Saturday, March 31, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for March 28th, 2007

Only one regular book to review this week and it's Elephantmen #8 but I also get to review Maus volumes 1 and 2. But since I'm pressed for time, here goes...

Elephantmen #8 -- Another strong issue from this great series. The current story with Hip, Ebony, and Trench coming under fire provides a starting point to flashbacks to reveal more about Trench. What he was like at MAPPO, how he got the name Trench, what's up with the eyepatch, etc. And the issue goes along way in establishing yet another dynamic and multi-dimensional character (even if he does say that things are only black and white to him, a zebra seeing only black and white... okay, it doesn't come across as cheesy as it sounds). He's definitely not the character I was expecting him to be and it should be interesting to see where he ends up. The great art, the narrative, the storytelling, it all works to flush out the characters (mainly Trench in this case). My only complaint is that maybe the actual story isn't getting the attention it deserves but I don't mind waiting a bit longer for the story to be flushed out. And as for the short story that accompanied it, Hip's personal assistant (Wagner the iFrog, a gift from Miki the cabbie) has to battle a rival personal assistant (Didier, I'm guessing he's an iMonkey). It was a fun, cute little story with artwork to match the fun nature of it. Yet in its simplicity you find yourself cheering for little Wagner. All in all, another great issue to an already stellar series.

Maus volumes 1 and 2 -- Winner of the Pulitzer Prize Special Award, these two volumes written and drawn by Art Spiegelman (who I will refer to as "Art" as though I know him or something)tell the story of his father Vladek and his years just before, during and shortly after the Holocaust and how he survived. The details of the story are interwoven with pages depicting Art interviewing his father and events that occur during the interview process. In the second volume Art goes even further to show events that occured after the release of the first volume and its critical success and at one point, Art includes a short comic story he wrote and drew following the suicide of his mother and his feelings at that time. Okay, hopefully I didn't confuse too many of you with that description. And I guess I should mention that Art decided to depict the various nationalities and races in the book as different animals. The Jewish are mice, the Germans are cats, Americans are dogs, etc. I guess in interviews one of the reasons for this metaphor is to show how stupid it is to try and divide up people in such a way. I thought at first that it would make it harder to read as there's not much to distinguish one mouse from another but since I think this is one of the things Art is going for it is handled well by having the characters identify each other and it isn't a distraction. And in some cases (such as when Vladek has spent quite a bit of time in the concentration camps) it makes sense as even he says with their heads shaved and weightloss they did become somewhat indistinguishable. But I let's move on. The story (all narratives) is simply amazing. Vladek's survival is truly remarkable and as the characters note themselves, it's probably impossible to pinpoint just one factor that kept him alive. But his resourcefulness and ability to barter got him through a lot. It's a hard story to review, the presentation of it is stellar but the story must be read to be truly appreciated and I couldn't do it justice here. Seeing Art interviewing his father and the openness and honesty he shows in telling of his father's flaws in the current day (while maybe trying to get an understanding of why he has them) makes the second narrative just as engaging as the first. At times, it's almost hard to see the two Vladeks. You have the one during the Holocaust who you feel so much sympathy for and then there's the older Vladek who is someone who is extremely challenging to be around. Even Art's discussion about whether he should include some of the details about his father at the risk of falling into the stereotypes about Jewish people (such as his father's persistence to not spend one cent unless he absolutely had to, going so far as to leave an oven burner on at all times to avoid using up more matches) brings the reader further into their lives and makes the story so much more engrossing as you see these characters as real people, despite their animal appearance. I really can't say enough about this book, it's truly an amazing piece of literature and a book I recommend that everyone read.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My latest toy

Last Friday I ordered my Wacom Tablet and I received a notice on Tuesday that it was waiting for me at the mall so I decided to swing by on the way home from work yesterday to pick it up. The store decided to ship it in a huge box. And by huge I mean a couple feet long, at least a foot wide, and at least a foot deep. Keep in mind, this is for a tablet that measures under 11 inches in length and width and less than 1 inch in height. Obviously, it's packaging is bigger than that but still, I was not expecting such a huge box. But I guess I should be happy that it was well protected for the shipping.

