Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sunday Open: Pre-Christmas Books

Well, home for the holidays means lots of new comics. Before I get to that, I just want to mention that I won't be posting my usual Jim Starlin and Joe Casey stuff tomorrow and on Tuesday (possibly Wednesday either). Now, let's get to it...

The Immortal Iron Fist #11

"Hydra guy, Hydra guy, old lady, Hydra guy." I love Brubaker and Fraction's little bits of humour on this book. They manage to balance that stuff with things like the fight between Tiger's Beautiful Daughter and the Steel Phoenix, Davos' past, Jeryn's mom's ear, and the intrigue of the Thunderer and the August Personage in Jade. Plus, Heroes for Hire shit, too. Not to mention David Aja's fantastic art. I am really amazed that Marvel hasn't pulled him from this book and stuck him somewhere else, because this guy is fantastic and looks like he can draw anything better than 99% of the artists working right now. Well, maybe not 99%, but a pretty large number.

Mighty Avengers #6

Um, alright, that's it? That's the end of this story? Ares flies into Ultron and turns her back into Iron Man? Um, 'kay. There is the nice moment where Tony is told that he was turned into a girl, pauses and then checks to make sure everything (meaning his penis) is where it should be. I'm back on board with the thought balloons, too. Bendis seems to have gotten a better handle on what to do with them and they're working better.

Punisher War Journal #14

I like how Kraven calls Frank "Tiny Monkey." The ideas here are good, but something about the execution just isn't doing it for me.

Detective Comics #839

The finale of "The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" is... this? Wow, some lame fights, some explosions, and then a retarded final scene where it's all "Forget about what just happened, because it's Christmas! YAY!" What the fuck? I am really glad neither one of the stores I stopped by had copies of the latest issues of Robin and Nightwing, because, fuck it, I don't want to know what happened in parts 5 and 6 of this piece of shit crossover. I am amazed--AMAZED--that these writers churned out such horrible, bland, mediocre crap. Eight issues where NOTHING. REALLY. HAPPENS. Holy fuck, I spent,like, twenty bucks on these comics. My god. My god. I hate myself right now. I really do.

The Death of the New Gods #3

You know what I loved about this issue? When Mr. Miracle bitch-slaps Darkseid with the Anti-Life Equation. The rest of it is kind of meh. I just can't get into the mystery here, because I'm betting the person responsible for killing the New Gods will be some character I've never heard of. But, I do love me some Starlin, so...

Green Lantern #25

I read somewhere that if I didn't love this comic then I probably shouldn't be reading superhero books. I guess I shouldn't be reading superhero books then, because I couldn't get through this comic. I'm sure that has a lot to do with not having read the previous ten parts of this story, but, seriously, I just couldn't get into this comic. I tried, but my mind kept wandering and I found myself skimming the dialogue and I just don't care. Fuck Green Lantern. I've never dug the character or the Corps or any of these idiots. And while I think Geoff Johns is a really nice guy, I can't get into his writing. Wow, there are now seven Corps and I should care why? I'm more disturbed by the odd rhyme in "The Sinestro Corps War." It weirds me out.

Also, having a horizontal double-page spread followed immediately by a vertical double-page spread is stupid. Just saying.

Black Summer #4

Probably the weakest issue of the series yet as little happens. The only thing of consequence is the introduction of a tactical group that can oppose the Seven Guns, but I suppose we won't see them until next issue.

What If...? Civil War #1

This issue contains two stories, plus a framing device by Ed Brubaker. The first story, "What if Captain America Led All the Heroes Against Registration?" had potential, but soon devolved into meaningless fights like the real Civil War. Also, I'm sorry, but the art is horrible. Horrible. My god, they published this art? It did give them an excuse to use that red, white & blue Iron Man armour, though. The second story, "What if Iron Man Lost the Civil War?" could be retitled "What if All of the Heroes Who were Good Buddies Before All this Shit Went Down Actually Talked it out like Civilised People, Not the Blood-Thirsty Morons that Mark Millar Seems to Think they are, Because Why Let Characterisation get in the Way of Fanboy Orgasm Moments?" In that story, things get talked out, the Registration Act stays, but is run by the Avengers, specifically Captain America and everyone is happy.

I'm actually mystified why Marvel would publish a comic like this, because the second story is so much better than what really happened. I mean, Captain America and Iron Man actually talking shit out--what a novel idea for two guys that are supposed to be great friends. Like I said above, the second story seems more aimed at showing why the original series made no fucking sense than anything else. Very, very odd.

