Archive for March, 2011

A National Hero.

Friends, I feel like we need to take a break for a second.  Let’s pause to honor a man, a man who can influence millions with nothing but blind arrogance and sheer force of will.  I speak of J. Jonah Jameson, Editor in Chief of the Daily Bugle, Mayor of New York, proud father of a werewolf astronaut, reluctant employer of that lousy Parker kid, and the greatest supporting character ever, or at least in comics.

Let’s give it up for the eternally hilarious JJJ.  Best attitude ever.  What a champ.


More comics.

I’ll be reviewing some more comics today, just stuff that came out over the last couple of weeks.  We’ve got quite a batch to get through, so sit back, settle in, and enjoy the ride.  We’ll start with Captain America.

1. Captain America was incredible.  A thrilling conclusion to the best story Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have done since Bucky Barnes took up the shield.  “The Trial of Captain America” is also fairly accessible as far as Brubaker comics go.  He’s got a tendency to do a lot of two year epics with everything weaving together, but this one functions great by itself.  Butch Guice’s art helps bridge the mythology gap.  This is some really dynamic art.  The flow’s perfect.

2. Heroes for Hire was a little slow and a touch too predictable.  For a guy who really impressed with the fight scenes in the first three issues, Brad Walker’s handling of Misty Knight’s coma-dreamworld is conventionally dull.  White mist everywhere, kids with skulls for faces.  Been there, done that.  The writing fares better.  Abnett and Lanning have a nice handling of The Puppet Master.  I never thought he made for an interesting Fantastic Four villain, but he works well in a room full of (relatively) normal people.  The waking world scenes with him are the best part of the book.  The dream sequence isn’t awful, it’s just drawn out.  It’s the weakest issue of the series yet, but it certainly looks like things are going to happen next month. I believe in Heroes for Hire.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man #655

I might be being a little harsh on Heroes for Hire due to the work Marcos Martin’s putting in on Amazing Spider-man.  Really, Martin should be drawing Spider-Man every month.  His style just works so much better than the other artists working with Dan Slott right now.  I enjoyed the beginning of “Big Time” but I feel like it got hokey a little too fast.  Peter Parker’s always worked great getting shat upon, so a sudden influx of success seemed intriguing.  After the one issue turnaround, the next few spun wheels in all the soap opera shit, and if you’re writing a Spider-Man comic, you gotta keep the Soap opera shit moving.  Having him inner-monologue about how fuckin swell everything is gets gratingly cheesy.  Humberto Ramos’s Scorpion and Hobgoblin redesigns were also depressingly ugly.

And don’t get me started on this thing.

So extreme, ya gotta spell it X-treme.

I realize suspension of disbelief plays an important role here, but it’s impossible to take anything seriously when the bad guy looks like a Power Ranger villain.  I didn’t get past that first Alistair Smythe issue, but then I saw somebody died so I went back and thumbed through last month’s, which brings us up to speed…

The second half of the story is a dream sequence that Marcos Martin handles with expected aplomb.  This is what I was talking about with Heroes for Hire.  However, equally as good, if not better, is the comic’s first half.  In Issue 655, Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson go to the funeral of Marla Jameson, Jonah’s wife recently murdered by the Scorpion while wearing a ridiculously stupid costume, which kind of makes it more tragic.  Its pretty Jonah centric and Martin can really get to the heart of a depressed man better than any of the more realistic artists or the hyper-exaggerated cartoony guys like Humberto Ramos or Chris Bachalo.  Being the greatest comic relief in comics, ever, JJJ’s always been a great foil to every other character in the Spider-Man universe.  The sight of Jonah beat down in the face of tragedy is depressing in a very realistic way. In a movie, Jonah’s story would eventually end, but in a serialized format, he has to keep going, keep striving against the unseen hands ruining his life.

4. Meanwhile, Andy Diggle continues giving up in the pages of Daredevil: Reborn.  It’s a damn shame.  The first arc of his run was intriguing, but it got bland fast and this miniseries is even blander.  Shadowland was passable if you’d never read a comic book crossover before but this one should be identifiable by all.  Instead of turning himself in for the appalling crimes he committed, Matt Murdock has fled to the Southwest and is up to trouble with some lousy excuses for dirty cops and drug barons.  I’m not certain of the story’s destination, but I’ve got a good feeling it won’t matter.  Two positive notes.  The comic’s a fast enough read that I can just flip through it in the store and the last page of the book is actually pretty great, because it’s next month’s cover.  Great use of pink, Jock.

