Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jeff’s Comics Review, 7/22/09 releases, Conclusion

Wolverine Origins 38: Still not holding my interest. I do like that at least Logan acknowledges that he was stupid to get into his current situation, but I couldn’t care less about Omega Red and I have no idea who the character on the last page is supposed to be.

Star Trek: Spock: Reflections 1: On his way to the events of the Countdown miniseries (and therefore the new movie), the same creative team has Spock remember events from his past including his first visit to the Enterprise after Kirk’s death and an incident from his childhood involving Sarek. It’s not bad, but it’s a little thin on stuff actually happening. I’m interested enough to buy the trade, but I’ll probably wait for that instead of the single issues.

Gotham City Sirens 2: For whatever reason, Paul Dini decided that he couldn’t continue this series without addressing the idea that Catwoman knows that Bruce Wayne was Batman. I personally think this was better off unmentioned, but Dini pretty much pulls off an explanation involving a cover story implanted by Talia that Selena repeats to Harley and Ivy, satisfying them. It takes up half the issue and stops the story dead, but once Dini gets it out of the way he gets back to involving the women with Hush/Bruce Wayne which is great. Hopefully now that the identity “problem” is dealt with we will never speak of it again. (Well, until Bruce comes back, anyway.)

Outsiders 20: This is the end of the first post-Batman story arc, and not much is accomplished except a temporary setback for the bad guy organization. Still, the guest appearances were pretty entertaining and I like that the Creeper was genuinely scary. Good enough to stick around for another arc, but I wouldn’t say this is one of my favorite books.

X-Force 17: This is back in its own story instead of the Cable story, which is a good thing, but I found the plot and the art confusing enough that I couldn’t tell if the guards holding Surge were terrorists or well-meaning security forces. Which is kind of important because Wolverine cuts them into little pieces. I did like the U.N. debate about the mutant “problem”, though.

Amazing Spider-Man 600: This is 100 pages of all-new material (no reprints) for $4.99, which is a nice value. The 60ish-page lead story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. (God knows how long this took him to draw – no wonder Kick-Ass is late) has a lot of great stuff including a brand new take on Dr. Octopus that’s not a joke, a great Daredevil scene about secret identities, some fun Spidey/Torch banter, and a surprise appearance by a character we haven’t seen in a long time. (Well, not a surprise if you read Previews.) Because of the size of the story, there’s room for a lot of great interpersonal stuff including a brilliant “power and responsibility” scene between Peter and Aunt May before the wedding. My only quibble with the new Doc Ock “origin” is that they make a big deal out of all the head trauma he’s suffered over the years from getting punched, which I think is another one of those superhero story elements that’s best not examined too closely. The other material is mixed: There are some parody covers that must have been funnier in the office than they are on the page, a Stan Lee story that’s one of those ironic takes on the character that’s the only thing he seems to write now (like the “Stan Lee Meets” books a while back), a young Peter and Uncle Ben story by Mark Waid that I loved, a cute story by Bob Gale about some kids thinking about the logistics of being Spider-Man, a decent Aunt May story by Marc Guggenheim that I could have lived without because it duplicates some beats in the lead story, a silly Zeb Wells Spider-Mobile story and a Joe Kelly Madame Web story that foreshadows an upcoming storyline. (There was supposed to be a Brian Bendis/Joe Quesada story, but that got pushed to next issue.) The lead story and the Waid story are worth the (reasonable) price of admission.

Runaways 12: Under a beautiful David Lafuente cover, this is really, really good. Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli focus this issue on the characters trying to figure out how to behave now that their family unit has been fractured again. It’s still not something you can come in on cold, but if you’ve been following this since the Vaughn days this is just as good. (Better than the Joss Whedon run, which I also liked.)

Avengers: The Initiative 26: I guess we’re caught up to the “present day”, since Norman Osborn finally unveils the new Camp Hammond (now Camp HAMMER) and starts selling the public on Initiative teams made of “former” villains. Also, the Negative Zone prison situation from “War of Kings” is touched on and Tigra delivers a message that readers of New Avengers might appreciate. A transition issue, as you can tell, but a good one.

Ms. Marvel 42: It’s “War of the (Ms.) Marvels”, which is pretty much what you’d expect except that it’s still told from Moonstone’s point of view which makes me wonder if the returning Ms. Marvel is really Carol Danvers. Especially considering the (intentionally?) confusing last page.

Incredible Hulk 600: The lead story is long enough that there’s finally room for both Ed McGuiness’ huge art and some developments in the plot. There’s still no reveal of who the Red Hulk is, but we now have a pretty good idea of how he came to be. Of course there have to be fights too, so it’s Red Hulk vs. Spidey and Red Hulk vs. Green Hulk the latter of which comes to a pretty decisive end. I don’t feel that a lot of the players, especially Ben Urich and Jen Walters, act in a way I consider “in character”  but this is from Jeph Loeb who has a pretty specific idea of how he thinks certain Marvel characters should act. (For example, he said in his most recent wordballoon.com interview that if he was to do Daredevil he’d do a swashbuckling book not a crime book.) So, it is what it is – I’m on board until I find out if my Red Hulk identity theory is right, and then we’ll see. The other stories are not great: a silly Stan Lee story with both Hulks, Willie Lumpkin and Galactus, a pointless story of the new “Savage She-Hulk” with dialogue like “The Sidhes’ Chromedruids speak the universal machine language – the Ogham Code” and “I am Phinn Mac Mram, chief of chieftans of the Tuatha de Turing” and a reprint of Hulk: Gray #1 (which actually is great but hopefully you already own it). There’s also a cover gallery like the one in Cap #600 and a couple of those cute “Mini-Marvels” type strips written by Loeb’s daughter.

