There doesn’t seem to be much reason to continue this farce…

Over at Comic Alliance today, Chris Sims has an interview with both Ken Hale and Jeff Parker. This should be cause for celebration. It is not. The bad news is that Atlas ends at issue #5. The “good” news is that Parker feels he’s walking away on his own terms.

It’s tempting to go into a rant here, but I’ll spare us all. Still, the death of consistently smart and entertaining titles like this points to the exit door for me more quickly than the consistent price hikes.

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Game Tape

The euphoria of Wednesday books has worn off; now it’s time to review the game tape and see what worked and what didn’t. This week was strong considering how light it is for me. Unfortunately, there only seems to be one Mad Hatter story: his infatuation with “Alice.” To his credit, Landry Walker does his best effort to make it interesting. If you didn’t bother to read Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, then let me tell you that Landry Walker’s best effort is pretty good. It’s just not enough to hide the fact that we’ve heard this story before. There are some new and disturbing moments here. We see what makes the Hatter so dangerous; he’s not just a kook with fetish for hats and the writings of Lewis Carroll. Still, for most of you out there, I’d say unless you’re a big fan of Landry Walker and co., wait for the trade on this. A while back, November or December, I predicted that we’d see Cobra Commander making an appearance the new GI Joe series by March of this year. So I was off by a few months. GI Joe #19 marks the second time we see the revamped Commander… briefly. He made an appearance in last month’s GI Joe: Cobra II. The new look is interesting and favorable. The fangs at the bottom are a really nice touch. Story-wise, we see Destro proving he’s more than just a pretty face and a weapons maker. He tears a new one for Major Bludd. Two interesting things about this series are that the Joes are always on defense and Cobra troopers are pretty bad ass. Yes, GI Joe is still America’s top secret, highly trained, special mission force. It’s just that they didn’t know until very recently that there was anything out there that could give them a run for their money. So they’re scrambling to play catch-up. Remember the cannon fodder from the cartoon? The Vipers with the silver face masks and the goggles? In this iteration, one of them nearly killed Snake-Eyes. Let me repeat that for emphasis. One of them nearly killed Snake-Eyes. Beat the ever-loving crap out of him.

I did pick up New Avengers #1 this week. It’s pretty okay. In spite of the fact that it’s got a strong and different line-up, it’s my least favorite beginning of the three starts. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but, more so than Avengers, this was classic talky Bendis. I like the magical-mystical-mysterious threat: someone’s after the Eye of Agamotto. On the other hand, It didn’t occur to me until just this minute, but all three Avengers titles follow the exact same plot. Team is set up, threat is introduced in hints woven throughout, final page is a surprise/ reveal. So this is essentially the third time in almost as many weeks that I’ve read this issue.

Agents of Atlas #2 was enjoyable as we get some interesting clues as to what’s going on here. It hints also as to how 3-D has “memories” of Section Zero in the 1950’s. Naturally Parker’s snappy dialogue continues to make this the single most enjoyable read by either major publishing company. People should be taking notes on how it’s done.

That’ll wrap things up. On a tangentially related note, I asked my comic vendor to drop JLoA, JSoA, and Green Lantern from my pull list. I’ve spent too many months only being mildly interested in them. The JSA title has the best chance for redemption. I’m probably only it through the crossover.

Random Reviews — Finally, I have things to compliment!

Finally!  A chance to spread the good word on some good comics rather than complaining that X-Babies exists!

Avengers vs Atlas #1 – If Matt and Hannah Montana have taught me anything, it’s that there are only 7 plots in literature,* so I wasn’t terribly concerned when I read his review of this book before I got a chance to read the book itself. I wouldn’t even say that this book fits the category of “teams meet, fight, realize they’re on the same side, then team up” unless you count earlier issues of the AoA ongoing and X-Men vs Atlas (which is fair because if you read comics then you should have been reading already). Recycled plots or no, it’s the way Parker puts them together than makes AoA so special. The humor, banter, and situations always feel fresh and novel, as if it’s the first time we’re seeing a Human Robot interact with a Gorilla Man. I don’t have much to say about this book that Matt didn’t say first, but I definitely second how great this was. The Namora backup was a weak story we’ve seen dozens of times before, but there’s still a lot of bang in here for your 4 bucks.

The Muppet Show #1 – This book? Well, if our frequent shilling for Roger Langridge and BOOM!’s Muppet Show books haven’t sold you yet it won’t now, but this continues to be the funniest comic on the stands. Langridge really gets a) comedy, and b) Muppets, and doing both is apparently harder to do than you’d think. After the damage done to the theater in “The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson”, the Muppets take their show on the road to any gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse that will have them. Fozzie, meanwhile, has temporarily gone his own way to rediscover standup (the alphabet at the end of the book was brilliant!). It’s a spectacular read, as always. The next issue should have the Muppets rolling into Little Statwald, which I can only hope is a town full of Stadlers and Waldorfs.

