Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for January 23rd, 2008 -- SPOILERS

It was definitely a busy week for me comics-wise... At least by my standards. Not only did I have 5 comics waiting for me this week (Astonishing X-Men, She-Hulk, Mice Templar, Freddy VS Jason VS Ash, and Ultimates) I also decided to pick up the third Buffy Omnibus. Then, to top things off, I find 3 Strangers in Paradise pocket books and an Ex Machina TPB waiting for me in my mailbox when I get home. So I have quite a bit of reading to do.

Astonishing X-Men #24 -- The last regular issue for Whedon and Cassaday before the Giant Sized issue hits. My biggest complaint about this book remains the delay between issues. After devouring each issue I'm left waiting for however long for the next part of the story. And yet again, we get some amazing work by both Whedon and Cassaday. I've been turned off by the X-Men for quite a while but this book is what I've been looking for all this time. Great characterization with depth, amazing dialogue, phenomenal art, and a cool story with twists and turns. And most importantly, a core X-Men story with every character getting the chance to shine. Honestly, I don't know what else I can say about this book. I've already gushed over it with each issue. So yes, obviously this issue makes my recommended reading list.

Ultimates 3 #2 -- After my less than positive review of the last issue I wasn't expecting much here but I was actually pleasantly surprised to a degree. First up, I didn't find the colours as washed out or at least they weren't as noticeable this time. I also didn't find the story as cluttered and messy as the previous issue. I thought the Hawkeye/Spider-Man thing was "meh" and my first thought was "why didn't Spidey's senses go haywire when Hawkeye shot him in the back?" but it didn't ruin the issue or anything. Thor's explanation of his speach change was a bit of a low point and I didn't really feel it felt right but again, it's not a big issue for me. Overall, I'm actually a little more interested in where the story is going though I groaned when Wolverine made his appearance on the last page. Yay! Another Wolverine appearance. So yeah, the books slides up a bit into "possible recommended reading" range but I'm still taking a wait and see approach to it. We have 3 more issues of this story to either keep the upward climb going or stumble badly.

She-Hulk #25 -- Peter David continues to put his stamp on this book. And as Shulkie is hell bent on staying out of the hero business (while at the same time tracking down a terrorist bomber) she gets pulled in to an intergalactic powder-keg (thanks in some part to her new Skrull friend). Though I probably should have seen the big twist coming I didn't and I have to applaud Peter for that. And I have to admit, I laughed at the intergalactic bounty-hunter's remarks about women. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing for me. It wasn't a break out issue or anything but I'm sure Peter David fans as well as She-Hulk fans would enjoy it. Plus, it's just good reading. Then came the first mini-story. I was pretty surprised to see the main story end so quickly and get thrown into this. At first I wondered what the heck it was (having no knowledge of "Man-Elephant" prior to this). It's not an exceptional story yet it does seem to make a very forgettable character a little more interesting with slightly more depth to him. I'm actually looking forward to seeing more of him all of a sudden. The last story now, a totally tongue in cheek She-Hulk story. This one I could have done without. I'm sure some people will get a laugh from it but it seemed more like a "What the..???" sorta cartoon strip. I wonder what was going through Peter's head when he knew he had to bring up John Byrne's She-Hulk. So in the end, this book does edge onto my recommended reading list. I know fans of Dan Slott's She-Hulk may feel they are missing out but I think Peter David's done a great job of continuing the character with his own style.

Freddy VS Jason VS Ash #4 -- I keep forgetting the order of names here and I'm sure I've mixed them up in previous reviews. Anywho, I kinda liked some parts of this issue. Ash being attacked by lots of little Freddy hands fits in so well with both of their stories. That seemed to be a nice touch. But overall, I just don't think they've really nailed the character of Ash. And artistically I felt this book was a bit of a letdown. Some of it may have been the inking. Some shots of Freddy seemed a little flat with thin inking lines. And Ash just didn't seem to be very consistent. It wasn't a huge disappointment but I don't find I'm enjoying this series as a whole as much as I think I should. It doesn't make my recommended reading list but I'm sure that doesn't matter to the fans that are already reading this series. Though I should point out I'm not saying it's that bad, I just think it has potential that it's not living up to and could be better in some parts.

