: A really, really strange sequence with Tony and the Spymaster's wife at a party. Was she propositioning him? Drunk? Her parents threw 'key parties'? And the point of all this was...?

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Still dig the series, and like the society Tony scenes depicted, but lacking in the action. Let's get back to the punchin' and repulsor ray-in'!


CAPTAIN AMERICA #15

In yet another Marvel comic oddly devoid of its title character, I return to Brubaker's Captain America having followed it from afar over the last few months. I finally plunked down coin, since the Winter Soldier (meh) arc was over and this was a new beginning.

The entire issue is Crossbones trying to get Synthia (a.k.a. Daughter of Red Skull) to remember that she's a vicious, evil killing machine subjected to experimentation by dear old Dad, presumably so that they can A) get on with the business of taking out Cap, and b) get on with the business of doing the horizontal bop, if you know what I'm saying.

So, for 22 pages Crossbones beats, tortures, hits, and kicks her in an effort to wipe away the S.H.I.E.L.D. brainwashing that's made her forget who she is.

And I'm a little conflicted about it, quite frankly.

On the one hand, it works, as by the end of the comic she apparently is back to her old self, even hopping in the sack with Crossbones, and is primed to carry on the Red Skull's legacy. I guess.

On the other hand, there's something really disturbing about seeing a young woman get the shit kicked out of her for 22 pages, even if it is a comic book, and even if it is in service to an origin story. I'm also a little bit confused as to why this isn't even remarked upon in other reviews. Has DC lowered the "Violence-Against-Women" bar so low that a simple extended imprisonment/beating story doesn't even rate? Yeesh.

Captain America himself only appears via WWII newsreel footage, and it's all Nazi-killin' footage.
Having dropped New Avengers, I decided to give Cap another spin and see what's going on. I have faith in Brubaker, and I hope to hell this pays off.

Best Moment: OK, even I was surprised that Synthia actually ended up being evil to that extent at the end of this.

Worst Moment: The aforementioned violence. I'm not squeamish, and I usually can put things in context/perspective, but man, did that seem out of line. I suppose at this point I should just be glad that Dr. Light was nowhere in sight.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. I'll be patient and see where this goes for another couple issues or so, mainly on the strength of Brubaker.

4 Comments:

Blogger kelvingreen said...

Yeah, I'm loving the art in The Inevitable, but there's been no sign of a story yet.

I didn't think much of ASM, but I'm looking forward to the Fantastic Four's part of this Civil War crossover because... Thor!

3:45 PM  
Blogger kalinara said...

Wow, thanks for the link! :-) Not sure it's "deeper" so much as "reading way too far into it", but thanks anyway! :-)

5:07 PM  
Anonymous van Doom said...

Maybe I just have a ton of faith in Brubaker (which is doubtful, considering I didn't know who he was 15 months ago), but I thought the latest Captain America was really good.
Yeah, it was about 10,000 times heavier on the abuse of a female than I ever need to see, but it did the job of getting across Synthia's character (how bad she is, based on how much bad has been done to her) and it sets up what I'm guessing will be a hella good arc.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Van doom, I sincerely hope you're right. I'm giving it at least another two issues.

Unfortunately, given all the advance word about Civil War, I fear that Brubaker will have a tougher time keeping Cap to his own story without the crossover interfering. At least House of M let the WS arc go through relatively smoothly.

7:47 AM  

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