5. The On Again/Off Again Thunderbolts was on again this month, thanks to a nice concise Man Thing story.

6. The Hulk continues to be surprisingly good.  You’d think Green Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk, Son of Hulk and the honorary Hulk Space Brigade would suck, but it’s actually an ingeniously smart move.  (Also, three She-Hulks, but fuck that comic.  I gave up after the first issue.*) The Hulk doesn’t fit into the Marvel Universe proper because he’s the goddamn Hulk.  There’s not much he can’t smash.  So now there’s just a whole Hulk community to interact with.  Suddenly we’ve got two Hulk comics, they’re both team books with a rotating cast of Hulks and they’re both great.  A lot of people are still turned off by the Jeph Loeb helmed relaunch of the Hulk.  But that’s old news.  This is the new-ER Hulk, and what a difference a year or two make.  I never got into Agents of Atlas, Jeff Parker’s breakout series, but his Hulk is a big improvement on that brand of zany storytelling.  Hulk is a romp, simply put.  It reads like the more inconsequential Hulk comic, but the dinosaur fights and promise of More MODOK more than make up for it.  Greg Pak’s Incredible Hulks takes itself quite a bit more seriously.  It’s interesting to see Pak picking up where he left off.  The current arc reintroduces some characters from his Planet Hulk/World War Hulk comics.  The Hulk Mystery Squad is in the Savage Land, helping Ka-Zar fight a giant, evil insectoid.

Ka-Zar: If Tarzan fought dinosaurs and more ridiculous creatures.

The title of the story is “Planet Savage” which kind of bugs me.  I’m getting sick of all these comics having such similar names.  It’s confusing, and the names aren’t even good.  There’s Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, World War HulkS, Son of Hulk, Son of Banner, Dark Son, Black Hulk Son.  Ugh.  (Okay, I made up the last one.)

Both writers are making good use of Hulk science, which I’m a fan of.  Issue 623 of Incredible Hulks features a fun defibrillator  scene as we see how much electricity is needed to restart the Hulk’s heart.  (Hint-A lot.)  Later in the issue, Hulk keeps watching a tragic video so he can stay angry and therefore heal.  It’s ridiculous, but in an awesome way.

The art’s great all around.  Even if rotating artists make for an inconsistent tone, at least they got good ones.  Paul Pellitier recently drew a fun Zeus fight, and Dale Eaglesham draws good dinosaur fights and giant bug men fights.  Ed McGuiness draws good everything fights, which is convenient because the last issue of Hulk was about Red Hulk and Green Hulk fusing together to fight an army of Space Hulks and their leader looked like a wampa and he had mind control powers.  It was ridiculous, but again, in a good way.

7. I was hoping the prices would go down on J Michael Straczinski’s Thor Omnibus because he’s a pretentious child, but no such luck.

8. Mike Carey’s new Alternate Reality X-Men crossover, Age of X, is off to a nice start.  Unfortunately, all the good X-Men are missing.   No Beast, No Multiple Man, No Nightcrawler, No Fantomex, and Wolverine’s almost identical to his iteration from Old Man Logan…   but hey, that was a cool Martha Johansen cameo!  At this point in the story, my complaints rest solely with the cast.  Apart from the stars, Rogue, Magneto, Kitty Pryde, and Cyclops (now called Basilisk) the supporting cast is lost on me.  I think there’s some New Mutants involved?  I recognized Doug Ramsay and Moonstar, but I’m at a loss for the rest of them.  I barely know any of these characters.  It’s a little confusing.  I need to do some wikipeding on these guys.  I’m a sucker for a good alternate reality, and this certainly looks better than the X-Men’s last venture into dystopian future, Grant Morrison’s Here Comes Tomorrow, so I’ll be sticking with this for a while.

In the story, humanity seems to have declared war on the X-Gene and all the mutants are holed up on Magneto’s island fortress.  Of course, Magneto’s up to no good, and is fighting the war with ulterior motives.  Just what exactly, we’ve yet to see.  It’s a good comic that may be exploring some familiar tropes, but it’s also got some interesting ideas of its own.  A good comic for the X-Men fans, but not new-reader friendly at all.  You have been warned.

9. Wolverine #6 isn’t a great jumping on point either.  However, it is a Wolverine story that’s not about revenge, and those are few and far between.  No, instead we’ve got the #1 fallback Wolverine story, where he goes berserk and the rest of the X-Men have to stop him.  Jason Aaron’s script is excellent, as usual, and Daniel Acuna’s art aint bad either.

10.  All in all, not a bad haul.  I promise I’ll review some movies or music or something people care about next week.