Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Week of September 22 In Review

Now that I’m down to a weekly column I will be constantly playing around with how I want this review to work. Essentially I’m going with capsule reviews of books that I found worthy of comment for the time being, but I think as I get used to just doing one post a week I will try to find different ways to give you my impressions on a book. Many reviewers do what the story was about or the art or a string of adjectives looking to be a pull quote down the line. All forms of a review are valid; mine usually change with almost each book. Some books make me want to question the marketing or editorial decisions behind said book, some are just celebrations of what a great book and some created thoughts in my mind about the general world of comics or even other things. So please bear with me as we follow this sort of stream of consciousness form of reviews.

Thor #615 – I have mixed feelings for Matt (Caption) Fraction, but love Ferry’s artwork so I knew going on that I could have issues with this book. It was a pretty cool ride. The good part of the book was the set up of the story. Asgard is now on Earth, but where it used to be is a vacuum and nature abhors a vacuum. We get to see a group of bad guys come into someone else’s space time continuum and take them all out. It appears the exodus of Asgard is creating a problem that will be hell to pay for our world. On Earth we get to see Thor bitch slap Balder out of his whining and moaning about how he failed Asgard and Thor tells him to pull it together and rebuild. At the same time we see some work in the supporting cast being rebuilt. We also get Thor and Don Blake working out issues now that only one of them gets to be real at a time. It was a good beginning and has me hooked for the next issue. The problem I have is the story telling device used was some nerdy scientist type telling all of the issues of the nine worlds stuff to Volstagg in a diner. I know it was suppose to be funny and all of that and it gave Fraction a chance to lay out a lot of exposition so we could get the gist of his story idea, but it was a bad choice. Fraction is better than that as a writer and he could let the explanation be either discerned by the reader or built into the story itself. By doing it this way the framing device became a distraction and weakened the overall issue which was a nice re-entry point for a reader like me who had left the book shortly after JMS.

Skull Kickers #1 – I picked this up on a whim and now I will hang onto for at least a few issues. The story is about two guys who are mercenaries in a sword and sorcery type environment. The one guy is a big hulking type and the other guy is the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings. At least I heard his voice every time I read his word balloons. Peter Jackson and Tolkien could sue and win for character copyright. Going in I thought this was a light weight book and I was right. It has ripped off the fastball special from X-Men and 100 other clichés ridden throughout the story. There is hardly an original thought or word or picture to be found. Bottom line it was fun as all get out. It was not pretentious; it was not trying to be anything more than it was. It was a fun action/adventure story set in that mythical sword and sorcery environment familiar to fans of the genre, but nowhere to be found in history. All in color for a dime, well $2.99 but a lot of fun.

39 Minutes – My friend Rusty told me to read this as a well structured story and a rarity in comics now days, a book that tells a story. It does and it did. In one issue we get a solid story that set up the premise of what happened, some of why it happened and set the stage for future stories if it gets green lighted, since it is part of the pilot season stunt Top Cow runs. I expect to never see another issue as the pilot season seems to be more of a stunt to sell six solo issues then to really get series started. Also the art was a notch above bad. I’m sure the inker and colorist did a lot to save it, but the work was very amateurish. At least the layouts were solid and kept up the flow of the story, but that was all it did The big plus is the writer gave us what this story is going to be about and now I get to decide if I want to follow that story. Too many books and TV shows are about keeping up a mystery and never letting us know what the story will be about.

Fantastic Four #583 – I’m trying again to get into Jonathan Hickman’s FF run again and he is now joined with Steve Epting as the artist. We are lead to believe this is the starting point where the Four will end up being only Three. I can only hope someone actually dies and the book takes a true step forward. I’m not sure how long I’m back for the ride as this is all Hickman story telling at its best and worse. It has lots of cool ideas and appears like it could be neat, but it is built on continuity that I have missed (as I had dropped the book for awhile) and it has promises of stories that are never brought to fruition or the book is being written for the finale only.

Hulk #25 – It should be called Rulk since it is about the Red Hulk. In one issue Jeff Parker brought me up to speed on this character and gave me enough background to go forward with the book. Rulk is General Ross, he has had some extra power turned off to save his life and he is now working under government control to stop doomsday plans of the Leader and Modok from actually destroying the world. Since I’m reading Incredible Hulks also I’m confused that Banner is running so many things, but all in all it was a good start to get me into a series I have avoided like the plague.

Walking Dead #77 – Are you not reading this series? If you are not, you should, at least watch the new AMC series starting on Halloween. A great book and one of the best series on the stands, you almost have to say you are not a true comic book fan if you aren’t reading this book. Entertaining, thought provoking, interesting, great characters and tons of left turns, that make sense after you read them, but you seldom see coming.

Flash #5 and Green Lantern Corps #52 – So many super hero books are marginal and are certainly less and less enjoyable, both of these series are solid and entertaining. Neither is blowing me away, but they are well done and are adding to the continuity of each book. I like books that have continuity and enjoy seeing that story build while at the same time each arc tells a story. These books hit those buttons.

Secret Avengers #5 – A solid story, great art and the best issue of Secret Avengers to date, I hated it. Max Fury is essentially another Nick Fury who has turned bad for various reasons. So for lack of a better term we have a new clone sage that has been retro-conned into Marvel history. I have seen this type of idea before and it never works out well. I could have only accepted this if Max Fury was killed at the end, now we have two Nick Fury(s) who are exactly the same, how can you ever trust Nick every again. It was hard enough to trust Nick before this, now there is no reason to trust him.

That is a wrap for this week. There were plenty of other books, but either they were middle chapters or nothing that made me stand up and take notice of that issue. Be back next week for another week that was.

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