Archive for June, 2011

It’s all Flashpoint, all the time!

Actually, it’s only Flashpoint for now.  For the next hour(s) it takes me to write this, because that’s absolutely all I can take of it.  After that, I’m reading Walking Dead and X-Men: Legacy and calling it a day.  Helloooo, four-day weekend.
 

Wonder Woman and the FuriesFlashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 – I read this book first, despite the fact that Emperor Aquaman came out before it.  I’d seen a preview online of the first few pages and was taken in by the artwork, so I just had to grab this up, and I actually wound up loving it overall (first time I’ve enjoyed a Wonder Woman book in over a year).  The story opens up with a great scene that just so perfectly captures naïve, happy, laughing Diana and makes me miss the Wonder Woman I know and love all that much more—ironic that she’s not actually the Wonder Woman I know and love.  We’re quickly introduced to Aquaman by way of baby Kraken, and although I suspected some of what would happen (yes, Diana’s mother is killed, because apparently there’s some decree that Hippolyta must die every year), there are still some nice twists I didn’t see coming that add another layer to the story.  Good job by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in keeping things fresh via these twists, rather than recycling the same old lazy narrative over and over.  The artwork, which piqued my interest in the first half of the book, got a little weird toward the middle and started to fall flat toward the end.  It’s an odd style to try to describe, as the backgrounds have almost a CGI feel to them, but I didn’t entirely despise it.  At least, I didn’t let it detract from the story and from the better pencils.  If you’ve picked up Emperor Aquaman and if you’re at all interested in the behind-the-scenes of the Flashpoint world, I encourage you to pick up this title.

Emperor AquamanFlashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 – So, it’s a good thing I read Wonder Woman and the Furies first, because this would more or less have spoiled everything otherwise.  While the former title shows us the backstory of Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s encounter, this title skips ahead into the Flashpoint world as we know it.  It’s a nasty one where Aquaman has a grudge to bear, and he shows it by drowning the heck out of Rome.  Let me take a moment to say that this is where Ardian Syaf’s pencilwork absolutely excels; Michelangelo’s Pietà floating in the background, Aquaman swimming menacingly through the water, paying absolutely no attention to the dead bodies polluting it—that stuff is gold.  Wussy, old school Aquaman?  He ain’t here.  This Aquaman is villainous, and he’s even got the butch, redundant buzzcut to prove it.  Amazing.  You absolutely should read this if you want to have any hope of understanding the war between the Atlantians and Amazons.  It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, nor is the end “surprise” of the issue anything that you couldn’t already deduce, but this slightly above middle-of-the-road work is sufficient for a tie-in and the writing is decidedly better than some of the other stuff running.  Let’s see what happens next issue.

Deadman and the Flying GraysonsFlashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1 – Umm… I honestly don’t know what I just read.  Maybe I’m zoning out because I read it so late last night and was on the verge of falling asleep, or maybe it’s just because the book was completely uninspired.  Wow.  Yeah, that was genuinely bad … then again, I saw “J.T. Krul” written on the cover and didn’t expect much, so I guess I wasn’t let down.  I generally like the guy’s story ideas, but his execution is typically poor.  There’s just too much that doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel natural, particularly some of the dialogue.  It’s too forced.  Too rushed.  I wasn’t buying it, and that makes me sad, because this is DEADMAN and the FLYING GRAYSONS, for goodness’ sake.  This should be AWESOME!  But … it’s not.  And aside from like, one page, it’s completely unessential reading.  We waste half the book on nothing—absolute nothing, because the set up (happy Grayson family juxtaposed with cranky egotistical Boston Brand) could have been accomplished in four pages instead of the ten it took.  Boring, and so very cookie-cutter.  The only positive I can give this title at all is that the rendering on the artwork was rather lovely.  Unfortunately, that alone is not worth my time.  Passing on the rest of this.

