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Reviews from 3/2

Brian Hibbs

Well, I’m sorta upset at myself for promising to do a full boat of reviews this week — it was a pretty damn “Meh” week for comics, and without something to be excited about, this is about as appealing as a root canal.

Still, I said I’d do it, so do it I shall.

Hey, have I told you about Ben lately? Just had his 17 month birthday (I think I’ll be talking about months until he hits 2 years old, then we’ll see), and he’s just BLOWING ME AWAY qith how sharp he is.

He’s mastered about 1/3 of the alphabet so far — we’ll walk down the street and he’ll point to a sign and declare “Ess!” or “Emm!” or whatever it is he’s seeing. It’s pretty astonishing to me. He’s been seemingly picking up a letter a day, and, at this rate I think he’ll have them all by 18 months. Maybe he’ll even be reading by 2. What surprises me is how well he’s understanding letters outside of his usual contexts or whatever. I was wearing my Teddy Kristiansen Sandman shirt, and there’s a plume of smoke or something that anchors the illustration, and Ben looked at it and said “Ess!”. And lo, and behold, yes, it indeed looks like an S — but not like an S from any of his alphabet books.

Anyway, the kid impresses me.

As for the comics this week, let’s see what we got:

30 DAYS OF NIGHT BLOODSUCKERSTALES #5: Honestly, I’m bored with both of these stories, and I wish that each had already wrapped up. I think that if they continue the book, they need to mix up the story lengths a lot more — for an anthology to work, I beleive that every issue should have at least one good starting point included. Gotta go with an EH, here, especially for IDW’s $4 cover price.

ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #8: Last issue I actually thought for a minute that Johnny Ryan had begun to transcend just the toilet humor — there was at least one story that was kinda a genuinely good piece of satire. But, with this one we’re back to straight up crap and pussy jokes. Not the way that I, personally, would want to spend $3 and 15 minutes, and this time through I didn’t even laugh *once*, so I’m down with AWFUL.

ARANA HEART OF THE SPIDER #2: Yeah, it’s not the Next Big Thing, and, unlike X-23, you don’t have the X-zombies to prop you up regardless of content. We ordered 6 copies of #1 and Marvel did a 100% overship, if you can beleive that — we received 6 free copies. I thought that was a terrific move on Marvel’s part and bought the book better rack placement than I otherwise woulda given it. Alas, after 5 weeks of counts, we still only sold 6 copies. With #2, based on the weekend’s velocity, I don’t think we’re going to sell 4. And I can’t really battle it — the book just isn’t good enough to warrant individual hand-selling, or growth through word of mouth. The book is pretty much cliche after cliche, and the “armored” look is just downright ugly. The supporting cast are all really flat, and everything about the book feels forced to me. It’s a really low EH, or maybe a high AWFUL, though the EH is probably fairer.

ARTBABE PRESENTS LA PERDIDA #5: What a let down of an ending. Like a bad student film, or something. And I was enraptured with the first four issues, too. I gotta give it, too, an EH.

CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #13: Worked better than it has been lately, but, man, what the fuck is up with the wholly false jeapordy of Cap getting killed (ahahaha!) by a stray bullet(!?!?!?!?!) — since you know that can’t actually happen, the best you could hope for is some really brain-achingly clever way out of the cliffhanger. And I don’t see that happening, do you? PLus, it’s been 13 months already, I sure hope we’re going to actually get TO “And what’s up with Sam?” one of these days now. Dragging out way too long. Fie and Foo, A staggeringly low EH.

CASEFILES SAM & TWITCH #14: I swear I sat here for a minute going, “now I know I read this… why can’t I remember it?” which is never a great sign. Then I remembered, “oh yeah, the Chinese Vampires.” Really undercuts any possible tension it could have had with that last page — by the time we got there, there wasn’t any surprise or shock. Again, an EH, this one right up the middle of Eh Lane.

DARKNESS #19: Either I’m not parsing things right, or they changed something in an issue I didn’t read, but I thought Jackie automagically lost the Darkness powers if he had sex? Other than that, this was pretty much yuck piled on yuck with a bunch of staggeringly unlikeable characters, and I don’t know what I was expecting from Lapham, but ’tweren’t this. AWFUL.

