Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Top 10 Comics This Week--Reviews!

Okay, so I buy too many comics. We all know that. And I'm in the midst of reading the Zenith arcs from 2000 AD (actually, I just finished Phase 4, and I will comment on them all soon. For real), so most of the stuff I see at the store---Fantasy Realms, word to James Arlemagne--just doesn't hold up to classic Grant Morrison vs. Lovecraft via the multiverse crazy fun times that I find in the Zenith stories. Nevertheless, here's the 10 wicked awesomest comics that I bought this week. Some of them I've just read, some I'm waiting to read later, but that won't stop me from commenting, so don't you worry.

You'll notice, by the way, that the list is all Marvel and DC. I love the mainstream superhero stuff when it's done well, and I think it's being done well more often than ever these days (as in, there are MORE good titles, even if the best stuff isn't as good as some of my favorites from the past). But I would definitely pick up more small press stuff but my guy doesn't carry anything good by the little people. I could order it via Previews, yes. I should. But I don't. So screw all y'all. (I lash out because of my guilt).

#10: JLA: CLASSIFIED issue 17 (Simone/Garcia-Lopez)
Makes the top 10 because it was a shabby week, and Garcia-Lopez is always a pleasure. Over the past few months, everything I read is talking up Garcia-Lopez and saying how great he is, etc etc. I agree, but I have NEVER heard anyone mention him with such praise before. I've been a big fan since Atari Force, personally, and thought his highlight was on Chaykin's Twilight, but through all that stuff I've never heard him acclaimed like he is these days. Was it the TwoMorrows' "Modern Masters" book that gave him this popularity blip? As I said, it's always a pleasure, so I guess it doesn't matter who liked him first. But seriously, I did, so deal with it.

But when I buy this title I wonder why it even exists. Is there seriously a demand for more JLA, especially when the main title has sucked tremendous suckage and is actually cancelled at this point? Yet I buy this issue anyway, and give it a top 10 spot. Such is my life.

#9: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN issue 90 (Bendis/Bagley)
Here's another title that I wonder, why? Is it good? Not really. Do I enjoy it in general? Yes, it's pleasurable without being bold, interesting, or creative. But let's face facts, Bagley is the most generic superhero artist ever, and Bendis can't tell a story in less than 10 issues. So here we are, at issue 90, and if the average price has been around $2.25 per issue, that means I've spent over $200 on this series so far. Am I ever going to re-read these issues? No. And even if I did, it would take me about one hour to read the whole series, which I wouldn't even need to do anyway because I can just refer to this chart that reminds me what happens in each 6-issue story arc: Issue 1-4--nothing happens, but characters, especially Peter Parker are worried. Issue 5, tension mounts as the fight between Spider-Man and random re-imagined villain with a blander look and more "realistic" origin begins. Issue 6, lots o' punching, and then maybe SHIELD shows up or Spider-Man wins kinda but is real tired. Repeat.

Yeah, I know the whole genre of superhero comics is formulaic. But still, at least give me pretty pictures and some crazy crap happening in each issue. More on this later.

#8: ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK issue 2 (Lindelof/Yu)
At least the pictures are pretty.

And when I said, "more on this later," that means now.

Here's the deal: I have a 5-year-old son, and he's just getting excited about comic books. He loves superheroes, and he loves cartoons and action figures, and he saw the first issue of this series in my pile of stuff and he wanted me to read it to him. So I did. If you didn't see the first issue, you didn't miss much. It had one super-violent image of Hulkie tearing Wolvie in half (should I have shown such a gruesome image to a 5-year-old? Maybe not, but I'm not one to crush the curious spirit), and then it had a whole lot of Wolvie's torso crawling around and some internal monologue goodness (and by goodness, I mean pointlessness). Anyway, he thought that issue was dull, but then today he saw that I got issue 2 and he was excited because he figured that this issue has to show more fighting and less chit-chat because hey, it's friggin Hulk VS Wolverine! That's the title! So he asked me to read this issue. And the whole issue, literally, is just talk. And then the next issue blurb says something like, "no more chit-chat--time for the Fight!" as if to mock his little 5-year-old brain.

So then I guess the question is, could this story have been told in fewer pages without losing the drama or character development? Yes! I like character stuff. I like drama. But seriously? You need to spend three pages with Bruce Banner talking to the guy who opens the door for the mystical Buddha guy. One panel is not enough for their "witty" banter? You need like 12 panels? Really? And Lenil Francis Yu has to keep drawing these people standing there talking? Fun for all.

Yet, it's #8 on my list, isn't it.

#7: SOLO featuring SCOTT HAMPTON
I don't like painted comics art. So I was pleased to see that most of the work in this issue is line art with watercolors, pastels, and/or wash. I like that stuff. It's purty.

