Friday, June 25, 2004

A Massive Review Post. 

(Until I can get some actual content going. This'll span a couple-few weeks' worth of comics.)

Astonishing X-Men #2 - I feel really weird because I actually like this title quite a lot. Whedon's stuff on TV always did zip for me, but I find the dialogue good without being too much in comic book form, and I think I've figured out why: Whedon's dialogue, like theatre dialogue, reads a hell of a lot better than it sounds. It's a good-looking book, and while the story seems to be hovering around the inconsequential, it's still pretty damned entertaining.

Rating: I can't believe I actually have an X-title on my pull list now.

Runaways #16 - Hmm. Now that the big plot twist has been revealed, it feels entirely like a gimmick, a mechanical plot element that's in there because it's a good twist and not because it makes any kind of sense inside the story's logic. It's like how you can tell a really bad mystery from the good ones: if, in the end, the revelation of who the murderer is doesn't affect the previous story at all, and indeed it could have been any of them with the same impact, you've got a shitty mystery on your hands. Runaways has so far not been shitty, but I can't help but feel a little cheated. Maybe next issue will clarify.

Rating: Well.. I guess they can't all be home runs.

Wanted #4 - Mark Millar outfoxing his critics yet again. For the first three issues, Millar's kneejerk bashers have apparently thought the writer was eagerly endorsing the writing, citing the adventures of Wanted's main character as an immature dive into violence and sex and gore all for their own sake. I've said all along that what we are seeing is the character's immaturity writ large, and now it's all starting to come crashing down around him. Fuck the haters: this is a smart, fun, funny book. And it looks gorgeous.

Rating: Why can't we all just... shut the hell up and allow ourselves to enjoy something?

Dead@17: Blood of Saints #3 - As the covers get more and more like some kind of fetish catalogue... It all moves along pretty well, and I don't regret buying any of this stuff, but two things: the irregular dialogue balloons have GOT, TO, GO, and I don't know that in this series a whole hell of a lot has actually happened. Howard's art is superior to his writing, this is no lie, but he at least has an understanding of pacing lacking in, oh, say, Ultimate Spider-Man.

Rating: Mo' shit needs to happen!

The Ride #1 - I have high hopes for this title. The first two "chapters" presented in this particular issue were visually exciting and overall intriguing, if a little, shall we say, vague in the story department (where did the psycho schoolgirl bitch come from again?). Maybe my questions will be answered next issue; then again, maybe not. Do your duty and buy this title.

Rating: If this keeps up, I feel another title to get passionate about coming on.

Remains #2 - This'd be less painful for me if it didn't cost me Four Fucking Dollars an issue, but it's got zombies in it, and it's got Kieron Dwyer drawing them. I'll just be blunt here: This story, and Niles' work on it, are not worthy of Mr. Dwyer's art. Niles seems to be taking for granted that we'll automatically buy into (and care about) a Zombie Apocalypse setting, and gives us characters that struggle and strain to support one dimension, let alone two or three. This is a fallacy, and boy, are we suffering for it. And hey, look! A roving biker gang! That sure sounds like something straight out of Dawn of the Dead, right? Oh wait.. isn't Niles doing a shot-by-shot comic-ized version of that, too? Right.

Rating: Grumble.

Seaguy #2 - Mikester said it first and best, and no one's ever summarized Seaguy better: "This is probably as close as a long-time comic reader like me (or most of you, for that matter) will come to sharing the experience of someone who has never before read a comic book perusing an issue of, say JSA." Yeah, that's pretty much it. I'll be the first to say there's probably not a whole hell of a lot going on here, just the usual painfully simplistic tale of little-heroes-versus-big-evil-overlords (a la Invisibles) painted up in near-indecipherable language. It's enjoyable, but having to struggle to get through a straightforward story can get irksome. There, I said it; now all the snobs can call me unsophisticated, and I can tell them to lick my ass.

Ratings: I got in this far, didn't I? And I'm enjoying it, more or less. Might as well see it through to the end.

The Losers #13 - Oh holy mother of god, where did Jock go! Yes, the story was great, there were no less than three laugh-out-loud moments, it's intriguing and sophisticated without being obtuse, but where the fuck is Jock! Did I miss something? Was there an interview about this? Is this permanent? AHHHHH!!!

