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The Rest of the Stack: Second Coming, Superman, & Deadpool

When I want to touch on more than I care to review, I post “mini-reviews” under this heading. These, after all, ARE the rest of my stack for the week.

X-Men – Second Coming: Prepare #1 –  I got back into the X-Men comics for a short time a couple years back for the Messiah Complex story. I don’t think I even really meant to, but I wound up picking up the one-shot that kicked the story off, and found myself interested enough to follow it through the various books. I even followed some of the books for a short time after, taking in the new direction of the X-Men stuff (and the milestone issues of X-men and Uncanny X-Men). I passed on Messiah War, though I still hold some small hope at eventually acquiring the hardback to get to read that story. This preview is very underwhelming in and of itself, but the preview art, the slight bit of characterization given of Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Cable pricked something within me that now has me on the fence about picking up this arc. The “reference materials” in the back of this issue seem to be reprinted from various other works–though as those had been freebies as well, I’m not bothered by it, and they are pertinent to this current stuff. This was a free issue, and there’s a chance it might have done its hoped-for job with me. Time will tell.

Superman #697  – I’m tired of the current Mon-El stuff. I don’t care for the costume–at all, not just the recent changes–and the way the character’s been handled…I just don’t care for the character. There’s not a huge case of dislike, just a case of disinterest. I feel like I SHOULD like the character, but I don’t. This is yet antoher issue of Superman in which Mon-El is the stand-in, though we do see a bit of personality and authenticity here when he admits that he wasn’t ready to take Superman’s place. Though the story and art are not to my liking in general–they just don’t appeal to me–possibly my largest complaint is the gratuitous near-nudity, and general explicitness of a sexual relationship Mon-El’s involved in, which seems to be something that wouldn’t be shown in such detail between Superman and Lois, and does not strike me as something that needs to be anything more than alluded to in general. It looks like Adventure Comics (#8 continues the story from this issue) is becoming little more than an extension of this book…but if that speeds getting this story over with and Superman back into his own title, I’ll be more than happy for that.

Deadpool #20  – After what has seemed at points to be longer than 4 weeks but less than 8 weeks between issues, this title now has reached a 3-parter being told in 3 weeks of 3 consecutive issues. Though I enjoy Deadpool, and am leaning toward a consideration of choosing a single Deadpool title to follow (and this one’s in the lead should such a decision be made), I’m still not a fan of Hit-Monkey or Hitman-Monkey or whatever the character is. I do like that this issue saw the return of Deadpool’s hallucinations–to great effect, I might add. I also like the fact that Spider-Man clues in on and confronts Deadpool about his apparent fear early in this issue, as it addresses a question I had…and was wondering if Spidey was gonna just get screwed over (er…that is, if the character hasn’t already been that way for a couple years now). This is the best (and MOST) of Spidey I’ve read in awhile, and I appreciate the opportunity to read the character as himself, without having to face the changes wrought in that infamous story. Definitely a worthwhile issue for Deadpool fans; not sure it’s a selling point in and of itself for new readers, though. Probably’d also be enjoyable for Spider-Man fans as well…especially those avoiding the Amazing Spider-Man for one reason or another.

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The Flash: Rebirth #6 [Review]

Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inkers: Ethan Van Sciver & Scott Hanna
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Colored by: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Published by: DC Comics

This mini started out billed as a 5-issue series. Then it got expanded to 6 issues. This sixth/final issue comes basically 10 months after #1 shipped. Frankly, the issue–while something I’d like to…well, like…seems to be something that ought to have been wrapped up long before now.

Story-wise, we open on Barry and Wally chasing Zoom through time–the latter has vowed to kill Iris, the former are trying to stop him. Of course, the duo catch the villain and ensure he won’t threaten anyone ever again (well, for the rest of THIS issue, at least…it’s a comic. He’s gonna come back!). Then they return home where there’s a parade for Barry…I believe the one he was nervous about way back in issue #1. And what would a re-insertion of a classic character into contemporary continuity be without the “validation” of the Justice League affirming the return and his place with them?