Captain Britain and MI13 #15: A terrific last issue which still has unexpected plot twists (one of which is in the online preview pages, so beware) and cameos by a bunch of other British heroes that I guess Paul Cornell was planning to get to but ran out of time. It’s a satisfying (and very British) ending, even though I wish it didn’t have to be so.

Incredible Hercules 131: I didn’t love the art this issue, which felt a little rushed to me, but this is a great story about the family dynamics of and between the two leads. There’s a great scene with Amadeus’ parents, leading to a surprise about his family and a change in his relationship with Hercules, and even Zeus undergoes an unexpected change.

7 comments:

  1. GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #2: I actually liked the Catwoman background story, which explains how she satisfied Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn without really telling them anything. In fact, this issue is an improvement over #1 and made me decide to keep going some more with this title.
    AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600 - - I'm only part way into the lead story. Wow! -- 60 pages? No wonder its not the best example of J.R. Jr.'s art work - - he must be exhausted. It feels like the head trauma/mortality deadline for Doc Oc sets up the whole rationale for Dan Slott having him do what he does this issue. I thought it was a little different spin - - but I agree with you -- if we factor in head trauma impact/cumulative damage then all the heroes and villains are in major trouble.
    INCREDIBLE HULK #600: The best thing about this is the art in the lead story - - very nice. Other than that there is absolutely nothing here to persuade me to follow this book. The rest of the original features in here are awful. Stan Lee - why bother, Stan? That really stunk. Another She-Hulk? Oh, excuse me - - it's the SAVAGE She-Hulk. Horrible - - especially the spin on Scottish clan language and rites to try and create an "unique" sci-fi world. BORING!!!

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  2. It's not that I disliked the Catwoman/Talia stuff, but it's like the head trauma thing in Spidey where the more you think about it the more it unravels. ("Who's Batman?" "He's a whole bunch of people." "Really? We fought dozens of times and I never noticed him being a different age or height or build or having a different voice, personality or fighting style." etc., especially when people in the other books are instantly noticing that Dick Grayson is not the same Batman.) Better not to bring it up in the first place. It's not like Harley and Ivy are ever really going to trust Selena (or anyone for that matter.)

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  3. Wolverine Origins 38: The character on the last page was Wild Child, in the outfit that he was wearing during Jeph Loeb's "Evolution" arc in the main Wolverine book (the one that set the whole Romulus story in motion, I think). Wild Child is more or less one of Romulus' closer agents, so having him show up here is actually a big development. Of course, I'm a Wild Child fan, so it's always a treat to see him. Regardless, this issue wasn't anything special--I liked the Dark Reign issues, but for the most part this title just moves too slow.

    Amazing Spider-Man 600: I actually really enjoyed the Aunt May story (then again, my grandfather recently remarried after my grandmother passed away several years back, so it's a bit closer to home for me), but I thought that--paired with the recent Amazing Spider-Man Family story about the same subject, and the Waid story in this issue--really gave us closure on Uncle Ben, who remained such a prominent figure in the book, despite, well, almost never actually appearing.

    Another She-Hulk? Oh, excuse me - - it's the SAVAGE She-Hulk. Horrible - - especially the spin on Scottish clan language and rites to try and create an "unique" sci-fi world. BORING!!!
    Well, she had a miniseries tying into Dark Reign recently. It was written by the very talented Fred Van Lente, and I enjoyed it, despite not being thrilled with the idea--it was done very tongue-in-cheek, and aside from the title, the character was rarely, if ever, referred to as "She-Hulk" in the story. There are a lot of interesting ideas tied to her, and I'm really glad that she'll be getting a regular backup in Incredible Hulk. It's just another one of those things where, if you give it a chance and don't go into it expecting to dislike it, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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  4. OK, Wild Child makes sense. Thanks!

    My complaint about the Aunt May story is not that it's a bad story but that it kind of steps on the similar scene in the lead story. Which I guess is an editorial complaint, not a writing complaint -- I'm a huge fan of Mark Guggenheim. My heart melted at the end of the Waid story, even though it was obvious where it was heading.

    I actually like what I've read of the "Savage She-Hulk" miniseries -- I'm waiting for the trade to finish it -- I just thought this particular story was impenetrable, especially since most of the people picking up this issue (like Mike) won't be familiar with the character.

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  5. I actually haven't read Hulk 600--I'm way behind on the Hulk books, so I'm slowly making my way back up (I just finished rereading Planet Hulk). I'm sure that by the time I'm finished catching up, we'll be way past 600, but...

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  6. Has anyone else noticed the "Easter Egg" in Amazing Spider Man 600? Check out the psychiatrist in the last panel/last page of the Stan Lee story. Though his head is hidden in deep shadows, on his lap is a notepad with the word "Think" written on it. Underneath that is a book in which the only part of the title showing is the word "Atlas". My guess is it's Steve Ditko! The ONLY photo I 've ever seen of Ditko is him sitting at his drawing table and on the wall behind him is a little sign that reads "Think". And he is a religious follower of Objectism, a way of life that was introduced in the book "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. Veeerrry cleaver, Stan.

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  7. Did I write "Cleaver"? I meant clever. Sorry . It's late and I'm tired.

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