Thursday, December 21, 2006

Random Reading: A Whole Lotta Stuff

Mostly a positive post this time, because the majority of the stuff I got today is from my pull list--and I don't keep buying stuff I think is crap (usually). So, let's get on with it:

The Boys #5

I've actually been enjoying this title more than I thought I would. The first issue didn't hook me right away, but subsequent issues have done a better job. You know why this book works? Garth Ennis has never been the over-the-top writer people like to label him. Yeah, those elements are there, but there's also a strong sense of humanity that grounds everything he does. Do you think Preacher would have worked without the relationships between Jesse, Tupil, and Cassidy? Hell, my favourite moments from that book were the emotionally-driven stuff.

Same here. Yeah, there's the fucking with superheroes stuff, but Ennis is very wisely keeping all of that grounded with Hughie, a very likable and relatable character that puts everything into perspective.

This issue ups the ante as the Boys fuck with Teenage Kix more and leads into a confrontation between the two groups that will play out in the next issue. Looking forward to that--finally seeing what this group can do, especially the Female.

Desolation Jones #8

What I said about Ennis? Same goes for Ellis, by the way. But people never pay attention to that--which is why people who rip-off Ellis and Ennis always fail, the same way people who ripped off Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen produced utter crap.

Jones is probably the most damaged character Ellis has created so far. Every issue, we get a new bit of information that makes you pity him and kind of hope in his next confrontation, someone will put a bullet in his skull just to end his miserable life.

But, not really, because we all want to see Jones find out what happened to his old spy buddy. Typical of the series, the issue is slow, but probably gives far more information than we realise now. Lots of Philip K. Dick stuff, too, which I love.

Still on the fence over Danijel Zezelj's art--but that's probably because following Williams III is a damn difficult task.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #10

Holy fucking shit, Stuart Immonen is a great artist. Wow. Five styles featured here, all great.

Not much to say here. Another great issue. Either you get it--and love it, or you don't--and hate it. The ending was a little obvious, but who cares? I don't.

The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby "Easter Island" heads in the Captain's alternate life is a nice touch.

newuniversal #1

Speaking of great art, when did Salvador Larroca actually get good? Last time I saw his art was in a Peter Milligan-penned issue of X-Men and it was butt-fucking-ugly. Flat, uninspired and covered with shitty, shitty, shitty, SHITTY digital painting or something. So, I open up this comic and suddenly, Larroca's art was depth and . . . well, is good. Surprise, I guess.

The story itself is alright. Not much to go on here. Various people, white event, superpowers, yay. Nothing to rock my socks off.

Casanova #6

I've only read this issue once, so I got, like, a third of what was going on. The third I got? Loved. My words cannot sum up how awesome this book is. In the Previews for February (I think), there's a solicitation for a set of all seven issues of this first volume: BUY IT (unless you've been buying this book). It's cheap and would still be a steal if it were double the price. But, so I actually say something:

Russian missile silo, robots with the same brains meet, fake girly group assassins, undercover superspy fashion photographer, BIGFUCKINGBOOM!, giant Japanese robot.

Plus, much MUCH more. Buy the book.

Punisher War Journal #1

More Matt Fraction? Hells yes.

Really enjoyed this. The Punisher here isn't the Punisher in Ennis' book. He's a bit more cartoony, but it works because he's in a cartoony world. Lots of great moments here, but one bit made me laugh for, like, two minutes solid. A huge fucking bellylaugh with tears and everything. It's after Punisher saves Spider-Man in the sewers and Spider-Man (totally out of it) says he needs to hit an ATM to pay for the ride and Punisher says it's free and Spider-Man says:


I love Matt Fraction.

The Immortal Iron Fist #1

Ever MORE Matt Fraction? With Ed Brubaker? Life is good, sometimes.

I can't think of anything I didn't dig about this comic. It did everything a first issue should do: tell us what we need to know about a character, give a kickass story, and set things up for the future of the book. Plus, David Aja's art is amazingly gorgeous.

