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Hibbs tries, he really does, 9/29

I’m not as insane as Tucker – I’m not going to try and hit every single book for the week, but here’s like almost half of them, at least…

(and if you wonder why I’m not writing a lot of comics reviews lately, this week might be a god-damn good reason…. I barely like any of this stuff right now. SOMEONE HELP ME GET MY GROOVE BACK!!!)

ACTION COMICS #893: Part of my problem with this current direction is the semi-unclear of what Luthor is trying to actually DO; it’s all very McGuffin-y, but I don’t see a concrete plan/idea, other than “let’s tour the universe”. Which would be fine, except that it is already starting to repeat itself (which is even commented upon inside the story itself), and there’s a bit about the androids that even repeats itself within this same issue. Comics about “super brains” are generally hard to pull off correctly, and this isn’t much of an exception. I am kinda of curious as to how exactly they pull off the Death (of the Endless) thing next month, however, and will certainly be reading that one. This was OK. There’s also a backup story featuring Jimmy Olsen which I sort of think epitomizes the problem with the superbooks well – it’s solid enough, but it’s like 180 degrees from the last try to revamp Jimmy (which was, what, less than six months ago?) – I don’t know if DC knows who any of these characters really are. Also OK, for the backup.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #644: Solid writing, gorgeous art, though I didn’t really feel any stakes in the events of the issue, but this is kind of the least of mainstream super-hero comic should be. A low GOOD.

AVENGERS PRIME #3 (OF 5): Pure middle (well, it IS #3 of 5), though it has a couple of cuteish “Man, is Tony Stark a douche, or what?” scenes. The real draw is Alan Davis’s art, which is as nice as ever. If this was $2.99 I’d be saying “Wow, GOOD”, but $3.99 creates it’s own weight of expectations, and knocks it down to an OK.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #610: I’m not sure what’s happened here – this used to be one of my absolute favorite Marvel books, but it feels like it is drifting nowadays. In particular to this very issue, there’s a whole lot of moral-choice-ing set up here, but the resolution to those morals are pretty lacking – “I’ll strap you to the missle and you can choose whether it kills you or not” Huh? Pretty EH. A bigger problem is the backup story, which neither matches the themes of the lead, or is even in the same tone or weight – I can’t imagine many people who like Brube’s faux-70s approach to Cap digging on the lightweight adventures of Heroes Reborn Bucky. It isn’t bad or anything, but compared to the lead, it makes me lean to AWFUL.

CASANOVA #3: I think it is fairly sad that the only periodical comic that I genuinely, no hesitation liked this week is effectively a reprint. I’m eager to get to the truly new material of this series. What do we have, like 3 more issues to go, or something? VERY GOOD.

CHEW #14: Too many flashbacks, forwards and whereevers for my tastes – it’s generally a bad idea to set up a dramatic confrontation, then not actually follow it through inside the story itself. Even with that, still highly OK.

CROSSED FAMILY VALUES #4 (OF 7): not enough of the “family” bits the title really demands (and the first three set up so disgustingly). Solidly OK.

DETECTIVE COMICS #869: Nice Scott Daniel art, an alright story with a Joker-a-like. In a world that only had, say, 4 Bat titles a month I might call this a low “Good”, but that’s not our world. OK.

FRANKEN-CASTLE #21: Seriously, the Getting Frank Back To Himself bits take place between panels? Bah! The art by Brereton is great, as usual, but the story plods along, and while it has Else Bloodstone, and the Legion of Monsters and Monster Island all all other kinds of funky 70s stuff, it’s just so…so… humorless, I guess. I wanted to like this, but EH.

