I know, I was supposed to review 300. But I'm on vacation so I figured I'd just wait and do all the books at once. I'll save the rant (Civil War) until the end. So this week we have White Tiger #1, Civil War #5, Astonishing X-Men #18, The Great and Secret Show #7, and of course, Frank Miller's 300. And let's start there.
300 by Frank Miller -- As I was approaching the end of this book I started to say to myself over and over again that this would be so much better if Frank Miller hadn't done it. The story of the 300 Spartans is incredible on its own and doesn't need the Frank Miller tweaking that it gets here. Scenes that could be epic seem diminished while other scenes seem exaggerated, like much of Frank Miller's work. You could say that maybe he's ignoring the grand epic nature to focus on characterization but nope, I don't see that either. Few characters are even recognizable or last more than a page or two and I don't find any real character development in them. Besides which, I don't really find Miller to be all that great at developing characters (though to be honest, I didn't read his Daredevil stuff). There are some visuals that work and some parts of the story where you really get a feel for the importance of this story, then it seems to falter and trip over itself. I only hope the movie is better.
Astonishing X-Men #18 -- I knew the next story arc was supposed to start with the next issue so I kept wondering how they were going to tie everything up in this issue. Turns out, they don't. Courtesy of SWORD, everything (and everybody) is temporarily bundled up and taken to Breakworld to continue this arc into the next one. In typical Whedon fashion, you get action, you get laughs, you get tears (okay, maybe not tears), ... you know when you're picking up a Joss Whedon book you are getting the full Whedon. The ball of string, the beer, Cyclops' actions throughout, all top notch stuff. The art continues to be great. This is the X-Men that I have been wanting to read for the last however many years. I'm tired of gushing about this book, just read it.
The Great and Secret Show #7 -- Why do I keep doing this to myself? I really should wait until the series is done and read it all at once. Maybe wait until the Trade Paperback. The art is great. The writing is good (though I do wonder why we have to sit through the old guy recapping events for the woman, events we've already seen, I kinda started to gloss over that which is bad). But the story doesn't seem to work as a monthly (or however often it comes out) book (at least for me it doesn't). There's just too much going on, too many characters. I'm thinking that after I'm done with this series I should read the novel again. Then I'll be ready to tackle the sequel which I have had on my shelf for ages.
White Tiger #1 -- I have no clue why I picked this book up. I guess after spending some time reading the complaints about women in comics I decided that I should pick up a book with a female lead. The art was good but obviously Marvel's not using one of their top tier artists on this book. That might sound harsh but I don't mean it that way. It's good solid art. The story is a fine start, the usual adjusting to hero life (first night out mistakes, bad costume, being mistaken for a mutant, getting a costume, etc). It's going over some of the "realistic" aspects of being a superhero. But I did find myself swimming in details. There was a lot to absorb with the new characters and such, and I think there was an attempt at flashbacks that went over my head. It was good enough to try out a second issue but I hope I can catch on or it's going to lose me.
Civil War #5 (Let the rant begin) -- Finally! Finally, they give Iron Man his time to talk. To try and redeem himself. And they put Cap's morals to the test having him recruit the Punisher. Unfortunately, it's too little too late for me. If this series had been about "registering" and nothing more than that talk would have gone over a bit better. If we didn't have the destruction of habeus corpus, the silencing and manipulation of the media, the sentencing friends and allies to torture and death in the Negative Zone, the cloning of gods and then removing any rights and freedoms of that clone by making it obey any command you give it, recruiting homicidal maniacs to hunt down people, and all that other fun stuff, then I could see where Tony was going. But unfortunately, that ship has already sailed. He talks about the people being against heroes (although Marvel's world wasn't as pro-hero as it could have been, it seems like a stretch to say the support the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and others had disappeared so quickly and without notice), he and Reed seem to be encouraging that with their silencing and manipulation of the media in Frontline. He talks about needing to make a prison in the Negative Zone because Ryker's won't work, well that would make sense if superheroes had been using Rykers but time and time again the big brains in the Marvel Universe have created prisons to confine criminals that don't force mental breakdowns and suicides. But now that you need to confine friends and allies, you create this. And come on, bringing up the safety of Mary Jane and Aunt May, you might as well have been threatening them yourself. He talks about people inside the government and SHIELD forcing an even more evil agenda through if the registration didn't go through, and these are the people you're putting in control?
The book itself is a fun book to read and the art is great. But for me, it just doesn't fit. Marvel wanted to make waves at any cost and I think their heads swelled a little too much when they started thinking about shock moments they could thrown into the story even if it didn't fit. The registration should have been left at that, a registration. The draft, the prison in the Negative Zone, recruiting villains, and all that other fun stuff should have been a what if story that is meant to show what would happen if the registration was taken to the next level. People say DC went too dark with their characters (Identity Crisis) and had to pull back. Now it seems Marvel wants to one up them and personally, I'm hoping Superboy has it in him to punch through one more wall.