So after lugging it home (the box was light as a feather which meant the two inconveniences were its size and the wind blowing it around) I really wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, Wednesday nights are ball hockey nights so I didn't have the time to hook it up before heading out. I did set it up when I got home from hockey but just barely had time to play around with it before I had to head off to bed. It's going to take a lot of getting used to and practise I think. And I'll have to figure out a process that works best for me. But I'm eager to see what I can do with it. Hopefully I'll have some free time this weekend.

So why am I posting this considering I haven't really accomplished anything with it? Slow work day I guess. :)

Oh yeah, comic reviews will be delayed this week to accomodate going out for my sister-in-law's birthday.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for March 21st, 2007

What started out as a slow week for me comic-wise (with none of my regular comics coming out this week) turned into a decent week of reading when I decided to expand my reading a bit. I had thought I'd only have "Reinventing Comics" by Scott McCloud to review but now I have Runaways Saga and the Spirit #1, 3, and 4 (I'm still hoping to track down a copy of #2). So let's get to it.

Runaways Saga -- I knew this was a mistake for me to pick it up but I decided to do so anyways. The rundown of this book is that you get the story of the Runaways up until Whedon's takeover of the book and it's from the viewpoint of their youngest member Molly. You get a few bookend pages where the team finds her diary and such, the rest is her diary entries with accompanying snapshots (panels from original comics). For anyone who has read the books already the only benefit is a few cute "Molly moments" in her diary entries (like saying "Cloak and Dazzler" instead of "Dagger"). Otherwise, it's really of not much benefit to them. For those who haven't read Runaways but are looking to jump on with Whedon's run, it does provide you with a pretty good synopsis of the story and a decent feel for the book. On the other hand, I enjoyed the series enough to say you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not reading the whole thing. The digests aren't all that much anyways or if you've got money to spend, they are collected in hardcover.

Spirit 1, 3, and 4 -- Might as well kill three birds with one stone. :) In my continuing quest to add classic comics to my "have read" list I figured the Spirit should be on the list. After all, Wikipedia has this to say in their current entry on the character/series:
"His namesake, seven-page weekly series is considered one of the comic-art medium's most significant and classic works, with writer-artist Eisner creating or popularizing many of the styles, techniques, and storytelling conventions used by comics professionals decades later."
But it was suggested that on top of reading some of Eisner's work (I have the "Best Of The Spirit" on order) I might want to consider checking out this new series. So I figured that after having a pretty bad week and no weekly comics to read why not give it a try. As for the books, they're fairly easy books to read with simple artwork (though don't take that as an insult, the artwork works for a book like this) and easy to read dialogue. There's no big moral quandary in these books, just interesting characters thrown in to dangerous situations. Issue #3 gives you a background on the Spirit and a few other characters but other than that, there wasn't much but I still found it pretty easy to dive in. Partly because each book is pretty much a separate story and written well enough that you can figure things out. I was worried about reading 3 and 4 without reading 2 but I had no problems whatsoever. The twists with narration (such as in issue 3 where different characters narrate different portions of the story or the twist in issue 4 that I'd rather not say for fear of ruining a nice surprise) give you a little bit more insight into the various characters and make them more enjoyable as you can connect with them. Even characters that don't narrate seem to have a way of making that connection. It really is a great job by Darwyn Cooke (the writer and penciller). But one character that stood out for me was Silk Satin in issue 4. That issue alone made me think I'd probably pick up the series if she was the main character instead of the Spirit. She (and the other characters) had a real human quality to them but I was delighted to see her pick up the Spirit and carry him to safety at one point. You just don't see scenes where the "damsel" turns the tables and saves the hero too often. So I guess in some ways it's sad that the scene made me chuckle so much as it's probably something that should happen more often in comics. All around, the three issues made for a fun, enjoyable read and a nice throwback to the classic heroes. I really do hope that I find issue 2 and I'll most likely be picking this series up for at least a few more issues. And I'm even more eager to get my "Best of the Spirit" TPB now.

Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud -- After reading Understanding Comics I was blown away by Scott McCloud's knowledge of and passion for comics and it really opened my eyes to so much that I missed or had taken for granted with comics. Making Comics is jam packed with so much useful information for anyone wanting to be in the comic book field (not just for an artist or writer, I felt anyone working in comics should read it). But from what he said in Making Comics, I knew this book would be the tougher book to read. This book delves more into the status of comic books as they are today, what he sees working and what doesn't, what needs to be improved and what needs to remain, and what he sees as the future of comics (some of which we haven't hit yet despite his prediction that we would... the book was written a few years back). I found myself agreeing with so much of what he has to say in this book that it actually scares me. When he talks about comics diversifying, gaining a new audience, and getting recognition for being more than childhood fantasy stories about men in tights flying through the air (though those stories do have their place as well) I found myself going "Yes, we really need to keep this in mind and make sure people realize this." In other parts such as where he talks about the future of comic making (producing more and more comics digitally) or comic delivery (delivering them digitally) I might not have been so quick to jump on his bandwagon but he does give strong arguments that made me think. And I'm seriously considering dropping my old paper and ink method for a Wacom Tablet. The ability to deliver comics digitally still hasn't reached the limits that he puts out there. Free webcomics have continued to grow and for some, advertising has allowed them to make at least some of their money back, but the ability to pay for comics to be delivered to you digitally still isn't there. To make a long story short, even though this book wasn't as fun or easy to read as his other two, the points he is making are important ones. And even if you don't agree with them (whether it's because you don't see the same future as him or because you just want to hold on to the past) they are all worth considering and discussing. Scott McCloud has stood up and by doing so he has made a serious statement about comics. And I think it's something we (the comic enthusiasts) should take notice of.

I'd love to go on and on about Scott McCloud's book (just as I could spend way too much time talking about his other two books) but perhaps that will have to wait until another day. For now, I do hope that perhaps another comic enthusiast or two will see yet another positive review for his work and decide to give it a look. Because whether you agree with all his points or not, the discussion is worth having and the first step is listening to what someone has to say.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for March 14th, 2007 -- SPOILERS!!!

A whopping three books for me this week but I'll also fit in a movie review. It's for 300 so I think I'm allowed. So let's get to it, this week's reviews are for Buffy The Vampire Slayer #1, Civil War: The Confession (just when I thought I was done with Civil War they suck me back in), and Lone Ranger #5. And being the Joss Whedon/Buffy fan I am, that one went straight to the top of my pile.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #1 -- So this is it, season 8 of Buffy in comic book format. First up, it's Joss Whedon writing Buffy so with that I had built it up as an 11/10 without reading it. And I don't think any single issue can live up to that hype. Having said that, I wasn't disappointed in it and am still happy to see Buffy's story continue but when you get yourself anticipating an 11/10 even a 9.5 just doesn't seem to hit the mark. In a couple days as I get to absorb it more, I'll get over it and appreciate it for the great book it was. As much praise as I give Whedon, I think the cast of Buffy deserved a lot as well. And somehow, no matter how hard I imagine it the lines just don't seem the same without Nicolas Brendon or Sarah Michelle Gellar delivering them. A plus for me was Buffy's narration. You get to be a little more in her head this way and see exactly where she's at, not just in her surroundings but emotionally and psychologically. I knew going into it that I'd have to get used to a different feel and it may take an issue or two. But in the end, I'm still excited to see where Joss Whedon and the other writers take us. As for the art, that's a tough one. To be honest, I don't think he was that great on the likenesses of the characters but on the other hand, it was nicely drawn comic where there was sufficient pullouts to give you a sense of what's going on, monsters were drawn well, actions were clear and exciting when need be, and all that. So I can't really complain about it too much. There were a few scenes where he pulled out and the character's faces seemed to become a little cartoony (almost like a Manga sorta thing) but I can get over that. I consider it a must read for Buffy fans and an all around great comic.

