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Friday, March 11, 2011 09:31 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Books (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comic books (Not), Links (Not), Monsters (Not), Movies (Not), Neil Gaiman (Not), News (Not), Punisher (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Video (Not), Werewolves (Not)
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Friday, August 20, 2010 02:02 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the weeks of 8/4 and 8/11. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth - New World #1
Apparently this and the next handful of B.P.R.D. story arcs are all going to be published under the "Hell on Earth" subtitle, which bugs me. Too many subtitles! I have to use the colon, and then the dash to write it all out! Ah, well. In this issue we learn that B.P.R.D. is dealing with dead-ends, wild goose chases, employee conflicts, backlash from the public, and a bunch of mysterious disappearances. I'm still upset about Devon's friction with Abe. The disappearances are unsettling, as well, as is Johann's obsession with getting back the physical body he lost. Where is it all leading?? We can only wait and see.
Thumbs Up

Captain America #607 & #608
Ouch. The new Zemo is hitting Bucky where it hurts now, drugging him to make him look bad, and then dragging the Winter Soldier out into the light. Harsh. I'm curious to see how Bucky fights back. Meanwhile, the Nomad backup stories are actually getting slightly less sucky, which is nice.
Thumbs Up

Fringe: Tales from the Fringe #2
I almost didn't buy another issue of this anthology comic, as the previous issue was rather mediocre, but the first, full-page panel in this book features Broyles crumbling into dust, and that was just too interesting for me to pass up. (It's just a dream, of course, but still.) The first story jumps back in time to fill in some of the blanks surrounding the case that finally killed Broyles' marriage. We also get to meet Broyles' old partner and get a look at what happened to her. It's not pretty! The second story is a pretty standard Twilight Zone-style affair about a guy who goes in a room he's told not to go in, sees something he should never have seen, and creates a terrible future in his attempts to prevent it. Meh.
Thumbs Sideways

Hellboy: The Storm #2
Oh hey! That old guy from the end of the last issue was Merlin! Like, Merlin Merlin! He tells the story of Nimue - the new Queen of Witches - and reveals the horrible origin of the beast Hellboy's in the middle of fighting. He also shows that little pig guy the enormity of the betrayal he's performed, leveling a terrible curse against him in the process. It's intense. Plus, the vision of apocalypse Merlin reveals is very similar to the one we've been seeing in B.P.R.D., which is neat. I love the eerie moment in the church when the ghost comes to visit the priest. And the way Hellboy beats the monster is so bad-ass - very similar to the end of the legendary fight between Arthur and his son, Mordred. Nimue's champion hints at some terrible truth about her that's still hidden. Dropping the sword in the ground seems to call up an inn for them to rest in, which also becomes a meeting place for Hellboy's army. He gets a glimpse of what's happening to B.P.R.D. on the TV, and has a really moving flashback to his childhood. "I'm not a monster, am I?" Fantastic, fantastic issue, summing up what's come before and setting up what's to come, with some great character development. And Duncan Fegredo's art is just amazing, especially paired with Dave Stewart's usual stunning colors. Damn, I love Hellboy!
Thumbs Up

Irredeemable #16
This issue is sort of a moment of calm amidst the storm, as our characters recover from the events of the last story arc and prepare themselves for what's coming next. Gilgamos' story is particularly dark and brutal. I enjoy Qubit's water-teleporting umbrella. And it's cool to discover that Kaidan might be a lot more powerful than she suspected. Meanwhile, it looks like Modeus may be getting ready to take the next step in his plan, and I'm very curious to see what it is.
Thumbs Up

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3
Just as the previous issue revealed Da Vinci to be the head of the faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. that believes the world can be saved, this issue reveals Isaac Newton to be the head of the opposing faction. He is one twisted dude! The way he infiltrates the Deviants, steals their knowledge, and destroys them - man! I love the machine built to defeat Galactus, that works by sacrificing men. "There is nothing that can't be done. There is simply a price to be paid." Newton takes Galileo's teachings, adds to them, and twists them into something evil. Galileo says, "Some men call me master... you will call me brother." Later Newton repeats this and reverses it: "Some men call me brother... you will call me master." In the back of the book is some correspondence from the secret Vatican archives revealing that the adoption of the Gregorian calendar was part of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plan to erase from history the defeat of Galactus. Awesome! This comic is so brilliant and creative and amazing.
Thumbs Up

Supergod #4
The madness continues, as our British scientist describes a super God fight, the destruction of the moon, and people being used as the building blocks of a strange structure. Good old Warren Ellis. I'm both curious and terrified to see how this all concludes in the next issue.
Thumbs Up

Thor: The Might Avenger #3
I like the way this comic catches you up on previous events by just slapping together a bunch of old panels with big "PREVIOUSLY..." and "MEANWHILE..." narration boxes on them. Very effective and comic booky! Plus the book really hits its stride in this issue by pulling great characters like Henry Pym, Janet van Dyne, and Loki into the story. Jane and Thor are cute together, and the story of Pym's relationship with Lew Stephens is sweet. The whole enterprise has a very satisfying, old school vibe to it. Well done!
Thumbs Up

Unwritten #16
Time for the big climactic showdown! Tommy's Dad explains things! (Some things. Kind of.) The book is released! (Only it's not the book we thought.) People die! (A good guy who wasn't so good, and the very worst bad guy of them all.) Lizzie goes home! (Except it turns out you really can't go home again, at least not once you've been written out of your own story.) Also, magic! It is great, great stuff. Incredibly thrilling, and satisfying enough, even though it doesn't actually answer all our questions or tie up all the loose ends. Where to next? I'll be there to find out.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Fringe (Not), Hellboy (Not), John Arcudi (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Roger Langridge (Not), S.H.I.E.L.D. (Not), The Take (Not), Thor (Not), Warren Ellis (Not)
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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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Monday, April 26, 2010 01:14 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the weeks of 4/7 and 4/14. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #4
Liz goes hunting in the ruins of a future apocalypse that she supposedly helped create and finds evidence that seems to support the Black Flame's disturbing claim that Abe is just a slightly more evolved frog creature. The whole second half of the book is incredibly thrilling, as Hellboy makes a cameo and it is strongly suggested that since he was/will be unable or unwilling to end the world, Liz took/will take over for him. Luckily, in a truly ass-kicking climactic conflagration, a mysterious man with a red hand on his forehead shows up and helps direct Liz's power at the right people. It's nice when a super-powerful magician shows up to fight on the side of good for a change! Excellent, excellent stuff.
Thumbs Up

Batman and Robin #11
I'll admit it, I had to do some googling to figure out just who everybody was supposed to be in this comic (I finally found my answers here, if you're interested). I guess I'm just not that good at holding all these story threads in my head at once, and I don't know as much about the history of the DCU as I'd like. I didn't know that Dr. Hurt and El Penitente were the same guy (or if I did know, I forgot), or that that's who that guy was in the opening scene. And I definitely didn't recognize the villain who showed up in the final panel (which is too bad, as I'm sure that was meant to be a shocking reveal). Ah, well. I still really enjoyed the comic. Morrison's kooky dialog and wild story ideas are just fantastic. I love the 99 Fiends, and Batman's Indiana Jones-like investigation under Wayne Manor. I'm glad Robin is thinking the same thing about Sexton I was thinking, but I'd sure like to know if we're right. And the thrilling, cliffhanger ending is very exciting.
Thumbs Up

Irredeemable: Special #1
This is the kind of book that, if Marvel or DC were putting it out, would probably be called an "Annual." It's bigger than your average issue and has three separate stories done by three separate creative teams (although they were all written by Mark Waid). It opens with a short sum-up of the story so far, and some intriguing hints as to where the story will go next, revealing that the three characters who are at the center of each of these three stories will take a critical role in the events to come. The first tale tells the story of one of the Plutonian's former teammates, a guy called the Hornet, who would have been the first superhero (albeit without any powers) if the Plutonian hadn't showed up first. His story is pretty similar to that of Plutonian's other former teammates, except for one difference: the Hornet had a contingency plan in case the Plutonian ever went bad, and he was able to activate it before he was killed. But what is it, and what does it do? I guess we'll see...

