Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for June 27th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Well, I have a splitting headache today so I'll be making this quick. Only two books to review this week, She-Hulk #19 and World War Hulk: X-Men #1 so let's get right to it.

World War Hulk: X-Men #1 -- So we get some setting up for the first half of this book, introducing the idea that Xavier wasn't behind blasting Hulk off into space and we get a quick introduction to some of the New X-Men (left behind by themselves at the mansion). Then the Hulk shows up and things get going. Now on its own this book isn't bad, it covers the necessary points and introduces the reader to the details they need to know, especially if they haven't been following every title in the Marvel universe. But the problem comes from being tied into all those titles. Where does it fit in? You wonder if this after the Astonishing team comes back from space or before they go? Obviously it has to be after the other X-team came back from their space adventure as Xavier is there with his powers. If they are just seeing the Hulk's arrival in New York and then he seems to suddenly appear at the mansion then when did the Iron Man fight happen? It's just hard to figure out the timeline. But other than that, you get some good ol' Hulk action. Though he doesn't really seem to be breaking much of a sweat and has the team pretty well scouted despite never encountering these people before (which makes sense with this Hulk and his Warbound friends). And now, thanks to the backlash that occurs when Xavier tries to enter the Hulk's mind the X-Men know Xavier was involved in some sort of secret group with Iron Man, Reed, et al. I do hope some of the X-Men discuss what issues they may have with that, I mean Cyclops told Xavier to get lost after he discovered the whole Danger Room is a sentient being thing that Xavier was hiding. I really do like how this book ends, with just a simple question by the Hulk, how would Xavier have voted? And the art is pretty solid. So do I recommend it? Well the story seems decent, the characters are well written (Beast really stands out as he leads the team of newbies against the Hulk), and it's got some good moments. So all in all, it's actually off to a good start despite some timeline confusion on my part. We'll just have to see if it stays that way. So yeah, if you're into the World War Hulk or a Hulk fan or an X-Men fan, I'd put this on my recommended reading list. Not a "must read" but not something you should avoid.

She-Hulk #19 -- Okay, just to get it out of the way, I still dislike the art immensely. And I'll probably be saying that for 2 more issues until the new artist (who looks good) comes in with the new writer, Peter David. For me this book actually suffers from not being a World War Hulk story, at least not directly. First up, Jen is still powerless (despite how she was shown in World War Hulk 1) and despite what's happened so far (they do mention the Hulk and Iron Man fighting in New York and destroying a good chunk of the city) Jen's focussing on her lawsuit with Tony and now the trial of the Leader and not even mentioning her cousin who just came back and threatened to smash the planet in retribution for his lost wife, unborn child, and new found planet. Makes sense I suppose. :) So yeah, I kinda feel that this title should be more tied in with the story considering the character and what she's going through. Then you have the Leader being taken to a trial (again, brought pretty much unprotected up the steps to the courthouse in public view) in New York. You know, the place that was evacuated and made a mess of (as they point out in this book). And wait a minute, since when have these people been getting trials? I guess all the other books that indicated they were being thrown into the Negative Zone without trials (which may include She-Hulk itself considering SHIELD just threw the other gamma powered individuals into stasis tubes to experiment on) were just "off". But I guess we should be looking for logic in this book. Looking beyond all that, it's not a bad little bit of character disection and you can see some things building with many of the characters (especially She-Hulk herself) but with everything else, it just seems to be a mess of a story to me. So overall, I can't put it on my recommended reading list and honestly, I'm just trudging along with the hope that Peter David will turn things around.

Hmm... I can't remember if I posted a review of the latest animated Hellboy adventure ("Blood and Iron")??? If not, it's actually a pretty decent little piece of animation with solid voice talent thrown in and a decent story. I don't think it's necessarily worth paying the full price for but if you're looking for something to watch and are up for it, I'd recommend checking it out.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for June 20th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Only one monthly book this week but I also picked up the last volume of Death Note. So let's jump right into the review of the Incredible Hulk #107.

