7.20.2006

7.19.06 Reviews

Justice League of America #0 (DC): This would have been good... if it was $1. For full price, I can't quite recommend it wholeheartedly. Don't get me wrong, there are some really precious moments here (Diana comforting Bruce after Superman "dies"), wonderful snippets of dialogue ("Beetle laughed. So did Miracle. And J'onn smiled."), great panels of art (JLA/JSA team up, Tony Harris' page, etc.), but... As with most books like this that boast an "All Star Cast of Artists!" I find myself distracted by constantly trying to guess who did which pages without looking. The constant flashes to and fro through the multiverse were a bit jarring as well. I really am a sucker for a good "let's get the new team together" hook, and this one had that rich feeling, especially the last page. I also liked the inherent message that despite whatever may come, the League carries on. The League endures. The idea should outlast the participants. I just think that you shouldn't charge full price for a book unless you intend to tell a real story. This was a promo issue, so it needed a promo price. As is, Grade C+.

Civil War #3 (Marvel): This is still a surprisingly fun ride, Millar and Company are holding this event together somehow and it hasn't jumped the shark yet. McNiven's art continues to grow with every issue and he's absolutely on fire here with flashes of Jim Lee/Travis Charest/John Cassaday detail, clarity, and refinement. This business with Tony acting as father figure to Peter is steadily growing more creepy and disturbing, building him the new Spidey armor, his arm around the lad proudly, it's as if he's being deliberately manipulated for some reason, I'm curious to see how that plays out. I like the very "in character" refusals of Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Emma Frost & The X-Men to participate in the government backed witchhunt. Nice little tidbits dropping like Tony and Emma having a "friends with benefits" type of set up. Hot! Loved the trap within a trap set up that proves Tony is a little too arrogant and Steve is a little more crafty than he gets credit for. "Is Mary Jane happy about the Sandman having her zip code now?" sort of sums up what's at stake here, doesn't it? I was so moved by Hercules, I know, of all people! But seeing him passionately blow through She-Hulk and Spidey to try and aid Cap was pretty emotional. I was really diggin' it until the end. *Semi-Spoiler Alert* here, but that person showing up seemed very contrived, very gimmicky, and I won't be satisfied or accept it until someone sufficiently explains where the hell he's been this whole time. And wouldn't he naturally side with Steve/Captain America instead of Tony/Iron Man? I'm no Avengers continuity hound, but weren't they always closer? Grade B+.

X-Factor #9 (Marvel): Very good issue. Great continuity with the above Civil War conversation between Tony Stark and Emma. Jaime proves to be a very engaging leader of the team as he struggles with his usual inability to make a command decision. Officially, the X-Men have refused to take a side in Civil War, Emma telling Tony that she wouldn't support the witchhunt, but also would not overtly back Captain America and the rebels either. Jaime is forced into a situation where has to pick a side and valiantly proclaims that X-Factor will publicly come out against the Superhuman Registration Act. The point is driven home here that neutrality and sitting one out may achieve some short term comfort, but "all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." Utlimately this ends in a nice believable draw as Cyclops orders the X-Men to stand down. Art is okay, but still feels a bit inconsistent. There are a few panels where I can appreciate Calero's otherwise pleasant style (and his use of David Duchovny as photo reference for Jaime), but some other panels where I just cringe and go "eww!" Grade B.

The Eternals #2 (Marvel): First off, I just thought it was... silly... to name this issue "Identity Crisis." And that's all I have to say about that. Despite not a whole lot of plot advancement, this book has a really subtle charm to it: "Not now, cute boy. I'm working." I mean, that's just very sweet and likable. All in all, I'm interested, but not like, blown away. Grade B.

Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #1 (DC): Oh, I don't know, guys. Tons of expository dialogue to fight through. Overly staged intros of the characters. The dialogue feels like I'm actually talking directly to the writer about his views on civil liberties, the war on terror, and the current political climate. He doesn't even bother to humor us and use the characters as thinly veiled ciphers, he just lays his opinions right out there on the table. Feels quite agenda-laden. The art lost some of the moody charm it seemed to have in the Brave New World 80-pager and feels really rushed toward the end of the book. A single panel and line of dialogue sorta' caught my attention and made me smile, Phantom Lady downing her martini and quipping: "Believe me, sexy... if you knew half of the crap I know, you'd understand why I party every night like it's the end of the world." But then we bounce right to some confusing bits about Father Time and Uncle Sam. Oh, and by the way, the second that an armed perpetrator exhibits the "willingness, ability, and means" to commit a hostile act, standard Secret Service protocol is to immediately extract the protectee. No way in hell the Senator would have just sat there after shots were fired. That's just dumb. Overall, this was just (insert word that conveys disappointment, boredom, and anger). I thumbed through repeatedly trying to find some sort of redeeming quality, but alas, Grade F.

The Red Star: Sword of Lies #1 (Archangel Studios): This is sort of like having a hot girlfriend who joined the Peace Corps. I mean, you two really had some chemistry back in the day. She was unlike anything you'd ever tasted before. And here she is, finally visiting you for the summer. You're ecstatic at first, your eyes light up. You're so delighted to see her again, you just want to fondle her, and hold her, and caress her, and breathe her in, just be in her presence for a brief moment in time. But it's been so long, you realize you have to struggle to really understand her anymore. Those natural rhythms you used to fall into so easily together now require effort. Then it hits you that she's going to probably go off to Kiribati or Madagascar or Mumbai or somewhere again for two years, and it'll be a while before you see her again, and even then it will still have this bittersweet awkwardness to it, so you begin to question why you're still calling her your girlfriend in the first place. We'll always have an unspoken connection honey, and I'd love to spend the weekend with you when you're in town, but I don't think I can do this anymore. Grade B-.

Iron Man: Extremis Hardcover (Marvel): For my money, this is the best Iron Man tale in recent memory. An inventive, brutal, realistic, and insightful take on Tony Stark and his motivation. Grade A.

24Seven TPB (Image): Very interesting looking collection of sci-fi/robot themed stories, tons of great contributors, anxious to read it!

The Walking Dead: Volume 1 Hardcover (Image): Never was a big zombie guy, and I don't seem to be as blown away by Kirkman's writing as most are, but this was a really attractive package and $30 for a hardcover housing 12 issues seemed like a pretty darn good deal to me. As Roger Ebert says, a movie, book, or TV show isn't "about what it's about, it's about *how* it's about what it's about," in other words the true value of a work of art is not in its subject matter, but in the execution. Anxious to read this in one sitting and not the few stray issues I've tried before.

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