Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Bought Comics: The First Three Weeks of December 2008

[In which I deliver thoughts and musings on comic books which I have read, but have not reviewed for CBR. Not really reviews, so don't take them as such. Unless you want to. Okay?]

I haven't done this for a few weeks, which makes sense since at least half of what I get each week is for reviews, so letting it accumulate makes sense. I will be doing this in chronological and then alphabetical order. As well, included are two graphic novels I received for Christmas on Tuesday. Yeah, we did ours on Tuesday since both of my sister had to work today. It actually didn't change much since the actual date of Christmas is pretty arbitrary and doing it two days sooner isn't really all that different. It also meant that when I woke up this morning at quarter-to-nine, I'd slept in compared to my previous 24 Christmases. Weird.

Final Crisis #5

Well, Tim and I discussed this in a cross-blog Splash Page, so I'm not sure if there's much to add. I dug this issue quite a bit and it's fun to see how Morrison's overall plan is unfolding. Tim and I didn't discuss it, but I didn't find the art changes distracting or annoying in any way.

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign

Didn't really impress me. It's nice to see that the villains weren't planning this, this is just Norman Osborn trying to make his life easier. I actually looked at New Avengers: Illuminati to compare/contrast and, wow, Alex Maleev's art sure has changed. Namor, in particular, suffers. His Osborn also has normal hair. What the hell? I'm actually not that enthused over "Dark Reign," but that's a pretty easy stance to take when you thought Iron Man was an asshole post-Civil War. I do like the reversal, but nothing I've read including the end of Secret Invasion, this and the most recent issues of the two Avengers books has convinced me that I should give a fuck. But, more on that towards the end.

Ghost Rider #30

This book loses me more with each passing issue. What began as a quirky grindhouse horror comic has become another book about various versions of the same character with a stupidly cliche villain that's playing the turncoat for a chump. The fall of this book in my esteem has been drastic and I'm very close to dropping it. What comes down to is, I'm bored when I read it. I don't care about the International Spirits of Vengeance, I don't care about a renegade angel, and I really just don't care about this book. I may give the run so-far a reread and let that decide its fate.

Hellblazer #250

Though I buy this book in trades, random one-off or two-part fill-in issues pop up from time to time and it's an excuse to pick up a floppy adventure of John Constantine to hold me over until the next trade comes out. This holiday/anniversary special isn't bad. It isn't great either, but rarely are these fill-in issues, especially when creators are limited to short stories. That said, who cares, it's good stuff. Brian Azzarello's story was witty and, thankfully, didn't tie into his run on the book. Peter Milligan takes over next issue and his story shows promise. I'm this close to picking up the book on a regular basis with Milligan on board. Really, this book is a great pairing of skilled writers and artists, and just a joy to read. Not the best thing ever, but good enough.

Invincible Iron Man #8

Salvador Larocca's art pisses me off. It's butt-fuck ugly in a lot of places as he doesn't know how to draw a damn face/head. Add to that a plot that I don't care about. The more I think about it, the more I find the idea of Norman Osborn in charge just because he got in the shot that killed the Skrull Queen, the more I find the whole idea a waste of my goddamn time. This book is back to being officially dropped.

Punisher: War Zone #2-3

I don't know if you've noticed this, but, over at CBR, there are six comic book reviewers. Now, I like a good "gimmick," so I thought "Six of us, six issues of a new Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon Punisher book... we should each review an issue!" I sent an e-mail to Augie (reviews editor and columnist) and he thought it was a good idea, but wondered if it could work (I did too), but I mentioned it to the gang and they liked the idea. What I find very interesting is that reviews for the first three issues are up and each of us has given our respective issue four stars out of a possible five. Now, if that isn't an indication of the level of quality that Ennis and Dillon are delivering, I don't know what is. And we're all different, us reviewers (the two closest in taste would probably be Tim and myself, I think)... yeah, this is a four-star series. It's as good as it can be. The goofier aspects both add and detract (not equally, but close enough), and it's weekly, so it reads very well. I like that Marvel is releasing this book that way and wish they'd line up various minis by high quality teams to release this way. DC has it's mediocre-to-utter-shit weekly book and Marvel can have its various weekly minis that are quite good.

New Avengers #48

Did anything actually happen in this issue? No? Didn't think so. With the price going up by a buck (a buck-twenty for Canadians thanks to the exchange rate) next issue, I think I'm done with this book. Again, the new line-up isn't really all that different and the new status quo doesn't wow me. There are two reasons why I'd keep buying this series:

1. Because I have all of Bendis's Avengers work to this point. And that reason has a pull, but not a good enough one. Really, it's not even close to good enough.

2. Because I want to see what happens with Danielle Cage. This reason is almost good enough. It's very close, because I've become attached to Luke and Jessica, but I can always pick up trades or find out what happens online. It's not worth nearly five bucks each month (exchange rate, you whiny Americans!).

I do believe I will buy the first issue of Dark Avengers to see what it's like, but, that may be the end of me and Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers work. But, in January, I'm thinking I might start a series of posts looking at his run(s) on the book(s). Fun.

The Little Man: Short Strips, 1980-1995

One of the two graphic novels I received for Christmas. I've been a fan of Chester Brown for a few years now, but this is only the third book of his I've gotten. I first picked up I Never Liked You back in my second year of undergrad and, then, Louis Riel in hardcover shortly after, but, since then... nothing. This collection is nice and ranges in quality, most of the strips only two or three pages. I always enjoy collections like this, because I enjoy seeing how a writer/artist/whatever changes and grows over the years... not just in style and technique, but in their subject matter of choice. Considering that my first exposure to Brown's work was I Never Liked You, it's not surprising that my favourite strips were "Helder" and "Showing 'Helder,'" both very autobiographical. I haven't read all of the notes yet, but plan to tonight. One sour note: after only one read-through, the binding has come unglued... pages haven't fallen out yet, but it's not that fun to have a book fall apart so quickly. Ah well, it will make seem more read if anyone should ever browse my collection and make it seem like I'm a bigger fan of Brown than I am.

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard

Eddie Campbell's annual graphic novel was my second Christmas graphic novel (if only I'd thought to put the new ACME Novelty Library on my list!) and it's a very renjoyable read. One of the pleasures of each new Campbell OGN is how he presents it--in this one, he's chosen a square(-ish) layout, often divided in four with other bits above and below the "main" panels. It's a really nice way to present the story as well as other information... I actually wish he and Dan Best (his co-writer) had utilised that space even more. Of course, that they used it sparingly makes each use pack that much more of a punch and seem that much more important. The story itself is nice and engrossing, but I always try and appreciate Campbell's work on another level, if I can. It's always difficult for me since I'm more focused on words than pictures, even with comics, and have difficulty really appreciating what an artist is doing. This was one of the books that I thought may alter my top ten of 2008 list, and I'm not sure that it has yet for sure... definitely the top twenty. But, 2008 isn't over yet, so I'm not thinking about it too much. If you haven't, though, check this book out.

That does it. Merry Christmas.