Sunday, January 2, 2011

Comics I Read: More Lightning Round

Continuing my off-the-cuff remarks, trying to mention most of what's been gathering dust in my "read" pile...

27 #1-2: I initially only picked this up because Bleeding Cool made a big deal about it, but I've wound up liking it so far. It's got a similar "power of music" vibe to Kieron Gillen's Phonogram, but in a much darker way. A 27 year-old injured rock guitarist gets an experimental treatment from a mad scientist, but the "cure" attracts unwanted attention from ghosts and other extradimensional entities. Are they responsible for all the musicians (Kurt Cobain, etc.) that died at the age of 27? There's also some interesting math stuff in #2 that this nerd enjoyed. The book is a little oversized, which I know bothers some people, but I think it gives the moody art room to breathe. These issues are potentially hard to find, but I didn't have any trouble ordering them online.


Chaos War 1-4: This is the 8th and final arc of the story Grek Pak & Fred Van Lente started way back in the first issue of "Incredible Hercules". Honestly, I think the scope of things overwhelmed the first few issues a little bit, though they were still good, but #4 gave me the same great feeling I've gotten from the rest of the Herc/Cho stories and I have confidence that it will end well.


Chaos War: Alpha Flight (one-shot): Writer Jim McCann, who gets mentioned here often -- "Return of the Dapper Men" still available at a bookstore near you; it's on almost everyone's "year's 10 best GNs" list! -- learns from the mistakes of previous Flight revivals and puts the original team back together. Yeah, a bunch of them are dead, but the Chaos King has conveniently destroyed all the afterlife realms so that's not a problem anymore. The chemistry between these characters just works for some reason (Thanks, John Byrne!), and McCann adds a few extra twists like both Heather and Mac appearing as Guardian & Vindicator. (I always liked the "Vindicator" name better.) He makes you root for these guys again, and hope that they'll survive their appearance in Chaos War #5. Even if they don't, if you're a fan of this team you shouldn't miss this book.


Chaos War: Ares (one-shot): A great followup by Michael Avon Oeming to his original "Ares" mini-series, and it includes a major "Chaos War" plot point IIRC. Now that we know about the upcoming "Fear Itself" crossover, one wonders if there's a seed planted for that here. (Ares' son is the god of fear.)


Chaos War: Chaos King (one-shot): Worth buying for the Michael Wm Kaluta artwork alone. I couldn't resist flipping back through it for that reason, but that unfortunately didn't refresh my memory about the story.


Chaos War: Dead Avengers 1-2: First of all, it's a joy to see Tom Grummett's art again. Where has he been lately? (Oh, Wikipedia says he's been drawing Chris Claremont's "X-Men Forever", which explains why I thought he had dropped off the face of the Earth.) Fred Van Lente's choice of characters for the Avengers' last stand is great -- I'm a little unclear on the logistics of how the Vision counts as dead, but I'm happy to see him, the female Yellowjacket and (especially) Mar-Vell again -- and he manages to enhance their characters as well with flashbacks to previously unknown stories of their living days. Doesn't seem to be particularly central to the main "Chaos War" plot, but highly entertaining for Avengers fans and the shock ending to #2 is a killer (literally).


Chaos War: God Squad (one-shot): I don't remember the plot, but this was a fun mix of characters. (Son of Satan, Silver Surfer, Sersi, Venus.)


Chaos War: Thor 1-2: From the "they said it better than me" department, via Robot 6, "Dematteis brings a moment that matters". Recommended, even if you're not following the main story.


Franken-Castle 21: I've already talked about how much I liked this, and there's a handy Omnibus out now for those of you who want to give it a try. Purists, don't worry: Frank's feeling much better now. (I haven't read Rick Remender's followup, "Punisher: In The Blood" yet, but I expect to like it even though I enjoyed this experiment.)

JSA All-Stars 8-13: After all the complaining I did about splitting the team, who would've thought I'd wind up liking this book better? It's got the family and legacy aspects of JSA that I love, and I've really been enjoying Freddie Williams' art. (I actually tried to buy a page from him recently, but he does most of his work digitally now so there wasn't an original of the one I wanted!)

