Game Tape

No worries faithful readers, just because it’s a federal holiday here in the states does not mean that we neglected to read and review books this week. Four books worth commenting on this week; two are written by Paul Cornell.

Batman and Robin #17 marks the beginning of where I, like Jesse, was planning on dropping the title. I’ve stayed because of the merits of Action Comics and the Captain Britain stuff. With this issue, I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened. I read the damned thing twice and only felt marginally more clued in on the second read. There’s a villainess (I mean when you name her Una Nemo, does she really have another choice?)that may or may not control minds in a hive-mind sense. A body is discovered then something happens and something happens to lead Dick and Damian to a church. Strung-out looking people keep asking, “What are we missing?!” for my money, what we’re missing is cohesion. The only part that made much sense was a soliloquy by Alfred regarding Bruce Wayne’s relationships with women. Add to this the fairly generic 1998-esque art of Scott McDaniel, and you’ve got a book that needs to get better because name recognition is not enough to keep me interested.

On the other hand, I continue to enjoy Cornell’s Action Comics. Both baddies in this issue were well written and compelling. Although it was odd to see Vandal Savage set up as a dictator in an Eastern European country à la Doctor Doom. Nic Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen back-up story was also enjoyable as it concludes his romp with twenty-something space aliens in a clever and almost Silver Age fashion. At this point, I’d buy a Jimmy Olsen book written by Spencer. The guy’s got an interesting and fun take on the character.

To quote Hannibal from The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.” And that’s exactly what happens in Victor Gischler’s X-Men #7. I haven’t written much about this title because it is often standard X-Men vs. Vampire fare. Neil Gaiman couldn’t be more correct in stating that these creatures of the night need to be set on a shelf and forgotten for a while. Still, Gischler has managed to come up with some surprising moments: making a suicide bomber into a biological weapon was impressively imaginative. This issue is the penultimate issue of this arc, and it’s a doozy. I was reminded why I’ve always had a soft spot in my comic bookish heart for Cyclops. For all of his Claremontian monologuing, the guy is straight-up hardcore. Next issue Dracula comes to town, and it should be a rip-snorter of a finale.

The real treat of the week, as Jesse predicted on Monday, is Fantastic Four #585. There are a ton of oh-shit and daa-yumn moments in this one. When the book opens with Galactus, Devourer of Worlds floating above the Baxter building tersely telling Reed Richards to explain, and things escalate in crazy from there, you’ve got a heck of a good book on your hands. Little pieces from almost a year ago are now coming together. I’ve read some reviews complaining about Hickman’s slow story telling and his penchant for done-in-ones. Don’t you believe it.  Remember, this is a guy that admitted in Charlotte and several other interviews that he’s got flow charts and pages of graphic organizers to tell this story. Everything matters. Let me say that again: EVERYTHING MATTERS. True, it’s a slow boil, but it’s always been cooking something. The FF, and by proxy the reader, are feeling the heat now and it’s going to be real scorcher. I know Jesse and I talk about this book all the time. You have to believe us: it’s just that good. If you aren’t reading it, you clearly hate comics. There. I said it.

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…

First let me begin by saying that I have had a nagging suspicion that I was unfair to Mr. Geoff Johns and Green Lantern #50. I pulled it out of the To Be Filed stack and reread it Monday. No worries. It’s still crap. A bunch of useless punching on the Zombie Spectre. A bit of alternate whining, rambling, and blustering. A “big” reveal spoiled if you bothered to look at the cover. Absolute waste of a book. I think I mistranslated the nagging suspicion as being too fair to Johns. I should have been much more apoplectic in my response.

Soooo… this week:

Honestly, I’m not getting a whole lot out of Morrison’s Batman and Robin. It’s not bad, but it still reads as a place holder for Bruce’s further adventures. After some nifty concepts in the last issue, we get a weak payoff here. You know what Morrison doesn’t write well? People beating the crap out of each other for pages. You know what we get with issue #8? People beating the crap out of each other for pages. We do hop in the Wayback machine to see something related to Bruce’s true whereabouts. We also see someone die within spitting distance of a Lazarus Pit. So what?

On the other hand, Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man continues to be really solid.  Each individual arc focuses on a single member of the Sinister Six. Each arc is crafted in such a way that you don’t really notice that the creative team is building toward something huge and uncomfortable for everyone’s favorite wall crawler. I’m still really liking this slow build. This concluding issue to the Mysterio arc was quite satisfactory. The banter hits the right notes. Mysterio’s motives hearken back to the days when uncomplicated greed was the only motivation a criminal needed for developing a gimmick. It’s been a well crafted gem. Where else are you going to find the line, “Muppet head kick! hee yah!”? The art’s been nice too. It’s an interesting blend of Romita Sr. and Jr. It takes the best of both of them. Anyway, if you can find it cheap, it’s really worth picking up.

I should have known better; I really should have known. It’s just that I’m a sucker for a book with a clothed monkey on the cover (I bought that Dr. Fate book with Detective Chimp on the cover solely on the strength of the Bolland cover). I suspect Jesse had this in mind when he posted the cover on Monday. That the monkey is holding two automatic pistols is just that extra bit of catnip for me. The origin story is silly; outside of being bloody and violent, it’s straight from Marvel’s (pre-FF) Silver Age. Hit-Monkey probably wouldn’t survive as a series; it’s a little too gimmicky. Still, it was a fun first issue. Definitely worth getting from the bargain bins. I wouldn’t recommend spending the full price for this one unless you’re ga ga for monkeys with guns.

I also picked up Booster Gold. It was okay. X-Men Forever was yeoman’s work too; Claremont continues to shine here without Wolverine.

What I didn’t get were the two Muppet books. Damnation.