Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Week of May 25 In Review

This is the last two weeks in review as I have read a ton of books to get catch up since I was gone for a week. I have to mention the Kindle reading experience was a great one. I downloaded the Foundation Trilogy and a collection of Phillip Dick’s work before I left. The Kindle is lightweight and easy to carry and has a charge that last a long time for just reading purposes. I had never used one before. My wife loaned me hers and I have to say I can see the appeal. Printed books are in trouble or at least have to adjust to lower print runs. It was my best friend as I had long flights to go to Greece and back. Okay enough about me; let’s get into the comics for the last two weeks.

I usually like to try and start on a high note, so let’s start with Uncanny X-Force #10. Marvel is doing a fantastic job with pumping out this series what seems like every three weeks or so. Rick Remender and various artists are doing a great job keeping the book consistent and the quality is high. The pace of the book is also well done. Last issue we saw Archangel take over Warren’s body. Now many series would drag out this story forever, but in one issue the rest of the team figures out what is happening and managed to stop Archangel, a little late, but saved one person’s life. The team has to solicit the help of the Beast from the Age of Apocalypse and is now journeying to that reality in order to try and save Warren. Also we learn Archangel is the heir to Apocalypse, so when they killed him they actually set this problem in motion. Now the $4 tab was an issue, but they reprinted the entire issue of Iron Man 2.0 #3 and hooked me onto that series, so well done by Marvel’s marketing department. Marvel best super hero series right now is Uncanny X-Force.

Strange Adventures #1 and only hit the stores this week. An $8 anthology of science-fiction based stories under the Vertigo banner. Very hit and miss as are all anthologies, but I would certainly support this type of book. My favorite story was the Ultra the Multi-Alien story by Jeff Lemire. Jeff told a touching story about a man radically changed and what is was doing to his former life in about 8 pages. This story also made me even more ticked off that DC has never bothered reprinting some of their great science fiction material from the fifties and late sixties. While, except for Adam Strange, much of it is dated and is a product of its times, there was some great artwork and some stories that still retain some charm that seldom see the light of day.

The Mighty Thor #2 was in my stack of books and after issue #1 I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with this book but the story had more cohesion this issue. Galactus is coming to Earth to eat Asgard or at least the seed of the World Tree. While Fraction is moving the story at a slow pace the art of Olivier Copiel and Mark Morales on inks makes the pace tolerable at this point. I keep waiting for Fraction to wow me and he has yet to deliver. The biggest problem I have is his pacing and of course that the singe issues do not always stand up on their own accord. Too many writers are creating their own mini-epics and write an arc and not a single issue of a book that fits into a bigger story. You can’t always do a single issue that stands alone, but it can be done better than most writers do it today.

As you can see this week I’m back to more generalized comments because my new preferred method and what I liked, what I didn’t like and overall gets too long while trying to cover so many books. One day I may put some consistency into this column’s format.

Walking Dead #85 hit the stands and I think this book is suffering and may have jumped the shark. This issue, for no rational reason, Rick is confessing what he did to his girl friend out loud. A random person hears him and he swears them to secrecy. It was nonsensical and an obvious way to allow the information to be learned by the rest of the group for some future conflict. Kirkman has made no secret that he never had the book planned out for a long period of time and is now making it up as he goes along. He also moved from Kentucky to LA to work on Season 2 of the TV show of his comic. There is a board game and video game coming out for Walking Dead I believe. All of this success is well earned for Kirkman and I’m happy to see him cash in on his success. I read where he would often pay the artist, but garner nothing for him in the early years. So to see someone of his ilk and caliber do well is great. Still I get the feeling he is now writing more for shock value on his books then giving us left turns that in hindsight made perfect sense. Whatever the reason the book has fallen down in my view, but still a series I will follow. When you are riding at the top it is easier to fall down.

A note on Avengers #13, which I decided to read as it was well received by a friend of mine. This was a talking head book by Bendis where the Avengers are apparently being interviewed like a reality TV show and we are filling in the story as we go along. First off Spider-Man is portrayed like an imbecile in this book and I can’t accept that within the main MU continuity that a major character should be portrayed so at odds with the way he is in his own book. In the rest of the MU Spider-Man is the smart guy who is a wise ass and cracks jokes. In this book he is a joke. Wolverine is shown passing out from drinking, where it has been heavily documented that due to his healing factor he can’t get drunk. Finally the whole concept is absurd and one of the reasons why Marvel comics get on my nerves because the base idea is that super heroes are the reality stars of the MU. In my book reality stars are a joke and therefore it makes a joke out of these characters being heroes.

The War on Green Lanterns came out with Chapters Seven, Eight and Nine, comprising issues Green Lantern #66,Green Lantern Corps #60 and Green Lantern Emerald Warrior #10. The war is a serviceable event and an okay read, but nothing that will go down as a great story or arc. I have no clue what Krona’s plan is and don’t care. Mogo, the planet lantern, is destroyed and the GL Corps has been freed. Now the entire corps is ready to face off against Krona and the entity possessed guardians. It lacks impact because so much has been changing within the mythos of the GL Corps, that I no longer have a real handle on what the heck is what. I hope we can take a deep breath after this is over and establish a new status quo and just tell some good stories again soon.

Alright to try and wrap things up for this catch-up week some short and brief comments:
American Vampire #15 - Great as always and Rafael Albuquerque continues to make his art better and better.

FF #4 – Interesting, but for gosh sakes can we get to a conclusion on a plot point resolution eventually.

Batman Gates of Gotham #1 (of 5) – Good opening and a cool idea of taking a lot of recent years retro-cons and making them into a more cohesive history.

Batman and Robin #23 – Judd Winick kills on the Red Hood. I thought this arc would bore me and I was wrong.

Captain America #618 – A good series, but like Hickman, Brubaker needs to pace his stories better. At least Ed has conclusions along the way, but the arcs move very slowly.

Well that is a wrap for this week and last week’s books. I know I left a bunch of books out, but when reading over 50 titles to catch up, the cut to make the review or remarks list gets a little tougher. Onto the list for this week that includes all the Flashpoint books. After having a good experience with issue #1 of Flashpoint and hearing all the rumors of what DC is doing after Flashpoint (which amount to the entire DCU line being re-launched) I have decided to indulge in checking out all the Flashpoint first issues. The list is Adventure Comics, Flashpoint, Flashpoint Abin Sur The Green Lantern, Flashpoint Batman Knight of Vengeance, Flashpoint Secret Seven, Flashpoint World of Flashpoint, House of Mystery, Izombie, Jonah Hex, Secret Six, Superboy, Sweet Tooth, Wonder Woman, Amazing Spider-Man, Astonishing X-Men, Criminal The Last of the Innocent, Fear Itself, Herc, Hulk, Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Force, Halcyon, Who Is Jake Ellis, BPRD Dead Remembered, Hellboy The Fury, Solomon Kane Red Shadows, Witchfinder Lost & Gone Forever, Green Hornet Year One, Grim Ghost, Phoenix and Wulf. Hey wait a minute aren’t five week months suppose to be a little lighter in volume, maybe later on in June.

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