Friday, April 06, 2007

Weekly Comics Review -- April 4th, 2007 HUGE HULKING SPOILERS

Woohoo! Extra long weekend! So in wanting to spend as little time in front of the computer this weekend as I possibly can, let's try and make this quick. And I got quite a bit to review (at least in comparison to most weeks). We have Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness 2, The Dark Tower 3 (of 7), Omega Flight 1 (of 5), Incredible Hulk 105, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2, and a special addition of Death Note volume 1 (my first manga experience, woohoo!). All of this week's reviews contain SPOILERS and some being MAJOR SPOILERS. So be WARNED. (Caps are FUN!)

Incredible Hulk #105 -- This is going to be a tough one as this issue had quite a few positives but yet fell so short in my opinion. Art-wise, this was a strong issue by Pagulayan. He captures a lot of the emotion well and when things start to go "boom", it's pretty exciting to look at. And writing-wise I felt Pak actually paced this issue somewhat better than previous issues. Although there may have been hints of choppyness to it, this issue by itself seemed to flow a bit better. But overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. The first and most glaring for me is the death of the Hulk's new wife and mother of his unborn child, Caiera. Pretty much right from her introduction it seemed clear that she was yet another "woman in the refrigerator", a female character introduced solely as a plot device to further the story for the male lead. And after building her up as an interesting character to me, sure enough her fate was sealed when she said she'd never leave the Hulk. It was actually hard for me to really connect with the Hulk and feel what he's feeling at that point. And perhaps the "choppyness" that I refer to in previous reviews of this title added to that. You got glimpses or snapshots of her character and her interaction with the Hulk but in the end, she was just an empty device in the story. And in the midst of that, the fact that the whole planet was destroyed by the ship that the Illuminati sent the Hulk into space in seems to lose its impact as well. Yet another "whoops" moment by the Illuminati has led to a major booboo, this one being the destruction of a planet and who knows how many deaths. So with a pretty weak ending to the storyline Planet Hulk slides further from "compelling character story" and closer to a somewhat cheap attempt at triggering Marvel's next big event that they hope will make oodles of cash. It doesn't give me much confidence in World War Hulk.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #2 -- Joss you little minx, you're toying with us! This issue more than the first seems to be designed with Buffy fans in mind. Right from the start you have Giles making his first appearance. Then you get the tease of Xander and Buffy hooking up or bringing up once again, Xander's feelings for Buffy. Are they still there? Is it true love? Does Xander have the guts to find out? A glimpse of Buffy's love. Is it Angel? Is it Spike? And there's a whole bunch more but when I got to the second last page and read the line "As a friend of mine once said..." I knew right then (and maybe seeing next issue's cover may have helped, who knows) that we'd get our first shot of Willow. And that line, "... I'd like to test that theory", well it gave me chills and darn near brought tears of fanboy excitement just as it did when Giles said it to Willow. Yeah, I'm going to regret admitting to that but I was stoked. But that's a lot of talk from a Buffy fan, what about non-Buffy fans (those poor souls)? I gotta admit, while the story is engaging and there is some mysterious stuff going on. And there does seem to be enough for a non-Buffy fan to catch on to. But this issue more so than the first will connect more with the Buffy-fans and a lot will go over a new reader's head. But I guess this is "season 8" so you just have to expect that. Oh, and the art was another solid effort. I still don't think he has all the likenesses down but I'm still enjoying it. I can't wait to see more of the Slayer/walking dead battle in issue 3.

Omega Flight #1 -- The Canadian superteam gets another shot except this time, it looks like only one canuck (maybe two, I'm not sure what Sasquatch's role in this is going to be) will be making the team. And yes, that will be my first complaint. I know it doesn't bother some people but it bothers me. Canada is being overrun by villains who are high-tailing it out of the US during/after Civil War and sure enough they have to say that after Alpha Flight being killed and now this the few heroes that Canada had have just given up. That just seems so sad and pathetic. We created Wolverine... Well we did until they did that retcon to have the American government be behind it, yeesh, we can't do anything I guess. But I guess nobody wants to read about Canadian heroes (hey, Jenkins had some pressure from the fans to make Logan American when he wrote Origin). So one thing I have mixed feelings about is that nobody from the eventual team actually shows up in this issue. Instead, you get Sasquatch doing what he can against the Wrecking Crew. And that actually made this book pretty interesting to me. I'm also happy that the Canadian government is appearing and being depicted as separate from the US (and not just a bunch of yes-men/women to the US). And art-wise, I usually have somewhat mixed feelings about Kolins' work but this felt like a strong issue by him. Though, I wonder how much has to do with the inking or colouring but I can't say for sure. I guess this means I'll have to be checking out at least one more issue of the series to get my opinion of it.

Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #2 -- About as much fun as a barrell of monkeys here. Ash's interaction with some of the heroes (Spidey, the Punisher, Dazzler,...) are all loads of fun just as any Ash interaction should be. But then you have parts like the two scenes in one with the Runaways eating Old Lace (their dinosaur) and the Blob huffing and puffing as he's being chased down by Zombies and you hit gold. But a lot of focus will be on that last page. I mean, Zombie Howard the Duck!!! Hopefully he goes after Lucas. Yeah, he was only Executive Producer on the Howard the Duck movie but I'm also one of those fanboys who didn't like the changes to Star Wars or the prequels. But that's way off topic. And without the flashbacks and such the story for this issue doesn't get all out of whack like the last issue (though I was kinda surprised at how quickly Ash went from being coccooned in webbing to being free since I thought even Spidey had problems with his own webbing). The art... Well I'm still not entirely sold on it. Some pictures of Ash just look weird in comparison to other characters (some being too "real" and others almost looking cartoony). And it took me a little while to determine that it was Old Lace that the Runaway were eating. But it's still fun and the "twist" ending had me for a moment but there are clues for issue 3 that I won't spoil here.

