Posts tagged ‘Comic Book Review’

GI JOE IS … Actually pretty damn good

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I never thought I’d be over the age of twelve and reading a GI Joe comic, but the relaunch written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Fred Kurth is actually good.  Damn good.

Don’t be a snob.  Check it out.

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HERE’S A RECOMMENDATION

jeffrey brown clumsy

I just discovered Jeffrey Brown’s “Clumsy.”  Great, sweet, intimate little autobiographical comic.  Highly recommended.

A PERSONAL NOTE

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I am writing this flat on my bed pumped full of Oxy, two antiobiotics, and with stitches and drains coming out of holes God didn’t put in my body.

I’ve had four surgeries in the past six weeks.

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with ulcerative collitis, and had my colon removed.  I’ve lived with complications ever since, but none have been that serious.  Until now.

New problems have come up in what is left of my digestive tract, and it now looks like I have late onset Chron’s disease.

I don’t usually write personal things on my sites, but I’m posting this on both my blogs because I can, because I feel like it, and because I just read Jeffrey’s Brown’s “Funny Misshapen Body,” an autobiographical comic from Top Shelf Productions.  It’s the first time I’ve read a comic and said, “Wow.  That’s my story.”

(Other than when I read Hercules Prince of Power, of course.)

His description of his own operation (he just got a resection–real men like me have the whole damn thing removed) is exactly what happened to me.  And the rest of the book is damn good, too–it’s an autobiography of an artist.

Great book, and it came into my life at the perfect time.

 

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH (an essay on Marvel’s Avengers/Spider-Man books)

