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From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #4

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1

batmanthedarkknight001I think the main thing about this issue for me is the art. I tend to enjoy Finch‘s art, and here…it sure is lookin’ good. Jenkins being part of this project is what drew me to actually buy this…but the story just doesn’t really “do it” for me. Some of the narration’s good, but I’m reminded too much of Batman #1, which makes this feel like just a repeat of something I already read in a different issue earlier this month. Sure, there’s definitely something to the repetition (probably what Bruce is supposed to feel about getting stuck at all these “high society” events) but I don’t care for actually experiencing the boredom of the situation. We’ve got a possible new character–she’s new to me, anyway. And we get the beginnings of follow-up to Bruce Wayne having told the world he’s the financial backer of Batman (though I don’t believe we’ve had the scene in front of us in the New 52 as yet). Ultimately, the issue’s got potential and pretty art, but I think I’ve settled on the idea of sticking to only two Batman titles, and this doesn’t seem likely to be one of ’em. Maybe in the collected-edition format. (6/10)

THE FLASH #1

flash001This was yet another of the month’s last-second “decided-to-pick-it-up-to-try-after-all” issues. After a sort of promising start–I wasn’t blown away by the first part of the issue, but I found myself interested in this take on Barry–I was ultimately let down with an ending that was somewhat confusing and meaningless at best. I like the CSI-With-Superhero feel this started to have. But by the end, there just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. It’s kinda nice seeing someone other than Johns handling Barry, though. Visually I wasn’t too impressed. The stylized art isn’t entirely my cup of tea. It works for this issue…but also doesn’t do much to draw me in. Maybe I’m still too attached to the old DCU, and Wally, but this seems to be yet another Flash series that I’ve given an issue to hook me, but for now I’m not planning on coming back for #2. (7/10)

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #1

furyoffirestorm001I’ve never been a huge fan of the Firestorm character. I did give the character a chance in the Jason Rusch series back in ’04 or so, and didn’t care one way or the other when Ronnie was killed off in Identity Crisis. Firestorm was a title that I drifted away from and never got back to. I thought it an interesting dynamic what we saw in Blackest Night, and on hearing this title would feature both Jason and Ronnie, I figured I’d give it a chance. All the hubbub over multiple Firestorms didn’t really grab me…but it’s an interesting concept. I liked that this issue gives us a fresh start–this is certainly the sort of thing I want out of a #1 issue. Introduce the bad guys, introduce the heroes, show us the costumes and powers, etc. And this does it quite well. The story’s solid…the visuals are fantastic. And for simple enjoyment alone, I think this is one of my favorite of the New 52. Definitely coming back for the next issue! (8.5/10)

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1

greenlanternnewguardians001I figured I’d pick this one up for a look-see, given I’ve sampled the other 3 titles in this franchise. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so went in pretty open. The first few pages took me by surprise, wondering if this was set after events in the Green Lantern Corps issue somehow, or what…it was not clear from the start that we open on a flashback. Of course, it very quickly became apparent, and lit me up realizing this was a retelling of the scene that introduced Kyle Rayner way back in 1993, slightly expanded, updated visually, and focusing solely on Ganthet and Kyle with no reference to Hal and what had just happened. As the issue progressed…I liked what we got of Kyle. Didn’t really care about the other Lantern representatives, I have no idea what’s going on with the rings, and while I’d love to simply read a Kyle-centric book…I’m not interested in the other Lanterns enough to fully engage here. Depending on timing and pricing, I could see coming back to this in collected volumes…but while it’s another title with a lot of potential, it doesn’t quite make the cut for a book I’m going to put on the monthly list. (7/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1

justiceleaguedark001This was one of the titles I decided ahead of the time to get, and for me the main reason was that it’s the book with John Constantine in it. However, there’s no real reference, even, to the character in this issue, and I care NOTHING for stuff with the Enchantress. The appearance of the Justice League seems superfluous at best…and they seem really out of place here–at least, Superman and Wonder Woman do. There’s one panel with Superman that just looks horrendously ugly that if I hadn’t already read and so enjoyed Superman #1 would risk souring me altogether on his new look. I’m also not all that familiar with Madame Xanadu…I think she was in Demon Knights #1 as well, which raises some questions with me about the character. And ultimately…I’m just really disappointed that Constantine wasn’t even in this issue, and that this is another title starring a team that doesn’t truly feel like it’s even headed toward being a team book. At the least, it seems that my favorite character, for whom I was interested in the title at all will be at best a small player in the title. The story’s not bad in and of itself…though not enthused about the art despite it fitting the atmosphere of the story overall. So chances are, this’ll be a title that I’m not going to bother coming back for another issue. (5/10)

