Archive for July, 2007

30
Jul
07

Action Comics #852

Written by Kurt Busiek

Art by Brad Walker and John Livesay

DC Comics $2.99

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After a return to form in the 3-D version of issue #851, which ended on a cliffhanger, instructing me to read a comic book which I cannot find anywhere, 852 arrives as what can only be described as a festive collection of bullshit. That horrible Jimmy Olsen storyline from Countdown(the worst comic book I’m currently reading), where he gets powers. This issue is all about him developing a corny alter-ego and romping around town screwing with minor criminals. In the meantime, The Kryptonite Man freaks out at a hearing and somehow magically escapes his restraints, but Kent is there and kicks the shit out of him before he can do anything. Then Jimmy Olsen has a flashback to one of his first encounters with Superman.

It’s just one comic book cliche after the other. The pure shittiness of the issue is verified by the multiple, “a countdown tie-in!” logos all over the book. It starts and ends by urging the reader to read countdown, it’s a walking advertisement for the worst comic book DC is currently publishing.

30
Jul
07

The Astounding Wolf-Man #2

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Jason Howard

Image Comics $2.99

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Robert Kirkman uses the flash-forward, a very useful and sometimes well done literary device, to spare us the introduction and oddities of werewolf training. So the events from the introduction of the strange old man at the end of issue one jumps about two weeks into the future, where the man’s name is revealed to be Zecheriah, an old vampire who wishes to teach Gary how to harness his werewolf powers for the betterment of mankind. They practice jumping from rooftop to rooftop, controlling the rage and desire while transforming and manage to save some babies from a dramatic fire scene. I was glad to see the jump in time, because it allows the story to progress a bit, but we don’t really miss a whole lot from Gary’s story.

In this issue, he gets a uniform, which is designed by a famous superhero tailor, then he gets into his first major crime-fighting event as the Wolf-Man, which ends successfully and he ends up making friends with a super-team, the Actioneers.

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I found this to be really interesting, because I hadn’t really thought that the universe this was taking place in was subject to superheroes, other monsters and the like. Because there are other superheroes, Gary might be in competition, or in the position to make other super-powered friends or enemies.

The issue ends with Gary losing control of his frenzy, transforming while having sex with his wife and rampaging out on the streets. When an Actioneer catches up with him, he’s attacked by Gary in his feral form. I sense the addition of multiple Wolf-Men, which could get really interesting.

Overall, I’m really interested in this as a new comic book, it has a lot of potential, some really fun art, great dialog and wonderful storytelling. I think I’ll be adding this to my list of must-reads.

30
Jul
07

Justice League of America #10

Written by Brad Meltzler

Art by Ed Benes and Sanda Hope

DC Comics $2.99

The Lightning Saga Conclusion

I sort of hated this entire five part collaboration between JSA and JLA. I still haven’t made up my mind about JLA, because I pretty much came in just as The Lightning Saga had started, so I’ve yet to see it outside of a constrictive crossover. This has mostly felt crass and pointless, like it’s a convoluded set up for something that will happen in the middle of next year, some shocker or plot bomb that will drop out of nowhere.

In the end, The Flash comes back, the Barry Allen Flash from Crisis on Infinite Earths has a deja vu experience and the Wally West Flash, along with his family, come out of the lightning bolt that the Legion used, and everyone but Starman goes back to the future, Superman feels betrayed and confused and no answers are really given as to why the Legion traveled back in time to betray one of their friends. At the end, someone appears to be trapped inside the lightning rod that was used on Karate Kid, which is in the Legion’s possession in the 31st century.

Fuck this issue, next month it’s back to business.

28
Jul
07

30 Days of Night Eben and Stella #3 of 4

Written by Steve Niles and Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art by Justin Randall

IDW Publishing $3.99

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Xen’s quest to find the missing vampire baby that will help him rise to the upper eschelons of the vampire society continues with conning Eben to help find Stella, who has the baby.  It works, vampires get shot, the baby doesn’t show up anywhere in the issue and things generally seem to be working out in Xen’s favor.

The issue is a lot of action with lots of guns blasting, pissed off vampires and some good narration that you’d expect from Steve Niles.  I liked the running theme of the issue being fear and how one just has to face it, swallow it and move beyond it, or get crushed by it.

28
Jul
07

X-Factor #21

Written by Peter David

Art by Pablo Raimondi and Brian Reber

Marvel Comics $2.99

“The Isolationist”

 

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With the introduction of a new villain, a mysterious obsessive-compulsive man who appears to have followed Monet and Theresa back from France, Peter David really goes out of his way to show what the maximum capacity a 22 page comic book can accomplish.

In only three pages, using 16 panels, he shows how getting caught up with Pietro’s plan to rule over people has destroyed Rictor. By regaining his powers and then losing them so quickly, Ric is devastated. Dwelling in his bedroom with the lights out, refusing to eat or leave the room, despite Rahne trying to help him get his mind off of the recent past. The monologue that runs throughout the book is a commentary on loneliness, how it can drive some people crazy, how it’s unnatural, but beneficial for short periods of time, but how in the end it’s not really in our nature to be alone. We are social creatures, the monologue insists, “the greatest instinct we have is to survive. The more people there are, the better the chances of survival. It’s easy to pick off individuals…but there’s strength in numbers…even if that number is only two.” After sitting with him and trying to cheer him up, get him to eat, anything that resembles real human activity, Rahne walks away after being kissed by Rictor. Then she stops at the door, taking off her shirt and running to the bed, kissing him back.