superior spider man meets avengersIn connection with Marvel Now!, Marvel ended several of its best-selling series: New and “not new” Avengers, and The Amazing Spider-Man.  The latter was a huge risk, because not only did Marvel cancel its longest-running series (with issue #700), but it completely changed the very premise of the book.  Spider-Man went from the hopeful, youthful, comically sarcastic, web-spinning punster to becoming his own worst enemy.  Literally.  Otto Octavius’ possession of Peter Parker, though, has overcome intense fan skepticism and an incredibly stupid premise to become my favorite current Marvel monthly, hands down.  Marvel took a huge risk, and it’s paid off in good reviews, great quality superhero stories, and, now expansion of the Spiderverse.  But more on that in a moment.
At the same time, Marvel ended its Avengers’ titles, which had become their biggest cash cow titles, right when their fame was its highest mark.  But unlike what they did with Spider-Man, Marvel didn’t keep the same creative team at the helm.  Brian Michael Bendis was right to move on to another project—his work was starting to get stale—but rather than start small with one Avengers title and then expand, Marvel went big from the beginning with several different creative teams and no apparent single architect planning the fate of the intertwined Avengers groups.  And this hasn’t paid off.  The Avengers books, all of them, are worse than they were before.  As a whole they lack any sense of cohesion or importance (which is the one I really need to read?), and  as individual titles they lack tension.  The foes in each of the books are too big, too new, and too “galactic.”  We haven’t gotten to know the team dynamic yet, there’s no character work at all, it’s just “bigness.”
When Bendis blew up The Avengers over ten years ago, he didn’t relaunch the other Avengers’ titles at the same time (West Coast, Solo, etc.).  In fact, he didn’t even relaunch Avengers.  He started a “New Avengers” team, and the initial issues focused on team formation and development.  That’s how you create a franchise.  Don’t tell us it’s big, make it grow organically.
avengers a.i. 8-bit coverAnd they’re growing Avengers yet again.
In recent weeks, Marvel has announced three new books: Avengers A.I., Superior Carnage, and Superior Foes of Spider-Man.  These add to a Marvel lineup that includes Uncanny Avengers, Avengers Assemble, Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, solo books about Avengers that often tie-in to Avengers titles, Superior Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Venom, and Avenging Spider-Man.  Obviously, as long as Marvel Zombies keep buying them, Marvel will keep taking their money.  But is this good for the brand in the long run?
First, let’s look at the most promising of the three: SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN.  Yet another Spider-family title.  The whole reason I bought into One More Day was because the three monthlies were collapsed into one title, and suddenly reading Spider-Man felt manageable (and affordable).  But Superior Spidey is great, and Avenging Spidey is also often good.  Plus, there’s no loss of focus here: Superior is still the “main” Spidey title, even though the character also appears in The Avengers books.  Avenging Spider-Man is more of a “Marvel Team-Up,” and it tends to exist alongside Marvel Universe continuity, making it a book you can buy because you like it, not because you have to.  The other Spider-Family books, Scarlet Spider and Venom, similarly don’t have much essential crossover or continuity information (note that Venom is also in Secret Avengers). 
And the new Superior Foes, written by Nick “Morning Glories” Spencer and drawn by new(ish) hotshot and 2000 Eisner-winner Steve “Hawkeye/Whiteout” Lieber, will focus on the current Sinister Six lineup: Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, Beetle and Overdrive.  (And yes, that’s only five guys.  The sixth, Doc Ock, is, of course, now Spider-Man.)  It kind of sounds like the old “Tangled Web” anthology, which was fabulous—it told the story of Spider-Man’s influence on various people (usually villains).  So this, too, seems nonessential for continuity, making it for fans only.  Hence, I can dig it.  This seems like a “good story to tell” book, not a money grab.
In short ,this makes sense.
As for Superior Carnage, most of Marvel’s Carnage stuff has been self contained, except for the horrid crossover with Venom and Scarlet Spider.  So that book seems dispensable—it’s for symbiote lovers only.  And I know that Venom/Carnage have a rabid fanbase, so sure, give them something.  Again, it makes sense.
Not so with AVENGERS A.I.  As noted above, the quality of the Avengers books has dropped dramatically since Bendis moved on.  Rick Remender’s “Uncanny” is probably the best of the lot, but his writing is far more suited to “dark” and drawn out, which tend not to work in a team environment and, at a minimum, should be kept in check until readers are comfortable with the team.  If we don’t know the team that well, then we simply don’t care enough about them yet to want to walk through the darkness.  Remender’s best Marvel work was on Punisher and Venom.  His Avengers book feels scattered, and not “fun” enough to be an Avengers title.  And Hickman’s books are fine but also extremely scattered.  In an effort to include every Marvel hero known to man, and while creating many new ones, he’s made an unfocused book that certainly feels “big” but, again, is not “fun.”  The best Avengers runs in history have all had lots of “fun” with the size of the team and the various characters, whether it’s all the way back with Stan Lee, Bendis’ recent 10-year reign, or the wonder years with Roger Stern, Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Jim Shooter, etc. 
The new A.I. book promises to be just as somber, coming out of Age of Ultron.  The (fourth) Avengers monthly will be written by Sam Humphries and illustrated by Andre Lima Araujo, featuring Vision, Pym, Ultron’s son and former Runaway Victor, the Earth-616 version of Ultimate Marvel SHIELD director Monica Chang, and a Doombot that thinks it’s people.  It just sounds tedious.
It’s a case of too much too fast.
And speaking of bad reboots, I hated Shadowland.  To me, Marvel had a franchise that had been one of the best in its history, with Bendis and then Brubaker doing amazing things with Daredevil, and then Andy Diggle came along and literally blew it up and ended the series.  But Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos blew up Amazing Spider-Man and ended the series, and went on to make it even better.  So when Marvel announced that Superior Spidey would be going to Shadowland, it kind of made sense to me.  This won’t happen until July , with Superior Spider-Man #14, but Otto-Spidey, in his effort to be a better Spider-Man that Peter Parker ever was, will go after Kingpin in the heart of his kingdom.  And where there’s Shadowland, there’s probably ninjas. 
And, best of all, no cross-overs or tie ins.

AND HERE’S 4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BOTHER READING ULTIMATES ANYMORE

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1.  Cap’s idea of resolving serious political and policy-based differences is to make grown adults wear their get-along shirts…

this is my get along shirt

I get that this is supposed to show that Cap is a tough, no-nonsense guy, but this seems condescending.  And I mean, condescending from the writer to the reader: We’re supposed to think Cap is cool for doing this, but that just assumes that we as readers aren’t smart enough to recognize that the issues presented have complexity.  Maybe I’m overthinking it (I probably am), but I just find this…Dumb.

