Monday, April 20, 2009

Jeff's Reviews: Week of 4/15/2009

Welcome former BC Exton customers! This will be a work in progress, but my plan for now is to write a brief paragraph about the comics and/or books I read each week, and hopefully some fun discussions will happen below. Since I don’t know yet whether people have found another weekly source for comics (or have switched to trades), I’ll try to have minimal spoilers in what I write and please try to avoid them in the comments too. Later, if it doesn’t bother anybody maybe we’ll open up the discussions to explicit plot points. Off we go, in no particular order…

SECRET INVASION AFTERMATH: BETA RAY BILL – THE GREEN OF EDEN #1: Yes, that’s the actual title. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this book, and I like the idea of exploring how the religious factions of the Skrulls are dealing with the failure of their god, but it’s kind of pointless from Bill’s point of view. He’s worshipped by a bunch of Skrulls, and then he isn’t, and then there’s an ad for the next one-shot. Die hard Beta Ray Bill fans (Shane) will want this, but for the rest of you I recommend waiting for the rest of the chapters of the story and seeing if it makes a good trade, because so far this isn’t nearly as good as Bill’s appearance in the Thor Secret Invasion mini.

SUB-MARINER COMICS 70th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1: I haven’t always been thrilled with what Roy Thomas has written in recent years, but this story of how Namor decided to side with the Allies instead of the Nazis in WWII shows that he’s still got it. Maybe he should only be writing war stories, because this is the best thing he’s written in years. The Mitch Brietweiser art is terrific as usual, except for the cover where I prefer the Marcos Martin variant. Accompanied by a 1940’s reprint, and a new story done in the 40’s style, both of which are forgettable.

X-MEN LEGACY #223: Essential reading if you’ve been following this year-long story, otherwise probably impenetrable except to note that Mike Carey tweaks Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men story a little bit to show Xavier as a little less of a complete bastard about how he treated Danger. (Whedon implied that Xavier basically kept her prisoner against her will, and Carey says that he wanted to free her but didn’t have the technical knowledge to do so.)

X-FACTOR #42: They finally got the art fixed, so the great stories aren’t being undermined by panels that don’t make sense anymore. Some nice progress in the story in both time zones, and another patented X-Factor surprise ending. I’m not that familiar with Longshot, so I’m unclear about what happened with the two different shooting scenarios on the same page – is he actually able to jump back in time like that? I thought he was just lucky, so I’m not sure if we’re supposed to think something weird is going on or if what happened is “normal” for Longshot.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #591: I won’t spoil the last page, but the mainstream media was all over it last week so you probably already know who the mayor of New York in the Marvel Universe is now. (Hint: not Bloomberg.) Anyway, they finally go into some detail about how the wipe of Spidey’s secret identity works although we still don’t know when and how he did it. (It has always been separate from the Mephisto thing, which Marvel has done a bad job of explaining until now.) It appears to have been done through science, not magic, since Reed Richards is able to analyze the effect. I hope this two-issue story gets collected in a trade with Dan Slott’s Human Torch/Spider-Man miniseries from a few years back because the two stories complement each other nicely.

ORACLE: THE CURE #2: This was the only book I really didn’t like this week. Lots of utterly pointless and ridiculous virtual reality stuff between Oracle, the Calculator and a bunch of throwaway characters made to be cannon fodder between them. Fortunately so far “The Cure” seems to refer to the Calculator’s (previously unseen?) daughter, but I still worry that they’re going to try to get Barbara out of the wheelchair at the end of this. The only good thing is that it’s only a three-issue miniseries.

VIGILANTE #5: Again proving that the old guys have still got it, this Marv Wolfman-written chapter of the Titans crossover is way better than the chapters that have appeared in Titans or Teen Titans so far. We still don’t know a ton about the new Vigilante, but we’re starting to get an idea of why he’s doing it. Presumably, there’s an as-yet unrevealed connection to Adrian Chase that will explain why he chose the Vigilante identity as opposed to starting a new one or working in secret.

PUNISHER #4: I thought this was the issue where this incarnation of the Marvel Universe Punisher really started to come together. It’s got a tone that’s less silly than Matt Fraction’s Punisher War Journal, but not quite as grim as the Punisher MAX version. The story also has some nice schemes-within-schemes plotting, and the surprise return of an old supporting character in the Hood’s employ.

REBELS #3: (I refuse to put the periods in until they decide what the acronym stands for.) Lots of nice stuff in here for Legion fans (and L.E.G.I.O.N. fans for that matter) but skillfully done in a way that fans will notice but new readers won’t be put off by. For instance, the way he combines the legacy (or whatever the opposite of legacy is because it’s in the past) of two different Legionnaires into one made me smile, but it wouldn’t seem too “inside baseball” to someone who didn’t know the history. Fun stuff, and of course Dox is still a complete bastard with the added bonus of a copy of Brainiac 5 in his head to argue with. We also get a glimpse at what’s behind Dox’s exile that JLA fans will get a kick out of.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #49: As usual, I can’t say enough good about this. It’s an all-Sharon Carter issue that gives us a picture of her current mental state, and a little glimpse of what the Red Skull was using that time machine for when he had her. Next is #50 and then #600 (or is it #500?), so those should be fun. I don’t think we’ll see the actual return of Steve Rogers in those issues but I wouldn’t be surprised to catch a glimpse of him.