DEADSHOT #4: I liked the first 3 issues enough to not want to be disapointed in the third act (as it were), but I hope it doesn’t end like it’s now threatening too. I’ll go with a tentative OK this second, but reserve the right to downgrade that substantially next month. Having said that, look, it’s got the best Savage Critic Scale rating so far this week…

DETECTIVE COMICS #804: And we’ll tie that here. Dense and solid work, but something seemed off just a notch in either Bats or his villians’ characterizations. It’s a high OK.

DOCTOR SPECTRUM #5: *shrug* OK, shocking dark secret, sure, whatever — this took 5 issues to get to? I really like SUPREME POWER, but this is just snoozing me out. EH.

EXILES #60: *groan* Did people actually LIKE “Age of Apocalypse”? I mean actually, and truly like it? ‘cuz I remember it as being long and formless and ultimately redundant. Well, we’ll get more into that down a bunch, but, yes here we go back to AoA, and I don’t care enough about the premise to care what happens. So, EH from me.

FIRESTORM #11: Well, I think I said I think it’s a bit too late for them to bring Ronnie back into it, especially in the Professor role, but it was an adequate single issue, I ‘spose. OK

INTIMATES #5: First one I’ve kinda sorta liked — the dead sidekick thing is at least marginally interesting. Still, this book is clearly not meant for me. EH.

JOHN CONSTANTINE HELLBLAZER SPECIAL PAPA MIDNITE #2: A solid enough OK, I guess, though it’s hard to beleive that many people would mass suicide in that circumstance.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #9: Again, not my thing at all (I don’t want very many gritty, morally corrupt superheroes, thanks), so take my EH with whatever cavaets you’d like.

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #7: Cute enough story, Adam’s getting his sea-legs on the comics page, I think. OK

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #100: Odd thing, I was looking forward to this for a bit, because I’m a big KoDT fan, and the promise of twice as many comics pages made me go W00t! But I forgot that almost meant twice as many gaming-magazine pages as well, which made the comics side seem smaller than it probably really was. If you understand what I am saying. Plus, I was expecting some big epic story, and instead it was a lot of short vignettes. Which were all funny, don’t get me wrong… just not what I was expecting. Anyway, it’s a GOOD, but a reserved one ‘cuz I was expecting an “EXCELLENT”, y’know?

LEGEND #1: It was good, it is always nice to see Russ Heath drawing something, and Chaykin’s script was pretty good this time through — but geez louise, $6? You gotta assume it’s going to be a $19.95 trade, right? Look, I know that my job in life is to sell these things, but that’s just plain overpriced. The “GOOD” I woulda given it is knocked down to an OK for the pricing.

LEX LUTHOR MAN OF STEEL #1: Damn nice looking art, and a good character study of Lex and his motivations. I think I agreed with all of the notes hit, so that’s nice. I’ll give it a GOOD, sure.

MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #1: This is actually Jeff’s joke, but the way the “Marvel Age” were being solicited and relaunched for a while there, it was like Kids would think that all Peter Parker ever did was get bitten by a spider and watched Uncle Ben get shot. They just keep doing the origin over and over again. With material this hoary, aimed at kids, your only choice is really capped out at OK

MARVEL TEAM-UP #6: I liked this wrap-up just fine. It’s utterly weightless material, but it does it well. GOOD.

RAZORS EDGE WARBLADE #5: I was hoping for the other ending, where all the toys aren’t put (more or less) back where they began. Ah well. This sold shockingly poorly for a Simon Bisely drawn comic. EH.

RISING STARS #24: Another ending I didn’t care much for. The whole third act was kind of a mess, really. REally, kind of a Deux Ex Machina ending to the theme of the act — none of the Specials actually did anything or changed a thing, it was the power *itself* which affected the societal change. This may change upon the start-to-finish reread of the entire series, but, for the moment, I got nothing more than an EH.

SHANNA THE SHE DEVIL #2: 4 pages of content, expanded out to 22, and it ain’t even got no of them thar boobies to make the time pass. And there’s 5 more issues of this to go? Cho has the artistic chops, sure, but his writing and pacing is jerky like strip pacing. It’s like he needed to remind HIMSELF every few pages that she “has the eyes of a killer”, y’know? It’s not quite AWFUL, so it get the low low low EH.

