Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chris' Mini-Reviews 7/19

Better late than never, what ho! So, I got a pile o' comics last week, and if nothing else, maybe I can convince you to pick up some issues you might not have gotten last week! In fact, maybe I'm getting soft, but I read a lot of great comics this week --- mostly by the Big 2! (Alternatively, there's nothing I can do if you already bought the crappy ones. Such is life.) As always... Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

(And incidentally, 2GBC reached another milestone: we are the #1 Google search result for "massive spoilers ahoy". I know, I'm killing comics. But I figure if Marvel can do it pre-release, I can damn well do it post- release.)

CIVIL WAR #3: So finally we get a payoff pitch, as we see the two opposing factions fighting each other. Before you condemn it as fluff, consider the fact that it took House of M 7 friggin' issues to get to this point. In fact, I'm kind of appreciating the fact that Millar gave us a money shot this early in the series, as I'm now firmly convinced that for any type of thoughtful discussion of the issues you'll need to read the tie-ins, and the actiony-Earth-shaking-status-quo turning events will be this series' concern.

And that's fine with me.

Nice bit of retconning with Tony Stark/Emma Frost booty calls (which --- face it --- is perfectly in character for both), and we get Stark throwing a classic IM haymaker at Cap. Points off for making me actively dislike Spider-Man, but all in all a good fight issue. And no, that's not really Thor at the end, but it's nice to see McNiven drawing it (and props to Dexter Vines, as well). CBG: 4/5.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0: It's the History of Bruce, Clark, and Diana, as we see the closest moments between the three over the course of New Earth continuity. And it's really well done. These are some very human moments between these larger-than-life characters, and not only do we get Superman winning a betting pool, but we get Batman breaking down during Clark's death AND Batman surreptitiously sneaking a Themysciran library book ("I'm borrowing this.")

At times funny, touching, and revealing, Brad Meltzer sets the stage for the new JLA by showing us the ups and downs of the Trinity. OK, so the narration time-frame jumping makes little to no sense (Tomorrow. 3 Days from now. Yesterday. Who cares?), but this behind-the-scenes clip show is a purist's dream.

And yes, the fact that we now know that the OYL Wonder Woman is in fact Diana seems to take all the air out of the WW relaunch, but the fact that the WW book is already 3 months behind schedule makes that kind of irrelevant anyway. Full disclosure: I did in fact like Identity Crisis, despite the ending. CBG: 4/5.

X-FACTOR #9: I was worried about the effect that Civil War would have on Peter David's excellent series here, but he's handling it in character and in style. Layla Miller mentions casually that she knows that she and Madrox will be married someday (with an absolutely priceless panel from Dennis Calero showing Jamie's reaction), Madrox is forced to make a decision regarding the Factor's stance in the whole Civil War hoo-ha, and it's all done seamlessly. Plus --- we get the Astonishing X-Men v. X-Factor, and in a "fight" scene that could be read as a metatextual rejection by PAD of the "celebrity" comics, X-Factor plants their flag in the ground as protectors of mutants and ex-mutants. I read this comic 5 times, and liked it better each time. CBG: 4/5.

HAUNT OF HORROR #3: Dear Sweet Jesus, this was a bad comic. Despite initial enthusiams, I backed the wrong horse on this one. (Of course, I also bought 20 issues of New Avengers. The lesson, as always: don't underestimate my ability to buy shitty comics.) Anyhoo, there's a Biggie-Tupac retelling of Israfel, a latter-day grown-up Columbine at a high school reunion, and a rote retelling of Berenice. Nothing to see here, and even the art isn't enough to make this worth purchasing. Move along. CBG: 1/5.

AQUAMAN #43: Hey hey, we get some answers here, as we learn that Arthur is in fact related (kinda) to Orin of Continuity Past, the Sea Devils and King Shark join with him to go rescue Mera, and...you know what? It doesn't matter. It's a horrible jumping on point, but my interest that flagged with last issue is revived again, as Kurt Busiek ties the knots tighter around our would-be hero, gives King Shark a personality, and starts to make some sense. Oh, and astonishingly, Tony DeZuniga, whose art is Goddamn KILLING Jonah Hex, inks Butch Guice here and actually makes Guice's art look better. I have no explanation for this. If you're new to the relaunch, don't start here, buy the previous three issues as well. CBG: 3/5.

