Monday, June 29, 2009

Jeff’s June Book Reviews, Part 2

It was great to see everyone at Gary’s on Saturday (and we missed those of you who couldn’t make it), so thanks again to him and his family.

I was planning to get a few more books read before doing another write-up, but a number of people said the trade reviews were helpful so let’s talk about what I’ve read in the past couple of weeks and I’ll try to do this more often. (Which may be hard if Marvel keeps releasing three dozen books a week…)

mar092427dI Kill Giants TPB: I read the first issue of this when it came out and didn’t care for it, but Shane is passionate about it which was enough for me to give it another try. I’m pleased to say that I have no idea why I didn’t like it the first time around – I was utterly captivated by it this time. To describe it too much would rob you of the joy of discovery, but I’ll say it’s the story of a young girl, her school, her family and, yes, giants that is at once funny, terrifying and heartbreaking. One thing that particularly worked well for this jaded comic reader is that Joe Kelly played with my expectations about the fantasy element, which made the story all the more surprising. The art is a semi-manga style that isn’t usually my thing, but it’s perfect for this story also because it allows the blurring of the real and the fantastic. I honestly think this one belongs on everyone’s shelf, folks. (Except that the family stuff might be too intense for some kids.) Extras: behind the scenes commentary and sketches.

 

mar090183d Flash: The Human Race TPB: This book collects the second half of Grant Morrison & Mark Millar’s run on The Flash during Mark Waid’s late-90’s sabbatical, and I had forgotten how good these stories really were. Or maybe I just didn’t appreciate them at the time because I saw them as marking time waiting for Waid to come back. At any rate, the two story arcs here, “The Human Race” and “The Black Flash” are basically Silver-age classics done in a modern style, with a lot of great Grant Morrison ideas (but not overwhelmed by them, maybe because of Millar’s involvement.) I was also struck by how well these stories reflected the themes of Waid’s work, and I had forgotten that they actually set up Linda and Wally’s wedding. Also included is Morrison’s charming post-Crisis version of “Flash of Two Worlds” from Secret Origins #50, drawn by one of my all-time favorite artists, the late Mike Parobeck. Extras: none, unless you count the Secret Origins reprint.

 

feb090225d Tiny Titans: Adventures in Awesomeness TPB: Admittedly not for everyone, but I find it irresistibly adorable and fun. For sure kids will love it – I hear that the creators get mobbed by them at conventions. It does a little bit make the same mistake the DC & Marvel kids’ books often do by making jokes that require knowledge of the regular continuity (like the “Crisis on Infinite Earth” parody in Marvel’s old “Mighty Mouse” series), but so far it’s done here in such a way that I don’t think kids will notice that they’re missing part of the joke. (Example: Principal Slade and Mr. Trigon leave Mr. Darkseid in charge of the school for the day and he declares a “Finals Crisis.”) Extras: a couple of puzzle pages from the original issues, and it’s printed at regular comic size instead of the usual kids’ comics digest size. (OK, not really an extra but a good thing nonetheless.)

 

 

feb090215d Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool TPB: Reprints the first 4 issues of the ongoing series from 1993, and the four-issue revival from 2001. I would have rather seen the first 8 issues of the original series because the miniseries, while good, was intended as a revival of the Milestone line and it is packed to the gills with extra characters. The original stories hold up almost perfectly – the only thing that dates them a little is that they are pre-cell phone. Other than that, the teens act like teens and Static, even though he comes from the Spider-Man archetype, was original at the time because of his inner city background. (Not just his color.) I would never suggest that you buy something that you don’t like, but if you have the slightest interest in this book I urge you to get it because the Milestone material was all top-notch – Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon are still doing great work today, for instance -- and deserves to be in print which may not happen if these early volumes are not supported. If this isn’t your cup of tea also coming soon are collections of Hardware and Icon, which are terrific subversive takes on the Iron Man and Superman archetypes. (Actually Icon is not really about the title character at all, but we’ll talk about that when the book comes out.) Extras: variant covers.

mar092657d Fantastic Four: True Story TPB: I’m a fan of the whimsical, as you may have figured out, and I just love this book by Paul Cornell (currently one of my favorite writers) and Horacio Domingues (whose style fits this story perfectly.) It’s about the FF saving the realm of fiction (Reed: “To look into this I’ll have to create a new field of human endeavor. Give me a couple of days.”), and I know how that sounds but Cornell has the characters down perfectly, he’s got something to say about the role of fiction (without characters having to wear armor made of stories and beat the crap out of each other – that one’s for you, Bill) and the plot and dialogue are just clever as hell. Again, maybe not for everyone, but worth a shot at only $10.99 retail. Where else can you see Johnny Storm hit on the sisters from Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” (and one of them fall in love with Ben Grimm)? Extras: none.

