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.

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.

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.

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…

I know this is from last week, but I had to wait to get my copy of M.O.D.O.K.: Reign Delay. It’s pretty good in that cartoony, funny book way. It speaks to the nerd angst/ impotence that is probably pretty common amongst the sort of people who might pick this book off the shelf. Ever wonder how this guy goes to the bathroom? Wonder no more! Be warned though, it ain’t pretty.

I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop after FF #571. You’ve got a secret consortium of Reed Richardses helping the multiverse with multiple Infinity Gauntlets, a basement full of lobotomized Dr. Dooms, and a guy with some of Doom’s DNA spliced into him. Surely something is going to go horribly wrong here shortly (I mean after the issues on the last page are resolved). The story still holds my attention with interesting ideas, but I could have done without the seemingly obligatory Reed and Sue arguement over how much time he spends in his lab. The art still bugs me. Over muscled is not a look for Reed Richards. Toward the end he also poorly channels Kirby in the face department.

Jack Kirby was brilliant in a lot of ways. Faces were not an area of brilliance for The King. Everyone looks like Sue Storm, Professor X, or Darkseid; they just wear different wigs. Head shots of Johnny Storm, Warren Worthington III, and Steve Rogers would be indistinguishable. If you copy Kirby, copy the brilliance not the weakness. But I digress… Suffice it to say if you can get around the art, the story was solid. Your mileage may vary though.

I’m not going to retread old ground talking about the Langridge Muppet book. Just accept the fact that it’s great and move on. Instead I’ll talk about this week’s other Muppet book. Muppet Peter Pan is starting off much better than its predecessor. It’s fast and funny. The book shows respect for the source material and the inserted Muppet characters.The art is also miles above and beyond here. I’m all for stylized looks and your own personal take, but last arc (Robin Hood) never stuck to the artist’s own model.

In all fairness though, I’ve got a bit of a crush on writer Grace Randolph, but I promise that’s more a function of the smart writing and clear understanding of the Muppet voices… honestly. It has NOTHING to do with her silky blonde hair, her symmetrical face and features, pleasant contra alto voice, or her apparent wit, charm, and love of Muppets. Really…nothing to do with this review at all.

Dixon’s GI Joe #9 is finally picking up some steam. The problem early on was that he had two or three plot threads going, but only focused on one per issue. Now he’s weaving them together better. It helps that the Mainframe/ Snake Eyes connection was explored and explained quite well in last weeks Origin issue. At this pace, we might actually see Cobra Commander sometime early next year. Dare we hope for issue 12 to be the culmination of this arc?

That’s all I have to say about this week’s books. There were others, but nothing else good or bad. Good morning America.