Civil War: The Confession -- Yeah, I thought I was done with Civil War but I heard some positive reviews of this book so I thought I'd give Marvel one more chance. I did find this to be a good book. The artist takes risks to really get a sense of emotion and also to keep the reader's attention in a book of just dialogue. Some of the risks work well, some maybe not so much but still get the point across and I give the artist kudos for his work here. The dialogue is pretty good. Tony's reasoning is at least put out there, although I totally disagree with it and it bothers me to no end that the rest of the characters in the Marvel Universe seem to be going along with this idea that Tony Stark is the only man who knows what's best for the world and are whilling to forgive his actions of murder, torture, backstabbing, lying to them, etc. because he's an "inventor" but I digress. I do get the sense of this being another one of those "telling us instead of showing us" moments though because again, we have Tony telling us about what he tried, what he knows, what he saw coming, etc, but we don't see any of this. Given Tony's lies and actions of recent memory I guess it's up to the reader to decide just how much Tony fought against doing what he did. But either way, I do feel that this idea that Tony knew for years what was going to happen but it's only now that the readers are hearing about his actions and not actually seeing them leaves me rather hollow. But what irks me the most about this book is yet again how it doesn't really feel like it ties in properly. At the end of Civil War Cap was a man who had accepted his fate. In Frontline he thought he was doing the right thing but seemed to be accepting of being under arrest and wanted to speak to Tony to explain his actions to him. Then in this book he's suddenly a "sore loser" (both he and Tony say this), it doesn't feel like this is the Cap that surrendered, this is the Cap that lost the fight (not just the argument as he says in Civil War) and is really bitter about it. It just doesn't seem to fit. Though Tony fits in well with his Frontline depiction of regretting what he had to do but doesn't really fit well with the ending of Civil War where he was almost gloating about his new position as Director of SHIELD and getting Maria Hill to fetch him coffee. And let's not mention the fact that these SHIELD agents were given specific weapons and armour that seemed geared towards keeping Cap in custody yet the few police who escort him to the courthouse (where he was shot) were given vests and... well, vests. In the end, this book felt too little too late for me. The whole event just doesn't seem well planned, there didn't seem to be a clear focus on the story or the characters, and it was all about selling books by having shock moments. In my mind, they might as well go the whole nine yards and bring back holofoil covers (though they already have "variant" covers) because although they say they're looking to put out good stories, I don't really see them working towards that. Some individuals may be putting out a few good stories but as a whole, Marvel seems to be losing it's focus. Or maybe it's better to say they found their focus and it's not on comic books.

Lone Ranger #5 -- In 5 issues I've gone from loving this series to being eager for the storyline to end so I can drop it. The multiple storylines and the shadowy figures/names of people that we never see or know very little about are just going on too long now. I get that they're trying to build the legend up but there was very little to chew on in this book. Even the deaths at the end of this book were hollow. At the beginning of this series the deaths of his father and brother were emotional because we saw the connection between him and these characters. The flashbacks showed us their relationships and showed us something about these men to make us care about them. The deaths of his mother and brother here (at least I hope I'm understanding that right) just didn't really connect with me. You see him being emotional about it but since we've never seen any interaction between him and these characters, we can only guess that they even had any sort of connection. And since we've seen very little of these characters (just a few pages in this book) they are just a tool by the writer and so their deaths really don't resonate with me either. It was just another woman and kid thrown in to the story to be killed and it seemed weak. All in all, I'm really losing interest in the characters and the story here.

Now on to movies...

