Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chris' Reviews 8/23-ish

As promised, 3 weeks worth of comic reviews, most of which are sure to infuriate! (Mainly because I seem to have the exact opposite opinion of everyone else about most of these.) As always, Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1

Yes, I liked Identity Crisis. Yes, I liked this issue. No, it didn't have any punching. Yes, it had a lot of in-character narration. Yes, a lot of people are going to not like this. And I'm not sure why, although Greg Hatcher from Comics Should Be Good shares his reasons.

Quite honestly, the "who gets in" issues from the old Avengers and JLA were always the most interesting for me as a kid, so I'm delighted to see one here, especially since it's a really well done one. Red Tornado gets a lot of screen time, and the flashback panels with Kathy Sutton are a nice touch as well.

Also, Mr. Miracle's opposite twin (Dr. Impossible?) decapitates two of the Metal Men. Sweeeeeeeet. Bonus points for a "Hush Tube"!

(Side note: I am in fact one of those people with a double standard --- or 'humans', as I call them. It's OK to kill robots. Every. Single. Time.)

In fact, in seeming response to bloggers who posted about how Red Tornado's entire purpose seems to be blowing up, it's a major plot point here! Take THAT, comicsblogoweb!

So we get what anyone who's remotely familiar with Meltzer's work probably should have expected: a set-up issue with good character bits, no action, and a hint of a deeper mystery. Also, I quite liked the art.

Best Moment: Batman and Superman's immediate rejection of Supergirl as a League member: "No." "No." Funny, because that was the same reaction I had when I saw the panel.

Worst Moment: The Red Tornado/Deadman conversation was plodding. But hey, Felix Faust showed up at the end!

Comic Book Goodness: I'm giving this one a solid 3/5. Maybe I'm a sucker, but there were more than enough nods to the various eras of JLA-ness to keep me happy, and as I said: I really think Meltzer's characterization of the Big Three works. Between liking this and Identity Crisis, I am now officially a comicsblogoweb leper.


ULTIMATES ANNUAL #2

Captain America and the Falcon team up to take care of a white supremacist group that's using Ultimate Arnim Zola (who's an AI program in the Ultiverse) to concoct a Super Soldier Death Powder to, um, make Super Soldiers. Intercut with flashbacks to Cap's WWII adventure wherein he took down --- shock! --- Zola's Super Soldier back in the day, and saddled with a
heavy, heavy message on race relations.

This was at times clunky and hard-to-follow, but I can't deny that this made for some compelling reading. From Cap's monologue on just how he's still painfully aware that he's got a 60-year chunk of history missing to Falcon's refusal to be the subservient soldier under Cap's command, there are a few really interesting bits of characterization.

Also, Cap and Falcon get a sweet ride in a Trans Am, and said panel is overflowing with cool-osity.

But the race message (which is admittedly hard to do well in comics anyway) drops thuddingly every time the action heats up. And the beginning would seem to give away the end of Ultimates 2 (not that we were predicting anything differently anyway).

But I really enjoyed Ryan Sook's art in the flashbacks, Mike Deodato's art in the present, and the cover. So it wins on those counts.

Best Moment: "So, for the permanent record, do not treat me like your Step-and-Fetchit noncom ever again. Understood?" --- Falcon to Cap

Worst Moment: This was my first exposure to Ultimate Falcon, so, I didn't know those wings could decapitate folks. Huh. Also, ew.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. Interesting vignette, decent action and good art. Probably would have been better if it hadn't tried to be so "Message"-y.


WONDER WOMAN #2

In this issue, we learn that Diana's new role as Agent of Whatever was supplied to her by Batman (more about this later), Tim Drake's known the whole time where she's been, Cassie gets pissed about it, then Giganta shows up wearing Donna Troy as a necklace (heh) and Nemesis, Cassie, Tim and Diana try to take down Giganta, Cheetah, and Dr. Psycho.

Just as Diana's ready to transform back into Wonder Woman via an absolutely WONDERFUL Lynda Carter twirl-around, she's stopped by Hercules.

I had several problems with this comic.

First off, the idea that Batman gave WW a new identity after she's made so much out of finding out who she really is kind of counterintuitive. "Having trouble discovering what you're really all about? Here's a fake ID, made-up past and new job in which you get to live a lie!" Also, apparently her time during the year off didn't provide the answers she was looking for? Disappointing.

I didn't go back and read issue #1, but I forget why all the bad guys are looking for Diana.

I'm not well versed in the DCU's version of Hercules, but here's hoping he's much like the Marvel version (e.g., strong, arrogant, and a little bit naive). Someone feel free to illuminate me!

