Monday, December 31, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for December 26th, 2007 -- SPOILERS... BUT NOT SPIDEY SPOILERS

I know, I'm really late with these reviews. I only got my books on Saturday and it's been a busy couple of days. Only two books this week and neither one of them is Amazing Spidey so if you're looking for that, click the next blog on your search. Instead we have Hulk VS Fin Fang Foom and Freddy VS Jason VS Ash #3.

Hulk VS Fin Fang Foom One Shot -- This book really seems to capture the old style Marvel comics. A quick story in 22 pages with a big simple fight. Even the art seems to be Kirby-esque almost. So in that sense, it was a nice throwback to when I was young. And there were a few cute little jokes and one liners (the purple tights comment made me smile) that are typical of Peter David's work. Yet despite all this and my desire to like Peter David's work, I still felt pretty let down by this book. First up, it's advertised as a bigger special book that you pay extra for but the main story is still the standard 22 pages (with Fin's first appearance being reprinted to add pages). And really, the 22 pages aren't really all that special. You get a bit of a cool build up to the fight and then a pretty quick battle that's actually pretty disappointing. Though the Hulk keeps up the humour throughout. I hate to say it but despite the positives, I just can't recommend this book.

Freddy VS Jason VS Ash #3 -- Well, after I felt some disappointment with the last issue I'm happy to say I enjoyed this one. I still don't know if they are really using the Ash character to his potential but he has his moments. Maybe it's just that he has to share top billing here that's bothering me. Anyway, we get lots of cool hack and slashing, some story progression (yes, there is a story here), and a fairly cool cliff-hanger ending. The art was pretty good but seemed somewhat inconsistent at times, especially with Ash. This issue would make my recommended reading list but I guess the big question is whether the whole series will, and for that we'll have to wait and see. So far I think there's a little something for fans of all three and maybe something for non-fans who still know a little something about them.

So I guess that's it for this week. I did get some TPBs read though. Quickly...
Strangers in Paradise Volume 1 -- Loved it. Thought it was a great book.

Ex Machina Volume 1 -- Thought the writing was amazing and a great story, found the art somewhat distracting at times though. It was great for the most part but every once in a while it seemed as though the people he got to model for him were over-acting their parts and it came through in the characters' body language. Still an amazing book though.

Ghost World -- Fun and interesting. I'm glad I read it but I wouldn't push it on anyone else though. It's definitely for a certain type of reader.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Weekly Comics Review for December 19th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Yeah, I'm late with these reviews, I know. I'm not sure when next week's will be up either since comics will be delayed until Friday at my comic shop due to Christmas. Here are this week's reviews though for Warbound #1 (of 5), Incredible Hulk #112, Angel: After the Fall #2 (of 12), She-Hulk #24, World of Warcraft #2 (of 5 I believe).

Angel: After the Fall #2 -- The art still bothers me a bit in this book. Sometimes it's not getting the likenesses down and other times I think it's something else. One thing that kinda bugged me was how many big-breasted women with tiny waists were shown. I can almost understand it with Spike's situation but then there was Nina, the werewolf. The story is still interesting though I almost wanted to see a bit more progression. It almost seemed like things were slowed down so the issue could end on the latest big reveal. Though I didn't find it to be too much of a surprise. So it wasn't the strongest issue I've read but as an Angel fan, I'm still enjoying it. And they have matched the characters well. So it makes my recommended reading list but only for the Angel/Buffy fans out there.

Warbound #1 -- I was actually somewhat doubtful that this team could keep my interest but this first issue is pretty good. Pak does a great job of keeping me interested in them and having Kate back with SHIELD is interesting. She does seem to be the perfect match for this book given her history. I was only mildly surprised by the reveal at the end (well, the first "end") that it was the Leader behind things. I was actually more surprised to see him with the brace on his head. It almost seemed like another "Let's move some of our Ultimates ideas into the regular universe". But overall, I thought it was a solid enough story, good writing, and fine artwork. So I was pretty impressed by the first issue. It actually makes my recommended reading list for the time being.

Incredible Hulk/Herc #112 -- I'm still not sold on this idea of replacing the Hulk with Hercules. I find it to be a somewhat decent story and the character to be interesting enough but I'm not so sure it should be in the Hulk book. I'd probably be happier had they stopped the Hulk book altogether and given Herc is own mini-series or something. The writing is good and the art is okay (though inconsistent at times which I believe was due to the two artists listed in the credits). I don't think it makes my recommended reading list though, perhaps my "suggest you check it out for yourself" list. I'll keep with it for now but I can't seem myself going long-term with this book. Either bring the Hulk back or end this series for now.

