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Kinda, Sorta, Not Really: Reviews for 04/06 Books

Brian Hibbs

At the moment, my time is my own at work so I thought I would do a few quick and hasty reviews, if only as a way to give thanks that I didn’t attend the Gene Wilder signing…(the creepy part of that story is, I now totally covet Hibbs’ copy of The Little Prince, which was one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid. I mean, Gene Wilder as the fox and Bob Fosse as the snake! That automatically makes it among the greatest movies of all time.)

(And if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and you haven’t seen The Best of Youth yet, I mightily recommend you check out its hefty six-hour charms: It’s like the Avengers Forever of Italian cinema! Or something. Anyway, if you love movies, you should see it.)

Oh, and keep in mind that there are books that I still haven’t read because I was waiting until I got home, and then I left them at the store. So if you’re looking for my take on Zatanna, you are SOL…Instead, you have to deal with me blabbing about:

AMAZING FANTASY #7: Not great; not awful. I kinda liked it, although I’m a hard-pressed to remember why. Maybe it’s because there’s something so potent about “Rogue Syndrome” (young female protagonist who can’t touch anyone because she’s “tainted”), it can still carry some oomph with a new character. OK, although my hopes are not high.

BLOOD OF THE DEMON #2: The art was pretty keen, and I guess the new Blood/Etrigan symbiosis strikes a balance between “gruesome terror” and “superhero hijinks,” but I just wasn’t into this. Purging demon breath? Conflict between wussy human and evil demon? So now he’s like Ghost Rider, basically, but without the bike. Great. Eh.

DEADSHOT #5: Yeah, okay, that worked, sorta. Deadshot went a little too far into the warm and cuddly direction, but it sorta, kinda maybe works that he can still act as a merc and not draw the whole wrath of the mobs as long as he doesn’t go back to the Trainagle. I guess? Still, I really liked a good chunk of this mini so what the hell: Good.

DEATH JR #1: How ironic that the book I found solace in this week, after Countdown had utterly burned me out on all the grim and grit, and death and morbidity, of the current superhero market, is titled Death Jr. But it was a fun all-ages read aided immeasurably by Ted Naifeh’s work, which looked just gorgeous in sheer color. It read a bit episodic, as if the project had started as a series of eight pagers then was made to read unbroken, but I really enjoyed this. A high Good.

GLA #1: It’s pretty obvious from that first page Slott knew the ending of ol’ DC Countdown in advance, I think. And this should have been the perfect darkly comic riff on the “Avengers Dissemble” and Countdown kill-a-thons. In fact, maybe it was a perfect darkly comic riff, but I just got too bummed out to appreciate it as such. My instincts call this Good, but it really put me in a funk. There are certainly extenuating circumstances here (a terminally ill friend died over the weekend) so there’s probably more to my impatience with all the morbidity (and jocular takes on morbidity) than just DC Countdown burnout.

GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH #5: This mini has been all over the map, but it looks god-damn keen, I think. I kinda thought the last page was a mighty big block o’ cheese, and I sorta feel like a mini should do more than put pieces back on the board (are any of the plotlines going to even pretend to be wrapped up? What happened to Parallax?) but I’ll give it a high OK, just because Sinestro looks creepy and rad.

INVINCIBLE VOL 4 TPB: I finally got off the stick and read the first three trades of this. As I mentioned, I’m pretty burnt out on any sort of “Blood! Guts! Guns! Cuts! Knives! Lives! wives! nuns! sluts!” (to quote Eminem…) that seems so prevalent to me post-Countdown, and so I actually enjoyed all the pre-Big Twist stuff more than I enjoyed The Big Twist. But, yeah, as Big Twists go, it was pretty good, and I think it’s safe to say I’m now hooked on this title. Didn’t finish Vol. 4 ironically, but if you’re looking for a new title to pick up, allow my Very Good for Invincible overall to serve as a (very late to the game) recommendation.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #7: Thanks to the keen art, I can remember just about two pages of this…barely. Kind of a shame since Kirkman may well be sitting there going: “Get it? Ring? Master? Ringmaster?” Eh.

SEA OF RED #1: Working with these two-tone limited color projects has really brought a new energy to Kieron Dwyer’s work, hasn’t it? It’s like the work had always been perched between illustration and cartooning, and the color allows it to feel more like illustration without losing any of the energy of the cartooning. Or something. So it looks great, is what I’m saying. I’m a little nonplussed with the story (I had more than a few moments of “Tales of the Black Freighter Sense…Tingling!”) but there seems to be a ton of fire and ambition behind the title so I’ll give it a few issues before I decide one way or the other. OK.

SHANNA THE SHE DEVIL #3: Cho’s resistance to fleshing out any other characters other than Shanna and the narrator have kinda screwed this narrative, I think. Because if Shanna dies, no story, and if the narrator dies, no narration. Ergo: no tension. Pretty, but you can see actual potential just kinda drying up as you read and that’s a drag. Eh.

STRANGE #5: And now there are lightsabers. Great. Looking forward to the dramatic conclusion next ish where Strange throws a ring into Dormamu’s ass-crack, thus defeating the dark lord’s evil plans. Awful.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #18: Okay, that last page made no sense whatsoever, but it was really kinda cool, I thought. I’ve been really lukewarm about this arc in that for every three things I dug (Kamandi! Freedom Fighters! R’as Al Ghul Statue of Liberty! Gratuitous Alan Moore shoutout! That’s four things!) there were three things I hated (Superman strangles Wonder Woman! The Justice League or Reanimated Corpses! Why doesn’t any of it make even a little sense!) Loeb obviously wanted his grim and gritty cake but wasn’t willing to give up the sense of wonder frosting, making this even more of an uneven jumble than usual. So a high OK, because if there’s one thing the marketplace is overrun with, it’s grim and gritty cake.

THE PUNISHER #19: Art is keen, but I never thought Ennis would write anything as inauthentic as that “I told you; nobody makes me go dyke!” shower scene. Or if he did, it wouldn’t be so god-damned dull. Eh.

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #17: Nice action-packed issue, although I think I would have been happier with about 80% less Jawas. It’s almost like Kubert drew ’em once or twice, then thought nobody would catch it so he put them in every other panel of the last ten pages. Or maybe because Jawas are pretty darn easy to draw over and over, particularly if you’ve got the action figures as reference. Or maybe both. Still, I say Good.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #75: Hibbs thinks this’ll read great in a trade. I think the reveal was absolutely not worth all that invested time. (You mean, exposition guy didn’t even exist? NOOOOOOO!) And there seemed to be a whole thread (Spider-Man gets called out by arch-enemy; Aunt May won’t let him go) that looked for a second like it could lead to a more interesting story, but since it didn’t fit into Bendis’ outline, absolutely nothing came of it. However, since the Peter/MJ scene was good, and because I have fond flashbacks to Donnie Darko every time someone hollers “Cellar door!!” I’ll go with a low OK.

WALKING DEAD #17: Another great issue. Kirkman seems so much more in control of his material here and on Invincible, it’s kind of a shame to see him dilute himself with largely ineffectual work for Marvel. Man’s gotta eat, I guess. Very Good.

I’m not much of a PICK OF THE WEEK/PICK OF THE WEAK kind of guy (and I haven’t read Zatanna, remember) but I think I’d give Walking Dead #17 the PICK OF THE WEEK (with Death Jr. #1 close behind) and PICK OF THE WEAK to Strange #5. And if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to see whether the Intarweb is charging for a pristine copy of The Little Prince

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