This Week’s Comics

Another light week this time around. Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • ACTION COMICS #902
  • ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #2 (OF 4) – The first issue of the new Rocketeer anthology was a breath of fresh air, with a remarkable opening story from John Cassaday (always a treat to see his art) and a solid tale by Mike Allred. I’ll be anxiously keeping up with this one.
  • SECRET AVENGERS #14 – Secret Avengers stays on the list solely because of Matt’s recent thumbs up. I recently caught up with issues 1-11 (expect a review soon a la yesterday’s) and found it better put-together than New Avengers, but somewhat lacking. I’ll give the next story arc a shot before dropping it, though.
  • WOLVERINE #11 – Wolverine, though…Well, I love Wolverine…
  • X-MEN AGE OF X HC – Is Age of X over already? I remember when I heard about the Age of Apocalypse 15 years ago you could have knocked me over with a feather. Now Marvel does it again and it hardly makes any news at all. I blame the 90 OTHER X-Titles out there diluting the brand.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten to read some other new comics over the past couple weeks.

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #2 hit the stands last week and continues to bowl me over. I’m not even going to call it an all-ages title anymore, that’s how solid it is. We start off with the book’s strongest scene, a look at the different classes our villains-in-training have to attend, a nice mix of Harry Potter swirled with villainy, then cut to a pretty expansive fight scene where we learn a bit more about the villain’s code, a nice angle in a title where it has to make sense that villains are more organized than you’d expense. Another outstanding issue by Smith and Villavert.

I didn’t mean to pick it up, but because it was a light week I did grab IDW’s new Godzilla title, Gangsters and Goliaths.  Set in a different continuity than the Kingdom of Monsters title Eric Powell is writing, in this book Godzilla and the gang on Monster Island are already well-known. When a team of gangsters winds up on Monster Island, mayhem ensues. I don’t feel like this is as strong as KoM, but if you’re jonesing for a Godzilla book, G&G is a solid read.

Frank Cho is one of the most amazing talents in comic books, and every time he works on a title –no kidding — I feel like the industry is lucky to have him. That said, there are certain bad habits he tends to rely on. Now, Frank can work on whatever makes him happy (a la Jim Balent on Tarot) and his art is so spectacular that it usually makes up for any perceived definiciencies in the story, but 50 Girls 50 #1 is built around one cheeky idea (hot girls in space wind up having their spacesuits slowly dissolve) and doesn’t have his artwork backing it up*. So, as far as I’m concerned there’s not much worth sticking around for.

That’s it for me. What are YOU looking at?

*There were a couple pages at the end it looked like he worked on, but I could be willing myself to see that.

Game Tape

This week was the biggest week I’ve had in a while, and there were things to actually write about too. Let’s see if I remember how it’s done shall we?

No sense in not starting with the 900 lbs. gorilla in the room. DC got it right. Action Comics #900 was  worth reading. The black sphere saga ends and Luthor gets everything he ever wanted. Of course you have to be careful what you wish for. With the main story, Cornell shows that he really understands what makes both Luthor and Superman tick. In addition, we’ve got a strong start to the upcoming Doomsday cross-over. The back-up stories were pretty well crafted, but mostly forgettable. I can only assume the Donner piece didn’t get an artist because it would ahve upped the page count. A shame, because it could have benefited from being fully fleshed out. One other thing that this anniversary issue should have included is a recognition of other characters that have debuted or been featured regularly in Action Comics. Where’s the Blackhawk story? Congo Bill? Zatara? Wild Dog? Sure it’s primarily Superman’s book, but with an anniversary this big, there needed to be recognition of the history. At least he’s not going to start walking across the country.

Onward and upward then. FF #2 continues to be Hickman being Hickman. Dialogue and character are strong and clever. The situation continues to be dire and interesting too. Specifically, we learn in this issue what sort of deal Valeria made with Dr. Doom back in the pages of Fantastic Four. This issue also highlights one of Hickman’s greatest strengths. The ability to tell a whole story in a single issue while dropping crumbs to be picked up later. Seriously, there’s no reason not to be reading this title.