Next up is the origin story of Kaidan, done in an appropriately manga-type style. It's a little melodramatic, but does give us a bit more of an insight into her powers and her past. Last is the story of how Max Damage met Jailbait. This one's possibly the weakest and least interesting of the three; it just feels perfunctory and doesn't really add anything to what we know about the characters.

Still, overall this is a pretty fun book. Really, I'm just excited about the fact that it exists. If Irredeemable is putting out "special" issues, that must mean the series is doing well!
Thumbs Up

Siege: Loki #1
This is a one-shot revealing more of Loki's motives and machinations as far as the events of Siege are concerned. I picked it up because it was written by Kieron Gillen, whose work I've enjoyed in the past, and because I have a bit of a soft spot for Loki. The setup is interesting: Loki realizes that despite all his meddling, Asgard and its citizens - including Thor and himself - remain essentially the same. This frustrates and angers him, and he decides he's going to have to work some real chaos if he's to see any kind of true change in the nature of things. So he puts a bug in Osborn's ear about Asgard, then seeks out the terrible Disir and makes himself their master, so that he can make a deal with Hela and Mephisto which will not only cause some serious strife, but also leave him truly immortal and fateless. It's an entertaining and clever series of machinations, and gives us an interesting look into Loki as a character. In the back of the book, we're told Loki's endgame will play out in Thor #609 and Siege #4. I was probably going to buy those anyway, so that's cool.
Thumbs Up

Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #1
John Byrne returns to the Star Trek universe for a new miniseries focusing on what Dr. McCoy was up to in between the original Enterprise's final mission and the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I always like these kinds of stories that fill in gaps in the overall plotline of a larger saga, and Byrne is particularly good at writing them. His prose is smart and he treats the characters with respect. We learn in this issue that McCoy, after sitting around being retired for a while, got restless and signed up to be a frontier doctor, meaning he's out cruising the spaceways with a fellow doctor, answering random medical emergency calls from various alien planets. He and his friend pick up a stowaway and then have to fight a mysterious and fast-moving disease. The stowaway character is basically a stereotype, and many of the other plot elements are pretty familiar, but it's still a reasonably entertaining story, and as I said, it's really just fun seeing these beloved characters moving around again, and learning more about their past.
Thumbs Up

Star Wars: Dark Times #16
The "Blue Harvest" storyline continues with Dass Jennir's Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars-style gambit playing out pretty much as planned (except maybe for that beating he takes). This continues to be an entertaining series with beautiful art.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Comic books (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), John Arcudi (Not), John Byrne (Not), Kieron Gillen (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), The Take (Not)
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010 01:52 PM
(Last updated on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 02:21 PM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the week of 3/10. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #3
Hey, the Black Flame is back! And he says Abe is the new Hellboy! Sort of. I like the idea that Abe could be the key to the apocalypse now - that he also has a fateful destiny. After all, he is the "child of Dagon." I also like the two competing, all-too-similar visions of the end of the world that the Black Flame offers. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out what Liz is seeing. Is it an actual present apocalypse, or is it yet another false vision of doom being put into her head by the ghost of Saa? Hmm... Regardless, I'm intrigued and I'm looking forward to the next issue.
Thumbs Up

Batman and Robin #10
Grant Morrison is an insane magician. His new story arc on this title opens with Damian yelling at the board of Wayne Enterprises. The mysterious detective Oberon Sexton returns, and he suspects Bruce Wayne of being part of the Black Glove. Then the real craziness starts. Alfred, Batman, and Robin begin following an Indiana Jones-style series of artifacts, clues, and secret passages hidden in and around Wayne Manor, apparently by the time-lost Bruce Wayne. (The time-lost concept appears to have already been introduced in other comic series that I don't read, but whatever.) To add to the fun, Penitente's goons come after Sexton, and the whole lot of them end up on the grounds of Wayne Manor, where they run into Damian, who's running away from himself, having discovered that his mother planted some kind of hypnotic suggestion in him that's making him try to kill Dick Grayson - and this right after he's finally begun to like and respect Grayson. I love all these subplots. I particularly like the crazy patter Penitente's goons are using. And I'm really starting to like Oberon Sexton as a character. Could he be Bruce Wayne in disguise? I don't know, that seems too obvious...
Thumbs Up

Criminal: The Sinners #5
The latest Criminal story arc comes to a brutal and brilliant conclusion in this issue. It's an instant classic. I love the way Brubaker holds fast to the archetypes of the noir genre, but still manages to use them to tell a fresh and powerful story that surprises. Lawless carefully and cleverly tidies up all the storylines and loose plot threads by turning them all in on each other. The way he takes out Hyde is just beautiful. "Don't you wanna know who the killers are?" he asks Hyde. "Ah. Fuck 'em... Who cares?" Hyde says, while the killers are standing behind him, waiting to dispatch him. Lawless' final narration is fantastic, too: beautiful and painful and sad, and cleverly presented on top of Lawless' final act of justice - or, at least, revenge. In the back of the book is an interesting essay by Jess Nevins about the history and development of the character type known as the femme fatale. I wish it were a bit longer, with a bit more analysis and explication, but it's still pretty good.
Thumbs Up

S.W.O.R.D. #5
I've gone back and forth on this series, often changing my opinion of it with each issue, but this issue made me decide definitively that I love it. And so, of course, shortly after I finished reading it, I learned that the series has been canceled. Sigh. Anyway, this issue is loaded with wonderful comedy, which is made even funnier thanks to the fact that it comes out of the interactions between its fantastic cast of characters. I love these people and their relationships - especially Beast and Brant, and that final scene they have together. There's also unexpected plot twists, exciting action, and great dialog from the creepy Drenx. I can't tell you how much I love the two-page spread near the middle of the book where pretty much every one of Marvel's space alien heroes go Medieval on the Drenx. Epic bad-assery! And man, I love the character of the creepy, nameless, potentially universe-destroying android and his complex machinations. And the way Beast and Brant point out just how bad-ass the Earth and its heroes really are. It's just a great book. A great, canceled book. Sigh.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #11
It's always excellent when we get to see excerpts from the Tommy Taylor novels. The vision here of an afterlife tied up in bureaucratic knots is wonderful. And hey, how about Lizzie going to town on that Nazi? Peter Gross' depiction of the canker at the center of Jud Suss is stunning. It's great seeing Tom finally take an active role, too - changing things and choosing a direction. And at the end we get a look at the next big plot point: the impending release of a new Tommy Taylor novel! Is this a good or a bad thing? I'm thinking bad. It's probably an attempt by the evil, secret conspiracy to take control of the Taylor saga and use it for their own nefarious purposes. Regardless, it should be exciting!
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Comic books (Not), Criminal (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), The Take (Not)
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 03:41 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the week of 2/10. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #2
The sequence where Liz gets separated from the group is classic horror movie stuff. Extremely well done, and very creepy. And seeing Liz's torturer return is also unsettling, especially considering how much trouble they went through to get rid of him before. I don't feel like the way the Lobster's story is wrapped up here is very satisfying in terms of explaining why he popped up when he did and why and how his ghost did all the things it did, but none of that really matters that much in the face of how awesome that final page is. Is the Lobster's ghost finally at peace now? Well, no, not exactly. But he has found his own personal paradise: fighting an endless horde of Nazi ghosts for all eternity. Fantastic!
Thumbs Up

Batman and Robin #8
This issue jumps around in time a bit, showing us in more detail how Batwoman ended up in the pit with Batman, and how Eddie ended up on a train with a bomb strapped to him. It even flashes way back to Final Crisis and reveals where the evil insane Batman zombie came from. Then we get what we've been waiting for: Batman vs. Batman! Batwoman appears to die, but I'm pretty sure Batman was just helping her fake her own death for some reason. And now evil Batman is after Alfred and Damian! Oh no!