My only complaint is that, well, there's an ad for this issue in the issue. That's just not right. I generally don't pay attention to ads, but advertising for the comic I'm reading while I'm reading it? Kind of stupid, Marvel.

Criminal #3

A little breather of an issue. Mostly character development and slight plot movement. But, it works really well. Solid all around.

New Avengers: Illuminati #1

Yeah, I'm going to buy this series pretty much because I dig the concept--and issue four is "Marvel Boy issue" and, as we all know, I'm a Marvel Boy geek. Shut up.

As for this issue, it is all kinds of mediocre. The one cool moment, where Black Bolt speaks and blows the fuck out of the Skrull's main ship? Yeah, taken away when we discover that SOMEHOW the king of the Skrulls, who was ten feet away, was somehow not killed. The fuck? Yeah, a voice powerful enough to blow up a giant spaceship doesn't kill a guy ten feet away? How does that work, exactly?

Utterly mediocre. I hope future issues step it up a bit.

Gødland #14

Am I the only one reading this book who feels like every issue is a strange remix of a Kirby-drawn comic where the old word balloons have been replaced with new ones?

Not much happens here, which is a pretty bad thing considering this is the second issue back after the little three-month hiatus the book took. The first issue back had all sorts of action and fun, but this one? Snoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooozefest. I love the book and even I found it boring. I read this book for action, snappy dialogue and mindless (but smart) fun. This issue was lacking.

All-Star Superman #3-5

And now we get to the third thing that everyone else seems to love, but I don't (the first two being Jim Lee's art and DC: New Frontier). I still can't figure out why. Normally, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely means I'm so fucking hard that a slight breeze will push me over the edge (or, something a lot less graphic and over-the-top). All-Star Superman leaves me cold.

In issue three, Lois Lane is given Superman's powers and . . . well, does nothing with them. Instead, she flirts with other superguys (one of whom looks exactly like Superman, just with longer hair) to make Superman jealous.

In issue four, Jimmy Olsen is all cool and saves the world or something.

In issue five, Lex Luthor is all evil and tells us how he killed Superman in issue one on purpose.

All full of mad ideas and lots of Silver Age-esque fun--except it's not the, you know, Silver Age anymore and I just don't give a fuck. The only thing that did anything for me was in issue four where Olsen becomes Doomsday. There's an interesting idea.

I think my problem is that I've seen Morrison do much, MUCH more with the character in his JLA run. Hell, his Lex Luthor there was at least interesting. This version is a flat, one-note character. Every character is. It's all surface here, nothing more. And DC has recently released multiple volumes of Superman-related Showcase reprints full of that stuff.

(Actually, flipping through the issues again, issue four pointed to something that's bothered me about the Superman titles: we have Perry White praising Clark Kent for his journalism--except, we never see him do any. Ever. Anywhere. That's always bothered me.)

Civil Wardrobe

I saw this and figured I'd give it a look. I laughed once. That says it all.

Punisher: From First to Last

A trio of Punisher MAX specials . . . faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantastic.

The art in all three is lovely. The writing is great, too.

The first story, "The Tyger" gives us Castle's first killing as the Punisher and part of his childhood where he sees various examples of people getting "justice" of one form or another through violence.

The second story, "The Cell" has Castle getting himself thrown in jail so he can kill a group of mobsters. This is mostly a bunch of violence, but done well--and showcases how good he is at what he does.

The last story, "The End" is one in a series of stories Marvel has put out about the possible end of a hero/group of heroes' careers/lives. Instead of some extended bullshit like Claremont's ending for the X-Men, Ennis gives us a story of Castle killing the last people on earth because they are utter fucking bastards. Pure and simple.

Makes for a great last-minute gift for a comic fan, I think.

And that does it for 2006 most likely. Merry Christmas, happy new year, happy all those other holidays and blah blah blah.