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.

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