TEEN TITANS #1

teentitans001Yet another title I honestly hadn’t planned on buying at all, even to try. But something of the last several weeks–maybe it was Batman #1 seeing Dick, Tim, and Damian with Bruce…or Superboy, catching a glimpse of the Red Robin outfit…maybe other stuff: I decided I had to check this out. And while I just groused above about not having a team fully assembled in this one issue…I was buying this for interest in Tim Drake, and doggone it…I got Tim Drake and loved the depiction put forth here! Tim seems very much a leader here more than I’ve really seen him. And I actually really, REALLY like the new costume. It takes the best of Tim’s Robin costume as well as the “classic” Red Robin uniform and makes a great getup for this version of the character. The “wings” are a great touch, and as the most “bird-like” costume to date, so fits the character I’m amazed it’s taken this long for this costume to be developed. Story-wise, I like where things seem to be headed, and the introduction of Kid Flash and Wonder Girl, and the place these teen costumed characters have in this revised DCU. Though Tim might only be front ‘n center for the moment, gathering the team…that that’s his role at all suggests a great maturity to the character, and somehow works in just the right way that I’m excited to read more. Surprisingly, I may be back “into” a Teen Titans book for the first time since hopping off at the final pre-One-Year-Later issue of the last Teen Titans series. (9/10)

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Ghostbusters (IDW) #1 [Review]

Written by: Erik Burnham
Art by: Dan Schoening
Colors by: Luis Antonio Delgado
PCOC Pages by: Tristan Jones
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Associate Edits by: Bobby Curnow
Edits by: Tom Waltz

I vaguely recall picking up a premiere issue of a Ghostbusters series a few years back…maybe 2004 or so. Unfortunately, I never kept up with it, and pretty much lost track of the property again. Earlier this year, I was ever so slightly reintroduced to the Ghostbusters through the 2-issue micro-series tie-in to the Infestation event. And now, here…a premiere issue, picking up with the characters, sometime after the films.

The lead story of the issue introduces us to the characters where they are in the present…and even though it’s been years since I’ve even seen the films…these felt like those characters. After introductions are out of the way, things get moving, as a series of interactions lead to Winston taking on a pro bono case and dragging Peter into it…where they find themselves faced with a familiar ghost messing up an apartment building.

After this lead story ends on its cliffhanger, we’re given a brief scene as officials discuss the need for someone to oversee the activities of the Ghostbusters and those like them, inducting an old face to head the group: the Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission.

I’m not familiar offhand with Erik Burnham, at least not consciously by name. Which I think makes this that much more an enjoyable read: I’m here for the Ghostbusters, period. Not the Ghostbusters as written by _______. And as said above…reading this issue, I really got the feeling these are the characters from the films, with a touch of the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. Burnham seems to have a great grasp on these characters, and does a fantastic job of reintroducing me to them, setting up the current status quo, and introducing the group’s first threat here.

Schoening‘s art reminds me a lot of contemporary cartoons…rather stylized and not terribly realistic…but not devolved into goofy caricature. He makes these characters his own…and yet manages to capture the essense of the actors who’d portrayed them. The coloring seems a bit heavy and computerized, almost too “shiny” overall for my tastes. That makes me wonder what the art would look like in strict black and white…probably have a definite manga feel to it at that point. Despite the extra shininess…really can’t complain, as mixed with the writing, this was an enjoyable story overall with a nice cliffhanger.

Jones‘ scene at the end provides an interesting concept, and I look forward to seeing how this aspect of things will play out in the coming issues. The writing and the art have a much more serious, gritty feel to them than the lead…but that makes this work. It’s a much different style than the lead feature…but then, it feels like it could be setting up its own series set in the Ghostbusters universe; Sort of like a Marvel Knights to the Marvel Universe, for lack of a better analogy offhand. Same universe, fits together, but quite different…yet a good mix.

Even with my “limited engagement” with Infestation: Ghostbusters a few months back…this is the third IDW book in the last couple months to fully engage me, hook me, and leave me very much anticipating the next issue.

If you’re familiar with the Ghostbusters, this ought to be a fun ride, checking back in to the characters with a fresh-ish start. At the same time, if you don’t know the characters…this seems a solid point to jump in.

Recommended!

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Booking Through Thursday: Loud

btt button

1. What do you think of reading aloud/being read to? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Your children’s childhood?

2. Does this affect the way you feel about audio books?

3. Do you now have times when you read aloud or are read to?

1. These days, being read to is mostly awkward, at least in person. When I know they’re reading something TO me longform, I find I prefer to read it myself. Doesn’t really bring back memories…moreso just raises the issue of social awkwardness.

2. Nope…I love audiobooks, and they’re the main way I get through most books these days–because I can listen at work. But there, if I ignore the audio/tune it out briefly and all that, I don’t have a person right there expecting (and rightly so!) me to hang on every word.

