Friday, November 30, 2007

Ladies And Gentlemen, We've Officially Found "The Line".

Look, I'm as big a comic geek as the next comics blogger, but still.

If you are over the age of 13 and order this for yourself.... it's time to maybe re-prioritize the ol' lifestyle, mmmkay?

Just sayin': if 3 year-old CGI outtakes from a Sony Playstation Spider-Man game followed by a stiffly animated Spidey unmasking to reveal himself as whatever unchanging-expression-having still photo you sent in is your cup of tea.... then I'm not coming over to your house for tea.

(And yes, I know that it's likely intended for kids. I'm just trying to keep it that way. This is in response to, I kid you not, a grown 44 year old man who looked at it and seriously considered getting one for himself.)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chris' Reviews 11/21

We'll keep it relatively short this week; Massive Spoilers Ahoy!

--- I confess, about halfway through the issue I completely lost track of exactly who was being chased and why, because frankly for the last three issues I've kind of thought of Cap as "That Comic Where Falcon And Sharon And Kind Of Bucky Are Chasing The Red Skull And Faustus, Sort Of". And as much as I've liked most of Brubaker's run thus far, I'm getting the feeling that we need to kind of wrap this up and go beat up MODOK or something, y'know? Competent as always, but it's kind of running in place at this point, yes? CBG: 2/5.

DETECTIVE COMICS #838 --- Part 3 of the Resurrection O' Ra's Al Ghul, apparently. Since this is the only part of this story I've read so far, I'm completely lost as to how/why this is happening, which as you might imagine makes for less than compelling storytelling. Again, my monthly Batman done-in-one fix is hijacked, this time by a crossover. Damn. At least there's a funny page or two where Alfred gets to beat somebody up. Oh, and the BatBrat is in this too, so that's depressing. CBG: 1/5, but if you've been following the story at all and have some context around it, you might rate it higher.

FLASH #234 --- Can I just say something? I am loving the hell out of Waid's relaunch here, and everything just feels right here. This issue concerns an introduction of a new power in the family (not-so-lovingly referred to as "the leash" by Iris) and the family dynamic comes into sharper focus. The best thing about this book is that these read like real, honest-to-god people... who just happen to have powers. A nicely Silver-Age plot, and a neat backup feature about Planet Flash through the different generations complements the main book nicely. Also, a wonderful tribute to Mike Weiringo at the back of the book seals the deal. It's so nice to have the Flash back. CBG: 4/5.

CHECKMATE #20 --- Like the ending to a good legal thriller, the "Fall of The Wall" arc wraps up decidedly not in favor of Amanda Waller, though you get the feeling she's just gonna be more dangerous now than ever. Lots of twists, turns, and I immediately went back and reread the whole arc to appreciate exactly how the final moves impacted everyone. Complicated, complex, but rewarding overall. If you haven't been reading this so far, next ish should make a great jumping-on point. CBG: 3/5.

IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 --- Director Stark and three buxom SHIELD agents take a working vacation to Madripoor in an effort to depose Madame Hydra; Bloodscream, Roughhouse, and Tyger Tiger get involved in the action, and the whole thing takes on a very James Bond-ian flavor (as if the cover didn't give that away). Cheescakey, action-packed, and a nice reminder of how Stark can still pull off the "billionaire playboy" when he has to. I liked it very much. CBG: 4/5.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LXG: Black Dossier Review

Unlike the material itself, this is going to be relatively short and sweet, because chances are you've already decided whether you're buying it or not.

I did.

On the plus side, you get outstanding production values, James Bond, Harry Lime, and a reference to The Thirty-Nine Steps while following Allan Quatermain and Mina through post-Orwellian 1950s England.

On the down side, the story makes little sense after the first read-through, less after a second, and none after a third. The last fifth of the book is told entirely in 3-D (yes, glasses are included) and goes completely off the rails more or less, by having our characters end up in some sort of fourth-dimensional Hub of Imaginary Characters... or something. I'm still not quite sure, although there's an immortal transsexual involved named Orlando.

What the Black Dossier is, really, is a short-ish Allan/Mina story bolstered by "official documents", "reprints of fictional magazines", "postcards", and other pseudo-documentary-type material that attempts to flesh out the "Leagueiverse".

And frankly, it's all a bit wearying, from the aforementioned "Orlando" piece to the porn-tastic Fanny Hill section, to the prose pieces that keep trying to halfheartedly drag the Cthulhu mythos into the action. I just got tired.

And I think that's probably got more to do with the fact that this book just seems so darned unnecessary. Yeah, the production qualities are nice, but cripes, the plot's just pointless, which I should have half suspected going into it anyway. The original LXG was darkly funny and a fresh twist at the time. This one? Well, it's dark, anyway.

