Sunday, April 27, 2008

Brief Reviews for 4/23/08 Comics

Ah, comics...

CHECKMATE #25 The Rooks, finally revealed! I guess that's supposed to be a big deal, and they do show up and smack some bad guys around, but I'm done with this book. It's not a bad comic, and I'm not sorry I read the first twenty-five issues, but with Bruce Jones coming in next month, it's probably best to walk away now. I probably wouldn't have stuck around much longer anyway, even if Rucka and company stayed. Too much supposed political intrigue and not enough done with the characters--because there's a million of them in this comic. ***

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #8 A snuff comic that didn't even get to conclude its own storyline. A waste of Starlin's talent. *1/2

HULK VS HERCULES WHEN TITANS COLLIDE As much as I like The Incredible Hercules and Loeb and McGuinness's Hulk, this one-shot felt full of the kind of exposition that both series have avoided thus far. Essentially, it serves the purpose of explaining why Amadeus Cho started hanging around with Hercules instead of the Hulk, but the ratio of quality to pages is not very high. It's skippable. **

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #20 This story about why the Flash should feel guilty is probably the best Justice League story of the year so far. Ethan Van Sciver is a strange choice for such a character-based story (his style lends itself to grotesque quasi-horror far more than light superhero fare), but it works just the same. I wonder about the DC timeline, though. How long ago, in DC time, did Wally West return? My guess is that it hasn't been more than a couple of months (if that), and obviously he's been dealing with some crazy shit with his ugly kids every day since his shocking return. So, give the dude a break. Jeez. ***

MIGHTY AVENGERS #12 Will someone please explain to me the appeal of Alex Maleev's art style on display here? I guess he's the perfect Bendis artist because he keeps repeating the same panels again and again, and everything looks like it was run through a photocopier. Maleev can draw, but his work over the past few years has turned toward stiff "photo-realism" at the expense of his development as an artist. I prefer his stuff to what we got from Mark Bagley over the past few issues, but I know Maleev is capable of even better. I'm also surprised that this was how Bendis chose to bring Nick Fury back into the Marvel Universe. I think it's an interesting choice to play it so subtle, but his return maybe deserved something more dramatic, no? ***

MS MARVEL #26 This comic seemed to be developing toward something during its first year, but it has gotten sidetracked by all of the Marvel events along the way. I still like what Brian Reed is doing with Ms. Marvel's character, but I'm losing interest issue by issue in the overall progress of the plot. **1/2

POWER PACK DAY ONE #2 After an excellent, swift-moving first issue, this one is almost all exposition, but it got most of the important information out of the way, so the final two issues of this revamped Power Pack origin should cruise along nicely. Power Pack is one of my son's favorite comics, and he laughed out loud a couple of times reading this issue--Katie Power's pony-centric version of events being a particular highlight. Also, science facts from Fred Van Lente! ***1/2

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #47 This story tries to tie into continuity by trotting out Amanda Waller and referring to a prison planet, but when could this story possibly take place? I don't mind stories that don't quite fit into continuity, but when they take up space trying to make it seem like they fit, but they clearly don't, then it's annoying. Maybe I'm wrong. The story's not so great anyway, but the final page is kind of cool in a "Doomsday-to-the-EXTREME" kind of way. If you're into that sort of thing. **

THOR #8 Great art and some interesting Thor family business. The Jane Foster scene was well-played. Still setting up the series, eight issues in. ***

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #121 I have heard, and read about, people who don't like Stuart Immonen's work on this series. Those people are just crazy. Crazy wrong. His work is brilliant, and he helps to make this the best sustained Spider-Man series ever. Ultimate Spider-Man continues to be Bendis's best superhero work, and even Omega Red can't spoil the fun here. ***1/2

UNCANNY X-MEN #497 What's missing from Brubaker's X-Men? Even after a couple of years on the series, he still doesn't seem to know what to do with these characters. In this issue, they wear Sgt. Pepper costumes. And that's about it. I'm looking forward to some Fraction-injected energy a few issues from now. **

YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #4 Paul Cornell, of the genius Wisdom series of 2006-2007, writes the tale of the electrode-crossed love of Stature and the Vision. While this issue lacks the imaginative weirdness of his other comic book work, it has a weirdness all its own as the Vision spends half the issue with his hand sticking out of his girlfriend's chest. That's pretty unusual, right? Also, Mark Brooks out-Bagleys Bagley. ***1/2

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