Incredible Hulk #107 -- Since we have Pak writing both the Hulk and World War Hulk you can at least expect some continuity between the two books. Though I guess someone missed that World War Hulk seemed to occur at night time where as this book seems to be showing those events happening during the day. Not a huge deal but still. Now anyone picking this up as a Hulk book may be a somewhat disappointed. Instead, it's the story of Amadeus Cho as he continues recruiting heroes to side with the Hulk. And he reveals a little bit of his plan. Using Angel's money (at least the portion of it that he swiped from Angel's bank account) he's bought an area of the desert where the initial gamma bomb test went off creating the Hulk and he plans to create a sanctuary there for the Hulk and his friends. Long story short, he recruits Hercules, Angel, and Namora (but Namor declines) and heads to New York. Still on a high from his fight with Iron Man, Hulk attacks Hercules who takes a pounding before he can finally get the Hulk to listen and say that they (Herc, Angel, Namora, Amadeus, and some other humans that have their own reasons for being there) are there to help him. It's a well written book and it's nice to see what's going on with a few other characters during World War Hulk. But the downside for me is a Hulk book that really doesn't have much Hulk to it. And as for the art, for the most part I like Gary Frank's work (maybe his older style more so than his newer stuff) but the last part seemed off. The way he draws the Hulk at the end, with is mouth curled back and teeth showing, he looks more like gorilla to me. And then the last page his head looks ... wrong is the only way I can think of putting it. He seems to have no jaw line and just a small chin. It was too bad because I thought the art was pretty solid up to that point. So the big question, would I recommend this book. That's actually a tough one. On the one hand, it's a finely done book but on the other hand, it's not really a Hulk book and for something called "The Incredible Hulk" that seems to be a disappointment. For the really big Hulk fans there's enough there to hang on to and for the World War Hulk fans who want the complete story from all angles, it's a good book to pick up. For those who just want the main World War Hulk storyline or want to see what the Hulk's up to these days, it's not so good. So take that as you will.

Death Note Volume 12 -- Again, just as I think they're going in one direction in this story the rug gets pulled out yet again. The cliffhanger from the last volume gets tied up rather quickly and we move right into a Western style showdown (by "Western" I'm referring to the old cowboy movies with the hero and villain standing off). This majority of this volume occurs during the standoff as each side reveals their plan to take the other down (one side narrates to the reader while the other narrates out loud). I'd rather not spoil anything but you know that one side has to win, the only question is how. And in the end, just when you think everything's been tied up nicely a character in the epilogue throws another twist into the mix with his own theory of what really happened leaving the reader in doubt. Which leaves you wondering, is the world really better off with what happened? Ending the story one these questions is interesting and leaves the reader thinking. And the showdown is well done though somewhat confusing to keep track of with all the twists. I had to read over things a few times to keep track of them... though I also blame some of that on my personal issues of keeping track of all the Asian names. But given the twists and turns the story took up until this point, it just makes sense. And at first I was shocked to get to the standoff so early in this volume and have to span so long but it really built up the tension that way. Though I think it worked for me here as it was in one volume, having to read each chapter on their own may have dragged it on a little too long. It was definitely an interesting and entertaining series and I'm glad I read it. It does make my recommended reading list.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More reviews -- The Walking Dead (keeping spoilers to a minimum)

The 5th and 6th volumes of the Walking Dead came in the mail yesterday and I polished them off last night despite also playing 2 hours of badminton. I just couldn't put them down. :) And to clarify, I had read "Books" 1 and 2 which are hardcover collections that contain 2 volumes (a total of 12 monthly issues) so that's why the number might seem a bit off. Volumes 1 and 2 were in book 1. Volumes 3 and 4 were in book 2. And since book 3 is a little ways off I picked up the Trade Paperbacks this time. Now on to the review (one review for both books)...

