I Am John's Stomach Pains.

On The Precipice of Mediocrity, Teetering

Friday, April 08, 2005

From the Longbox  

It's been a long time since I've commented on any comics, so I thought I'd take a gander at the stack sitting on my desk from the past month. More an over-arcing feeling on the books in general than specific issues... here we go.

303 - Garth Ennis's war book has shifted gears in the latest arc, to a domestic 'war', away from the Afghanistan story... and I'm a bit disappointed Sure, the story's interesting, but not really worth the cost. Only really redeeming factor is Jacen Burrows's pencils and Greg Waller's stunning coloring. Not a must read, but if you like The Punisher, may be up your alley.

Astonishing X-Men - Joss Whedon's first arc was amazing, a return to excellence in X-Men storytelling... which makes my disappointment in the Danger Room-as-Villain arc that much more affecting. I know Joss is better than this... especially since this same story occurred a few year's ago with Cerebro, and it sucked then. Thankfully, John Cassaday's taking up the slack by drawing some of the most beautiful frames on the shelves today. Whether or not this is simply because of Laura Martin's coloring, I'm not sure, but man is it a sight to behold. Still the best X-men book out there, but honestly, that doesn't say much.

The New Avengers - Being the Bendis whore I am, I'm absolutely loving this book. The roster is better than I ever expected... and the inclusion of Spider-Man, my biggest fear, is providing hilarious results. And Finch's art... the characters have never looked this good. I'm anxiously awaiting the upcoming Sentry storyline, and am on my knees hoping Moon Knight will make an appearance at some point.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty - This should be coming out in trade paperback soon, and if your a fan of westerns, it's a good revenge story mixed together with the classic fairy tale. The art may appear a bit rough, but I think this company, Beckett, should be commended for trying a new approach to the stories out there today. Also, check out Fade From Grace for an interesting hero story with a marriage background. I particularly like the coloring in that.

Black Panther - If it wasn't for Romita Jr.'s classic art, I'd drop this book, but Johnny boy's work is just so nice to look at. The story is a bit slow, and the villains are fairly blah, so it's nothing too great. Also, the not-subtle-at-all BushCo clones are simply annoying. Not really recommended... probably just wait for the trade.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis - I was a huge fan of [the first six issues of] Identity Crisis, and being the Marvel whore I am, I'm loving what's going on at DC these days. This huge $1 comic is really just a setup for DC's four summer miniseries, and while not all of them look that interesting, I'm definitely intrigued. If I had a complaint, it's that I think the Crisis team is seriously shitting on Giffen and DeMatteis's Justice League run... and then eating that shit, and shitting it right out again. Still, since I'm not the die-hard fan of those books... I can take it if it gives a really good story. Definitely pick it up... 80 pages for a buck!

Daredevil - I'm a bit worried... I just feel Bendis is spinning his wheels. It's taken a while, but I'm finally getting tired his take on the world of Hell's Kitchen. Even Maleev's art is beginning to underwhelm me, especially his new style. Still, I'm hoping this will pass... I've been a such a fan of this run, I can't imagine abandoning it before it finishes. On the other hand, the Redemption miniseries by David Hine and Gaydos is excellent, and interesting mix of fiction and real life, and Matt Murdock investigates the true story of the Redemption Valley murders.

Ex Machina - Still one of the best books on the shelves, a pitch-perfect mix of superhero excitement and political intrigue. I'm sure my similar ideological leanings compared to Vaughn have some part in it, but damn if his writing isn't my favorite thing to read these days. His characters, dialogue, and cliffhangers are some of the most enjoyable 15 minutes of my month.

Fables - Another near-perfect book, I can't say enough. Years from now, this is going to be mentioned in the same breath as Sandman and Miracle Man... and with any luck, it'll still be going strong.

GLA: Great Lakes Avengers - Two words: Squirrel Girl. For those not in the know, Squirrel Girl is one of my favorite Z-List characters of all time, half squirrel, half human... the chick took on Dr. Doom and lived to tell the tale. Trust me, I own the issue! Anyway, this miniseries just started, but for a medium that's lacking in comedy comics, this fills a much needed void, with a dash of darkness that's needed nowadays. For any fans of Dan Slott's She-Hulk run, this is a must read. Any book that has a character Monkey Joe tell the reading audience, "Killing yourself is stupid. When you die, that's it. No more nuts for you. Be happy, eat more nuts.", you know you're in for a treat.

Green Lantern: Rebirth - A fun return to basics miniseries, with excellent art, another miniseries that will make a good trade read... I'm sure with all the variant covers this one will have an impressive collection. The latest issue was one long fight scene, but for your money, it couldn't look better drawn by Van Sciver. Can't wait for the Bruce Wayne vs. Hal Jordan matchup in the finale.