3. Not if I can help it. Maybe a quote/very brief passage. Most people don’t appreciate what I’m reading, or aren’t in the mood for it. And if I read aloud to myself…I’d probably just be creeping people out, wasting breath, and feeling awkward at even the possibility of drawing undue attention to myself.


And because last week, I forgot it was Thursday until it was almost Friday, here’s my response for last week’s prompt:

Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world?

And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

That depends on how we define ‘out and about in the world.’

I try to always have something handy to read. At home, I have more books than I’m ever gonna actually get around to reading, I think. I usually try to keep at least one book in whatever vehicle I’m driving–that way, if I get stranded somewhere, I have something onhand to read. I also try to keep something at work as “backup” so if I forget to take anything in with me to read, I have it as a fallback to read. And I tend to carry something between home and work that I’m actively “trying” to read or in the process of reading. I also often grab something “extra” to take with me for any weekend visits anywhere.

Now that I have an iphone, I have at least a half-dozen books saved on the device between a couple e-book-readers, and so long as I have a data signal, I’m good for internet browsing–typically browsing twitter for interesting links to read. Having the phone and doing the internet reading on it has significantly cut into my reading time–I often wind up not even getting to my book on breaks at work.

Carrying books out of this apartment–no, I don’t try to hide the covers. It may LOOK like I do–a habit I’ve developed in quick transport for comics is to drop my reading material into a plastic shopping back, pull the bag tight, and wrap the excess around so I’m holding the book or comics or graphic novel, but with plastic protectively around it, protecting against weather, other elements, and just so I don’t worry about covers getting bent or other travel damage.

I met one of my best friends by “openly reading” in public, and have had some interesting conversations with people who approach me and use whatever I’m reading as an icebreaker.

Superman #1 [Review]

What Price Tomorrow?

Script & Breakdowns: George Perez
Pencils & Inks: Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: George Perez & Brian Buccellato
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

What do you think of when you think of Superman? And more to the point, what do you expect to see in a Superman comic? Speaking for myself–especially for a premiere issue of a new series–I tend to expect to see Superman…but also Clark Kent. Ideally, Lois Lane would be there, and I don’t mind if we have something with Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and other staffers of the Daily Planet…to say nothing of the Daily Planet itself. I expect to see Clark Kent interacting with people, just as I expect to see Superman being…well, super. Have those elements, and I’m pretty much going to be one satisfied camper.

I came to this relaunch this month with a lot of mixed feelings. Probably the strongest was–has been–regarding Superman, and not knowing what he would be in this relaunch…knowing only that the character is one that DC felt the need to change quite a bit from the existing status quo, to update and bring back in a different way (unlike, say, Batman or Green Lantern). Action Comics left me rather cool–especially in retrospect…and there was but a cameo of Superman in the new Justice League book. So, there’s a lot of weight put upon this issue, the first issue of the new Superman comic itself. After Action Comics, and generally lukewarm if not hopeful feelings on a lot of the other #1s, I was prepared to dislike this issue, or at least find a lot of fault with it in and of itself.

The issue opens with a voiceover, discussing the history of the Daily Planet building. We follow the narration to find it’s live coverage of the unveiling of the NEW Daily Planet, recognition being given to the original. At this point, the Planet is an acquisition of Morgan Edge, and in moving things into the present, readying for the future–the newspaper is now “just” a part of the overall media corporation Edge owns. We’re introduced to Lois Lane and Perry White–familiar names and faces (though White looks a good 10-15 years too young), and find out their new roles moving forward with the new Planet. We learn some backstory about Clark’s opposition to the Planet’s acquisition, and that Superman is only just now back in town after some sort of noticeable absence. We get snippets on attitudes toward Superman in this new DCU. We see Jimmy Olsen at work–not as a bumbling cub reporter but as a competent video reporter working as part of a street team. We’re also introduced to new characters that will presumably be a regular part of the supporting cast.

When an alien fire-entity explodes onto the scene, it’s clearly a job for Superman. While the battle unfolds, we learn further detail about Superman–his powers are continuing to grow/develop, and no one knows for sure what can really hurt him…and there’s still a certain amount of distrust…or at least, willingness to believe that he doesn’t care about the very people he’s trying to protect. After the battle, we see the aftermath in the people involved, as we’re introduced to the current status quo of the Lois/Clark relationship.

I love the art on this issue. I don’t recall specifically enjoying Merino‘s art like this before, but in this issue, it feels like he was born to do this. I just paged through the issue again, and I can’t find a panel to dislike. The characters–if looking a bit young, but I knew they’d be, going in–all look recognizeable, and just simply…are. This is Superman–and I actually really enjoy this new costume–it just works, to the point that the ads in the issue showing the classic costume actually look dated. I hadn’t realized how much I like this costume until now.

