Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

Football season starts soon and baseball is heading into the playoffs. Now the Orioles are not going to the playoffs, but boy is this a fun team to watch. This is the first time in many years that I have been excited about the Orioles at the end of the year. I know that out of the last 30 games we may not even play 500 ball with so many games against New York, Boston and Texas, but this team is two years away from real greatness and has a chance to be a surprise team in 2010. As for the Ravens we can legitimately hope that this team could make it to the Super Bowl. It is a long season but the Ravens are looking to be very strong, but like any year injuries are key to keeping competitive. Still no matter what I think the Ravens are a playoff team this year and maybe even more.


Batman and Robin #3 - Writer Grant Morrison, Artist Frank Quietly, Colors Alex Sinclair. We open with Batman riding the most impossible big four wheeled motorbike you would ever see and he is dragging a man with a flaming head down the street barely keeping him off the ground. Then we are treated to a few more panels of Batman scaring the crap out of this guy to get the information he needs to find Professor Pyg. It is pure Batman, but it is pure Dick Grayson’s spin on Batman. Where Bruce would hold him from the buildings, Dick is doing a more circus style act. Gordon calls Batman on what he did and asks him who is he to do that after he gave him the suspect to question. Dick’s answer is I’m Batman. It was just that easy and just that quick and it’s true. Then we cut away to Professor Pyg who has captured Robin. Pyg shows off why he is as crazy as the Joker. I’m sure if I “google” some of the lines that Morrison has given this guy I will learn there is even more to this story and to what Pyg is saying. With books like these I sometimes wished I only followed 20 books or so and then I could really over analyze the book to dig out the additional meaning or references that I’m sure I’m missing, but this book is frelling awesome without it. When Pyg starts to dance and sing as he is mutilating his victims with these masks which become the people’s faces it is just out and out madness. Robin nails it as he slowly escapes from his ropes and says “You just redefined wrong.” See my full review here.

Fantastic Four #570 - Writer Jonathan Hickman, Art Dale Eaglesham, Colors Paul Mounts. The books sort of picks up from what Hickman started in Dark Reign Fantastic Four mini-series, but it was all explained away with one or two sentences, Reed built a machine to see all the alternative worlds and is trying to use it to solve everything. That was all you needed and even that is explained in the actual comic. The actual issues opens with Reed as a child learning a lesson from his Dad that you have to be willing to try, you may fail, but you won’t succeed unless you try. Then we jump right into the action as the FF is fighting some robots. They quickly discern the robots are made to fight each one of their powers. They change partners and win the day in rapid order. This happens too much in comics because many writers seem to think we don’t care about the action we have seen a thousand times before, but we are reading our billionth comic so a battle is okay. Still it is done quickly, but done well and we see Johnny show off an infrared red ability to see people’s heat signatures. I’m unaware if this has been shown before, but it was a nice touch. Reed pulls out a pocket transporter that leads him back to the controlling signal behind the human/robot creations of the Wizard and takes the Wizard down. The Wizard is ranting about how the world is coming apart and Reed knows it as well as the Wizard does as they both can read the math behind what is going on. The look on Reed face says that he agrees. See my full review here.

Red Circle The Shield #1 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencils Scott McDaniel, Inks Andy Owens, Colors Tom Chu. JMS has done a fantastic job, in my opinion, with these four comics in bringing in the old Archie super heroes into the DCU. Each of the four characters was given enough of an origin or at least the hints of an origin to build a foundation for them going forward. He even added little ties from one to the other and ended the book where it began to bring it full circle, which was a little heavy handed, but still worked. The Shield’s story was that of a soldier who gets mortally wounded in a combat mission. In order to save him they try an untested procedure that melds nanotechnology with his body. The technology when activated via mental command by Lt. Higgins gives him a virtually indestructible layer of armor, limited flight, super strength and more. He is a super hero that is a Lieutenant in the army. The Army has made his identity known as he has no family that is alive. Of course his Dad is alive and working for the government but the Shield does not know that. Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens deliver their normal strong art job with a style that at times I love and at times it seems almost too loose, but it works well on this book. See my full review here.


Incredible Hulk #601 - Incredible Hulk Lead Feature, Writer Greg Pak, Art Ariel Olivetti. She-Hulk Back-up Feature, Writer Fred Van Lente, Art Michael Ryan, Colors Guru eFX. I really wanted to like this book more then I did, I will still hang around for a one or two more issues, but I’m iffy on where I go from here with this book. There were so many things that missed that it almost hurts to enumerate them. The art was Olivetti at his worst. It was so computer driven that it looked like some of those early computer art books that were very plastic. The backgrounds were straight out of a computer and you can see that so much of this was not even his art, but was all stuff that was cut and pasted together or whatever you call in with photoshop or whatever program was used. It was like a bad green screen work done in a movie, where you know the actors are walking in place with the background moving. Almost everyone is using computers and most of the time I can’t even tell how they get the effects they do, this felt very old style computer art and it hurt the book. Bad artwork that totally misses the mark can make even a good script seem bad and this was not a good script. The actual story was poorly done. I could not have been the only person who was jumping back into the Hulk with this comic, but boy did I feel like I missed the boat. I have no idea of what has happened to Bruce Banner other then he apparently can never be the Hulk again. See my full review here.

