Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Recent Comics I Have Read Part I: Some Quick Reviews

Here is Part I of my two-part attempt to talk about comics I've read in the past two weeks that didn't warrant full CBR reviews. In other words, I could have gotten paid to do this in more detail, but you get the short, flimsy commentary for free:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #559-#560: Dan Slott has the perfect tone for Spider-Man, and although I still don't love the stories from Brand New Day, I enjoy them enough to keep buying this series. And, yes, I still love the swiftness of it all. An arc completed each month is just a brilliant move, and it keeps this series near the top of my stack every Wednesday. Also, on this recent arc, Marcos Martin does the art, and his version of Spider-Man and the New York skyline is possibly my favorite of all the Brand New Day artists so far, including Chris Bachalo. This is some pretty stuff, and it's silly as hell, but a lot of fun. Just like this series should be. ***1/2

AVENGERS INITIATIVE #13: I almost dropped this series after the first extended arc concluded in issue #12. This issue brings a new group of recruits to the training center, and I'm glad I bought it. I think Steve Uy's art borders on the mannequin-esque, and I'm not a fan of his layouts either, but Slott took this issue in a different direction than the previous 12 by focusing on one of the most pathetic and annoying superheroes ever. I kind of hate the art enough to make me stop buying this series, but I think I'll stick around for a few more issues to see what happens with the rest of the new recruits, most of whom are villains conscripted into service for the Initiative. **1/2

BLACK PANTHER #36: I'm just biding my time until Jason Aaron does his arc, and then I'm done with this disappointing series. *1/2

BOOSTER GOLD #9: Eh, I'm ambivalent about this comic. I love that this series has become a strange tour through alternate futures (or presents, or whatever), instead of just touring through DC's past, but I'm already sick of Maxwell Lord in all of his temporal incarnations. However, I like the evil time travellers, and I'm curious to see what Johns has in mind for them--these are the guys who premiered back in the "Lightning Saga" last summer, and if you've wondered why that subplot never payed off, well, it's because those guys are appearing here. I can't imagine that was the original plan. "Hey," thought Geoff Johns, "I'll set up some cool villains in the midst of a huge Legion/JLA/JSA crossover and then not use them for a year until I throw them into a Booster Gold story." But, that's what has happened. **1/2

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #13: I'm trying to remember what happened in this issue, and I can't. I know Jay Garrick was involved. I'm loving the Jerry Ordway art, I know that--even more that Perez's work (weird, I know, but Ordway grounds things physically so very well)--but I can't remember a single event or line of dialogue from this story. That tells me I'm reading too many comics, but it also tells me that this series is missing something if it's that forgettable. Sure, I'll blame Waid for my poor reading skills. *** (for the art)

CAPTAIN AMERICA #38: Ah, the Cold War Captain America. Nice. What a perfect foil for Bucky (aka the Winter Soldier aka Captain America with the gun). Ed Brubaker is still telling the story he began back in issue #1 and he's one of the few writers using the serialized nature of mainstream comics to his advantage. This series will probably be a great read when it's all collected, but it's fun to read in small doses too. I like this book a lot. ****

CATWOMAN #79: I'd love to see the Lopez brothers take over the art on a big, important book. These guys have produced years and years of top-notch work on Catwoman and I'd buy their version of the Justice League or Superman. They are somewhere in the middle between Kevin Maguire and Cameron Stewart. Good stuff, consistently, with personality. This series has been good ever since Pfeifer has taken over, and I hope he gets a shot at a big book too. Amazons Attack was an aberration. He knows how to writer, and I'll buy anything he works on next. Oh, yeah, this issue was good. ***

DC SPECIAL CYBORG #1 (OF 5): Did anyone buy this? I like Mark Sable's work. His Grounded book was fantastic--everything the X-Men could be if handled by someone interested in characterization. I'm rooting for him to get more mainstream work, and he has a Two Face: Year One series coming out soon that I'll check out. But Ken Lashley drew this Cyborg book, and I think he's one of the weakest artists working at DC today. So I skipped this. Did I miss anything?

FLASH #240: Tom Peyer seems like a nice guy. I've liked some of his work in the 1990s. I don't like his Flash at all. He makes Gorilla Grodd seem dull, even. This series is probably just treading water until it gets relaunched as a Barry Allen series with...I'm guessing Geoff Johns and...Ethan Van Sciver? Nah, he's too slow for a monthly. Hmm, maybe Carlos Pecheco? Yeah, Johns and Pacheco. Flash, 2009. *

GHOST RIDER #23: Danny Ketch is back! I don't know if that's important, because all I know is that he used to be Ghost Rider and he has some kind of futuristic skull bike to battle Johnny Blaze's classic chopper. Is Jason Aaron a great writer? Yes, he is. Is this a cool horror-action book? Yup. You should buy it. It's the greatest angel-of-vengeance on a motorcycle vs. cannibals and naughty nurses and God's secret black ops division comic ever. ****

GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #8: Cliff Chiang, we miss you. Mike Norton is an excellent artist, though, and I'll probably keep buying this because I'm enjoying the romp around the globe plotline. It's on the verge of getting cut, but I'll stick around at least until issue #10. Judd Winick, you have two issues to make greatness happen. **1/2

GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #1: This is a pretty cool collection of Marvel's strange space characters, and I'd like the book a lot more if everyone didn't talk like they were on a sitcom with a laugh track. (None of the characters talked this way in any of the Annihilation series, but now they're all Charlie Sheen all of a sudden.) **1/2

IRON MAN DIRECTOR OF SHIELD #29: I have only read a couple of issues of this series because (a) Iron Man seemed like a simplistic character, and (b) he's kind of a dick, and not in good way, and (c) the story arcs seemed draaaaaggged out forever. But I, like many Americans, watched the Iron Man movie and all of a sudden wanted to buy new bed sheets with the armored Avenger splashed all over them. Since my wife wouldn't have any of it--she must be waiting for the Speed Racer linens to go on clearance--I've been picking up Iron Man comics instead. I hated the Favreau thing, loved the Fraction thing, and since this sucker was on the shelf this week, I bought it. It's okay. Too much chit chat about tactics and stuff I don't care about, and not much story, but it scratched my Iron Man itch for the week. My son, also with the same itch, wanted me to read this to him at bedtime. I did. It's not a fun comic to read aloud. Imagine reading an operator's manual aloud, but with a few more explosions. **1/2


Marc Caputo said...

Do you get the feeling that they're going to pull a Hulk/Herc thing with Iron Man and change the older ongoing to "Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." and leave the Fraction as the ongoing Iron Man book?

Timothy Callahan said...

That sounds about right! I hadn't thought of it that way, but it will probably happen. And I'd like it.