Game Tape

I didn’t post reviews last week because there wasn’t much to say that hadn’t been said before. I will say that FF #1 was a great solid start/ transition. Hickman continues to be a master at crafting stories that are interesting with enough material to feel full for an issue and enough mystery to pick up the next. So…. how was this week?

The winner of Wednesday is hands down Nick Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen #1. The amazing thing about this one shot is that half of it reprints Spencer’s back-up feature from Action Comics. The framing device was always a sort of week-in-the-life-of-Jimmy-Olsen, but we didn’t get the entire week until now. These adventures are distilled mad-cap. Spencer took the best parts of Silver Age Jimmy and gave it some modern character and zip. From 5th Dimensional madness to the Mobile Newsroom to plot to take over the internet the stories fly. If you missed these stories the first time around, the $5.99 cover price is worth it even the second time around.

No other books this week fared as well.

Cornell’s Action Comics #899 started out really well. His version of a battle of wits between Luthor and Brainic is not to be missed. Unfortunately, this takes up only half of the issue. The other half can best be explained in the phrase, “Come again?” or in the parlance of our times, “WTF?” There’s a Phantom Zone space god and a battle on the astral plane… uh….yeah.

Age of X: Universe is bizarre. It’s got that same feel uncomfortable squirmy feeling that Warren Ellis’ Ruins did. Everything and everyone you know is off kilter in a bad way. The only mostly recognizable person is Sue Storm as she chafes against some of the more extreme measures taken. Tony’s fate in this universe is fascinating and it’s hard to find Bruce tragic (which seems to be what they’re going for) given the Nazi/ Racial overtones of his work in this universe. No clues still as to how this world got so far off track. If you’re looking for something to drop a few bucks on this week, this book isn’t it.

When you’re talking infinity gems, one name probably pops in you head. It probably also isn’t Parker Robbins. In his talkiest issue yet, Bendis has Uatu the Watcher narrate/explain/ blather through the most recent issue of Avengers. I’d be okay with this type of narration if JRJR’s art didn’t SHOW US everything Uatu is explaining. Worst of all, Bendis through Uatu sings a tiresome refrain about how over his head Robbins a.k.a. the Hood is at this moment. He also ham-fistedly reminds us that others more accustom to the gems’ power are probably (read certainly) searching for the gems too. Which boringly telegraphs the last page. I’m officially dropping this book after the arc ends.

I also picked up the Godzilla book, but I imagine Jesse will have more to say about it than I ever could.

Game Tape

Old business: I also picked up some Heroes for Hire after issue #1 was included at the back of the last Avengers issue. It’s a good solid read. I’m not ready to put it on the pull list, but I am curious enough to see how this first “arc” ends. Like the better titles these days, each issue is neither a true done-in-one, nor is it a single piece of Bendis style wait-for-the trade story either. Each of the four issues has told a strong single story while weaving pieces of an over-arching theme. Abnett and Lanning are doing a fantastic job here. If you’re not reading it, pick it up when you find it in the quarter bins… even though it’s worth the full cover price.

Nick Spencer’s Morning Glories from Image proved to be an enjoyable read too. There’s mystery, mayhem, and teen smarminess. It’s worth picking up the first trade, but now I have to remember to look for the individual issues as they come out. Life sure is rough sometimes.

New Business:

Comic Book Comics #5

Comic Book Comics #5 was a bit of an impulse buy. There was one on the table, and I had just read an article about it on CBR. Van Lente and Dunlavey did a brilliant job with Action Philosphers!, and they’re handling the history and personalities of comic books with equal skill and humor. This particular issue deals with the famous and infamous copyright disputes. It also serves as a nice primer on copyright law and the changes that have occurred over the history of comics. Naturally, it covers the Superman disputes as well as how Marvel has dicked over Jack Kirby. It also handles the Marvelman/Miracleman business as well as the lesser known Air Pirates dispute with Disney. Now for the part where Jesse’s going to choke. The cover price is $3.95 and the book feels thin. BUT IT ISN’T. There are no ads. None. More over, it’s a dense book for it’s size. This is story concentrate. I left it feeling as though I read a full TPB. My recommendation for this one is bite the bullet and pick up the individual issues; then pick up the trade because it’ll be full of extra story.

Doom Patrol is always entertaining, but it rarely rises to the level of comment worthy. Issue #20 is an exception to that condition. The Patrol is on the ropes having been exiled from Oolong in the last issue. They’re heroes without home, and it’s just hit them that the rest of the world views them as probable terrorists. This issue has especially smart dialogue, and there’s a fun scene between Negative Man and Batman (Dick). Just a hint of the JL’s Bwa-ha-ha. It’s a shame that this title is ending; the team is finally being handled properly after so long. DC just doesn’t seem to have room for the weird and irreverent.

Transformers #17 was dumb. I praised the writers a few issues ago for giving Megatron a truly novel and brilliant scheme: one in which he just had to sit back and let chaos ensue. Two issues later we get a return of gloating monologuing Megatron… ironically gloating that he’s above gloating. Then there’s the last page with Jazz. Seriously? I’m pretty sure I’m done with this book.

Batman Inc. #3 Sees Batbruce in South America meeting with some unexpected opposition and a deathtrap. Two issue arcs aren’t bad, but, as Jesse pointed out on Monday, the stretches between books is a bit much.