Age of X ended this week also. On the whole the story wasn’t bad. The world created there was sufficiently different and interesting, and the mystery created by jumping in medias res was well sustained. If anything, it ended a little too quickly and neatly. Still, it did manage to be a decent alternate universe story. It’s also interesting to see that there are small repercussions to be felt in the aftermath. So not everything is returning to status quo. Checking out the trade or finding the issues on the cheap wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I did pick up the second issue of the Godzilla book. I really liked the first issue. This one felt a little too disjointed. I’m curious to see where this book is going. In spite of the death and destruction, I’m inclined to root for Godzilla, but I’m not sure why yet.

The three Avengers books we solid too. The two .1’s proved to be genuine in their desire to serve as starting points. In Avengers, we’re teased with a Spaceknight. We also see a MODOK with spider legs. To my mind, this is not an improvement on the floating chair design. Secret Avengers is a nice done-in-one that introduces readers to all of the main characters while giving Nick Spencer a chance to find his footing on the title. Not bad.

That’s a wrap for this week. Good solid reads all around with only minor missteps.

Game Tape

I didn’t post reviews last week because there wasn’t much to say that hadn’t been said before. I will say that FF #1 was a great solid start/ transition. Hickman continues to be a master at crafting stories that are interesting with enough material to feel full for an issue and enough mystery to pick up the next. So…. how was this week?

The winner of Wednesday is hands down Nick Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen #1. The amazing thing about this one shot is that half of it reprints Spencer’s back-up feature from Action Comics. The framing device was always a sort of week-in-the-life-of-Jimmy-Olsen, but we didn’t get the entire week until now. These adventures are distilled mad-cap. Spencer took the best parts of Silver Age Jimmy and gave it some modern character and zip. From 5th Dimensional madness to the Mobile Newsroom to plot to take over the internet the stories fly. If you missed these stories the first time around, the $5.99 cover price is worth it even the second time around.

No other books this week fared as well.

Cornell’s Action Comics #899 started out really well. His version of a battle of wits between Luthor and Brainic is not to be missed. Unfortunately, this takes up only half of the issue. The other half can best be explained in the phrase, “Come again?” or in the parlance of our times, “WTF?” There’s a Phantom Zone space god and a battle on the astral plane… uh….yeah.

Age of X: Universe is bizarre. It’s got that same feel uncomfortable squirmy feeling that Warren Ellis’ Ruins did. Everything and everyone you know is off kilter in a bad way. The only mostly recognizable person is Sue Storm as she chafes against some of the more extreme measures taken. Tony’s fate in this universe is fascinating and it’s hard to find Bruce tragic (which seems to be what they’re going for) given the Nazi/ Racial overtones of his work in this universe. No clues still as to how this world got so far off track. If you’re looking for something to drop a few bucks on this week, this book isn’t it.

When you’re talking infinity gems, one name probably pops in you head. It probably also isn’t Parker Robbins. In his talkiest issue yet, Bendis has Uatu the Watcher narrate/explain/ blather through the most recent issue of Avengers. I’d be okay with this type of narration if JRJR’s art didn’t SHOW US everything Uatu is explaining. Worst of all, Bendis through Uatu sings a tiresome refrain about how over his head Robbins a.k.a. the Hood is at this moment. He also ham-fistedly reminds us that others more accustom to the gems’ power are probably (read certainly) searching for the gems too. Which boringly telegraphs the last page. I’m officially dropping this book after the arc ends.

I also picked up the Godzilla book, but I imagine Jesse will have more to say about it than I ever could.

Game Tape

This was a pretty good week. At least for me, issues ran from pretty good to not too shabby. So let’s see what we see.

Months and months ago, I dropped Green Lantern because I didn’t want to read a story pretending not to be Dragonball Z or The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo (ie a story where the characters are on an search for x, y, and z mcguffins over an indefinite period of time). Johns was shoe-horning a hamfisted plot over his  search for the dragonba…er…ghos…er avatars of the lantern power. This said, it may be a surprise that I really enjoy Paul Cornell’s Action Comics. Lex is essentially collecting Dragon Balls, but that’s all he’s doing, and he’s doing it shamelessly. Of course Cornell’s/ Luthor’s shamelessness is infinitely more fun to read about. Specific to this issue, Larfleeze shows up with one of the spheres and words are bandied regarding the nature of desire, power, and want. If you’re a fan of avarice and the color orange, the last two Larfleeze pages are worth the price of admission. We also get a clue as to who might be partially responsible for this business.

This week also saw a return of something that has not been true in almost a decade: I walked out of the shop with three X-books. In quick order, here are a few thoughts on each.