This title got a little lame for a few issues there, but this new story arc is really exciting, and it's loaded with fantastic ideas, fantastic characters, and fantastic dialog. In particular, I continue to love Morrison's Damian. Everybody else writes him as an annoying, arrogant brat, but Morrison writes him as a really entertaining, brilliant, bad-ass, arrogant brat.
Thumbs Up

New Mutants #10
Emma is such a nag in this issue! But the New Mutants themselves are wonderful. I love the way Wells writes their dialog and their interactions. Funny and very human. Plus, there's exciting action. I particularly like when Cannonball punches Sauron through the ship and then hops on deck to help his teammates like it was nothing. The plot device of the New Mutants getting their minds taken over by a villainous outside force is getting a bit old at this point (I mean, c'mon, we just did a story arc all about that), but whatever. I like the idea of Cyclops throwing his people into action and trying to sort out which of them could be a good future leader. All-in-all, a good standalone story.

In the back is a preview of the first issue of something called X-Factor Forever, which I'm guessing is analogous to X-Men Forever - somebody picking up an old storyline right where it left off years ago, as if none of the intervening continuity ever happened, and taking that story to its natural conclusion. The art is cute, especially the super-sexy interpretation of Marvel Girl, but there's not much else interesting here, and the exposition-filled thought bubbles referring back to all the unbelievable plot twists of old school X-Factor are pretty ridiculous. I'll pass.
Thumbs Up

S.W.O.R.D. #4
This is a fun, rollicking issue with plenty of amusing banter amongst our heroes, adventures with dumb rock aliens, and a scary subplot involving a different set of aliens, far more bloodthirsty and dangerous, who use that incredibly dangerous robot to help them take over the Peak. Gotta love the cliffhanger ending, and the hilarious and clever preview text: "TO BE CONCLUDED...! Possibly in the first two pages with Beast and Brand getting gunned down, leaving 20 pages of Drenx celebratory conga. Alternatively: ACTION!" I'm betting we're going to see the "ACTION!" myself.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #10
Our heroes mistakenly wander into a ghostly version of 1940 Stuttgart and get separated. They have a fascinating, enlightening, and deeply disturbing discussion with Josef Goebbels which ends in a bad way for Tommy. It's another tense, exciting, unsettling, thought-provoking issue full of imaginative ideas. This is truly a great comic.

In the back is a preview for a graphic novel by Peter Milligan called The Bronx Kill. It's supposed to be noir, but the preview is just a bunch of annoying people yammering at each other. Definitely not going to pick that up.
Thumbs Up

X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #1
A miniseries about Pixie and her mutant teen girlfriends is not something I'd usually pick up (well, let's pretend it's not, anyway), but this one was written by Kathryn Immonen, and I've enjoyed her work in the past, so I nabbed a copy. But I'd forgotten how odd Immonen's writing is. This was definitely the most confusing comic I read this week. As near as I can make out, Pixie and her buddies have been imprisoned in an illusion where they think they're a bunch of normal girls attending a normal high school, but actually they're mutants surrounded by demons! I'm not sure if I'll pick up another issue of this. There are some interesting moments, but the basic story isn't very original, and I didn't really enjoy being vaguely confused the whole time.
Thumbs Sideways
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Comic books (Not), Final Crisis (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), John Arcudi (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), The Take (Not), X-Men (Not)
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Saturday, January 16, 2010 09:42 AM
(Last updated on Saturday, January 16, 2010 09:43 AM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the weeks of 1/6 and 1/13. Beware spoilers!

New releases (1/6)
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #1
As per usual when picking up an issue of B.P.R.D., I felt a little lost at the beginning of this comic, like I'd forgotten some important plot details. But only a little. Even though it's not good for our heroes, I rather like the plot twist of the military withdrawing its support from B.P.R.D. and insisting on handling things its own way. That seems realistic, especially considering all the crazy crap B.P.R.D. has asked them to do. It's good to see Kate hanging out with her boyfriend again, and the Lobster's riddle-spewing ghost is both amusing and disturbing. And of course I loved seeing the link back to an earlier part of the Hellboy story. But what has happened to the Lobster and poor Johann now? Guess I'll have to wait and see. Anyway, another intriguing episode in the saga of the Hellboyverse.
Thumbs Up

Blackest Night #6
I really want to stop collecting this series! But something always draws me back in. This time it was the promise on the cover of "NEW GUARDIANS." Also, a quick flip through the book revealed that a whole bunch of random superheroes were getting rings, and that intrigued me. And, to be honest, there is some cool stuff in here. It's genuinely funny when Larfleez interrupts Sinestro's serious speech about tactics to point out that he wants the kill shot, too. It's cool when Barry grabs onto a chain of willpower and drags Hal along while he dashes two seconds into the future and outruns the black rings. The ring duplicating, deputizing thing is a bit gimmicky and hard to believe, but I loved the idea of Luthor getting an orange ring and Scarecrow getting a yellow ring - that's just perfect. Sadly, the other pairings of characters with rings don't work as well. The power of love overcoming the power of the black ring and turning Wonder Woman into a Whore Lantern, for instance. Yuck. And apparently the indigo ring comes with free language lessons, a staff, a loincloth, and body paint? Still, I have to admit, there are cool ideas here. It's hard to resist the concept of a huge ring war where every damn superhero and villain gets a magic ring and jumps into the fight.

After the main story, there's a cover gallery in the back advertising a bunch of upcoming Blackest Night tie-in issues, none of which really interest me. I don't quite get the numbering on them, either. Starman #81? The Question #37? Did they just make up those numbers or what? And why and how are there going to be so many tie-ins, anyway? I thought this series was finally almost over! How can it just go on and on?!
Thumbs Sideways

Siege #1
Speaking of epic, flagship, universe-changing miniseries, here's Marvel's new one. I'm not familiar with the name of penciler Olivier Coipel, but I rather like his work here, especially the two-page spread set in Asgard where Loki shows up to warn Balder about what's coming. There's an impressive vision of the city plus a creative panel layout. That full-page pic of the Avengers flying toward Asgard with Ares on the nose of a jet is also super hot. The comic is also pretty fun story-wise, especially now that I've mostly gotten over the lame plot device of Loki and Osborn manipulating Volstagg into creating another Stamford event. I like the way everybody but Osborn is pretty freaked out about going up against the Gods. I liked it when Thor shows up and gets into the fight, although I would have preferred to see more of Thor vs. Sentry (talk about a clash of the Titans!). And it's great having Cap jump up with his fist shaking in rage in that last panel. There's a transcript in the back of a longer version of Osborn's conversation about the siege with his Avengers which is kind of amusing, although my copy of it is a little messed up; the dialog on the third page is just a reprint of the dialog on the first page. You'd think Marvel would have paid a little closer attention to stuff like that on such an important comic, but whatever.

