Lousy with Booty: The Game Tape/Quarter Bin Treasure Chest Crossover

Wednesday has come and gone. The heroes have fought their battles and villains have hinted at things to come. Now it’s time to review the game tape…

With Jesse roaming freely over my stomping grounds this week, we decided to co-review books again. The problem? No books shipped.*

The solution: hit the quarter bins.** Each of us selected three books from the bounty read it and swapped.

Pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, strap yourself in, and get ready for adventure!

First up is a book I was excited about solely because of the cover. Turns out this is not sound exclusive basis for buying a comic book. Seems something like that would be encoded in conventional wisdom somehow. It’s not a bad book for fifty cents. It’s just a lot more talky than I had hoped. Why corrupt a perfect idea with something like a forced story. Werewolves on the Moon: versus Vampires should be these two arch-enemies fighting/ clawing/ and biting each other for 25 pages. I guess that’s too much to expect.

Definitely.  There are some good lines in here, especially the one about being bitten by a retarded werewolf, but you’re right, it’s not enough to sustain this book.  It should be fun non-stop madness, but instead it’s just overthought.

PUNISHER WAR ZONE #1 – I’ve never been a huge Punisher fan, but I thought the work Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon did on the return on Frank Castle in “Welcome Back, Frank” was top-notch, giving real depth to a sociopath who was otherwise just considered a “k3w1 d00d with guns”.  I had wanted to check out his “Return of Ma Gnucci” storyline, but with so many Punisher books out these days I couldn’t keep them all straight, and War Zone slipped through the cracks.

Fortunately, it didn’t matter how much I had missed because Ennis didn’t weigh himself down with continuity, he just starts a solid (and messed up) story.  Even with botched assassinations and a horrible chimp incident, he never forgets the heart of the story is in the characters.  Of course, he also doesn’t forget the little things, like making sure to name one of his “Schitti”.  And Steve Dillon’s art?  Well, he’s one of those guys you either love him or hate.  I love him.

I picked up this arc when it first came out. I had just read Ennis and Dillon’s “Welcome back, Frank” story, and fell in love with it. I can’t add much more to this that you haven’t already covered. I can say that by the end of the story things have gotten weirder and more violent than even the story it’s spinning off from.

I’ve since read issues 2 and 3, and the army of genetically engineered (maybe?) Ma Gnuccis sounds just about right.  Can’t wait to dig up the rest of the story.

Ghost and The Shadow – I don’t know much about Ghost as a character, but I didn’t need to coming into this. Doug Moench actually does a good job of summing up who both of these characters are without proper/heavy introduction flashbacks. You get a good idea of both Ghost and The Shadow based on the natural dialogue and action within the story. It’s light one-off material and generic team up business, but it isn’t burdensome and it’s a pleasant quick read.

I concur.  I wouldn’t necessarily go back to it, but it’s not bad.  I can’t tell if either of the characters were presented accurately, but they worked for me.  My only quibble is that everything (especially the lettering) was a little on the tiny side for my aging eyes.

FX #1 – The backstory is the most interesting thing about this book.  John Byrne had a standing offer to do full art for anyone willing to pay a $1000 page rate.  Wayne Osborne took him up on the offer, wrote the story, and IDW picked it up and turned it into a mini-series.  It’s every fan’s dream, but unfortunately it’s not that great.

Osborne tells a decent but not overly-interesting story.  Byrne delivers solidly Byrne-esque art, though I still wish that he (like The Rob) would get someone else to ink his work.  The linework isn’t varied enough, and the finished art — even with inks — is still too sketchy for my liking. I credit Osborne for his effort (I might steal his idea myself some time), but don’t really dig the results.

The sketchy lines don’t bother me as much as the faces. Like St. Kirby, Byrne has only a handful of faces in his toolkit. Men look like Superman or Reed Richards with different wigs. Women look like Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, or Storm, again with varying wigs.

Like you said, the story’s pretty light fare. It’s not awful, but it’s not worth it’s own ongoing monthly. Think of a poor man’s early Invincible crossed with Green Lantern and you’ve the idea. On the up side, I think I’ve found the page of Byrne art I need in my collection. It’s the one where they introduce the silverback gorilla.