The Walking Dead volumes 5 and 6 -- Volume 5 picks up with the small group of survivors (what's left of them) exactly where volume 4 left them but it's not long before their lives take yet another twist (as if being surrounded by zombies wasn't enough). And in this case, it's witnessing a helicopter crash but their search for survivors lead to a whole new can of worms, the "Governor" and his group of survivors. Without giving too much away, let's just say the Governor has taken a different approach to survival than Rick and the gang and it doesn't take long for their approaches to clash. And that's what volume 6 is all about, the beginning of that clash. These two volumes are actually quite chilling despite the focus being somewhat off the zombies. It's the actions of the survivors this time around. And for those who think that maybe Rick has gone too far in his actions, in the Governor you have someone a teensy bit further (the "teensy bit" there is somewhat sarcastic). And maybe it's that human versus human element that makes the violence here a little more grotesque but it can't take all the credit, these two volumes definitely up it a notch or two. And it's not just a shot or two, they make sure to spread it out so the reader can really get a sense of what's happening. In some ways it kinda reminded me of how Alan Moore stretched out Jack the Ripper's final killing in From Hell. It's not just one shot or a scream, it's page after page. Except in this case, nobody is dead yet. So yeah, it's definitely a mature readers book and not one for the squeamish. Having said all that, the story continues to be excellent though somewhat slow paced here do to the focus on certain events. And the art continues to catch the carnage and emotion well. I can't wait to see what happens next. The Walking Dead makes my recommended reading list. The only question that remains for me is to pick up the individual issues (now that I'm pretty much caught up) or go with the trade paperbacks still (which I'm considering due to the book's apparent irregular shipping schedule). The monthly thing might be nice but it's also nice to get a full 6 issues to read at a time. I know with volume 6 I'd kinda be disappointed when an issue or two focussed on that one horrific event only where as with the volumes, it's just part of the bigger story. So yeah, I might stick with the TPBs for now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A quick comment on She-Hulk's new writer

Over the weekend the new writer for She-Hulk was announced and it's Peter David. I'm somewhat surprised by the news but it makes a lot of sense. I think he's a good match for the title. I had said that I wasn't enjoying this title as much as before and was waiting to see who the new writer was and how he/she did on the title. With Peter David I feel better about giving the book another chance. I just hope they bring in a new artist as well.

Oh yeah, I was a little disappointed on Friday that my latest order from Chapters (the 5th and 6th The Walking Dead TPBs) didn't come in. But not having them to read meant I could spend a bit more time working on Divine Leap. Though not as much time as I would have liked with the whole Father's Day thing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for June 13th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

It's interesting looking at my stats counter for this blog and seeing what brings people in. I seem to be creeping up in hit counts and it seems to be moving away from searches for "She-Hulk's butt" to reviews about particular books or info on the Hulk's wife. So I guess that's a plus though I kinda wonder if people actually find what they're looking for or even read what I post. Anyhow, I have two books to review this week with World War Hulk #1 and Elephantmen: The Pilot hitting the shelves. On top of that, I have The Walking Dead Book 2. So let's jump right in:

World War Hulk #1 -- I had a lot of concerns going into this book given my feelings towards Civil War and how Marvel handled that mess. So with this one I've decided to try and limit my reading a little. I'm going with the main series, the Hulk series, and the X-Men one. That leaves out the Frontline stuff, Gamma Corps, and all the other tie ins and such. So now that the story has started what do I think of it? That's a tough question. This book seemed to have quite a few positives while still holding on to a few negatives. With the prologue out and everything this issue can skip the usual slow build up to the story. The action pretty much starts right from the get go with just a quick re-cap by the Hulk to let people (comic characters and readers alike) know just what's going on. This is useful in establishing the Hulk though as I still see so many people equating the Hulk to a brainless brute. This Hulk controls the situation and upon arriving on Earth stands up and says "I was betrayed and I want those responsible. I'll give you 24 hours and then there's hell to pay." I think that was necessary to show where the character's at and I'm glad that it was Pak (the current writer of the Hulk series) who gets to write this as I'd be worried about another writer making a mess of it. In fact, I had a better feeling for the overall characterization here. I didn't get the gutt wrenching moments I got in Civil War where I screamed "He/she did what??? That makes no sense???" Okay, maybe the She-Hulk think bugged me a bit. I mean, why is she there? Last we saw she was de-powered and had a grudge to settle with Stark. Now she's back and taking orders from him? She doesn't even seem to care that this is her cousin who's threatening to level New York. Please get your writers/editors on the same page Marvel! I loved the Dr Strange/Iron Man scene and how both handle it differently. Where as Tony is all about the quick fix (attack back/send the Hulk off to another dimension) Strange is all about settling this as they should have in the first place (putting their personal affairs in order and taking responsibility for their actions/not shipping the Hulk off to be someone else's problem). I have mixed feelings about the Black Bolt thing, in some ways it's a bit of a slap in the face to the character to have him beaten off panel but on the other hand, it does serve the story on several levels to have it done so. One level is that it puts the readers right there with the other characters, as the Hulk pulls out the beaten body of Black Bolt we go "Wow! He took out Black Bolt?" with everyone else. Plus, the fight with Black Bolt isn't really the story people are interested in. And then you have the Iron Man encounter. I was surprised it happened so quickly but I'm actually happy because it makes sense. It would have been pointless to have Iron Man stay back until the end. In his new position he'd be right in the middle of things. It does make me wonder what the finale will be, I'm starting to lean towards the Sentry. Or the Void but I don't know where the Void left off. I did feel the art wasn't Romita's best work. Some of the full page spreads of the Hulk/Iron Man battle are great to look at but some of the other panels just seemed rushed or something. And the writing was pretty simple, establish the story and fight. It was well done overall so I can't really fault Pak for anything here. And it had a better flow to the issue than Planet Hulk did. So in the end, yes, it does make it to my recommended reading list. Despite some faults it's still a pretty solid comic. It may not be the huge blockbuster earth shattering storyline that maybe some people are looking for but I think it has the makings of being the start to just a great comic book series that isn't meant to "shake things up".

