Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Week of June 9 In Review

My friend (and comic shop owner) Rusty does a weekly review column and posted it on Sunday. In it he is following up on an ongoing conversation that has been happening regarding the general quality of series. He posits that the big two can’t deliver in continuity and great stories with a tightly tied cohesive universe. My comment was:

“The problem is not the ability to do quality books in continuity; we have seen it over and over again with various books. The problem is Marvel and DC corporate owners believe these characters should never change (unless the sales are so depressed no one cares). They have to understand they own the character, but whom or what is going on under the mask makes no difference. With that philosophy in place once you read the super hero stuff too long you hit a saturation point. You seen it all and read it all at least twice over.

The malaise sets in and everything starts to get old. So when Catman says my kid is dead and you are next it is exciting because it is different. When Tony Stark dons his newest Iron Man armor we yawn, been there done that. I usually go away from super hero books for awhile and then come back. I have quit every character published by Marvel and DC at one time and will do it again when I can't stand a character or group anymore.

Then after a hiatus I can come back and appreciate those books for what they are and that is pure escapism. The nice thing is there are plenty of other books to entertain me. In addition to big two and indies I read "A God Somewhere" and Parker "The Hunter" this week. One was an OGN examining the "what would happen if a regular person became super human" and a pure noir book by Darwyn Cooke adapting a Richard Stark Parker novel. A God Somewhere was an well done book and Parker was better than Criminal.

We did not have this many choices even 10 (maybe 5) years ago and the overall quality of writing is so much higher we are demanding more then what we used to expect. The bar is higher (and it should be) so we want more out of what we get. I vote with my $$ and too many fans hang onto books that do not deserve their support.

Best thing I read this week Richard Stark's Parker "The Hunter" adapted and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.”

All of that brought me to doing a more chatty post about the week in review as opposed to a strict format. As regular readers know I constantly play with the format of how I do things. I guess it is part of my nature to occasionally stir things up to see what we get. I hope to do a full fledge review of Parker “The Hunter” later in the week, but will ignore it for purposes of a weekly review.

First let’s start with a book from last week from Wildstorm “A God Somewhere”. This was an examination of what happens if a man gains super powers in a world where no one else has any powers. The theme has been popular this year and I thought this was a good read, but ultimately it lacked resolution. The core of the story was about two brothers and their good friend. It had a romantic triangle of sorts, sibling rivalry and themes of religion all mixed in. The problem was those themes were never fully explored. I get the feeling this was proposed as an unlimited or very long maxi-series and was reworked into an OGN. It felt like all the ideas were still being presented, but the author’s feelings of how they were to be resolved were never fully explored. It reminded me of when Farscape was given a two and a half hour movie to wrap up a season’s worth of plots, it was rushed and things happened way too fast. The read was great and it was a page turner, it was just too choppy at times and too foreshortened. It would have been an excellent book if there was a tighter focus.

In Rusty’s review he talks about the crème of the crop being from the other category and we always include Vertigo in that group, I’m also including Iron Man Noir #3 in that group. This is the first issue that brings us to seeing Tony Stark as the pulp era Iron Man. It is very believable in the context of the story so far. Scott Snyder is one hell of a rookie writer and if such awards were given out I think Scott would win the award for 2010 for this book and American Vampire. I hate the $4 price tag, but Scott and Manuel Garcia (art) make it worth the price. Can’t wait to see how it ends.

The other books in this category that were great reads this week are Daytripper #7, Gravel #19, Chew #11 and Cowboy Ninja Viking #6. Daytripper was the roughest issue of this 10 issue series as Bras finds his friend Jorge who has dropped out of the world for some reason. Jorge brutal murder of his friend was shocking and in some ways felt more real than the other deaths Bras has suffered. Our lives do have beginning, middles and endings. I have had multiple beginnings, my endings have not been my death, but breaks in our lives can be seen that way. The other three books were new beginning for each series of which Gravel needed the most as that series was dragging lately. Cowboy Ninja Viking continues to be a well done book and is becoming a stronger title.

The big two only had four books that I feel like mentioning.

Batman #700 was fine as an anniversary issue was an enjoyable read, but I’m wondering how this all ties in as Grant has shown Damian becoming the third Batman two times now. I have to say I’m intrigued by that much more then I was when I first got a glimpse of that Batman. I want to see a series on that future. Love it or hate it, Grant’s Batman has given new energy to the bat books.

Captain America #606 brought me back into the series. I was ready to drop this book but Butch Guice’s art and a story that really revolves around Bucky has my interest. I wish Marvel would drop the Nomad backup and reduce the price, but at least we are getting extra material for the $4 price tag.

Titans #24 managed to surprise me a little and that is a good thing. The mission objective was to kill Lex Luthor and I knew that couldn’t happen, so having the mission….well I don’t have to spoil it, but the resolution of the plot was well done. I like this series so far and it is certainly better then the Titans book that DC tried to re-launch with the group who is now most of the JLA.

Finally we have Secret Six #22. What a great resolution to the end of the Catman story line. If Gail can keep these types of stories going on then Secret Six has moved to the top of the heap as one of the best group books, best Marvel/DC series and a top ten series in general. An absolutely great achievement as Gail has always made this a good book; it has been elevated to great with this arc.

As I said a totally different type of week in review and next week who knows what this column will be, maybe back to the regular, maybe not. Hope people are enjoying our new look, personally I think it looks a lot cleaner and hopefully easier to read.

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