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2.  Osama?  Really?  Again, this is neither cool nor witty.  It’s demeaning to the art form.

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3.  Thor is a complete idiot.  I’d expect this kind of thing from Hercules, but not Thor.

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4. Tony Stark’s tumor hallucinations are brilliant personifications of his creative id.  This is silly and tired and stupid.

Marvel used to do awesome, creative, wonderful things with the Ultimate line.  I’m thinking of Millar’s run on Ultimates, or Bendis’ first 100 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, or Warren Ellis’ Fantastic Four….But this is shit.  Shit comics.

MEDITATION ON SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man No More by m7781

Yesterday, my son was looking at some of the new Marvel Legends figures and he said the Big Time Spider-Man one looked cool.  I had to agree….But at the same time, I’m always the first to object when Peter Parker gets a new costume.  Iron Spider-Man, Captain Universe Spidey, Iron Spider….They all feel kinda forced to me.  And although I really enjoyed most of Dan Slott’s work with the character, when he started up the Big Time storyline I got annoyed.  Too many gadgets.

And when it came to Superior Spider-Man, I had contempt before investigation.

SPOILERS AHEAD…KIND OF

This probably isn’t much of a spoiler by now, but Superior Spider-Man isn’t Peter Parker.  Well, it is Peter Parker, but he’s got Doctor Octopus’ mind and soul inside him.  Ock put Parker’s mind into Dr. Octavius’ dying body and migrated into Parker’s body.  Only, Peter managed to slip back into his own body at the last minute so now they’re both up in dat skull.  For now, Otto is dominant.  It’s kind of like Face/Off with souls.

As Spider-Man, Otto uses devices more than ever.

He’s got blades and nanites and improved Spider Tracers.  He “bugs” (i.e., wiretaps) the bad guys so he can be a step ahead of them.  He’s got Otto’s ego…

And when it’s Dr. O using all these devices, it turns out I love it.

Dan Slott really had to convince me that this was a book worth reading.  He’s only one issue in, so we’ll see how long this can be sustained, but I see lots of potential.  Turns out kinda evil Spidey is way, way better than Shadowland Daredevil.

And even more, I can’t wait to see how Spider-Man, after his body is inevitably re-taken by Parker, crawls back from this.

Serialized comic books, Marvel and DC alike, are a difficult medium to keep interesting because you can’t change the character too much, but without a challenge, the book becomes stale quickly.

We all know Spider-Man will be back to normal soon–probably in time for the movie this summer–but in the meantime, Slott has managed to do something truly novel with the character. I’ve read every issue of Amazing Spider-Man ever, and most Peter Parker The Spectacular Spidey’s, too, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a tale like this before.

THE BEST OF THE WEEK

I don’t usually review single issues of comics, but two books came out last week that I have to mention.

The first is the final issue of Jeff Lemire’s Vertigo title, Sweet Tooth.
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After 40 issues of heartbreaking bleakness in a post apocalyptic world that is part “The Road” and part Wizard of Oz, Lemire wraps up his story with an ending that is incredibly touching (I actually got choked up reading it) while being wholly unsurprising. This is the only ending that could have happened.  He’s not stopping the action in the middle of the Journey, he’s showing us the logical conclusion to mankind’s constant folly, and incessant attempts to control nature and biology.  If this book doesn’t speak to you, you have no heart.
IMG_1136But read the first 39 issues first.
I can’t wait until there’s an omnibus.  I’d gladly shell out a hundred bucks for it.
The other book that blew the doors off my expectations was Punisher War Zone #3.  This may be Greg Rucka’s single best issue of any comic, ever.  And this is the guy who wrote the hell out of Batman and Gotham Central.
It’s Punisher “versus” Thor, and although blows are exchanged, the battle is more for hearts and minds than blood and honor.  Neither character doubts the other’s resolve, and neither character judges the other too harshly.  There is a mutual understanding and respect between the two that is reflected in some of the best dialog I’ve read in comics.  Ever.  That’s right, two “evers” in one post.
This is a fantastic series.  Read it.
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