She-Hulk #24 -- We get to see a bit more of She-Hulk's new life as well as the new Skrull that's tagging along with her. It may not have the over the top zanyness of Dan Slott's run but we knew that going in to Peter David's run. And I can respect that, to try and mimic Dan Slott's work just wouldn't work very well. I do seem to be enjoying this new direction and I'm curious to see where things are going with it which is almost to be expected from a Peter David story (that and that there will still be some comedy put in when possible/appropriate). And although the art doesn't blow me away, I think it's still pretty solid for the book. So it makes my recommended reading list but I know it's not for everyone. People looking for more of Dan Slott type stuff may have a hard time getting over the change but I do think it was necessary.

World of Warcraft #2 -- To summarize this book, the human kicks butt in the fight that was left over from last issue. Then he kicks butt in the arena fights. That's pretty much it. I'm pretty disappointed in this series. I'm not a World of Warcraft fan but I know there's more to the game (and the story behind the game) than what's being shown here. There are minor hints to that history in some parts but it's really not enough. So far, it's been your pretty typical "uber-human with no memory in a fantasy land". And the art really doesn't do it for me. Sometimes it may just be a style thing but other times it seems that the art doesn't match the story. There was one point where one of the spectators yelled out that a character was decapitated yet to me, the picture seemed to show him being slashed across the chest. I'm a bit of a completist so I tend to finish any mini-series I start but this one is borderline for me. So far, it just doesn't seem that interesting to me. So unfortunately, it doesn't make my recommended reading list. Though to be fair, I'm sure there are fans of the game or the genre that may enjoy this book so I wouldn't say to avoid at all costs or anything.

So that's it for this week. I also finished League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier but I don't have time for the review at the moment. I'm not even sure I'll ever really be able to review that book properly. At the moment, I'm feeling pretty disappointed in it. Maybe the more scholarly out there will enjoy it. And maybe it was just too "out there" for me but the book just became way too much of a chore to read. Maybe as I let it soak in and read more stuff on it (so I understand a bit more about some of the characters) I'll have a better outlook on it. But we'll have to wait and see. So up next I believe will be the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. Ex Machina is also on my pile of books to read and Ghost World should be coming my way in 2 days. ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for Dec. 12th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

I know, I said I'd get the Zuda reviews up at some point. I'm about half way through typing them up but I've been swamped at work as of late so they got delayed. Here are my normal reviews for now. I had three books this week, Elephantmen: War Toys #1 (of 3), Captain Carrot...The Final Ark #3 (of 3), and Marvel Adventures: Hulk #6.

Elephantmen: War Toys #1 -- Synopsis: Africa and China go to war with Europe, having been almost entirely wiped out by a virus, serving as the battlefield. And here we have the Elephantmen (MAPPO's "War Toys") entering the fight. The stories coming out of the Elephantmen universe continue to blow me away with some great writing and amazing art. Perhaps you could say that this issue spends a lot of time telling us what we already know about the Elephantmen in the narrative but you don't notice it too much with the events going on along with the narrative. This is a war story so be prepared for some graphic violence and some mature themes. The ending of this book really had me psyched for the next issue, I can't wait to see what comes next. This definitely makes my recommended reading list.

Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #3 -- Well, it seems the "Ark" is now fully understood. I was actually enjoying this issue more so than the previous two up until the end. Then I just felt let down. Yes, I understand it was meant to be a cliffhanger of sorts but this really didn't feel like an ending at all. Their planet is being flooded, some (including Pig Iron) are left behind presumably to die (especially Pig Iron), and the survivors are left in animal form on the main DC Earth with still human level intelligence (no way of talking though) and their powers (minus Captain Carrot himself who needs his magic carrots). And speaking of Captain Carrot, he's now part of Zatanna's act. Honestly, it's just too much left open and not enough closure for me. I guess it's been said on the DC boards that if there is enough demand they'll continue the story but this just seemed like a cheap tease to me. It was solicited as a 3 issue series and it didn't even seem to finish any sort of storyline. So no, it doesn't make my recommended reading list. And as someone who actually hoped to see Captain Carrot return I'm now saying he should disappear. Or if he does come back I'll probably stay away unless DC can convince me they'll handle it differently.

