Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 27th, 2008

A whopping three books to review this week...

She-Hulk #32 -- We continue the Secret Invasion story here, without X-Factor. It was a good start to the next part of this storyline but there were a few moments that felt out of place or forced. Two scenes inserted for comedic purposes come to mind that just didn't seem to fit well for me. Either I'm getting used to the art or something has changed a bit but it seemed a bit better here. The outlines around the characters (from not using a black ink line) didn't seem to be as distracting for me. Overall, it was a fun and interesting issue but wasn't exactly a home run. I still recommend checking out this series.

Runaways #1 -- The series gets re-started with Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos taking over on writing and art respectively. It took a bit for me into the new writing with new dialogue and character designs. I had to remind myself who was who. But after just a few pages it felt good to be back to basic Runaways goodness. There are a couple new stories being introduced but they are presented well, without being too daunting and I'm eager to see where each goes. The art was interesting. I think there were a few times where it didn't really work for me completely, either because of a weird looking neck or a dark scene involving gym equipment that took me a bit to figure out what was going on, but overall it fits well with this book. I'm already thinking that I may enjoy this run more than Whedon's. Blasphemy I know. :) Hopefully the quality remains this high throughout their run.

Skaar Son of Hulk #3 -- Art-wise, I'm still not a big fan of the no-inking style here. It just looks too "muddy" and not in a good/barbarian story kind of way. I didn't really find this to be the strongest issue of the story with the weird back and forth between Skaar and the Princess. They're fighting, they're not, they're fighting, they're not.... Between this and the little story at the end we do get to learn a bit more of Sakaar, the Princess, and Skaar (which was a bit of a surprise for me) but like I've said about much of Pak's Hulk stuff, the story is interesting but I'm not always the biggest fan when it comes to the storytelling portion of things. I'm still interested to see where things go but it's tough for me to say for sure that I'll be sticking around for the long haul.

And in other news, over on Zuda High Moon is now updating weekly. I'm glad to hear this. Though I enjoyed season 1 I enjoyed it more in a second reading after it was posted in its entirety. I thought it flowed better that way than in the 4 page chunks every two weeks. So getting more pages faster seems like a good idea to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zuda August Competition Winner

Congratulations to the Gulch team for winning the August Zuda competition. I had Gulch fairly high on my list even though I didn't vote for it. I felt the 8 pages didn't really draw me in to a story but I'll wait and see what the next few pages offer up.

And feel free to let me know if any of the other competitors are continuing their comics on other sites. I'd like to see them continue.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Science Doesn't Belong in Comic Books? (And other story telling mediums)

Being the Hulk fan I am, I often lurk around the Incredible Hulk message boards and such. Because of this I have spent the last little while thinking way too much about "zero gravity". The discussion comes about from Hulk #5 obviously and just how the Red Hulk was able to wield Mjolnir. But the question I've been asking myself is "does science belong in comic books?" Should we care whether the Flash could truly run up a building? (I recommend "The Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios for the answer to that question and many others, some of which I might mention here) Should we wonder whether the Atom would be able to breath after shrinking down? About the only answer I can come up with is "That's entirely up to the individual reader."

What a cop out huh? But really, who am I to say what readers should be looking for in comic books? So it's entirely up to you. As for me, I have my own take on it. I like talking about these things, I tend to have a weird facination with this sort of triva. So does this mean I look at every comic looking for instances that heroes defy science? Obviously not. I think I'd go insane to try that even for a month. But that doesn't mean I won't take a second look at things just out of curiousity. Now does this mean I'll be critical of a book (or tv show or movie or whatever) that doesn't match? That depends.

On one hand, if it's clear the science isn't important to the story then I just chalk it up to random trivia. It doesn't effect my view of the story so I'm able to look beyond it. I'd put stuff like the original Star Wars trilogy and Firefly/Serenity into this category. Lucas and Whedon didn't want to be bogged down by the science of it all so they chose to keep it out. Whedon even had Captain Reynolds break down one situation as something like "Without this ship don't go?" while holding up ... something. Whedon clearly didn't want to get bogged down in the specifics of it all. So I can appreciate a good conversation of things they may have gotten wrong but it won't change my appreciation of the movies/tv shows/comics.

On the other hand, you have the writers who choose to use science. You more likely to see this in something like Star Trek (the Next Generation and such). With this sort of thing the writers often introduce something scientific as part of the show. They use science to explain why something is impossible or how they get around a difficult situation. And this is where things differ for me from the first scenario. If you are going to introduce a solution to a problem or situation based on science then you should work on getting your facts straight. Now obviously there are some things they'll never be able to explain and I understand that. And sometimes you just have to believe someone along the way invented a doohicky device that solves a problem we currently don't know how to solve but if they get basic stuff wrong then I do get disappointed. That hits me as being a bit lazy, using a solution to your story that we already know is incorrect.

