Thursday, August 13, 2009 12:27 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from 7/29. These days I'm trying hard to omit the plot synopses, but I still might slip in a spoiler now and then, so be warned.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3
Our first tale is by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Chris Samnee and it's an interesting look back at when Kilowog was a rookie Lantern and had to fight his way through his own brutal training period with a drill instructor shouting in his ear. I have to admit it's not a particularly creative story, and it's quite predictable, but I still found it amusing, effective, and even rather moving. There were also some fascinating moments, like Kilowog's short conversation with Sinestro at the end.

Tomasi once again provides the words for the next story, but this time it's Mike Mayhew who does the (rather lovely and realistic) art. The tale is about Arisia and her proud but sad family tradition with the Lanterns. Once again, nothing really shocking and new here, but still a solid little story that's surprisingly effective. The last tale in the book is rather ridiculous: it's Blackest Night #0, this time reprinted with just the black and white pencils and no colors, and accompanied by extra narrative boxes full of "Director's Commentary." The problem is, Blackest Night #0 wasn't all that great the first time around, and there's very little interesting information contained in the commentary.
Thumbs Sideways

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #2
This issue reveals how Wonder Man got roped into joining the Lethal Legion, delves into the interesting and complex relationship he has with his brother, shows us more of the group's crazy plan to kidnap Osborn, and then hits us with a zinger of an ending. Wow! I was actually thinking about dropping this book after the rather bland first issue, but it's turning into a surprisingly good comic.
Thumbs Up

Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #2
This comic opens with what is definitely one of my favorite recap pages ever: it's done up as a page in Mac's spiral-bound notebook diary, surrounded with cute stickers and character portraits in little paper hearts. Meanwhile, the things it describes are absolutely horrific and awful. Brilliant! Inside, it quickly becomes clear that nobody really bought Mac's frame-up of the Mayor, but it was still plenty embarrassing and annoying for JJJ, and after all that was the goal. To create further embarrassment and chaos, Mac initiates a gang war, then picks up a bunch of hot triplets, who mistakenly and hilariously refer to him as Ant-Man (he doesn't mind). Meanwhile, the subplot with the crazy Redeemer guy gets a lot funnier and a lot more interesting as we learn more about the gang of crazy freaks he's brought together. General Wolfram's fake origin story is hilarious, and Doctor Everything turns out to be a brilliant parody of Doctor Manhattan (with his censored shlong hanging out and everything) who's never even met Spider-Man, and has just joined the group seeking human companionship. It amuses me that the gang who are out to get Spider-Man claim they really want to "save" him. And of course the irony of Spider-Man being chosen to help J. Jonah Jameson with the gang problem that Spider-Man himself started just to piss off JJJ is quite delicious. Yep, I'm loving this series, too! Still enjoying the silly letters column, even.
Thumbs Up

Dark Reign: Young Avengers #3
Speaking of great recap page concepts, this series has a good one, too: it's a blog! Inside, we get to see the "Dark" Young Avengers getting tested for inclusion in the real Young Avengers. The test consists of each member of the former group teaming up with one member of the latter group to perform tasks like fighting helicopters and Hydra soldiers. The way Cornell jumps from one scene to the next, stringing the dialog together on the connecting phrase "an Avenger," is vaguely clever, but also kind of annoying. Coat of Arms' origin story is quite odd (maybe it'll be explained further later on?), but it's good to finally know the truth about the Enchantress. It's interesting how the one team of Avengers goes about grading the other team of Avengers, and how each team is affected by the other. Kate's conversation - the real one, and the one she wished she had - with the Executioner is enlightening and disturbing. I loved getting glimpses at a couple more of Coat of Arms clever, funny, postmodern art pieces. And of course it's intriguing learning that Osborn is keeping a close eye on this whole situation, and apparently expects something to come out of it soon that will be to his advantage. This is a really unique, thought-provoking series with some excellent dark comedy.
Thumbs Up

Ignition City #4
I already knew someone was going to say "Science will fuck you!" in this issue, because Warren Ellis tweeted about it before the comic hit the stands, but knowing it was coming, and seeing a mad scientist kick his door open holding a homemade laser, shout out that ridiculous and fantastic phrase, and then blow some crap up and scare off a couple of bad men, was really another thing entirely. An awesome thing. That character's dialog is wonderful throughout, actually. He may be my favorite person in this book so far, and there were already a number of great people here. He and Mary now both know the terrible, impossible secret that got Mary's Dad killed, but it remains a mystery to the reader. We also get an intriguing but mostly unilluminating glimpse at the post-apocalypse the guy from the future has seen. This is a good, exciting comic. It smells of science!
Thumbs Up

