Saturday, April 29, 2006

On 26 April, 2006

Note to self: Add Amazing Spiderman to my pull list for the duration of Civil War, because apparently I want to read it. It was sold out at my LCS this week. Before 3 in the afternoon on Wednesday. Que sera, sera, I guess.

Style: More uninspired prose.

Reading music: Serenity soundtrack

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--


Blue Beetle #2: I read this twice in order to get the flashbacks straight, but that's okay. The story is worth it, from Jaime's confrontations with the mysterious Posse, to his utter confusion about his kickass costume, to the cliffhanger at the end. The "one year later" line was a little forced, maybe, but it still fit. I have no idea what Blue Beetle went through (or is going through) in the Infinite Crisis war (or whatever it is), but that kind of doesn't matter. Looking forward to the next issue.

Catwoman #54: Holly gets blood on her hands (literally) and is mighty depressed about it. And everybody knows about her act of violence. Well, everybody who sees it on television, anyway. Ouch.

The dream thing in Hawkgirl #51 seems a little overdone, but I do like the horror mystery aspect of this book. Not to mention the setting. It's hard to go wrong with Louisiana. I'll give both Catwoman and Hawkgirl another issue or two.


Doll & Creature #2 is really cool and very gruesome. It includes a very nice slugfest between Creature and a whole mess of Hydes; more insights into Creature's origin; and the grim aftermath of the fight with drug-crazed zombie people. Doll, ironically (due to her relative lack of interest in the dominant goth culture of her world), is turning out to be a fairly tragic character. Interesting social and religious commentary in this issue as well, and they don't hit you over the head with it.


All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: A to Z #4 includes a two-page entry on Elf With a Gun, which I had never heard of. But it amused me greatly. Also, Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway.

Fantastic Four #537 shows us how Dr. Doom escaped from Hell (sort of), and how he cannot, in fact, lift Thor's hammer. Not a huge shocker. He didn't escape from Hell because it froze over, after all. (Also note that Ben Grimm can't lift Thor's hammer, either. Nice gag there.)

Four #29: The Four go on a mission to retrieve living pieces of a sentient satellite that have, for some reason, fallen in the Savage Land. According to Reed, they are the remains of the Godseye (?) satellite which was destroyed by the Incredible Hulk. How much of this story is actually true, I'm not sure, as I haven't been reading the whole Planet Hulk story. At any rate, it's a simple mission with no huge complications and a quick resolution.

The real story here is the growing tension between Sue (who thinks it's strange that the satellite pieces landed in Savage land of all places, and doesn't quite believe the cover story) and Reed. Nicely frame marital dispute, all told.

New Avengers Annual #1: Stuff comes in threes. Bad stuff like celebrity deaths and the leaves of certain poisonous plants; and good stuff, like... well, like weddings.

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' wedding is the first, and probably the least, of the trio Marvel has planned for this Spring/Summer. (The big one, of course, is that of Black Panther and Storm; the best one will no doubt be Jennifer Walters and John Jameson, if there is indeed a wedding.) Anyway, the annual was mostly a big fight between the New Avengers and an AIM/Hydra-created Adaptoid creature. This was sandwiched between Luke's proposal to Jessica, and their ceremony. This ceremony took all of five pages, one of which was dominated by Jessica's long-winded marriage vows. The whole thing was kind of disappointing, to be honest. Oh well. The best nuptuals are yet to come.

Runaways #15: Molly has a Doop plushie! Heh. Anyway, the reemergence of The Pride continues, Victor is having nightmares, Nico is tired of cutting herself and has resorted to violent teeth-brushing for Staff of One summoning, and a Runaway is kidnapped.

Thing #6 included a major guest appearance by Spiderman, commentary on Spiderman's new costume, a nice little battle with Sandman and Trapster, a party, and a lovely little resolution with the Yancy Street Gang. Sort of. If you aren't reading this, why?

Ultimate Fantastic Four #29: This felt like an oddly hasty resolution to the President Thor story but, well, mystery solved, and the Ultimate Universe is back to being as normal as it ever was. The zombies are still looming, as is Doom.

Actually, the major development of the issue is the introduction of a certain blind sculptress, which hopefully means an Ultimate Puppetmaster will turn up at some point (if he hasn't already, in the Ultimates or something.) Yep. Alicia Masters is the highlight of this issue.

Week's most memorable moment(s): Thing #6 was actually full of memorable moments, but this one stood out for two reasons: (1.) Hercules being Hercules and (2.) The Damage Control logo on Herc's overalls. (Product placement parody? I want to think so.)

Actually, a close second was Thing's conversation with Spider-Man about the Iron Spidey costume. But if you want to read it, you'll just have to buy the comic. It's well worth it.

Tentative checklist for 3 May, 2006
Archenemies #2
Civil War #1
Doc Samson #5
Marvel Romance Redux: I Should Have Been A Blonde

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On 19 April, 2006

The shop didn't order Big Max, so no Dan Slott this week for me. It would have been fun to complete an axis of cool comic writers this week with Slott, Brian K. Vaughan, and Warren Ellis but, alas, it was not to be. Still, two out of three isn't bad, and this made for another light-hearted Wednesday. (Next week will be another story, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...)

