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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RECENT COMICS ROUNDUP

It's that time again, kiddies, so here are the comical books what I done been readin'.

SECRET SIX #9



In the wake of the Batman's death — yeah, right — or disappearance (more accurate), Catman, Bane and Rag Doll (disturbingly decked out in a Robin outfit) hit Gotham City to thwart a series of politically-motivated kidnappings that their villainous group turned down. Amid much violence, the readers are treated to the trio's opinions on the Batman's absence and their own fantasies of filling the void left by him. Another fun installment from scripting goddess Gail Simone, and I hope this book will enjoy the kind of long life that BIRDS OF PREY saw, although I kind of doubt that'll be the case since the entire cast of this book are stone-cold crooks and killers...

THE WALKING DEAD #61

Repeat after me: "It's good, it's depressing, it's worth reading." That's all I can say other than we're introduced to another new character and the cast is met with another tragedy that will make you exclaim, "Oh, shit!!!" My only complaint here is that every issue of this series can be read in about five minutes or less, so maybe it's time to start waiting for the collected editions (or the recently-released ginormous omnibus edition that includes the first 48 issues).

MADAME XANADU #10

It's official: MADAME XANADU gets my vote as the best Vertigo book to come down the pike in ages, and all of its first ten issues are excellent. This installment is the final chapter in the ten-chapter look into Madame X's origins and her somewhat-irrational enmity toward the Phantom Stranger, an ever-enigmatic and inscrutable being whom Xanadu clearly does not understand and as a result finds him frustrating beyond her considerable endurance. By the time this issue is over we know all we need to about our mystical heroine and are now ready for ongoing, set-in-the-modern-day adventures, so I say bring it on! I was hooked on this from the first issue and I'm very happy to see its high standard has been maintained throughout. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, although at this point I'd suggest you wait for the inevitable soon-to-come collected edition.

POWER GIRL #1

Okay, I admit this one's going to be a shameless plug. I love Power Girl and all of her bad attitudinal boobaliciousness, and I love her even more when she's drawn by my dear old friend Amanda Conner (with scripting chores handled by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti), whose visual skills and ribald sensibilities make her the number one choice to handle this character in an ongoing book (well, if truth be told, number two, but the odds of Adam Hughes turning in a full book on a monthly basis are about as good as those of the entire army of Genghis Khan galloping out of my asshole and winning the Kentucky Derby, although he did do the alternate cover).

It's "whip-'em-out Wednesday!" (alternate cover by Adam Hughes, like I had to tell you)

It's loads of fun, features some spectacular action sequences that I have on good authority were grueling to draw (A.C. never gives less than her considerable all for the readers!), and it's got the Ultra-Humanite (one of my favorite DC villains), so what more could I want?

IRON MAN/THE INCREDIBLE HULK/NICK FURY #1

Zero points for a catchy/clever title — and let's face it, it's really just a combination issue of TALES TO ASTONISH and TALES OF SUSPENSE for the 2000's — but the contents are a fun trio of short stories. That said, there's really nothing here that you can't afford to miss and the stories themselves don't really add much to the overall marvel Universe other than to include the Samuel L. Jackson version of Nick Fury, which is odd since this book is not apparently a part of the whole "Ultimates" thing. Does this mean that the Nick Fury we all know and love has been supplanted with the Sam Jackson version?

THE WARLORD #2

The inner-Earth sword & sorcery fun continues, but to be perfectly honest not much happens in this issue other than a recounting of much of Travis Morgan's early history — adventures that have now become fodder for song and legend, a state that doesn't sit well with the flawed hero of those aggrandizing yarns — and the re-introduction of Morgan's best friend, Maciste, king of the land of Kiro. The only regular who's missing at this point is swordswoman Mariah Romanova, but they're getting to her, so all should be truly ready to rock by the next issue or the issue after that. Whatever; I'm still enjoying it, but I do wish Mike Grell were drawing it as well as writing it. The pencils by Joe Prado get the job done well enough, I guess, but it reminds me of the mediocre work of the artists who followed Grell when he abandoned the drawing chores during the series' original run, something that didn't go over well with those of us who were there from the beginning, but we stayed hooked thanks to Grell's signature scripting of his creations. Which is clearly once again the case here.

ORACLE: THE CURE #3

Barbara Gordon's ongoing war with the Calculator reaches a surprising conclusion that only escalates the enmity between the two and ends with what can only be called a cliff-hanger (of sorts) leading into BATGIRL #1. I don't give a turd from a dead bum's ass about the silent Batgirl introduced some years back, so I have no interest in reading her ongoing adventures — if that's what the upcoming series is — but I do want to see what becomes of Barbara, a character I really came to love during Gail Simone's run on BIRDS OF PREY. Let's hope it's something interesting.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #2 (of 6)

Speedsters are mysteriously dying off or suffering odd effects from the Speed Force left and right, but the returned Flash, Barry Allen, remains strangely unaffected. It's an interesting chapter, but this reads as mostly an exposition chapter before getting back into the meat and action of the plot next issue. And not having read THE FLASH regularly for a number of years, I have no idea what the significance of the ending is...

GREEN LANTERN #40

"Agent Orange" part 3. A good enough read, but get on with the fucking "Blackest Night," already! This preamble shit is dragging like a motherfucker...


GREEN LANTERN CORPS #36

The review for GREEN LANTERN #40 also somewhat applies here, but I must say I like this series a lot more than the regular GREEN LANTERN book because it's more of an intergalactic cop soap opera rather than focusing on one character. And this issue's notable for Soranik Natu getting the lowdown from Sinestro on exactly why she never knew he was her father, and Sodam Yat engages Mongul in single combat...