I haven't read this yet, so I can't comment on the writing. But here's my guess. The stories will be forgettable. But at least they won't be just people talking. Please Scott Hampton, make sure they're not all talking stories. I like kicking, and ninja stars, and plasma bolts, and some repulsor rays, and some flying puches with electric fists! I have never seen Scott Hampton illustrate any of those things. He's kind of a "quiet pastoral scene" type of dude isn't he? Damn it! Guess I'll have to wait for the next issue when Damion Scott, clearly one of the greatest artists of the age, takes over. Ha ha! Damion Scott!!! Man, who's going to follow that issue? Wait. I know: Mark Bagley! Then, every comic I buy could suck! Yes!

#6: CAPTAIN AMERICA issue 15 (Brubaker/Perkins)
I've heard people say this incarnation is the best Captain America run ever. Yes, it's better than Cap vs. Al-Qaeda, it's better than Cap vs. Flag Smasher, it's better than Cap vs. almost all the dudes who were like snakes, and it's better than Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty. But is it better than Cap vs. Scourge? That dude killed all the badasses in the Marvel Universe! He killed that guy with the porcupine costume and even some snake guy and then he killed that other guy with the roller skates. Scourge vs. Bucky? Scourge every time. It's a good thing Bucky was cryogenically sleeping and/or in Russia during those Scourge days, baby.

So as long as Brubaker brings back Scourge with the cosmic cube, and also that dude with the roller skates, then I will concur. Best. Cap. Ever.

One complaint though. The colors look too computery. Make them look less computery.

#5: GREEN LANTERN issue 9 (Johns/Van Scriver)
I have not even opened up this issue because I'm expecting it to be good. I know it will be. It's got that Bianchi cover--pretty--and you know that GL vs. Bats is not going to be all talk. Actually, it probably will be, won't it? Damn. Maybe Bats will punch Guy Gardner at least or something. Also, this is the issue where the Tattooed Man is coming back, right? I think so. Kid love the Tats these days, so this villain will be hip with the kids, which means my son will like it. Do 5-year-olds like tattoos? I'm told they do.

Plus Van Scriver! I didn't really like him on X-Men. I like him on GL. That's that.

#4: ASTONISHING X-MEN issue 13 (Whedon/Cassaday)
It's a Marvel comic. It's a superhero title. It's written by a human. That's right, it must be another ALL-TALK ALL-THE-TIME issue! Yes!

What makes this one make it all the way to sweet #3? Cassaday. Muy beautifico. Also, the talk is actually character-based and not time-wastey. And Emma Frost is gonna be a villain. I hope. So all of this is good. Talk isn't always bad. Yes it is! More kicking and fastball specials and friggin Optic Blasts! Wahoo (assuming those are coming in future issues).

#3: CATWOMAN issue 52 (Pfeifer/Woods)
This series has dragged me along for nearly 5 years now and I think this current creative team is nearly as good as the guys who launced the series. Pfeifer and Woods have reinvigorated this title after some HORRIBLE dog fighting issues and some crappy Gulacy Black Mask crossover BS that I barely even managed to finished. It's one of those series that I bought even when I hated because I had faith that guys like this would come along, and they have made me grateful. (I know I could have just not bought the crappy crappy issues but I was compelled to keep the collection going, knowing that it would get better and then I would have been missing issues and it would have made me feel incomplete--sad, but very true).

So I haven't actually read this issue though. Maybe it sucks. Nah, it's gonna be good. I can tell.

#2: IRON MAN: THE INEVITABLE issue 3 (Casey/Irving)
Frazer Irving is my favorite artist of the moment. I loved his Klarion stuff so much I tracked down some of his earlier stuff like Necronauts and Fort. He draws like I wish I could, which is how I judge all creative acts. I don't think he's the best or most dynamic artist, but he's my favorite, and I love him. He's mine, and you can't take him away from me.

Haven't read this issue either, but the first two were the best Iron Man issues I've read since Bob Layton was puting the shine on the armor. And the issues back in those days weren't that good anyway. So I'm going to say this is the best Iron Man story I've ever read in my life. (I just hope he puts on the Space Armor soon!)

#1: LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES issue 15 (Moore/Olliffe)
This is the state of the industry. A fill-in issue featuring "imaginary flashbacks" takes the #1 spot. Why? Have you read all 12 volumes of The Legion of Super-Hero Archives? Well neither have I, but I'm up to Volume 9 and they totally kick ass. I've been an occasional Legion reader over my 20 years of collecting, but recently I've immersed myself in the Archives (speaking of the Archives--I used to think they were ridiculously overpriced, but they AREN'T because you can get them for like $32 at Amazon or wherever, which averages out to be like $3.50 per issue or something, which is basically the cost of a new comic except the stuff in the Archives is waaaay cooler and waaaay more stuff happens. Same thing with the Masterworks, except they are harder to find for some reason--but anyway, I have seriously considered just buying Archives and skipping all new comics--and if it wasn't for the horrible, horrible addiction, and weekly cravings, I would), and anyway, the Legion is the coolest of the cool. More superheroes for your hard-earned dollar.

I actually read this issue! For real!

It's really good. And It's got my favorite cover of the week. And stuff happens! Even if it turns out to be imaginary. It's still stuff! Stuff is better than no stuff.

That's my motto.

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