5.03.2006

5.03.06 Reviews

Strange Girl #8 (Image): I decided to pick this up because I've recently been investigating all things written by Rick Remender, and someone I trust boldly proclaimed that this was the "best comic on the stands right now." My first exposure to Remender's work was Sea of Red. *Hated* it. My second try was Fear Agent. *Loved* it. Third try was Doll & Creature. Didn't get it. Now, on the fourth try, Strange Girl falls somewhere in between Fear Agent and Doll & Creature. I don't get it yet, but I suspect that's not because the high concept is flawed, but because I came in cold to issue #8 without knowing a thing. And this was clearly the middle of an arc that was in full swing. The characters seem interesting and odd in an Eric Powell sort of way. I guess there was like a cataclysmic event of some sort? And this girl is special in some way? So now people are protecting her? And she has some sort of powers based on a faith system? Jerome Opena's (worked with him over at Hidden Agenda Press when he did a short western tale for an issue of their anthology book, Garish Zow Comics) art is a big time treat. Love his clean, lean, detailed style. The perspective and camera placement he brings to panel layouts is totally unique. Take a close look at the panels on the first page, and the stellar approach to the very last page and you'll see that this guy's star should definitely be on the rise. Anywho... "Best comic on the stands" is a stretch for me to see, but I was interested enough in this issue to pick up the first trade of the series collecting issues 1 through 4. Grade B.

GI Joe: The Hunt for Cobra Commander #1 (Devil's Due Publishing): For a 25-cent promo issue, yeah, this is about what you get. Not bad. A marketing pamphlet with some tidbits of cool info and a set up/"jumping on point" for the next arc. What I really was entertained by though, was the inside front cover. The retort to the "Civil Crisis" currently being put on by "The Big Two" was pretty damn ballsy. Rip the cover off of a book from "The Big Two," send it in, and DDP will send you a free comic. I like the aggressive nature of this. Not sure it'll work. But I like the attitude. Grade B-.

BPRD: The Universal Machine (Dark Horse) #2: I just don't have a lot to say about BPRD except that I still love it! The perfect balance of paramilitary coolness, ookie monster stuff, and ominous explanations for how the occult world works. Consistently executed with extremely high quality, like the ability to juggle 3 narratives in this issue, the present conversation with Captain Daimio and the BPRD regulars, the flashback to his origin story, and the impending doom of Kate Corrigan's adventure. Grade A.

Civil War #1 (Marvel) & Infinite Crisis #7 (DC): Decided to review these together. They're opposites in a big way. Two rival companies. First and last issues of their big blockbuster events. *Completely* different approaches. I'll preface by saying that I've always leaned toward being a DC guy. Grew up with Batman, Green Lantern, and Nightwing is probably my favorite character. But god damn, I think Marvel really has the edge here. Infinite Crisis feels event driven and coerced, while Civil War feels character driven and motivated by an organic "real" issue. DC's project feels like a blast from a shotgun. It's all over the place, it feels like a series of cool moments that have been strung together. Marvel's story is just that. Feels less like an "event" and more like a story. It has the surgical precision of a laser rifle. It's focused tightly on a single idea that becomes the throughline of the story. I can articulate very crisply what Civil War is about. A young hero F's up and now the government wants to register them and regulate it. Half oppose. But what's IC really about? Superboy being insane? Multiple worlds converging into New Earth? The arcs of Batman, Supes, and Wonder Woman? Some resolution to Identity Crisis, the launching pad for 52, One Year Later, and countless relaunches? I'm really not sure. There's too many things shoehorned in there. To make another strange analogy, ever heard that a camel is a horse built by committee? Well, DC has the camel here. And Marvel's feels like a thoroughbred. Infinite Crisis is fun, don't get me wrong. It's fun to go, oh hey! There's Klarion the Witch Boy! Oh no! Doomsday! Ouch! Will Nightwing be ok? Ooh! Batgirl. Bart. Mogo. The GL's blasting the bits of Kryptonite around Supes! But those are individual little moments. A pastiche. Not a cohesive story. Civial War on the other hand, is thought provoking. There's a single powerful idea here. Isn't it creepy to see a Sentinel silently watching Wolverine? Watching the clean up in progress. You can certainly feel things changing. It's in the air, like Daredevil said. DC seems to rely more on shocking fight scenes or action sequences, while Civil War relies on a shocking idea. A troubling premise. Albeit one that Bendis has really already started to explore over in Powers, but nevertheless, this is a very meaty issue for the Marvel U. And it's surprising. Who would have thought that Cap would be leading those in opposition to the law? That standoff on the SHIELD Helicarrier was intense! Lastly, and this is really where Marvel won me over, it just feels managed better. The whole project is a more coordinated attack. The primer from Joe Q in the back that points readers to other works. That was really smart. It really feels like an entry point that is accessible, compared to say the multiple Earths of the DCU that even for me, a DC kid, have to be explained to be understood - and they're not. And McNiven's art has really come a looooong way. Bravo Marvel. Infinite Crisis, Grade B-. Civil War, Grade A-.

Every once in a while, I'll do this thing. I'll feel the need to buy a bunch of random books I don't normally buy just to see what's going on. To get current on a random character or team. It usually doesn't go very well, but it's an entertaining test of the "any issue could be someone's first" issue of a title and should thus be pretty accessible. Here's what happened with JSA, Outsiders, Teen Titans, and Supergirl this week.

JSA #85 (DC): Basically just a bunch of mumbo jumbo about The Gentelman Ghost and some random characters shifting between a ghost world and their own reality. Boring! Always enjoy seeing Courtney with the power rod that the recent Starman gave her when he retired, and Dr. Mid-Nite's costume is still super cool. Other than that, had no idea what was going on. Why was Alan Scott on his deathbed? I don't remember Jade dying. Is Gentleman Ghost going to be in the Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters relaunch? If not, why was he given so much screen time? Grade D+.

Outsiders #36 (DC): After the nebulous feeling with JSA, I really appreciate the exposition on the first page letting me know where I was and what the conflict was all about. Not much to this except being a long extended fight scene that builds toward a big revelation ending. I'm *almost* curious enough to see how they're going to explain that last page to pick up the next issue. Fun to see Captain Boomerang's kid involved with the team after last seeing him in Identity Crisis. I really enjoyed Matthew Clark's art, which at times reminded me of a blend of Travis Charest and Dustin Nguyen, employing a very fine pencil line and some nice detail work. Loved his renditions of Metamporpho and Grace, even if his Nightwing left something to be desired. Grade C+.

Teen Titans #35 (DC): I didn't mind the gratuitous scenes with Robin and Rose in bed together. What I did mind was how she could undo the handcuffs, get dressed and armed, run to the other side of Titans Tower, and engage Cassie in about 5 seconds. That's just poor pacing. Other than that, a bunch of 3rd string characters who we know won't last, some ridiculous pin up poses from Cassie, and a Doom Patrol reveal that was telegraphed from the very first page. No clue what this is about. Grade C-.

Supergirl #6 (DC): Now, I loves me a good tale about Flamebird & Nightwing. The yarn about Superman telling Dick Grayson all about Kandor and these 2 Kryptonian heroes, the fact that Dick chooses his new name based on that is a favorite, touching, cool moment in the DCU. So I got kinda' interested based on those names alone on the cover. The guy in me did enjoy a topless Kara grimacing as she got her tat, but past that this was basically word vomit. Nice Image house art from Ed Benes, and hey, aren't those guys with Kal-El's shield using lightsabers? Come on! Grade C.

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