The art for this issue–while good–lacks a certain sense of greatness, and isn’t nearly as appealing as I’d’ve hoped. Perhaps the lateness of the issue would suggest time was taken to really make it pop, or something. Even on a couple of the huge full-page/double-spread shots, I’m not entirely clear what’s being shown, though they make a little more sense when I take time to go back and “study” them, looking for what they COULD be, beyond what simply looking at them AS I read the story gives me. There’s one that I’m not sure if it’s being suggested that this chase through time IS the lightning that gave Barry his powers in the first place (which would seem to be a time paradox), or if they’re just viewing it, or if it’s just there to fill out the page and clue us in that they’ve reached the earliest time OF Barry’s time as The Flash.

The story itself mostly ties up the broadest of loose ends, but already sets the stage for not only the return of Zoom to active status, but also someone called “Doctor Alchemy,” who I presume is some largely un-used silver-age Flash villain that’s gonna be raised up to show us how awesome he can be, much as was done with Black Hand in Green Lantern (though I’m not expecting lightning to strike twice, in this case). Johns seems to have a definite love for the character, which I applaud…but this series in itself has done far too little to “sell” me on Barry as the primary Flash character (seems if anything, it’s been Johns using Barry to such good effect with Hal in Green Lantern and the core Blackest Night book that’s sold me at all on the merit of having Barry around.

Obviously, if you’ve already bought the first five issues, this issue’s one that you might as well consider picking up for the sake of completing the series. It’s in no way a selling point in itself though for the series, and based on this issue alone I’d suggest ignoring it. The collected volume will probably read much better, with the wait between issues stretching a mere turning of a page or two rather than months, and the whole of the story will be fresher in one’s head and thus probably feel more coherent.

As a whole, this issue’s quite a disappointment, a lukewarm ending to what should’ve been a hot series.

Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5.5/10

AVP: Three World War #2 [Review]

Three World War

Script: Randy Stradley
Pencils: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Mark Pennington
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Lettering: Blambot!
Cover art: Raymond Swanland
Book Design: Lia Ribacchi
Associate Editor: Samantha Robertson
Editor: Chris Warner
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve read a lot of Dark Horse‘s Alien comics, and enjoyed those via the Omnibus volumes. I’ve yet to read much in the way of the Predator stuff, though I’m somewhat familiar with the Predator side of things from the first movie, and both of the AVP films…and a couple of novelizations of Aliens vs. Predator stories from the mid-1990s.

This issue picks up with a bunch of military people heading toward a world where Predators are present (and apparently Aliens as well), and as their guide/advisor, they have the woman who was for a time accepted amongst the Predators, who warns them of how to behave and react around the Predators if they want to stay alive. Where the title comes in–Three World War–seems to be the Aliens, the Predators, and Earthmen. Once the military arrives where the Predators are, the woman leaps into mortal combat with one, apparently following tradition by which one earns the right to speak to the Predators and be taken seriously.

The story itself seems fairly shallow, and one has to make a lot of leaps in following the action and plot, as there’s virtually no context or real sense of history given…if I wasn’t already familiar with the properties, this would seem entirely new and unconnected.

The art is where the strength of the issue lies, as the design and coloring blend for an end result that looks very much like a comic book–as it should, since this is one–and yet, also comes across as something like an adaptation of a screenplay, carrying a lot of weight of story by showing things rather than narration or exposition laying things out. The visuals seem fairly simple and not all that detailed…but these would work fairly well if this were to be an animated tv production.

As seems to be the case with most blends of these two properties, the story tends to be more about the Predators or otherwise those dealing with the Aliens, and the Aliens become a plot device…which I have no problem with. However, one really needs to either be a fan of or not mind reading about the Predators to enjoy this, as the Aliens get virtually zero presence here, and no real development…they’re just kinda there.

