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Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Long Delayed Comics Reviews
Concrete: The Human Dilemma #2: Blast, just as I was enjoying a decent story about how humans relate to each other, despite the science-fiction element of a man trapped in an alien body, the generically sinister business man reappears at the end of the issue. Still, the issue was enjoyable despite that annoying little reminder of genre.
Lions, Tigers and Bears #1: I picked this up mostly out of curiosity over the art. It's very pretty to look at, to be sure, but the story has so many familiar trappings, the enterprise as a whole has a bit of a "been there, done that" feel to it. Frankly, it's almost as if it's trying a little too hard to fill the apparent demand for more all-ages comics. In other words, it feels a little calculated. Pretty, though.
Firestorm #10: Is the return of Ronnie Raymond meant to placate the fans of the prior Firestorm title, or simply part of the larger story that was intended all along? See, I'm reasonably certain people, somewhere, are intensely debating that point, but my primary concern is whether or not this is a good, entertaining comic. The return of Ronnie Raymond is a dramatic change to the status-quo of the series, and a further complication for a title that was already enjoyable in part because of the rather complicated premise. So it's an intriguing change that I'm curious to see played out.
X-Men: Phoenix Endsong #2: At least one X-Title is comfortable mining Grant Morrison's run for material, rather than franticaly trying to undo it. The art is very pretty, but this now feels like two issues of set-up. To Pak's credit, he seems to be the only X-Writer with a grasp of how Emma Frost should be written, and the only one willing to give the benefit of the doubt as to the sincerity of Scott and Emma's relationship.
Monolith #12: The happy resolution was a bit telegraphed, but this was still a fairly satisfying wrap-up for the series. It closes off all the important plots, yet leaves the characters in a place where more stories can be told with them. I really enjoyed this series, and I'm sorry to see it go. Especially since it's legacy will probably be to serve as yet another example in support of the theory that comics fans don't support new and original material in the monthly magazine format.
Hypothetical Lizard #1: Lorenzo Larente's art is lovely, and I'm very curious to know what technique he used to draw this book (I'd guess it wasn't drawn on white paper, from the textures and shadings). The story is really quite chilling, and I'm both intrigued and horrified by what was done to the narrator, Som Som, in order to turn her into a prostitute suitable for sorcerers. As the first chapter of the story, it by necessity focuses on both how Som Som came to be where she is, and to reveal the background of the drama to come. Another excellent Johnston adaptation of an Alan Moore prose piece.
The Question #4: Well...I like it, but since we're now past the half-way point, do I really need to keep pushing it?
Detective #803: Lapham's Gotham is certainly...grittier than we've seen in awhile. I'm enjoying his run so far, the story is progressing at a quick place, yet complicating itself no more than is necessary.
Batman #636: On the other hand, I'm also enjoying Winick's lighter, more heroic take on Batman as well. It's a Batman that can actually have a sense of humor, with a Gotham that doesn't completely reek of decay and despair. It actually feels like it fits into the rest of the DC Universe, as opposed to the many, many years in which you almost had to pretend that the Batman titles were part of some separate world in order to reconcile the existence of the horrific Gotham that had been built up and the rest of DC's output.
Deadshot #3: More bad fun, a thrill in seeing the high-and-mighty Green Arrow get talked down to for a change and some actual attempts at emotional growth. Of course, now that Deadshot has been humanized somewhat, he's been set up for the obvious fall, as I'm not sure a "good guy" Deadshot is anything anyone wants to see. Still, if the end result is simply that DC has a villain with slightly more depth than "he's insane" or "he wants to take over the world" or the ever tiresome "he's jealous of the hero" it'll have been worth it.
Superman/Batman #17: I'm a long time DCU fanboy, and even I'm getting tired of playing "spot the character."
Adam Strange #5: Ah, the title that everyone liked up until the point they found out that elements of it spin out into other stories. I still like it, though, and still think it's worthwhile reading on its own.
Simpsons/Futurama: Crossover Crisis II #1: How can something be everything I expected it to be, and still be disappointing? This just wasn't as funny a concept the second time around.
