Friday, March 02, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews -- February 28th, 2007 SPOILERS

Now that Civil War is over and I have no interest in getting any of the follow ups my book count will go down for a bit. World War Hulk might give it a slight boost but I'm actually leaning towards not picking up the Frontline and Gamma Corps books. And you'll see why. This week we have Civil War: Frontline #11 and Clive Barker's The Great And Secret Show #10. And I'll also be including my Dark Tower #1 review that I mentioned last week and forgot about as well as my review of Marvels.

Civil War Frontline #11 -- I've expressed my dislike for this book since pretty early on so why stop now? The art, well it's pretty bad. It's "hey, let's create a tie in to Civil War so we can make more money but all our artists are currently working on stuff so let's get this guy to do it" bad. Too many characters look like their faces are made of pudding or something because they have a lumpy look to them. And now for the writing, it's bad. Not only is it a blatant rip off of a great comic story (I won't say which one just so I don't spoil that story while reviewing this series) but whereas the original was character driven and held together on an intriguing storyline that was well thought out, this one had horrible characterizations that change from book to book and the storyline was complete nonsense. To sum it up, after the reporters chastize Cap for wanting to protect civil liberties (because they'd rather have them taken away is what the reporter seems to say, great "reporting" skills she has there) they go on to reveal to Tony Stark that they know that he is the traitor. He's the one who had Osborne kill the Altantean ambassador. But let's not end it there, the rushing through of a badly written law, creating a horrible prison where heroes are under constant torture and face possible suicide from being in the Negative Zone (a point that was rebutted by Millar and in the regular series but is "confirmed" yet again here) but having that prison only be a test run to convince the government to fund a safer prison for the villains, bringing the country to the verge of war with Atlantis, setting up the deaths of some pro-reg heroes to make the anti-reg heroes look bad in the public eye,... it was all done by Tony Stark alone (and most of it behind everyone's back including Reed Richards... I wonder if his math predicted this) because he didn't want to see the heroes in camps with power dampening collars. So in order to avoid that happening he's willing to risk the lives of millions (if he's lucky) by possibly starting a war with Atlantis. He's willing to do exactly what he claims to be avoiding by taking them to the Negative Zone prison, locking them up without their powers. And these reporters decide to chastize Cap for standing up for what he believes in when they claim he's out of touch while they applaud Tony for his actions. And then they decide to keep it quiet because if people knew what Tony did it would supposedly rip the country apart. Are you telling me that these two reporters are the only two who could figure it out? Heck, the people they had help from to figure it out would also need to be silenced like Peter Parker. It's not like they had any information that isn't already public knowledge. And the whole Osborn thing, he kills the ambassador (with a simple gun no less) while supposedly under control and is now in charge of the Thunderbolts program thanks to Tony and nobody is going to blink? Not to mention the claim that the Thunderbolts are under their control already being proven false when Lady Deathstrike and Taskmaster are sent into the prison because they broke from their control in Civil War 7. And there's more, I could go on and on with the holes in this story but why bother? I felt it was a waste of time to read it (especially after it was said that it wasn't truly reflecting the events going on such as the prison) and it seems a waste to dwell on it any further.

The Great and Secret Show #10 -- Again, it's tough to really come up with anything new to say about this book. The art is still as solid as the first issue though there was one incident in this book where they focussed on a character's eyes and it seemed confusing as to whose eyes they were, and it shouldn't have been done so because it made the dialogue harder to follow and in the ending it's a little confusing because at first glance you don't really understand who's going through the portal but it's cleared up rather quickly. And the 2 page battle spread was great. When I first turned to the page it looked overwhelming but it quickly became appearant that this was the intention. You're put right in the middle of the battle along with the characters and their panels and dialogue guide you through just as they are moving through the battle to get to the house. That little bit of a twist on comic storytelling can really work the story well. And the writing continues to be excellent. I still stick to my opinion that I should probably read this series all at once but I keep getting sucked into reading it monthly. So in the end, this issue continues a great adaptation of Clive Barker's novel.

The Dark Tower #1 -- Right from the start I knew this book was going to need more focus than some other comics. The dialogue, the introduction of new words to the language, and a quick intro to a number of characters can be a little overwhelming. But after a short hiccup you get more into the story and it's a really intriguing one. You only get a small sense of the world the characters inhabit but it's enough to catch my interest. And then the characters begin to shine through. I used to read Stephen King books back in high school and looking back at them it was usually the characters I found that interested me the most. It wasn't the scary stuff, the undead cats, the rabid dog, and all that. It was the ad exec dealing with marketting a red cereal that had some "issues" or just the quirky old guy across the street who brings a father to an indian burial ground so a child won't suffer from the loss of his cat. It was those people that seemed to catch my eye. And that's the case I find here, though the situation is interesting the characters have depth to them and don't seem to be made from cookie cutters. So it was a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure if it was worth all the hype with stores openning at midnight to sell it but I've added it to my subscription list. Oh yeah, Jae Lee's art hasn't always appealed to me and a lot of times it depends on the subject matter (his Hulk stuff for instance, I really disliked that) but it works here. I think it's also helped out by Richard Isanove's colours though.

Marvels -- A four issue series written by Kurt Busiek with Alex Ross providing the art. Busiek constructs a masterpiece here. You have Marvel's Silver Age of comics as seen by the common man (a photographer by the name of Phil Sheldon). You start with the original Human Torch to the event that some say ended the Silver Age (I won't ruin it for those who don't know) but you never see any of it from the superheroes' perspective. And it's amazing. You see Sheldon reacting with fear and hatred just as many in the Marvel Universe do but as the character develops he has a re-birthing of sorts where he takes himself out of the Marvel Universe. He seems to take on the traits of the reader, able to take himself outside the world and see it and the heroes for what they truly are. Of course I'm speaking figuratively here, he doesn't actually get any superpowers. But this character progression, this growth as the world grows around him, is wonderfully done and I can't say enough good things about it. Alex Ross' art may not have been as polished off as it is now but it definitely stands the test of time. His realism and attention to detail is amazing. At times I thought that maybe his art in this book limits the storytelling, you couldn't do a page of small panels to slow down the pace for example, but it works for a book like this. Where the storytelling isn't necessarily about showing one event through a series of pictures but showing the grand story, the big picture if you will, through a series of snapshots. This book probably tops my list of must read Marvel books.

It was rather interesting to re-read the Marvels book just after finishing Civil War. The similarities definitely exist with people fearing or hating the "Marvels" as Sheldon calls them. And everyone turning their back on them or not trusting them, even believing events like Galactus coming to earth were staged. But a lot of what works and what doesn't for me depends on the characters. In Marvels, you get to connect with these characters and see things through their eyes and you understand them. In Civil War and its tie ins, you get characters that are unrecognizable from book to book, acting different and giving different reasoning depending on the writer, and in the end the focus seems shifted from developing the characters and the story to just trying to pigeon hole them in to a series of events that you want connected somehow.

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