So what is the Hulk example for me? I'd put it in the latter. Loeb wanted to come up with some way for the Red Hulk to wield Mjolnir and he decided to have him do it in space. After all, Iron Man has done it. And it gets explained as "zero gravity" or as Quesada saying "once in space, void of gravity". But then it becomes a problem because they are clearly not understanding that there is gravity in space. At this point they appear to be using their own misconceptions to explain something and yes, I will be critical of that because they are making it a point of the story. If they had have left it at pseudoscience or up to the interpretation of the readers then fine. But if I see them say something wrong, I want to call them on it.

Now I can understand why a lot of people don't like this approach. They just want to sit back and enjoy their comics without putting so much thought into it. They just want to take it as fact that the Red Hulk can do this because of "0 gravity" and because, let's face it, he did it. And that's fine. I might be a little disappointed that these people don't have the same curiousity to understand how things work that I do but really, when is a very basic understanding of space travel going to help me in life? But I really can't change who I am. So for me, yes, science belongs in comic books but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

Oh who am I kidding, I probably will lose sleep wondering if it's possible for the Flash to jump up and touch a ceiling fast enough that people won't notice or some other useless trivia. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 20th, 2008

It was a pretty slow week for me with only one book coming out. But I also picked up volume 16 of the manga series "Monster" so I had enough reading last night.

X-Factor #34 -- This issue seemed to go by at an unbelievably quick pace and I don't know how I feel about that. On the one hand, it had that feel of urgency you'd expect from an alien invasion. But on the other hand, certain character points seemed rushed or glossed over and slow scenes (such as the farewells at the end) seemed out of place and weird. And the start seemed a little choppy to me. The art also wasn't really my cup of tea but perhaps I was more prepared for it after last issue and it didn't seem so distracting to me. And it did convey alot of the action and intensity well. Having said all that, I did really enjoy this crossover. I think Peter David may be my favourite writer for giving reader satisfaction with every issue rather than taking 5 or 6 issues before getting anywhere. And yet he still can put together a great 5 or 6 issue storyline of good individual issues. So overall, I recommend it. I have no idea how well it fits in with the whole Secret Invasion stuff but I enjoyed the crossover. But no, I will not be picking up X-Factor despite it looking like a great read.

I won't do a full review of Monster volume 16 but I'm glad this series is starting to wind down and answer some questions. It's been a good series but there's just been so much built up and so many things to keep track of that I think it may have gone on a bit too long. I think I see at least one twist coming up but I'll have to wait and see.

I also read the first volume of the Goon (or should I say "Volume 0"). Powell writes how this first book wasn't the best work of his and how things improved since the beginning but I think that's to be expected in most books. And I didn't find it as bad as he claims. I think I'll try out at least the first real volume before saying for sure but it looks like a fun book to read.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Zuda August Competition

Well, one more day of vacation for me and then it's back to work. Here are some quick thoughts I have on Zuda's August competitors...

Furiku Buredu -- Didn't really seem like a very novel idea from the 8 page introduction. Art had an interesting style that looked nice in some places but didn't really convey action very well to me.

Gulch -- Nice art but it seems to be lacking a bit in the action shots (hard to tell the motion happening, page 7 had too many shots that appeared stationary). The 8 pages didn't really draw me in.

Junk -- Though the art style wasn't really my usual taste it fit the mood well. And the idea seems interesting and novel, and the 8 pages presented it well. I'd put this one pretty high on my list.

Rhandom Escape -- The idea seems okay but the main character came across a little too "cool" for me and I didn't really care for him. The art was effective and had some really great settings on display.

Shock Effect -- Although the write-up presents an invasion, the characters felt a little too "ho hum" for my taste. Too much whitty banter and not enough concern in them. I just wasn't feeling the emotions I felt was appropriate. As a result, I immediately have a dislike for the two main characters taking off on the soldiers when the situation didn't seem to be so serious (at least according to their apparent attitudes). The art was solid but that could be because it fits my general taste a bit more than other web-comics.

The Adventures of Rocki Gibraltar -- Though it's not entirely a novel idea I did like the writing and presentation for this book. I thought the characters were well presented for the most part. The fitting of a chunk of story per page (meaning no big splash pages or anything) somewhat limits the feel of the action but it still moves along at a good pace. I rather liked this one.

The Harvest War -- The 8 pages showed some serious action and interesting character designs but not much of a story. I also found it a little difficult to follow along at some points. Though there is some serious talent behind it, I just think it needs to be re-worked a bit.