Story-wise, Perez presents a new Superman with plenty of echoes of the classic. Though this Morgan Edge reminds me of Samuel Jackson‘s Nick Fury from Marvel…this works, too. The character seems to be what he is, or for longtime readers familiar with the name–there’s an extra layer to consider. The opening–the history of the Planet, its being swept away in favor of the new, and even some of Edge’s early comments in the issue–felt like a direct parellel to this entire new DCU thing…which adds levels of depth in and of itself to the story.

Unlike most of the other DC issues I’ve read this month, this issue does what I expect of a #1. We’re introduced to the setting, the characters–main and supporting. We’re introduced to what’s recently happened and given some slight hints as to what may be coming. We get a seemingly arbitrary scene, but a classic-style “footnote” directing us to Stormwatch #1 for more detail (which reminded me that Stormwatch #1 had a footnote itself directing us to Superman #1) which sets up some official continuity between this and another DCU book. And–best of all–despite the huge threat, that seems to be an actual challenge to Superman, we’re not left on some to-be-continued, left dangling to have to buy another issue to find out the (obvious) “fate” of the “hero” (sorry if that’s a spoiler, Superman doesn’t die in this issue).

By the end of the issue, I actually CARE about the status quo. I’m interested more, really, in all the “regular” characters–old and new–than I am Superman himself…and yet, I’m not actually disinterested in this Superman. He’s different from the Superman I grew up on…and thankfully, he’s different from boring post-Infinite Crisis caricature of the last few years that saw me walk away from the character for most of the past couple years. I think I like this character, and this issue. In fact, this has got to be just about my favorite issue of the relaunch so far.

If you’ve never read Superman before…give this issue a chance. It’s well worth it. And if you find you don’t like what you’re introduced to…you’re out a single issue. Only $2.99. No $3.99 let-downs, and no to-be-continued. This is a great single-issue story, and I really think that THIS should have been the “flagship” title of the new DCU. As-is, it certainly lives up to its title…Superman.

Highly recommended!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 21, 2011

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

FEAR ITSELF: UNCANNY X-FORCE #3

fearitselfuncannyxforce003I’m of quite mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand…it’s Uncanny X-Force, and it’s only $2.99. But then, this is a Fear Itself tie-in, that in some ways feels like it has zero bearing on the main story. Of course, it has a bit MORE meaning to me than the first two issues did, as I have now read God Loves, Man Kills…so have some basis for the Purifiers stuff. This issue primarily suffers from being the closing issue of an only-three-issues mini outside the main title’s continuity flow, and thus this story has nowhere to “go” at its end. Nothing to really explore coming out of this, no real ramifications. Its timeframe is also questionable given the ongoing Dark Angel Saga in the main title–does this take place before or after that story? Still…it’s this cast of characters, we see them doing exactly what the team’s supposedly been formed around, and so the story is fitting. I’m undecided on the art for the issue–it’s good in and of itself, I like it that way. But something about it seems a little bit “off” somehow. All in all, though…a good issue, even if it means YET ANOTHER issue of Uncanny X-Force in such a short period of time. I think I would’ve preferred this as some triple-sized $5-$6 single issue, though. Worthwhile if you’re a fan of UXF in general and want to see how the characters would deal with Fear Itself, or just to have an extra dose of them and their way of doing things. (7.5/10)

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #508

invincibleironman508I’ve meant to drop this book since #500, but never quite got around to it. Then I found myself figuring that I’m mid-arc, and didn’t want to get caught with a cliffhanger and having to separately track down an extra chapter of something. I’ve generally enjoyed the title…just not for the jacked-up $3.99 price point after being THRILLED to “discover” it was only $2.99 as of the dawn of the Heroic Age. I’ve been having a bit of trouble “following” all this Fear Itself stuff with Tony, and wondering where things are actually going and what it’s going to mean, long-term. The story’s ok in and of itself, though, I suppose…but between the price point and this being something that seems far better suited for collected volumes, I’m not thrilled with it. The art’s good in the way I’ve enjoyed on this title, so can’t really complain about that. I am thinking that I’ll probably get the next issue–what I hope is the conclusion of the title’s tie-in to Fear Itself–and then probably part ways with the title in favor of collected volumes, if at all. (5/10)

THE GUILD: CLARA #1

guildclara001The first thing I noticed about this issue is the HORRENDOUS cover. I don’t really remember the last time I so disliked a cover. If I wasn’t already interested in the issue for the content, I would avoid this entirely just based on the cover! I also didn’t much care for the art on the interior as well. It certainly captures the essence of the character, sure…but it’s a bit too stylized for my taste, particularly given that I’m buying this because of enjoying the live-action web series, and not for this to look like something so different. The story was very good, though, offering plenty of insight into the character and filling in where she’s come from and her relationship with her husband–and kids. I missed the original Guild mini-series, though I’ve been picking up these one-shots and enjoying them. As such, I do plan to pick up what I believe will be the final one-shot of this run in a couple months. I’d recommend this for Guild fans, though I don’t see there being much here for non-Guild fans. (7/10)

