Wednesday, January 2, 2008 10:36 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

I got to the comic book store way earlier than usual this past week - around noon - but I was still too late to get two of the books I was looking for: both Dan Dare #2 and Usagi Yojimbo #108 were sold out. This wasn't a huge loss, as I wasn't really excited about either of those books, but I'll try to track them down eventually. As usual, I ended up picking up one book that wasn't on my list, so it nearly evened out anyway.

Action Comics #860
This continues to be an exciting and clever story by Geoff Johns, and I'm just loving the pencils by Gary Frank, inks by Jon Sibal, and colors by Dave McCaig. The idea of rejected Legionnaires hijacking the legacy of Superman to pervert his and the Legion's message of unity, diversity, and tolerance into one of exclusion, xenophobia, and hatred is pure genius. As for the art, I just love the dramatic, quasi-realistic way the people are drawn. The action and plot are great, too. Definitely looking forward to the next chapter of this one.

Batman #672
It seems pretty clear that Morrison didn't care much for the whole Ra's al Ghul thing, because in this issue, the first after that storyline ended, he makes no mention of it at all, and does everything but pretend it never happened, picking up his "three crazy cops masquerading as evil Batmen" storyline right where he left it off. Here we finally get to see Batman face off against the third Batman and, well, let's just say things don't go well, and Morrison has set things up for a surreal trip through Batman's memory and nightmares next issue. I don't always love Morrison's work, but I definitely like what he's doing with Batman. This is good stuff.

Blue Beetle #22
The main over-arching storyline of this comic starts to come to a head in this issue - the first chapter of a new three-part arc - as the secret plan of the Beetle's alien enemies, the Reach, finally comes into focus. And frankly, it's really kind of a weird plan, with a really long timeframe. I know enslaving an entire race of people isn't exactly a small goal, but it still seems to me like they could have come up with an easier way to go about it that would have taken less time. Also, the whole thing with Tovar the Lava King is an interesting idea, and he's kind of a cool character, but his story is painfully rushed. I mean, he's introduced, goes through an entire developmental arc, and is convinced that his entire life is a lie, all in about five pages. It doesn't help that his whole deal is really kind of cliched.

I don't know. The art is good, and the dialogue is pretty funny sometimes, but I'm really thinking about dropping this comic again. I think it's too uneven to merit me spending money on it every month.

Captain America #33
Oh boy! Next issue the new Captain America gets unveiled! Of course, Brubaker makes it completely clear who it's going to be in this issue. Bucky does get to hand out some beatings this issue, as I'd hoped - and so does his disembodied arm! Holy crap, I didn't know it could do that! That's pretty funny stuff. The point is, it's another exciting issue that's over far too quickly. The next one will be big, and probably extremely popular, so I might want to get to the store early... although actually they'll probably make extra, some with different covers, so getting a copy will most likely not be a problem.

Badger Saves the World #1
I'd read about this comic (written by Mike Baron, published by IDW) and was vaguely interested in it, but I hadn't planned to pick up a copy. Of course, when I get to the store and see something on the shelf things can change; a whim can take me, and that's what happened in this case. And I'm glad, because this comic is hilarious and awesome.

I first encountered the Badger as a secondary character in the second volume of Nexus, a weird sci-fi comic also by Baron. Badger was my favorite thing about that book. He's a superhero whose power is that he knows kung fu, and he can use it well. However, he's also literally insane, with multiple personalities, and some issues with bloodlust.

The first page of this comic contains one of the funniest, and yet at the same time most heartless and awful, assassination sequences I've ever seen. Then the Badger shows up and tries to take out the two assassins in one of the most hilarious fight scenes I've ever seen. And the comic just keeps getting funnier, more surprising, and more surreal as it goes on. The only bad thing about it is the rather clumsy, amateur art. But thankfully it's not bad enough to ruin what's an otherwise laugh-out-loud fantastic book that features talking birds, dog suicide bombers, and the Badger tearing a demon apart with a chainsaw while his therapist looks on. Brilliant! You better believe I'll be collecting the rest of this series.

Captain Marvel #2
Rather than solving any mysteries, this issue only opens up more, by including a fight amongst three people who should all be dead, and a mysterious couple of messages that set up a trap sprung by people who look like Kree soldiers (which should be impossible, given what's happened to Kree space, as described in the Nova series). Interesting stuff!

