Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chris' Reviews 3/8 + 3/15

Howdy all, got two weeks worth of reviews (but still only 6 comics, because THAT's how slow the last 2 weeks have been for my pull list). In this batch of reviews, we see the good, the mediocre and the bad sides of Grant Morrison, and overall it's a little disappointing, but there was one huge "Oh my God, I can't believe I waited so long to try this one" moment. Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE #4 (of 4)

In this issue, Shilo Norman...um...ya see, he...erm...aw hell, I have no idea. There's some flashbacks to alternate timelines in a bunch of what-coulda-been scenarios? I guess? Maybe? I literally have no idea what's going on in this comic.

Hoping to shed some light, I went back and reread the first three issues. Nope. It's all got something to do with the New Gods, the black hole that Mr. Miracle escaped from in the first ish, or something, or...I just don't know. Maybe I'm stupid.

Sweet Lord, what the hell happened here? Is anyone else as confused as I am by this series? I'm open to explanations.

I wish I could say more, but to me it's Morrisonian gibberish, striving to be lofty and ending up just a trainwreck. (And I usually like Morrisonian gibberish.)

Best Moment: Well, at least it's over.

Worst Moment: This comic made me feel like a hog staring at a wristwatch, which I can do just fine without your help, Mr. Morrison, thank you very much.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. It's not actively offensive, it's just impenetrable. I give it a 1 because the art was rather nice.

SEVEN SOLDIERS: BULLETEER #4 (of 4)

Alix Harrower and Sally Sonic duke it out in a big smashy-smash, we learn Sally's sordid history and see her as she goes from innocent superpowered teen with eternal youth to bitter, quasi-evil skeevy vengeful superpowered old woman in the body with eternal youth.

So yeah, it's a big fight intercut with backstory about the villain of the piece, followed by a visit from the Spirit of Vigilante What Got Et By The Big Spiders In The 7S #0 Issue. He explains that Alix Harrower is a direct descendant of the world's first superhero, and that she's needed to save the world, blahbity-blah-blah-blah, at which point our heroine tells him to go stuff himself and walks off.

In direct contrast to the Mr. Miracle series, this last issue of Bulleteer actually improved the series as a whole for me. I'm a sucker for "watching good people turn evil" stories, and Sally's transformation was truly sad to watch. It also manages to subtly make the points about female superheroes that Morrison had been banging us over the head with in earlier issues. Nice work.

I still don't find Alix a particularly compelling character, but her refusal to play her part in the coming world-ending Sheeda invasion took me by surprise and garnered more interest in the overall plot, (the same plot that's been MIA in the last few issues of these series, by the way).

Best Moment: The panel where Alix has finally had enough and just dumps a car engine (or whatever that thing is) right on Sally's noggin. That made me laugh out loud, because I was rooting for Alix at that point.

Worst Moment: I...don't really have one, which surprises me. Decent, interesting work all around.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Morrison pulled this one out nicely, I thought.

SEVEN SOLDIERS: FRANKENSTEIN #3 (of 4)

Booyeah! Now this...THIS is the stuff, man! Our Man Frankie gets an assist whilst slaughtering killer cows (yup) from none other than the Bride, who recruits him into S.H.A.D.E. (think paranormal SHIELD) for a mission to retrieve a gubmint experiment gone horribly wrong. Seems that water (yes, water) has empathic properties, the gubmint thought they could create a weapon from it, and things went teats up in no time flat.

So Frankenstein and the four-armed Bride set off on a kill-a-palooza to retrieve the Sentient Water Creature. After the big confrontation, SHADE offers Frank a job but he just walks off into the sunset.

I goddamn loved this comic.

It's got horror. It's got violent splodey action. It's got Frankenstein, sentient water, creepy narration, and bloodthirsty cows.

It's got bloodthirsty other animals, too, but the cows...my God, the cows.

I would pay damn near 5 bucks an issue for a Morrison/Mahnke Frankenstein ongoing series. As bad as Mr. Miracle was, this one is its opposite in almost every way --- done in one, straightforward horror actioner with a just-crazy-enough-to-make-you-smile premise and brilliant execution.

Best Moment: It's so hard to pick one. I'm going with the cows.

Worst Moment: The only complaint I have with this comic is that it doesn't really advance the still-MIA 7S overall plot. But that's a minor, minor quibble.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Buy this comic. It is, as the kids say, the bomb.

INFINITE CRISIS SECRET FILES 2006

This comic was 6 bucks.

Give credit to Marv Wolfman for writing some interesting internal narration stuff.

But it's certainly not 6 bucks worth of stuff.

If you want to read about how Alex Luthor, Superboy Prime, and Superman-2 all got tired of living in their little prison, then go right ahead and pick this up.