STAR TREK #1

startrek001The 2009 Star Trek film is easily my favorite film of the last couple years–and certainly my favorite of 2009. It’s the ONLY film I’ve ever seen 5 times in its first run in the theatre. I think what really hooked me was that with a couple of quick scenes this was established not as a replacement but as an alternate timeline, thus keeping all original continuity intact, and setting this continuity as TECHNICALLY taking place after Nemesis. All that said: I didn’t know what this comic series was going to do, except it features the “new” versions of the characters as established in the 2009 film. That it looks like this series is going to adapt episodes of The Original Series fitting it to this version of the characters was what sold me on this. I hate the $3.99 price point, but I am sufficiently hooked as to at least give this a shot for a few issues. The art’s good–I like how it treads a fine line: the characters look like the actors/actress while also looking like the characters regardless of the live-action actor behind ’em. The story’s good, and a solid read overall. I’ll definitely be getting the next issue. (8.5/10)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #2

teenagemutantninjaturtles002This issue goes a long way to explaining some questions I had from the first issue, both overt and back of the mind. Seeing the background of the animosity between the Turtles, Splinter, and Hob, as well as the way Raph was taken from them leaves me with a significantly different impression of how the story’s gonna shape up. Additionally, it seems that a significant piece of the puzzle that was missing from the first issue’s hints at the characters’ origin has been introduced, and on the whole I think I’m quite fine with this. The story itself has me totally interested and chomping at the bit for the next issue. That’s also a drawback, though–this feels much more drawn-out as a singular story than I can think of for any TMNT story I’ve read in more than a decade. Laird‘s series seemed to just be one ongoing story without clear-cut arcs, and the Tales title was full of one and two-issue arcs. This feels like it’s going to be a 6-issue arc that’ll make for an awesome read in collected format, but any given issue is going to be lacking structurally. The art is sort of sketchy and at points seems minimalistic…and yet, it works for this title, and so long as Duncan is maintained as a consistent artist, I think the style will grow on me and be as definitive for me as Lawson or Eastman. I do have to comment on the variant covers–I hate variants. The TMNT are my exception to the purchase rule, at least with the first issue. This issue, I actually (thankfully) mostly preferred the “standard”/most-common cover. My comic shop first offered me the Simonson 1:4 variant, but I already thought it was atrocious before seeing it in person, and opted to pass instead for the Duncan cover. I would love to see Eastman’s covers as the “main” cover, despite the drastic difference with the interior art. But I refuse–even with TMNT–to pay the far higher price for the Eastman variants for every single issue. This is by far my favorite issue of the week, and even if it meant different stories and different writers and artists, I’d absolutely love a weekly TMNT book. (9.5/10)

X-MEN #18

x-men018I keep saying it, but it keeps coming to mind: For only buying a couple X-titles, they sure seem to be out every week lately. And for $3.99 it’s getting a bit annoying in its way. Still, though part of me has meant to drop this title since the end of the first arc, due to the $3.99 price point primarily…I still find myself just simply enjoying the title with each issue I read. Gischler‘s stile works well for me, and I enjoy his take on these characters. I’m not as thrilled with the art–there’s something to this issue that felt visually “off,” though that may primarily have been Magneto’s depiction. Overall, though…another solid issue. That this is part 3 of a 4-part story (with a “to be concluded” rather than “to be continued” blurb at its end) is all the better, to me–it fits the story, and it’s great that it’s not simply yet another 6-issue arc for a standard collected volume. I will be dropping this title eventually, given the price point…but I’m in for at least one more issue. (8/10)

From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #3

BATMAN #1

batman001I rather like the various “new” gadgets Batman’s got here–especially the linkup to the Bat-computer in the cowl. I also liked the way this issue starts, with the words describing Gotham. Getting this info from Batman’s POV. I was also QUITE glad to see Dick and Tim along with Damian, and to find out that Yes, Tim was indeed a Robin, and is now Red Robin. I’m less thrilled with the direction the story took by issue’s end, as it reminds me just a bit too much of Frank Miller‘s Dark Knight Strikes Again. But as far as the bat-books so far go, I certainly enjoyed this one more than I did Detective Comics, and found this to–in its own way–be probably the most-accessible of the bat-books so far, offhand. I think I was always gonna get this, being one of the Old Titles: Action, Detective, Superman, Batman. I’m not convinced I’ll keep with this title long-term, though…but while I’m not blown away, I’m not entirely unimpressed. (7.5/10)