Green Lantern #26
The various Lanterns deal with the aftermath of the Sinestro Corp War in their own way. Meanwhile, a conversation between Hal and Sinestro reveals a bit more of the outlines of Sinestro's plan; the Guardians take things a step further toward some mysterious doom by creating the mysterious Alpha Lanterns; and the deadly act of a grieving Lantern makes things even worse. This book continues to be interesting, so I guess I'm following it for the foreseeable future.

Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom #1
This is really quite awesome. It's a one-shot packaging two stories together. The first story is a new one introduced as an "untold tale," set when the Hulk was the green, "savage" Hulk, and his true identity as Bruce Banner was publicly known. It starts with the Hulk, as usual, trying to find a place where he'll be left alone, a quest which this time has led him to the area of a polar research lab. He's overcome by the cold, reverts into the form of Banner, and is found nearly dead by a group of scientists, who revive him. Meanwhile, another scientist has found the dragon-like alien Fin Fang Foom encased in the ice and, while trying to chip it out, awakens the creature. Foom takes on the man's form and blends in among the scientists, but soon enough the true identities of both Banner and Foom are revealed, and they have a great big awesome knock-down, drag-out. The great thing about this comic is that everybody involved with making it was clearly just having a lot of fun with it. The wonderful art - with pencils by Jorge Lucas, inks by Robert Campanella, and colors by Brad Anderson - is done deliberately in a classic, Kirby-esque style, and even the writing is a bit classicized, though not so much as to make it really corny or lame. The story is funny and entertaining, and quite similar to that of The Thing from Another World, a great film which itself was based on a short story called "Who Goes There?", and the comic cleverly pays homage to both sources by including a poster for the film on a wall in the lab, the appearance of which is followed up quickly by one of the characters actually saying, "Who goes there?"

In the back of the book, after the modern story, a reprint of Fin Fang Foom's original appearance, from 1960's Strange Tales #89, is also included. This story is extremely dated and quite corny and ridiculous. It's loaded with anti-Communist propaganda, and tells the tale of a young man from the island of Formosa who defeats an invading Red Chinese army by awakening the ancient dragon Fin Fang Foom (this was before they retconned him into being an alien) and leading him on an unlikely chase (mostly on foot!) through the invasion forces, which Foom completely destroys in his attempts to capture and kill our hero. The art is kind of okay, but the dialogue and story are pretty awful, and the coloring is the cheap, ugly kind that was standard at the time - all primary colors and solid backgrounds. Still, it's fun to see Fin Fang Foom's original appearance, and the story is entertaining in its own way.

Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash #2
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash #3
I finally gave up and decided to read 2 and 3 of this series, despite the fact that I never was able to get my hands on 1. And I'm glad I did, because now I know I really don't need to collect the rest of these. #2 starts with Ash showing up at Crystal Lake where he's been asked to take over management of the housewares department at the new S-Mart in town so he can straighten everybody out. But turns out he's also secretly looking to recover the Necronomicon, which he somehow knows is nearby. Unbeknownst to him, however, Freddy wants the book, too, and is using Jason as his pawn to get it. The comic apparently picked up right where the movie Freddy vs. Jason left off, as Freddy is still a disembodied head and is looking to get himself rejuvenated with the help of the Book of the Dead. Anyway, the story proceeds with lots of dumb teens screwing and cursing and getting themselves torn apart in horrible ways, whilst Ash fights back with his usual combination of sarcasm, metal hand, chainsaw, and boomstick. I have to admit, it's pretty much the comic book equivalent of the best we could have expected from a Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash movie. But that doesn't mean it's particularly good. It's not really very funny or clever; it's mostly just gory and disgusting. I also couldn't find a reason to care if any of the characters continued living or not, which kind of removes most of the excitement and interest from the story.

Jack of Fables #18
Oh no! The comic book obsession with zombies has infected even Jack of Fables! But it's okay, because they're handled in a slightly different, very funny way. They appear in a side trip to a little place called Idyll, where Miss Page meets a guy named Burner that she thought was her father, but apparently he's not? And then another famous character shows up and sets out after our heroes. I have to admit, I'm a little confused as to what was going on in the Idyll sequence, but I assume it'll make more sense later. Anyway, the important thing is, this issue is funny and clever, and it comes complete with another hilarious Babe the Blue Ox monologue!

