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

October finally ends so we have a fourth week of books. This is the week I look forward to the most each month. Fantastic Four, Secret Avengers, Action Comics, and a slew of other good books came out.

First, a trip in the Wayback machine to last week. Batman and Robin #15 was great. Here’s the start of the endgame. We learn some important things that start to put the pieces together, and see why Bruce is the master of the long con…wait…Bruce? DAAAAYUMN! There’s no one writing the Joker better this century than we see in the hands of Morrison. This Joker continues to be brilliant, boisterous, and a blackguard. The gallows humor is in full swing with everything he says and insinuates. I’m going to sorely miss the high quality of this title when Tomasi and co. take over. Not to knock Tomasi, because Green Lantern Corps was well written and interesting, it’s just that Morrison is an impossible act to follow.

 

Speaking of high quality and hard acts to follow: Fantastic Four #584 continued the tradition of excellence that Hickman is bringing. At its heart this issue is a buddy story. Ben and Johnny have a day on the town and a night to remember. Meanwhile, Reed investigates and hints at trouble ahead. Sue is off to do her diplomatic due while the young geniuses of America have a breakfast of champions. One of Hickman’s greatest strengths is that he takes conventional story beats and reimagines them into new and interesting ways. Who would have guess the current status of the Yancy Street Gang? Bravo, sir. Oh…and then there’s a confused and pissed off Galactus. That’s not going to be good for business.

G.I. JOE: COBRA ended the arc that gave us the new continuity’s take on Serpentor and Cobra-la: cult and cash-cow for the international terrorist organization. In spite of an ending that was a little telegraphed, this was a creepy and enjoyable arc. Costa and Gage also to a z-list JOE, Scoop, and… well he wasn’t improved, but he was given a unique and sympathetic voice. Of the JOE books, this is consistently good with short arcs and character driven stories. Mind you there’s usually less shooting, but it’s a fair trade for the quality we’re getting. I’ll take good cloak and dagger over gratuitous gun play any day.

Ummmm… I don’t know how I feel about Action Comics # 894. On the one hand, Cornell clearly understands Lex Luthor as a character. On the other hand, it was a meh philosophical debate about the afterlife and Luthor’s actions in the here and now. Dunno why Vertigo’s Death had to be his guide on this trip. Didn’t seem to fill much purpose. The Jimmy Olsen back up story was enjoyable. It’s doesn’t have a much of the small story attached to a greater whole feel that the first one did, but that’s a small complaint when it’s fun and quick to read.

Avengers #6 ended the first arc, and I still contend that it was at least two issues two long. The interaction with Ultron was interesting, but Kang/ Immortus’ rant at the end was a repeat of almost every speech/ threat given by Per Degaton and monomaniacal time travelers everywhere. I am officially done with this title.

Secret Avengers on the other hand continues to be a keeper. The mystery is still engaging and everyone has a unique voice and purpose on the team.

Whatever you end up buying, happy reading.


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.