Midnighter #14

Um, I thought Krigstein ended up working with the Authority. And the guy in the Iron Man suit went off to have his own life. Or, were those things retconned when the Wildstorm universe was rebooted (but only when it was convenient to the story at hand)? Or, how about taking control of his weird invisible bases in the middle of cities? Weird little stuff like this bothers me in comics, because, let's be honest, not many people reading Midnighter haven't read The Authority. So, come on, make sure it matches up.

As for the actual issue, there's a whole lot going on between Mindy and Jenny Quantum about Midnighter's past that doesn't make a whole lot of sense yet, because we haven't had the big reveal yet. Midnighter is offered a chance to join Anthem, but slaughters people instead. I did like the little bit with the British woman with the Union Jack on her face going "Bloody pathetic." Aside from the little continuity shit, I am enjoying this book. Giffen seems to know what he's doing and where he's going. Too bad the art is shit.

Deathblow #8

Yes, this book is still around, but not for long as issue nine is the last of the series. Can't say that I'm that disappointed. This series has been more fucking around than mindfuck and part of the problem is that Azzarello wasn't given an artist up to the task. Carlos D'Anda is one of those Wildstorm house artist types and, holy shit, I hate their stuff. I hate that style so fucking much.

But, I do love the dinosaur cyborg. This is a darker version of that playful Azzarello we all loved in Doctor 13. Here, the dinosaur gives us some weird rant about a dream where you grow breasts that your best friend wants to touch and you secretly want him to touch, too. The rest, though, is kind of meh. We'll see how it finishes and reads as a whole, though.

The Order #5-6

I had my reservations about this series after the first couple of issues, but it's turning out to be pretty damn good, you know? Complex characters, people trying their best to be heroes, giant radioactive lizards... awesome. My favourite scene in these two issues has to be in issue six when Henry, Pepper and Katie are questioning Mulholland about the Black Dahlias--if only because that has Fraction showing how well he does characters--and it leads right into Tony Stark being Tony fucking Stark. Fraction's Stark isn't quite like the Stark seen elsewhere, but it works. I don't know why, it could be the nature of the book, which is about this flashy, surface, celebrity type of world where Stark isn't Iron Man or director of SHIELD, he's a playboy billionaire. If there's a book that shows that Fraction will one day be writing the franchise books, it's this one.

Casanova #11

Why must I continually come up with new ways to say this book rocks my world? It does. Fuck it, that's all.

The Programme #6

Another book that I wasn't sure about at first, but I'm really digging on. Milligan seems to know what he's doing. That, and this issue is titled "The President of the United States is a Dangerous Psychopath," which is my favourite issue title of the year. Mark it down, rock and roll. There's also a fantastic moment where Max is looking for a clean t-shirt to confront the Russian superpeople in (after they'd been nuked by the US--that didn't work so much) and all that's left is a Steely Dan tee and his pure frustration/mortification that he'll have to save the United States from Russian revolutionaries in a Steely Dan t-shirt. If you haven't been getting this book, you should--or wait for the trade. Whatever, your call.

Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1-4

I really do love "Joe Casey fills in Stan Lee's plot holes" comics. This is the book for anyone who misses the Iron Man they knew and loved once upon a time. He's heroic and tough and noble and takes on evil. Plus, there's Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan being all original versions of those characters. These are some fun, well-written, well-drawn, just solidly awesome superhero comics. Eric Cante draws less like math here, more cartoony, but it's still great.

I want to take this chance to mention that I am looking forward to The Last Defenders. About damn time Casey's gotten another book set in the contemporary Marvel universe, even if it's only a six-issue mini. It should be good, so demand your retailer order you a copy of each issue right now.

The Pulse: Thin Air, The Pulse: Secret War, and The Pulse: Fear

Got these three trades for seven or eight bucks each and, well, they didn't do much for me. I think the problem is that the concept of Jessica Jones and Ben Urich teaming up for a weekly feature of superheroes for The Daily Bugle is great. Except. Except it never actually happens. I kept waiting for it to happen and it didn't, so fuck it. It seemed like a book designed at integrating Jessica Jones into the Marvel universe proper and not much else.

I did enjoy the Green Goblin stuff in the first arc, but not much else. Oh, there was the odd moment, but not much else. I did notice something that often bothers me about Bendis comics: layouts that extend over both pages, but are done in grids where you can't actually tell if it continues onto the next page or is just on a single page. This is especially problematic with Bendis' dialogue that jumps around so much that you can actually read these pages both ways and have them make around the same amount of sense. What the fuck?

I'm really disappointed with these books, because I'd been digging most of what Bendis has done so far, but these just did little for me. Ah well.


That about does it for me. Have a merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever. I'll be back on Wednesday or Thursday.