Ultimate Power #9
I'm glad this series is over, as this final issue really kind of underlined for me its flaws: the ridiculously oversexualized women (drawn by Greg Land) prancing around and posing and sticking their butts in our faces; and the weak story (by Jeph Loeb) that's clearly just an excuse to have a bunch of super-powered characters fight each other, a fact that's made even more clear when the fight just ends suddenly for no real reason other than that the comic is over and it's time for everybody to go home. Sure there are some funny bits in here, and some fun action scenes, and the ending is rather moving. But it's definitely not one of my favorite comics ever.

X-Men: First Class #7
Both of the storylines launched in the last issue come to a head in this one, in which the de-powered X-Men must face off against an army of Sentinels, only to become super-super-powered a short time later. This story is followed by another amusing one-page Mini Marvels comic that features Iron Man trying to help Wolverine move. It's the fastest move ever! Anyways, this is another fun issue of X-Men: First Class. Nothing Earth-shatteringly amazing happens, but it's funny, the art is great, and there's some exciting action.

Blackgas
This is the complete trade paperback collection of a recent zombie horror miniseries by Warren Ellis, published by Avatar. So, yeah, more zombies. And indeed, it shares a lot in common with your average zombie horror story: a couple of hot, randy young teens travel to a cabin in the woods on an island that happens to be the home of an ancient mystery - long ago a whole community of people killed each other and the Native Americans shunned it ever after. Well, lo and behold, a fissure opens up and releases some kind of black gas which gets blown down toward town, and everybody who breathes it in turns into a (mostly) mindless, vicious, raping, killing, flesh-eating monster. And the teens have to fight their way through town to escape.

It's a pretty typical zombie movie premise. But this is Warren Ellis, so he manages to make the whole thing a lot more gruesome, awful, horrifying, and depressing than your average zombie story. These zombies aren't the undead; they're average people infected with some kind of chemical that causes them to lose all their inhibitions and fall back on their most primal desires: eating, fucking, killing. Most seem to retain the memory of who they are just enough that they feel really bad about what they're doing, but not enough to be able to stop themselves. It's really quite awful. There are some particularly horrible full-page pictures between chapters that I don't even want to describe. I'm not sure I would have kept buying issues of this had I been collecting it in that format, but having it all in one book meant that I kept reading page after page of it without being able to stop, dreading what was coming next, but needing to know how things turned out. Above all it's a great, exciting story, wonderfully paced, well written, well told, with lots of action and tension and surprises. But it also kind of makes you want to kill yourself.

Astonishing X-Men Volume 2: Dangerous
This is just fantastic - a big step up from Volume 1. Exciting action, big surprises, a great story, clever and funny dialogue, and the usual great art by John Cassaday. Best of all is that Whedon has a lot of great moments in this story that really wonderfully capture who these characters are. I think once I pick up the next volume (which I intend to do), I should own nearly every issue of Whedon's run on this title in some form or other.

The Goon Volume 1: Nothin' But Misery
The Goon = still awesome. This volume is loaded with plenty more fantastic monster-fighting action and hilarious dark comedy. There's not much of an overarching plot in this volume, but new characters are introduced and seeds are planted that I assume will come to fruition later. And anyway, even if this volume is a bit more episodic than the last, that doesn't make it any less brilliant. One of my favorite characters, Fishy Pete, returns with a whole horde of fish monster lackeys. There are a bunch of hilarious interludes featuring advertising for false products, the best of which are probably the ads for the faux Golden Age comic, The Atomic Rage. And there's even a Christmas issue that manages to be laugh-out-loud funny, deeply twisted, and heart-warming, all at the same time. In the very back there's also a fun gallery featuring a bunch of other comic artists taking a stab at drawing the Goon. It's another great volume, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Tagged (?): Action Comics (Not), Batman (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Hulk (Not), Superman (Not), The Goon (Not), The Take (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), X-Men (Not)



<< Fresher Entry Older Entry >>
Enter the Archives
Back Home
About
Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

RSS icon  Twitter icon  Facebook icon  Google Plus icon



Advanced Search

Recent Entries

Recent Comments

Most Popular Entries

Entry Archive

Tags

RSS Feeds
  • Main feed: RSS icon
  • Comments: RSS icon
  • You can also click any tag to find feeds that include just posts with that tag.