Kid Colt #1
This is a one-shot I picked up mostly on a whim. It tells in four chapters an adventure in the life of one of Marvel's old timey Western heroes: the titular Kid Colt. Rick Burchett's art is quite nice, and writer Tom DeFalco tells a reasonably engaging, classic Western story about a fantastically talented young gunslinger running from the law because he's been accused of a crime he didn't commit. Unfortunately, although it's unobjectionable, the story is also rather bland, predictable, and unimaginative. Certainly not terrible, but definitely a disappointment.
Thumbs Sideways

The Muppet Show: The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #1
Yay, a new Muppet Show miniseries from Roger Langridge! As usual there's a lot of stuff going on, but the main plotline revolves around an old treasure map which Scooter finds while cleaning up a storage area, and which the rats take very seriously. There's a great subplot involving a tap-dancing ninja, and another one about Animal getting all straight-laced and boring. Kermit is acting equally oddly, but whereas Animal's condition is explained, Kermit's is not. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that's not really Kermit at all! At the end of this issue, Animal is tired and lost, and everyone signs a get well card for him. It's sweet and funny and even a little sad. It's the Muppets and I love it.
Thumbs Up

The New Avengers #55
We jump back in time to get a look at what happened to The Hood's gang at the conclusion of the big fight in New Avengers #50, then we get an amusing look at how the Avengers are really trashing Bucky Cap's place and it's kind of pissing him off. Frankly, I like Ronin's plan to just kill Osborn, and I think Spider-Man's being a little stuck-up and nitpicky about the whole thing. And wow, did the Avengers fall into that trap like a bunch of idiots or what? And wasn't that the exact same trap they tried to set for Osborn and his gang earlier? D'oh. All in all, a pretty decent story. Can't say I find the preview in the back for Vengeance of Moon Knight all that tantalizing, though. Don't think I'll be picking that one up. Moon Knight just doesn't do it for me.
Thumbs Up

Son of Hulk #13
This book is going off in a completely new and weird direction. It's now in the hands of a new creative team (Paul Jenkins writing, Andres Guinaldo drawing) and it's jumped back in time to follow the refugees who escaped the destruction of Sakaar. But if it's not about Skaar anymore, you might ask, then why is it still called Son of Hulk? Because it turns out the Jade Giant left yet another kid behind on Sakaar without knowing it. This one's a former slave named Hiro-Kala. (Hiro. Riiiight. Very subtle.) But how the heck did Hulk have another son?? Where did this kid come from? It doesn't even make any sense. And I am seriously sick and tired of all the back and forth about the stupid world-breaker/Sakaarson/life-bringer prophecy. I don't care anymore whether the prophecy's true or false, whether somebody just made it up or not, or whether this guy's going to break the world or that guy's going to save everyone. They've led us down too many different paths with this thing and dicked us around on it too many times. I've had enough. And Hiro's going to go after Galactus now, too? There's already another miniseries going on now about a guy going after Galactus (Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter), and it's much better written than this.

So yeah. Not really a fan of this issue. But the good news is that means I can now drop this book again.
Thumbs Down

Star Trek: Mission's End #5
I really love how this miniseries comes to a conclusion in this issue. Kirk swoops in and saves the day just like we knew he would, of course, but the other characters get to be heroes, too. Mr. Scott's cold, hard, calculating tactics against the Orion fleet are particularly bad-ass. And I really love how the spider king develops as a character, and makes a powerful, culture-changing choice for his people. The idea of the alien artifact turning into a doorway into another dimension that the spiders and crawlers all walk through is also really effective and intriguing. Then the Orion pirates are disposed of in satisfying fashion. In a cute and funny sequence, Kirk finally gets the girl... but then pushes her away to offer her a promotion instead. And hey, check out the dude in the first panel on page 17. That's Han Solo making his way off the Enterprise! Thanks to artist Stephen Molnar for that wonderful little cameo, and the excellent art throughout.

The final scene of the book is perhaps the best, however, as the old school Star Trek trinity - Kirk, Spock, and McCoy - have a revealing conversation which works as a fascinating examination of their relationship with each other, and of them as individual characters, and which believably and realistically explains why each of them ended up where they were at the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The events of this miniseries have led all of them to take a deep look inside themselves, and they've all come to some disturbing conclusions. Spock has realized he's still troubled by emotions and he needs to see if he can purge them once and for all; McCoy has realized that he's too old for this shit (especially if Kirk's not going to be in the Captain's chair to save his bacon anymore); and Kirk has realized that if the people higher up the chain of command are making poor decisions, he needs to get up there himself so he can make better ones.