BLUE BEETLE #1

bluebeetle001This issue wasn’t part of my original plan. But I figured that I skipped on the debut of the last BB series, so might as well check this one out. I was somehow kind of surprised to find that this basically gives us a whole new origin for the character–but I actually like that, I think. Reboot, relaunch, whatever the term–as the start of a new DCU, it makes sense to give the character a fresh start. If the old origin was kept, there’d be a LOT of explaining to do by way of Ted Kord and Infinite Crisis (and Booster Gold), so this steps free of those loose ends. I’m only tangentially aware of the animosity between the scarab and the Green Lanterns (there was that Sinestro Corps War tie-in in the last BB series, and at least one episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold). No real problem with the art…and the story’s decent. I haven’t quite decided for certain if I plan to keep up with this series–but it’s definitely worth checking out! (7/10)

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

captainatom001.jpegAnother issue I had not originally planned on checking out, but added last-second. Offhand, this is probably the stinker of the week for me–though I’d read this, I couldn’t even remember what happened in it. And paging back through it, I feel like I didn’t even read it to begin with, despite knowing I actually did. This is certainly not the Captain Atom that I’ve known for the last two decades. As far as restarts go, and as a debut issue, I’m not even slightly impressed. The art is very stylized, and not in a way that I particularly enjoy. I don’t like the new visual design for the character, either, though I don’t know if that blame lies wholly on the design itself or this particular stylized interpretation. The story really does not feel accessible–not only do I not know this character, we start out right away with his powers acting weird on him, which feels like it should be at LEAST a second arc, or something saved for later. I don’t know what CA’s powerset is to begin with, and so him not being able to control it or it changing on him means nothing. Not planning on coming back for #2. (4/10)

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

greenlanterncorps001Though it’s been cool getting back into the GL books after a year and a half “off,” I’m not entirely thrilled with this one. And yet…this wasn’t horrible. I definitely enjoyed seeing Guy and John interacting, and the issue’s story did a good job of setting up both those characters, and that this ultimately involves the GL Corps as a whole, and is not limited to just the Earth-GLs. I especially enjoyed seeing Guy at the job interview; John’s interview scene was interesting as well. I never cared for either character until Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War…and I’ve found Guy’s development to be the most compelling, as I actually like reading the character now. The art for the issue isn’t really up my ally–it feels far too much like Gleason‘s style, which has always been my main turnoff to reading Green Lantern Corps. I’d intended to keep out of the GL corner of the New 52 and stick to the attempt of waiting for the collected volumes to read the stories, but the fresh/specific jumping-on point might just manage to suck me in for a brief time. (7.5/10)

NIGHTWING #1

nightwing001.jpegYet another title I hadn’t originally planned on picking up. But it’s Nightwing. And it’s #1. And despite being into comics at the time, I never did pick up either of the previous Nightwing #1s. Heck, other than the crossovers with the big Batman stories, I never really followed Nightwing, period. Unfortunately, I don’t know that that’s going to change all that much…but I think this has me hooked, at least for this first arc. The art’s good, which was quite enjoyable. And I like the idea of Dick revisiting Haley’s Circus, though I’m pretty sure this’s been done a few times before. At the least, I’m reminded a bit of Batman: Year 3, the final issue of which was my very first Batman comic, EVER. And just after that was the Lonely Place of Dying arc…both stories holding a key piece of my introduction to Dick Grayson as Nightwing, and all that. I think I’d’ve enjoyed this issue even without the new villain; and I am tired of seeing Dick getting so (physically) beat up all the time…seems he’s always getting these disastrous injuries, and yet keeps right on going…worse than Batman. I haven’t decided how I feel about swapping the blue for red in the costume…but given it’s been more than two years since seeing him in the previous costume, I don’t have any huge problem with this change. If anything, the blue maybe tied him more to Batman, while the red ties him more to Robin. I’ll be back for #2, though probably taking the series on an issue by issue basis. (8/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 14, 2011

restofthestack01It’s been a long time since I’ve used this Rest of the Stack heading for this blog. But while I’ve lacked the patience to compose full reviews, following my mini-reviews of the DC New 52 books, I decided to post mini-reviews/comments on other issues I bought and read this week. And realized that hey…I did this a few times back in ’09 and used this heading. So without further rambling…here’s the rest of the week’s stack.