Mice Templar #3 -- It took me a little while to remind myself of the back story here. And some of that back story (the mythological stuff) I still don't remember. But this was a pretty solid issue. The art was good, the story is building, the characters are interesting, and it has all the pieces of something great. I'm intrigued by it though I still find it slightly confusing trying to distinguish which mouse is which (I'm glad they have a tendency to repeat each others' names when talking). But it's an interesting story so far and makes my recommended reading list.

So that's it for this week. How about a story of my own now. No, not a comic story but a real events story. After picking up my comics I was waiting to cross the street when a woman pulling a cart of her belongings asked me for money. I said "No sorry, I don't have any money." Okay, it was a lie as I did have some money but I can't afford to give money to everyone that asks. Since I was stuck at the light she decided to persist asking for money for a hotel room. I thought that was rather odd, I've been asked for money for coffee or food but a hotel room? I said again "No sorry, I don't have any money." She replies "F**k you! I hate you too a**h**e!" and begins crossing the street (in front of traffic). I get a little upset so I replied "I'm sorry, I just don't have any money." She yells back "Yes you do! Go to the bank and get me some a**h**e!" I'm ashamed to say I found the event somewhat comical despite the sadness of knowing that there are people living on the street.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for January 18th, 2008 -- SPOILERS

I picked up a whopping 4 books this week so let's just get to it...

Angel: After the Fall #3 -- The biggest detractor for this book is still the art. Not only do I find the character likenesses off but sometimes the overall story telling just isn't there. The panel with the dragon spitting out Illyria had me confused for a bit, my first thought was that she somehow popped out of its chest/stomach. The writing is pretty solid though as this issue seems to answer a few things and take a couple twists and turns along the way. I was a little confused as to the time jumping and why Angel wouldn't say that he saw Illyria (it's not like it would be something new for Wes unless something else is going on). But I have to admit, I did not see that ending coming and I just though "Wow!" Suddenly I can't wait to read the next issue and the book inches it's way back up to my recommended reading list. Though obviously it's only really for Angel fans and even they may get turned away by the art.

World War Hulk: The Warbound #2 -- The main portion of this book was okay. The art was pretty solid for the most part (though I do have a complaint or two that I won't go into) and the writing was okay. But the overall story seemed somewhat lacking. The Leader quickly disappears and we're left with giant mutant bugs. Kinda cool I guess. And then a huge mutation of townspeople at the end. Meh. Hiroim shines in this book as his character is given the meaty parts. He shines even more in the second part of the book, a flashback to why he is "Hiroim the Shamed". I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this guy. Overall, although it's a pretty solid book I can't really see recommending it. For the most part because I really only see it appealing to Hulk fans and more importantly, Hulk fans who are fans of the Planet Hulk storyline. And even for them, it's not required reading. So perhaps it's something to check out to see if it's your cup of tea or if you're just looking for something to read.

The Incredible Hercules #113 -- Wow! Does Ares ever come off as a b*****d in this issue. I've found that generally, I still can't get a grasp of this character. In some stuff I've read he's a moron. Here, he's actually pretty smart but hellbent on killing Hercules which doesn't seem to fit for me either. They don't see eye to eye but this seemed somewhat extreme. But that confusion aside, the book is pretty well done with some nice moments and cool Hercules action (with the tease of a lot more to come). The art isn't the greatest and I barely recognized Ares on the first few pages but it gets the job done for the most part. I'm still disappointed that they decided to make this book Hercules' book with Banner (and another Hulk) running around in the other series but I guess life goes on. Overall, I'd put this in my marginally recommended reading list. Definitely not a must read but a good Herc story for fans of the character.

World of Warcraft #4 -- I have to say that I think this issue was an improvement and possibly a turning point in the series for me. The first 3 issues didn't impress me too much but now that the story seems to be growing it's finally starting to catch my interest. I'm still not the biggest fan of the art or anything but I suppose it could be a lot worse and for the most part, it gets the job done here. It's too early for this series to make it's way on to my recommended reading list but this issue helps it along. Plus, it had an advertisement for the new Dragonlance DVD which I didn't know about until now. :)

So that's it for my weekly comics. I did read through the new crop of Zuda Comics but I don't have time for the reviews at the moment. Though at the moment, I'm not feeling particularly great about this batch. Hopefully as I let them sink in something will come up.

