Monday, June 7, 2010 10:47 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the week of 5/12. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1
Warren Ellis returns to play in X country again for a new five-issue miniseries. This time he sends the team to Africa to investigate a mysterious rash of mutant births. Along the way, he highlights some of the more awful and violent parts of the socio-political history of Africa, and has the characters banter with each other in highly amusing ways. ("There's beer on the plane, Logan.") I thought from the sample of his art on the cover that I would dislike Kaare Andrews' work, but I actually enjoy it quite a bit. It's exaggerated in a funny, clever way that fits Ellis' writing well. I particularly like how he's highlighted the ridiculousness of Emma Frost's figure and costume. A good start to the series!
Thumbs Up

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #5
This issue reveals the horrific consequences of the events of the previous issue, and they are pretty shocking. Apparently Liz's most recent use of her powers really was nearly apocalyptic in its strength, and incredibly draining for her. Our heroes were teleported out of harm's way, but many thousands of people were not. Zinco is back and making some seemingly humanitarian gestures which no doubt have evil motives behind them, and one of Abe's old "friends" is still puttering around underwater in his big metal diving suit. Speaking of Abe, it makes me sad that Devon doesn't even want to be near him anymore, but considering what the Black Flame said about the guy, it's hard to blame him. In one of the more interesting subplots, it looks like reality is about to come crashing down on B.P.R.D.'s head. When you read these stories, you don't think much about the political consequences of the epic events that take place, but obviously the huge, world-altering supernatural things that have been going down would put B.P.R.D. on the spot, and they'd have to answer to somebody. But what starts as a dressing down turns into a sort of promotion. This should make the future of B.P.R.D. pretty interesting.

I like that they don't spell everything out for you in the Hellboyverse, but at the same time, I felt a bit lost after reading this issue. What exactly happened, and why? And who was the dude with the red hand on his face again? And what's going to happen to Liz now?? But maybe all that will be answered in future issues. Or maybe I should go back and read the old issues a bit more closely.
Thumbs Up

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Bruce is back!! This first issue of Grant Morrison's six-issue miniseries picks up right where Final Crisis left off, with Bruce hanging out with a dying old man in a cave and drawing some familiar-looking graffiti on the wall. It looks like when Bruce's corpse was shot off into space along with other artifacts of the dying Earth, he was somehow resurrected? And sent back in time? I assume they'll explain that in more detail later. Anyway, by the end of this issue, it becomes clear that he's going to be leapfrogging forward in time at random moments, sort of Quantum Leap-like, and the Justice League is going to be following him. Superman says if he makes it to the present he could destroy the universe! Another thing I assume they'll explain later. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the fun of Batman-through-time! In this issue, he fights cavemen, gets himself a caveman Robin, and experiences a weird summarized, nightmare version of his superhero origin story. Then it's forward to Puritan times where he'll fight extra-dimensional monsters with a sword! Excellent.
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #8
The final issue of this miniseries gives us an interesting look at the Marvel Universe version of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the very end brings us full circle in a satisfying way. But I have to repeat the same complaint I've been making about this series for the past couple of issues: there's far too much summarizing via narration and far too little actual comic book story-telling. They either needed to take more time and more issues to tell this story the right way, without clumsy, expository summarizing, or they needed to tell a smaller, shorter story in a tighter, more economic fashion. I like the concept of this series, and the art, but overall it's a disappointment, and doesn't live up to its potential.
Thumbs Sideways

The Sentry: Fallen Sun #1
Oh sweet lord, what an awful, awful comic this is. I had to force myself to even skim it. It's another of these one-shots, which are becoming woefully popular lately, where we spend an entire comic at the funeral of the latest dead superhero (whom we all know will be brought back to life in a year at the most anyway), and get to wallow in grief for over twenty pages. It's a really cheap way to elicit emotion from the audience. I'm not saying it can't be done well, but it certainly is not done well here. There is zero subtlety in Paul Jenkins' overwrought, ridiculously melodramatic writing. Tony's agonizingly long and awful speech about alcoholism and addiction and friendship is practically unreadable. And there are plenty more speeches of similar quality. What makes the book particularly odd and ineffective is that these characters are all speaking lovingly of events that I've never heard of before and that I'm pretty sure were never even dramatized in a comic before, because they were all retconned into this universe via the Sentry's origin story. Regardless, this comic is so full of corny, overly earnest, cliched dialog that it's totally unbearable. It's an embarrassment.
Thumbs Down

Siege #4
I expressed surprise in my review of New Avengers #64 that I learned about Loki's final double-cross in the pages of that book instead of in the pages of the main Siege miniseries. Well, this last entry in said miniseries finally explains Loki's actions. It's pretty much another version of the end of Secret Invasion, with one of the traditional Marvel villains stepping up to help the heroes defeat an even more dangerous villain. It's also, as I guessed from New Avengers, pretty much a literal deus ex machina. It's really quite lame. Basically this comic involves the heroes hitting a guy until they've finally hit him enough that he stops moving. Then Cap gets Norman Osborn's job. Yawn. Olivier Coipel's art is excellent, but I'm really tired of Brian Michael Bendis. His writing is just not very good, and the whole Siege story is tired and cliche. The Sentry character arc, for instance, is just a repeat, not only of many other, better stories about many other, better characters, but of stories that have already been told about this very same character. The same could be said for the Siege story as a whole. It feels like Bendis is just recycling the plots from Civil War and Secret Invasion because people seemed to like those. How about we try something new, huh?
Thumbs Sideways

Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #2
Another intriguing medical puzzle for everybody's favorite grumpy frontier doctor, this time with a cameo from Scotty. The solution to the puzzle involves the behavior of an ancient transporter system, and is pretty standard Trek stuff, but like I said about the first issue, it's really just fun seeing these beloved characters in action again.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #13
This issue opens with an intriguing look into the traditions and secrets of "The Order," and gives us a better idea of what's really going on. The two-page spread in which Tom sees a crowd of people rear up like a giant monster is very cool. We figure out who Richie is really working for just before he gets taken out of the picture for good in a really horrific manner. Damn! I was just starting to like that guy. But hey, it's fun meeting Frankenstein's monster again. All-in-all, another enjoyable issue.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), John Arcudi (Not), John Byrne (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), The Sentry (Not), The Take (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), X-Men (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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