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Sean William Scott

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Comics I Read 

From the people who brought you X-Men: Death Becomes Them, a sequel, X-Men: Dark Phoenix Rising.

You know, it's probably not a good sign for the X-Books that the most entertaining version of the characters out there right now is a Flash-animated parody.

JLA: Classified #4: Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire bring the wacky version of the JLA back...again. It's good stuff, and very funny stuff, but I'm just slightly leery of any storyline promising more Guy Gardner, I character I've never cared for, and whose humor always seemed forced.

Promethea #32: For the final issue Alan Moore gives us a playful little puzzle that also works as a basic primer on his philosophy. I'm expecting a lot of back-lash on this issue. I've already heard plenty of grumbling on-line and in-store about Moore pulling this "stunt" just to be "pretentious" or "didatic." And frankly, I don't buy that. If you've stuck through this little experiment of Moore's for the prior 31 issues it seems a bit disingenuous to now pretend as if the book was never anything but a super-hero comic.

Ocean #4: Ellis makes hard sci-fi seem so natural and effortless, without losing sight of basic truisms about humanity. This is probably my favorite work of his in some time.

Ultimates 2 #3: So, Pete asked me if I planned on reviewing this issue. Well, here's the thing; it's become painfully apparent over the last several months that Millar has found a niche that he's comfortable with as a writer, and that is largely to attempt to be as faux-controversial and shocking as he can be. So even on a project like this, that when all is said is done is largely mainstream and restrained, it feels...lesser, simply by being associated with him. There's a hollowness to the book, masked by the pretty pictures. There's no "there" there, in other words. And I've simply no confidence in Millar as a writer to hope that there's a point to that emptiness, that it's leading to something, that the characters will grow out of their shallowness and hollowness. And as I have no confidence that anything in this book will go anywhere, I really don't see the point in trying to follow it anymore, much less sit here and try to tell the world whether or not it's "good" or "bad." It is what it is: a pretty, but empty, package.

Young Avengers #1: "They're not what you think..." is what it says on the cover. Well, what I think it is, is another in Marvel's shameless attempts to cash in on something that another company has had success with, in this case Teen Titans. And actually, that's exactly what it is, Marvel's version of a "teen sidekick" team-up book. Now, having said that, it's not actually bad. Yes, there is painfully silly last-page "surprise," and all of Cheung's faces have a certain sameness to them, but there is wit and some originality to the story. Yes, it's stuck having to deal with the fall-out of an over-hyped and not very good cross-over storyline, but I've seen worse spin-offs (New Guardians comes immediately to mind). I'm willing to give it a shot. It has the promise of being a fun book, despite the flock of albatrosses it's got slung around its neck.

ps238 #10: Any issue with more Prospero is a good issue. My only complaint: not enough Prospero.

Manhunter #7: Are you still a super-hero comic if your main character doesn't get into a costume once during the entire issue? Or are you just Daredevil then?

Ex Machina #8: Y'know, I like Vaughn as a writer, but his gay couple here is just a little too perfect. Inter-racial and bi-political, one formally dressed, one casually, one white-collar, one blue-collar. It's a common enough mistake straight writers make, trying to make the gay protagonists a little too universal, a little too "just like straight people." Now, I like the comic and all, but whenever I see someone go that extra length to pretend that not all gay people are non-politically correct queens all I can think is "ooh, get her."

Catwoman #40: I'm the only person who liked Wooden Nickel, wasn't I?

Astonishing X-Men #8: Instead of talking about this comic, I'm going to talk about the movie Phantoms. Bear with me, I've got a point. See, back when I was in college, it was really cheap to go to the movies. It was something like $3 for a week-day matinee, so for about $5 I could see a new movie and get a snack. Now, being a small college town, the assortment of films we got was slim. Basically we got the B movies and the art-house, foreign and indie films. If you wanted to see a big block-buster film you had to drive to the multi-plex the next town over. But the selection of films worked just fine for me, and I usually had the cash handy to see movies two or three times a week. Combine that with the video store focusing on art-house, foreign, indie and classic films with a daily rental rate that worked out to less than a dollar a day, and I watched a lot of movies in college. I've always had a fondness for dumb fun movies, they're a good way to kill an afternoon on a slow day. Now, Phantoms was playing at the local theater, and all I knew about it was that it was about a small group of people investigating mysterious disappearance in a mountain town and that Ben Affleck (before he was just annoying) and Liev Schrieber (who I thought was hot) were in it. In other words, it looked like a dumb fun movie, and I had the $5 to spare. The movie's coasting along, and it is indeed a dumb fun movie. Then, for some reason, the film tried to explain what, precisely, was going on. Which was a mistake. Because I'm prepared to tolerate a strange entity causing people to disappear in a dumb fun movie. But when it was revealed that the entity in question was actually evil, intelligent shape-shifting oil, and that it's what killed the dinosaurs, the movie went from dumb fun to just plain old dumb.

"The danger room is angry" is to this series what evil intelligent oil was to the movie Phantoms.

Runaways #1: After that comic I needed something fun and good, with no dumb anywhere near it, so this was precisely the remedy necessary. It's not the best introduction for new readers, but the basic premise is stated, as is the current status quo. New mysteries are introduced in a dramatic way, but it's a method that works for super-hero books. If I have any reservations, it's in the concept of a support group for ex-teen-heroes. But, again, it's a conceit that works in a super-hero books, and Vaughan does play it off as a slightly silly situation without making any of the characters involved look foolish.

Fables #34: I don't like movies or television shows set in Hollywood, or otherwise about making movies or television shows. It's needlessly narcisstic and self-referential, and designed solely to appeal to the kinds of people who for some reason think that how much money a movie makes is important and/or a sign of the film's quality. So this storyline already holds no appeal to me.

She-Hulk #12: So, Marvel puts out a book that's truly all-ages, generally new reader friendly, has plenty of hooks to keep existing fans happy, and is genuinely fun. And they put it on "hiatus." Swell.

303 #3: While Warren Ellis seems bound and determined to bring the hard sci-fi genre back to comics, Garth Ennis seems to be on a similar quest with war comics. I like his work on books like this far more than his Punisher work. I dropped Punisher quite some time back, in fact, because it felt like Ennis was starting to take the character too seriously, and there's any number of bad Punisher comics from the eighties and nineties that take the character seriously that I could read if that was a version of the character I wanted to read about. When Ennis is being serious and earnest it works much better when it's on a book with a strong basis and grounding in something that resembles a recognizable reality.

Vimanarama #1: At some point, I really do feel like I should sit down and write an in-depth discussion of Seaguy and WE3, and probably this book as well, but for now I'm just going to say that this was brilliant and funny and beautiful and leave it at that.


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