Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recent Reads

Some books really deserve the full spotlight review treatment, but that also means many, other books worth commenting on never get mentioned. So, in attempt to cut through the backlog (and hopefully, pull something together faster than last week) I present the latest installment of my irregular Recent Reads feature. This will be a good representative sample, but probably won’t cover everything I’ve read comics-wise.

I was like a dieter in a candy store this week and overindulged in FIVE comics NOT on my pull sheet. The good thing is that they all were enjoyable, but now I’ve got to make some hard decisions again.

Batman #1 (DC)

I really liked this book. The art was fantastic, the story straightforward and interesting. I thought it was much better than Swamp Thing #1 and I’m tempted to trade Swampie for Bats before issue 2 even comes out. The only thing that bothered me a little was the ending. Having Dick Grayson be the possible killer is just ludicrous, so the concern over that mystery seems a little hollow to me. I’m really going to enjoy reading Batman again. A new addition to my list.

Planet of the Apes #6 (BOOM!)

This one was at the top of my reading pile and with good reason, it’s EXCELLENT! I love this series so much. We get a flashback of the battle of Delphi, the last city of the human nation, from 18 years before. The story is primarily centered on Bako (father of the now “sob” martyred Chaika) and how he lost the rest of his family. There are plenty of other subplots moving along too. The humans get some more powerful weapons from the bomb worshippers and Voice Alaya is starting to build slave labor camps for the humans. Inside one of those camps, a boy named Wyn is about to initiate a Great Escape. Engaging, Engrossing, and Exciting -- NEVER Disappoints.

Star Trek (Movie Universe) Ongoing #1 (IDW)

This shouldn’t work -- slightly altered versions of old Star Trek teleplays – but it does. One thing that helps is that the art does an excellent job capturing the likenesses of the new movie actors. What can I say, the stories were great the first time around and they’re still great. For the inaugural issue, they’re redoing “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. It’s very similar, but it’s fun to see the differences (no woman ESPer this time – she didn’t want to work with McCoy and transferred out). I’ll have to rewatch the movie again, because I keep hearing Shatner’s voice coming out of the new Kirk’s mouth, but all the other characters seem to fit their new personas. Another add-on!

DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1 (DC – of course)

Ever since the New 52 started, I’ve been going into my comic shop with the same question, “Which ones were good this week?” You see our friendly owner usually reads his books the night before. It turns out he also puts up a sign for the week’s “Hot Pick”. I usually don’t notice them, because they’re often for books I wouldn’t normally think about reading. Last week I ignored his advice and passed on Superboy, but this week I got both Batman and DCUP.

I’ve been a fan of Deadman from the time I picked up that first issue of the 1985 Deadman mini-series drawn by Jose Garcia-Lopez, (I think I got it in Carytown). The Neal Adams Baxter reprint from Strange Tales/Brave and the Bold, etc. was soon in my collection as well. I love his costume and while the stories may have been good, never liked his “bony” form as drawn by Kelly Jones. Ironically, my own beliefs are way different from the philosophy portrayed in this series. The idea that you get a second chance to atone for your past misdeeds after you die and that you could also be good enough to do it anyway on your own just doesn’t jive with what I've read in the Bible. That makes for a pretty bleak outlook until you find out there’s Good News! (But, I won’t go there right now.) : ) While I don’t think it’s sound theology, I do think the concept of Deadman makes for great fantasy.

This issue was a solid opener where we learn all we need to know about Boston and his mission. Deadman’s monologuing it for most of the issue, but in the process we touch on the lives of numerous characters. Just a single caption for some of the individuals shows more depth than many other series. I really enjoyed the art and the effect used for Deadman’s transfer into the Vet is spectacular. I like the new “blue” Rama too. Looks like Boston is getting tired of this life and is about to off his host (who would like to die anyway) to get Rama’s attention. I don’t know what’ll be featured after this 5-part story is done, but if I don’t like it; it’ll be easy to drop. I’m starting to like mini-series more and more anyway. This was one of the few series we previewed back in the summer that I was really interested in.

Bionic Man #2 (Dynamite)

It looks like it’ll take the whole arc just to get Steve into his red jumpsuit, but the parts focused on his origin are very well done. At this point his plane has just crashed and he’s only now been taken to the hospital. There are a lot of building subplots going on around his accident: Oscar’s Bionics program and the renegade cyborg, Hull, that is attacking all their facilities. I don’t really like the parts focused on Hull and in this issue he dispatches some Russians in a VERY brutal manner. I actually found the violence level detestable. The dialogue also veers on the R-rated side and that’s hard to take from a book based on one of my favorite shows from childhood. I like the art and LOVE the Alex Ross covers (which are a huge draw for me).

I hope I can stick around to see how they’ll portray Steve once he has his Bionics. The Six Million Dollar Man TV show had a lot of heart and was mainly about Steve helping various interesting individuals each week (a common formula back in the 70’s). If this just becomes an action book, then it will have failed in capturing the essence of the character. It’s too soon to tell at this point. The Oscar scenes show promise, but the Hull scenes are disturbing. It would be nice if Dynamite had to publish under the Comics Code, then I wouldn’t have to worry about how far they might go with this.

Captain America #3 (Marvel)

I love my action comics, but this book has so much action that there is little to no characterization. It’s feeling a bit empty. It’s moving at a fast pace, but also seems too slow, if that makes any sense. The best scene is where Steve rescues Sharon after Zemo throws her out of a building.

Captain America CORPS #4 (Marvel)

I like this series, but this issue was difficult to process. There were so many characters running around. Not only did we have the five Caps, but we had a slew of alternate reality Marvel heroes too. Don’t be fooled, Tath, is really Mister Buda from Jack Kirby’s Captain America Bicentennial Treasury Edition, which is why all this time travel, reality bending stuff works. Looking forward to the wrap up and another free slot on my pull list!

Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger #1 and 2 (Marvel)

I bought a second printing of the first issue! I RARELY do that. I LOVE this book and these characters. Nuff said! Actually, that’s not near enough said about this fantastic series, but it’ll have to do until I have more time. Check it out!

Well, I was also going to mention Daredevil #4, but that write-up got so long that I’ll try to post it as a full review next week, unless something else strikes my fancy.


  1. Can't say as I've ever heard anyone fondly wishing for the return of the Comics Code 'til now. For me, the death of the Comics Code is one of the major improvements since I started reading comics in the '70s.

  2. Man, I was going to update this with some more "recent" reads. If it sounds a little dated, it was written before my Flash review. Oh well, off to Tech and the NC mountains this weekend...

    Thomm, I think that the code forced creators to be more innovative at times and it also kept them from "fouling" things up (for me). It would be better to not have the code restriction, but then voluntarily use restraint. It seems to me there is little restraint these days. Depends on the genre -- I just don't think the 6M$man needs F-words.