Dark Tower #3 -- I guess some of the novelty of this series has worn off for me. I wouldn't say it's gone to bad yet but I felt this issue was a little blah. I mean, the pages dedicated to a standoff that went nowhere just seemed to drag on. And with all the characters with strange names, I'm just losing track. I just hope this was just a blip on the radar and the book gets back into the groove soon. The art, it still seems to work for the book as a whole yet I'm still not a Jae Lee fan. Wow! That was a quick review wasn't it? :)

Death Note Volume 1 -- My first manga adventure. And yes, I had some issues with the whole reading from right to left thing (as this book is not adjusted for North America). I didn't realize that it's not just the individual pages but the whole book that's the reverse (ie. what would be the last page in North American comics is the first page of Manga). But I got by it after a while (though sometimes the panel layouts did take a minute for me). Anywho, this was a series that I saw mentioned on the Girl-Wonder forums and thought "Hey, I've been wanting to try out manga. Why not this book?" And I was really very surprised at just how much I enjoyed it. One bonus is that it doesn't go to the overly cartoony characters which I know have their place in some manga books but I still just don't like. Another is that I really enjoyed the twists and turns the story goes through. Just when you think you know what's going to happen or what Light is going to do, the rug gets pulled out from under you (or at least it did for me). The basic story: A death God has dropped his Death Note on Earth. The Death Note is a book that has a set of rules but the important one is that if you write a person's name down in the book that person will die (there's more to it but I won't go into it as I'm trying to keep this short). A top-of-the-class high school student finds the book thus becoming the owner. Needless to say he decides to use the book and attracts the attention of the police and one special investigator in particular. And the book becomes an interesting cat and mouse game between them (but who exactly is the cat and who's the mouse). Unfortunately the first digest ends before much can be resolved and I have to wait for volume 2 to come in the mail (with the holidays I don't expect it any time soon). But the first digest definitely had some interesting plot twists and multi-dimensional characters, more so than I was actually expecting. As for the art, I'm still not a big fan of it even though this was probably not an example of what some might think of when they think "manga art". I think it works well with the story and there are some great page breakdowns and tricks that enhance the storytelling but I guess I'm still too stuck on the "realism" of North American artists. Overall though this is a very well put together story and a top notch example of great storytelling. I'm eager to dive in to the second volume/digest.

So that's it for this week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, we’re three issues into the seven issue Dark Tower series from Marvel and what can I say?

Maybe we should all agree this has been a big mistake and pack up early and go home.

There’s a great story this issue about Arthur Eld, whom we’ve actually heard relatively little about. It’s exciting, intriguing and creepy. Unfortunately, that story isn’t the one Jae Lee is illustrating.

Was Peter David the right man to write this? For me, his adaptations of other people’s works have always been a little bland. But it’s hard to judge in this case since all he’s been assigned to do is adapt the main components of Wizard and Glass.

For Stephen King fans, like me, this is a big let down, since, except for a few rare glimpses, we know this story. And for those of you who know the Dark Tower series, you know that there’s another story starring these three characters, their last ride, that is hinted at in the novels and THAT would have been great to see come to life. Maybe this series will do that, and if so, I’ll pick those issues up. Until then, I’ll wait.

Why? Isn’t the incomparable Jae Lee’s work and the wonderful Richard Isanove’s color enough to keep me coming back? In a word…no.

The real issue is that Lee’s backgrounds are so sparse that I don’t get the sense of ANY world existing more than five feet behind the characters! There isn’t enough “world” to say whether he’s created a good one or not.

Farsen’s design is the first glimmer of any real CHOICE Lee’s made in this whole series, despite the fact that Farsen, known as the “good man” has always been described as something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, someone, like Flagg, who, on the surface, appears almost handsome, yet gives you a sense of pervading evil. Instead, Lee’s chosen to simply depict Farsen as a devil incarnate.

And his story telling leaves something to be desired, as every page seems to be nothing more than series of portraits, with barely an establishing or medium shot to understand characters’ positions relative to each other. It’s like everyone is floating through a perpetual fog, even when they’re indoors!

And Isanove’s colors don’t seem to mesh well with the art. His color choices are fine, but his rendering makes everything seem like it’s dipped in clay and all of Jae Lee’s black edges, usually sharp enough to cut your finger on, seem duller. In the aforementioned back matter, there is a rendering of what’s supposed to be a scary mutated snake-monster, which Isanove’s treatment turns into a sock puppet.

If all King wanted Marvel to do was adapt a Dark Tower novel, it would have been better to start with the first. I’m disappointed as both a comic fan and SK fan.

Isanove does as good a job as he’s ever done, but it’s hard to argue that Lee brought his A game to this project.

You’re better off spending your money on the new Authority, though not Gene Ha’s best work, is disturbing, intriguing and compelling.

And pick up Scalped to see what a truly gifted storyteller can do with a great story.