6.14.2006

6.14.06 Reviews

Supermarket #3 (IDW): Can't wait to read this as my love for all things written by Brian Wood continues.

DMZ #8 (DC/Vertigo):
Maybe I haven't mentioned it before, but there's this writer Brian Wood? And suddenly he's everywhere and I'm enjoying everything he touches.

The Squirrel Mother Stories (Fantagraphics):
Picked up this handsome trade by Megan Kelso. I've seen bits of her work in some anthology books and am really curious to see how this holds up. Great sense of design and a diversity of art styles.

Civil War #2 (Marvel): I've never been a huge Marvel guy, but damn if this tale about a Superhuman Registration Act and the dissention it causes within the entire Marvel U isn't entertaining as hell. Some great moments here, including a chilling scene with the arrests of the Young Avengers and Spider-Man revealing himself as Peter Parker after 40-some years of existence. Grade B+.

Fear Agent #5 (Image): I don't even have to read this book and I can recommend it. It rocks. Trust me. Grade A.

Ex Machina Special #2 (DC/Wildstorm): Hoo-boy. (Seems like I've been saying this alot lately, but...) I hate to break out the ol' Criminal Justice Degree here, but there are some assertions of fact surrounding the death penalty here that really disturb me. Hundred says he may be against the death penalty because it actually reinforces that violence is "okay" in society as a means of criminal retribution and that violence rates (he doesn't say which, rape, homicide, assault, robbery?) spike after an execution. This is a common logic fallacy that in Latin is referred to as "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" or "It happened after, therefore because of." There is no way to correlate a spike in violence with an execution from a causality standpoint. He says that the cost of executions is actually greater than housing inmates on life without possibility of parole sentences. This is wholly inaccurate as well. I mean, I have the education, but it just doesn't even pass the common sense test. If you add up the cost of administering the facility for capital punishment (injection, electric chair, etc.) and even factor in the lengthy automatic appeal process and associated public defender salaries, it is still millions of dollars cheaper than housing an inmate (facility, food, exercise, staffing, etc.) for say 50 years on average. He goes on to say that the death penalty does not deter crime. Even the most in depth studies of recidivism rates and fluctuating 10-year crime patterns from the FBI's Bureau of Justice Statistics could not make a direct correlation. My favorite argument in favor of the death penalty being a deterrent surprisingly comes from Matthew McConaughey's character in the film A Time To Kill: "The only thing wrong with the death penalty Ro-arke, is that we do not use it." The inference meaning that if it was applied consistently it would surely serve as a deterrent. Perhaps the only credible argument that Hundred poses against capital punishment is how do you justify use of it in a fallible system? If even one innocent person's life is taken due to the inherent subjectivity in the criminal justice and evidentiary system, does the overall end justify the means? On top of that (let's get back to comics here, folks...), there were a number of problems I had with the book. Seems kind of silly to wait like 6 months for the second issue of a *two* issue series that could have just as easily been handled as recurring flashback sequences in the main book. I said this before, but it still rings true... why go through the bother of securing wonderfully talented Chris Sprouse as artist if all he's going to do is copy regular artist Tony Harris' style? I buy a Chris Sprouse art book for the Chris Sprouse art, not the imitation of Harris. The biggest goof in scripting seemed to be Hundred using his machine-control based powers to reverse the tape recorder. If you tell a dog to kill someone, isn't the opposite of that that they wouldn't kill someone? Seems stupid that a writer would think the opposite of that is to kill someone different. Overall, not researched or thought out very well! Sounds like someone espousing their own personal beliefs! Brian K. Vaughan, I smell doo-doo! This project was utterly pointless. Grade D.

52: Week 6 (DC): I believe it's time to officially throw in the towel here. I did like one thing, Rip Hunter's lair. All those notes on the board and little references to the multiverse *almost* want to make me come back for more in the hope that this will start to trend up, but... there were some really tough parts to swallow here. Umm, Manthrax (yeah, nice name) saying "capisce" made no sense at all if you know Italian. One would actually say "Io capito" in that context. And what the fuck was going on in China? "Man Who Stands On The Wall of Iron Breathlessly to Woman Who Caws With The Emerald Crows..." WHO CARES?! What, Black Adam? Gee, *that* didn't feel shoehorned in. There are also some bad instances of suffering from recency in here. iPod references? Haven't we learned by now that today's iPod will be tomorrow's 8-track and including those references in a comic will date it faster than leaving it on the dashboard of your car in the sun? And how many times will people have to say that the back up feature has less value than my belly button lint before something changes? Like anyone bothering to read 52 in the first place would already know all about Crisis and anyone reading 52 for the first time would be ridiculously confused, which would only be compounded by the convoluted nature of the back up story! I mean, come on! Let's take a DC character with one of the most confusing histories (Donna Troy: umm, I think she was molded from clay by the gods, then she was Wonder Girl, then she replaced Diana as Wonder Woman, then she was mortal, then she wasn't, then she was a Teen Titan, then she was Troia, then she changed costumes 3 times, then she had cosmic powers, then she was a god, then I don't know, then she went into space and became a Darkstar, oh wait, they're not around anymore, now she's replacing Diana again as Wonder Woman, but where the fuck is she in this story...) and have her explain all about the various incarnations of the Justice League and the multiverse vis-a-vis Pre- and Post-Crisis continuity? The Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and the Psycho-Pirate? Are you fucking kidding me? Avoids the F only because of the Rip Hunter scene, Grade D-.

