Thursday, May 10, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of May 9, 2012

Another week, another shortage at the shop. After some sort of problem (I heard it was a truck accident?) with Diamond meant Fury MAX #1 (and some other comics) were delayed from last week, this week, my shop was shorted on Silver Surfer: Parable hardcovers, so I don't get that for another week or two. I wouldn't mind shit like this if it happened only occasionally, but it seems to happen a lot -- and when it isn't happening at my store, I don't have to expend much effort to read about it happening elsewhere. Fun. But, I did get Essential Black Panther, so I didn't exactly need another collection to buy this week. While I'm on that, thanks a lot, Marvel, for leaving Jack Kirby's final two issues of Black Panther out of this volume... good on ya... idiots.

Avengers Assemble #3: Given how well Bendis wrote Thanos when he 'appeared' in Avengers last year, I'm not exactly thrilled to see him pop up here. That appearance was Dr. Strange posing as Thanos, though, so, hopefully, Bendis does a better job this time around. Then again, Thanos is one of those characters that I have a hard time reading when he's not written by Jim Starlin. Other writers don't seem to quite grasp the character or what he's about the same way. Reading this issue, I wonder if I would have liked it more if any artist other than Mark Bagley drew it. Yes, of course. Ugly fucking comic. Cluttered pages, poor line work... And Bendis's writing here isn't that impressive. The fight construction is generic, the villains lack personality, and there's that standard comics trope of 'power equals the ability to fight well' cropping up. [**]

Batman #9: The narration to this issue made me want to enter the comic, walk up to Batman and remind him that he's not actually a bat and those people he's fighting aren't actually owls. They're all people dressed up in costumes and what costumes they choose to wear doesn't necessarily reflect the relationship those animals have. It's just so silly, man... [**3/4]

Captain America #11: Solid as always. It seems weird to want to look down on a comic that's just delivering good superhero stuff every month. Not amazing, not bad -- just good. Like that's a crime or something. [***1/4]

Fatale #5: This issue finally hooked me in a little. I'd been having a tough time getting into this series, not convinced that all of the elements cohered well. There's a lot of mystery still there, but seeing that there was an actual point to everything goes a long way sometimes, even if that point isn't 100% clear. But, still, this remains the Sean Phillips and Dave Stewart show. [***1/2]

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #9: Alberto Ponticelli works with a new inker this time out and the results are messier than Walden Wong's efforts, but it's still too wide open, too empty. Ponticelli's art when he inked himself was darker, used blacks more, which complemented his demented line work. Take that away and figures wind up looking awkward -- too bright somehow. Not the best issue as far as writing goes either. [**3/4]

Fury MAX #1: That first page... fuck me... I love it. It's Ennis and Parlov back together, doing their thing. It would be too much to hope it lasts forever, right? [****]

Hell Yeah #3: I think this series is hitting its groove for me finally. (Like three issues in deserves a 'finally...') Thus far, it felt a little meandering and scattered, not able to fit enough into an issue to make it feel worthwhile entirely, but, here, Joe Keatinge hits a really great balance across the issue, especially introducing a plot twist that seems to work at cross purpose to last issue's plot twist. I knew having a little patience would pay off here... (Or, maybe it's learning that Keatinge is a wrestling fan. That could be it...) [***3/4]

Hulk Smash Avengers #2: It's like reading an ultra-compressed version of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes 3" or something... I love how well Joe Casey can jump in and capture a period of Avengers history so completely. The scene with the Vision and Scarlet Witch served no purpose except fitting this issue into context. Casey takes a very character-driven approach and, more than a lot of flashbacks, it makes this feel almost like a genuine 'lost' issue. Max Fiumara's art is a bit hit or miss at times, but I love the way he draws the fight. [***3/4]

Journey into Mystery #637: An improvement over Exiled #1. Almost interesting enough for me to buy next week's New Mutants. Some of the 'Asgardians as humans' bits didn't work completely, forcing it a bit. Still, more worthwhile that it seemed a week ago. [***]

Mystery in Space #1: The third Vertigo anthology like this in the past couple of years and, like the previous ones, it's a hit-or-miss affair. Mostly mediocre SF stories with the odd one that's better than the rest and one that I didn't get past the second page of before giving up. What happened to Paul Pope's contribution, though? The lack of it is the most disappointing part about this book. [**3/4]

The Ultimates #10: The creative team switch begins here with Sam Humphries joining Jonathan Hickman as co-writer for a short transitional period before he takes over entirely. There isn't a noticeable shift in writing yet. The opening pages showing Washington before it was blown up, though, are an utter waste. Otherwise, this was a quieter issue of response to what's happened and gearing up for some more big stuff. Esad Ribic and Dean White's absence is what hurts. This series just took a big downgrade in art and it affects the reading experience quite a bit. What bugs me most is when, later in the issue, Luke Ross and Matthew Wilson's art begins to resemble the Steve McNiven plastic people. Gone are the lush colours and exquisite line work that made this comic stand out (along with Hickman's insane writing); left is something that looks so much more typical and dull. [***]