Lois Lane and the ResistanceFlashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1 – Now here’s one that really confuses me.  This is written by the same team who did Wonder Woman and the Furies, so I expected something more than what I actually got from this issue.  Maybe it’s the pressure of writing two three-issue tie-ins at the same time with a limited window in which to get them done and published, but … that’s really no excuse, is it?  I was let down by Lois Lane and the Resistance.  Especially when you look at the cover.  Check that out.  I’ll be among the first to tell you not to fall for what you see on a cover, but that totally sets you up for something different than what’s being offered here, at least so far.  I also hated the interior art, and the entire thing overall just felt so … 1991.  The story itself?  Nothing to write home about.  Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are trapped in Europe when Aquaman’s big drowning wave hits, and Jimmy Olsen bites the bullet.  Did I just spoil that?  No, I promise you I didn’t, because his scene—which should have been emotional and tragic—just fell completely flat and took place in all of one panel where you don’t even see him.  You just see water, and Lois Lane cries “JIMMY!  OLSEN!”  Disappointing.  What feels like two minutes after that rush of flood and death, the big bad Amazons appear out of nowhere and “rescue” the select people they see fit to rescue.  I put “rescue” in quotation marks because these Amazons are just so darn mean and tough and bad that it really isn’t a rescue so much as arguable enslavement.  And in the context of the story, none of this makes any sense.  Groan.  As let down as I was by this issue, I’ll still probably check out the next one to see if it gets any better.  I demand to see a badass Lois Lane leading a Resistance at some point in this mess.  Let’s get on that.

 

The score is Likes:  2, Dislikes:  2.  That’s a better result than I anticipated, though I suspect it would be heavily swayed toward the latter if I were to read more of these.

Okay—I’m out!  Everyone be sure to fire up those grills and have a safe and happy Fourth of July.  Go out and get some sun!

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Poll Results & Miscellaneous

Hey, y’all.  I haven’t gotten my comics in a couple of weeks, so I’m a little behind in the reviews.  I should have some Flashpoint stuff up by next week, if all goes well.  In the meantime, we were in a stalemate in the poll results until someone pushed option number two over the bump into a total of four votes and gave it the lead.  Looks like I’ll be picking up some DC books in September, per your requests.  That said, I am a little surprised that only eight of you voted—given that I know how many page views I’m getting per week, that’s a pretty low number.  Oh well.  Eight of you have spoken, and I shall listen!

Did anyone see Green Lantern last weekend?  I’m hearing some bad reactions to it but I haven’t gotten to the cinema yet.  I wonder if this is one that’s better left for the Netflix queue?

Photo from boston.com article

In other news, I hope you all checked out the comics article on boston.com today.  Worth a read.

That’s all I got for now.  Until next week….


It’s Poll Time!

As I slowly work my way back off the cliff I was teetering over during DC’s 52 title reboot announcement (I don’t care what DC’s saying—it’s a reboot), as I read the news and solicitations and interviews, I’m torn between some bleak feelings of negativity/disenchantment/anger, and feelings of minor interest/hope/reconsideration.  I ask myself—is this in fact the final straw for me as far as continuing to follow DC books?  I look over these 52 new titles and there are so few, if any at all, that I can say 100% interest me or excite me.  I troll over the list, and I’m really not excited.  The books and characters that make me love DC—Birds of Prey, Stephanie Brown Batgirl, Classic Wonder Woman, Jeff Lemire Superboy—have either been taken away or mangled into something completely unrecognizable to me in the favor of gaining this elusive, ever-sought-after “new reader.”  I still feel betrayed and heartbroken.

But then I hear about other people getting excited.  I read interviews with guys like Scott Lobdell, who are so genuinely psyched about what they’re doing, and seem to have given it the thought it deserves, that I begin to wonder if maybe I should re-think my stance.  Should I, at the very least, give these new books a fighting chance to grasp me?  How much time/money/enthusiasm do I want to put into this, given the high potential of being let down?  Do I risk that in the hope of coming across something—anything—that I’ll like?  Do I need to be less picky in general?  Will the only way to enjoy this be to lower my expectations—and is that even fair?

It’s so easy to be negative.  It’s easy to make light of everything and turn it into a joke.  It’s also easy to maybe take things too personally, although I’m not entirely convinced of that being wrong.  If anything, to me, comics should be personal.  Like any other work of art, it’s worthless without the effect of the personal.

Writer Jason Aaron (Scalped, Wolverine) has a column he does on Comic Book Resources where he gives advice to aspiring comics writers and people who want to break into the industry.  In the latest installment, he asks:

“Have you lost your joy?  Please don’t lose your joy.  Presumably it was that joy, that love of comics, that got you chasing this dream in the first place.  Don’t ever lose that.  We need more of that.  Don’t let it be eaten up by negativity.  What we don’t need is more people standing in front of the new release rack on Wednesdays, complaining about every other new book that’s coming out.  We’ve got that job pretty well covered. I used to write film reviews, so I know, it’s always easier to write a review of something you hate than something you like.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Don’t let your passion […] be defined solely by the negative.  At least pretend like you still take some sort of joy from this industry.  If you don’t, then ask yourself, ‘Why am I still here?’”