Rating: And who says I'm resistant to change?

303 Preview - Yeah. Burrows' art does absolutely zero for me, it always looks like... I don't know, cel shots from an animated show, but I think this could be good. Not first-tier Ennis work, but up there.

Rating: I'm in. You are too. No arguing!

Fraction #3 - Less happens here than has happened before, but this is still a solid, solid, solid read. What's interesting is the tone of narration: casual and conversational, a bit dry and sarcastic, and not done by any of the characters in the book (at least, so far as I can tell.) Where that puts us is a strange limbo between objective third-person narration captions and wholly subjective narrative thought captions, and it's kind of appealing. Adds a bit of spike to the story. Focus titles are in trouble, as you well know, so you really need to get your ass out there and give this one a try. (Hard Time is the other one that's quite superior, though I confess I have not yet read Touch.)

Rating: I will be a sad panda if/when this gets cut.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #7 - This series has been as dull as plain white toast up until now, and this issue here (Ellis's first on the title) is more a setup of things to come than a sequence of real events. Me? I'm excited. Sure, I'm an Ellis fan, and I'm glad that someone at least vaguely interested in science is now handling Marvel's science-based team, but everyone has a real reason to be pumped: Ellis has his hands on Dr. Fucking Doom again, and I doubt he has the clamps on him he did way back in the 2099 days. This book could get real nasty real fast.

Rating: Hooray!

Batman: Gotham Knights #54 - Best Bat-title going, and one that dares to treat the Joker as some kind of actual flesh-and-blood person and not just an insane force of nature. Apparently that irks a lot of people, but, well, you can imagine where I tell them to stick it, and how hard. (Hint: ass, very.) I like it. I like it a lot. I've had enough of Wayne struggling to be a loner from the family he's created and raised (we GET IT already!!), but luckily Robin steps in and snaps ol' Bats out of it pretty quickly. We hope. What's a crime is I'm sure this didn't sell half the issues that that Hush bullshit did, and comparing Hush to this storyline is like comparing a lightning bug to a lightning bolt.

(Bet you can't name that paraphrased quote, can you?)

Rating: The Bat title to buy, if there's to be only one. (I don't really consider Gotham Central to be a "Bat title," FYI.)

Street Angel #2 - This probably would have been a lot funnier if I hadn't read Scurvy Dogs already. Don't get me wrong, I was as enamored with the first issue as anyone else in the blogo-hive, but this issue was just... flat. Kinda tired. Ninjas were funny when The Tick was coming out like OVER A DECADE AGO, but you gotta reach a little harder. Sophomore slump, maybe; all that praise put too much performance anxiety on the creators and this comes out. Maybe anything after the debut issue would feel... less than.

Rating: Well, you know. Still better than most of the shit that comes out on a weekly basis.

The Nail #1 - Surprisingly interesting, though this is issue is all setup. That's fine. The Zombie-isms are definitely present, but stick more to the margins, held there by (I presume) Niles. I'll also say Zombie is about the only guy effectively using thought balloons alongside dialogue balloons to great effect.

Rating: Not bad, not bad.

The Authority: More Kev #2 - Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha... ahem, excuse me, I just... hahahahahahahahahahaha... okay, seriously, okay... hahaha.. ahem. Yes. Right. This is Ennis being bizarre, and if that's your sort of thing, it is impossible to go wrong here. May I also say that this man writes guys-talking-with-guys dialogue better than anyone else around? Kev Hawkins' SAS squad actually sounds like a group of macho guys in fucked-up situations? "This is the thing with the tiger." Oh, lordy.

Rating: Haaaaaahahahahahahahahaha.

She-Hulk #4 - Writer Dan Slott needs to seminars with mandatory attendance by the comic book fields' highest-paid writers. First topic: "How to tell an interesting, complete story in 24 pages while staying consistent with the larger meta-plot." Second topic: "How to make someone laugh from the very first panel." Third topic: "How to make Spider-Man funny again." Seriously, when was the last time Peter Parker was this funny? Bendis just makes him sorta irreverent, Millar's Parker has sort of a weary adultness about him, but this... oh, Peter, where have you been all these years? Anyway. The story is fun, funny, sweet, and just a good time. I'd pay twice the price.

Rating: More and more, a top title to look forward to. Why the fuck aren't you buying this?

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