Saturday, May 05, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 2nd, 2007 -- MINOR SPOILERS

It was a busy week for me in comics (relatively speaking) and I have a house warming to get to so I'll have to be a little brief. As for why these weren't posted yesterday, I went to see Spider-Man 3. That review will have to wait though. :) As for comics, we have Hulk #106, World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker, Astonishing X-Men #21, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #3, Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #3, Omega Flight #2, Dark Tower #4, and the seventh Runaways digest.

Hulk #106 -- Fortunately I read online that this book was to be read before the WWH Prologue. Unfortunately, it would have been nice to read the She-Hulk issue which precedes it but that was delayed until late May. And I'm a little disappointed that we already know what happens in it. Yet again, books coming out late and out of order but this time it happens right from the start. Hopefully Marvel can get their act together soon. Anyhow, Gary Frank is back to drawing the Hulk and boy what a difference in style since he last drew the book. His Hulk has definitely changed, not that we see much of the big green guy in this book as it's mostly Jen Walters (aka She-Hulk) that gets the screen time here. But it's a solid build up to World War Hulk. The characters are written well and everyone seems more in character than previous books. And we get a lot more character time than they provided in Civil War so you get to see exactly what's going on. It was a good issue and despite my reservations about the World War Hulk storyline, I'm starting to let down my guard.

World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker -- Gary Frank returns to the Hulk in the regular series, Peter David returns to write this prologue. We get a little more Hulk here and even more Jen Walters/Doc Samson stuff. The discussion between these two was great. You see where Jen stands now with her dislike for the registration and how it's being done, trampling over everyone's civil rights and totally corrupt yet she's not eager to start breaking laws either. And it's interesting to see both sides putting their spins on stories. Samson painting the Hulk as the villain or monster in them, Jen painting him as the misunderstood hero. With all my griping about Civil War characterizations so far World War Hulk has been a total 180 for me. But then again, you have Pak and David writing the stuff so far and both have a very good grasp of the characters in question. And so far it's not being driven by tying together events that don't make sense just for the sake of sales. Let's hope it stays that way. Getting back to this book, I'm not a huge fan of the multiple artists but it's not so distracting in this book. Partly because the story already jumps from Hulk to past to Jen and all about so it doesn't seem so jarring for a different artist to jump in. And David does a tremendous job of tying the story together so it doesn't seem jarring either. It's a very solid start and has my hopes up for the remainder of the World War Hulk series. But this time, I'm avoiding some of the spin offs like Frontline.

Oops, forgot to review the other parts to the Prologue. The cartoon was kinda cute and did give readers a quick rundown of Planet Hulk (even if they did get some things wrong such as why he's coming back to Earth). But I'm not so sure it fit here. I mean, the story should be a serious one of what's going through everyone's mind, the rage the Hulk feels at what they've done to him, his wife, and his new friends. So maybe the cartoon approach right off the bat in the prologue wasn't the best strategy. As for the Amadeus Cho story, it's your typical "guy befriends the Hulk" kinda thing. But it's good to give readers a bit of a backstory since Cho is really an unknown for many of us. So it didn't seem so out of place here and was interesting to read at least.

Astonishing X-Men #21 -- Wow! This is going to be hard to say but this was a bit of a letdown for me. Maybe it's partly due to the lengthy wait and the anticipation but I just felt this book was a little bland. You had some more Wolverine one-liners and some interesting character moments but the story seemed to start dragging on at some point. And the issue kinda left me feeling like there should be something more to it. Having said that, it's still a much better book than most of what's out there and maybe it's just up against some other stiff competition this week with the World War Hulk stuff debuting but it didn't thrill me like previous issues of the series. Where as the series has usually been a 10 or at least a solid 9, this book may have dipped down to an 8.5.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3 -- Yet more Whedon goodness. I'm starting to get past the whole "missing the actors" thing and getting used to the comic format for Buffy but I'm not beyond feeling joy at seeing the characters or finding out where they go next with their lives. A nice cameo by Joss in the dreamscape sequence by the way. This issue actually manages to avoid falling in to the "calm before the storm" which usually happens in the second last issue of a storyline but I still found myself eager for it to take that next step and get to the big finale. Some questions are answered, some remain, and some new questions pop up (exactly who did kiss Buffy for example). I can't wait for the next issue... And the one after that... And the one after that...

Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #3 -- Well, my prediction for how Ash came through last issue's big finale was true. This issue continued the Army of Darkness/Marvel Zombies goodness with the usual fun oneliners, Ash being Ash, and zombies being zombies. The "Nextwave" stuff was a little lost on me but hey, I can understand that. The Runaways from the previous issue was probably lost somewhat on people who don't read that book. And I got the gist of it anyways. Some of the usual gripes for this book though, like Ash looking out of place in comparison to the other characters. And Thor holding Mjolnir when in the Marvel Zombies series he had a slab of concrete with a metal poll in it. I assumed it was because he could no longer wield Mjolnir after being zombified but maybe he just hasn't done anything yet to become unworthy and once he eats his first person or something, he loses that ability. The finale of this issue had me more stoked about the next issue than last issue's ending though.

Omega Flight #2 -- This book was a bit of a letdown for me. Since it's only a 5 issue series I had hoped that things would happen a little quicker than they are. Even at the end of this issue the team is just starting to meet each other and it's not even in a battle or anything. And as much as I liked the whole "you made the mess" stance to the US, repeating it along with any mention of "you clean it up" this many times starts to go from standing up to them to just being whiny and confrontational just for the heck of it. The art was a little off from last issue I felt. Things seemed a little bit more sloppy and overly dark or muddy at times. I thought it was kinda funny when she said they were looking for an American soldier yet for some reason the guy was drawn with a maple leaf on his helmet. And the number on his dog tag, 123456789, well I guess it's time to change the combination on my luggage. I think I might end up being happy that this was knocked down to a 5 issue series because this issue didn't instill confidence for the rest of it.

Dark Tower #4 -- This series seems to have its ups and downs. Now that we're done with all the new character introductions and such, maybe we can get down to business. And sure enough, we get more of the story developing here. I am wondering if the way they went about putting this book together was the proper way though. There are times where the art and writing just don't flow (like the art is larger and takes longer in comic time than it needs to while other times it's small and the writing takes longer and covers a bigger span than the artwork shows). The artwork itself didn't seem so distracting in this issue either. If this was an ongoing though, I'd have probably dropped it. As it's a limitted, I might as well finish it off. Not that it's terrible or anything, I just think it has lost a bit of its appeal on me.

Runaways volume 7 -- This was one of my favourite volumes of the bunch. The dialogue, the character interaction and development, the emotion, it's all top notch story telling. It had been a while since I had read the previous volume so I was worried I'd need a bit of time to get back into it but I was completely wrong. I fell right back where it left off and was connecting with each character in no time. The characters are different and unique. My emotions toward Chase were mixed, not with disliking the character but disliking what he was doing. And wow, what a way to end the run for Vaughan as Whedon takes over. This series is definitely high on my recommended reading list.

So that's it for me for now. I'm off to par-tay! :)

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