Style: Uninspired prose.

Reading music: Liz Carroll and John Doyle: In Play

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--

DC Wildstorm

Ex Machina Special #1 (of 2): Mitchell Hundred, The Great Machine, becomes a benevolent symbol of human endeavor and initiative. He, like any superhero, unwittingly and indirectly creates a foe. An opposite. That opposite is Pherson, an avatar of Nature's determination. He can understand and command animals just as Mitchell understands and commands machines.

Pherson is hard to demonize despite the fact that he sends an army of angry birds after Mitchell, Hitchcock style. In the eternal Man vs. Nature conflict, Nature tends to be the antagonist. At least, that's how it tends to be portrayed in literature, which is, of course written by Man. (It's like Aesop's "The Lion and the Statue".) Anyway, Nature tends to be too big, too emotionless to be evil. It's all about survival. And, well, Pherson is all about the survival of Nature. He's not evil; he's just misguided. A flawed man with a whole lot of power at his disposal. Well, okay, a supervillain without the evil, who cares deeply about nature but doesn't get that invasive species (like humans and starlings) have a right to live, too. (Well, that's my convoluted interpretation, anyway.)

What all of that has to do with the death penalty -- specifically Mayor Hundred's position on the death penalty -- I'm not sure, but that's what got the whole Man versus Nature thing started. (Actually, maybe I just hit on it in the preceding paragraph. Hrm.) I expect Vaughan will clear that up for us next month.

That said (and then I'm back to writing half-assed reviews because I truly do suck at this), Ex Machina has officially beaten out Exterminators in Presentation of the Man vs. Nature Literary Theme, Comic Book Style.


Nextwave #4

Yeah, that about sums it up. Of course, they're calling it fun because, darn it, it is fun, right down to the letters page. Fast, explosive, and hilarious. I look forward to the Crayon Butchery Variant in May.

Spider Woman: Origin #5: This whole series has been weirdly disjointed, and while it added up to a coherent enough story (and not a bad one at that), I don't feel like I came out of it with a whole lot of insight about the character, or even the desire to read more about her. At least, not in the context of a solo ongoing title. Maybe within a team structure, but... Eh.

Last week's Marvel Romance Redux was so much fun, I went and picked up the first two issues: Guys and Dolls and But He Said He Loved Me. Neither of them disappointed. How about a list of the heroines:

A Blonde bimbo
A psycho chick
A witch/waitress
A shopaholic
A contrary med student
A former child star/con artist
And four future desperate housewives. Well, maybe.

Week's most memorable moment(s): Tabby, true to character, steals (well, borrows) Aaron's robot eye in Nextwave #4.

Tentative checklist for 26 April, 2006
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: A to Z #4
Amazing Spiderman #531
Blue Beetle #2
Fantastic Four #537
Four #29
New Avengers Annual #1
Runaways #15
Thing #6
Ultimate Fantastic Four #29

Saturday, April 15, 2006

On 12 April, 2006

Style: Meh.

Reading music: Serenity Soundtrack

--Warning: Possible spoilers ahead--


I figured AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE JLA would be a better introduction to the JLA than my first attempt. It was. "Revelations," the first story, was probably the best one. Aquaman is less of a prick than Namor, though not by much. (Yes, I will make comparisons. It's how I learn.) Wonder Woman is a little boring. A little too perfect. But the interaction between the characters? That was great. "Secret Files" would have been more informative had they printed different text on each page. Oh well. "Stardust Memories" was a nifty little cosmic adventure. Apparently Green Lantern in small doses is okay.

I still can't believe I'm reading Superman stories. And enjoying them. The fact that I set out to read non-mainstream comics and am now reading what amounts to the head of the main stream is just odd. Go figure.

But, wow, I actually followed SUPERMAN #650. Depowered Superman, the birth of a violent green monster (Where have I seen that before? Hmm...), the appearance of Supergirl to take him down, the sheer humanity of Clark Kent, Lois Lane who seems to be every bit as awesome as everybody says she is... This was a good story, and I didn't need extensive knowledge of the DC multiverse to read it.

Reread ACTION COMICS #837, and moved on to SUPERMAN #651. Now I get it. Marvel has gamma radiation, and DC has kryptonite. Radioactive, green and deadly.

My pull list is growing, which is... dangerous. To say the least. Wait for the trade?

Yeah. For this arc, I'll wait for the trade.


FANTASTIC FOUR: FIRST FAMILY #2 is very cool. A modern-day take on silver-age stories. Not really a retelling of the FF's first adventure so much as what happened behind the scenes. Add to that a freakish, deluded new adversary and, well... What's not to love?

One ubernerd, one undercover agent, one convict, two psychos, a lot of awkward fourth-wall breakage, clever meta-commentary and plenty of twisted humor. That's MARVEL ROMANCE REDUX: RESTRAINING ORDERS ARE FOR OTHER GIRLS #3 in a nutshell. It's hilarious. I'm planning on picking up the rest of this series, but I'm also hoping Marvel collects these stories in a trade, and prints them along with the original stories, which I'm sure are funny in their own unintentional way.

