Game Tape

There comes a time in a man’s life when he looks back wistfully and reviews the choices that he has made. For me that time happens most Thursday. This is the Game Tape; let’s review shall we?

First up is a look at the best issue of any book that I’ve read in a long time. Goon #39 points out every gimmicky things that Powell sees as being wrong with big company comics today, and for my money he’s not wrong. From reboots and seeming pointless costume changes to poor story craft and jab at a certain rainbow corps, this issue lampoons with a sharp wit.

Next up was an enjoyable done-in-one issue of FF. Without going into detail, this is Peter Parker and Johnny Storm being Peter and Johnny. One’s frustrated, and one is oblivious. I won’t spoil it, but the last two pages are the funniest I’ve seen in a Marvel book since Ego the Living Planet fell in love with Earth. The last page is so great and weird that I’m probably going to use it as my facebook profile pic.

Secret Avengers #26 was fairly meh. It had potential and great art, but it wasted an inordinate amount of time throwing Thor and some b-listers at the Phoenix Force.

All-Star Western #8’s minimal use of the simpering Dr. Arkham was a pleasant read. It’s hampered a little by plot exposition, but it was a decent read.

I also found a copy of Supreme #63. It was as enjoyable as I remembered earlier issues to be. That’s certainly a pleasant surprise, as I’ve recently been burned on things I’ve reread early last decade.

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Game Tape

Not much I’m excited about this week. So here are three briefs.

Uncanny X-Men #8 is just okay this month. Basically, the story and the dialogue are more boilerplate than I’ve come to expect from Gillen in this series. There’s a prison break, our superhero team is called to wrangle them, and the Avengers show up to lend a hand. The sense of threat and anything really being at stake are negligible. If this issue was intended to show buddy-buddy status quo of the Avengers and X-men pre A vs X, it didn’t do much outside of tell the reader, “Hey we’re both good guys and we’re fighting bad guys together.” At the end of the issue, I was left feeling like I had finished reading a plot outline rather than an actual story.

The main reason I’ve always enjoyed Eric Powell’s works isn’t the (often excessive) potty humor, nor is it seeing a guy punch the hated slack-jaws into submission. The man knows how to tell a story. This has certainly been evident in the last two issues of The Goon. #37 & 38 actually have little to no involvement from our titular character. In spite of this fact, they have been enjoyable. Both issues deal with (literally and figuratively) strong  women surviving in the depression era world of The Goon. As much as I’m looking forward to further stories involving people punching, shooting, and knifing the undead, as long as Powell remembers how to tell a good story I’m on board.

Regarding Batman #7: “Court of Owls” needs to end. The song has played too long. This issue’s “revelation” had the impact of a balled up sheet of paper. While the issues aren’t badly written, this Johnsian decompression is giving me the bends.

With this week gone, here’s to better days.

This Week’s Comics

Wow, there’s a good amount of stuff to talk about this time around. Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS #12
  • BATMAN #709
  • BLACK DYNAMITE SLAVE ISLAND GN – Expect a dissertation on Black Dynamite to show up tomorrow, but for now I’ll say this: Black Dynamite is an amazing film, with a cast and crew who really know and love their source material: blaxploitation films.  This is not one of the ridiculous be-afro’ed pimps who show up in a comic every couple years, this is the real deal.  Black Dynamite comes with my highest possible recommendation.  And there will be sharks.
  • GREEN LANTERN #65 and GREEN LANTERN CORPS #59 – I’m resisting the urge to start quoting The Godfather, but I was happily out of the Green Lantern line until War of the Green Lanterns kicked off.  And now I’m off the wagon.
  • SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1000 – Seriously Marvel, you can bite me with this shit.
  • SUPER DINOSAUR #1 – The cynic in me says this is a blatant attempt to catch in on the wave of new zany comics, or at the very least Axe Cop.  But the optimist in me says it’s a kid running around with a cybernetic dinosaur so I have to at least check it out.
  • THUNDERBOLTS #156
  • UNCANNY X-FORCE #8 – Marvel makes sure we know that they’re going to pry every single possible dollar from our hands by keeping their titles at $4.

o hai

I’ve finally picked up a copy of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1.  I found out that local shop I Want More Comics also got their shop one of the variant covers so I was happy to be able to check it out. I’m fairly pleased with it, a slow burn of a first issue that doesn’t explain the origin of Godzilla so much, but does present the first appearance of the king of the monsters in Japan, and explain where his fire breathing ability comes from (not that I’ve ever cared).  This is very much a  ground-level Godzilla story, taking place from the human point of view rather than the monstrous.  Powell is a comic book master, and while I’d prefer a little faster pacing, I understand the need to properly lay the groundwork for the appearance of a creature that looks like it’s going to destroy Tokyo.  I have faith he’s going to take us where we want to go, and this title promises to feature all of the Toho creatures, so I’ll be on-board for a while.  The art by Phil Hester is solidly drafted (he opted for one of the more feline variants of Godzilla), but his panel layout is incredibly hard to read at times.  The way his pages are laid out are reminiscent of how Powell lays out The Goon, but Powell has the benefit of softer coloring to pad between scenes and I think Hester would be well-served to stick with more traditional panel borders for the time being, unless the coloring style changes up.