Speaking of Webcomics I figure I should pass along a few links. This first one is a collection of resources to help you get started on your webcomic by Laura Milligan, it was pointed out to me on David Gallaher's High Moon Blog. The second contains some tips to marketing your comic now that you made it. Perhaps one day when I have something I feel is worthy of marketing I'll make use of those tips. :)

Which leads me to talk about Divine Leap. I haven't mentioned it in a while so maybe I should. Yes, I'm still trudging along on it. I'm currently working on issue 3 of chapter 2 with the entire issue being a test to see if I can get used to using a Tablet. I'm still not 100% happy with the result but then again, I never am. But I did get added to the Favorites List of two more DrunkDuckers which brings me up to a whopping 13. The reason I bring this up is because I was falling into another one of those "why do I bother?" periods where I question whether I should keep it going or not. At the moment, I'm pushing myself along because I just don't want to give up. But who knows, when I get to the end of chapter 2 I might feel that that's enough or at least that I need a break from it.

Enough babbling, I need to get back to work. See ya next week!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for January 9th, 2008 -- SPOILERS

Only two books this week and they're both Hulk books. Go figure...

Hulk #1 -- I've actually been reading a few reviews after reading the book myself and most seem pretty positive. My take on the book, poop. Yep, I didn't like it. In fact, I just wanted to toss it when I was done. Now first off, I know you don't want to answer everything in the first issue but this book raises so many questions. And they aren't even questions that should be pivotal to the story. I predict not all will be answered by the end of the series but even still, it's just too messed up. Why is She-Hulk working with Tony et al now? Why does she lecture Ross about the whole World War Hulk thing when Tony (the real mastermind behind it and the one she decked because of it) is standing right there? What's with Samson's haircut and why does he snap and deck the Red Guardian? Speaking of which, given the Red Guardian hasn't had powers in the past nor is his shield isn't Cap's so why wouldn't a punch from someone the strength of Samson pretty much KO him or send him flying? Why isn't She-Hulk making mention of the last time we saw Blonsky he was "permanently" de-powered by Tony and SHIELD and in their custody, now he's supposedly walking around Russia? I could go on but it just seems that so much of this book makes no sense. One thing I found absolutely hilarious was the huge gears showing out of the "soldier"'s back, they can do life model decoys and use scans from every part of your body for security yet the guard has some huge gears showing like he's a robot from some Ed Wood movie? And their rationale that SHIELD might be involved because nobody has guns that would fit in the Hulk's hands? Really? Nobody in the world would have guns that big? Heck, the Pantheon seemed to have a buttload. The Rick Jones scene is obviously set up to make you think Rick is the new Hulk, whether that's the case or not is the question I guess. And then we get to the big payoff in the end, Ross and Samson visitting Banner in his cell. I pretty much flipped it into the trash at that point. For me, it's way WAY too soon and the wrong way to bring him back. World War Hulk was a huge monumentous event for the character where he reached a level of anger and power where the earth itself shook beneath his feet when he walked. Suddenly Banner's back all snug and cozy in a glass cell. For me, it diminishes where the character was at the last we saw him and makes little sense story-wise. It seems to me that everyone involved would be more intent on keeping Banner in a suspended state for the time being and they wouldn't go to him so quickly with news of another Hulk running around or whatever else they're going to tell him. And through all this all I can think is why the heck I'm picking up the Incredible Herc with Hercules replacing the Hulk in that title when the Hulk's story seems to be continuing in this series. If Banner wasn't involved I could see it, now I just shake my head. Now I know I'm just being a wet blanket and considering the reviews I've seen it seems that this book is being well received but personally, I think it's horrible story telling. It wouldn't make my recommended reading list... Maybe I'd say it's something you should check out for yourself because opinions will obviously differ. And yes, I will finish out the series... I'm just stupid that way.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #7 -- I'm actually enjoying this series. Fun, non-continuity based stories of the big green guy. Yes, it's aimed for children but I don't care, I just like the fluff. The art seems to be improving as the series moves along and so long as you don't over-analyze it (funny I would say that after that last review) it's an enjoyable story. You even have a moment of depth when the Hulk considers that he may actually be able to live out his dream of being along (though I doubt it) if he keeps the Surfer's powers and just stays in space. Though this kind of thing is not for everyone, yet again, it makes my recommended reading list.

