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Reviews of some 10/12 books

Brian Hibbs

Once again, in no particular order. Really fighting the deadline this week — lost a bunch of time this weekend, and had a longer-running than it should have doctor’s appointment this morning (waiting room, nothing to do with me)

We’re going to have some really terrific news for you in 2-3 weeks, as a Mysterious Personage has agreed to join the Savage Critic team, and I think you’re going to be damn happy with the snark and resources they’ll bring. I know I am anxious to see how it works out…. but soon on that, not today.

So, as fast as I can….

HOUSE OF M #7: Judged purely on the 22 pages between the covers here, I pretty much thought this was a success. With a few exceptions of storytelling in the battle sequences (who did what to who now?), this moved along like a rocket, happily setting up the next bit of the story. I do think Bendis has problems with things spiraling out of his hands (a of that talk about “kids gloves coming off”, but it didn’t seem all that different than a “normal” fight to this reader), and, had this been issue #3 of the comics, I think we’d all be cheering for how good it was.

On the other hand, this was issue #7.

Still, I’m down with trying to “stuff the genie back into the bottle” — the X-Franchise *has* spiraled completely out of control in the last decade, and anything that can make it more compact and accessible is a good thing. On the other hand, launching 2 new monthlies and 5-6 mini-series out of the aftermath of this does seem a bit counter intuitive, doesn’t it? I like Phil Boyle’s joke that there will be 198 mutants left, and each one is going to get their own title….

Still, I’m pretty curious about how the mechanics of this are going to work out — Wanda evidently had the power to CHANGE HISTORY (still not sure about how *that* worked, really), so one might logically assume that any “No More Mutants!” wish would have gone into effect retroactively, but I can’t really see how that could work with current continuity.

(From the “retail intelligence” POV, we sold 107 copies of INFINITE CRISIS #1 as of 11 am this morning, but only 69 copies of HoM #7. Also, our generic X-MEN sales are at their lowest point in the 16 years I’ve had my own shop — we’re down to below 40 copies of some issues of the main 2 titles in the last quarter, which is frighteningly sad. Hell, when Morrison was doing the book, we were selling in the 120 copy range. ANd that’s not even a historical peak or anything.)

Anyway, I liked these 22 pages enough to call it a middling GOOD, though the entire min-series is stil probably lingering in the EH range.

JLA #120: This is the way to celebrate a tenth anniversary, isn’t it? With a wholly putrid piece of shit masquerading as a Justice League comic book. It’s hard to imagine a more bungled or boring issue, with a lot of standing around and blabbing and moaning about why they should put the JL back together. Um. You’re all standing right there, guys, why are you even saying it broke up in the first place? If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s some sort of hoopty-ass touchy-feely ceremony bullshit where they’re dropping sand in the wind or some shit. Who the fuck wants to see super heroes act like a bunch of middle aged attendees of a New Age festival? But the cake has to be taken by the fifth- or sixth-stringer Raven Manitou Dawn (or whatever the fuck her name is) having some sort of bullshit vision of J’onn. I mean, first off, what’s she even doing here, second off why would j’onn contact HER of all people, and third, I’m surprisingly unconcerned about the where abouts of the invulnerable, shape-changing, able-to-go-intangible Martian Manhunter. Clearly, there’s not a chance he actually blew up on the moon. This is what comics-by-committee yield, and I guess shouldn’t be much surprise that this piece of tripe was foisted upon us by Bob Harras, the lead man for the absolute nadir of X-MEN continuity of the 90s. Here’s my best example of the editorial ineptness of this whole package: someone breaks out of jai, all shadowy darkness and foreshadowing… but we’re never told WHO it is within the actual pages of the comic. Instead, we have to learn from the next issue box that (be afraid!) The Key has escaped. Even Morrison wasn’t able to make him an actual threat of anything against anyone. This comic was so bad that it gets my below-CRAP rating: this was ASS. It’s not just crap, it’s where crap COMES from.

HAWKMAN #45: As long as I’m being pissed off by bad comics, I want to thoroughly object to the ridiculous bait and switch involved here with “Oh, sure, Dr. Fate teleported me away, and created an illusion” bullshit. That’s not playing fair with the AUDIENCE, guys. AWFUL.

100 BULLETS #65: I’ve lost the main thread of the plot (at least a year back, maybe more) though confusing character shifts and byzantine plot mechanisms, but I still look at this every issue because of Risso’s fucking fabulous artwork. Which is good, because I really thought this issue was terrific and made me have a great deal more faith in Azzarello’s writing ability. Top notch material, and really gripping: VERY GOOD.

VILLIANS UNITED #6: I have to say that I can’t, for the life of me, figure out the two Luthors thing, or what any of that is supposed to be (At least back in the day there used to be some physical differation between multiple-earth variants of a character — even if it was “Yellow Circle”/ “No Yellow Circle”), but despite that this twist seem ed like less of a twist than a gyre, I thought this was the only one of the Countdown mini-series that provided a strong and compelling story in and of itself. I liked it: a solid GOOD.

METADOCS THE SUPER ER: I review wayy too many DC and Marvel books, I think — so I’m going to try to be conscious of that over the next few weeks and offer up a bit more of a mixture if I can (though slight this week because I’m almost out of time for the day). This is a very nicely done stand alone comic about a Super Emergency Room — it got bogged down, I think, in some of the medical terminology and such, but the characters were reasonably compelling and the art serviced the story well. A very strong OK, and if you’re looking for something super, but different, this might be the thing for you.

7 DAYS TO FAME #1: this really could have been exploitive and crappy (the premise is a reality show that shows suicides), but I thought this eluded many of the pitfalls better than I thought it would, and found a nicely human core to do the idea. Not great, but a solid OK.

Annnnnd… I’m out of time. 10 minutes until teh delivery truck shows up with the NEXT batch of comics, sheesh. Sorry I didn’t cover more….

So, PICK OF THE WEEK: Take your pick from 100 BULLETS #65 or FABLES #42 (Which I didn’t specifically review) — both were very solid, and crisp and pretty.

PICK OF THE WEAK: Oh come on, no contest: JLA #120.

BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK: 3-way tie on ASTRO CITY: LOCAL HEROES TP, DOOM PATROL v3 TP, or GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH HC. All super-stuff, but all very different approaches to the genre, and all well worth your coin.

More in 7 more, and another step closer to our Big Announcement (which will become anti-climatic once it comes, probably, because I’ve built it up too much. Well, I think it’s cool, at least.

As always, what did YOU think?


PS To the Comics Shrew: Jesus, get out of my head, girl! I made a point of not reading any IC #1 reviews until I typed mine up, and hers are almost word-for-word mine. Scary! The Comics Shrew is MY personal favorite reviewer that isn’t on this site, so that’s either very very good, or very very bad, your call…

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