Elephantmen: Pilot -- Well, instead of the double story we've been getting in the regular Elephantmen series this one off gives 3 stories (not counting the "story" that glues them together). To explain, in this book you have Miki, the cab driver who picked up Hip after his big fight, downloading comics in the break room. We get to see three of these comics, all of which are fictional stories about the "adventures" of the Elephantmen and Hip in particular. So they're all comics within a comic. The first comic is a Will Eisner's The Spirit inspired piece which is pretty solid. The second is a sci-fi piece with Hip exploring a planet to determine if intelligent life exists (there's a story behind it). This one just felt a little weaker and didn't really seem to fit well in the allotted pages. And the third was my least favourite with it almost seeming to be an excuse for Churchill to draw women with their breats hanging out. I guess in some ways it could be seen as a statement of the world of comics because hey, it's just a comic within the comic right? And the first two weren't showing this. But it didn't feel that way as I read through the whole story. If they had just shown the cover and had the characters react to it then I could see that. This just felt wrong for the book. Then the Miki story shifts to where the last Elephantmen issue left off, with the meteor falling from the sky. Well, I liked how it tied in to the series that way. And last off you get a gallery of Elephantmen by various artists. A sort of collection of what if's that combine Elephantmen with an artist's other work like Campbell drawing one that merges Elephantmen with Danger Girl. They were mildly interesting but not really worth reporting on in my mind. So overall, I'd have to say it's not really a strong showing for the Elephantmen series. It's okay for fans of the series to see a different spin on the Elephantmen but seems unnecessary (especially that third story). And any new fans would just be wondering "What the...???" So, although not a bad book I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave it off my recommended reading list. If you're a fan of the series however, you might want to check it out.

The Walking Dead Book 2 (issues 13 - 24) -- This series continues to impress me. I'm still not as big a fan of this artists as I was for the original one but it still works. As they settle in to their new "home" and people come and go (the "going" is mostly due to the zombies of course) the story continues to develop and the characters continue to evolve. I think one of the best parts for me is watching the main character's deterioration as so much weight is put on his shoulders. In the first book he wonders how it's possible his ex-partner (he's a cop remember) deteriorated to the point that he was at and now he seems to be following along. That kind of thing just isn't something you could do with your traditional zombie story because by now the military would be stepping in. It really is a well crafted story with multi-levelled characters doing what they can to not only survive but make a life for themselves without the promise of someone coming to rescue them. The moral dilemmas come up one after the other and a person's ethical code seems to shift as the reality of the situation settles in. And just when you think the zombies are the problem something comes up to turn your world upside down. Despite some possible flaws in the art or layouts of the talk bubbles (I know, that's weird thing to bring up but sometimes they are arranged in a way that I don't know which one to read next) I'm really loving this series. And although it happily takes on the "zombie story" genre, it's so much more than that. It definitely makes my recommended reading list and I hope the next two trade paperbacks are in my mailbox so I can devour them this weekend. By "devour" I mean "read voraciously" but I wanted to put a zombie reference (albeit a bad one) in there somewhere. And doing this also allowed me to use the word "voraciously" which also fits in with the whole zombie thing.