Marvel Adventures: Hulk #6 -- I was actually somewhat disappointed in this issue. Not enough to give up on the series but I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the previous issues. I didn't find the artist was the right fit for this book though I didn't find it all that strong to suggest moving the art team to a more mature book either. And I found the writing somewhat missed its mark with all the jumping around in time and having the various characters narrating. It just seemed difficult to get into any of the story. It's still a pretty decent kids book but not quite as good as it has been. So it doesn't quite make my recommended reading list, it's more of a "suggest checking out if this sort of thing is your 'bag'" kinda thing.

Well that's it for now. I'll try to get those Zuda reviews done soon. But for now it's back to work. It's oddly quiet around the office as everyone else has gone off to the holiday lunch. No rest for the wicked I suppose.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Zuda Reviews for December 2007 Competition

I know I said these would be done a while back but the old job suddenly exploded in my face and I've been a little swamped. I am glad that I was able to take some time to let the current crop soak in. So here goes...

Adventures of Maxy J Millionaire -- This story combines elements of a kid's story (the talking stuffed toy, the cartoon almost child-like art, etc. with very adult elements (the prostitute Maxy encounters for example). The 8 pages presented do a great job of getting the story moving and giving you an idea of what to expect. And it is a pretty clever idea with interesting characters. I'm just not sure it's something I'll be looking to read on a regular basis. Perhaps if it continues I'll wait until a good chunk is done before I decide for sure. But for now, though I think it's worth taking a look at it won't be getting my vote.

Araknid Kid -- Though the 8 pages don't really give us much of a backstory it's an intriguing intro to the character. Dropping the Araknid Kid straight in to battle is probably the best way to present this mute character who talks with pictures (reminding me of Artie from the X-Men). The art is solid with some pretty unique character designs. Though these 8 pages present a pretty standard story it's still enough to catch my interest somewhat. I'm a little unsure whether I could read a whole book or storyline with the Araknid Kid talking in pictures the whole time. I think it might be novel to start but it may get old at some point. So it's another book worth checking out but I don't think it will be getting my vote either.

Avaste Ye -- I have to be honest, this comic was coming in as the underdog right away as I typically can't seem to get in to strips with simple (I don't want to say "stickman") art. I know it sounds pretty bad of me to say that but I guess I'm just too much of a visual kind of guy and feel like I need something more. The story is at least pretty unique with the main character deciding to become a pirate and the jokes/punchlines had me chuckling slightly, which is more than I can say for similar webcomics I've seen of this style. I might recommend checking it out as well but it's not something I'd keep reading and it won't be getting my vote. Which is too bad, I'd really like to vote for someone coming from DrunkDuck. :)

Development Hell -- A webcomic for techies, these usually don't work for me. Yes, I work in the IT field. Yes, I've been in similar situations and laughed at the absurdity. But generally unless there's something unique to the characters the overnight gaming and stupid clients don't seem to be able to carry a cartoon. The art is pretty solid though is it just me or is the first and third panel on page 1 a copy/paste job along with the second panel on page 5? I'm sure this comic could find a niche and it's probably done better than many of the web comics with similar concepts but I have to say this is not one I'd go out of my way to recommend. And I won't be voting for it.

Frankie --Hmm... As someone with a bit of a liking for the classic monsters (Frankenstein's creature, Dracula, Mr Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, etc) I was intrigued with this one. And I was happy to see the creature referred to as the "monster" and not Frankenstein. Overall, it seems they have done their homework on this one and not going with the Hollywood-ized creature. The overall story and the tone that is set seems to be a decent continuation of the original novel. I'm not saying it lives up to the original but it's a good attempt. I don't know if I really feel that the art style matches the story yet the dark settings and the scene where the creature punishes the son are done extremely well. I don't know if this one is going to get my vote but I would like to see more and see where it's going from here. I don't know if I'd even recommend it, maybe just suggest checking it out, but for me (due to the above mentioned interest in the characters) it's something I might be interested in.

Ponbiki Z -- The art is a different style but I kinda like it and leaving it black and white probably fits. But I don't know how much I like the story. It didn't really strike me as unique or engrossing. Some of that may come from the way the story is told, the constant narration, even over details that are evident in the art, kinda detracts from it in my opinion. Though I suppose, given that it's the kid narrating then it could be argued that it makes sense. But from my perspective, it just made it less enjoyable to read. Overall, it's not something I'd recommend checking out and it won't be getting my vote.