He kind of makes a good point, huh?

On the one hand, I want to stand my comic book moral ground and refuse to support what I think is a disrespectful way to treat a cast of characters and their fanbase; on the other hand, I don’t really know what’s going to happen here, and I’d really like to be able to shrug it off my shoulders, take it slightly less seriously, and just enjoy it.

And so I find myself at an impasse.  And so I turn to you, dear readers.

Tell me what to do.


1988 called. It wants Rob Liefeld back.

Hahaaha, oh my.  This is getting worse and worse.  Rob Liefeld on a new Hawk and Dove series?  I just might have to buy that.  The 90s are coming … I’m getting my suspenders ready!

As I try to quell my heartache over all of the DC news this week, I offer you some blurb reviews.  I didn’t realize until I was finished that they’re all Marvel.  There’s a chance that’ll become more often the case in the coming months.

And also, let me clarify one thing:  despite what the last issue of the newsletter said, “Suicide Girls” was damn well NOT my pick of the week.  You can thank my comic shop colleagues for that loving display of antagonism and embarrassment … but I suppose I had it coming.  :)
  

The Mighty Thor #2The Mighty Thor #2 – I was surprised to like this book.  Given my tendency to dislike Matt Fraction’s writing, my expectations for this title weren’t very high.  The main factor that convinced me to pick it up is Olivier Coipel pulling art duties, and I was right to fall for it, because he shines as bright as ever.  His crisp style does the same wonders for Thor here as it did during Coipel’s run with JMS not long ago, and his representation of the Silver Surfer is seriously awesome.  Story-wise, it’s nothing particularly ground-breaking yet, but entertaining enough without feeling as lethargic as I usually find Fraction to be (more on that below, unfortunately).  The plot involves Thor getting hurt while retrieving the World Seed, while the Silver Surfer warns earth of Galactus’ impending arrival.  So far there’s a nice split of focus between Thor, Odin, Loki, and Sif (my favorite—I bet that doesn’t surprise you), and it’s just fallen into this groove of “light reading” for me.  The title doesn’t seem to cross over much into Journey into Mystery so far, which is the better book of the two, but I wonder if that doesn’t have to change at some point.  I’m sticking with this and drooling over Coipel’s artistic candy for now.
  

Fear Itself Book ThreeFear Itself #3 – **SPOILERS**
I knew I shouldn’t be reading this.  I knew I shouldn’t have bothered, but here I am, never one to resist the horror.  My warm feelings for Matt Fraction don’t extend far beyond the above Mighty Thor post, readers, because—I’m sorry—this is some lazy, dumb shit we’ve got going on here.  Okay—I’m going to completely avoid all the other nitpicks I have with this issue and just focus on the one big one, which is BUCKY.  Poor, poor, dear old Bucky.  It’s a testament to the languid storytelling here that by the end of the issue, I wasn’t even sure if he was actually dead.  I had to take to the internet and get other people’s reactions in order to know for sure what was going on.  Even the incredible Stuart Immonen couldn’t save this for me, and from what I’ve read, I wasn’t the only one left confused.  But, yes—it’s confirmed that Bucky is very dead.  Again.  And I cannot for the life of me understand why they thought this would be a good idea.  So Marvel wants Steve back as Cap?  Okay, fine.  Let’s do it.  But that is absolutely no reason for Bucky to have to die.  Marvel brought him back against a bunch of pissing and moaning from the fans, gave him to Brubaker who turned him into a really great character and let the spotlight shine on him for a couple of years, won all the fans over and now they’re taking all that and throwing it away just for one poorly-constructed scene in an event book.  It makes no sense.  It doesn’t sell any extra copies of the book, it didn’t add anything to the scene, and it didn’t take away from how blah and boring the rest of the story has been.  It was nothing.  Just a nothing scene.  Despite my love for the character, I felt absolutely nothing reading this.  Not to mention it made no sense at all to keep him completely out of the first two books, then turn around in issue three and off him out of nowhere.  WHAT?  That is damn LAZINESS, Matt Fraction—LAZY.  YOU MAKE KITTY CRY.
  

Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1 – Rob Williams writes this issue in place of the tag team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu.  I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or just a fill in—I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Marjorie Liu won’t be co-writing anymore, but I could be wrong.  At any rate, the title’s been a little hit and miss for me.  I enjoyed most of the earlier stuff, but as soon as the crossover with X-23 happened, I got a little turned off.  With that done and over now, all of the attention is rightfully back on Daken.  Despite the “point one” suggestion that this is a good jumping on point to read the book, it really wouldn’t hurt to go out of your way and pick up the stuff that came before it.  It’ll only give you a fuller sense of the story and a better understanding of Daken as a character.  Issue #9.1 mainly deals with Daken ascertaining his dominion over … well, himself, really—who he is, what he’s about, and the fact that he’s not Wolverine.  As the issue opens with one of Daken’s victims chastising him with the reality that all he ever does is destroy—never does he create anything—Daken actually takes it to heart and decides to act.  How he acts, I’ll leave it for you to see, but something kind of falls flat this issue.  While the story idea isn’t terrible, it’s also not particularly strong, and just feels a bit recycled.  That said, the impression we’re left with is that Daken will be launching into something better moving forward.  Ron Garney on art is, like the story itself, hit and miss, but I haven’t given up on this yet.  Let’s see what the next few issues bring.
  

Uncanny X-Force #11Uncanny X-Force #11 – The Apocalypse personality continues to cause trouble for our dear Warren Worthington in the lastest issue of what has easily become one of my favorite comics on the shelf, and it’s up to the rest of the X-Force team to cure Warren of what ails him.  Unfortunately, curing him means trusting in Dark Beast of the AoA and following him back into his own time in order to procure the life seed (what’s with the “seed” theme this month?) that will temper the Apocalypse personality within Warren.  The character interaction here is great, not only among team members, but also with the surprise guests that pop up from the Age of Apocalypse timeline.  You know when I said that X-Men: Legacy was the best X-book out there right now, and that the rest is toilet paper?  Well, at the time I said that, I’d apparently forgotten about Uncanny X-Force.  This title has been oh-my-word good since issue one, and Rick Remender is showing no signs of slowing down.  This is the quality of writing—character, plot, and setting—that I look for in every book I pick up each month, but only seem to get in a handful.  If that.  I’ll take this over the 800 Fear Itself tie-ins any day.


Catching Up on Comics, Big Bang Theory, Crying in My Morning Cheerios, and More

A lot going on lately (I hope everyone in the MA area was safe and sound last night during the crazy storms). I’ve desperately been trying to catch up on a pile of reading, but it’s going slowly, as Captain Couch has been wailing on me pretty hard the last couple of weeks. Our skirmishes have been truly terrible and I have some bruises to show for last night’s fight. My weapon of choice lately has been Chew—I’ve had the first three trades for a while and only recently cracked open the first one, and I LOVE it. Oh man, it’s so good. I’m halfway through volume two right now.

Who’s excited for X-Men: First Class opening this week? I want to be able to check it out some time this weekend; it looks like it has some good stuff going for it. My hopes are high. They’d better be playing it in 2D locally or I’m going to be very depressed.

DC Reboot

Speaking of depression … how about that big ol’ DC reboot that’s coming? So much of me wants to avoid acknowledging it because I’ll probably be reduced to a blubbering mess of tears in my cereal as more information comes out this morning, but EVERYONE else is saying something—despite my avoidant tendencies, I guess it can’t be ignored. That’s right, DC is starting all over again (YET again, yet again) and changing a heck of a lot of stuff. How much/what exactly? We’re still learning; so far I hear talk of a new Hawkman book, Aquaman, Captain Atom, and some other stuff that doesn’t interest me. The most depressing info by far is the fact that Gail Simone will no longer be writing Birds of Prey. I can’t even believe that. Ouch, it hurt me just to type. DC, why can’t we leave well enough alone? I guess Gail is teaming up with Ethan van Sciver for a Firestorm book instead (comicjunkie, you lucky bastard). And I don’t even want to know what the fate of Batgirl is going to be.
Also, this news, if true, is pretty stupid. Ugh. I’m currently an awkward amalgam of rage and despair.

And yet—one thing that’s offsetting my misery is The Big Bang Theory. Friends have been hounding me for ages to watch this and I finally subbed to it on Netflix a few weeks ago. I’m currently on season three and loving it. If you’re a comic book fan, you should be watching this show. Thank you, comic shop peeps! You know who you are!

Umm… what else did I want to touch on? Oh—that NBC Wonder Woman show has been canned. I’m not particularly heartbroken. If anyone happens to find a copy of the unaired pilot somewhere, please share—I’d like to see just how much pain I’m being spared.

Bazinga.”