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Yesterday’s Comics Today! Jeff’s Reviews of 9/20 Books.

Jeff Lester

Oh, sure, horrifically late, but I didn’t think I’d be back so soon, to tell you the truth. However, I finished my writing contract (and am now sort of hanging out hoping they’ll throw more my way) and have my Wednesday morning free and clear (I might have tried to write this sooner, in fact, if the IT guys at work hadn’t done something at work so my web browser bombs out whenever I open two windows…) so let’s see what happens when guy with no short-term memory opens up week-old whup-ass on books he barely remembers. Maybe it’ll be entertaining in that “senile old fool chastises couch cushion he thinks is his cat” kind of way…

52 WEEK #20: When Lobo he put on his little hat at the end of the book, I involuntarily thought, “Hey! I want back the five bucks I spent on Devil’s Rejects!” Either Lobo needs a makeover, or my brain needs a bleaching. And anyone else notice the ad count in this issue? It wasn’t as bad as some of those Marvel books a while back, but I did put this book down struck by the cosmic sci-fi sweep of Rush City. On the other hand, Kevin Nowlan, $2.50, etc., etc. Highly OK.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #17: Huh. Having this come out within a month of the previous issue made it seem almost twice as good. Which is my way of saying I liked it, but, apart from that hilarious and amazing background/foreground transition, would be loathe to say exactly why any more or any less than the previous issues. And yet, Very Good.

BIRDS OF PREY #98: Kinda why I wish Simone’d stayed away from the whole Batgirl thing–it’s fucked if it’s Barbara and it’s fucked if it’s somebody else we don’t know–but I do wonder if these past few storylines is setting us up to a change in the focus of the Birds of Prey team. Instead of cracking down on crime, they’re going to be helping/saving/fighting young female metas that have fallen through the blabbity-blab of society’s yakkity-yak. Or maybe they expressly said that four issues ago and I kinda missed it. Anyway, OK, but really only because the new Batgirl was at least amusing with her “dark justice rulez!” dialogue.

BLADE #1: Double-damning with faint praise: the best Blade book I’ve ever read and the best Howard Chaykin art in the last year or so. It’s still underwhelming, mind you (I feel for the writer who comes up with the the big splashy moment, like the one here where Blade is facing off against nine million vampiric SHIELD agents firing guns and sliding down ropes, You Only Live Twice style, and how that writer must feel after an artist does a somehwat perfunctory job of execution (it looks like Chaykin just adapted some pages from that graphic novel adaptation of Bob Fosse’s Chicago he’s been working on all these years)) but, for a first issue, I’ve seen much worse. OK, and we’ll see where it goes.

CATWOMAN #59: Has this book officially changed its name to Film Freak yet? Yeah, I can see how he could be a classic villain in the Batman Rogue’s Gallery style but, dude, isn’t this like the tenth consecutive issue he’s appeared in? Also, I know this probably makes me come off like an uptight prude, but I don’t think Selina is really the type of person who would knowingly sleep with the son of someone she’s slept with (and I think knows is in love with her) just because she and the son feel they have “a connection.” But, hey, maybe this is just to pave the way for the revelation that the father of her baby is Tim Drake and I’m being too judgmental. Eh.

CIVIL WAR #4: You’d think that, for my review, you could just cut to a cage full of chimps going apeshit and you’d have an accurate take of my reaction, right? Weirdly, no. I had a genuine reaction to Peter’s unmasking in Civil War #2 because I felt that (a) it was a huge mistake, and (b) it at least had been well-established by the JMS lead-in stories over in ASM. For better or for worse, they had led the character to a point where the choice there seemed natural. But, despite being a huge old school Marvel fanboy, I had no real reaction to Civil War #4 (apart from “Wow, that’s dumb”) because everyone was just so out of character, I didn’t believe any of it. Also, honestly, although Mark Millar has read enough Marvel comics to find the wiggle room in any characterization he wants to make–“Of course, Professor X was molesting Jean Grey! Don’t you remember that one panel where he’s thinking….”–I genuinely believe the clarion call of Millar’s muse is the sound of the money truck backing up to his house. There’s no real point in debating character or motivation or plausability–you either buy it or you don’t. I didn’t (in the suspension of disbelief sense), and I won’t (in the fiscal sense) from now on.

(Sorry I didn’t get to work in the “This is my face as I’m fucking the Marvel Universe in the ass” joke, but I’m sure someone else has gotten around to it by now.)

Lovely art, though. I guess I’ll go Eh.

CLAW THE UNCONQUERED #4: I am docked a full letter grade in Barbarian Appreciation because I read this and not the other two Conan books this week. I’m sure they’re fine, the other two books, but I have to admit, I kinda dig Claw, and I’m liking this miniseries. This issue was a little heavy on the expository blabbity-blab after the initial werewolf fight, but considering I’m the only person buying it, who cares? OK.

