Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Sunday Open: Second Week of April 2008

Welcome to another edition of me writing very short, unhelpful reviews! This week, I took a major step and created a pull list here in Windsor. This was the result of the shop sometimes being sold out of books I wanted (maybe one a week at most, often not) and me being sick of having to wait until I got back to London for some books. I still have the pull list in London, too. But, it wasn't a huge week (and next week looks even more slight), so let's get to it...

ClanDestine #3

I love that Alan Davis is revisiting his Excalibur run, even though I haven't read it. Great concept. As was Newton's sexual roleplaying. The rest of the issue is kind of iffy, but the suspense keeps growing as we're left wondering "What the fuck is going on?" Also, I'm a little annoyed that we only get two more issues as this is a very, very good comic.

Fantastic Four #556

While this is not. I'm sticking with this title through next issue, because I want to see how Millar and Hitch handle a complete story arc... and so far, it's horrible. What is the plot? No, seriously, what is goddamn plot? Okay, this issue kind of has one with the giant robot Captain killing people, because "Smart people create robot that then goes crazy and begins killing people" is ever so original. But, beyond that, what's the plot? What does any of this matter? Gee, "Mrs. Fantastic" was smart enough to make sure the robot wouldn't kill her, but not smart enough to actually have control over the fucking thing? I am loving how Millar is trying to present these people as being smart enough to build an exact replica of the planet Earth, but too stupid to build a robot that won't go crazy and kill people without at least one hundred different means of shutting it down instantly. And, I'm sorry, but this is the worst artwork by Bryan Hitch I've seen since before he came on board Stormwatch. I don't know if it's the colouring or the inking or just Hitch, but it looks half-finished and muddied and not at all up to his normal standards. Unless the next issue is quite literally THE BEST COMIC EVER WRITTEN, I won't read another issue short of someone handing me them all for free with the promise of a memory wipe at the end if I so choose. (Oh, and do you think my assessment is a little overboard, a little hyperbolic? Well, that's the only way to discuss a Mark Millar comic as he himself will tell you.)

Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #6

A decent ending to a decent story. Iron Man and the Mandarin fight. Iron Man wins. The Mandarin will be back. Who didn't see that coming? But, Casey does a solid job and Eric Canete's art is fantastic. I really like this sketchier, more fluid style he used on this book.

The Last Defenders #2

Ah, Douchebag Iron Man is back as he disbands the Defenders after they cause a lot of property damage in Jersey fighting a giant fucking lizard. Of course, this is obviously meant to show Stark as a hypocrite and tool, considering the amount of property damage he alone has been responsible for is staggering. It's also an interesting attempt by Casey and Giffen to show that things have changed. Now that superheroes are all registered, the old shit isn't acceptable: if they're going to be professionals, then they're going to act like professionals. Nighthawk isn't that good a superhero, though, as demontrated here. He is a decent one, I suppose, but not in the same league as the big boys and probably shouldn't be running a team. The running commentary on the fight is solid, as is the rest of the issue. This is turning out to be a really good series that combines old and new styles to comment on the state of the current Marvel universe a little bit.

Wolverine #64

Didn't I see Logan's trick from this issue in Preacher? Heh. Doesn't change the fact that this is a pretty decent but brainless story. Logan does what it takes to try and kill Mystique, while she does what it takes to escape. Pretty simple and Jason Aaron is doing a great job. I'm even digging on Ron Garney's art here, which is odd since I'm usually not a big fan. Next issue is my last for this book (it's actually a fluk that I've been buying it almost for a year, really) since Millar and McNiven take over for that story about old man Logan or somesuchshit.

Young Liars #2

Oooooooooooooh-kay. This isn't a bad issue, but is hurt by our not knowing these characters better. We get one issue in the present and then a flashback issue right away? It seems a litle... off, unless it's going to be a back-and-forth story structure. Maybe this will look better in the context of a few more issues. As it is, it falls a little flat. But, I did enjoy parts of it--just not as much as I feel I should have. I am liking how the cover is the first panel of the issue--a technique that I'm surprised more people don't use. This series looks like it will either be very good or very bad. I'm looking forward to seeing which.

Army@Love: The Hot Zone Club

I picked up the first issue of this when it first came out and wasn't that impressed. I wish I could say that the trade changed my mind. Rick Veitch has some interesting ideas, but that's about it: they're interesting ideas... so what? I find the execution lacking here. There's not much substance despite the fact that these are dense comics. Maybe I'm not the target audience as it is very much a soap opera with the intricate plots of who is sleeping with whom (and did I actually get the who/whom thing correct there? You'd think as a writer and English grad student, I would know such things, but I don't...) and I really don't care. All of the characters are vapid, superficial and not really worth my time. The only sequence that really impressed me was when the mom of a mentally challenged soldier shows up during a firefight to ensure that he's being treated equally. It was a cheap book, though, only ten bucks. I do dig the art as Veitch and Gary Erskine make a great team. Anyone else paying attention to this book? Thoughts?

Batman: The Long Halloween

Finally picked this up as I've heard many good things... and it was okay. It was competent and did the job, but didn't really go above and beyond. I'm sure that this was one book that read better monthly in singles where the whole "Who is Holiday?" mystery could keep up the interest. In trade-form, though, it all goes by so fast that it isn't nearly as engrossing as it should be. As well, the story is so sprawling as far as a cast goes, you never really get a chance to latch onto anyone. We're supposed to feel for the Dents and I did--but just not as much as I feel I was supposed to. I've always thought that mystery stories work best when the narrative perspective is focused on one character--and Batman narrates the story, but we also get scenes that he didn't witness. Imagine if, during one of Raymond Chandler's novels, we suddenly got some scenes thrown in that Marlowe wasn't present for. It would fuck up the story. Now, Loeb does do it consistently enough that it doesn't become too much of a problem, but it took me out of the story at times. Tim Sale's art is great and I loved the pages where Harvey Dent is knocked out and Sale's layout on those pages.

Getting this also gave me a chance to read Steve's essay on the identity of Holiday, and he makes a really strong case--one I'd have to agree with--but, as I've said before, I'm not the type to care about the solution to a mystery, which could be another reason why this book didn't wow me. Where other mystery writers can engross you without making the solution of the mystery the only reason to keep reading, I'm not sure Loeb did that. He tried, but didn't succeed for me.

That said, I may pick up Dark Victory this week, because it was an enjoyable enough read. It just doesn't live up to the hype, for me.

And that does it for this week.