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.

First off, I too bought Brightest Day #0. I can’t say anything about it except what Hannibal Tabu pointed out at Buy Pile. I will say that, like the Countdown to Infinite Crisis and Brave New World, this book should have been a dollar. It’s not a book to read; it is a book for laying down and avoiding, to borrow from Monty Python.

I don’t know why I didn’t mention this last month, but I picked up X-Factor Forever #1. This week, #2 hit the shelves. These Forever books are pretty good. They’re essentially long-form “What If?’s” I’m liking it. In this particular case, Havok and Polaris did not re-form the team. Simonson is giving us a story of the original five being manipulated by Apocalypse. The weird thing is that he’s not as megalomaniacal as sometimes portrayed, and it all ties back into the Celestials. Simonson is also rewriting/ expanding on his origin. Ol’ Lypse is now something closer to Vandal Savage. It really enjoyable so far. If I cared about the characters, I might consider picking up What If Rob Liefeld hadn’t take over New Mutants? too.

John Byrne’s Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #1 shows promise. I wasn’t completely sold until I saw that Bones was sporting his wicked slick beard. So that got me in the door, and the general quality of the sci-story there in will keep me picking up the rest of the series. Surprisingly (?) Byrne really knows his Trek. I mean he’s got the character voices and tone down cold. McCoy is both brilliant and crotchety all at the same time. Lesser writers tend to focus on the grumpy old man, and they forget that this is the Enterprise’s chief medical officer. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

There was also a Parker book out this week. Hulked Out Heroes doesn’t really make sense as a title. Deadpool is the only one we see with Hulk powers. It’s a book I really should have liked more. It’s got Devil Dinosaur, The Thing as a pirate, and it’s Parker penned. Maybe it was the Deadpool; it just fell flat. It wasn’t bad. I simply wasn’t great.

Booster Gold #31 was a heartwarming wrap up of Jurgens’ run on the title. Giffen will take over with the next issue. This one also set up for Booster and Rip to investigate the return of Bruce Wayne.

Secret Six was out this week too and it was a by the book issue.

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…

Pardon me if I mix up this week and last.

Honestly, I was buying Giffen’s relaunch Doom Patrol relaunch because of the Metal Men back up story. It’s not that I don’t like everyone’s favorite expendable heroes; it’s just that their story didn’t really interest me as much. Outside of the 1960’s and Grant Morrison, no one has made them as weird as they really should be. They always end up as another team run by a grumpy man in a wheelchair. Giffen has come close though. This Metal Menless issue was pretty good and it brings back one of my favorite aspects of Morrison’s run: Danny the Street. I’ll continue to give it a shot as long as it’s weird.

This remains one of the most consistent books I read. It’s always at least good. Mostly it’s great… if you can accept the abandon with which these characters commit some horrendous acts. This month’s issue starts of pretty basic mission to stop some crazies (acolytes of Brother Blood in this case). As always the character interactions are where it’s at. From the bromance of Deadshot and Catman to the burgeoning romance between Ragdoll and Black Alice, Gail Simone creates pitch perfect dialogue. The ending knocked my socks off. I can’t wait to read next month for the resolution of this cliff hanger.

If you ignore the maudlin ramblings of Thundercracker, the schemings of Hot Rod (referred to as Rodimus Prime) and Swindle are interesting. Like the autobots themselves, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on this alliance with the Decpticons. Taking place 3 years after Megatron’s defeat in All Hail Megatron, some of the transformers have come to see that the war is over and there’s no need for factions… maybe. Ultra Magnus’s appearance and subsequent disappearance doesn’t really make any sense though. Still, it’s a pretty good story as a whole.

The GI Joe books continue to be solid. This month Cobra completed the MASS device. Still loving the reinterpretation of Dr. Mindbender. On the other hand, we still have not seen a glimmer of a Cobra Commander. It’s almost making me crazy.

Ever wonder what Kurt Wagner would look like if he were normal looking? Checkout the latest issues of X-Men Forever. I can’t say enough good things about this title. You should be reading it if you were in love with the X-Men back in the 1990’s. It’s all that and a bag of chips.

That’ll round out this edition of Game Tape except to say that I really dig the mystery Morrison is setting up in Batman and Robin. I’m also glad to see some depth to Daimian finally. I’ll let Jesse go into more detail.

Quarter Bin Treasure Chest

Because there have been so many light NCBD’s recently, I’ve had a chance to catch up on some back issues and story arcs I’ve missed out on the first time around.  There are a lot of winners out there that can be picked up on the cheap right now.

  • Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter – Chris Sims at The ISB talked this one up quite a bit, but it didn’t quite live up to the description for me (“spacehorse with the power of Thor runs off to kill Galactus”).  He’s really good at finding the high concept behind a book — and it IS a good one — but I felt the execution was missing something.  Bill, who lost his planet to Galactus, has decided that he’s going to blow up any planet Galactus is looking for in order to starve him to death.  Of course, those actions make him unworthy of his hammer Stormbringer.  Maybe space adventures just aren’t my thing, (Hercules: Prince of Power apparently excepted), and it was worth the $.75, it just wasn’t all I hoped for.  Still, huge props to Marvel for including a reprint of the original Beta Ray Bill story by Walt Simonson in the back of each issue.  That’s definitely worth the extra $1 for each issue.
  • Secret Six (mini) – I’ve been hearing incredible things about the new Secret Six ongoing, so I jumped at the mini that came right before it.  It’s a solid story of former (?) villains who band together and seemingly care about each other…Except for, you know, they all hate each other.  It’s compelling stuff with complicated relationships.  It’s not the madcap insanity I keep hearing about the ongoing, but still an enjoyable read until I can pick up the current series.
  • Incredible Hercules: Love and War – Containing the infamous issue 122  I spoke of a couple weeks back, The Incredible Hercules has just been getting better and better.  There’s so much going on it’s almost too hard to paraphrase.  There’s a corporate takeover in the Greek pantheon, a faceoff with Namor, and a whole crapload of Amazons!  And punching.  Lots and lots of punching.  Pak and Van Lente’s story is fast-paced, action-packed, and amazingly funny.  Clayton Henry’s art seems to combine the facial expressions of Kevin Maguire with the linework of Frank Cho and brother, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Our writers have gone insane with the sound effects, too, and I say this in the most impressed way I possibly can.  I have never seen sound effects used like they are here.  More comics should be this fun.
  • Modern Masters – I’ve recently picked up several of TwoMorrows’ excellent Modern Masters series, notably Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, John Byrne, and JL Garcia Lopez.  If you have any interest in how one of your favorite artists work, this is the series for you.  I find the questions to be too leading sometimes, and the subjects aren’t always as forthcoming as they could be, but these are great, great reads and feature some stellar artwork.  I was especially touched by Fabian Nicieza’s ode to his friend Maguire in the introduction to that volume.  John Byrne was a surprisingly good read, too, especially when he credits Claremont with writing the only comic page he ever drew that made him cry, and explaining his online persona.  He does say a lot of things that come off harshly from the safety of his own forum, but he explains it from his side in this interview.  (I should also mention that Matt and I met him once at the greatly-missed Big Easy ComiCon and he couldn’t have been nicer.  He showed me how to draw the Superman shield right every time (it’s two fish!) and patiently answered what in hindsight was a fairly obnoxious question.)  The Garcia-Lopez volume seemed to stop rather abruptly, but I really enjoyed hearing these artists talk about their influences, methods, and collaborators.

All-in-all, some exceptionally strong books from the discount bin and a couple trips to the library.