Pray for Death -- This one had an interesting premise to me. A detective with a complex past being called in on the latest weird homicide. Right away I was intrigued to learn more about the past as well as the present. Are they connected? The art is interesting in its style and works pretty well for the story. The writing and dialogue is pretty solid and lets the story develop but my only gripe might be that the two stories could have been intertwined a bit more. What I mean is that you start off on page 1 with both, the killer's and detective's story presented. Then you don't see the killer again until page 3 in one panel. It made it a little unclear what was happening, whether these events were going on in parallel or were flashbacks to her previous case. I suppose you could do this intentionally but it didn't seem the best approach to me. Even when I got to the end I had to go back and re-read it to see the connection. It also seems that the victim's hair is red when you see her later but almost brownish at the beginning. That might just be me but it made me think it was two different couples. But enough nitpicking, I still think this could be an interesting story and the 8 page preview caught my attention. It's possible that after reading a bit more it's something I might recommend to others. So it may be getting my vote.

The Crooked Man -- This one seems to be a popular choice yet I didn't care for it. The art is pretty solid, the style fits the tone and setting of the story. But I just didn't get a good sense of the story from the 8 pages presented. I know I can't expect too much from 8 pages but after reading it I didn't have a sense of who the characters were. There was no connection made for me beyond maybe a little when the people turn their backs on the officer as he tries to save the man who has been shot. But that was short lived. I don't think I'd come back to read any more of this book so it won't be getting my vote. Which is too bad as it appears that a lot of work went in to it to research the time period (visually and storywise).

The Mundane Overrated Misadventures of Spudman -- I actually kinda liked this one. The art is solid. The characters look pretty unique and the facial expressions are great. I found myself smiling throughout and chuckling at parts. The story seems to be a pretty unique one that I haven't seen before and it makes me curious to see more. I can see it as a book that might not appeal to everyone but it looks like it could be a lot of fun. So it's something I might recommend and is a possible vote getter for me.

Word of Power -- This one seems to have some potential with the characters but there just wasn't enough story in the 8 pages to hook me. The art is solid manga style stuff and not the over the top stuff that I don't really care for. And it showed the story well. But from those 8 pages I got that this guy plays guitar in a subway, has the hots for a woman who comes by regularly (but can't get up the courage to talk to her), and spaces out from time to time with some visions of playing guitar in a huge concert. I just don't know if that's enough of a story to hook me. The write up talks about making friends with a reclusive composer who may be more than what he seems but not much more than that. I guess in some ways this is rather typical of manga with short chapters that only give you snippets of the story and keep you coming back to by the next part but in this case, I feel I need to see more before I'd vote for this one over the other stories or recommend it. So it won't be getting my vote either.

The 8 page limit really is hampering some people. A lot of times you have to read the blurb beforehand (or after) to see what the story is going to be about. I'd rather the 8 pages do that. So for me, it's looking like it'll be a last minute decision between Adventures of Spudman and Pray for Death with Frankie and Araknid Kid just barely falling out of consideration. I have a couple more weeks to make up my mind. :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Addendum to the previous post

One thing I forgot in my review of World War Hulk: Aftersmash, I'm getting extremely tired of Greg Land's use of wrestlers as models. Not only to use them as guides but to use their signature poses. At first I was kinda happy that he didn't use his standard Triple-H pose for Herc but it was about a second later that I was wondering why Herc was doing a Randy Orton impersonation. I suppose non-wrestling fans wouldn't catch it but I find it annoying. Put Herc in a Herc pose, not a wrestler's flex pose.

And in case you missed it, the next Zuda competition is up. I'll try to write up some reviews for each of them at some point but overall I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with this crop of comics. I'd rather see more from the first set of competitors.

Weekly Comic Reviews for December 5th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

A whopping three books this week with Buffy #9, World War Hulk: Aftersmash, and Ultimates 3 #1 coming out. I also decided to pick up Strangers in Paradise Volume 1 but it'll have to wait until I'm done the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (about half way through) and Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You!)".