David does an excellent job at balancing what I would call real humor, that is, not these forced jokes, but honest humor into the dialog between the characters. This is usually done in part by Guido, who is just a generally funny, good-natured person. As Monet and Theresa tell Jamie that they’ll forgive them for two-timing them if he tells them which was better in bed, Guido whispers to Jamie, “DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!” By adding humor and an almost soap opera tension among very serious situations, it tends to balance everything out, which stops this book from ever feeling like a superhero book or a detective book, though it’s both, but much, much more.

With everyone else seemingly out of the house or working on a case, Layla and the little girl Monet and Theresa rescued from an angry mob in France are eating breakfast, when the girl shows Layla a pregnancy test that someone flushed down the toilet.  It came back and it had a plus sign on it.  This is a perfect example of Peter David’s ability to soap opera it up, because it could be any of the three women, but I’m sure a big chunk of anticipation and real time will go by before we get some answers.  In the meantime, Guido meets up with Val Cooper from the government agency O*N*E*, where he believes he is to be offered a bribe to spy on the team. He is shocked to learn that Cooper is actually asking him to be in charge of the police force in the mutant disctric where X-Factor’s offices are. While he’s being suspicious of Cooper, Jamie is drinking early in the day, where is greeted by the man who followed the girls from France. He introduces himself to Jamie as Josef Huber, saying to Jamie, “I’m an isolationist, being alone, it’s a terrible way to live…don’t you think?”

The agency’s services are required to track down a pair of children who are famous for singing racist, propagandistic songs about the end of homo superior and the girls gladly take the case. These stories work best when David breaks up the cast of characters on multiple assignments and they generally all head towards a unified collision course so that, once they are reunited, the full cast shines at the climax of the story arc. It looks like this book has hit it’s stride and hasn’t really been affected by having the same writer for nearly two years. In fact, it’s considerably stronger for having a consistent writer who just happens to be one of the most talented writers in comic books today. If Peter David left X-Factor, I’d seriously consider about canceling from my pull list.

28
Jul
07

Wasteland #10

Written by Antony Johnston

Art by Christopher Mitten

Oni Press $3.50

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In less than six issues, this comic book became one of my most nessecary reads and in the four that have followed, it has become one of my top five favorite comic books of all time.  Anyone who loves fantasy or apocalyptic  survival stories would love this, but there’s so much more to it that those sub-genres.  Wasteland has it’s own mythology, history and mood, features that are unmatched by the makeup of any other comic book I’ve ever read.  Reading Wasteland reminds me of reading the Narnia books as a nine year old.

Golden Voice, who, throughout the series has acted as a sort of spiritual shaman and connection  to the forgotten past, is being interrogated by both side, but doesn’t give in.  His indemnifying spirit acts as a spit in the face of the treacherous and immoral ways of the Founders, which is so gratifying to see as a series-long reader.  Meanwhile, Abi and Michael are still trying not to be killed.  Marcus’ guards arrest them and they seem to be unable to outrun them.  Betrayed and cornered, they are taken in, probably to be tortured and killed.

While all of this happens, Marcus and Golden Voice have a stand off, and Marcus seems to start remembering the past that he has forced himself to forget, which proves to be traumatizing.  Because he’s been such a positively destructive force throughout their lives, nobody seems to be that bothered by his suffering.

It feels like this might be a point in the series where they start looking for answers from the past and demand action in the present.  The action and mythology of Wasteland is starting to feel a lot like that of Lost, shrouded in mystery and deep, defined characters who seem to live in secrecy, but one can only hold on to their secrets when confronted about the truth for so long.

28
Jul
07

The Astounding Wolf-Man #1 Director’s Cut

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Jason Howard

Image Comics $3.99

If, like myself, you missed out on Free Comic Book Day, Image understands and is willing to give you a second chance, for about four dollars, which is worth it. I didn’t get out to the stores, because I was working, so I can’t really testify as to what is bonus materials and what isn’t, but it seems that you get the entire story and some extras as far as the creators creative process is concerned.

It’s not all action, despite this great cover, which makes me think of the old Batman cartoon from the nineties.

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But the issue is nothing but fun, from cover to cover.  It opens up, as one would excpect a werewolf comic to begin, with it’s lead character being bitten by a mysterious “bear” while on a family camping trip.  He is rushed to the hospital, spends some time in a coma.  When he wakes up, Gary Hampton, a rich business tycoon, discovers he’s actually a werewolf, not a bear bite victim.  It’s fun, wonderfully told and perfectly drawn by Jason Howard.  Of course, Kirkman does a fantastic job mixing reality and fantasy, creating a story with a bit  of action, adventure and good narratives and dialogs that are easy for anyone to follow. On the final page of the issue, a mysterious man shows up, announcing to his family that Gary is indeed a werewolf, and offers to mentor him.

By the final panel, I decided I wanted to keep reading this book, so I made a habit to grab issue 2, which is waiting to read in my pile and I’m excited to see what Gary is going to do with his life now.  It carries the same kind of anticipation that Robert Kirkman’s other titles have, leading the reader to think about what’s happening to the characters while you wait for the next issue, creating an interest in the characters.  This kind of reader-character relationship makes the characters more realistic and adds so much to the comic book.

As far as extras, you get Kirkman’s ideas for what the comic should be, the creative process of making the story and look of the werewolf, lots of sketches and designs and commentary by the creators as far as how they think the issue was and what they want to do with it in the future.  I’d say it’s worth the extra dollar, since you aren’t goin to get the free issue for free anymore and you definitely want to get the origin story while this book is young, I believe issue three should come out in a few weeks.

I’d jump on board, if I were you.