Thunderbolts #140 – This is more like what I was expecting from Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts run. The Agents of Atlas/Thunderbolts battle is resolved and Jimmy Woo proves he’s willing to do anything to take down Norman Osborne, with unexpected results. Hopefully it doesn’t make me a bad person that the horror and shock of what happened was matched by thinking it was pretty funny (and a relatively ingenious twist). The dichotomy between the lighter Atlas team and the darker T-Bolts is certainly fascinating, though I’m afraid Parker may have made the Agents too powerful. We’re starting to see a lot of psych-outs by Marvel Boy and characters who are unaffected by Venus’ song. Still, we’ve had 3 AoA books this month, which is proof that Marvel either recognizes quality, is still working their “throw it on the wall and see if it sticks” publishing philosophy, or is just willing to print anything Jeff Parker wants to write.

Weekly World News #1 – I was amazed by how much I like this comic! The first story arc, “The Irredemption of Ed Anger” follows the regular WWN columnist (who tends to get “madder than a <NOUN> in a <RELATED NOUN>) and television pundit as he rails against the freaks and illegal (space) aliens that the WWN specializes in. Of course, this puts Bat Boy at the center of his rage. Chris Ryall puts together a very funny story here, and weaves in more disparate WWN regulars than you would think possible (and thankfully annotates them in the back).  Alan  Robinson’s art was quite good, as well: consistent, well laid out, and with only one facial expression for Bat Boy (as it should be). Ryall’s text piece in the back relates a history with Weekly World News that Matt and I can definitely relate to. I’m looking forward to more issues, especially after the last-page reveal. Anyone with a fondness for the WWN should be pleased by the comic, and I’m curious to see how far they can take it.

*Hannah Montana is “Man vs. Self”.

This Week’s Comics

Because of the Martin Luther King holiday, I’m surprised that New Comic Book Day (from here on NCBD) is still Wednesday, but Diamond says it is, so it is.  Maybe they’ll startle me by having shipping some comics I’m actually going to pick up.  Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS VS AGENTS OF ATLAS #1 – I hope there are some extra pages in here to justify the $4 price tag, because I really want to read this.
  • BLACKEST NIGHT THE FLASH #2 (OF 3) – I completely forgot what happened in the first issue and I haven’t read one BN mini that I’ve actually enjoyed (JSA is still waiting on me), so I’m going to pass.
  • STARMAN #81 (BLACKEST NIGHT) – It’s James Robinson and it’s Starman, so I’m in, but I’m only cautiously optimistic.  My confidence is that Robinson’s more attached to these characters, than I am.  The synopsis sounds good, though.

And…I guess that’s it for me.  Another stunningly light week.  Expect some back issue reviews later in the week, because I’ve been reading some pretty cool stuff lately.  And what are YOU getting this week?


Game Tape

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…

This week’s theme is caveats.

Doom Patrol #4 looks into the team’s proverbial closet. Given it’s a Blackest Night tie-in (which books aren’t selling well? Must be the ones with BN tie-ins), there are a lot of skeletons hanging out. This is the first issue where I really enjoyed the main story. I’m finally beginning to understand the structure of Oolong Island as a sovereign nation of “mad” scientists and Doom Patrol’s place within that frame work. I like that a lot. The dialogue was fun especially the bit between Robotman and Negative Man. I can honestly say I didn’t see the last page coming. Maybe I’m slow, but my mom doesn’t think so. The Metal Men story was enjoyable too. It puts to bed the age old question, “which is more important to a female robot: taking over the world, shopping, or bickering? It was an enjoyable read for me because I like the characters, but the title is still a little too “not-ready-for-prime-time.”

As much as I love Jeff Parker, this hasn’t been my favorite. As usual the dialogue is crisp, fun, and shows character. It’s the cookie cutter team meets team story that disappointed me. It ends more suddenly than feels natural too. The art in both present and “flashback” was fantastic. It was also nice that the story is building to something bigger in AoA regarding the Siren known as Venus. Again, Parker fans are going to love this, but Johnny-off-the-street-X-fan is going to get the wrong impression of the glory that is a Jeff Parker written book.

Guest writer John Ostrander penned a good Deadshot piece for Secret Six #15. Fans of Simone’s psychotic team probably won’t enjoy this shift of gears from the manic pace of the last several issues. Me? I was thankful for it.  Maybe it’s just because I like Ostrander and miss the old Suicide Squad. At any rate, it’s a good book for Suicide Squad fans more than Secret Six fans.

Jonah Hex #49 was a nice blood bath with a bit of a tease at the end. It’s the last of the Six Gun story – arc that ties into the up coming movie. If you like westerns, gun play, or guys getting the crap kicked out of them regularly, pick up this next issue. The title is never bogged down in continuity, and the few arcs there have been are short. Very accessible to new readers.

GI Joe #11, much like the previous issue, is finally better than just good. Everything is coming together so well. Destro and Mindbender squabble enjoyably. Snake Eyes and Breaker are coming back into the fold, and Scarlett does more than sit in a chair while people yell at her. It won’t be long now before we finally see Cobra Commander.

I also picked up this week’s Astonishing X-Men. I just haven’t read it yet. Actually, I’m sort of dreading it. The Brood have always bored me to tears.