Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Comic Book Scorecard: Week of 9/06/06

This week was lighter than last week, both in terms of quantity and quality. Here we go:

Uncanny X-Men #478, by Brubaker and Tan. I've seldom liked the X-Men. I enjoyed the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne run. I loved the Morrison, Quitely, etc. run. I respect the Whedon, Cassaday work on Astonishing. I thought the second movie was pretty good. That's about it for me and the X-Men. I own a lot of X-Men comic books, but most of them are weak, incomprehensible, or dull. This new 12-part series by Brubaker and Tan is still too early to judge, honestly. Issue #478 is part 4 of the series, true, but that's still really just the beginning of Act II--I know the storyline is headed toward some huge battle between Vulcan, The X-Men, and the Shi'ar Superguardians, but it's a bit slow getting there. I like that it deals with the Shi'ar. I like that it's not mutant angst. I like that it's better than most X-Men stories already. But I hope Brubaker can pull it all together into something great. Grade: B-

52 Week Eighteen, by the usual peeps. I have been reading Shadowpact and the continuity between this series and that series has completely baffled me. Wasn't the Shadowpact team trapped in that city withing a bubble for the entire year. The same year 52 is supposed to take place? I thought so. Am I wrong about that? Then why are Shadowpact members appearing in this series all of a sudden? Will someone please help me out here? Anyway, I liked this issue, otherwise, mostly because it dealt heavily with Dr. Fate's helmet. I think Dr. Fate is one of the best, most underused characters in the DC Universe, and it's mostly because his helmet is so damn cool. Seriously, his helmet is enough to make me enjoy a comic book. That's more than a little weird, right? Grade: B

Atom #3, by Simone and Byrne. Ugh, I still HATE the "footnotes" that Simone throws in every once in a while. I think the footnotes are her awful attempt at metafiction and/or humor, but they just don't work. They are distracting, uninteresting, and unfunny. I actually emailed her after the first issue to beg her to please get rid of the horrible, horrible footnotes, and she said in her reply that she's going to continue using them, but use them less. She's just being stubborn. I'll bet you that by issue #10 the footnotes will be long gone. They are so very bad. Meanwhile, the story is not too shabby, and Byrne's art looks pretty good in this issue. We have a Lovecraftian monster, a new Giganta (is she the same Giganta from other DC comics? I have no idea), and a new villain who is a shrinking assassin called Dwarfstar. If a shrinking assassin named Dwarfstar sounds cool to you, then you are smart, because it is WICKED cool. Grade: B+ (would be an A- if not for those footnotes!)

Mystery in Space #1, by Starlin and Davis. I liked the Shane Davis artwork a lot more than I thought I would. I'm pretty much a clean-line type of guy, and the 90s Image look doesn't sit well with me. Yet, this week I bought a couple of titles that used that style quite effectively. It's too early to judge the overall storyline, but the first issue rejuvenates the old Captain Comet character and updates him TO THE EXTREME. That's actually not a joke. That's what really happens. But, still, I like swashbuckling space adventures, and Starlin is known for that sort of thing (I miss Dreadstar, don't you?). The back-up story, "The Weird," seemed just kind of pointless, though. And I always thought Starlin's "Weird" costume design was way off--he's supposed to be this alien being of immense power, yet he looks like a circus performer with a stylized ninja costume. That IS weird. Grade for the Captain Comet section: B; Grade for The Weird: D

Detective Comics #823, by Dini and Benitez. This is the other comic I bought that had 90s Image art, but yet I liked the style quite a bit. It's like Todd McFarlane had a love child with Bart Sears and Art Adams was the godfather. If that makes any sense to you, it probably doesn't sound like a pleasant sight, but it is. It works here. I particularly like the look of Batman in this story. It's a good look. Trust me. The Dini story is decent, but not brilliant. I like the savage portrayal of Poison Ivy, but the "villain," the Harvest, is not great. The ending implies that the ridiculous Harvest will inevitably return someday. I hope not. Really. Grade: B

Marvel Team-Up #24, by Kirkman and Kuhn. I have probably told you this before, but Robert Kirkman is the best old-fashioned superhero writer working today. He's not a fancy genius like Morrison or anything, but in the classic Stan Lee mode, or Claremont mode, or whatever old-school writer you like, you get Robert Kirkman. He just tells a good story and seems to have fun doing it. That's why I like this series, and I'm sad that it's ending next issue. But the story he tells this week is a great one, with the final battle between Freedom Ring and Iron Maniac (see--look at those names, they are absurd, but Kirkman doesn't care--he doesn't justify them--he knows he's writing a comic book and he just goes for it). You know what, I just like that there's a crazy alternate reality Tony Stark running around calling himself Iron Maniac. That's enough to make me happy. The excellent narrative is just icing. Grade: A

Y the Last Man #49, by Vaughan and Guerra. Yorick's quest seems to have hit a bit of a lull here. There aren't any interesting action sequences here, nor any shocking revelations, nor any charming dialogue. I think the problem is that Yorick himself doesn't seem to know what his next step will be. Since issue #1, he's been looking for his girlfriend, but now he seems puzzled about what to do next. So maybe the issue simulates his lack of direction. Either that or it's just a weak issue. I just hope that Vaughan recovers and gets us on track quickly for the series conclusion (issue #60?). Grade: C-

Agents of Atlas #2, by Parker and Kirk. Jeff Parker is coming on strong. He's making a mainstream splash on this series and his work on the Marvel Adventures: Avengers title (which I haven't read, but I've heard good things about). Agents of Atlas, though, is looking good so far. I like the premise (the actual pre-Marvel heroes reuniting in the present day to fight their old nemesis--the racist characature of evil known as Yellow Claw), and I like the characters, and I like the pace of the story. The artwork is pleasant too. Good stuff all around. Grade: A-

Battler Briton #3, by Ennis and Wilson. This is another series I'm not going to read until I get a whole bunch of issues, largely because I have no frame of reference on these old British characters, and I need to sink my teeth into a pile of the comics before I get my bearings. Grade: Incomplete

That's it for this week!

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