EXILES #86: The threat was utterly limp, but the all-Wolverine conceit was fun. I’m sure it’s better than what Claremont’s first story–Exiles on the Planet of Infinite Ororo Dominatrices or somesuch–would have been, for sure. Highly OK, just because I think the art, although competent, lacks a certain pizzazz.

FLASH THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #4: Back to teh suck. Whoever last issue’s fill-in artist was, get that dude more work, and pronto! Awful.

GHOST RIDER #3: Ghost Rider and Dr. Strange have a sissy slapfight in a cemetery. Soothingly sibilant high concept notwithstanding, it’s dumb and dull and the “Johnny Blaze is a Tool of the Devil, and we do mean Tool!” approach drives me nuts. Not worth your time. Awful.

HELLBLAZER #224: I missed Ms. Mina’s first arc, so have no idea how in media res this issue is, but wow, it’ll media res the shit right outta you if this is your first issue. A decent conceit, a fun take on Constantine, and a refreshingly balls-to-the-wall approach made it a Good read, but I’m not altogether sure the team can pull off the story effectively. We’ll see, I guess.

IRON MAN #12: For extra credit, read this and Civil War #4 back to back and figure out how you’re supposed to believe these books are even by the same publisher, much less featuring the same character. Really weird.

MOON KNIGHT #5: Home Alone, as re-enacted by the Moon Knight Community Players. I was okay with it until, I shit you not, Taskmaster got his ass shot by a butler with a blunderbuss. A staggeringly fucking stupid issue with a lot of really terrible choices made by the writer and a real misunderstanding (to put it mildly) of the Taskmaster. Awful, awful, awful.

NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #8: Probably my favorite issue since the dragon in the purple underwear left. Having a Dormammu analog get his head jammed in a toilet was positively inspired, I gotta say, and those Mindless Ones? Gold. And there was some actual characterization and shit, so I’m going with Very Good.

REVOLUTION ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #6: Came out last week, but I wanted to mention it because I’m a big Ape-head. I thought the story kinda ran around in circles for six issues, had far too many people hollering things at each other, and tended to mistake portent for genuine drama far too much of the time. And yet, I also thought it was a lot better than most of the Apes comics projects I’ve seen over the last decade or so, and that last backup story in particular was exceptionally satisfying. If they release a trade of this and it’s affordably priced, you could do worse than to pick it up. Highly OK.

SUPERMAN #656: I hope Superman fights the Anti-Christ ten issues from now. That’d be great. Good.

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #34: It’s odd. I should totally love this, since Carey not only is having the Ultimate version of the FF meet and fight a pastiche of the Forever People, but also in that Carey’s alteration to his pastiche (instead of loveable hippies, his Forever People are paranoid veterans of an unending war) seems to be addressing the differences between two similar periods of American history (The Forever People were created while America was still at war in Vietnam, after all). And yet, I’m only more-or-less OK with it and I’m not sure why. It could be that Ferry’s art, which I loved on Adam Strange, is so light and colorful and Euro, it just can’t evoke the Kirbyness required for me to really appreciate the conceit. Of course, one of my big problems with UFF is that it swapped out Kirby for Kubert right at the beginning, thus making this book absurdly visually lackluster…. I don’t know. Obviously, I could blather on for hours and get no closer to my discontent. Let’s call it distressingly Eh.

WALKING DEAD #31: I was strangely underwhelmed by this issue as Kirkman makes some hard-to-believe plot choices and some odd pacing decisions (that conversation between Rick and the nurse didn’t feel believable at all–even if Rick’s trying to get someon on his side, I can’t believe he’d take the very slow “so what’s with you and the doctor? Are you guys dating?” since he knows about the threat facing his community). Guess it was Eh? Weird.

WETWORKS #1: What the fuck? I haven’t read any previous iteration of Wetworks, so lemme get if I follow this–it’s a covert operations team that underwent some dramatic transformation around the time it got involved in a battle between vampires and werewolves? That concept is so retarded it’s almost awesome, but Mike Carey goes for a thoughtful, underplayed approach that (I think) takes that original “idea” and tries to change it up–and that would work if somebody somewhere had bothered to recap the original premise so new readers like myself weren’t completely baffled. Kinda Awful, but amusingly so.

PICK OF (LAST) WEEK: ASTONISHING X-MEN #17, but there was a lot I didn’t read.

PICK OF THE WEAK: MOON KNIGHT #5, with just a few bad choices, all but destroyed the tone the entire mini had been working toward. That seems like more of a disappointment than what Mark “Do you like my hat? It’s made of money!” Millar is doing, just because Mr. Millar knows what he’s doing.

TRADE PICK: I don’t know, to be honest. GODLAND VOL. 2 TPB, probably? Where’s another god-damned volume of god-damned SGT. FROG when you god-damned need him?

NEXT WEEK (by which I mean this week): Blue Beetle, Daredevil and She-Hulk will probably make me 80% less cranky this week than I was last week. Plus, I had no idea about this Dracula vs. Capone miniseries–I’ll be reading it just to see if the King of the Vampires is defeated by Capone’s untreated syphilis! Nuff said, true believer!

And youse?

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