If you want to read about how Superboy punching the walls of the prison kept shattering multiple continuities, then buy this.

If you want to see Alex Luthor getting naked to give Superboy a power boost (ye gods, did THAT sound creepy) then purchase this.

If, on the other hand, you're just fine with knowing that Alex goaded Superman and Superboy into thinking that they had to escape for the sake of their loved ones, and that Superboy's punching is what screwed up the timestream, then you know pretty much all you need to know about this comic, and you can go buy Frankenstein instead. Twice.

Best Moment: Can't think of one. It's all very blah and sort of telling us what we'd all assumed from reading Infinite Crisis anyway.

Worst Moment: 6 bucks. I didn't even realize it until after I'd paid for it.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Unnecessary, but not offensive. (Except for that whole Alex Luthor birthday suit thing I mentioned.)

GODLAND: HELLO COSMIC! TPB

I kept hearing about this comic from many online reviewers, but couldn't bring myself to pick it up, mainly because A) I have no particular love for DC-era Kirby originals or homages and B) I thought the art was a turn-off.

Holy crap, was I ever wrong.

For all the ballyhooed overblown talk from Bendis, Brad Meltzer, and every other writer who pays it lip service, THIS is truly the spirit of the Silver Age of comics.

You know what it is? It's a superhero comic for people who really miss the old superhero comics. It's straightforward superhero action mixed with just a dash of cosmic pretension and a smattering of modern-day sensibilities, and DAMN does it work well.

Joe Casey and Tom Scioli craft a tale with a thousand generic elements --- astronaut granted amazing powers, supervillains bent on just being eeeeeevil, soap-opera drama amongst the hero's team, and a shady alien syndicate with murky purposes pulling the strings --- and yet it comes off as totally fresh and comfortably familiar at just the right time.

Just the character design for Basil Cronus made me laugh out loud.

I swear, this is pitch-perfect antidote to DC's depressing Crisis and Marvel's overhyped war. Casey has a knack for quickly establishing characterizations and keeping the plot moving, and if he tries a little too hard with the modern day pop culture references occasionally, well, all is
forgiven when you realize that this is just a crazy bit of fun.

The art even grew on me after just a couple of pages.

Seriously, seek this out if you haven't already, and just enjoy the ride.

Best Moment: Basil Cronus' splash page introduction. That's when I knew this was a comic for me.

Worst Moment: Some of the modern-day references feel a little obvious, but this is a totally minor issue.

Comic Book Goodness: 5/5. This is rarefied air, but I'm giving it an extra bump because it went from being a book I was sure wouldn't hold any interest for me to being one that I can't wait to catch up on. Well played, Casey. Well played.

5 Comments:

Blogger kelvingreen said...

Morrison is just the kind of person to deliberattely kill Frankenstein off in Seven Soldiers #1, just because he knows it's the one everyone likes.

I think I understood what happened in Mister Miracle, but I'm not sure I can put it into words, but I am pretty sure that it still doesn't make for a good comics story.

I completely missed out on Godland as I too have never really been into Kirby, but I may check it out on your recommendation.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Nonexistent Man said...

About MM4: MM was trapped in "The Life Trap" inside the black hole from issue 1; which he didn't really escape 'til the end of issue 4. The life trap is "an endless succesion of synthetic lives" where the bad aspects of life are exalted; to make Shilo feel useless, guilty, shameful, etc. The thing that kept him there was the Omega Sanction, which used the death of Shilo's brother (seen in flashbacks) as an anchor to keep him in the life trap. Once he gets over it and discovers that it wasn't his fault (using the death of his brother as an inspiration to do better rather than a cross he bears; which is why he befriends the omega sanction instead of fighting it; in a similar way that writers use their bad life experinces to make something good -art-). A lot of the themes played in MM are also developed -and more deeply- in Morrison's 1996 miniseries "Flex Mentallo", so if you find MM confusing, maybe giving FM a read could help. It is also, if I may say so, a !$#%$"$#" great comic.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

*Reads the above comment, then looks at Chris*

Basically, it was all in his head.

11:14 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Godland is good. I've been happy since the beginning - except for my inability to find the first issue until it was posted online. I wavered on the art for one issue - five or six, I think... but then I was right back in there just enjoying the ride. Between this and Fear Agent, Image is making me rather happy (outside that lack of timeline for releasing Fear Agent).

7:37 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Invincible, Walking Dead, Fell, Jack Staff (when it's out), The Portent. Never have I read so many Image books!

Yeah, basically Mister Miracle had to escape the one thing he'd up until then been unable to escape; the guilt over his brother's death. But I still think it didn't stand up as a story.

10:01 AM  

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