This is an okay start for Siege. I'll stick with it for now, see how it goes.
Thumbs Sideways

Siege: Embedded #1
I wasn't planning on picking up this tie-in comic, but... well, you know me. Sometimes I just can't resist. Anyway, this thing is actually pretty interesting. There's a character named Todd Keller who's clearly a parody of Glenn Beck (and perhaps Bill O'Reilly, to a lesser extent). Really the whole thing is about the media, about news-reporting intrigue, and about how political forces can shape how people view them by controlling who tells the story and how. It's rather clever.
Thumbs Sideways

New Mutants #9
Good lord I love this comic. The opening, with a portal to hell opening and a bad-ass commando group stepping out - wow. I also like Doug, and I like the scene of reconciliation between him and Amara. But best of all is Magik's story of time travel and Lovecraftian doom. Yay! I can't wait to read more of this storyline.
Thumbs Up

New releases (1/13)
Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War #1
Despite the fact that I've given up on both the Aliens and Predator miniseries being put out by Dark Horse at the moment, I still couldn't resist giving the company's Aliens vs. Predator series a try, especially since it's written by a guy named Randy Stradley whom I just started following on Twitter (he does these little known Star Wars facts on there that are pretty funny). The comic doesn't waste time and jumps right into the action and the killing. A ship lands in the middle of a mining colony and out come the Aliens! The twist is, they're actually being led out on chains and used as attack dogs by a bunch of Predators! Woah. That's a terrifying and exciting concept right there. Later we learn these are actually a quasi-mythical faction of Predators who don't hunt with honor, but simply kill for no reason. Interesting.

This storyline is actually a sequel to another storyline I never read, but the comic does a good job catching you up on the important information, so I never felt lost or confused. The writing isn't fantastic, but the concepts are intriguing, so I'll probably hang in there for at least one more issue.
Thumbs Sideways

The Marvels Project #5
This comic continues the disappointingly brief and exposition-heavy summary of Steve Rogers' transformation into Captain America. I know we've heard this story a million times, but I thought they'd give it a new spin or a different perspective in this miniseries. Instead Brubaker is just kind of hurrying on past it. Ah, well. The fun part here is the first appearance of the Red Skull, who is, as usual, right in the middle of doing something really awful and despicable. The bits with Steele and Fury and the Nazi scientists are interesting, and it's great seeing Cap getting suited up in the classic uniform for the first time, and meeting The Angel, whose perspective on Cap is fascinating.
Thumbs Sideways

S.W.O.R.D. #3
I love the contentious relationship between Brand and Beast, and Beast's witty dialog. Writer Kieron Gillen is even managing to make Gyrich a vaguely interesting character, which is difficult indeed. I love the scene where the troops invade Lockheed's room (which has nothing in it but a basket, a bottle of liquor, and a picture of Kitty) and try to take him into custody, and he easily eludes them. The scene with Doug, Warlock, and the Celestial is clever and cool; the Unit's backstory is totally fascinating; and Beast's escape plan is pretty brilliant. I was kind of hoping this issue would suck so I could drop this comic, but no such luck! In fact, it's fantastic.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #9
I think it's fair to say that this is my favorite comic on the stands at the moment. This issue is full of magic, tension, mystery, drama, and tragedy. Watching the children, their heads full of fantasy and a desire to help, wander into the prison and toward their doom, trusting to the very last in the power of a make-believe world to save them, is absolutely agonizing and devastating. I love the scene where the Governor reaches toward the ghost of Roland holding out his horn and punches through him to the fire alarm. I love the doorknob that opens magic doorways. And then Roland blowing his horn, and the final, terrible, fateful transformation of the Governor into Count Ambrosio - WOW. This is amazing, amazing stuff.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), B.P.R.D. (Not), Blackest Night (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Green Lantern (Not), John Arcudi (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Predator (Not), Siege (Not), The Take (Not)
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009 02:20 PM
(Last updated on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 03:13 PM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the week of 12/9. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #4
The latest (and I believe last?) in a series of one-shots set back during the original plague of frogs, this one focusing on Johann Kraus. Peter Snejbjerg's art coupled with Bjarne Hansen's colors makes for some beautiful, creepy, atmospheric visuals. The story is eerie, unsettling, and moving, and provides some further development of Kraus' character.
Thumbs Up

Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire #5
Gun Nuns, activate!! Lots of fun and darkly funny stuff in this issue. That eyeball guy is amusing. I didn't see the surprise twist coming - that the Caretaker herself was a gateway to heaven. And finally we're all set up for the big showdown that's been heading our way since Jason Aaron took over the Ghost Rider franchise. Meanwhile, the reprint origin story of the Son of Satan continues in the back of the book. Gotta say, this entry is pretty bad. Lots of corny dialog and clumsy recapping and exposition.
Thumbs Up

The Muppet Show #0
I think this marks the start of the new ongoing Muppet book, although I could be wrong. The concept - Rizzo Rat and Fozzie Bear pitching a Pigs in Space movie to Statler and Waldorf - is brilliant, but the execution leaves something to be desired. It's mildly amusing, and that's it. I kept wanting it to get better, and it never did. I also thought it was weird and pointless that they tried to hide the fact that the two movie execs were Statler and Waldorf by depicting them in silhouette at first. C'mon, it's two cranky, critical old guys. Who else were they going to turn out to be?
Thumbs Sideways

The New Avengers Annual #3
Sometimes I find comic book chronology really odd. It was months and months ago that a comic came out about Hawkeye breaking into Osborn's hideout to kill him. He subsequently got captured. A number of comics have come out since then dealing with the aftermath of that event - Hawkeye's inevitable escape. And yet only now do we finally get the comic that actually tells the follow-up story to the original issue, explaining the details of Hawkeye's escape. Making things even more confusing, the resurrected Steve Rogers shows up at the end of this issue, even though the miniseries bringing him back (Captain America: Reborn) hasn't finished yet, so we don't know how he got there. Sigh.

As for the story itself... well, it has its moments. It's fun seeing the rebel Avengers bust in and one-up the Dark Avengers. I don't like the art, though. It's that hyper-realistic, Alex Ross-style stuff that I always feel as if I should like, but that always ends up annoying me. Maybe I'm getting an uncanny valley vibe off of it.
Thumbs Sideways

S.W.O.R.D. #2
Marvel Boy gets captured in the opening of this, but again I'm confused by the chronology - is this the new, uber-powerful Marvel Boy, or the old, weaker Marvel Boy? Either way it seems like he should have been harder to nab. And why is Spider-Woman helping the Man? I thought she was with the rebel Avengers! Confusing. There are some corny bits to the story, too, but also a reasonably exciting plot about Gyrich forcibly expatriating all of Earth's alien residents. I'm loving the preview image from next issue, featuring Lockheed surrounded by flames and pointing two guns at us in his most bad-ass stance.
Thumbs Sideways

The Unwritten #8
This issue takes a quick jump backwards in time and retells some of the story's more recent events, this time with a focus on the governor of the prison that Tom has been put in, as well as the governor's children, who have a slightly unhealthy obsession with the Tommy Taylor books - an obsession that could put them in serious danger. It's another tense, unsettling, emotionally powerful issue crammed with brilliant ideas. I continue to believe this is one of the best comics on the stands right now.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), B.P.R.D. (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Ghost Rider (Not), Jason Aaron (Not), John Arcudi (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Muppets (Not), Roger Langridge (Not), The Take (Not)
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Thursday, October 1, 2009 12:12 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from the week of 9/9, plus a back-issue I missed. Beware spoilers!

Back-issues and old data
The Unwritten #4
Things start off with some really brutal, violent, and twisted Tommy Taylor fan fiction, which just sets the scene for the brutal, violent, and twisted stuff that's about to occur in the main story. Tom uses the knob he found last issue to open the door into his father's secret room and, even though he's warned by Mathilde Venner that entering the room will set terrible things into motion, he does so. Inside, he finds a map of fictional locations, which is bound to be important and powerful. Oddly, inside the room there is no storm outside, and the coffee mug on the desk is still hot. Did Tom somehow go back in time when he walked into the room? Meanwhile, nearly everyone else in the house is horribly murdered! When the killer chucks Venner's head at Tom, it dissolves into a puddle of letters. Is she a fictional character somehow brought to life? If so, was it chopping her head off that turned her back into letters - or was it Tom touching her? Does he have some kind of power? And now Tom has been framed for murder, but Tommy's flying cat familiar has also appeared out of nowhere, perhaps to help him?