GREEN ARROW #4 (BRIGHTEST DAY): I certainly read too many comics to keep all of them straight, but I’m not wrong that pretty much the first half of this comic (including the fight) was already in an issue of BRIGHTEST DAY, am I? The real problem here is there’s nothing here for me to care about why the protagonists are doing what they do – J’onn may be in the story, but there’s no hint of what his relationship to Ollie is, or why he’s doing anything or … well, really anything. I don’t think this comic CAN be understood if you haven’t read other comics outside of this one… and if you did… well, you’ve pretty much already read this one, haven’t you? The other semi-protagonist (Galahad, is it?) is a total cipher, the antagonist (“The Queen”) is pretty clichéd and shallow, and the climactic villain-thing isn’t introduced in any real way, nor is it clear what he or she might be. Als, am I wrong, but wasn’t it just like 4 months ago that Ollie was sentenced to never set foot in Star City again, yet here he is hanging around on rooftops and getting into fights in the streets? It’s really pretty AWFUL.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #43: I dunno “all the magic is on the Dark Side of the Moon” isn’t really that compelling, and, I think, rather than giving Alan Scott a new direction and reason to be, it is more likely to close the character off even more until a future writer rolls through and completely ignores it after all. In this kind of “new direction for B-character” kind of deal, it seems to me that the outgoing writer really needs to put 6-8 story seeds into the story itself for someone else to pick up and run with, and while this ENVIRONMENT might have some story potential (though, as I say, it is far more likely to simply be ignored), it doesn’t do anything good for the CHARACTER of Alan Scott. Similarly, the Obsidian/Jade revelation seems to me to be more limiting and external for the characters than something to get stories out of. Plus Alan is kind of a dick to Todd, ain’t he? Having said all of that “The Moon is full of magic, and GL is the King of the Fairies” does kind of have a 40s JSA feel, doesn’t it? I dunno, I guess this was OK.

POWERS #6: OK, I lied in the CASANOVA note – I liked this one, too. The problem, for me, is I think the bi-monthly schedule – it doesn’t feel like the storyline is getting to the point fast enough, and I sort of miss the “Investigating crimes” portion of the story (which almost makes a return here) – still, solidly GOOD.

TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #64: I might live to be 100 and I’ll never ever ever understand this comic. Page after page of chicks saying how and why and where they fuck other chicks, yet the word “tits” is spelled “t*ts”. It won’t top the “haunted vagina” issue, probably, but there’s at least one howler of a line each issue. This time, we have “You killed my boobie spiders, you jerk!” Man. Clearly AWFUL, but Balent doesn’t give a fuck, he’s partying with Ace Frehley and getting girls to send him half-nekkid pictures.

TEEN TITANS #87: I’ve talked here before about cutting things that sell less than 3 rack copies, and I think next month TITANS (both flavors) will face that cut – I’m only 50/50 on selling the single rack copy we get in (even though it still has plenty of preorders from our sub customers), and I’m not seeing anything either in this issue, or in the previews of the next (running in this month’s DC books) that causes me to question this thinking whatsoever. This is pretty EH stuff, and it seems as directionless as anything that DC is publishing right now…

TIME MASTERS VANISHING POINT #3 (OF 6) Jesus, why the fuck is this being published, and don’t they GET that having low quality not-actually-tie-ins to the “Return of Bruce” storyline (especially when RoB is now epically late and looks like it will have its ending issues come out AFTER B actually Rs) isn’t actually doing them any favors of any kind? I guess they needed a way to keep the Starfire (1970s version) trademark alive, or something? The only thing I liked about this was the notion that Booster is Rip’s dad somehow (or was I reading too much into that scene at the top? Too bad if so, that’s almost clever in a Moebuis-loop kind of a way) Extremely EH

VALKYRIE #1: I like Winslade’s art, but getting through the end of the story was a serious slog for me. EH

WONDER WOMAN #603: I don’t get why they upended continuity and all of that for this – 98% of what happens here could have happened in the “previous version” of Wondy, and the 2% that couldn’t isn’t very interesting. We’re already back to Charon, and Cerberus and all of that? I don’t get the point, and by focusing on the Same Old tropes of Greek Myth, rather than direct motivation of the character, it reads like anything mining the same kinds of Unreal Societies (Anything involving “Atlantis” in Aquaman or Namor, most “magic based” series, and so on) – there is a reason that “Hey, let’s destroy the Amazons” is WW storyline #1… because the Amazons aren’t very interesting in their own right! A costume change can’t make this any less AWFUL

X-MEN LEGACY #240: I really couldn’t follow this at all – it is filled with a bunch of no-name, no-interest villains, and the protagonists are nearly purely passive through everything that happens. A real page-flipper of a book, and not in the “Wow, I can’t wait to see what happens!” sense. AWFUL.