Namor: The First Mutant 1-5: "Again? That trick never works!" These Namor solo series never seem to attract an audience, but with him featured in "Uncanny X-Men" I guess it was time to try again. (I notice Marvel's also collecting the John Byrne series next year, which makes me wonder if they're expecting some major media exposure for the character. Maybe in the "Avengers" movie? They don't seem to have the right to use him in the cartoon, because in their version it's the Hulk that uncovers Cap from the ice.) The story in #1-4 is tangentially connected to the vampire story in "X-Men" -- Namor has to retrieve Dracula's head for them -- but it works on its own and it turns out that I find Atlantean culture (and Namor's family history, including a clever tie to a young X-Man) way more interesting than vampire politics. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I admit, but it is what it is. As a Marvel history fan, the 1940's flashbacks in #5 were right up my alley. The coloring (I think) gives Ariel Olivetti's (and others) art a flat, washed out look that works well for the underwater setting.


Scarlet 1-3: A morally complex creator-owned series from Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev that will probably merit a reread and a reevaluation in a few more issues. At first it seems that you're meant to sympathize with and root for the main character, who's badly treated and her boyfriend murdered by the police, but she turns out to be an unreliable and probably deeply disturbed narrator. So while the movement she's trying to start may have merit, she takes some reprehensible actions to get there. Do the ends justify the means in this case? It's worth your time to read and decide, I think. I'm also impressed at Bendis' thoughtful response in the letter column to #2 to a police officer who took the time to write about the perception of the cops given in #1.


Secret Avengers 5-8: Brubaker seems to have figured out how to bring Shang-Chi's father back as a villain even though Marvel's license to Fu Manchu has long lapsed, so that's fun. There are also ties to "Marvels Project", and of course great characterizations of Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter. Probably my third favorite Avengers book behind "Avengers Academy" and "New Avengers", but that still means I like it a lot.


Shadowland 3-5: I probably should save discussing plot details (and my concerns at the time) for when the collection comes out, to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say for now that it ended well, and I was satisfied.


Shadowland: After the Fall (one-shot): An essential epilogue to Shadowland, which hopefully will get collected in the same volume as the main series. I especially liked that it acknowledges the changes in the real-life Hell's Kitchen in the past decade or so. (Which is ignored in "Black Panther", where it's a crime-ridden cesspool again, but you can't have everything.)


Shadowland: Blood on the Streets 2-4: A pretty good crime story with a twist ending, and it sort of bridges the gap between Misty Knight's appearances in "Iron Fist" and the new "Heroes for Hire". (There's also an essential chapter of that story in the "I am an Avenger" anthology series.)


Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow 2-3: A nice setup for a potential Colleen Wing solo series, which I would buy based on these issues.


Shadowland: Elektra (one-shot): Sort of a followup to Zeb Wells' "Dark Reign: Elektra", telling the story of how she arrives in "Shadowland". Very good, especially Emma Rios' art.


Shadowland: Ghost Rider (one-shot): No memory of this at all. Go buy the Jason Aaron Ghost Rider Omnibus instead.


Shadowland: Spider-Man (one-shot): Not essential to "Shadowland" at all, but Dan Slott tells a good story of Shang-Chi and his Mr. Negative character from "Brand New Day".


Shadowland: Moon Knight 2-3: Achieved a semi-major shift in the character's outlook, but otherwise forgettable. And that change may not even matter, since Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev are going to do their own take on the character this year.


Shadowland: Power Man 2-4: This remained far and away the best of the "Shadowland" spinoffs through the end, and I look forward to the "Power Man & Iron Fist" followup series. Recommended even if you don't care about Daredevil or "Shadowland".

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 6-7: Very sad that this book is ending, but I'm looking forward to the Free Comic Book Day issue with Langridge and Samnee's version of Captain America! The first trade of this series is out now, if you haven't tried it yet. (I wish it wasn't an undersized book, but I'm happy it exists at all.)

Again, this has taken more time than expected, so I think I'll stop here and try to wrap up with a third installment before this week's books come out! (Lots of DC stuff still to cover, including Batman, GL, Flash, Detective, Wonder Woman, Superman, Legion, REBELS, Doom Patrol and Secret Six.)

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to take a look at 27--it completely slipped under my radar, but you've convinced me to give the inevitable collected edition a purchase.

    Chaos War honestly hasn't thrilled me at all so far--the plotting is solid, but nothing about it has made me care, which is a shame, because Incredible Hercules and Prince of Power were excellent books. Maybe I need to read the main series all in one go, ignoring the tie-ins (some of which were actually rather good, yes--it was a special treat to see Alpha Flight).

    I picked up the first Thor: The Mighty Avenger trade, and I have to echo what everyone else in the world is saying--this is a fantastic book, if you haven't bought it you are missing out on one of the purest Thor comics ever published.

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