UNCANNY X-MEN #508: I wasn’t reading X-Men during the Psylocke era, so I’m not 100% clear about what Fraction is doing with her here but I’m glad the Red Queen plot is finally moving along. I’m not as bothered by the Greg Land art as a lot of the online community seems to be, but it’s not my favorite either – for instance, I like the Northstar scene but he doesn’t look anything like the way he’s usually drawn. I probably will switch to trade on this after the Dark Avengers and Messiah-fill-in-the-blank crossovers are done.

ACTION COMICS #876: This is good Rucka/Robinson stuff – I’m not sure how thrilled I am about Chris Kent’s current status (trying not to give it away) but it does put him in a position to have some nice emotional scenes with his Mom and his adopted Mom. (And I guess we now know what the latter will be up to while Superman is away on New Krypton for the year.)

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #35: Hard to tell yet whether this is essential “Blackest Night” stuff, but it’s well done and well integrated with the main book. Recommended.

TRINITY #46: Not a lot to say here since you’re already into this or you aren’t at week 46, but I enthusiastically recommend the trades for those of you who haven’t been following it every week.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #19: I love that (a) Ollie’s stalker is completely nuts and (b) Dinah kind of blames him for it even though intellectually she knows it’s not his fault. I like them together, so I’m not sure how I feel about the plan to split them into a lead feature and a backup. (Sorry, DC wants us to call them “co-features”.)

INCOGNITO #3: If you’re a fan of Brubaker & Phillips’ Criminal you have no excuse to not be buying this – remember you get extra stuff in the singles that won’t be in the trade – and if you aren’t reading Criminal because you prefer books with superheroes you should be reading this too.

That’s all for this week. I see the paragraphs got shorter as I got tired, not that I necessarily will have a lot to say about every single book, but maybe I’ll split it into two posts next week. Enjoy, and feel free to tell me below what you think. 

6 comments:

  1. I'm not sure how everybody else decided to buy their comics, but I switched to trades for the most part, while going to mailordercomics.com for what few monthly issues I decided to buy. I had to do some reorders to get the stuff that I missed, and none of it's arrived, so I'm not caught up to anything released after BC closed.

    Just a few comments here--in the Oracle miniseries, the Calculator's daughter isn't previously unseen--that's Wendy, of "Marvin and Wendy". You know, Superfriends? They were supporting characters in Teen Titans for awhile, except they barely ever appeared. And then Wonder Dog appeared at Titans Tower and they all took him in. And then he turned out to be a gigantic dog demon, ate Marvin, and seriously injured Wendy, leading to her condition at the start of this miniseries. I swear that it made sense when I read it.

    I was really excited to see that Beta Ray Bill got his own one-shot--and that Marvel is following that with a miniseries. Of course, this, combined with BC's closing, has prompted me to get it (and most everything, as I alluded to earlier) in trades.

    Having just reread the Nightwing story arc where the new Vigilante was introduced, I'm looking forward to trades of the new series being published. Nothing's appeared on Amazon yet, but at some point, in theory...

    I'd love a way to contribute my own reviews (when I actually have books to read, of course), and others might as well--would it be possible to make it an open blog, to allow others to post as well? I'm not really sure how it works, or if that would even be something you wanted to do. Just a thought! Of course, with that said, my reviews probably wouldn't be very mainstream--I'm not getting anything from Marvel now, and the only DC books I'm getting are Trinity (soon to be replaced by Wednesday Comics) and R.E.B.E.L.S. The rest are all from Image (Dead@17, Savage Dragon, Youngblood, Phonogram), BOOM! (Irredeemable, Dead Run) and others (Bad Kids Go to Hell, Barack the Barbarian, Olympus, and, uh, Werewolves on the Moon: Versus Vampires).

    I realized that there are a lot of comics being published, and unlike Marvel and DC, other companies don't always put their stuff into trades, so if I'm going to buy something monthly, I might as well try stuff that I might not be able to buy at a later date. I'm sure that the list will be revised once I start getting these comics, but I'm trying to expand my horizons, try something new. For instance--I just read the first Strangers in Paradise "pocket book". Loved it.

    So very, very happy that this is on Blogspot now.

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  2. Shane, I read the Teen Titans issues with Wendy but I either forgot or missed the connection to the Calculator so thanks for that. (I still don't care if she lives or dies but at least she didn't come out of nowhere.)

    Good idea about having multiple authors, and it's better that this is separate from my personal blog (should I decide to start keeping one) too.

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  3. When Wendy and Marvin were introduced this time around, they weren't tied to Calculator--I think that it was one of the more recent issues by Sean McKeever that established that. The title went under the radar by that point, so I wouldn't be too surprised if many people didn't know.

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  4. According to Amazon and an interview with Dan Slott on CBR today, his Spidey/Human Torch miniseries is coming out in hardcover later this year (it was only previously available in digest size), and the current storyline will be in the Spider-Man "24/7" hardcover also later this year. Not as good as having them both together, but better than nothing.

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  5. Jeff . . .
    A nice start. Good to see the books that you are reading and get an appreciation for what you like. The only thing that I have read from your list is Submariner 70th Anniversary one-shot and Captain America #49 - - both great titles that i also enjoyed. The Captain America 70th Anniversary one-shot is particularly well-done, my favorite of the Timely tributes so far. Thanks for setting this site up. It's a great idea . . . . mike

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  6. I liked the Cap 70th special too. I like the idea that Steve Rogers' personality was the same before the experiment -- the super soldier serum just gave him the means to express it. The Marcos Martin variant covers for these specials are terrific too.

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