Crazy stuff! I'm loving the way this story is shifting and evolving in unexpected ways, while its mysteries remain mysterious.
Thumbs Up

New releases
Adventure Comics #2
Meh. This series has hit a serious sophomore slump. We open with a couple of soldiers trading exposition with each other. Then there's a reasonably impressive two-page spread of Brainiac tearing their ship apart, and an interesting tease of some kind of Kryptonian-killing project Luthor was working on. Then we go back to checking out Superboy's lists of things Superman and Luthor do. These had gotten really creepy and interesting at the end of last issue, but they immediately become silly again here. The romantic scene between Superboy and Wondergirl is a bit hard to take, although I like the way Krypto tries to set the mood by lighting the candle with his laser vision. I also enjoy the look on Luthor's face when he learns that Superboy has returned. The backup feature has lots of Lightning Lad storming around shouting at people, which is less than fun. I'm curious as to what the story is with his buddy Lightning Lord and his missing twin, but not really all that curious. I think I might drop this book.
Thumbs Sideways

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #3
The "To Be Continued" at the end of this book means there must be more issues in this miniseries, but this sure feels like the last one to me! The issue opens up with a bunch of our heroes getting slaughtered in horrible ways. Interestingly enough, our villain is also dispatched, as his fellow vamps don't take kindly to what he's been doing back on Earth. I'm not clear on exactly what happens to Simon, or the only guy who actually escapes the castle ruins. The latter guy calls in what happened, but then Bruttenholm says, "They're all dead." So, was Simon killed by the witches? And the guy who made the phone call - did he die, too? If so, how? He seemed safe. Did he kill himself? Or did the innkeeper kill him, thinking he was now a vampire? I don't know. Maybe the next issue will clear things up a bit, but I'm a little disappointed that this one was so confusing; I don't think it was meant to be.
Thumbs Up

Dark Reign: The List - Avengers #1
This is one of a series of one-shots focusing on Norman Osborn's sinister to-do list, which is really pretty much just a hit list of the heroes he wants out of the way. One of the guys on his list presents himself on a silver platter in this issue: Clint Barton. Barton finally loses it and heads across town to kill Osborn personally. As you might expect, it does not go well. One of my favorite scenes comes before all that happens, though, near the start of the issue. Barton asks, "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you?" Cap responds, "I did." Miss Marvel: "You did what?" Cap: "I, uh, killed Hitler." Awesome.

Anyway, Barton gets surprisingly far on his assassination attempt. I like the way he uses to his advantage the fact that the Dark Avengers is just a loose alliance of people who hate and distrust each other. When he throws Venom out the window, everyone's first assumption is not that they've been invaded, but that Venom has tried to escape. Barton then pretty easily works his way through most of the rest of the team - but there's not much a human being can do against a God.

Good issue! Fun, exciting, with an interesting ending. And I have to admit, the preview for Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil is pretty intriguing, too, even though I'm not really a fan of author Andy Diggle, or where Daredevil is at right now. I mean, leader of the Hand? Really?
Thumbs Up

Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4
The real Young Avengers put together a pretty clever trick to protect Hawkeye's secret identity. Melter has a horrific flashback that reveals why he's so twisted up inside, and quickly thereafter we learn the true origin of the Enchantress. There's a sudden but inevitable betrayal from Melter. And Danny, having learned the shocking truth about his mother, responds with shocking violence and finality. At the end we've got three different teams of Avengers in one room together! (Too bad Cornell couldn't work out a way to have the two or three or four other teams of Avengers show up, too, just to get the whole gang together.) Should make for a nice big showdown next issue. Fun series! Lots of surprising twists and turns, creative ideas, and dark humor.
Thumbs Up

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #6
This is a HUGE issue of Hellboy, revealing important new secrets about his origin and heritage. Not only is he a king of demons, and a king of witches, he's also the rightful king of Britain!! In the end, he's given a terrible choice: he can take on the heavy mantle of his birthright, pull forth the sword, call up an army, and lead it to bloody war - or not. If he refuses, the world may be swept away by Nimue and her monsters. If he accepts, he could lose his humanity and himself in the tide of violence. It's really powerful and epic stuff. It's very impressive to me that after all these years, Mignola can still tell fresh, original, exciting stories about this character, and that he can still be revealing secrets about this character that are interesting, that make sense, and that fit in believably with what we already know about him.

In the back of the book is the conclusion to the MonsterMen story that started last issue. It's pretty neat, too; crazy, funny dialog, creative imagery, fascinating story.
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #2
I feel like I'm supposed to know who John Steele is - the guy the Nazis have in the tube. But whatever. I love that Fury and Red are the guys who help Erskine defect, by flamboyantly assassinating a bunch of Nazis. It's interesting getting a look at some of the other really early, lesser known Marvel Mystery Men, too. I'd never even heard of Fiery Mask, Phantom Bullet, or Mister E. But I guess that's because those guys were quickly created and quickly discarded. Brubaker explains Phantom Bullet's disappearance from the Marvel Universe by killing him and throwing him in the garbage. Harsh! But it's cool the connection that Bullet has to The Human Torch and The Angel. And it's good to see The Human Torch pulling himself together, learning that he can be one of the good guys, and coming back to the world. I really like the way this series is coming together.
Thumbs Up

Models Inc. #1
I was rather looking forward to this miniseries for some reason, but I didn't end up being all that impressed by the first issue. The cover and letter from the editor are done up like a fashion magazine, and with good reason, as the main story inside features the return of Marvel's various supermodel characters. They're all palling around together, dealing with pushy photographers, difficult relationships, and petty criminals. At the end, one of them is pulled right into the middle of a murder mystery. It's a cute idea for a story, but Paul Tobin's dialog feels forced and fake, and I just don't care that much about the characters. I actually much prefer the backup one-shot, "Loaded Gunn," which features fashion guru Tim Gunn presiding over the grand opening of the Janet Van Dyne memorial wing of the New York Fashion Museum. AIM shows up to steal some of the superhero costumes and gadgets included in the exhibit, but Gunn isn't going to stand for that and jumps into an old Iron Man suit to take them out. It's an amusing idea and Marc Sumerak's dialog is pretty funny, although occasionally a bit cheesy.
Thumbs Sideways

Muppet Robin Hood #4
It's a very meta, postmodern, Monty Python-esque ending for this miniseries, as the characters chase after, and ultimately find, the book's narrator, who gives them the address of the writer. They then presumably track him down as well, and the original writer is briefly replaced by someone who, in a hilarious interlude, makes the Swedish Chef into the hero who saves Robin. Then the original writer returns to bring us the story's happy ending, which features Statler and Waldorf as a pair of bad-ass immortal knights. It's not the greatest comic ever, but it's amusing and fun.
Thumbs Up

Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2
Of course one of our number one questions after last issue is, how the heck does Cap have a son he didn't know about? Where did he come from? This issue answers that question almost immediately, with a flashback that reveals a naughty night Cap shared with a redhead named Gail, the same redhead who'd later end up married to Bucky. There's a quick, subtle scene of Gail and Bucky together in the present that I really enjoyed; it doesn't tell you anything about them, but it shows a lot. Shortly after Cap was lost, it's discovered that Gail's pregnant, and the government takes the baby away from her and raises him in what's essentially a prison, where they train and test his abilities. Early in the book, there's an exciting scene where Cap escapes from his handlers, but the flashback scene where his son escapes from his handlers is far more brutal, twisted, and epic. That he could have been quietly planning this all along, with a smile on his face! And the origin of his red skull? He cut his own face off with a knife!! Wow. Anyway, now Fury has to put a team together to go get Cap. Danvers: "I'll give you Hawkeye, but the rest of my Ultimates stay a million miles from your black ops crap." Fury: "Fine by me. Hawkeye's the only cool one, anyway." Heh. He's right about that, too. Looks like they're also pulling in Tony Stark's smarter, nastier, more successful older brother, a character I hate the very concept of, but maybe he'll turn out to be okay. The series is definitely fantastic so far!
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #5
Speaking of fantastic, this comic book right here is absolutely amazing. It leaves Tom Taylor completely behind to instead takes as its narrator and main character the famous, real-world author Rudyard Kipling. It turns out Kipling, and pretty much every other major author throughout history, had dealings with the group that Tom Taylor is currently facing off against. It's a group of people who are trying to influence and control the world by influencing and controlling the fiction that's written in it. Kipling falls under the group's power without even realizing it. When he defies them, they hurt him terribly, so he finds a strange and beautiful way of fighting back. By the time he's realized how much power he really has, it's too late, but he manages to record his secrets in a book, which, years later, is found by a Mr. Taylor...