MS. MARVEL #2 is one big, long fight with various aliens. The plot did move forward, and humor and witty banter was involved. It seems Carol Danvers has no problem killing sentient beings. Must be all that military training...

SON OF M #5 and X-MEN: THE 198 #4 are the penultimate chapters of their respective Decimation mini-series. As it is, I don't have much to say about them apart from the fact that they both involve some incredibly creepy people. SON OF M has Luna, complete with glowing eyes and an apparent addiction to the Terrigen mists, and her father, Quicksilver, who's just a creep. X-MEN: THE 198, Absolom (who is too powerful for anybody's good), and Johnny D. with his living voodoo dolls. Creepy.

Week's most memorable moments: Random panels from MARVEL ROMANCE REDUX. Story: "My Magical Centaur" (formerly "A Teenager Can Also Love")

Tentative checklist for 19 April, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tax Day Cometh

From the Dr. Strange story in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #5 comes a pleasant little tax-day reminder (sort of) for those Americans who are last-minute filers (like me.)

Better get started...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Drawing Some Battle Lines.

Marvel's Civil War will be the first comic book "event" I will ever read as it comes out. And I am as a child here, too inexperienced to be cynical about it so, you know, I'm actually kind of excited. (Please, don't burst the bubble. It's not nice.) But holy geez, the Civil War Checklist. I realized it spans ten months, and the tie-ins shouldn't be essential parts of the story, but still, it's one heckuva list. I don't plan on reading all of the tie-ins. That would be, well... silly.

So, let's see. What am I signed up for? Well, CIVIL WAR, of course. And FRONT LINE. FANTASTIC FOUR, naturally, which I'd be reading anyway. SHE-HULK, ditto, and I recently added MS. MARVEL to my regular pulls. (Good female solo titles need all the help they can get, right?) Might pick up Spidey, since I've been enjoying that lately. And I'll probably check out YOUNG AVENGERS & RUNAWAYS because of the latter team. Those are wait-and-sees, though, as are H4H and the DAILY BUGLE.

If a favorite character has a cameo or guest appearance in one of the others, exceptions can be made, but it's time to draw the battle lines now, before May. These are mine. Where are you drawing yours?

Battle Lines

Thursday, April 06, 2006

On 5 April, 2006

Very light week this week. Probably just as well. As it happens, the comics themselves were light, too! Nice change of pace, really.

Reading music: Leahy, Lakefield

Format: Verbose

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--

Dark Horse
ARCHENEMIES #1 is great. On so many levels, not the least of which is the cover, which is not only informative and catchy, but actually leads into the story. It is a cover, splash page, and first panel combined, and I hope to the powers that be I've got my jargon right.

That's just the cover. Really, my favorite thing about this is the villain, Vincent Darko (Underlord) who comes off as the protagonist. Okay, so he's violent and homicidal and dark and terribly intolerant, but seriously, did his roommate drive him to it? (Probably not, but really, who knows?)

Ethan Baxter (Star Fighter), the roommate, embodies the sloppy, party-animal jock/frat boy stereotype. And not in a nice, wholesome, Johnny Storm kind of way, either. Oh yeah. I'm rooting for Darko on this one.

BLUE BEETLE #1: That's number four. The fourth bit of the DC universe I've read and enjoyed. Not enough background to completely understand it, but, the pacing kept the -- dreams? -- from being jarring.

Really, this is one of the most... interesting origin stories I've read to date (Considering the simple "found a mystical scarab, turned into Blue Beetle" premise, that's saying something.), and I'll probably be picking up the next issue.

DOC SAMSON #4 was a little convoluted. If they'd label flashbacks and universe-switches more clearly, through effective storytelling or, well, labels (or both, even!), that would help. A lot. The last panel of the first page seems to lead into a flashback but... You know, I'm still not sure what that was. Alternate future that spawns a doppelganger? Alternate universe altogether? Gah.

Not that it matters all that much. The origin of the doppelganger, that is. The story itself was fun, in the goofy way. (Really, the whole mini-series has been more than a little off-beat.) The Living Totem in sunglasses. Tina, trapped in a virtual reality game, wearing Red Sonja-style "armor" and battling dragons. Oh, and Whistle Pig and Jack trapped in a slot machine! Goofy.

Oh, and there is a back-up story in this issue. "The Living Totem in: A Cold Winter Comin'." This is a funny (more so than the main story, actually) little tale about Whistle Pig, his arch-nemesis Cold Winter (a living Kachina doll), and the Weschester Collectors' Society.

Week's most memorable moments:

A negative moment: Tina lamenting her geekdom in DOC SAMSON #4. Honestly, Tina, just because the guys abandoned you for the slot machines and blackjack tables... Have some pride.

And a positive moment: Brenda versus Paco in BLUE BEETLE #1. What's a little Aikido practice between friends?

Tentative checklist for 12 April, 2006:
X-MEN: THE 198 #4