I loved that they included a giant gorilla, but hated that it looked like your gorilla suit rather than a real animal.  That may just be my preference, though.

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 – We both picked this one up; in fact we both got the first two issues. On the whole I can only say this: Busiek must have been sitting around re-reading Marvels, was disturbed by how glowing and “aww, shucks” it was, and decided to inject some grumpier malcontent ideas into Phil Sheldon’s character. It’s a truer story here in that everyone is more human and grounded in the pettiness of the real world. However, it’s too late to go back and revise the sense of awe and marvel in the original story. I’m calling this one the Marvels of Universe 617.

The tone is definitely different, but I was okay with that.  After the death of Gwen Stacy everything changed for Phil, and the Marvel U got darker, too.  And Phil hasn’t even seen the early 90’s yet! Marvels: EotC was the first casualty of my “no $4 comics” rule.  I’d been looking forward to it for years but The Rule meant I couldn’t pick it up.  I was depressed about it, but I feel vindicated now that I’ve been able to pick up the first two issues for $.50 each.

I felt was totally worth the wait.  Busiek is at home with the “ground level reporting of superheroes” trope, and Jay Anacleto pencils with an incredible amount of detail that makes him a worthy successor to Alex Ross.  As with the initial mini-series, this is more about Phil Sheldon’s life set against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe.  I thought Sheldon’s anger at Peter Parker was very nicely balanced with his admiration for Spider-Man.

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI-13 #5 – After seeing previews of the Vampire State arc I knew I had to pick up that story, but I haven’t gone any further back until now.  By issue #5, the final team is being assembled to defend Britain by monsters.  This is a top-notch modern superheroing story by Paul Cornell with excellent art by Pat Oliffe and Paul Neary.  Now that I know the rest of the run is so good I’ll definitely be filling in the rest of the gaps of my run on this book.

Even after hearing about Doom and Dracula’s plans on the Moon, I wasn’t convinced enough to get this title. My first reaction to hearing the name Captain Britain is, “So what? He flies, he hits things, and he whines.” Even Alans Moore and Davis couldn’t make me care about this guy. However, finding the books in the fifty cent bins has opened my eyes. This is not a Captain Britain book. This is a book about a British team in the vein of the original concept for X-Factor. You’ve got a public team with a covert mission. The title should be changed to MI-13 with Captain Britain. It’s smart, fast, easy to jump into, and entertaining all around. This and the issues I picked up in the Vampire State arc wholly made up for the other lacking vampire story I bought.

Totally, man.  If I had known that’s what was keeping you from it I would have elaborated more.  I never know where to draw the line between teasing the story and ruining the whole thing.

There’s also a book I bought that I thought I’d force Jesse to read, but finishing Angel Love #1 made me realize that I would be in violation of certain articles of the Geneva Convention. All I’ll say is that I wish I had been this age in the mid-80’s when DC would publish anything that came down the pike with a strong anti-drug message. The tag line across the top says, “You’ve never seen a comic like this!!” Cracking it open and reading it through, I understand why this statement isn’t so much a statement of innovation as it is a warning to the potential reader. Bad as it was, and little in my collection is worse, I have an unnatural urge to find out how the story ends. #1 ends with a bit of a cliffhanger revelation.

On my side, I picked up Marville #1 to mess with Matt.  After I read it and found out firsthand how horrible it is, I realized I couldn’t really do that to him.  Truly an awful, awful comic.  I can see it being funny only if a) you enjoy mocking DC’s corporate owners for no reason other than that they have them, or b) if you’re Bill Jemas.  Even publishers need editors, Marvel.

That’s it for the last batch of books of 2009.  2009 went out weakly, at least for my pull list, but it was a good year for comics and for the blog.  Happy New Year, everyone.

* None of the three books out shipped to my LCS.

** In this case they were actually fifty cent bins, but the concept and attraction remain the same: cheap books = a chance to experiment and branch out.

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