Mike Carey writes this story with true power and artistry, and artist Peter Gross matches Carey's words with astonishing and blazingly imaginative imagery. This book reveals the secret history of fiction. It's an extremely moving and intelligent comic, and one of the best I've read in a while.
Thumbs Up

Wednesday Comics #10
Batman - Time for the final confrontation between Bats and Mrs. Slut! She's got dogs, but we all know Batman is an expert at dog fighting. Fling! Fun art.

Kamandi - Triumph for our heroes! More great art.

Superman - Supes engages in psychic warfare with the aliens by shooting all his memories into the mind of one of them at once. As he helpfully and rather clumsily explains, this takes out all of them simultaneously because they're a hive mind - which is both their strength and their weakness. The dialog is kind of weak, but the fight is mighty entertaining.

Deadman - Some bad-ass gymnastics from our hero lead to what looks like a final victory, but obviously there must be more to wrap up, as we still have two issues of this left. Anyway, exciting action!

Green Lantern - Another great episode of this, as Hal soars up to face off against an entire alien armada. I love the way he uses that great line he learned from his friend Dill to explain to them how tough he is and how much trouble they're in. Good stuff.

Metamorpho - A guy turns out to be an alien who's made of exposition! Yeah, dude shows up and explains what's really going on and how terrible it's really going to be when Algon touches the Star of Atlantis, and it looks like that's just about to happen at the end of the strip. It's maybe a bit clumsily told, but the story's kind of interesting, and there's some fun comedy from Java again.

Teen Titans - Finally everything is about to be explained. It would almost be intriguing if it weren't so poorly written.

Strange Adventures - Strange gives Korgo exactly what he wanted - except it's not really what he wanted after all. Fantastic, and with beautiful art and colors, as usual.

Supergirl - Supergirl hopes to stop the aliens peacefully, but it doesn't look to be going well. This one's getting exciting - looks like there's about to be a fight, finally!

Metal Men - Wow. This strip actually managed to move me this week. Well done, chief!

Wonder Woman - Hey, confusing and cluttered art, story, and panel layout again! What a surprise! Although the part where they raise the ancient god-monster is kind of cool.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. - I think this is probably one of the best issues of Wednesday Comics so far - almost all the strips are better than usual, and this strip is no exception. The annoying back-and-forth struggle between Rock and the Nazi commander isn't that fun, but the final three panels are well drawn and very effective.

The Flash - I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on in this strip anymore, but I don't care, because it's crazy and cool. The Flash finds himself in some crazy alternate future reality that's a world of apes ruled over by Grodd. In an eerie and fascinating twist, one of the apes suddenly reveals herself to be Iris, and it looks like Barry's about to lose his wife just as he heard he would when he visited the future. But I have a feeling he'll save her somehow.

The Demon and Catwoman - Cool magic fighting! With swords and bees and necklaces! I'm liking it. Although the way Catwoman keeps getting possessed and unpossessed is becoming a bit tiring.

Hawkman - It's all Hawkman fighting a T. Rex this week, and you know that's good comics, especially when he starts taunting the thing about how it can't touch its own nose.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), B.P.R.D. (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Dark Reign (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Hellboy (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Muppets (Not), Paul Cornell (Not), Robin Hood (Not), The Take (Not), Ultimate Comics (Not), Wednesday Comics (Not)
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009 05:30 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

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

This post covers new releases from 8/12. 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.

Adventure Comics #1
Conner Kent is trying to get back into the swing of being alive by doing all the things Superman did - living with the Kents, going to Smallville High, joining a team of superheroes, and helping anyone who needs it. But some evil entity is already after him, presumably with the plan of making him dead all over again. And the final page of the comic reveals there's a lot more to Conner Kent than there at first appeared. It seems he's going to try to replicate the deeds of both of his "fathers." Very interesting! This is one of my favorite last page surprise reveals in a while. It really turns both the character and the story on their heads and opens up a whole new series of possibilities for the future. I'm impressed!

The backup story, also by Geoff Johns, focuses on the mentally disturbed Starman, who's trying to keep the various threads of his mind together long enough to complete some final mission for the Legion, but what that mission is isn't entirely clear. We get a few intriguing glimpses of the future to come, but they're mostly just puzzling fragments. I can't say I'm a huge fan of crazy Starman, but I'll probably stick with this book, for the main story if nothing else, and we'll see how it goes.
Thumbs Up

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #2
Man am I loving this one! I always love stories about people crossing over into ghostly other worlds, and the fact that it's Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart's words and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon's drawings telling the story just makes it that much better. The drama, tension, and sense of threatening danger build as we cut back and forth between Simon and his friends. And I love the way Mignola handles witches in his universe - dancing with goats and giant toads. Simon is in trouble, but it looks like he might have gotten Konig in trouble, too. Good stuff. In the back of the book is a preview for the release of a trade collection of Guy Davis' The Marquis. It's hard to get a real feel for it from just these four enigmatic pages, but it certainly looks eerie and intriguing. I might have to check it out.
Thumbs Up

Blackest Night #2
I've already gone back and forth a few times on the whole Blackest Night thing, but now I feel pretty certain I'm just going to drop it. It's just ridiculous and cheesy and not very good. Sure, the idea of Deadman coming back to life is kind of interesting, as is the idea of an evil Aquaman going around making sharks eat people. The Spectre going bad is also fascinating, and I like the use of the "Flash Fact" thing. But those ideas aren't enough to make up for the general lameness. I've also noticed an unfortunate consequence of bringing characters back to life who have been dead for a long time: the guys who die and stay dead in comic books tend to be the expendable guys that nobody really cares about, and that nobody remembers. I had to look up Don Hall and Hank Hall online to figure out who they were.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the prose piece in the back from The Book of the Black. It's well written and uses metaphor and everything. I also like the preview of Superman: Secret Origin #1 in the very back. But it's done by the dynamite team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, so it was almost bound to be good. Just in this preview you get to see the historic first meeting of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor (it involves Kryptonite!), and Clark runs to save Lana from a tornado. Good stuff.
Thumbs Sideways

Blackest Night: Batman #1
How did I talk myself into buying the first issue of a Blackest Night spin-off miniseries written by Peter J. Tomasi? Sigh. I guess the word "Batman" was enough to pull me in. As one might expect, it is Not Good. Tomasi doesn't handle Damian or the relationship between him, Dick, and Bruce with anywhere near the subtlety and power of Grant Morrison. We get to see a bunch of villains come back to life, but they must be rather obscure second- or third-stringers because I recognized only one of them. Blackest Night is really over-the-top in many ways, but bringing the zombie Flying Graysons into it might be the most ridiculous thing yet. I'm definitely dropping this one.
Thumbs Down