 

 

feb090206d History of the DC Universe TPB: The original post-Crisis Marv Wolfman/George Perez history from 1986 under a new Alex Ross cover. I either never bought the original 2001 collection or can’t find it, so I’m glad to have this on the shelf. You probably already know if you’re interested in this or not, so I’ll just say that a lot of the history is still valid and the art is still terrific. Extras: none.

8 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that you enjoyed I Kill Giants! I always get worried when I basically force a comic on somebody, because if they don't like it then I figure they're less likely to hold stock in my reviews, but it sounds like things worked out well here.

    I always meant to check out Fantastic Four: True Story, and that price tag is rather appealing. Oh, also, turns out I didn't order Patsy Walker: Hellcat from anywhere. Oops. I'll have to do a backorder to get it, I guess.

    As for History of the DC Universe--you say there are no extras, but back when this new collection was solicited I checked the page numbers of both this and the older collection, and this one was about ten pages larger. Any idea if that was just a mistake?

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  2. Very cool reviews, Jeff. Real nice job here.

    I think I enjoy reading your trade edition reviews more than the weekly single issue summaries - - my poor head/databank is usually swimming after reading those. I'm so impressed with how you can juggle all those titles and keep the continuing storylines straight in your head!

    I have to admit I gave the cover of I Kill Giants the once-over at Gary's Comicpalooza and didn't even pick it up to scan through. Had I read this review before then I definitely would have tried to buy or trade for it from the owner (assuming it was either you, Jeff or Shane's copy).

    FLASH - - I'm really starting to apprciate Grant Morrison's work more and will probably see what I can pick up at bargain rates when I'm shopping the comics stores.

    TINY TITANS - - I also admire this book but don't pick it up. It's not what I chose to read, but I did a preview of it and it's very above average and full of inside jokes that are cleverly inserted into the stories. I think the artist (Franco?) is local. He was at the Free Comic Book Day at Captain Blue Hen Comics this year - - he was doing cartoon portraits of children, and they were loving it.

    At risk of sounding like a commercial for Captain Blue Hen, I did see that they were selling a bundle of the entire run of ICON and/or HARDWARE for a decent price ($20, I think). If you want me to pick it up for you, send a note to my email address.

    If you're curious how I can send this at 9 a.m. on a workday - - it's because it's a paid personal holiday for me !!! (Birthday boy). Maybe I will even post something here later today.

    Jeff and Shane please keep posting!! The stuff is great - both fun and informative to read. It won't be long before this site starts getting a good reputation. We should find another writer to jump in.

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  3. I love all of you guys reviews. Keep up the good work. Mike, I'm working on a list of comics that I'm looking for and will send that to you email when finished. And Happy Birthday to you! Jeff, I call dibs on reading the "I Kill Giants" trade next. I read the Wizard preview of the first issue and liked it. I'm glad you gave it second chance. I would like to offer my services as I am a free-lance writer (have been for 30 years) but I am NOT computer literate.

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  4. I Kill Giants is my copy, but it's for lending only! No way I'm getting rid of that book for good.

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  5. But anyone that wants to borrow it, feel free to just pass it around, I'll collect it at some point in the future.

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  6. Dan, I'll bring the book when I see you. It doesn't take much computer knowledge to post here -- I can either send you an invite and you can play around, or we can talk about it in person.

    Shane, I won't have access to my original "History of the DC Universe" anytime soon but as far as I know this collection is the same as the previous one so if it had extra pages then this one should too.

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  7. Whoops, I misunderstood your question, Shane, but the most recent copyright date in the new "History" collection is 2001 (for the introduction) so I think it's unlikely that there's anything new.

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  8. Okay, I probably just read it wrong, then.

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