As always, what do YOU think?


20 Responses to “ Hibbs tries, he really does, 9/29 ”

  1. Booster has been definitively stated to be Rip’s father in the Booster Gold main series.

  2. Your lack of enthusiasm echos my own when looking at most of the stuff the big two are pushing these days. I also have been trimming rack titles in an effort to eliminate potential wall insulation. I think I’ll look at my percentages from the recently completed order month just to actually see how many books of the total didn’t make the cut.

  3. Whoops, also I think Powers schedule isn’t quite bi monthly. This issue had a Feb Diamond code if I remember correctly, so this one makes it I believe either three or four times annually. Amazing it’s held it’s sales despite being such a rarity on the racks.

  4. Powers #6 was a decent start for a new arc. Hopefully we don’t have to wait so long for the next issue.

  5. if this is all so awful to you, then why are you in this business, dragging everyone down with your misery?

    life is too short to be so unhappy. time to go.

  6. I dropped Captain America this month for the first time since Brubaker taking over. It has really been lacking since Steve came back in my opinion and, at $4, I am just not into books that I finish with an “eh” feeling regardless of how great they have been before.

  7. SvenJ, it’s not all so awful as Hibbs already pointed out on a few books. And it’s not dragging everyone down to want something better. It’s his opinion, and I for one am very glad to see him expressing it again in reviews. Muy Excellente! BTW,JMS Supes and WW, sounded good on paper, unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the same paper these books are published on. Just what was the point again of jettisoning WW continuity?

  8. Good job.

    Sad though. Kudos for even having the energy to read an X-MEN LEGACY or TEEN TITANS.

    I want Jim Balent back on a CATWOMAN series!

  9. Don’t listen to SvenJ at all! The big two need to see a lot more criticism like this. mainstream superhero books just really suck right now, even the usually good ones like Cap and Iron Man. A few years ago, I could hardly keep up with all the great stuff coming out. Now I’m dropping titles from my pull list all the time and struggle to find two or three superhero comics a week that I enjoy. (Definitely not the case for indie and Vertigo stuff, though).

  10. That’s odd. I think SvenJ is channelling my Mum.

    I still buy Captain America but I’m not sure why. As Mr. Hibb’s says it’s very “faux-’70s” in approach. The more homages/etc I spot to Colan, Kirby, Steranko et al. the more the thought that I could simply buy an Essential Cappy volume and get the Real Deal looms like a big cloud of Common Sense. Still, never been big on common sense. Ask me Mum.

    Thanks for the reviews.

  11. SvenJ – Huh? Brian Hibbs is the most optimistic person ever in regards to comics and the comics industry. He can find a silver lining in *anything*. It’s kinda like Deppey said recently – if you’ve lost Hibbs, you’re really screwed.

  12. – I enjoyed Action Comics quite a bit. It is all very Mcguffiny, and very unclear on why they are doing what they are doing, but I don’t really care – it’s just great fun.
    The Jimmy back up may not work with the last take on Jimmy, but was that last take particularly good?

    – Wonder Woman… I decided to give JMS one last chance to have something interesting happen in his WW run – one more issue than I’m giving his Superman run – but just flicking through it, I can’t really be bothered to read it.
    It just looks drab and really boring.

    – When does Cap turn bad?
    I’ve got Reborn to read – should I end it there?
    I’d have read Reborn already, but I didn’t realize there was two different covers for the trade, and accidentally picked up the one by Joe Q.
    I wish he’d stop doing trade covers – his art isn’t what it was (not that I was ever his biggest fan), and his Iron Man and Cap trade covers aren’t just bad (I’d say ugly) covers, they totally clash with the type of art found within.

