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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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