300 -- This movie, just like the book, relies heavily on visuals because the story is a pretty simple one. Not that that's a bad thing necessarily. This is all about glorifying the 300 Spartans who fought in that battle even if that means tweaking history or simply re-writing it. And once you get past that, the movie is a beautiful piece of eye candy to behold. The visuals are really quite stunning and the work that went into them (including the training the actors went through to play the Spartans) has to be acknowledged. The acting was all top notch in my opinion as each actor played their part as though on some glorious stage, there was very little subtlety to it but subtlety wouldn't have fit here anyways. Now I've read quite a bit from people who know much more about the history of this battle and in an interview Frank Miller said his greatest adversary when writing this was reality (or maybe it was historical accuracy) so he just threw it out the window. He's not claiming any of this as fact, he's just taking that battle and like story tellers of old "embellishing" it. I have slightly mixed feelings about this but I do give him credit for stepping up and saying that instead of trying to pass this off as set in reality or history. Heck, many people won't even realize that there is a historical base for this story and will go on believing it's 100% fiction so as long as nobody believes it to be 100% fact, I can move on. And moving on, I really did enjoy this movie and you really do feel rather pumped after spending so much time feeling like you're on the battle field with these Spartans. Despite the outcome, you almost come out feeling good. But also, the movie is not for the youngens. Battles are very graphic with body parts (including arms, legs, and heads) flying through the air in glorious fashion as they are separated from their owners. And I've read from some parents (and some sons/daughters) that there was a definite feeling of discomfort of watching some of the more graphic sex/nude scenes while siting next to their sons/daughters/parents. I know my mother has expressed interest in seeing it and I think she could handle it fine but I also know I'd feel slightly awkward at some points. So it may be a matter of convincing my father to actually go out to a movie for the first time in months (maybe a year) so he can take her. So for the young (and some older) movie goers who enjoy some amazing visuals, intense action, and a story that although it's not the great American novel does have plenty of emotion and can really resonate with the viewer, this is probably a must see movie. And I do wonder if it will be remembered around Oscar time for at least some categories such as cinematogrophy or art direction or if it came out too early and will be forgotten by that time (though the DVD might be coming out then so there's that).

And as for next week, I'm slowly making my way through Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud and the more I read from Mr McCloud, the more in awe I become. His discussion of the comic book industry and some of the things holding it back or that led to it's near collapse back in the 90's really resonate. I think more comic book professionals need to read, re-read, and really listen to what he has to say. But I'll have more to say on that when I actually finish the book.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews -- March 7th, 2007 SPOILERS!!!

Hmm... Where to start for this week. Well, the obvious place would be the death of Captain America wouldn't it? I mean, we have major news people picking up this story including CNN and Fox News. But unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I didn't read the book so it wouldn't be right to put my thoughts about it in with "reviews". And I don't think the Web needs any more discussion of it. So maybe I'll just direct you here since he covers a lot of how I feel about it. And I really like the discussion of telling, not showing. That notion is something I'll probably bring up over and over again in my reviews for the next little while. So let's get to my three reviews for this week, The Incredible Hulk #104, Dark Tower #2, and Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #1. How about that? No Civil War tie ins!!!