CASANOVA #2: OK, so this issue is a tad clearer than last issue, and is relatively self-contained. (In fact, I think this issue would have made a better #1 than the last, but then again, Matt Fraction's the one who's getting paid to write comics, not me, so what do I know?) Anyhoo, there's a mission against robot naked ladies, orgone, and a supervillain, and wonderful Gabriel Ba art. I also thought Fraction's insight at the end as to the creative process making this issue made fascinating reading, and was probably worth 2 bucks all by itself, but that's just me. Not for everyone, but if you're enjoying Nextwave or Godland (and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be), this one's for you. CBG: 3/5.

SHADOWPACT #3: OK, I wouldn't have predicted a 3-issue arc, but given the timelines and the need to kick this team into action OYL if the book is going to take hold, I understand it. The Pact defeat their nemesises (nemesi?) in a clever way, make a nod to the glaring continuity error that the book was saddled with, and hopefully set the stage for their role as a magical-enemy-commando-squad for the DCU.

(Note to DC: the formula for this book is simple. 2-3 issue arcs revolving around defined missions, given a regular hangout at the Oblivion Bar, with the Phantom Stranger acting as The Chief. In other words, it could be the DCU-magic equivalent of Marvel's X-Factor, and episodic-TV-watching slaves like myself would eat this up). Ahem. Oh, and the cover with speech balloons makes this old-timer's heart sing. CBG: 3/5.

ANNIHILATION: NOVA #4 (of 4): Wow, this series has done 3 things I didn't expect from any comics coming out of this "event" (I use "event" in quotes because Marvel treats this like the plague, and it's not been that bad, really).

1) Change to status quo? Check. That would be Quasar's heroic death.
2) Sets the stage for a big friggin' deal? Check. Annihilus is now PISSED and comin' for Earth.
3) Makes me interested in a hero I previously couldn't give two shits about? Check. Abnett and Lanning have made Nova a character with personality, a mission, and a humorous sidekick that doesn't feel tacked-on, and given us a cosmic scope to boot. I have absolutely no reservations about recommending this entire mini to anyone. Even Kyle Rayner fans. ESPECIALLY Kyle Rayner fans. CBG: 3/5. CBG for Overall Series: 4/5.

CHECKMATE #4: Greg Rucka's super-powered spy thriller gets more powered and more thrilling, as the Checkmate squad on the ground deals with the Great Ten from China, and the political maneuvering gets dangerous back on familiar soil. Amanda Waller sells Alan Scott up the river, Sasha, Fire, and the August General in Iron (shades of Iron Fist!) get some great moments, and...wow. I am hooked. The fact is that this comic has gotten progressively better with every single issue, and fewer compliments are highly paid from me. If it makes a difference, I also find that Jesus Saiz's art has gotten better each issue as well. CBG: 4/5.

UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 (of 8) : OK, so I bailed on Battle for Bludhaven with issue 3, but the Brave New World preview was enough to get me curious about this mini. And I'm damn glad. Because even though I have little to no love for the original incarnation of this group, Palmiotti and Gray did a GREAT job of

A) introducing us to the new Ray, Phantom Lady, and Dollman in a way that introduces them just enough to care about them
B) Setting the stage for an ideological clash between security and liberty (sound familiar, Marvel?), and
C) giving us a badass antagonist with a ri-Goddamn-diculous name of Father Time.

The best part here was actually sympathizing with Dollman, and making me want to see him succeed. And no, I don't think you have to have read a single issue of Bludhaven to understand what's going on here.

Jimmy/Justin, if you're listening, the only missing ingredient is: "Next issue: Uncle Sam kicks ass...for Freedom!" CBG: 3/5.

SDCC: Snark Edition coming tomorrow!


Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Anyhoo, there's a Biggie-Tupac retelling of Israfel...

Wha...huh!?! I moved on after the first issue, but that's bizarre enough to almost get me to pick this one up. Save me $4 and tell me more!

and in a "fight" scene that could be read as a metatextual rejection by PAD of the "celebrity" comics

I like that interpretation, and couldn't agree more. This was probably my favorite issue of the series so far. Crazy how David has quietly managed to spin gold from Bendis and Millar's lead.

The best part here was actually sympathizing with Dollman, and making me want to see him succeed.

Yeah, they did a surprisingly good job with this first issue, a meatier version of the Civil War concept without Millar's fanboy fluff.

Question for you: while the Stark/Frost thing may have been in somewhat character, to a degree, didn't it strike you as wrong that he'd be knocking boots with a known criminal? That scene made me cringe.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

Not for everyone, but if you're enjoying Nextwave or Godland (and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be), this one's for you.

Whatever. How long did you keep buying Marvel TeamUp too?

8:57 AM  
Blogger Cap'n Neurotic said...

I knew it! I knew as soon as I heard about Annihilatin that they were going to use it as a chance to bump off Quasar. Damn your eyes, Marvel!

7:40 AM  

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