Monday, May 05, 2008

Brief Reviews for 4/30/08 Comics

ACTION COMICS #864 An unadvertised Legion crossover (or at least I had no idea that it would be). Dan Prado's art looks like a Caliber comic circa 1993, and not in a good way. It's a steep drop off in artistic quality from Gary Frank, that's for sure. Prado, by the way, is some kind of agent for about a million artists working for DC these days--all of whom have basically the same style, like all those guys who look kind of like Tony Daniel. So apparently he's the go-to guy for if you're DC and you're looking for an artist. Except, he's not nearly as good as the artists he represents. So, how was the story? Good. It was basically Batman, Superman, and Lightning Lad, and seeing the dynamic between those three was fun. There's a great bit at the end where Lightning Lad wonders what Batman would be like if they'd showed up and took him to the 30th century when he was a teenager. Good story stuff, poor (probably rushed, by the looks of it) art. ***

AVENGERS INITIATIVE #12 Steve Uy's art works fine on some of the Johnny DC titles, but it looks out of place here. I don't know how much longer I'll be sticking around with this comic, because even though I like the bits with Ant-Man and Taskmaster, I don't care enough about any of the Initiates to want to come back for more. It seems like this series is full of secrets that could be interesting in the next year or two, but on an issue-by-issue basis I do not love this comic. **

BLUE BEETLE #26 I think the Spanish was an interesting idea, but ultimately a failure. Either the words are important or they're not, and if they're not, then why have so many word balloons. If they are important, why have them in another language? The script in the back doesn't cut it. Question: if this issue gets translated into another language for purchase in some other part of the world, will the Spanish parts stay Spanish? Mike Norton's art looked pretty nice, and the story was cute enough, but I think the Spanish was a mistake. Especially for a comic that needs to pick up readers to avoid cancellation. I could be wrong. I hope this series continues at the same quality as it's had for the first 25 issues. Good luck Will Pfeifer and Matt Sturges! **1/2

DAREDEVIL BLOOD OF THE TARANTULA I'm scheduled to review this for CBR, but I probably won't get to it until Tuesday. Look for it then.

EX MACHINA #36 This comic frustrates me because it seems incredibly simplistic, but hints at structural complexity. And each issue presents such simple, one-dimensional characters butting heads about complicated issues. Then a girl on a motorcycle jumps off the World Trade Center. I'm conflicted about this book. It doesn't have that many issues until it wraps up, and what has really happened so far? What has really been explored, besides cursory discussions of "topics of the day"? I'm interested as to how it will end, because I've grown increasingly ambivalent about this comic. **

GREEN LANTERN #30 Geoff Johns is trying to do his "Green Lantern: Year One" take here (and I'm glad it's part of the series rather than a spin-off mini-series), and what it lacks in formal innovation, it makes up in classic superhero melodrama. Ivan Reis is THE best artist working at DC right now, and he can draw anything and make it look great. Hal Jordan's fall and rise has never been portrayed in quite this way, and I'm happily along for the ride. Man, it just looks so good! ****

IMMORTAL IRON FIST #14 I've complained about David Aja's replacements before, so I won't spend much time on it here, but now do you see what I'm talking about? Without Aja, this issue loses it's power, doesn't it? It feels a bit anticlimactic, and I think Aja would have saved it from feeling that way. It's still a very good issue in what has been a very good series, and now that the whole crew is back on Earth, we'll get to see more of these characters in the future, which is pretty cool. The loss of Aja has undermined the strength of this series, though. ***1/2

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #41 Jim Shooter's over-reliance on faux-futuristic teen slang still bothers me, and this issue is still setting up the dominoes, but it's not bad. The cover is a total fake-out, as the "Science Police Officer" turns out to be Chameleon playing a prank, and Shooter's version of Chameleon is typically out-of-character. But, as I've said before, at least Shooter's trying to imbue this series with life, and if he changes some of the characterizations around, at least it feels more alive than the wooden, solemn gang of Waid Legionnaires. Shooter seems to have big plans for this series, and editor Mike Marts says he's staying on the book for a long time, so we'll have to wait and see how his little bits of story information play out by the end. ***

NEW AVENGERS #40 The Skrulls have been planning to secretly invade Earth for a long time! And they have mastered a way to completely hide their true identities from Earthlings! And, they are sneaky! And so on, and so on, and so on. I think it's a cool idea to see things from the perspective of the "bad guys," but this issue just felt like a recap of what we already knew. Except for the surprise reveal at the end, but is that reveal even such a shock? I don't think so. At least the comic had nice Jim Cheung artwork. **

TEEN TITANS #58 Reviewing for CBR soon.

THOR: AGES OF THUNDER Fraction's take on Thor is not what I expected at all, but he brings back the majesty of the Tales of Asgard along with the dysfunction as Thor has to come in and clean up his family's messes throughout the story. Thor's no angel either, as he whores around and acts like he's too kool for skool, but he does know how to throw a hammer through a frost giant's face, and that's gotta be worth something. A great Thor comic with beautiful double-page layouts throughout the issue, appropriate for a kick-ass god. ****

ULTIMATE X-MEN #93 Kirkman gets a lot of grief for his run on this series, and I think it's completely unfounded. His work here has been solid from the beginning, and he wraps everything up in this issue with an appropriately epic battle. Yes, his version of Cable is different, and Pyro, and Phoenix, and Apocalypse, etc. But different in an interesting way, and that's what the Ultimate line has become--a place to trot out variations of classic characters and see how they work. For the most part, Kirkman's versions were more interesting than what was going on in the "core" X-titles over the same time period. Hell, he even disbanded the team a year before "Messiah CompleX" and he told a better story because of it. Kirkman's Ultimate X-Men was good, solid X-Men stuff for a couple of years. Don't hate it just because it's not Claremont/Byrne. ***


Ultimate Matt said...

Was it you who wrote "In defense of Lateness"? Because I would've been completely willing to wait months on end for this issue of Iron Fist just to see it drawn by Aja. Not to knock his replacement, who is perfectly capable. But there's a big margin between "capable" and "awesome".

Chad Nevett said...

I agree regarding "ultimate" versions of characters. Save one:

Ultimate Dazzler.

Why? Because she was a punk rock chick who called herself Dazzler! What the fuck, Brian Michael Bendis? Really? I understand where you're coming from, but there's no way in hell a girl like that would call herself Dazzler. It's retarded.

Timothy Callahan said...

Matt: I don't know if I wrote the thing you're thinking of, but I would absolutely wait for Aja too.

Chad: In the Ultimate universe, "to dazzle" means "to vomit." It's one of those alternate universe variations.

Paul Newell said...

Hi there, long time lurker.

Just letting you know the reason they did the Spanish issue is that Blue Beetle sells really well in trade paperback form amongst the Hispanic population.
This also means that the title is not in danger of cancellation thanks to trades. Much like many titles in the Vertigo line.

Timothy Callahan said...

Paul, that's interesting, and it sounds plausible. What's your source on that information? I've never heard about Blue Beetle doing particularly well in trades, and its monthly numbers are definitely in the cancellation range.

Timothy Callahan said...


Paul Newell said...

Unfortunately I can't seem to google the right site, but it Dan Didio mentioned it at a convention, in reply to a BB fan worried about sales on the ongoing title and whether it was going to be cancelled. It was also mentioned that a lot of libraries were buying the trades, particularly in the Southern states.