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From Frying Pan to Fire to San Francisco High-Rise

Brian Hibbs

Jeff, here. I thought I’d get a chance to get a few reviews in since nobody shows up to an non-air conditioned law firm in San Francisco on a Saturday just to hand out niggling jobs to their harried work staff, right? (The answer to that rhetorical question, by the way, is “wrong.”)

Sadly, I played the “I don’t have the comics with me, so I apologize for any inaccuracies and undue crankiness” card last week, so I can’t really do it this time. So I’m going to blame everything on the heat. Yes, that’s it. The heat.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #511: Astonishing to me how much I can like the Peter/Mary Jane stuff and really, really hate everything else. Spidey vs. Gwen’s mutant babies (or…are they?) seems like a thoroughly awful idea, but I also thought the spider-totem idea sounded pretty ass-like and JMS pulled that one out okay. The problem, I think, is execution: spider-totem was touched on, returned to, and fleshed out over the course of a few years. This reads like a year’s worth of All My Children (pun kinda intended) punched into less than a hundred pages. Awful.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #4: I did a great job dodging spoilers on this book all week on the web, then got caught by Hibbs’ entry from Thursday, dammit. Rather than play it forward, lemme just say this book is getting better issue by issue and Whedon’s placing of Kitty at the center of his arc gets more and more brilliant with each new chapter. Very Good.

DOOM PATROL #3: One of the funnier comic books I’ve ever read. The enormous monstrous thingeroos come out of an arctic lake and die immediately, so Robotman and Rita burrow down miles into the frozen ice “to deal with this incredible threat!” What threat? That global warming is going to be increased by the number of dead monster bodies lying around? But since you can’t get your heroes in jeopardy pushing ooky leviathan corpses around… Awful.

DC COMICS PRESENTS JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1: One “Julie saves the day story” that’s actually more like a kind of disturbing “Julie kills the Justice League” story, and one non-Julie saves the day story. I, of course, am inclined by now to prefer the non-Julie story and thought Wolfman’s twist to justify the cover concept was kinda clever. Eh.

FLASH #213: I was pretty happy to see the return of The Turtle and the post-speed force take on him (that the Turtle didn’t snort any blow or murder his own parents helped too) although the resolution if I read it right was pretty lame: “Now that The Turtle is so confused he can’t slow down time, I’ll throw him in jail and let the police figure out what to do with him!” (Or something to that effect.) Which should probably make this just OK but everything else was done well, Johns has at least three other subplots going, and I’m interested in reading next issue so Good.

GREEN LANTERN #180: I didn’t hate this, just kinda saddened by the waste of it all. Marz takes the time and skill to write Kyle’s mom as an interesting character just so he can off her in a particularly disturbing way? At this rate, DC will have no supporting characters left by 2006! And I’m sorry, I’m as big a paranoid conspiracy nut as anyone around, but this was the second DC book of the week where the enemy serves “not the guys running government, but the guys running the guys running government.” At the store, Hibbs suggested it’s the spirit of the times, but I think it’s just hackneyed and lazy: expedient plot motivators you don’t even have to design a cool costume for. Time to retire the cliche. Eh.

INCREDIBLE HULK #76: I didn’t think I could hate this more than last issue but I was wrong (at least #75 had great art by Darick Robertson). Can’t believe Jones had the nerve to reiterate The Leader’s “No, the only way to brainwash the Hulk was to expose him to thirty-plus issues of nonsensical and confusing comic book writing!” explanation. One of the more impressive crash and burns of serial comic book writing in modern memory, I think. Awful.

THE MOTH #4: Actually came out last week, but I forgot to review it and it deserves better. It was actually the first issue of this I truly enjoyed, and Rude’s work was just astonishingly on it, filled with humor and a stunning sense of movement and design. Hunt this up on last week’s shelves and get it. Very Good.

PROMETHEA #31: The first of the Armageddon issues that really worked for me (I’m assuming the rest will really carry some punch collected as a trade), this was like getting a quick jolt of a good drug, and affected me more than almost any of Moore’s other “imagination is the only thing we can truly say is real” tropes. Not a good jumping on point for new readers, but in all other ways Excellent work.

RICHARD DRAGON #4: Yeah, is this really working for anybody? If the art was by, I dunno, Dixon’s collaborator on Way of the Rat I’d be into this but it’s currently just weightless and unaffecting. And the continuity snarl, which I normally don’t sweat, is still driving me nuts. Not quite Awful but I can’t just give it an Eh.

SUPERMAN #208: Well, I’m glad the JLA isn’t going to do anything to find the millions of missing people just so Superman can prove what he’s got to prove. That shows a laudable sense of priorities. Eh.

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #10: Ah, the frustrations of reviewing decompression: do I praise the characterization or bash the padding? Because come on, this did not need a whole issue. I’m also still less than enthralled with the modern Dr. Doom. Ten years ago this would have read: “There! Now, in exchange for my protection, you must carry these pogs in the name of…Doom!” But you know, good dialogue, good characterization of the Four so, whatever. OK, I guess.

WE3 #1: Wow. Interesting how Morrison and Quietly take a minimally worded comic and stretch out the reading with such dynamic shifts in rhythm. My only problem is (and I openly admit to sounding stupid) I didn’t get a strong enough sense of characterization from the dog, cat or bunny. Are we supposed to automatically empathize with them because they’re cute animals? Cause they’re actually a bit too creepy at this point for that. Very Good stuff, though.

WORLDWATCH #1: Hibbs wants me to review this just so I can explain why I hate the Olympics. I refuse to take his bait and put you through it (in part, because it makes me sound like an raving insensible asshole) so let’s just leave the review at: You may like titties, and you may like superheroes, and you may like ‘teh pr0n,’ and so you may think you will like this book. You are wrong. Unless you believe that sex is not exciting unless it makes you regret being part of the human race, you will not like this. Nice art, though. Awful.

X-STATIX #26: The best issues of Milligan and Allred’s series mixed snark and genuine emotion in equal measure. So I’m glad the last issue did just that. Very Good.

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