Friday, December 22, 2006

Weekly Comic Reviews for Dec. 20th, 2006 -- SPOILERific

A busy week (by my standards) with 7 books and a Wizard Magazine (which I haven't read yet). And on top of that, my Chapters order came in yesterday consisting of two books by Scott McCloud about understanding and making comics and the TPB for Fray. I'll be posting my thoughts on the McCloud books when I get to read them. So let's jump right in:

She-Hulk 2 #14 -- I've been rather hard on this book as of late but this issue restored some of my faith in it. The downside of that though is that the book concentrated on Awesome Andy and She-Hulk was relegated to appearing in the first and last few pages of it. I've really liked what Slott has done with Awesome Andy, he's such a loveable character and the chalkboard he uses to communicate (explained in this issue) was a great touch. So from the solicitation and cover to this book I had some concern about what they were going to do with him. In the end, I'm sorry to see him go but I'm glad they added the switch ending. I also have to say that my jaw almost dropped when he seemingly held Mjolinor, if only for a brief moment. As for the art, it still wasn't great but it seemed to be less of an impact on this issue. Perhaps it's because it focussed on Andy, he's really not that hard to draw. And then there's the teaser for next issue, Clay Quartermain returns and drafts She-Hulk into SHIELD. I liked Clay in the Peter David run on the Hulk where he, Rick and Bruce/the Gray Hulk travelled around in a little van so it'll be nice to see Slott using this character (hopefully). So the series stays on my list for now.

Elephantmen #5 -- In this issue we jump back in time to the "rescue" of the Elephantmen. The solicitations seemed to focus a bit more on the fact that it was the first fight between Hip Flask and Obadiah Horn but that doesn't really do it justice. There was much more to this issue and much more to the "fight" than a simple slugfest. Starkings (the writer) really does a masterful job at interweaving events to highlight the individual characters that make up the Elephantmen. The fight isn't just a slugfest, it's a clash of ideals. And on top of that, we also get a few more plot details filled in from Hip Flask: Mystery City. Elephantmen has quickly moved up to the top of my pile as the book I look forward to the most.

New Avengers Illuminati #1 (of 5) -- I haven't been a big fan of the New Avengers or Civil War so I had a bad feeling going into this book. To be honest, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Although you have to wonder how a bigger fan of these characters feels about their portrayal. I mean really, they think they're just going to walk into the Skrull armada and walk away without so much as a boo from the Skrulls? And in the end, what did they accomplish? They might have delayed the next attack or they might have made things worse (now that the Skrulls have what they wanted, whatever that was). And they know it in the end too. It's really interesting to see how this super group of the supposedly top minds can make a mess of things while also being darn impressive (they did survive in the end after all) at the same time.

Lone Ranger #3 -- I got chills when the message is openned and the last line reads "Lone Ranger remains" (though why "remains" isn't capitalized when every other word in the message was is kinda funny). For fans of westerns or the Lone Ranger or just a good book should enjoy this series. My only complaint, there are a few times where things aren't made quite as clear as they could be. Part of it is the art, part of it might be something else. At the start of the book we see him chipping a hole in some wood and then pouring metal (his melted badge) into it. I was left wondering if the wood could actually work to forge a bullet like that but also, how he was able to dig up a bullet shaped hole was also weird (it looked like it could only make half a bullet). Then, when Tonto has him on the floor and asks him if he knows what happens to horse thieves there is a silent panel and then Tonto says "yeah, something like that". I found that part poorly done as it's not quite clear at first what's happening. As the panel is small it took me a minute to realize Tonto and the Ranger were looking over to something and then it took a minute to realize what that something was. But overall, these little details could be overlooked (and maybe improved in the future) as the story more than makes up for them.

Civil War Frontline #9 -- Now we move into the Civil War portion of the reviews. I can't stand picking up this book. I really can't. If I wasn't a completist who wanted some of the details of Civil War flushed out a bit more I'd stop buying it. To be honest, I might actually enjoy Civil War more if I did drop it. The female reporter leaves Cap after 5 minutes to go out on a date because she says the interview is going badly. EXCUSE ME??? This is Captain America, leader of the anti-registration heroes and currently locked in a bloody civil war with one of his best friends and she's just going to walk away from the interview? I don't care how bad the interview is, a reporter isn't just going to walk away from an exclusive like that. And it all comes back to that stupid note the senator passed her that seemingly turned her into a different character. Oh, and somehow Spidey is fine, still in his armour suit and helping Ben Eurich discover that Tony Stark has been using the Civil War as an opportunity to make a whole bunch of money. Maybe this happened before CW #5 but that seems weird as Ben mentions Spidey switching sides. Then we have Speedball being taken to a pretty sad prison that's being used to house criminals (I guess the prison in the negative zone is reserved for heroes only and now Speedball won't be going there). Of course they drag him within arms reach of the vilains (who for some reason is allowed to have metal hooks on his arms) and without going into all the other things that are just as stupid we have Speedball's new powers manifest and go kaboom. Gee, who'd a thought? Oh, that's right, I did. I guess that makes me smarter than that SHIELD chick, She-Hulk, and Reed Richards. I rock. SHIELD shows up and Speedball is sitting amongst the wreckage and says he's going to sign the registration. Next mini-story, Reed's looking for who helped Osborn undue the nanite stuff and Tony tells Reed he's known who the traitor was all along. The end. Yeah, that was useless. Although it also had a dog walking around in it. Next, Osborn is being interrogated about killing the Atlantean and claims it wasn't him. At least the cops acknowledge how things don't make sense (as he was able to get through security with a gun and stuff) but every time Osborn tries to explain his mouth goes all frothy. And a mystery figure comes in and takes Osborn away leaving the police in the dark. Seriously, how many dark mystery figures do we need in this series? I've lost track. I think the last issue is going to be a checklist so you can go back and see who everyone was.

Iron Man Captain America Casualties of War -- Taken alone this book wasn't bad (although slightly on the boring side). It had some nice flashbacks to the history Cap and Iron Man have. And if it wasn't for the pro-reg side torturing, killing, recruiting homicidal maniacs, silencing and manipulating the media, cloning, jailing for life without trial, yadda, yadda, yadda, I might be able to read it. But to be honest, Civil War's portrayal of the pro-reg side irks me so much. This book reminded me of why I'm just eager for Civil War to end so I can drop all these books.

Civil War Casualties of War -- Out of the Civil War books this week, I enjoyed this one the most. Just when you think Wilson Fisk is being left out of things, he shows just why he's the Kingpin. Though it's weird to see Stark as more of a stooge, answering to that SHIELD woman, in this book.

Fray (the trade paperback) -- Last but definitely not least, my review of Fray. Fray was a series written by Joss Whedon which tells the story of a Slayer in the future. I'm running short on time (too many reviews I tell ya) but this book is amazing. Simply amazing. I started reading it thinking that I'd stop about half way so I could go to bed but I just couldn't. I had to finish it. It's definitely not "Buffy in the future" as Fray's personality, situation, and environment all give a different tone to the story but it's amazing nonetheless. The art fits and is full of energy. The demons and creatures look amazing as does the city. There are some connections to Buffy (like this is actually the first appearance of the scythe that Buffy retrieves and uses during the last few episodes of the TV series) but nothing that would hurt a newbie to the universe. Everything is laid pretty cleanly. The only downside of the series is that even though it closes things up fairly well it still leaves me hanging, wanting more. And to date, I think there's only been one other short story featuring Fray. Darn it Joss, either stop writing all these amazing stories that leave us wanting more or write faster. Did I already mention my idea for cloning him?

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