The Incredible Hulk #104 -- This book continues to just not flow for me. This issue had a good start and a fairly solid ending but there were a few pages in between that felt like a series of postcards. It starts off well enough with the Hulk being reminded of the video the Illuminati sent with him on the spaceship (some have said that was a stupid move on the Illuminati's part and there may be some other motive for it but I disagree, it may have been stupid to let the Hulk know they were behind it but on the other hand, Banner was friends with these people and I think despite their betrayal they probably felt obligated to explain their actions to their friend... was that a shot at the pro-ref side of Civil War???). And we already see people upset with the Hulk or not trusting him but then the Spikes get involved in the story and the postcards start. We get snapshots of the Hulk doing "something" and the same dialogue that has been going on throughout this series. One character will ask "What's he doing?" and a second character will say "Wow! He's..." and tell us what he's doing. I hate to bring out the phrase this early but I have to, it's telling the readers what's happening instead of the more natural way of showing us. Instead of having the comic show us his actions, we get a snapshot or a postcard and the other characters standing around with the task of telling us what's happening. Just like the one oblivious character we sit and wonder "What's he doing?" only to be told in the next panel. And that's what's been off about this storyline for me. It improves in the last few pages but that brings me to my other concern, Caiera. Last issue she became the Hulk's wife, this issue we learn she's now carrying his baby. Everything seems to be pointing to her becoming the next woman in the refrigerator (a woman who is killed off as a plot device). I hope I'm wrong here as the fact that this trend has a name for it shows just how overused it is. Plus, I actually like her and the idea the Hulk having someone by his side that isn't killed off like Jarella or Betty (unless Betty wasn't killed off and was in a coma and now resides on an island with Nightmare... but let's not talk about that right now) especially after just announcing her pregnancy. He has enough angst as it is, there's really no need for her death. But I guess we'll have to see how it plays out. Art-wise, the book had a couple weird points but overall it's solid looking. I'd just like to see it flow with the story more.

Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #1 -- C'mon! You have Ash from Army of Darkness and Spider-Man! How could this miss? And it doesn't, at least not in any major way. The dialogue is good, the story ... well, you have zombies and Ash, what more do you need? So it's a very good start but there were the hickups for me. First up, the art. Although the style is not my cup of tea I felt overall it works for the storyline but there were times that it just didn't feel right. At times, it seemed they were going over the top to make Ash look like Bruce Campbell with fancy colouring and such which made him stand out like a real person in a cartoon. And it didn't seem consistently done which seemed odd. But it's hard to combine because people do want to see Bruce Campbell so I know the issues. Then there were times where people just looked odd. Like Sentry holding up Ms Marvel, his arm seems to be coming out from the front of his chest. But it didn't really ruin the story or anything and worked okay with the overall feel of the book. There were times where I got confused with a jumpy narrative. One page we'd have Ash talking to the heroes and the next he would be elsewhere. It was meant to be a flashback but having it jump to a flashback in between pages with no warning is not a good idea in my opinion. So I looked for visual clues to let me know when it was a flashback and when not and I noticed the red borders around the panels. That seemed to work for a bit but then even regular shots had red borders. But fortunately I think the flashbacks are done for this series so I don't have to worry about that any more. They were only there to show those of us who didn't read the latest Army of Darkness books how we got to this point (but I have to say, it didn't really do a great job of doing so). Yes, I seem to have quite a few negatives about this book but overall, I'm still psyched for the rest of the series and can't wait to see more. Plus the covers are just amazing. :)

Dark Tower #2 -- As I said in my review of issue 1, Jae Lee's artwork doesn't always work for me and this issue has a bit of both. There are points where I get frustrated because I just can't understand what's going on. Some of these times is where he goes in close for an intense shot and refuses to pull out. In some ways, having such a helpful narrative (which even tells you when a character will be leaving the story for some time and not come back until later) helps guide you through the book. It might be an example of telling and not showing but in this case, you kinda know you're getting that going in. It's a mixture of showing us some parts of the story and then just giving us visual snapshots while telling us other parts. It's a different approach than what I'm used to so I'll give them props for trying it. Characters (at least some of them) continue to shine through while I found a few others missed the mark a bit. It may not have had the same impact on me as the first issue but it was a decent enough continuation of the story.

And I just added three more graphic novels to my collection and to my list of books to read/review. They are "From Hell" by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell and "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" volumes 1 and 2 by Art Spiegelman. I knew about From Hell mostly because of the movie but decided to pick it up after reading Alan Moore's other work and seeing how much I was missing by just watching the movies. Maus was something that gets mentioned over and over again in Scott McCloud's books and I finally decided I have to read it. Not sure when I will though as I still have The Life and Death of Captain Marvel to read as well.

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.