And speaking of zombies, I was told yesterday that Wednesday was "Blog like it's the end of the world" day (or something like that). Basically you were supposed to blog like zombies really did come to life. You were supposed to have fun with it while also trying to work other people's blogs in, "confirming" their stories and such to make it a community thing. Unfortunately I found out too late. Maybe next year if they do it again and I remember.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for June 6th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

It was a busy week by my standards with 5 books coming in. We had Buffy #4, Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #4, Lone Ranger #6, Omega Flight #3, and Dark Tower #5. Plus, my copy of The Walking Dead Book 2 came in the mail. Unfortunately I'm not quite done that book yet so that review will have to wait.

Buffy #4 -- So the first storyline comes to a close... kinda. Those looking for closure will probably be disappointed here as it's clear that Whedon is concentrating on building the overall season 8 storyline. Though some questions are answered many more still remain (or are brought up). The dialogue remains Whedon true and true as do certain little additions to the story (like Buffy talking about her lips being chapped before going into battle). And the art remains strong. There was one scene where I was a little confused where it appeared as though Buffy was channeling Willow or something. I didn't quite get that but maybe I have to re-read it. I was really impressed with Willow's strength in this issue though. Her facing of death and a whole bunch of pain on the way to getting there was very impressive (or possibly scary). I am interested to see if the conversation between Buffy and the military guy concerning their motives is brought up again (is it because they are women in power or is it just as he says, the power alone). I'm a pretty big Buffy fan so of course I'm still recommending this book but I do really enjoy it.

Marvel Zombies/ Army of Darkness #4 -- And yet again we get to blame Quicksilver for something and in this case it's the zombification of all the heroes. Though to be fair, he did think he was saving his sister and didn't know it was Mystique. Most of this book is Ash versus Doom in a war of words. And in the end we have Ash being a complete idiot. I'm not sure I liked that part so much. On the one hand, after all that Ash has been through in his life he's not one to trust someone who is imprisoned, especially one with powers, but on the other hand it is the Enchantress and she is being imprisoned by Doom (just like Ash was) so it's not that out there either. But in some ways this book seemed to fall into the usual "calm before the storm" as it sets things up for the next (and last) issue. And the other artists taking over for the last few pages, that kinda irked me. It's almost like we're hit with a new story or something with such a drastic change. But as I've said before, I'm a big advocate of having one artist do a book. All in all it was more Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness fun and I'm sure if you've read the series this far you'll enjoy this book too. And if you haven't been reading the series I recommend it for someone looking for some fun zombie fighting/Ash wisecracking. And if you go with the collected version that they're bound to put out you'll probably get all the covers to all the printings in a gallery in the back which I'm kinda sad that I'll be missing out on as the covers really are quite cool. And I'm not about to start picking up every printing of each issue.

Omega Flight #3 -- Well at least some of the team is coming together and at least everyone has appeared now. I'm still not a big fan of Omega Flight being almost entirely American (or alien). The comment from one character that it wasn't about being Canadian but serving Canada makes some sense but it still irks me that the Canadians just gave up and threw in the towel before this series even started. And really, having the guy use the Gladiator suit seemed a little lame. Ok, he needs it to keep his powers in check but they can't change the colour scheme and get rid of the maple leaf? It seems that the writer is trying to twist things so that it makes some sort of sense for an American to basically be wearing a Canadian flag and it's not really working for me. And I wasn't a big fan of the art at times. It just didn't look like a strong outing for Kolins. Some faces looked rather funny and USAgent looked like he had distorted arms in some panels. And as for the colouring, it just looked too fuzzy for me. Maybe I'm just biased but this still isn't really working for me as a series. It's so much better than previous attempts at an Alpha Flight series but it still doesn't feel right for me. Though some may like it, I'm still looking for a Canadian superteam book and this isn't it for me so I just can't put it on my recommended reading list.

Lone Ranger #6 -- I felt this book was a bit of a step in the right direction. I thought the artist did a better job of showing what's happening and telling the story. I thought the writing was better and it was easier to read than some of the previous issues. But all in all, I didn't feel it was enough to make me reconsider my choice of dropping this book. Maybe now that this storyline has pretty much come to a close the book can pick up a bit and maybe I'll regret it. And I know the book will work for many people but it didn't for me. And that's why I'm not recommending it though it falls into the category of something you should probably check out for yourself to see if it's for you.