    – Best superhero read I got was Superman Adventures Digest #2, by Mark Millar.
    A great anti-dote to the sorts of books written by JT Krul and, well, modern Mark Millar.
    For something more recent, I forgot to pick it up, but Batman Brave And The Bold is always a fun read.

  13. the rising costs to the consumer sort’ve necessitate the question of elevated quality. not alot’s measuring up these days. is that part of what you’re saying?

    but for the good stuff. for the Good Stuff the scheduling’s a bit wonky these days too. by and large the publishing model isn’t revolving around the single issue periodical format anymore, no? it’s a chicken and egg kinda thing i know, but something torrid happened early on between Brian Michael Bendis and the TPB landscape. their love child is The Avengers line of books and toys and a major motion picutre coming to theatres soon.

    i’ve only been going back and reading Zot! lately.


    i want Jim Balent back on a CATWOMAN series too.

  14. Hopefully Jim Balent will continue to profit from his own abysmal T&A comic instead of slaving away on an abysmal T&A comic for a 70 year old franchise owned by a ruthless mega-corporation.

  15. Well, Mr. H, you like a lot more than I do. I haven’t picked up a new comic since Scarlet #2… tho’ I did give Valkyrie a gander and felt about the same way you did.

  16. For the record, I’m glad Hibbs made the effort as well.

  17. Absolutely, thanks for the reviews, Brian.

    I will say I can see the issue a bit more clearly here than I could with Tucker’s post (entertaining though it was).

    If you look at Hibbs’ ratings they’re almost all negative or uniformly lukewarm positive side. The epitome of the “Meh” rubicon. While a lot of the “edge” books seem to be getting a great deal of praise (searching for MOME and this from a guy who has never really strayed from the capes flock) the middle is not exciting. It’s not showing value for price – at all.

    When the optimists can’t be moved or excited by your top material…you’ve got an issue. It’s important for the companies to see this malaise from well reasoned and long term fans. Hopefully it will bring about change. I, myself, am not ready to write manifestos so for now our well heeled disdain will have to suffice and hopefully move the needle.

  18. Well written, Brian! More and more, I’m finding that I enjoy less and less of the comics being published. I don’t know who DC and Marvel in particular think are their target audience, but it’s become pretty clear that they’re not intereted in producing material for readers like me; an upper middle class, educated, avid reader and fan for better than forty-five years. The quality on every level from writing to art and coloring have really gone downhill with the rise in the last two to three years. Particularly surprising given the large increase in price!

    Reading your remarks about the titles that seem to be drifting (and there are a lot of them), I wonder if it might not be due to a practice of editorial trying to tie all of their titles into a single continuity or event too tightly while at the same time writing for the trade? By that, I mean that if you mandate that a story line HAS to run five to six issues before resolving so it can fit the trade publication, but at the same time, there can’t be any real story movement because the character has to be at a certain place by X month when the next event is published, it pretty much limits the creativity (assuming there is some) of the writer to noting at all.

  19. For what it’s worth, I think there are still plenty of fun comics out there, waiting to jolly you up. The Mighty Thor, a new, all-ages series with GORGEOUS art by Chris Samnee, is super fun and very much worth your time. Also, I’ve been finding the new Thunderbolts (Jeff Parker) enjoyable, despite the gloomy, off-putting covers. Avengers Academy, from which I expected pretty much nothing at all, is a good read with a neat premise. iZombie and Unwritten are all kinds of wonderful and I particularly thought that last issue of Unwritten (the choose your own adventure issue) was nicely done.

    Hey, if you read Green Arrow and Teen Titans, you can expect to be left with a foul taste in your mouth. The solution is to read better comics.

    – Paul W.

  20. I SO agree about Wonder Woman. WTF? Power Girl is basically the comic I think WW should be. And P.S. Power Girl is actually pretty darn good.

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