Simpsons #102: Which is largely the same reaction I had to this issue, purchased solely in the hopes of getting some laughs in at the Disney in-jokes. There were some, but they were few and far between.
Losers #20: Well, that was an...unexpected development between two of the main cast members.
Legion of Super-Heroes #2: So, let me see if I have this right: Dream Girl is spacy and sarcastic, Braniac 5 is smug and sarcastic, Shadow Lass is violent and sarcastic, Karate Kid is impulsive and sarcastic and Element Lad is aloof and sarcastic. That about cover it? Yeah, the depth of character in this book is staggering. I just cannot see why this book is receiving such high praise. It reads like an homage to the Legion stories that were coming out thirty years ago, just dressed up in shiny new clothes. Future issues are going into the "books only Pete reads" pile I think.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #15: Ellis seems to have finally found his footing with this issue. It's page after page of people sitting around talking, but it's an intriguing and absorbing conversation. And the smaller character bits, such as Ben taking a space-walk, are deftly done as well.
JSA: Strange Adventures #6: I liked this mini, but it does have a bit of an "oh, it's over" ending. The ending doesn't really stay with you or bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.
Y: The Last Man #30: The mystery of how Yorick and Ampersand survived is revealed...and it's really quite sensible in an eye-roll inducing sort of way. Another strong issue.
Conan #12: A surprisingly brutal story, particularly the Tom Mandrake illustrated flashback to Janissa's training. The leisurely pace the story-lines take on this title is aided greatly by the stand-alone interludes like this issue. Still, as long as we don't get any more repeats of the interminable Hyperboreia story, I'll be happy.
Catwoman #39: Wooden Nickel is an enjoyably goofy villain, a good blend of modern sensibilities and Silver Age feel. And Morse actually manages to have Batman convincingly act like a human being in this issue as well.
Teen Titans #20: An entertaining super-hero book that successfully deals with the fall-out of changes to the status quo made in another title, in a convincing way. Wow, you'd almost not think it was possible.
Adventures of Superman #636: The "every one takes time out of the ongoing story to talk about Identity Crisis" issue. When you make big changes to a super-hero universe, as IC did, you have to deal with the repercussions somewhere, and Rucka does a good job having each of the DC Big Three give their take on the mini and what it means to the DC U as a whole. Each character's response feels "right" for that character, or at least as "right" a reaction as a fictional person can have.
Plastic Man #14: Plastic Man vs. a mouse. I mean, really, what more do you need to know?
Manhunter #6: I'm really hoping that the critical praise this book is receiving, in combination with the familiarity of the name, will give this book a good life-span, because this has been one of the better new titles DC has had in a year that offered plenty of good new comics from them. I'm liking the look at the DC U from the down-side, where not everything is as bright and shiny as it appears.
Genus Male #4: Ah, gay porn. Surprisingly, I think this is a much better book than Sin Factory's other gay title, Dangerous. The quality of the art is generally better and the stories are both better porn and more engaging. It's not quite as accomplished as Eros' new book Sticky, and often has that amateur feel that a lot of Radio/Sin Factory books do, but it fulfills my need to see boinking in comics.
Wanted #6: So, the whole point of this series was for Mark Millar to demonstrate his total contempt for his audience. Like we didn't know that already? Remind me to pass on any of his other projects that may come out. (Not that they'll, you know, come out in a timely fashion or anything...)
Planetary #22: Ellis takes on the pulp westerns, and it's too brief a story dammit! I wanted more, not just the teases we get here. For the rest of the book, the meta-plot advanced, in its incremental way, and Elijah Snow damned himself by failing to heed the repeated warnings he's been given about his role in the world being larger than petty vengeance.
JLA Classified #3: I don't think there are any comics writers out there today who can take all the glorious silliness of the comics of the past and still make them work seriously within the confines of modern comics expectations, and still have them be fun. This storyline was glorious nonsense as well as being the best critique of "realistic" super-heroes I've ever seen. It's a tribute to the elements of fantasy in super-hero comics that, frankly, is what got just about everyone reading them in the first place.