I also polished off two more volumes of Ex Machina (loved them, great story telling) and am working my way through volume 2 of Strangers in Paradise (a lot of fun and interesting stuff so far).

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for January 2nd, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Only two books this week, Buffy #10 and Ultimate Human #1. So let's get down to it shall we...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #10 -- Uhm... Wow! Some pretty big twists come up in this book. Buffy leading the slayers to steal? Willow keeping Kennedy (and herself) away from Buffy because of Tara's death making Willow the prime suspect for betraying Buffy... Well, plus if Buffy does get rid of all magic from the world then where does that leave Willow? Dawn reveals her "little" lie to Xander. Like so many Whedon/Buffy stories, it kinda takes a little while to digest and fully consider it. I know there will be a bit of a backlash (I've seen some) to these twists but personally, even though I obviously don't approve of their actions, it's not beyond the realm of possibilities. But enough about that, what about the nitty-gritty details. Well, to start, I actually found the first few pages a little weird to read. I had a bit of an issue following parts of the dialogue and such. I don't know if it's just me or what but sometimes I feel Joss's dialogue needs to be heard to fully get it, not just read. As the book went on I felt it got a bit better. I felt the art was fairly solid even if the likenesses were maybe not spot on for some characters (which is weird given that Richards is probably best known for drawing the Buffy comic). Though the demon design seemed somewhat weak to me. So overall, this book continues to make my recommended reading list. This issue may not be the strongest in technical aspects but is a pivotal turning point in the story I believe.

Ultimate Human #1 -- I've actually been staying away from most Ultimate universe books (other than the Ultimates) but I figured this might be an interesting story. First off, this is definitely not the 616 universe Hulk. In fact, you might argue it's not even the Ultimates Hulk or the Hulk we saw (briefly) in the Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine series (hey, Lost writers are on strike so why can't he finally finish off that comic!). The character and the dialogue just seems different. Having said that, it's a very interesting take on the character. Peter David recently introduced the notion of the 616 Hulk adapting (breathing under water) and Ellis seems to be taking it even further. And given that this Hulk was brought about by the super soldier serum and not just gamma radiation, it almost makes sense. The super soldier serum may work to adapt the soldier to any environment. So let's get down to the details, the writing is good and the dialogue between Banner and Stark is great. It's really interesting to here them talk, not only about the science stuff but the personal stuff. The art has a very unique look to it but the dark mood set in the military bases is pretty impressive. And to be a total geek, the Hulk just looks really cool to me. I was a little disappointed at first that the Ultimate Leader is not Sam Sterns but I think this take on two 616 characters is pretty interesting and could lead to some good stuff. So yeah, this books my recommended reading list. I think it's worth checking out for Ultimate universe fans and people just looking for a story to read (as prior knowledge of both characters isn't really necessary I found).

I've also polished off a few more volumes of the Manga series "Monster", I'm done volume 12. I like how things are coming together here. I've been a little hesitant for a while now but it's picking up steam as we head in to the last 5 volumes.

And of course, there's "One More Day". I had been keeping my thoughts to myself until after Carl read it as I didn't want to spoil it for him but even now I find myself somewhat torn by it. On the one hand, I think it's a horrible story that was poorly executed. And in my mind, it's left the character and the story in a very messy, confusing state. On the other hand, I can understand how some characters are just becoming too bogged down with their back stories or not being accessible to new readers. So I can see some promise for the new creative teams but I also mourn the loss of the character as I knew him. To make a long story short, I have a lot of emotions going on right now and I may never really be able to properly express them. Overall though, I'm greatly disappointed with this story and this approach and I feel it's just another example of Marvel no longer having people like me as their target audience.