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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)

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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)

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