I will say, though, that Kevin O'Neill is one goddamned versatile artist. His stuff continues to impress.

Anyhoo --- I know there are people who worship the toilet seat Moore sits on, but really I'd think that outside of a novelty/curiosity purchase this really isn't worth the time.


Monday, November 19, 2007

World War Hulk (or) How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Gamma Bomb

OK, so World War Hulk #5, then.

I confess I'm a bit baffled by some of the more prominent online reviewers who seem to think that A) this issue sucked and B) the miniseries overall wasn't that good. Let's start with World War Hulk #5.

Here's what happens:

1) The Sentry shows up and get his "uberpowerful asshole" on. He and Hulk proceed to beat the bejeezus out of each other for about 20 pages.

2) One of Hulk's Alien War Buddies cops to the fact that he blew up the ship on Planet Whatever, in order to blahbity blah blah blah doesn't matter. Hulk, who lost Mrs. Hulk in the explosion, gets understandably pee-yossed at this and starts smashing the Alien War Buddies. Oh, and Rick Jones gets ventilated with a spear.

3) Tony Stark uses his Stupid New Powers™ and calls down some sort of satellite beam thingamajig to del-Hulkify the Hulk, game over, that's a wrap, etc. Banner gets sent back to Omega Base. Elsewhere on Planet Whatever, some Hulk-y looking thing rises from what I can only assume is Green Hulk Emotion Goo (ye gods, did that sound dirty) and based on the solicitation on the last page, I'm assuming this is Skaar, Son O' Hulk.

(No, I didn't read a single tie-in, spin-off, or issue of Planet Hulk. Does it show?)

The Romita/Janson art was as good as it's ever been, and with the exception of a couple pages of Sentry/Hulk smashery, relatively easy to follow.

(Side note: two great sound effects in this ish as well, the first being the "JRJRKJCS" effect for the satellite beam --- love those little easter eggs to the artists there --- and the second was "VJJJWOMMMWWWB" when the Sentry 'splodifies the Hulk. I'd like to know if that was some sort of easter egg as well.)

So if you actually, honest-to-god believed in your heart of hearts when this miniseries began that:

A) The Hulk wouldn't get stopped at the end
B) Any major characters would be killed
C) It wouldn't use some deus ex machina at the end to wrap things up

...then you probably haven't been reading any sort of Marvel comic for the last 20 years or so.

Because when it comes to all-out throwdown Marvel superhero fights, those things never happen.

And frankly, we all bought into it at the beginning, and many of us got exactly what we wanted: 5 issues of the Hulk going medieval on the Marvel Universe. People complaining about things like "lack of consequence" or "emotionally flat" or "nonsensical" probably shouldn't be reading something called World War Freakin' Hulk.

So yeah: predictable, by-the-numbers issue that nonetheless delivered on the original promise and gave us 5 wonderful Pak/Romita/Janson issues and didn't try to do too much.

What exactly is the problem here, again?

Comic Book Goodness Overall: 4/5. Still don't believe me? Compare WWH to House of M, Civil War, Infinite Crisis, or any other Major Event Miniseries of the last 5 years and tell me which one you're most likely to reread on a rainy day. Yeah, that's what I thought.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chris' Reviews 11/14

Quite the mixed bag this week, with nary a soul in sight to blame for bad purchases but myself. Here's what I got, not including World War Hulk (that review and thoughts about the mini overall are coming tomorrow) or the Black Dossier (no way in hell I'm getting through all that text before the weekend). As always: Massive Spoilers Ahoy!


Gail Simone's first issue writing the Amazing Amazon (not counting the most recent Atom) starts things off with Diana fighting monkeys, moves to hints of Amazonian subterfuge, rounds out the middle with an office birthday party, throws in the newly-slimmed Lt. Colonel (!) Etta Candy, and finishes with Captain Nazi and the, um, Nazi-teers (or whatever Captain Nazi's henchmen are called) attempting an invasion of Themyscira.


It all moves along pretty quickly, too, and Diana's narrations are a mix of self-assured outsider and mildly bemused innocent (and seem perfectly in character to me). It's the usual Simone-ian mix of action and humor, and while it's certainly not a comedy title, it is a great deal of fun.

The Dodson art is typically Dodson-ish, so take that as you will --- I thought it was just fine here. The coloring seemed a little faded to me, but perhaps that's just my individual copy.

All in all, a fine, fun start to what will hopefully be a long, long run.

Best Moment: "There is cake, and that excuses much." Yes, Diana. Yes, it does.

Worst Moment: I'll admit, at this point Captain Nazi should probably be renamed to Professor Generic Villain #23 as far as I'm concerned, but hey --- in an issue with this many monkeys, I'm nitpicking.