I was happy to get caught up on Nick Spencer’s new Image title Infinite Vacation, whose second issue hit the stands last week.  Infinite Vacation is a service that uses the theory of infinite universes to create an online auction system that allows you to trade lives with any parallel version of yourself, letting you live a life that may have been.  Mark is a heavy user, averaging almost 10 jumps per day, and someone is killing him across realities.  While that would be a good enough story to provide you with plotlines for years, Spencer also looks at the social and moral ramifications of the Infinite Vacation, and provides an interesting counterpoint with the “deadenders,” the 3% of society that refuses to participate (and the group I would probably fall in with).  I’ll have to do some research to find out if this is an ongoing or a mini, but I’d love to see stories of other vacationers, too.  This is a lush, well-rounded world Spencer and artist Christian Ward have created in just two issues, and I can’t wait to see where they take us.

Mile High Comics’s web site is starting to show significant price drops of this year’s issues, so that is a resource I’m able to take advantage of now.  I’ve updated my running pull list to reflect the new books I’ve picked up, and that’s it for this week.  What are YOU looking at?

Game Tape…the late edition

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 was one of the best weeks for me in a long time.

I rediscovered two Jeff Parker penned issues and read a slew of things I had been looking forward to. It was a week of surprises: a true Festivus miracle!

First up is a book I kind of took a risk on: Mighty Avengers #32. After Jesse reminded me how much I love Dan Slott’s prose and seeing the preview pages on Newsarama, I figured I’d pad the light week with this one. Where else am I going to read the great line, “Let’s smite the hell out of something”? This issue is solid considering I’m not that keen on the whole idea of multiple Avengers teams working at a cross purpose with Osborne heading one of them. I’ve always liked Loki as an idea; here his grand game of chess plays out quite interestingly. The real strength was in something I thought would never happen: I liked Hank Pym. The guy’s been an Avenger since God was a kid, but he’s usually so whiny and self-doubty. If I want to read that, I’ll read 90’s Kyle Rayner or any Superman story from the last 5 years. Slott makes Pym interesting by making a self assured genius, refering to himself as “Scientist Supreme.” I may have to make a concerted effort to find Slott’s issues on the cheap in a few months or remember to get the trade.

Next up is Thunderbolts #138 and #139. I remember reading about these months ago, but forgot them in the mean time. Given my love of Secret Six, you would think this title would be a natural. Bad guys working toward agendas which sometimes workout in everyone’s best interest…intentionally or not. There just hasn’t been a writer on the title I’ve cared about… Warren Ellis aside. Walking down the wall of books though, I saw that this week’s book was written by Jeff Parker and featured the Agents of Atlas. Apparently so did the previous issue. It ties in nicely to the encounter with Osborne in Parker’s AoA title. The art here is sometimes over inked and difficult to tell what’s what…especially given that the action happens at night or in poorly lit areas. I was especially pleased to find that Parker’s light and breezy dialogue and pacing works just as well when bent toward a more twisted crowd. If you’re looking for something else to read this week, These two books might do the trick. Proving the old Serbian proverb, “You can never go wrong with Jeff Parker.”

This week’s Chimichanga is funny, sweet, and cute. As part of the week of surprises, I never thought I’d use two of those words in association with Eric Powell, the man who wrote Satan’s Sodomy Baby. Don’t worry though, there’s still some potty humor to be found. I’m looking forward to future issues.

Last surprise of the week was Astonishing X-Men. I was seriously considering dropping this title after the Ghost Boxes story arc. I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t want to spend the money on the one-shots. This arc is proving different. You still get the great Ellis ear for dialogue, and now you’ve got Phil Jimenez art. Instead of being more retread of the Bleed idea from Wildstorm, we’ve got a villain using parts of dead mutants to create bio-weapons. While this isn’t a new idea, it works so well here in X-Men. It’s fair to say that Beast and Cyclops are Ellis’ favorite characters here. He writes them so well and they’ve got the best lines. The team itself has finally come together well too. As usual though, the interplay between Brand and Beast is his best writing. This issue we see a different side of the relationship from the usual references to kinky animal-sex. A genuine concern and care is displayed in an odd sort of way. It’s also nice to see the whole team working as a well oiled machine. Sometimes writers forget that most of these characters have been training to fight and work as a team since they were teens. I could go on about this arc as a whole and Ellis’ writing, but that seems excessive so I’ll end. Thank you, Warren Ellis, for restoring my faith in 616 X-Men.