Lex Luthor - I'd wait for the trade for this, because while I'm loving the idea of Lex-as-hero, and the art from Bermejo is simply breathtaking, this is a slow book. For fans of Smallville, this Lex Luthor book is a nice balance to how that character could evolve to.

Livewires - Marvel isn't known for it's new characters, so I was pleasantly surprised by this new book with it's wide cast of robot characters. Each has a fresh voice and look, and the premise, secret agent teen robots hunting down other secret projects, holds serious promise. For anyone looking for a fun comic book team, especially one from the new House of Ideas, you can't go wrong here... definite potential.

Ocean - Warren Ellis can write sci-fi... sadly, I'm not the sci-fi addict others are, so while I'm enjoying this book, the technojargon spewed throughout (also seen in another book by him I'll discuss further down) it simply boring. I get enough on zero-point energy watching Stargate, and that's enough. Still the idea of humanity's warlike 'ancestors' waking up after millions of years is intriguing... the only problem is, they are only now waking up, and there's an issue to go. An okay read, if you like space adventure.

The Pulse / Secret War - How sad is it that I'm actually liking the sidestory of Jessica Jones in The Pulse (aka Alias sans Buttsex)? I hated the first part, but the I'm beginning to dig Bendis' take on Hydra. On the other end is the actual Secret War series, which even with it's pretty art, has lost me completely, setting up mystery that has a conclusion I don't even care about. The idea of Nick Fury undertaking an unsanctioned war against a terrorist country sounded intriguing, but since I don't care about any of the villains, or their motives (if they even have one). When the pinups at the end are some of the highlights of the book, there's a problem. This book deserved a graphic novel treatment, and the constant delays have seriously harmed it.

Runaways - Probably my favorite all around book to read, the characters are great, the driving mystery (previously, who the traitor was; now, who's Victorious' dad) will always bring me back month after month, and the dialogue always crack me up more than once a month. For a book that's primarily become a team of women, it's easily the best team book out there... not to mention the best superhero book on the shelves. Marvel's best creation in decades.

Amazing Spider-man - A big meh to JMS's actions of late on this book. The Norman Osborn/Gwen Stacy kids were a horrendous blunder, but I forgave it, since I didn't have that much of a connection to Gwen anyway. The latest arc, basically a rehash of the Molten Man, is easily forgotten. I'm amazed to say this, but I miss the magical-themed stories. No longer must read material, I smell JMS's run coming to an end soon.

Spider-Man, Marvel Knights - Yet another Spider-man/Green Goblin fight, yet another bridge, yet another "I'm-going-to-quit" whine from Peter. IMO, Jenkis wrote the definitive modern-day Goblin story over in Spectacular a few years ago, and the art from Ramos was better than the Dodson's cheesecake. This didn't live up to the promise the initial issues hinted at, and seeing as the only "continuity" event that really occurred was Scorpion became Venom, it makes the build-up that much more ineffective. I'm beginning to think Bendis is the only writer at Marvel today that really get the character.

Strange - That JMS is sure wordy. I'm not sure whether I like his take on Dr. Strange, but seeing at there's been a drought of actual Strange stories since the collapse of the Midnight Sons line from the 90s, I'll take anything. I'm a bit annoyed at the Neo-ization of Stephen, where it appears he's gonna get all the power in such a short period of time, and since his character is such a dick, it doens't make me any more sympathetic to him. Still, Peterson has a nice Jim Lee influenced style that works well for the book. Not a must read, except for those die-hard Dr. Strange fans... and even then, you may be pissed.

Superman - Unlike the Spider-Man, MK, this book started incredibly weak, and has ended really strong. Why? Because the writing is starting to make sense. I'm all for writing a mystery with questionable dialogue, but I personally think they took too long to get to this point. I wouldn't recommend the eventual trade, mostly because the first half of the 12 parter sucks donkey balls, but the final issues have almost redeemed them... almost.

Superman / Batman - Being the huge Elseworlds fan I am, this story where Supes and Bats take over the world, and then have to travel time to fix it just fell flat with me. Maybe it's 'cause I'm not a Legion reader, but the villains' motivation did nothing for me, and the paradoxes created made my head hurt. And the internal monologue's by the main characters has finally gotten to be too annoying.

Supreme Power / Doctor Spectrum - If there was any sense of intelligence at Marvel, JMS would only write Supreme Power, because it's easily his best thing on the shelves, and constant other work is hindering the publishing schedule. But if worse comes to worse, they have a great backup in Sam Barnes, because the Doc Spectrum miniseries was better than it had any right to be.