The Stuffed Animal Sagas -- I thought this one had a nice combination of cute and horror. It seems like a lot of creative ideas that almost reminds me of Fables (the twisting of things like dust bunnies being similar to some of the twisting that goes on in Fables sometimes). The art was a different style but I thought it fit the story well. I'd be interested in seeing more of this story.

To The Red Country -- To be honest, this one didn't really do it for me. Though there were flashes of something interesting I just didn't find the writing and art flowed well throughout. And the story just seemed to be jumping about so I didn't really get a clear idea of what was going on. The art was also a little too simple looking for my liking.

Vic Boone -- Though I'm not entirely sold on the idea behind this one, the execution was really good for the most part (the transition from page 2 to 3 being a low part for me). It flowed well (other than that previous gripe of mine), the art was nice and conveyed the action and tone of the story well. The 8 pages gave you an idea of the setting, the character, and a little of what you can expect from more of this book. It's definitely a contender for my vote.

New instant winner: The Imaginary Boys -- I think this is an interesting idea with an interesting art style that fits it but I'm not entirely sold on the execution yet. Some of the parts and dialogue come across as choppy or forced and didn't really flow well. I might stick around to see how it goes beyond these initial 8 pages but at the moment, I don't see myself sticking around too long.

Overall, a pretty wide variety of story ideas and styles which I think is great. I know, I put a lot of "not my style" and such in my reviews but I do appreciate the different approaches even though not all of them will appeal to me in particular. So go check them out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 13th, 2008

Still on vacation. :) I took two weeks off as well as next Monday so I still have a few days to make the most of. And here I am doing comic reviews. :)

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #2 -- Since the only Secret Invasion stuff I'm reading is this series and the She-Hulk/X-Factor crossover, I don't know where this fits in. And I find myself asking that but I quickly had to put it aside. With a fair amount happening with several characters who seem to start the issue quite split up, it seemed rather hard to keep track but things settled in eventually. The art was a bit more hit or miss with me this issue. Hulkling and others (though Hulkling comes to mind) seemed off in terms of proportions from time to time. But all in all, a solid second parter and I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes (mostly for the sake of the Runaways). But if you aren't a fan of either of these teams, you should probably not bother.

Angel: After the Fall #11 -- This series continues to disappoint me, both in storytelling and in art. Though the overall story seems somewhat compelling. I find myself getting more and more interested in Gunn's story. But I'm sorry, I just can't get past the bad execution in my mind. There are some panels where I have no clue what's going on. And the big climactic finish could have been a lot clearer.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #14 -- I found the art kinda lacking in parts here too. Though it mostly was limited to Banner for me. The overall storytelling aspect of the art was good. Banner just looked off. In some panels he seemed his usual scrawny self and in others he looked like he'd tacked on 50 pounds of fat. But Peter David's writing fits this book well and it's another solid effort for younger readers or weird people like me. :)

One other book I thought I should mention is "Who Will Save Us Now: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories" that I finally finished. The stories feature quirky superheroes/villains (though that label "super" doesn't really apply for some) or quirky situations usually with serious undertones (at least in the stories that are coming to mind at the moment and just how "serious" they get also varies). It's quite an interesting collection that was entertaining. I have to admit that it's not all the cheery optimistic superhero stuff that many might think of but the collection does feature a wide range of stories that I find you take out of what you put in. Two things that came to mind when reading this book were the Great Lakes Avengers and Mystery Men (though I'm sure there are many more to compare it to). So overall, yeah, I enjoyed it and I recommend checking it out if you're looking for a little different take on the superhero genre.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 6th, 2008 -- Here be SPOILERS

Yeah, I want to avoid the spoilers but when it comes to the latest issue of the Hulk, I just can't. So, in an effort to getting back to doing nothing on my vacation, let's get to some quick reviews. :)