X-Men #17

xmen017This came out last week or the week before, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it right away–probably distracted by the first wave of the New 52 from DC, and a weekend trip. Read it this weekend, and it wasn’t bad, though it didn’t really suck me in. There’s an air of continuity here that I don’t totally “get,” as I am unfamiliar with all the characters from Cyclops and the FF’s past. The FF’s uniforms really stand out against the X-Men uniforms–the white/grays against the non-white colors. While this story is purported to be in another dimension, I can’t quite separate it from being another take on the “Savage Land,” which is a bit disconcerting. Though it’s another dimension, the Savage Land has been so overused (to me) that this just doesn’t seem all that different. Granted, the alien creatures are a bit different than what would seem to fit the Savage Land. The differences in Magneto and Doom seem rather apparent here, and I wonder how this story will affect the main FF book, if at all. While this seems a tangential title in the X-corner of the Marvel Universe…there’s something endearing about Gischler‘s take on the characters that makes them feel more “real” or “grounded” than other titles. This also feels like a weird sort of self-contained: it deals with facets of the Marvel Universe and yet doesn’t seem to tie directly to anything else. That’s both good and bad, as it can be enjoyed on its own as its own title and story…but it also does not feel essential to the goings-on of other titles and their stories. Recommended. (7/10)

X-Men Legacy #255

xmenlegacy255Though I can “appreciate” the “X-Men in Space” stuff for what such stories have meant to the characters and their history, I don’t tend to ENJOY them all that much. This is shaping up to be another such story–interesting enough in a way, but not all that engaging. I do wonder if this is the story that’ll bring Polaris and Havok back to Earth, and that can have definite implications on the X-Books, especially with the Schism stuff going on, I guess. I’ve stuck around from the Age of X, but unless this arc wraps up quickly, it’ll probably be what sees me right back off this title. The story itself isn’t bad, and the art’s pretty good overall. But it’s also weird seeing Magneto as part of this grouping of X-characters the same week that I read X-Men #17 that sees Magneto and others in a dimension much like the Savage Land. There’s a certain disconnect. The cover of this issue is probably the most interesting part to me, as it’s easy to forget the family bond between Polaris and Magneto. If you enjoy X-Men in Space, you’ll probably enjoy this arc–which kicked off last issue, I believe. Otherwise, you’re probably gonna be just as well off waiting for the next arc when these characters return to Earth. (7/10)

Uncanny X-Force #15

uncannyxforce015I swear this title is shipping far too frequently of late, especially as I don’t really even recall any feeling of it being “late” at any point. The Dark Angel Saga continues, this is chapter 5. Archangel–through Genocide–has blown up a small town of a few thousand residents, and then with The World and the Life Seed, created a pocket of rapid evolution that goes from a scorched-earth blank-slate to a relatively modern-ish culture that evolved 100+ million years in a few hours. Provided all goes well, Archangel intends to do the same to the entire planet, and it’s left to X-Force to stop this from happening. Though this is indeed called The Dark Angel Saga, it seems to be taking Warren down a dark path whose implications absolutely will not be able to be ignored in general X-continuity…and it seems strange to see the character taken to these depths. The art on this book continues to be good stuff, and very stylistic, marking this as a much different side to the X-corner of the Marvel Universe. I’m not sure how long this arc is, though the next chapter–if this fits the 6-issue pattern–should conclude things. After a couple of 4-issue arcs, I wonder, though. If you’re following this title anyway, well worth picking up. Otherwise, you’re best off waiting for the next arc at least. (7.5/10)

Fear Itself #6

fearitself006I don’t know why I’ve stuck with this title/event. It really doesn’t seem to hold the “feel” that I would expect something called Fear Itself to have. The events of the story seem far too all-reaching for any normalcy to come back out of it. This seems more like the setting for some alternate universe, as the event that makes the other universe different from the main Marvel universe. There’s something that’s gotten to seem so generic about this…and yet, 6 issues in I’ll get the next issue just to see how this story “ends,” though I gather from news I’ve seen around online that this is yet another major event whose ending won’t be a true ending so much as something that’s just going to lead into the next few months’ “status quo” of Marvel stories. If you’re not already following this event or at least this core title, this isn’t for you. If you are…well, nothing I say’s really gonna change your mind. The art’s quite good, and though I don’t care for the story, the writing isn’t all that bad in itself: it just doesn’t work for me as an overarching story. Not particularly recommended. (4/10)

Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula

fearitselfhulkvsdracula001Gischler‘s become Marvel‘s vampire guy. I’d love to see him take on a Blade series. This mini, though, ties in to Fear Itself, and begins the side-story of that event, focusing on Dracula and his vampires dealing with the sudden presence of the amped-up Hulk possessed by one of the Serpent’s hammers. The story’s more interesting than I expected at first glance, showing how Dracula’s people work together to get the intel the vampire needs to deal with the Hulk. This does not stand out as being anything essential to the overall Fear Itself story…but it’s rather enjoyable to see how the vampires are impacted by the goings-on of Fear Itself, to remind us that they exist, and keeps their story moving forward after the events in the early issues of X-Men. I picked this up as a fan of Gischler‘s work, and the concept…and enjoyed it. I’m also highly glad the issue is only $2.99, though…I’m still often caught by surprise at Marvel deigning to put a tie-in like this out for only $2.99 after their years-long fixation on the $3.99 price point. If you’re a fan of Gischler or Marvel‘s vampires, or just want to see more of what “Hulk” is up to during Fear Itself, this is definitely recommended. (7/10)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #1