The Ultimates 2 - I was never a fan of the first volume, but the stories being told in the "second season" are completely engrossing, and providing a much plot than the cannibal Hulk and constant celebrity sightings from the first one. The Thor story is finally being attacked after being promised from issue one, and I'm anxious to see which way it goes. I'm siding with the side of angels (valkaries?) and saying Thor is who he says he is... but if I'm wrong, oh well, it's a helluva idea.

Ultimate Fantastic Four - This is the book Ellis' sci-fi jargon belongs in, mostly because comin from Reeds mouth, it actually appears seamless, especially with Ben and Johnny's counterpoint "uhh... what?" commentary. I was never a huge FF fan, but the Ultimate versions, out on their first adventures, bring a fresh breath into the, in my opinion, stale property.

Ultimate Secret - Another Ellis book, another speech involving zero point energy. Anyway, the best thing about this book so far is McNiven's art, easily one of my favorite's out there today. His design for the new Captain Marvel is impressive, a modern update with some nice meshing of biology and technology. My biggest worry is this book is gonna be as slow as Ultimate Nightmare was, which could have told it's 5 part story in 2 issues... still, I gotta pick up each issue since it's all leading up to Ultimate Galactus.

Ultimate Spider-Man - Oh man is this book still a must read. The current arc, the rise of the Hobgoblin, is one I wasn't expecting until Spider-Man 3 came out sometime in 2007. If you're not reading, you're missing out, if you are, you already know how good it is. The team of Bendis and Bagley have been going strong for 75 straight issues, and they don't look they're stopping anytime soon.

Ultimate X-Men - Probably Vaughn's weakest book on the shelves at the moment, but I think that may be because the art in the last couple issues from Immonen has been a tad lackluster compared to previous work by Finch and Kubert. Still, I give him some credit by making a Longshot / Mojo story that actually surprised me with it's ending.

Ultra - This book came to an end this past month, and I can't stress enough that once it hits trade status, it is a must-pickup. The story of female superheroes, mixed in with a tabloid obsessed world was an incredibly smart mixture, part Sex and The City, part Birds of Prey (the good moments).

Wolverine - Good ol' action-oriented fun. Great art. Overall, just a fun book to read. It's nothing groundbreaking, and it doesn't aspire to be, Millar and Romita Jr. are just producing one helluva awesome ride.

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong - If I could describe this book, I'd used the same wording I used for Doc Spectrum: This book is far better than it has any right to be. If you told me that a story of Jean Grey coming back to life once again would be my faovirte X-Men miniseries in years, I'd laugh in your fac,e but the truth is, the writing in this book, combined with the stunning art is nearly perfect. If you shunned this book (like I originally thought to do), keep an eye out for the trade this summer, it's a must read... of of the best X-stories in a long time (note: not by Joss)

Age of Apocalypse - Whatever. Fucking Marvel. Sure, take my 18 bucks. But you better feel some ounce of guilt because of it.

Young Avengers - For once, Marvel's pre-publish screeching lived up to the hype: this book is surprisingly good! I don't know what's going on over there, but their various Marvel Next books (the ones I've read at least) are all really fun reads, with a great batch of new characters from up-and-coming artists. The team interaction is almost as good as that found in Runaways, and the time-travel provides an interesting McGuffin to the series. I particularly like the impact that Disassemballed had on the characters in this book.

Y: The Last Man - Yet another Vaughn book, yet another consistently stellar read. Honestly, this is the best story on the shelves, one man, left in a world of women. The premise just screams of cliche, but somehow, each mini arc delivers in ways you'd never expect, and the minimalist style of the art conveys alot more than it appears. This book needs ot be made into a television series, immediately. If need be, go the Lost route and use flahsbacks to incorporate other male characters, but down, I need to see this move...

posted by Holz | 5:44 PM | Rant & Rave, Bitches! (4)


Heh, I like your comment on AoA. I haven't finished it yet, but I've heard horror stories.

Have you read Bullseye: Greatest Hits? I liked it. Weird & different, but cool.

I also just read Birds of Prey #60-65 Yeah, you read that right. I read a DC comic. Oh, the horrors! I was pretty impressed. It's not a bad book. In fact, it's good. Simone is a good writer. I don't know the characters at all, but I liked it.

By Blogger Stan, at 4/11/2005 4:46 AM  

Haven't read B:GH, read some reviews that didn't do much for me. BOP I've only read in trade form, Of Like Minds, which collected... 55 to 61 I think. The book is phenomenal, easily one of the best writer/artist teams in the biz

By Blogger Holz, at 4/11/2005 9:09 AM  

B:GH was a simple origin story. It had some really cool parts though. Especially the ending. You get the point as to how messed up Bullseye really is.

By Blogger Stan, at 4/12/2005 6:39 AM  

Oh, that and the fact that I picked the whole series up on ebay for less than $5 helped. I wouldn't pay the $15 cover price.

By Blogger Stan, at 4/12/2005 6:40 AM  

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