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.

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