Son of Game Tape

…ANNNNNDD we’re back.

Comics were purchased. Stories were told. The dust has settled and now it’s time to review the game tape to judge how the week went.

KABOOM's Adventure Time #1 (second print)

This first review will echo several of the excellent points that Jesse noticed in his review, but we came away from the book with two different feelings. This time I’m wearing the grumpy pants.

How is it that a cartoon series that tells stories in 12 minute chunks can’t seem to do the same in a comic book? I’m looking at you Adventure Time with Fin and Jake. I love this property; the cartoon is easily the smartest, weirdest, and funniest show on television. However, I was reticent to pick up the comic book for fear that it might not work in a static form. KABOOM’s new book (I picked up the second print this week) translates that weirdness very well. Ryan North and company also manage to translate the show’s hyperactive pace and kinetic feel well through page and panel layouts; it’s rare to see a page with more than four panels. The art in the main story mimics the cartoon well, down to the little details hidden in the back ground. The back-up story’s art is more stylized, looking as though it were painted by Vincent van Gogh. It’s bright and vibrant with a contrasting texture that the main story’s cartoon art won’t have. One other thing that was impressive was the little messages in the bottom-most gutter of many of the pages. This was something that I loved in Bob Burden’s Gumby. It’s nice to see that here in what is a successor to the surreality of Gumby.

At the end of the day, this is not something I’m going to pick up regularly. As I said earlier, I strongly disapprove of the fact that the main story in the book was not a done-in-one. Younger readers are going to be lost by this approach because a whole 30 days will pass before the second part comes out. That’s a friggin’ eternity and any number of other things have attracted their attention and money in the mean time. Heck, I’m in my 30’s and there are some books written for trades that I have a hard time keeping up with because the last issue was uninteresting middle.I appreciate the perceived need to keep the kids coming back to a comic based on a show, but I know that the same goal could have been achieved with a book that offers a similar experience to the show without replicating it exactly.

On a side note, why isn’t anyone replicating the successful digest model that has worked so well for Archie?

DC Comics' Action Comics (vol 2) #7

Action Comics (vol. 2) #7 is as good as it’s ever been, and after two woefully lackluster (filler?) issues this is a welcome relief. I’m not sure why the Collector story was so interrupted with trips both to the past and the future, but now that we’re back on track things are picking up and we’re getting a strong and fun story. Morrison’s reinvention of Superman and the world of Superman through Action is generally enjoyable. This issue especially. There’s great interplay between Luthor and…everyone really. We see less of Clark and more of Superman in this issue than we have in the past. Also, to his credit, Morrison also found a way to naturally introduce Superman’s actual costume into the story. I was reminded this month of why I read Action Comics first when it comes out.

 

Another book that I’m enjoying more in its newest volume is The Lone Ranger. After is nigh interminable origin volume in which the Ranger chases down Butch Cavendish, something new: shorter stories. Issues 1 & 2 were both fantastic in terms of telling western tales without being generic. This month’s issue #3 is starting a two issue arc that proved to be quite entertaining, and it provided a solid story with a cliff hanger at the end. Well done.

Finally, I really enjoyed Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra’s Manhattan Projects #1. World War II, and the Manhattan Project specifically, is my favorite time period to read about. Hickman’s alternate history presents the historical players is a skewed and fantastically engaging light. From it’s hyper-science and portrayal of Einstein as a violent psychopath to it’s blending of zen

Manhattan Projects #1 published by Image Comics.

meditation, magic, and science, this is going to be a great ride. Pitarra’s art is easy to read. His style is the love child of Frank Quietly and Geof Darrow. It is fun, it fits well with this story, and the characters resemble their historical counterparts without being photo reference. 30 days can’t pass quickly enough.

In Brief

This week Kieron Gillen wrapped up his second arc in Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2). While the itself is essentially cribbed from Star Trek: The Next Generation, what makes the story enjoyable is the character interaction and the sharp dialogue.

G.I. JOE continues boldly with its new Cobra Commander. Although they’ve been three steps behind for a while, this issue shows a hint that a turning point is ahead. The rally inning is near…finally.

Shipwreck — Secrets!!!

Polly and I spent a week on the USS Flagg one night.

Secrets!

They gave me an anchor as a weapon to show Cobra I MEAN BUSINESS!

Secrets!

You know what's under this beard? Another fist.

Secrets!

I auditioned for the Village People, but apparently I couldn't join because it conflicted with Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Secrets!

I CANNOT believe they didn't want to put me in the movie!

SECRETS!!!

This Week’s Comics

Not a whole lot noteworthy this week, but let’s take a look at what is.