Captain America: Theater of War - To Soldier On #1
I've been surprised at the high quality of most of these Captain America: Theater of War one-shots, but this might be the best one yet. Cap isn't even the main character here; instead, we focus on a regular soldier in the Iraq War, trying to make it through a tough situation with a bunch of his buddies. We see Cap from a different perspective: to the grunts he's an impossible, superhuman hero, but also a rather obtuse superior officer whose decisions sometimes irritate his men and put them in danger. Ultimately this is a story about what happens to regular people during and in the aftermath of warfare. It's powerful, insightful, and emotionally effective.
Thumbs Up

Final Crisis: Aftermath - Escape #4
I think I'm done with this series. It just keeps being odd and surreal and repetitive and not really going anywhere.
Thumbs Sideways

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #5
Yay, Hellboy's back! Unfortunately for him, the Queen of witches is after him. In his desperation to save Alice from poison, Hellboy is tricked into making what could be some really dangerous mistakes. He frees a fly (probably a powerful demon) from its prison, and accepts the help of Morgan Le Fay. There's a really fantastic scene where the Queen of witches demands a terrible crime in worship of her, and says she will become a goddess of war. I love the regal, old timey, magical speeches she makes. And Duncan Fegredo's art, in combination with Dave Stewart's colors, is of course absolutely beautiful.

In the back is a very odd story indeed called "The MonsterMen in O Sinner Beneath Us!" It's written and drawn by Gary Gianni. I assume The MonsterMen are characters from some kind of ongoing series, but I don't know anything about them. The story itself is about a man in a suit and a knight's helmet, and a young woman trying to exorcise the ghost of a young girl from a house. In the process, they meet an old friend who turns out to have a terrible and powerful artifact that causes some trouble. I'm not sure how I feel about this story. There are some cool ideas, but overall it feels a bit confused and hurried. It looks like this is the first part of a two part story, so we'll see how it finishes up in the next issue.
Thumbs Up

The Incredible Hercules #132
I think it's time I gave up on this series again, too. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that good. The opening is pretty clever - it's a handful of panels quickly explaining Thor's origin, accompanied by sarcastic commentary by Hercules. Inside, Herc is given the task of hiding Zeus, but almost immediately screws up and gets the two of them embroiled in a dangerous adventure. There are some neat ideas, and the usual amusing sound effect words, but overall I'm just not impressed. Maybe it's time to put Greg Pak on my list of authors to be avoided. It's too bad, because I know he can be really good sometimes. It's just that most of the time he's really just mediocre.
Thumbs Sideways

Marvel Comics #1: 70th Anniversary Edition
This is one of the stranger of the 70th anniversary one-shots. I'm pretty sure this one is all reprints of old Golden Age stories - it might even be an exact reprint of the actual original Marvel Comics #1 - except that the art and coloring appears to have been cleaned up and redone so everything's a bit sleeker and prettier. There's a very odd black and white comic strip on the first page (which is not particularly funny), then we get the origin of the Human Torch, which is a rather strange story when you get right down to it. Despite being encased in a concrete block for most of his life, the Torch is surprisingly compassionate and knowledgeable; he immediately recognizes a racketeer at work when he sees one, and resolves to defeat him. It's interesting that Dr. Horton, the Torch's creator, isn't all that good himself; he too is touched by greed. The Torch is the only really good man in the story (despite the fact that he's not a man at all), and he spends the great majority of it being maligned, manipulated, and misunderstood. It's a pretty complex and well put together story for the Golden Age, although it certainly does have a bit of that Golden Age weirdness to it.

Next up is the story of The Angel. This character I don't know all that much about, so it was cool to read what's essentially his origin story. Interestingly, The Angel is really more like an early version of The Punisher than anything else. When he learns there's a group of racketeers called The Six Big Men controlling the city, he puts their names on a list and kills them off one by one. It's pretty brutal! Of course, it's also a bit silly and clumsily plotted, and the story is hurriedly wrapped up by squashing the conclusion into the last couple of panels; the final panel barely has enough space for a drawing of The Angel in it, as the rest of it is filled with a dialog balloon that's all exposition tying up the remaining loose ends.

Next up is a story I'd already seen reprinted in another recent special: the origin of The Sub-Mariner. I've already complained about how clumsy and unbelievable this story is. But this version of the story has an extra bit at the end that shows Namor and his cousin heading out to begin in earnest their war against the humans. It mostly involves Namor smashing things up and chucking people around while trying to keep his cousin safe. It's pretty fun, and the art throughout is unique and fascinating.

The next story in the book is arguably the worst. It's "The Masked Rider," and it reads like it was written by a rather confused child with a learning disability who was brought up on bad Western movies. There's the usual evil land baron unfairly running the other ranchers out of town, but one man resolves to do something about it, so he escapes from prison by pretending he's sick, puts a mask on, tames a wild horse, and comes back with a gun and starts beating up the bad guys, with the help of the other townspeople. When the bad guys see him, they say intelligent things like, "Yer masked!"

Nearly as silly as "The Masked Raider" is "Jungle Terror," which sees a young kid and an older man resolve to fly out to the Amazon and try to find the kid's uncle, a professor who went out there looking for diamonds and then went missing. After flying all the way to the Amazon from Florida, they suddenly have plane trouble: "Oh-oh! Something's wrong! Motor's missing!!" Uh... only now do you notice there's a motor missing?? Anyway, they crash and are captured by savages, but eventually make it out alive with a diamond. The art is very odd, and the people's faces sometimes take on weirdly demonic expressions, possibly thanks to the odd way their eyes are drawn. The writing is, as you might have already guessed, clumsy, stereotypical, and silly.

Speaking of bad writing, next up is a short prose story "About The Auto Race Tracks" called "Burning Rubber" by Raymond Gill. It's about a guy who's testing an experimental engine in a really dangerous manner, but his concerned girlfriend saves him and helps him out. He misunderstands and is a jerk to her at first, but then all is well. It's quite silly.

Surprisingly, one of the best stories in the book is "Adventures of Ka-Zar the Great," the origin story of a Tarzan-type character called Ka-Zar. His parents' plane crashes in the jungle when he's a boy and he grows up with the animals, making them his friends and learning to communicate with them. It's reasonably well written, and the art is dramatic and effective.
Thumbs Sideways

Marvel Divas #2
I love that Doctor Voodoo sent a zombie to Monica with flowers, like a moaning telegram. I also rather enjoy the depiction of Doctor Strange as a slightly arrogant rock star. This comic seems to have an oddly large number of thought bubbles in it, but not in an annoying way. It's rather touching that the Night Nurse tells Angelica her real name. It's funny that Felicia tries to get a loan from a bank that she robbed. Angelica's predicament and the way she's responding to it is realistic and moving. And Patsy now has a terrible choice to make. This is really a neat book: funny, touching, clever.
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #1
A preview of the opening section of this book has been in the back of a lot of Marvel comics lately. I was a little disappointed by that preview for whatever reason, but I knew I'd get the comic anyway because I was fascinated by the premise. And I'm glad I did because it's really living up to my expectations so far. I even liked the opening better reading it in context. It's cool that Brubaker was able to work the Two-Gun Kid into this story, and thus link the distant past of the Marvel Universe to its origins, and its future. I love the glimpse of the secret meeting with the President where the race to create the first superhuman is being orchestrated. Here it comes out that the Human Torch is secretly a government funded project. Meanwhile, the Nazis are at work on their own superhuman, and are killing Namor's people as part of their experiments. And guess who's in charge of that German program? A scientist named Erskine who wants to defect! But the Germans didn't count on Namor's rage or his vengeance. The Human Torch's origin story, which I'd just read in Marvel Comics #1, is retold here in a much smarter, realistic, and dramatic manner. Nick Fury and his pal Red are pulled in to help Erskine defect, and the man who will call himself The Angel finds his purpose fighting looters in the confusion that reigns after the Human Torch escapes his prison and mistakenly burns the city. Brubaker is polishing up all these old stories, giving them vibrant new life, and brilliantly weaving them all together into a new tale: the rise of the Marvels. If it continues to be as good as this first issue, this will be a truly excellent miniseries.
Thumbs Up