DARK REIGN: THE CABAL (One-Shot)

Kind of a latter day SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP annual, this is a collection of bad guy-centric short stories that could have been a dud but instead made me wish for a monthly look into the heads of Doctor Doom, the Sub-Mariner, the White Queen, the Hood, Loki and Norman Osborn. The art and the scripts are solid winners, so I say check this one out.

SOLOMON GRUNDY #3 (of 7)

Not that it wasn't already obvious, but this latest issue prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that this series is nothing more than what would happen if you took any Hulk comic and replaced any reference to the Hulk with "Solomon Grundy" scribbled in with crayon. If I want to read a Hulk comic I'll do just that, so I see no need to keep reading this. I'm out.

THE GREAT FABLES CROSSOVER-Parts 2-4 (JACK OF FABLES #33, THE LITERALS #1, FABLES #84)

I've stated many times just how much I hate crossovers that A) generally suck monkey ass and B) force fans to read books they would otherwise skip out of mere indifference or sheer hatred, so it makes me quite happy to see that "The Great Fables Crossover" is that rarer-than-tits-on-a-trout crossover that does not suck at all and is quite a good bit of fun all around.

Taking up from where FABLES #83 left off, part 2 sees Snow White and Bigby arriving at a Route 66 diner to here from eternal douchebag Jack the particulars of the threat that faces not only the Fables but also the rest of the world. Not only is Mister Dark a continuing and formidable foe, now the Fables gang must contend with Kevin Thorn, a "Literal" who plans to re-write reality into something more in line with his own personal tastes, but before that can happen longtime enemies Bigby and Jack spend a good amount of the issue kicking the shit out of each other (my money's on the wolf!) while Jack's son by the Snow Queen comes into his powers and embarks on a quest to find his dad and see if he's really as much of an asshole as his mother has always claimed. At the end of all this mishegoss, Jack declares he's fed up and petulantly fucks off out of his own book, taking his favorite artist (Russ Braun) with him.

The fun continues in part 3 as Kevin struggles to gain inspiration for his creation-wide re-write, while Bigby begins tracking him. A lot of very interesting thing occur in this one, thus I won't spoil it for you.

In part 4 Jack makes his way to the Farm, the home of all the non-humanoid Fables, and immediately launches a campaign of douchebaggery and manipulation that finds him in charge of the place. That's all I can say without ruining things, but I will say that the creative team has gone above and beyond in actually crafting a very good crossover that reads like a seamless whole entity. Well done!

GREEN ARROW AND BLACK CANARY #17-19

Cover for #17 (art by Ladronn)

Anyone who's read a Green Arrow comic in the last three decades or so can tell you that the Emerald Archer's greatest flaw is his love of pussy and his empty-headed willingness to violate the trust of his impossibly-steadfast love, the Black Canary, in favor of getting some "strange." (Which, by the way, has resulted in at least two bastard kids by my count.) Well, now the couple are married — I think; there has been some confusion over the specifics — and Ollie's been a good boy, so imagine how bad it looks for him when a cute redheaded obsessed stalker who goes by the name of Cupid sets out to provide the object of her desire with some Valentine's Day gifts, namely the corpses of some of his most hated enemies? With an arrow-penetrated Valentine's-style heart self-carved over her left breast, Cupid proves more formidable than one might expect, and over the course of this three-issue arc she manages to do away with five of the Arrow's enemies, saving Merlyn (the Arrow's bad guy version) for last. That's all well and good, but this book is about as middle-of-the-road as a comic can get and if not for getting these for free, I would not be reading the current Green Arrow series. Coupled with the pedestrian scripts by Andrew Kreissberg, the problem here is the not bad but nothing to write home about art by Mike Norton and veteran inker Joe Rubenstein, coming as it does after the book catches the reader's eye with the impressive covers by Ladronn (see above and below).

Cover for #18 (art by Ladronn)

Cover for #19 (art by Ladronn)

If Ladronn did the interiors it would be a whole other story, but as it stands for now I think I'll give this book a miss until I hear of it picking up some steam.
"DEATHTRAP"-Parts 3 & 4 (TEEN TITANS #70 & TITANS #13)

TEEN TITANS #70

A colossal "who cares?," the "Deathtrap" story arc is the most perfunctory crossover I've seen in a while and is simply not worth wasting your time on. Jericho ate the big one as a character since the moment he showed up during the Wolfman-Perez TEEN TITANS heyday, and nothing has been done in the intervening years between then and now to make him the slightest bit of interest, so I call a big "pfooey" on the whole thing.

TITANS #13

As we know from the previous chapters, former-Titan Jericho is now balls-out insane and seeks to murder the Titans, both new and old, in order to prove his worth to his father, Deathstroke the Terminator. The only reason I've stuck with this mess as long as I have is to see Jericho's confrontation with his dad, which happens in the next and final chapter (VIGILANTE #6), and it's sadly clear that virtually nothing the creative teams on this arc can come up with will make reading all of this worth the wait.

JONAH HEX #43

And this post's award for titular honesty goes to "The Hyde House Massacre," in which Hex spends several dialogue-free pages blasting, immolating and slicing the motherfucking shit out of a hotel full of ne-er-do-wells who simply need killing. The art by Paul (MASTER OF KUNG FU) Gulacy is the nicest I've seen from him in a while — a few visual storytelling gaffes notwithstanding — and the dependable team of Gray and palmiotti once more fail to disappoint, so Hex continues to be my monthly palate-clearer by virtue of being the sole Western in my steady dose of superheroes and monsters.

1 comment:

Chris T said...

I just want to say that I love Power Girl.

That's all.