Comic Book Goodness: 4/5. Right up my alley, and it's the issue that proves once and for all that Gail Simone can write monkeys like nobody's business.


OK, my love for the 'Factor is well documented at this blog, so this is tough for me to write.

Do not buy this issue of X-Factor unless you're following the "Messiah Complex" story in the gazillion other X-books, because there's only about 4 pages total here of X-Factory goodness we've come to expect from Peter David. Look, I know it's marked clearly right there on the cover as being a tie-in, but PAD's done a yeoman's job in the past of keeping crossover-itis to a minimum in this book, so I expected... I dunno, I guess I still expected an X-Factor book.

For what it's worth, here's how the book reads to someone who hasn't been following the "Messiah Complex" story:

1) Wolfsbane eats some terrorists.

2) Cyclops argues with some people I don't care about.

3) Madrox and Layla go see Forge, who expositions his hiney off about that stupid 19-part backup Beast story we had to put up with for the last 3 months.

4) Layla and a Madrox dupe disappear into the timestream. (It's not nearly as interesting as it sounds.)

5) Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler go to the hospital to talk to some nurse who turns herself into mist.

6) Cyclops argues some more with those people I still don't care about.

And then the whole thing mercifully ends, with me being sad about the X-Men in general, X-Factor in specific, and hoping this is the only crossover issue.

Best Moment: Hey! Ultimate Iron Man II is finally coming out in December!

Worst Moment: Any page featuring Cyclops and the Instantly Forgetful X-People.

Comic Book Goodness: 1/5. I suppose if you're following the event this made more sense, which is a bit like saying "You know, if you were a doctor, you'd think that medical textbook is more interesting."


OK, I'll admit I play World of Warcraft. I also tend to enjoy Walt Simonson comics. Ergo, I figured that I'd try this mixing of the two, and perhaps be entertained.

The good news is that it's better than it has any right to be.

The bad news is that it's still not any better than "eh".

Look, I understand wanting to cash in on a massive property like WoW, but fer Chrissake, an ad for WoW-themed games/action figures/comics/shirts every other freakin' page? At least, that's what it seems like.

(Side Note: In all fairness, I don't buy many Wildstorm comics, so I can't say if the ad count is usually this obtrusive or not. All I know is that if I'm reading a comic called World of Warcraft, I'm probably already playing your damn game.)

The story proper entails 3 folks being trained as gladiators in the Orc capital, and there's the usual mix of Mysterious Person What Can't Remember Their Past, Grudging Allies In Time Of Battle, and Shadowy Figure Pulling Strings Unseen. It reads like the setup to any other swords-n-sorcery book.

But Simonson seems to be visibly breaking a sweat here, like he's got a story in mind but he has to cram in a bunch of game-specific exposition to serve the brand, and even for a fan of the game like myself I find it distracting.

That said, there's an undeniable thrill at seeing the game in the comic format, and I quite like the artwork by Ludo Lullabi.

Best Moment: The scenes depicting druid shapeshifting were really well done and appropriately surreal.

Worst Moment: Note to fantasy writers: a good rule of thumb when writing about people with fantasy names is to not use 3 or more names in one sentence, as they're frequently unpronounceable and less frequently short.

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. A decent story could come of this, but man... the odds aren't good.


Well, we're off to Africa in this issue --- and JMS uses the tribal genocide taking place on the continent as the backdrop for Thor's awakening of the Warriors Three, who are biding their time as mercenaries guarding a Doctors Without Borders camp that finds itself under attack.

As much as I wanted to like this issue, I can't help but feel that the setting was the wrong one here. I understand JMS' point about how non-African nations trying to solve the conflicts are doomed to failure, but there's a mixed message here when Thor prevents mass slaughter by throwing Mjolnir at a band of attacking soldiers.

And that's really all that happens here; Donald Blake goes to Africa, turns into Thor to defend the camp, wakes up the Warriors Three, then makes a canyon to protect the camp from future attacks and returns home to mope.

One point in its favor: I got the variant Lee Bermejo cover, and it's absolutely beautiful.

Best Moment: Next issue: Sif!

Worst Moment: Probably the little girl suicide bomber. Some real-world situations just don't translate well to a comic about Norse gods in spandex, kay?

Comic Book Goodness: 2/5. The framing device was way too serious and immediate for what I was looking for in a comic called "Thor".


SALVATION RUN #1 --- I picked it up because I enjoy the concept, but Willingham writes a full-length comic about something that could have been an 8-page backup. The Flash's Rogues are trying to survive on an exile planet that Checkmate is shipping supervillains off to, and they predictably bicker and fight. At the end, we see that more villains (including the Joker) have arrived, and some Shadowy Figure Behind The Scenes has an agenda for our stranded villains. The rogues get on my nerves, the fights aren't terribly good, and the Joker sounds like an effeminate dandy instead of a homicidal maniac. Yikes. CBG: 1/5.