Red Robin #3
Suddenly the artist on this title (Ramon Bachs) is really reminding me of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Huh. Anyway, I've been impressed with this series so far, but this issue is kind of mediocre. There's another fun assassination sequence, but the dialog is getting a little weak and melodramatic, and the story is getting a bit dull. I might hang in there for at least one more issue, but... then again, maybe not.
Thumbs Sideways

Toy Story: Mysterious Stranger #4
The final issue of Boom!'s Toy Story miniseries is sadly the weakest. Once again it plays with the idea of the toys revealing the fact that they can talk to humans, but the motive behind revealing it is rather nonsensical, and the argument against revealing it is pretty weak. It seems odd that the toys would frequently think about revealing their secret to humans; surely a toy would have let the cat out of the bag by now if it's something they consider often. On the other hand, if it is a huge taboo, why would they think about breaking it just because one toy was briefly removed from the premises? And why, if Andy knew the toys could talk, would he no longer be able to pretend they were something other than themselves? When kids play with their friends they constantly pretend they're someone else, despite what Woody says. It's just a clumsy story, and not nearly as interesting or effective as some of the others have been.
Thumbs Sideways

Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1
Ever since Jeph Loeb took over Marvel's Ultimate universe and made it really, really dumb and bad, I've been avoiding the titles set there. But seeing as how they're relaunching it now and putting it in the hands of more talented writers, I thought I'd give it another shot. I still wasn't expecting much, however, so when this book, with writing by Mark Millar and art by Carlos Pacheco, turned out to be really awesome, I was pretty startled. Apparently during the events of Loeb's Ultimatum there was a big flood. Luckily I didn't need to know much about any of that to pick up the thread of what was going on. Cap and Hawkeye are out on a mission doing ridiculously awesome and bad-ass things when they run into the Ultimate universe version of the Red Skull. The Skull reveals a horrible truth to Cap that leads to him going rogue and Hawkeye asking Nick Fury to come back to help capture him. Meanwhile, Tony Stark is drunk in some crazy sex club. It's a dramatic, funny, exciting start to the new series, and I'll definitely be tuning in next month for part two.
Thumbs Up

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1
Brian Michael Bendis is in charge of Spider-Man's new Ultimate title, and he's put together a fine first outing. I love the hilarious opening that features Peter Parker facing the overwhelming and horrific task of working at a fast food restaurant. Then an intriguing new hero appears on the scene - but is he really a good guy? He looks kind of like the Hood, if you ask me. Pete's relationship with Gwen Stacy is getting all hot and heavy; something bad happened to Johnny Storm; and the Kingpin is back, but a new villain shows up (is it Ultimate Electro?) and does something pretty stunning and awesome to him. It's an incredibly fun and action-packed first issue of what looks likely to be an exciting new comic. Which actually kind of pisses me off, because it's I really don't need a new series to collect.
Thumbs Up

Uncanny X-Men #514
Hey, Psylocke is back. And boy does she look stunning in that "wetsuit." Sadly Norm's Avengers and Emma's X-Men don't get to finish their fight. We're given a slightly better explanation for why Cloak and Dagger joined Emma's X-Men, which is nice. Dani Moonstar shows up in Vegas to make a deal with somebody, but I'm not sure who. I feel like maybe I'm supposed to know what's going on there from the clues I've been given, but I'm hoping I'm wrong, because I have no idea. It's good to see the real Wolverine show up and it's good to know Scott has sent him and some others on a mission to retrieve their people from prison (I was wondering when he was going to get to that). As for the last page, I have no idea what's going on there. I don't know who any of those people are or where they're going. And I'm pretty certain I'm supposed to know. Sigh.

I think it's time to drop this one again. I started collecting it again because of the whole Utopia thing, but I still really don't like Matt Fraction's very much, and I just don't care about Utopia anymore.
Thumbs Sideways

Wednesday Comics #6
Batman - Batman fights a guy! I'm not entirely sure who or why. Is he the assassin from before? I guess. Anyway, the art's good.

Kamandi - Speaking of good art, the art on this title continues to be amazingly beautiful. And the story is a fun and engaging adventure tale.

Superman - Looks like we're done watching Superman brood and something is actually going to happen now, as the buddies of the alien he beat up in the first issue seem to have shown up looking for revenge. Love the art on this one, too.

Deadman - Deadman has apparently died again, but at least he also got to meet some pretty ladies.

Green Lantern - We finally learn what Hal did to get himself kicked out of the astronaut program, and we get to see what part Dill played in it all. Interesting stuff. And now it looks like the flashback is over and we're going to get back into the action in the present. Fun.

Metamorpho - I just can't get a handle on this strip. Gaiman seems intent on trying every crazy idea he can think of with it. This time there's a fight with a snake on a ladder, the Metamorpho Fans of America intrude again, and then the rest of the strip is a Metamorpho-ized version of Snakes and Ladders. I appreciate the creativity on display here, but at the same time... it's just really weird.

Teen Titans - Still sucks.

Strange Adventures - Things take a really fascinating turn in this week's issue of this strip, as we find that Adam has returned to Earth, and to his own body - that of an old professor. Unable to find the chart of the Zeta-Beam's trajectory, he must remain on his home planet and move forward with his expedition to Machu Picchu. There are some fantastic images from the archaeological dig, and Adam begins to lose all sense of reality. Have all his adventures on Rann been a dream, and this is the dull reality? Or is his life on Earth the dream, and Rann the truth? Wonderful ideas + stunning imagery = great comics.

Supergirl - I actually rather like the latest episode of this strip, as it features an amusing modern interpretation of Aquaman (or is that Aqualad?). He's incredibly busy, dealing with one problem after another in the seas all over the Earth. He uses odd combinations of modern slang, and shells like cell phones (shell phones?).

Metal Men - I'm still not all that interested in this strip, but the addition of an evil giant robot does make it at least a little more attractive.

Wonder Woman - There are a couple of interesting things in this strip: a cool story about an ancient sword known as "The Red Death," and the introduction of the modern version of WW's buddy Etta, who gets to fight monsters with a lollipop - although that turns out to be a hallucination brought on by drugs, apparently. Despite these few interesting things, however, this strip continues to be cluttered, confused, and rather silly.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. - Hey, it looks like something is finally about to happen in this strip! In a rather surprising turn of events, Rock gets cut free by a traitor! Maybe he can beat up some Nazis next time. Assuming he's up to it.

Flash Comics and Gorilla Grodd - Yes, Iris West has been replaced by Gorilla Grodd! That's a nice surprise. Flash escapes from the horrific trap he was thrown into at the end of last issue via a crazy awesome use of his super powers, then dashes back to meet up with two more Flashes, one of whom is only interested in making his dinner date. Meanwhile, Gorilla Grodd seems to be telling us the fascinating origin story of its titular character. Cool stuff!

The Demon and Catwoman - I thought this issue would be the big fight between the Demon and the witch, but it's just more backstory explaining their relationship. Thankfully it's pretty interesting backstory, and well illustrated.

Hawkman - I'm pleased to say that this continues to not suck, although it looks like it might be about to turn into Lost, which is a little disturbing.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Blackest Night (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Final Crisis (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Greg Pak (Not), Hellboy (Not), Mark Millar (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Neil Gaiman (Not), Paul Pope (Not), Pixar (Not), Spider-Man (Not), Superman (Not), The Take (Not), Toy Story (Not), Wednesday Comics (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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