This is a truly excellent series. Author Ty Templeton really understands these characters and what makes them tick, and brilliantly bridges the gap between the original TV series and the films. Highly recommended for any fan of old school Star Trek.
Thumbs Up

Toy Story: Mysterious Stranger #3
I was confused at first as to how this was going to hold together as a miniseries, given that each story so far has been a one-shot story-wise, but I'm realizing now that the title of the series is the recurring theme that runs through each episode, and in fact each story has a very similar plot: the toys encounter something new and strange, initially react to it with fear and paranoia, but then ultimately learn how to deal with it and sometimes even embrace it. In this case the new element they have to deal with is Andy's dog, and the fact that he's seen them walking and talking and thus knows their secret. This poses an interesting problem for the toys, but is ultimately resolved when they help the dog out and make friends with him. It's not clever, complex art or anything, but it's a fun enough little tale.
Thumbs Up

Wednesday Comics #4
Batman - It's been done before, but I enjoy the panel where Bruce's shadow takes on the shape of the Batman. And hey, Mrs. Glass is hot, and it looks like Bruce is about to score with her!

Kamandi - There's really just a couple quick moments of action in this one before it's all over, but man, Ryan Sook's art is just so beautiful, you've got to sit back and admire it for a while.

Superman - Clark's still back home in Smallville, trying to work through his sudden attack of ennui with the help of a corn dog! Things get a bit more interesting at the end of this episode, as he steps into the family barn and takes a peek at what I assume is the Kryptonian ship he crash landed in.

Deadman - This one's growing on me. It helps that this episode includes lots of action-packed demon fighting and big, dramatic art.

Green Lantern - Speaking of great art, check out Joe Quinones' great work in this strip. There's also some great further characterization of Hal Jordan and his buddy Dill via an amusing flashback. Gotta say I think Busiek's doing a much better job handling Jordan as a character here than Johns is doing in the current Green Lantern book.

Metamorpho - This episode we go back to normal comic book format (stuff happening sequentially in separate panels, instead of all at once in one giant panel) and the plot suddenly takes a leap forward - namely, we meet the Element Woman Urania Blackwell and learn that she'll be Rex's enemy and competitor in the search for the Star of Atlantis. Should be fun. But why does Metamorpho look so weird and creepy in the penultimate panel?

Teen Titans - Still sucks. It's too bad, too, because I really like the cartoon.

Strange Adventures - With Adam zapped back to Earth, we're now left to follow the adventures of his super hot, super bad-ass, punk rock girlfriend, Alanna-Sardath. She escapes the mandrill aliens on a giant greyhound! Needless to say, this is another awesome episode full of fun dialog; ridiculously lush, creative, and beautiful art; and exciting action.

Supergirl - Okay, the face-off between the cat and the evil-looking mouse illustration is funny. But mostly I still just don't care about this strip.

Metal Men - Now that a supervillain has suddenly revealed himself, this story has gotten a bit more interesting. And the dialog is kind of funny. But there's still something about it that's keeping me from really loving it. Not sure what. I guess I just don't care about these characters all that much.

Wonder Woman - Still cluttered and dumb.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. - Finally something almost sort of happens! But yeah, I feel like I'm still waiting for the story to pick up and get going. It's so dull!

Iris West and The Flash - We get to see the straw that broke the camel's back as far as Iris and Barry's relationship was concerned, but then the two Flashes enact their plan to split up and woo Iris and defeat Grodd at the same time. The wooing part seems to be going all right, but the defeating Grodd, not so much. In fact, it looks like the Flash is caught in a kind of time loop there; he was actually defeated before he even got to Grodd. These two strips are ridiculously clever and fun.

The Demon and Catwoman - The Demon finally gets to really let loose with the cool, poetic language in this one. I like!

Hawkman - This has easily been the worst strip in Wednesday Comics throughout its run so far, but in this issue it gets totally crazy and epic and action-packed. We pull out to the planetary scale and the rest of the JLA starts to get dragged into the story. Then Hawkman finishes things up by beheading his enemy and delivering a ridiculous but oddly hilarious and bad-ass one-liner. Kyle Baker could save this strip yet!

Go, Wednesday Comics, go!
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Blackest Night (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Dark Reign (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Hulk (Not), Muppets (Not), Paul Cornell (Not), Pixar (Not), Star Trek (Not), The Take (Not), Toy Story (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), Wednesday Comics (Not)



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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.

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