Dark Avengers #8 – This was almost an unreadable book. This is supposed to be one of the spine books of the Marvel Universe and it was turned into a book that was trying to draw the X-Men into Dark Reign. What is has done is make me almost want to drop this series, but since Fraction and the X-Men should be gone I will hang on until next month. Fraction and his poorly written book make me long for Bendis. It does not help when the art by Ross can’t hold a candle to Deodato’s work.

Final Crisis Aftermath Ink #4 (of 6)Cancelled. This book was unreadable and I blame the art as much as anything else. With this cancellation only Run made it all the way till the end. These series were ill conceived and had little to do with any aftermath of Final Crisis. Except for Batman being dead we had not seen any true impact in the DCU from Final Crisis and that is a failure on DC’s part. I know the New Gods are out of the picture and J’onn J’onzz is dead, but something being missing is not noticed as much as something changing. As much as I have not always enjoyed Marvel’s events, House of “M”, Civil War and Secret Invasion changed the status quo of their Universe and Final Crisis did not. That is not to take away from Final Crisis and I’m still looking forward to re-reading it one day soon.

Quick Hits

Blackest Night Titans #1 (of 3) – This is just another good add-on mini-series. Heck I have dropped the Titans, but this book I enjoyed. I loved seeing some focus on the new Hawk and Dove as those characters have always interested me. Then Hank Hall killing the new Hawk was brutal, but it just makes me continue to be curious as to where this all ends with Blackest Night, all these heroes can’t be really dead, can they? The fact that I’m not sure makes this a good event starting to border on a great event.

Dynamo 5 #24 – This book is always a quick read and very enjoyable. It is a book that just flows very fast, has a quick tightly written plot, with strong dialogue and art that does the job. I feel Asrar is a little rushed at times and if he could take more time with his work and have an inker, he could be a big name. Dynamo 5 continues to be a very good series and a book that I have enjoyed each and every issue.

Flash Rebirth #4 (of 6) - This book is trying to do too many things. Also in trying to explain everything Johns is making it overly complex. We now have Barry being the source of the speed force and the accident that created him was not allowing Barry to tap into the speed force, but allowed him to create it. So that backwards and forwards in time all the other speedsters are a result of Barry. This is a good looking book, but I’m not buying into the whole comic science explanation of stuff. This is a story where the old KISS principle should have been applied with Keep It Simple Stupid. This convoluted overly detailed explanation of everything is just a confused morass.

Green Lantern #45 – This issue had a terrific battle between Carol Ferris as a Star Sapphire and Sinestro. The entire Green Lantern universe and all the ancillary tie-ins for Blackest Night have been extremely strong books and great work. This issue is no exception and I loved the last page as the Black Lanterns are invading the domain of Agent Orange. Every week I look forward to another part of the Blackest Night, which is why next week is a crying shame as no Blackest Night book is coming out.

Justice Society of America #30 – This was a strong second chapter from the new creative team and it feels like Jesus Merino is getting better as the artist already (I knew him mainly as an inker). I like the addition of the new Dr. Fate and the conflict within the group. JSA looks to be in good hands. Scalped #31 – I almost wanted to make it a best of the week, but it is really all set-up and build-up to the sh*t storm that is coming. Seriously this is a great book and if you are not reading this series you are doing yourself a disservice.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2 – Okay as I was reading this book I thought that this character was one whose time had really past. Jimmy serves no purpose in today’s world of Superman, heck Lois hardly serves any purpose anymore. Imagine my almost glee when the story ended with Jimmy apparently being killed. I don’t buy that he is dead, but one can hope. Interesting to note that DC is having characters killed at the same time we have the whole Blackest Night event. This week’s death toll from DC includes the new Hawk, Jimmy Olsen and Eddie (formerly the Red Devil) in Teen Titans. I’m enjoying Blackest Night, but it is taking away any emotional impact that these deaths in other series might have had. Of course we are talking Red Devil and Jimmy Olsen where we maybe adding by subtraction.

Wonder Woman #35 - Starting to enjoy this book a lot more now. The caged fights were good, Black Canary and Wonder Woman together was good and hopefully the end of Wonder Woman’s relationship with Tom (Nemesis). Tom (and most human boy friends) ends up becoming emasculated around Wonder Woman and they need to find her the right love interest.

This was a good week of books with a lot of highs and lows. Also as I have continued to monitor my list and cancel titles faster I find that the net result is that comics seem to be a lot better then before. I know it is a result of cutting out some of the weaker material, but still it keeps me a lot more positive about comics.

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