But the biggest problem here is... drumroll please... lateness. We already know that Diana's going back to being Wonder Woman thanks to Justice League of America. So it becomes a question of "when", not "if", and I naively thought that there was a real chance for a status quo change here. (Not that I was rooting against Diana, but that question was a story hook for me.) So my interest level in seeing Diana not being WW for the rest of the arc is greatly diminished.

Best Moment: The twirl. Man, what a tease!

Worst Moment: I still can't get over the Batman-supplied new life. I thought that was SO not the point. I thought we were looking at a more independent, free-willed WW who's determining her own fate from now on.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. Serviceable art, but I just can't say I'm interested in Diana Prince: Agent of Whatever --- once she's back to being WW and can be the focus of her own book, I'll jump back on. Maybe I'll give the next issue a shot. I dunno.


HEROES FOR HIRE #1

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's relaunch of Heroes for Hire starts us smack dab in the middle of the action, as we're introduced to Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Tarantula, Humbug, and Shang Chi.

(Black Cat is also a member, but for some reason she doesn't get her own text-heavy explanatory splash page like the others.)

The setup is fairly simple: these folks are hired guns, hunting down bad guys for cash, and don't answer to anyone but themselves.

Of course, this being a Marvel comic, it's saddled with Civil War baggage. Surprisingly, it ends up being the closest any CW-related comic I've read has come yet to actually discussing the issues that Marvel so desperately wants us to think about.

Bottom line is that HFH decides to go all "Wyatt Earp on the criminal underworld", but won't be hunting down heroes. Which is cool with me.

Not as funny as I'd have expected, but there's not a lot wrong with this comic --- plus I gets me some Shang Chi! (I have a completely irrational fascination with Shang Chi. I cannot explain this.)

So here's hoping that P&G can keep the 70's-action-flick vibe going in subequent issues, with the snappy dialogue and mercenary nature of the team taking center stage. Personally, I'm confident it will, and this cheesecake-and-punch laden comic is a guilty pleasure already.

The other thing I like about it is this is a perfect opportunity for Marvel to bring in B- through D- List characters on a rotating one or two issue basis, since they can be hired and fired at will.

Best Moment: HFH is referred to as "Kung Fu sex bombs". Nice bit of self-awareness there. Plus: the explanation of why Humbug is a valuable member of the team (insect spy network).

Worst Moment: Paladin and Orka show up that the end (yeeesh), but I think they were just contracted for a specific job, so hopefully they won't be back next ish.

Comic Book Goodness: 3/5. I can dig it; trashy fun.


ANNIHILATION #1 (of 6)

Sonofabitch.

In what I greeted with derision and scorn upon hearing it announced, I hath found humility and a lesson.

That lesson?

Don't underestimate my ability to misdirect snark.

Holy hell, I loved this comic!

It's all-out war between the Annihilus/Thanos axis and, well, pretty much the rest of the galaxy as an older, war-torn Nova and Drax, Ronan, and Starlord (F#$% yeah!) fight valiantly to mount some sort of resistance. Helped by former heralds, no less. Yep, those heralds.

Oh, and Galactus shows up at the end and gets his world-devourin' ass kicked by Aegis and Tenebrous.

Don't be fooled for one minute: this is a war comic, narrated as such by Nova and very intensive with the cosmic smashy-smash.

But it's all brilliantly done, and feels more like an episode of Band of Brothers than anything else. Did I mention that Giffen promised us SpaceKnights? Hell yeah. This is exciting, action-packed stuff, and it's hard not to feel like very bad things are going to happen next issue.

Now if we could just figure out why Marvel keeps pretending this series doesn't exist.

Best Moment: "They took down Galactus. God help us." --- Nova

Worst Moment: I can't decide if the fact that Drax the Destroyer's costume consists of slacks, shoes, and no shirt is incredibly cool or incredibly dopey.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Great work.

MINI-REVIEWS

IRON MAN #11 --- Yep, I was more or less right, which is just fine by me. This ish does the reveal nicely, and features a cool takedown of the Sentry by IM (overloading the Cloc thing to give Bob a nervous breakdown), a nice fakeout with an I-should-have-seen-it-coming Tony-less armor, and momentum for the last ish of the arc, in which Yinsen activates the Iron Mega-Robots mentioned in the first issue. I'm not lying when I say that as a fan if the next issue doesn't falter, this will have been the best IM story in three years. CBG: 4/5.

BATMAN #656 --- Everyone else seems to like this comic a lot more than I do. It's one big fight with ninja Man-bats in an art museum, yes the pop-art backgrounds are clever, yes the name "Jezebel Jet" sucks (what, "Tramp Steamer" was already taken?), but overall so far this is a less compelling Batman read than Detective. I can't explain why I don't like this more. CBG: 2/5.