buffyseasonnine001This certainly didn’t open quite the way I would have expected…even though I don’t even know what I did expect. I got into Buffy early this year when I re-watched the first episode of the tv series, and then spent the next 14 weeks in a dash through all 7 seasons. I experienced the first half of “Season Eight” via the motion comic Blu-Ray edition, and then the next couple TPBs from the local library. I read the final issue, having picked that up, so I have some context for this issue. Things open with Buffy going about life with new roommates and unsure of things with her friends, given the events that ended Season Eight. She then encounters a new horror this issue that seems so out of place that I’m not even sure if I can take it seriously–it’s like something from some comic strip rather than the next chapter of the Buffy story. The art fits what I’ve gotten used to seeing for this incarnation of the comics, and the writing’s on par as well. Nothing fantastic, nothing horrible. As a new “season,” this does a good job introducing new characters and old as well as a little about what they’re all about. But also as the start of a new season, there isn’t a whole lot to go on quite yet. Where a tv season goes a few months, I believe this is slated to run a couple years, so there’s plenty of time for things to develop. If you enjoyed Season Eight chances are you’ll enjoy this, for a continuation of that story, and of the Buffy saga on the whole (remember, this is set in the same continuity as the tv series). If you’re not a Buffy fan, you probably won’t care for this, though if you’re willing to go old-school and jump in while figuring “everything” out later, this is about as good a jump on point as anything. And the cover I went with…that’d be an AWESOME poster. (8.5/10)

Super Dinosaur #4

superdinosaur004I picked up the first issue on a whim. Got the FCBD issue shortly after. Picked up #s 2 and 3 as they came out. But truthfully–I didn’t even read ’em right away. Then I did, recently…and rather enjoyed the over-the top campiness of this. A mutant dinosaur in a robotic suit, a genius kid, and the two are best friends…fighting against the forces of some mad scientist that used to work with the kid’s father…and loads of other mutant dino-people in the mix. But…this is fun. And while this issue was apparently quite late…it was right on time, for me. Rather than having multiple issues to catch up on, I caught up, and was already set for this as a new issue this week. Plus, this is “only” a $2.99 comic, so it feels about as well priced as we can really expect for current comics. As campy as this title has already seen, the cliffhanger pushes it into even greater campiness…even as it leaves me grinning at the prospect of what’s to come. This is just a comic, but it feels like a cheesey Saturday-morning cartoon that would’ve come out in the early 1990s. And though just a comic…this beats the heck out of most of the current cartoons out there. If you trust Kirkman‘s writing sensibilities, take a chance and pick this series up, or at least the upcoming collected volume. This really seems like a great “all-ages” title…kids ought to enjoy it, and I can say that as an early-30s adult, I’m enjoying it myself. Even if you’re charged for the Free Comic Day issue…there are only the 5 issues so far, so it’s feasible you might be able to to scoop up the whole lot at once, so it’s not too late to get in at the beginning. Highly recommended. (9/10)

The Infinite #2

theinfinite002Above I commented about Super Dinosaur that it’s worth checking out of you trust Kirkman‘s writing…and I hold to that here. Of course, the writing is really overshadowed by the visuals. Looking at this cover, I see Cable…with bigger shoulder pads, smaller guns, younger and without the cybernetic/glowey eye-thing going on. For the interior, I had to keep reminding myself one character is NOT actually the Heroes Reborn Steve Rogers (Captain America) and another character made me think immediately of Gladiator from the X-Men comics. There’s a lot of time-travel stuff involved here, and it essentially seems like the main time-traveler is one of a two-man team–either he or his partner would have gone back, in order to try to prevent the future (their present) from happening. All they had to go on was some basic information, and in the past (now the present) the younger versions of these soldiers are being trained to fight against the coming darkness. It’s rather cliche and very ’90s-esque…but darnit, there’s something that just makes this work…maybe it’s a trainwreck waiting to happen and I’m waiting for that, but I picked this up after getting the first issue, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for #3. If you’re a Kirkman fan and can “handle” Liefeld‘s art, this is worth checking out…surely Kirkman‘s got something in the works for this. If you’re a Liefeld fan, can’t go wrong with that matched with Kirkman‘s writing. And heck…if you’re a Cable fan, this even reads a little bit like an alternate universe Cable story, so you could check this out and skip the last 18 years of Marvel‘s continuity. (6/10)

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