SUPERMAN STRENGTH #3: A wonderful wonderful “silver age” style Superman comic, overpriced by half, and with the wrong artist chosen. In a parallel world where this is what Jim Lee was drawing for the last year (well, OK, maybe not Jim, but you see my point…), this woulda been EXCELLENT, but in the world in which we live in, it gets a low OK. *sad*

SWAMP THING #13: Not as grue-some for gruesome’s sake as the last few, thank god — but there’s just nothing left here that I care about. Abby and Tefe and Alec just need to have everything wrapped up to some degree, and then go off stage, forever and ever. Thier time is done, really. EH.

TOE TAGS FEATURING GEORGE ROMERO #6: Well, that didn’t work. Jeez, at all. If there were plans to continue the “Toe Tags” name, post-Romero, I’d scuttle them now. AWFUL.

TWILIGHT EXPERIMENT #2: an OK hook, an OK idea, but nothing better than OK. An an OK idea has to be executed BRILLIANTLY to get an OK rating. So that’s why I say EH.

ULTIMATE IRON MAN #1: Variant foil covers. *sigh* is this what we’ve come back to? Really? I despair for comics, sometimes, I really do. I thought the insides were well done — crisply written, and well drawn, but, man, the idea of Tony Stark having actual super-powers of some sort is diametrically opposed to what I think of as “Iron Man”. No, he’s 100% human at base — that’s what makes him compelling within the Marvel universe, I think. So, I have quibbliage. Despite that, however, the actual content was compelling and GOOD.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #73: It’s not that nothing happens, it’s that what happens should have been 3 pages in another issue, and we wouldn’t have had to sit through all of the flashbacks. I’m absolutely certain this issue will work in the TP, because Bendis has played this trick before, but as a single comic book reading experience, I was impatient and bored. EH.

WALKING DEAD #16: Except for that last page (god, what a leaden line to go out with), how could you read this comic, and not be in love with it? Well, a strong like, anyway. Love, that’s serious. An easy VERY GOOD.

X-MEN AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1: Because… well, someone must have demanded it. Not me. Modern AoA world looks surprisingly like our own. I accepted that on, say, SLIDERS, because that’s what the budget allowed, but given my memories of what we were shown in the original AoA, it strained my credibility quite a bit to see it here. I don’t know, it’s not really bad or anything (Bachalo’s art is more approachable than it’s been recently), but I just simply don’t care about this world and these characters and didn’t seem to have any real reason to do so. It’s time for Marvel, with it’s tortured continuity and scores of variant worlds to have a CRISIS…. Anyway, the review: EH.

X-MEN AGE OF APOCALYPSE ONE SHOT: I can’t even give this an EH. Geez, they don’t love you, they just want all your money! AWFUL.

X-MEN FANTASTIC FOUR #4: Stinky stinky doo doo. This is not what you want to hand in TP to a civilian fresh outta the FF movie — this is bad bad comics, ugly, formulaiac, irrelevent. CRAP.

PICK OF THE WEEK: best rating of the week goes to …. WALKING DEAD #16. I’m here to cut off your head!

PICK OF THE WEAK: Oh, c’mon, that’s easy — X-MEN FANTASTIC FOUR #4

BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK: a much stronger category than the comics, here’s draft 1:
COMICS JOURNAL 2005 SPECIAL: Lots of strong material in the new strips section.
FRANK MILLER SIN CITY VOL 5 FAMILY VALUES 2ND TP: If you haven’t read them yet, now is the time.
JUNGLE TP: Peter Kuper did a great job on this adaptation.
LITTLE LULU VOL 2 LULU TAKES A TRIP TP: Charming charming stuff.
MINISTRY OF SPACE TP: Flimsy cover, but a great, beautiful story
PROMETHEA BOOK 4 TP: if you’ve read the first three.
TEENAGERS FROM MARS TP: It’s uneven in places, but it’s got fire, man.

I think I’m going to go with MINISTRY OF SPACE for the win.



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