Hulk #5 -- A lot of people seem to be loving this series. And I can understand it, I really can. You have dynamic art and this new "kick-arse" red Hulk that is doing all this crazy stuff you never thought you'd see (or at least very impressive stuff). But for me, it's just ... bad. I can't stand this book. In its attempt to elevate the Red Hulk it seems to be making a mockery of everything in its path. Grabbing the hammer as he leaps into space while Thor just holds on for the ride? Give me a break. Wielding the hammer because you're in "0 gravity"? As if the Gods would allow such a loophole. I know, people who are enjoying this series are justifying it in several ways but to me, this just reeks of bad storytelling. Loeb seems to be ripping things apart just because the fans slobber for more. It's like the uber-Superman who has every super-power you can think of and can juggle planets. Or the Batman that can beat God with "enough prep-time". Sure, have the Red Hulk beat Thor to move up his threat level. Even have him come up with a clever way to do it. This was not that way. So as much as people seem to be loving it, Hulk is very close to being removed from my subscription. And I'll hate to do it, I've been reading the Hulk since I was able to read. I was looking at the pictures before that. And as for Jeph Loeb's comment at Comic-Con that fans should just trust him because he always has a plan and reasons for writing everything he does, we're 5 issues in and I've seen nothing to justify such trust. And a writer shouldn't be resting on some boast of what he's done in the past, I think it's about time he puts his money where his mouth is on this series. You'll notice that I don't really talk about the overall story much for issue 5, that's because it really doesn't move the story along too much. And why is She-Hulk back with Iron Man anyways? I thought the last we saw of her she went off on her own to recruit a team? But enough about that...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #17 -- I'll try to avoid the spoilers on this one as one of my readers hasn't gotten his copy yet. But I saw this one coming. That's not to say it was bad or anything. I was a little taken aback by the jumps in time (not the time travelling Buffy's doing but the going back and forth with Fray's storyline) but I settled in eventually. Other than that, it's more of the same when it comes to Buffy. Fun dialog, interesting story developing, humourous situations, etc, etc. I'm finding it kinda tough to repeatedly say how much I'm enjoying this series overall. Oh, and the art was good here too. :)

Spike: After the Fall #2 -- This issue actually gets a thumbs up from me. I haven't been the biggest fan of the Angel series so far but I enjoyed this issue for the most part. There were times where I thought the writing could have been tighter or the art could have been a bit better but overall, it was one of the more enjoyable issues of the "After the Fall" books.

Echo #5 -- This series continues to be too slow moving for me, at least for the monthly comic format. A lot of scenes are drawn out adding to the feeling that it's moving at a snail's pace. That's not to say it's not good. The overall story is interesting, the characters are engaging (the decompression of the story is a big reason for that), and I still think it's a well done book. But for me, I think I'd be better off waiting for the trades and reading it in bigger chunks so I feel a bit more closure with each book I read. Because the monthly issues just aren't giving that to me. With the first trade advertised for September I believe, it may be worth you checking it out for yourself there.

So that's it, time to get back to vacationing. ;)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for July 30th, 2008

First up, congrats to the Re-Evolution team for winning the Zuda Invitational. Though to be honest, I was hoping for the Araknid Kid or Spudman. Oh well. :)

Four books to review this week including X-Factor from a couple weeks back and last week's She-Hulk. So let's get to it.

Skaar: Son of Hulk #2 -- I still find Pak's writing a little choppy at times where I have to go back and forth between some panels to see how we jump from one scene to another. And Garney's art, the no ink style at least, still isn't working perfectly for me (it seems to work sometimes but other times I think it needs to be cleaner). I'm still enjoying the overall story but I just think the execution could be a little cleaner. I recommend checking it out but I'm not entirely sold on it just yet.

X-Factor #33 -- I really liked Peter David's writing here, he seems to be right in his element. The flow was good, the dialogue seemed bang on, and despite not having read this series before I was able to jump right in for the most part. On the downside, the art really didn't work for me. Some characters just look too distorted and when She-Hulk makes her appearance she's way too "jagged", it looks like she has claws. But still a fun book and it really got me hooked for the crossover.

She-Hulk #31 -- It's odd but I actually thought Peter David's writing was stronger in the X-Factor issue. Not that this one was bad or anything, I just thought X-Factor was the better written of the two. Though I don't think the flashing back and forth to bring readers up to speed on what exactly was going on helped too much here. The art was a bit of a mix for me. I thought it was nicely drawn but I don't know if I liked the light inking/outlines of the characters, for some of them it made it seem like they had a glow about them. And is it just me or did it seem like Multiple Man was shrinking when he multiplied to tackle She-Hulk? He looked smaller than her leg. It was an enjoyable issue but not the strongest of this crossover.

Comic Book Comics #2 -- I don't really have much to say on this one. It's a fun glossing over of the history of comics. Obviously there will be stuff that is missed and people's recollection of events change but for comic fans it's interesting to see how some things tie together. And with the next issue we get into the Dr Wertham/Comics Code Authority stuff. If you know your comic history there won't be much new but it's still an interesting book if you're looking for something to read.

So that's it for this week. Today is my last day of work before a two week vacation. I'm looking forward to getting some non-comic book reading done over those two weeks (as well as some more comic book reading of course). But I won't be going anywhere so the blog posts will continue (at least as much as they currently continue).