Dark Tower # 5 (of 7) -- I haven't been overwhelmingly positive about this series in a while either but just like the Lone Ranger, this issue seemed to pick up a bit. Though there were parts where it was a lot to take in and figure out (especially for someone who hasn't read the novel), it just seemed to be presented better here than in the previous issues. And I didn't find Jae Lee's art jarring or confusing. As I believe I've said before, his work is really hit or miss with me and it depends a lot on the subject matter he's drawing. And this issue seemed to settle on a subject matter that suited him whereas previous issues, not so much. I just think the way this book was put together with someone picking story elements from King's work, Jae Lee drawing the pictures, and then Peter David coming in and trying to fit some narrative and dialogue to those pictures, may not be the best approach to making a comic. It may work with some and it's pretty close to how Stan Lee used to work but I don't find it working here so much. Which is why at the moment I'd go with only recommending this book to Stephen King fans (especially to those already familiar with the comic medium, other Stephen King fans may not get it) and possibly just comic fans looking for something a bit different. But if this was an ongoing book I would have probably dropped it by now.

Now I'm looking forward to finishing up the Walking Dead book 2. It's been great so far and I'm almost done. And then I want to fit in some time over the summer to finish up watching the Dead Like Me season 2 DVDs, the Alien Nation complete series DVDs, and possibly Battle Star Galactica season 1 DVDs (courtesy of my brother). But I'm not sure where I'll find the time. Especially now that I'm back to working on my webcomic (albeit much more slowly than I had been).

Friday, June 01, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 31st, 2007 -- SPOILERS

I only had one book this week (New Avengers: Illuminati #3) but not to worry, I have plenty to review. I also picked up the Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 hardcover, The Walking Dead Book 1 (collecting issues 1 through 12), From Hell, and the Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways TPB.

New Avengers: Illuminati #3 -- I just wasn't impressed by this book. Everything about it seemed weak and done just because they had to fit the Illuminati into Secret Wars some how. But there wasn't much meat to the story and it doesn't seem to make much sense. I don't even know where this is supposed to fit. Obviously it's after Secret Wars but it seems to be before Secret Wars 2 as they are surprised to find the Beyonder (not on Earth at this point) taking on a physical form. But he did that in Secret Wars 2, taking on a couple forms before deciding on a look for himself. And he's experiencing physical sensations which he then does again on Earth in Secret Wars 2? On top of that, he's a mutant Inhuman? Since when? I thought they had already established that he was a cosmic cube or some such and all that. Now they seem to be re-writing that? I'm lost. I usually get lost when the Beyonder gets involved but now more so. And it seems really lame to take the Beyonder and make him an Inhuman, it takes away the cosmic element and makes him seem weak. And on top of that Black Bolt comes across like a very irresponsible King of the Inhumans. Either he doesn't remember an Inhuman that disappeared upon being exposed to the Terrigen Mists or it happens to a lot of Inhumans and they just keep going on like it doesn't matter. Either way, Black Bolt really seems out of the loop and that's not like him. I'm hoping that maybe it's some time travel thing as the Beyonder has had the ability for time manipulation in the past. Maybe he's a future Inhuman who came back in time after being exposed. But now I'm just trying to come up with some sort of explanation to compensate for a bad idea in my opinion. And yes, we get it, Black Bolt can't talk. How many times do we need silent panel after silent panel showing him run through emotion after emotion while nobody says anything? At least have Xavier say something. I don't typically like these sort of retcons but I've been trying to give this series a chance. This issue pretty much typified why I don't like them and it won't be on my recommended reading list.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 -- I had been eager to take a look at this series as it was getting amazing reviews by critics and fans. And finally, the hardcover collection came out and it's just in time for the second series, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, to start. The first thing you notice about this book is the stunning artwork. Not overly detailed nor cartoony, the mouse designs and the settings are really pretty amazing. And it's coloured so well that you really get immersed in the world of these mice. You're right there as they battle giant snakes and crabs (giant for them, little for us but you kinda forget that as you're reading). Although the storytelling and narrative seem simple they tell a much wider story and it's a very intriguing one. Some parts seem a little "hectic" but it's mostly in the fighting which makes sense, you can either show a fight from outside or put the reader right in the middle of it. And if you're going to show mice fighting, it almost makes sense to put the reader right in the middle of it as the action engulfs them. I'm not sure I'll be adding Mouse Guard to my subscription list but I'm currently leaning towards picking up the next series in a collected format. In some ways, I think the series worked better in that format anyways. Although talking mice with swords and spears might not be for everyone, I do put this as on my recommended reading list as I think it's worth checking out.

Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways -- As much as I disliked Civil War I figured that since I decided to stick with the Runaways series I might as well see what happened with them during the whole Civil War thing. Yet again, we have SHIELD (and possibly Stark but it's not clear how much he knows about it) playing the villain again. To start off with they have put the guy in charge of the "Cube", a prison that houses Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy. This guy likes to run experiments on aliens knowing that it's not breaking the law because they aren't US citizens. And SHIELD et al look the other way. That seems really stupid considering some of the people he's put in charge of (Marvel Boy for example). As well, the SHIELD officers dictate their level of response to the Runaways on what the public reaction may be. Attacking children would be bad so they don't really do much, when they realize one of the Runaways is a cyborg they use extreme measures on him because the public won't mind them ripping him to shreds. So yeah, my distaste for what Marvel is doing with their "heroes" continues. But despite all that, I kinda liked the story and such. You have your typical misunderstanding that leads the two teams to fight and then the "let's team up against a common foe" moment. The characters are well written and in character (which makes sense as the writers of both Runaways and Young Avengers acted as consultants on it) and the art is pretty solid. My only minor gripe might be that Victor's hair seemed rather light in colour when he's usually portrayed as having dark hair. And in typical Runaways fashion they leave the war to the adults and just keep going on with their typical "runaway" approach to life. But the teams have quite a few nice bonding moments together. So yeah, despite my feelings towards Civil War this book was good to read so I'd actually recommend it. Though if you've been reading either Runaways or Young Avengers you probably already have and if you haven't been reading those then you may be a little lost (but not much). I do wonder where they go with Marvel Boy now that he seems to be in charge of the Cube and with a real hatred towards humanity.

The Walking Dead Book 1 -- Another book I bought just because of the positive hype and reviews it's been getting. To start, it's a zombie story. And you have a lot of your usual zombie stuff in here. Even the beginning, with a cop waking up from a coma to find the world infested with zombies, almost feels done so many times over. Yet the book seems to have a fresh idea to it. The characters are human, reacting to the zombies and the events that follow differently. And that has a very different feel to it than most zombie stories for me. And the driving force behind it is that this is an ongoing story. Where as zombie films or novels have a distinct end which usually involves the military showing up or the survivors finding some remote island or something, this doesn't. This is an ongoing, never ending (as far as we know) story of survival. People's lives will go on, they'll get older, get pregnant, find meaning in their lives, etc. All while trying to survive the zombies. And that seems appealing to me. This book had two artists working on it and I preferred the first. Though his style may seem somewhat more "cartoony" it worked for me. Characters seemed a little more distinct and their emotional reactions, although exaggerated, resonated a bit more for me. Not that the second artist was a slouch or anything. It worked for me too but not quite as much as the first. I'll definitely be picking up the second book and possibly going monthly at some point so it's making it to my recommended reading list. Though be warned, it's zombies so the book does get somewhat graphic at times. Maybe not horrible over the top gore but ... they are zombies after all. :)

From Hell -- Wow! What a book. It took me a while to get through the start of the book, to get used to the art and be able to recognize the various characters. And then there was Gull's long winded history of civilization. Okay, maybe not "civilization" but it was long. But yet again Moore shows why some consider him the greatest writer in the comics/graphic novel medium. With his level of detail in both researching the story and interweaving a bit of fantasy to it you just can't help but be amazed by his work. I really can't say any more about his work than what has already been said. Truly amazing. The art seemed a little hard to get through at the beginning but as the book went on it really seemed to fit. It fit with the time that was being shown but also, Campbell's level of detail when drawing out the settings and the research he must have put into it are phenominal. It's truly a masterpiece but not for the occasional comic book reader. And also not to be taken too seriously as a historical piece (I doubt Alan Moore has any more of an idea as to who Jack the Ripper was than the rest of us). But definitely going on my recommended reading list.

Finally, as you can see, I still haven't come up with a cool system for rating the books. So this week I'm sticking with the "recommended" and "not recommended". If you have any ideas beyond that just let me know.