SUICIDE SQUAD #3 --- More of a Rick Flag issue than a Squad issue, it's equal part flashback to conventional Squad days and a telling of how Flag escapes Skartaris and is re-recruited to the Squad in the present day. Not a fan of the generic looking art and seems like a waste of an interesting character in Rustam, but it goes a long way to show Flag's badassedness and I think we're finally ready for the Squad proper to get going. CBG: 3/5.

Tomorrow: World War Hulk!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Got My Comics Today

...and you'll hear what I think about all of them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm salivating over a stack that includes Wonder Woman, Thor, World War Hulk, Suicide Squad, and the Black Dossier and suspiciously eyeing a stack that includes World of Warcraft, Salvation Run, and X-Factor's "Messiah Complex" issue.

We'll see how this turns out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rare 2GBC Marvel Congratulatory Post

Press release hit today about Marvel putting 2500 back issues online.

I must say, $9.99 a month for the right to browse all them comics is probably the right price point, and I say that having done approximately zero months of research into the issue. Ten bucks seems about right to me though.

Kudos to Marvel for finally doing something to potentially bring in new readers that doesn't involve making movies --- if Time Warner weren't so paranoid and trigger-happy with the lawyers, I'd say that we could expect to see DC follow suit, but I'm not holding my breath.

Curious though --- does this spell the end of the $40 DVD collections of Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Cap comics?


Friday, November 09, 2007

More Reasons I *Heart* Gail Simone

From a quote over at the 'Rama in re: her upcoming thousand-year reign on Wonder Woman:

"The book is about the best goddamned warrior planet Earth has ever known, and she happens to carry a mystical arsenal around just for the hell of it.

If a writer can’t make that interesting and fun, they really shouldn’t be writing superheroes."

::Looks over his glasses at Dan DiDio::

I think we understand each other, now, don't we Dan? Yes. Yes, we do.

Heretofore, whereas, and moreover, 2GBC shall now from here on out employ what we will refer to as "Simone's First Law Of Conceptual Bad-Assedness", to wit:

If Concept A is Bad-Assed, then the Writer Of Concept A should be able to produce Comic B, which should be Interesting and Fun.

Simple, I know. But you'd be surprised how many writers fail the test.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Random Thoughts On My Comics This Week (And Last)

Short and sweet, with spoilers, natch.

1) Annihilation: Conquest got things off to a good start, I thought, although my storytelling sensors flash WARNING! any time Adam Warlock is involved. A stage-setting issue that did its job, and had me reeled in with the last-page reveal of an old-school Avengers villain that sealed the deal.

2) Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin continues to delight both in art and story, with the Crimson Dynamo getting some face time and the Mandarin setting his plans for conquest in motion. As we've said here before, the real treat is Eric Canete's dynamic, breezy art that makes each page a joy.

3) Over in 616 Iron Man, two things happen that make me happy: first, Tony gets his Stupid New Powers blocked, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Second, he's been ordered away from S.H.I.E.L.D and it'll be fun to see him go decidedly low-tech as he hunts for Gadget's killer. Also, more Mandarin, which is delightful.

4) Crime Bible: Five Lessons Of Blood was interesting and a bit shocking, and a nice intro to the new Question for those (like me) who ignored 52, Countdown, etc. I think I'll be staying with this 5-issue mini.

5) Special Mention for the most recent issue of Moon Knight, which was a satisfying conclusion to Huston's muddled, grotesque run that lost its way somewhere around issue 3. Beautiful, beautiful art as well.

6) Are we ever getting another issue of Fell, or is that done?

More later!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bill Mantlo Spaceknight - Related News Update Snippet

I know, rare weekend post for 2GBC, but since Blogger ate the Marvel reviews I have to redo those today anyway.

Meanwhile, alert reader Jason, owner (I assume) of Floating World Comics in Portland, sent along this article. He needs ROM:Spaceknight illos for a charity project he's putting together in honor of Bill Mantlo. You know what? Go, read the article, since it says everything I was going to say.

Short version: ROM illustrations + fundraising for Bill Mantlo = another Mantlo fundraiser to help out ol' Bill, and who can't get behind that?


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Assload O' Reviews Week Will Continue Tomorrow

The Marvel reviews are coming as well, I was just bone tired after trick-or-treating with the kids last night.

(For those who care, my sons went as an alien and a ninja, my daughter went as a 30's movie star, and I went as Walter Sobchak of The Big Lebowski fame.)

(Also, when you start being a dead ringer for any John Goodman character, it's probably time to start reviewing the ol' dietary habits. Just sayin'.)

Also, the Wanted trailer is out, which oddly makes me even less interested in seeing it than I was from just having read the comic.