SECRET SIX #3 (of 6) --- A little emotion, a little humor, and scads of betrayal mark the halfway point here, as we see that Vandal Savage has been acting the puppetmaster, the team stuggles to sort things out, and bonds between comrades are put to the test (figuratively and literally). Good stuff, all round. CBG: 3/5.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #3 --- Holy Compression, Batman! A 3-issue arc! And one that wraps up nicely, as the mystery and motives behind the warrior-killing is exposed (and makes sense), the Hill Street Blues vibe gets even stronger, and Guy Gardner gets a deserved vacation (one that if future covers are any indication will not go well). Top-notch story and art, and quickly becoming one of my top 5 comics. CBG: 4/5.

FELL #6 --- I won't say anything that I haven't said before; this is just an excellent comic. Either you're buying this or you're not. I am, and glad for it.

10 Comments:

Blogger Captain Qwert Jr said...

"Now if we could just figure out why Marvel keeps pretending this series doesn't exist."

Does it include a bunch of TV writers that can help a lowly Marvel editor get out of the comics ghetto and into a real writing job?

5:41 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!

Eh, I'm right there with you buddy.

UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's ok, I liked IC too, and thought JLA #1 was ok too. (and I don't even like Red Tornado!)

9:20 PM  
Blogger naladahc said...

When I read the Supergirl "No" comments from Bruce and Clark I immediately felt like that was Meltzer's personal comment about the new Supergirl.

Maybe it is just my own dislike of the new one coming into play but I thought it was really funny.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Chris Laffoon said...

Cap in a Trans-Am...seriously..I want to find someone to paint that on my office wall. It doesn't get anymore American than that..hmmm...maybe a new American Flag idea right there. Get GW on the horn and pitch the idea now. I was hoping HFH would be better...I'll give it a couple more issues myself but if as of right now...it's on the edge of going bye-bye from me. The DC stuff..yeah, don't read it.

6:44 AM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

It's cool to like Identity Crisis. My only gripe was with Jack Drake's death, because it bolloxed up Robin, which I was buying.

And Marvel ignores Annihilation because Marvel is dumb.

8:01 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Marvel said that Ultimates Annual 2 was supposed to bridge the glaring gap in tone between the Millar/Hitch Tom Clancy's Aevngers and the Loeb/Madureira Super Incoherent Avengers Manga Funtime. Any hint son that in the actual issue?

I'm not well versed in the DCU's version of Hercules, but here's hoping he's much like the Marvel version (e.g., strong, arrogant, and a little bit naive). Someone feel free to illuminate me!
There was a fun bit in JLA/Avengers where WW smashed Marvel's Hercules because she thougt he'd raped her mum. So DC Hercules is apparently a bit more of an evil git than Marvel's lovable fratboy chump.

Surprisingly, it ends up being the closest any CW-related comic I've read has come yet to actually discussing the issues that Marvel so desperately wants us to think about.
As an ex-philosopher, this has been the most disappointing part of Civil Bore for me (even more than Iron Asshat and Spider-Moron); they've made absolutely no attempt to engage with the central question of the series. And it's not like they haven't got the room, in the seventy-odd chapters, most of which theey've wasted either on fighting or rehashing the premise again and again. Stupid Marvel.

Similarly, the new Heroes for Hire don't actually seem to be for hire, do they?

Now if we could just figure out why Marvel keeps pretending this series doesn't exist.
Definitely. This has proven to be much better than Civil Bore, vn taking into account the Super Skrull miniseries that had nothing to do with anything. I'm not sold on Grizzled Nova, but this is great fun. I don't much care for Spaceknights, but I'd love to see Rocket Raccoon turn up.

Everyone else seems to like this comic a lot more than I do.
Not me. I'm finding Morrison's Batman to be very disappointing.

8:17 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh, andif you like Shang Chi, I've got somthing you'll love. I'll email it to you if I can find your address.

It's not dirty, but it's geektastic.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Cap in a Trans-Am... It doesn't get anymore American than that."

Um..

Cap in an original US Army JEEP, perhaps?

6:17 PM  
Blogger inkdestroyedmybrush said...

Shang Chi. He;s back. Lets just let the chewy Kung Fu goodness roll around our heads for a little bit.

Ah yes, with the Daughters of the Dragon.

Marvel still should have let me do the MOKF revival with Gulacy and Moench. Man, it could have looked like 1976 all over again.

I can't believe that you're making me want to pick up that issue, but, yeah, you are.

And Ultimate Falcon? Race relations? Paging Steve Englehart! Paging Steve Englehart!

10:36 AM  

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