1. Age of X continues in X-Men Legacy  #245 this week. I’m still enjoying this look at dystopia. The X-writers have gone out of their way to create relationships and back stories for characters that we haven’t seen before. Rogue serves a unique and chilling purpose in Age of X that makes sense for her power set. It’s also fun to see Cannonball busting Cyclops’s chops like a drill sergeant to a buck private. The use of Wolverine in this issue and the previous installment of this crossover are also intriguing and well done. Finally, we get glimpses that suggest that readers should not be pulling for Magneto to win the day. Poor Kitty Pride.

2. X-Men #8 continues the teams trip back to New York. I was interested in seeing how the X-Men and Spidey might face Lizard. Now, not so much. It reads similarly to Gischler’s first arc. Find vampire and replace with lizard man. Find San Francisco and replace with New York. Find Cyclops and replace with Storm. Done. There is a mystery as to who is behind all of this reptili-mania (hint: it’s not Connors). If you haven’t picked up the book, go back and read the vampire arc. It’s better and surprisingly more novel even though it’s lacking cannons that shoot vampires from the moon.

3. Astonishing X-Men is back, and Daniel Way (of Wolverine, et al. fame) is at the helm. Like X-Men, this issue involves lizards. It also involves, a certain island, Mentallo and Japan. I don’t want to say much more, but I feel confident that Jesse will be picking up to book based on certain words in the previous two sentences…oh, there’s also a death in family, but it’s more of a plot point to get the mutants to Japan.

Which brings us to the “final” issue of Fantastic Four. Pardon me if I sound incredulous; twelve issues before a big 600th anniversary and they’re canceling the title? Right. That aside, the issue is enjoyable. It’s not really a memorial for Johnny; rather it shows how each member of the family deals with his death. Valeria’s reaction is chilling, while read has an  impotent moment with Anihilus. My favorite moment was watching Ben handle the loss. Hulk and Thor are there with shoulders to cry on in a way that made me a little teary. At the same time, Hickman (as always) is building a foundation. The back up story with Franklin and Spider-Man was decent too in spite of the annoying “Hey there little guy” voice that Peter uses when talking to Franklin. I hate that voice.

Finally, there’s Nick Spencer’s Iron-Man 2.0. It was okay. Yeah.

So all in all it was a good week to read comics. Hope you enjoyed your stack as much as I enjoyed mine.


Game Tape

As Jesse pointed out on Tuesday, there are a ton of books out this week worth looking at. Two books change the status quo for their characters. All progressed a larger plot. Some did this very well… some not so much. Here’s what we’re looking at.

I’d be an idiot not to talk about Fantastic Four #587. Is it worth they hype and the polybag? No. It’s a great issue… dare I say fantastic, but it’s no Superman #75. The black polybag is almost certainly meant to evoke the memory of that issue, yet it falls short on the emotional impact. Everything about the issue is set up and executed masterfully except for the death at the end. It seems like a formality: as though it’s a mile post that has to be passed on the way somewhere else. Maybe that’s how death should be viewed…

That said, I loved everything else about this issue. Galactus acts petulantly leaving his thread open and Sue pimp slaps someone. There’s no doubt it’s a big issue that changes much for the team. I’m looking forward to the next, and “last” issue.

Chaos War ended this week with issue #5. Big things change for Hercules, and Alpha Flight is back, but I was mostly left feeling, “so what?” That said, I am looking forward to the new series, Herc, in April. The interplay between Cho and Hercules is almost always worth the price of admission.

Age of X: Alpha was an interesting introduction to this new alternate reality. All the major mutant players are already gathered around Magneto at his Fortress X. So we don’t get any back story on the universe. We do meet a lot of characters, and we get to know origins of a few. We also get an explanation of why there’s not been a Wolverine in the promo images. If you read the communiques that CBR has been posting, you already know half the stories told here in this Tales of the Green Lantern Corps style book. I’m in for one more issue only because it’s an alternate reality X-Men. Here’s hoping the main story is stronger and better framed.

 

Finally, Action Comics was okay. Luthor (and readers) learns more about the spheres thanks to the Joker. It’s hinted strongly that someone is yanking Luthor’s chain, and it’s someone the Joker is frightened of. There are some nice Joker moments, but the issue falls a little flat. Still, there’s enough intrigue and interest to keep with the title. Cornell’s work is still solid here.

This issue is also the first to be missing it’s Jimmy Olsen back up. It is missed sorely.