Game Tape…on the Road

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 set of reviews is a team-up. Like any good team up, it began with a fight. Jesse mistook me for a criminal breaking into his house. We fought and broke some furniture; Jesse threw me through a brick wall, and then he remembered that he invited me to visit. After clearing up the misunderstanding, we fought some crime then read some comic books. The deal was he read whatever I bought, and I read whatever he bought. So here we go: the Joker/ Penguin Team-up!

THE GOON #33 – Eric Powell goes out of his way to prove he’s a master of the medium with this silent issue.  He tells a funny, done-in-one story where all of the characters express themselves through graphic thought balloons.  It’s very well done, and is a great way to demonstrate what only comics can do.

I agree with everything you just said. Is it me, or do the Goon issues always feel like they go by too quickly?

It is not just you.

GREEN LANTERN #48 – A stong showing by Johns and Mahnke as representatives from each of the Corps put aside their differences to fight the Black Lanterns.  I’m also starting to like Larfleeze, whose insistence at getting his own Guardian was a highlight of the issue.

I liked this issue too. It gave some nice depth to Atrocitus. That neither Sinestro’s wheeling and deal nor Hal’s “nice speech” swayed Atrocitus and Larfleeze is quite interesting to me. I just wish there was some model for Larfleeze and that the artists would work harder to follow it. The only reason I can recognize the character is his orange outfit. He’s alternately appeared as a warthog, and Predator, and something closer to any and all versions of G’Nort.

While technically correct that GL #48 happens before the events of BLACKEST NIGHT #6, it’s more accurate to say that it happens before BLACKEST NIGHT #5. That potential confusion sets the stage for the flaming turd that BN is becoming. If you’re wondering who Nekron is or why and how a z-list villain suddenly caused all this trouble, good luck getting answers. On the other hand, if you’re wondering why Black Hand has been fondling Bruce Wayne’s skull, you’ll get your answers here. It’s pretty lame and quickly over. Worse is the turn of events at the end of the book…damn it Johns! Such a great start is turning into a crappy wrap-up. Oh and for that Dove fan out there, you’ve got a nice surprise.

I would say the same thing was true for Libra in Final Crisis, too.  He was set up to be some major badass, but the story was really about Darkseid.

IMAGE UNITED #1 – As frenzied as I’ve been making myself for this book, I had to hold off until I could find the Jim Lee cover.  For some dumb reason it means a lot to me to pick up the cover that brings
back the one Image founder who couldn’t make it.  Hopefully I’ll get a review up when I look at This Week’s Comics (Link to the This Week’s Comics tag?) on Monday.

So you’re saying that IMAGE UNITED was really IMAGE UNAVAILABLE? IMAGE DENIED?

SPIDER-MAN 1602 #1-2 – This is one that Matt picked up, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one.  It was a surprisingly strong story, but one that felt inherently weaker every time Parker was forced to shoehorn Marvel trademarked characters into the plot. Pilgrim Peter Parquagh (take THAT, Stan Lee) vs Harbormaster Norman Osborne is a good story, but when the captain of the ship taking them back to England is Captain Stacy…Well, we already know where some of this is going.  When pirates attack and we see they are The King’s Pin and The Bull’s Eye — whatever those are — I just had to groan.  More original plot, less “I know who that is!” moments, please.

I don’t understand how you’re down on this idea of fitting known characters into this unknown world. It’s sort of the whole premise of the original and subsequent books. I thought it was clever to give The Bull’s Eye tattoos in a Maori warrior fashion like Quequeg from Moby Dick. I’m looking also forward to the developing plot with Otto Octavius and the dinosaur eggs. Feels like we’ve got a Curt Connors showing up soon, and I doubt we’re done with Osborne.

I like the idea, and I loved the original mini by Neil Gaiman, it just seemed forced.  Maybe I’m just crazy, maddened after the thrill and adrenaline of throwing a man through a brick wall.

There’ll be a more comprehensive Game Tape when I finally get home and can get my books from the LCS. Enjoy Turkey day and the rest of the weekend. Me? I’m hitting up some crazy sales at some comic shops in Jesse’s area tomorrow.