All in all, a solid enough issue. There seems to be more unrealized potential here than what’s already unfolded, and the book could do with a recap page (I couldn’t summarize the plot of the previous issue offhand without laying out some serious B.S.). But if you’re a fan of these properties, this is definitely worth a look-see, and if you don’t mind a highly visual-driven reading experience, this is a good series to check out. I do think this will ultimately read best as a collected volume, rather than in single issues with 6-some weeks between issues.

Story: 4/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5/10

Archie #606 [Review]

Yesterday Today Tomorrow / Career Weak / Unflappable

Scripts: Michael Uslan, Angelo Decesare, Craig Boldman
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Bob Smith
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Coloring: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Dan Parent
Published by: Archie Comics

Archie is one of those comics that seems to stick to a status quo far moreso than any other comics I can think of offhand–even more than super-heroes such as Superman or Batman, which can seem to at least take a year or two to deviate from status quo now and again.

I picked up Archie #600 not solely because of being a legitimate milestone (no reboots, restarts, disassemblings, etc en route), but because it was the first of a 6-issue story. Unlike the digests the publisher puts on regulalry, this wasn’t just some “theme” for a bunch of gag shorts and whatnot–it was six issues of full-issue-length ongoing story featuring the Archie mainstays. Archie of course, Betty, Veronica, their families, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Midge, Pop Tate, Principal Weatherbee, and the other usuals. We’re familiar with them, we know who they are and what they’re about, and they can carry full-length stories.

This issue bills itself as an Epilogue, as a “Part 7,” whereas the Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty/Will You Marry Me? story was for six issues billed as __ of 6. So rather than jump off as intended with #605, I picked this up, because I thoroughly enjoyed the 6-issue arc, I figured one more issue of follow-up couldn’t hurt.

Boy, was I wrong on that. This issue returns to the multiple stories per issue, with the stories more gag-oriented and predictable than being solid character-drivin stories.

The main feature is the follow-up to Will You Marry Me, as the guys give Archie a hard time for his notion of having seen a future where he married each of the girls, and sees him booking a date with each for the same night, and the fallout from that when the girls bump into each other on their way to meet up with Archie. The next short sees a bunch of gags as Archie supposedly embraces different potential careers, to the distress of his parents. Being a diver, or a painter, a mechanic, or a zoologist are all things that would be interesting to see Archie embrace–I’d gladly read a series of issues where each one sees the kid attempt to get into these career paths–but they have no real depth as given here with just a page or two per idea. And the final short sees Archie going ga-ga over a new girl, and tries to do everything he can to annoy Veronica so that she’ll break their date, freeing him to go with the new girl guilt-free.

The art isn’t bad in this issue–it’s “standard Archie,” the visual style we’re all used to for the various characters…no complaint there. It’s the lack of serious, deep story combined with a cover that led me to expect another issue like the previous six that makes this issue quite a stinker. If you’ve been following this title solely for the “big story,” there’s no need to get this issue–it adds NOTHING to the previous six issues. If you prefer your Archie with short gag-driven stories, though…this one’s for you, and you can freely ignore the huge “Part 7” displayed on the cover. As for me, I’ll wait for the next longform “special” arc.

Story: 3/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 4/10

Tales of the TMNT #67 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Blackest Night: JSA #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Deadpool Corps ad with Oath

As long-promised, the upcoming Deadpool Corps do indeed have their own oath.

With this week’s Deadpool #20, and presumably other Marvel comics, we have this ad, for the 5-issue weekly March 2010 mini-series Prelude to Deadpool Corps.

It’s a rare occasion when an ad actually truly interests me…rarer still for it to get me excited about an upcoming project. In this case, I saw the ad, and immediately sent a text to several comic-reading friends who I knew would also appreciate the oath.

And if you haven’t bought a Marvel this week, here’s the ad (cuz hey, Prelude #1 comes out next Wednesday–March 3rd)!

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