  • ATOMIC ROBO GHOST OF STATION X #3 (OF 6) – When your main character is in the title of the book (and it’s only issue #2), you KNOW nothing’s going to happen to him.  And yet when I read the first pages of Atomic Robo GoSX #2 it felt like a punch to the gut, that’s how good Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener are.  Pick of the week, kids.
  • AVENGERS #19
  • FEAR ITSELF #7 POINT THREE – Ah.  Point Three now.  There you go.
  • GLADSTONES SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS TP VOL 01 – Unlike so many of Image’s new titles, which mistake aimlessness for mystery, Gladstone’s does it right.  Now’s your chance to get caught up on an incredibly well thought-out all-ages title that keeps unravelling an legitimately intriguing mystery.  Imagine Wanted with a sense of fun (and without wanting to punch Mark Millar in the face for that last page).
  • GODZILLA LEGENDS #1 (OF 5) – With Gangsters and Goliaths wrapped up and Kingdom of Monsters losing almost all of it’s steam, this is IDW’s last chance to keep me on board for a while.
  • PUNISHER #5
  • THUNDERBOLTS #165
  • VENOM #9

With Matt’s recommendation, a healthy dollop of curiosity, and a big chunk of books found for 50 cents each, I’m well into IDW’s Cobra Civil War, having read the first 3-4 issues of GI Joe, Cobra, and Snake Eyes.  Each has it’s own set of pluses, as Cobra tells the main story of Cobra candidates vying for the position of Commander by trying to rack up the highest Joe body count, The GI Joe title showing the ramifications of that, and as expected, Snake Eyes’ side mission.
And while each book has it’s own strengths, Snake Eyes is the strongest title for me iwth Chuck Dixon’s strong writing and the best art of the bunch by Robert Atkins.  Color me surprised, but this is the first Joe series I’ve picked up that hasn’t crossed over with Transformers, and I’m really digging it, enough to go back and pick up another couple dozen IDW issues (all for 50 cents!).  I’m definitely digging these.
Wow, that’s a lot of IDW books!  They’re becoming quite the powerhouse.  My running pull list has been updated, that’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

Game Tape

FACT: nothing puts me to sleep faster than thinking, reading, or talking about the alien races in the Marvel Universe. Shi’ar = snooze… Brood = boring. That said, I really enjoyed Astonishing X-Men #38. Leaving aside team in Japan, we see a rescue mission to help out Beast and save some S.W.O.R.D. agents. Gage does a great job with characterization and plot. In spite of the Brood being the focus of the issue, everything was pitch perfect. This was the first time I’ve felt the book lived up to its superlative. Now’s a good jumping on point if you’re looking for one.

Oh Bendis… Avengers #13 is all over the place and certainly late to the party. The underwhelming majority of this book is talking heads. Sometimes they’re sort of almost telling or hinting at a narrative in the present. Other times it’s the past and irrelevant. The best parts of this issue were the Jarvis parts and the brief moment with the Red Hulk. On top of the talking heads, we had a rehash of the first few pages of Fear Itself #1. With issue 3 on the way, did we need to be reminded of the speech Tony delivered at the beginning of issue one? If you’re looking for Bendis circa 2000, brother, this is the issue for you.

In Brief:

Transformers #19 was written expressly for the 9 people who are fans of Wheelie. It wasn’t terrible, but for a start to a new story arc, it wasn’t great.

GI JOE: Real American Hero #166 is solid, but nothing new or remarkable, this making this brief review pointless.

GI JOE: Snake Eyes was well paced and fun considering that it takes place entirely on the side of a mountain.

This week’s Booster Gold ties in to Flashpoint in a tangential and boring way.

Thunderbolts: WOW.

Game Tape

It looks like my comic book guy’s troubles with UPS and Diamond are finally straightened out. Everything that should have been out this week was on the shelves and in pull boxes…as were books from two and three weeks ago finally. I feel pretty good about saying that the Game Tape season is back in full and proper swing. This week is going to be more of a catch-all for the last several weeks; I’m too lazy to look and see when things shipped, and if it’s really good you should know about it and make it part of your collection.

Standard caveats apply: Jeff Parker is to comics as Five Guys is to fast food, and no one understands all things Muppet related better than Roger Langridge. That said, let’s look at the game tape, shall we?

I’m still on the fence about this volume of The Avengers. #5 is less jumpy than past issues and there’s only a smattering of Bendis’ trademark snippy and snappy dialogue. It finally felt like something was happening, and it seems we’re on the down hill side of the arc. It’s still a time travel story and now they’ve thrown in Ultron which goes a long way for me. Disappointingly though, they stole Rip Hunter and the Distinguished Competition’s wall-of-scribbled-hints-of-the-future-schtick. I’ll see it through to the end of this arc, but I can’t see sticking around for Bendis’ slow and long-form storytelling.