Squadron Supreme #4 (Marvel): This book has quickly degenerated into generic superheroics. It is a far cry from the insightful, slightly counterculture, intelligent paradigm analysis it was under the MAX line. Gone is the understated subtlety that was intriquing. Here we have... an unwieldy cast that lacks focus. Overwrought political analogues. Overstated plot points. Horrible panel transitions (Where did those roses come from? Why was there no puke when all the soldiers were incapacitated?). Hokey dialogue like "...as the kids say, woofing one's cookies." What kids exactly talk like that? Insulting the audience (Ohh, I get it! She was raped and her dad beat her so now she's a hero!). That's not character development, that's called cliche. And Gary Frank's strong art is terribly hindered by poorly scripted, boring fight sequences and people standing around expousing. Time to throw in the towel on yet another. "F" Squadron Supreme and long live my Supreme Power trades under the MAX line. What a disappointment, this used to be one of my favorite books. The only interesting thing about this book was a house ad for Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.'s Eternals. Check, please. Grade F.

Checkmate #3 (DC): I want to believe that this book is just borderline enough for me to keep buying it, as it struggles to prove to me that it has some redeeming qualities. But the theme this week sure seems to be clear, make some decisions about what you support. Vote with your wallet. There just isn't enough here for me to continue to reward financially in good conscience. Third issue and already a wonky fill in artist with a poor mastery of perspective that I've never heard of. The sheer magnitude of characters and code names (known as the "White King's Bishop to Black Queen's Knight" factor) has officially become annoying and something I don't care enough about to devote the time to memorizing. It all feels pretty inconsequential in spite of its globetrotting political aspirations. The end scene with a desperate continuity link to this week's appearance of Chinese Government superheroes in 52 was the capper. Towel. Thrown. In. Grade C-.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #9 (DC/Wildstorm): A nice tidy wrap up to this 9 issue mini-series starring The Authority, Mister Majestic, The Wildcats, Captain Atom of the DCU, and some assorted members of the Wildstorm U. I've gotta' give Editorial Director Jim Lee kudos for pulling off this quiet little coup d'etat that functionally reset the Wildstorm Universe after like 15 years of existence. Wildstorm just goes to show that a reboot can be somewhat story driven and not the empty contrived grand spectacle of its big brother DC. The board has been wiped clean for the return of many popular books, including my personal favorite, The Wildcats (starring a not-dead-yet Cole Cash as Grifter!) written by Grant Morrison and penciled by Jim Lee himself. Really exciting times. Anxious to see what they can do and will probably check out some of the other titles. Grade B+.

Civil War: Frontline #1 (Marvel): Even though this book was not released this week, I just couldn't resist bashing it. So horribly offensive that I quite literally wripped it up and threw it away, then called everyone I knew who buys comics and told them not to buy it. Murky art, boring dialogue, and severe inconsistency with Spider-Man's actions in this book and his actions just a couple weeks earlier in the main Civil War book - but those were the relatively *good* parts. And what the hell does Tony being an alcoholic have to do with unmasking himself publicly as Iron Man? That's got to be the most horrifically misplaced line of dialogue in memory. I mean, these things sucked, but they didn't make my blood boil. Here's what did. So the Marvel Civil War was basically precipitated by "some guys flying two planes" into the World Trade Center? Umm, like, I'm all for social relevance in my art and everything, but that's a fucking painful 5 year stretch. What a fucked up way to try to politicize your comic and dishonor the memory of those fallen Americans. And the kicker... so somehow this whole ordeal in fictitious superhero land equates to the West Coast Japanese Internment of WWII? I know two Japanese families personally involved with this and last time I checked they classified it as one step short of the Holocaust. So shamelessly disrespectful that I almost want to burn everthing I own with a Marvel logo. As if that's not bad enough, not only do they insinuate, they flat out make it a point to say "oh, this wasn't so bad, they had health care and food and shelter and stuff, so essentially, what's the big deal?" That's like saying they had indoor heating at Auschwitz. Jesus. Everyone at Marvel who touched this or knew about it should be so ashamed. I mean, I'm a huge advocate of Freedom of the Press, I donate annually to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but this is downright irresponsible publishing and needs to be censored. The first ever from 13 Minutes... Grade F-.

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