Buffy #9 -- Brian K. Vaughan's Faith storyline comes to an end. I really enjoyed this storyline. I didn't expect Faith and Buffy to be at such odds with each other but it made for a very compelling story. I don't really want to go into too much detail but everything just worked for me. And I find Vaughan continues to nail the character's in dialogue and attitude. He seems to have been a perfect choice for this book (which made sense after I read his Runaways series). As for the art, I was still somewhat disappointed with Faith's look but it seems to have improved with each issue (or maybe I'm just more used to it). But other than that, the art remains high quality stuff. I really can't say enough good about this book. Then there's the epilogue at the end. I had just recently looked back at the Fray TPB so it was fresh in my mind. Now it's not to say that people who haven't read Fray will be lost or anything but it was a definite nod to those who have (and I highly recommend that you do). Overall (and in keeping things short), this book continues to make my highly recommended reading list.

World War Hulk: Aftersmash -- I had pretty low expectations going into this book. Sure, Pak was writing it but I wasn't overwhelmed with his latest Incredible Hulk issue. So I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this book. It had some interesting in depth stuff with various characters (Heroes for Hire, Tom Fowler, the Warbound) but I won't go into my Iron Man rant. And the art was pretty solid. I wouldn't consider it a "must read" for people who read World War Hulk but it seemed a better epilogue story than what we got in the Incredible Hulk book (which I suppose, to be fair, wasn't really an epilogue). So perhaps it doesn't quite make my "recommended" reading list but falls to a "suggested" reading list. Hmm.. Perhaps that's how I should rank books in the future; Recommended, suggested, take it or leave it, skip, and avoid at all cost. And I can play with stuff in between or for certain fanbases. But enough of that. Getting back to the review, one thing that I just had to laugh at (and BIG SPOILER coming up here) was Tom Fowler becoming the new Goliath. I mean really, kill off one Foster just to have another Foster step in to replace him? Are we even going to be able to tell them apart in the future? That just sums up some of the issues I have with comics as of late.

Ultimates 3 #1 -- I gotta admit, I was fairly disappointed with this book. Perhaps the shoes it had to fill were just too big or I had higher hopes for it but overall it didn't have much impact on me. First off I found the art fairly lacking. A lot of it had to do with the colouring, everything seemed to have the same fuzzy look where things just blurred into a big brown mess for me. For shots of the Ultimates sitting around the mansion I couldn't even distinguish the characters from the furniture and surroundings. I think they could have been a bit clearer here. And as the big finale comes up I had no clue what was going on, was that a magic bullet zipping around or what? And Valkyrie needs some serious support if you know what I mean. So yeah, the art didn't do it for me. Then there was the writing. Again, it just didn't seem to work. It seemed to rely on making the characters "bad-ass" and forcing "mature subject matter" in. Gratuitous shots of Tony and Natasha having sex, the "brother-sister" discussion with Cap (regarding Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch), Hawkeye's brooding comment about not calling him Clint (and threatening to kill anyone who does), Hank's overdose, etc... None of it really seemed natural and came off as forced. So by the time you get to the end and you get the big finale it just doesn't have much emotional impact on me despite the fact that it really should. I just think this was a poorly executed start. It may have been better to put the Ultimates in a more positive atmosphere and then pull the rug out. Now it just seems that there was no rug to begin with. It seems odd to me that the only thing I'm curious about is whether that doctor with the wood walking stick is who I think it is. And for an issue that seems to be pushing so many twists and turns that's probably not a good thing. Now I don't want to write off the entire series just yet and I'm hoping the story comes together better soon but for now, I have to say that this doesn't make my recommended reading list. It actually falls somewhere between suggested (as it may appeal to some) and "take it or leave it".

So that's it for this week. Have fun and drive safely. :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

High Moon Wins Zuda Competition

Congratulations to the creative team and everyone else behind High Moon for winning the first Zuda Competition. Though it may not have been my top pick I did feel that it was worthy of winning. I'm still not entirely sure if I'll keep reading it but I'll try out the next few pages to see. I am disappointed that I won't be seeing any more Raining Cats and Dogs as I really did like that one and wanted to see more of it. I guess that's one of the downsides to the Zuda set up, you get a tease of something you might like and it can disappear if it's not the one chosen by the majority.

Now I guess we wait and see what the next batch of competitors look like.

And just a quick comment on last week's Criminal Minds episode. I thought I'd chuckle at Frankie Muniz being the killer but I thought his performance was really good in the episode. What I did sorta chuckle at was a comic book creator having an agent who drove him around in a limo. :)