On the other hand, Brubaker’s long-form stories feel like we’re accomplishing something in each issue or two. Secret Avengers #5 is crafted so well that I found myself enjoying what is nothing more than a Life Model Decoy story. It’s not the best issue of the run so far, but kudos to Brubaker for taking a story that’s been told so many times before into something breezy and enjoyable. Also of note (more so since I don’t often notice it) is the layout of the book. Smaller panels and varied page-layouts help this story flow and feel tense in a Jason Bourne sense. David Aja and co. are doing a fantastic job with the art chores on this book.

What’s a Decepticon with no leader and no clear enemy to do? How about fight for a faction of humans willing to pay in Energon? The Combaticons (minus Swindle) have joined with North Korea and it’s up to the US’s own Autobots to keep ’em in check. It’s an interesting idea: tying these giant robots to our own nationalistic tendencies. There are some outstanding character moments (Brawn and Bluestreak/ Silverstreak) great character moments here (Thundercracker and Bumblebee), and a chilling and off kilter character moment (Ratchet). I chuckled appreciatively at the last page too. Not much action, but it’s quality over quantity.

The Muppet retellings have been hit or miss with me. Muppet Robin Hood was pretty rough, but the lovely Grace Randolph’s Muppet Peter Pan was spot on. In this fifth shot at a retelling looks to fall in the win column. Patrick Storck’s Muppet Sherlock Holmes presents us with a quirky and strong Muppet version of “The Speckled Band.” The easy choice would have been to pair Gonzo and Rizzo or Kermit and Fozzie in the roles of the Baker Street duo. The inspired choice was to pair a Sherlockian Gonzo with Fozzie’s Dr. Watson. Their brand of Marxist (the brothers, not Karl) chaos makes for a rare gem. Amy Mebberson is on art chores here. Previously I spoke against her Fozzie. The problems are gone; the balance is back in the face. The inclusion of art by Amy Mebberson, her keen eye for detail and little sight gags, and a nice Veterinarian’s Hospital page turn the gem into a diadem. This one’s worth picking up in singles or trade.

There were also three GI Joe books waiting for me. Two were good, the other sort of adequate. GI Joe: Cobra II continues to delve into the darker, but more practical corners the secret organization. This month it looks at the training of Range Vipers. It’s good and sinister, and it draws heavily from the toy’s file card. GI Joe (on-going) is quickly building to a head on collision between the Joes and Cobra. The Commander is on the board now in a serious way and it’s only taken 25 issues. GI Joe: Origins #19 was an homage to Hama’s other silent issue. It’s for those that care about how Snake Eyes and Timber first crossed paths. I am not one of those people who care.

Game Tape

It’s that time of week again. Books have been purchased, read, and loved or regretted. Now it’s time to review the game tape.

This was a really light week. There were three books on the pull list. I also got the 6th and final volume of Scott Pilgrim. I’m saving that for the weekend. Otherwise, there isn’t much to report.

This week marks the return of Marvel’s GI Joe: A Real American Hero. More accurately, IDW is picking up where the ’80’s Marvel series left off; we got a taste of this in the FCBD issue #155 1/2. The FCBD issue established a new status quo where Cobra is in charge, and they’re hunting down the Joes as terrorists. Issue 156 picks up here with GI Joe on the ropes; on the whole, it’s a good “getting the band back together” issue. As usual, Larry Hama uses his intimate knowledge of military lingo to add verisimilitude. The art is solid and the issue isn’t bad. It’s just not anything we haven’t seen before.

As per usual, the two Jeff Parker books were thoroughly enjoyable. With such a light week, two Parker books were the main reason I bothered to visit the shop at all. Why can’t Marvel recognize the great talent they have?

The last book I picked up this week is Avengers #3. Last month I stated that nothing really happened. This month is different. The majority of the book is spent with the team fighting an alternate version of Apocalypse and his horsemen. It’s a bit muddled and Bendis still manages to do more talking than actual fighting. It’s a weird and awkwardly written fight, and it only serves the purpose of reminding us that Time is out of whack. JRJR’s art tells us that something exciting should be happening. The dialogue doesn’t really manage to match though. They’re talking about the “threat” as though they’re still sitting around the table. In addition there’s a disjointed sense to everything. I had planned on giving this series a try through the first arc, but, at this glacial pace, it’ll be issue 12 or 15 before that happens. I’m pretty much done with it.

That wraps things up. See you next week.