11.16.2006

11.15.06 Reviews

The Escapists #5 (Dark Horse): Well, if you start out with a Paul Pope cover, how can I not like the issue! Jason Shawn Alexander's interior art here is like a blend of Jae Lee and JH Williams, which is something to be admired. This book is just so... GOOD. Vaughan's script has a way of feeling weighty and important without being preachy, and is fun and cool, without being campy or feeling dumbed down. He's able to imbue his characters with such heart, grace, and dignity. Case as Luna Moth? How sweet and endearing is that? If that last page doesn't have some heart, provide commentary on the evolving hero archetype, and just wrip your damn heart out, then I don't know anything about anything. This is just too good. I'm almost speechless. Grade A+.

New Avengers #25 (Marvel): There's a lot to love about this issue. Let me just hit you with some rapid fire elements. Jim Cheung's art has never looked better. It's crisp and extremely effective from a panel to panel storytelling standpoint. Check out the opening sequence, a rather complex break in, which is conveyed convincingly with no dialogue whatsoever. The Jarvis sequence is chilling. Bendis totally captured a brilliant, but slightly sideways disgruntled employee. Dug the security features in the suit. Dialogue on the Helicarrier was classic Bendis, in a good way. Loved seeing things from the POV of Tony inside the armor. Thought the disgruntled employee made some rather erudite points about Tony hiding behind the suit, thus removing the human element from the nasty bits of his work. Fun to see Maria Hill get outfitted with some tech toys. Fun to see her developing and asserting her personality. Fun to see her think on her feet and all of the action sequences rendered so well. So, this book narrowly escapes an A+ because of a slightly flawed analogy on the last page. Now, I love A Few Good Men, it's one of my favorite movies and I know Bendis likes it too since Aaron Sorkin wrote it. But the analogy here is a) too overtly relied upon, and b) not quite executed succinctly. Maria Hill makes the point that in the movie, Lt. Dan Caffey (Tom Cruise's character) is assigned to an important case specifically because the perception is that he's not ready for it. Thus, he can be manipulated into plea bargaining it away so that it never sees the inside of a courtroom and the core issue never gets the attention it so deserves. Now, the question is why would Maria Hill, a nobody SHIELD agent from the Madripoor post, be appointed as Director of the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate? Her point is that, umm... she doesn't want it? And... Tony should do it? Such a ball drop of an analogy. Wouldn't a slightly different twist and more effective approach consistent with the original idea from A Few Good Men have been that she was specifically appointed to SHIELD Director precisely at the moment that Civil War would break out, so that she could be manipulated into hunting down Captain America, because God knows that Colonel Nick Fury would *never* in a million years have done that? The analogy is about people's perceptions of your ability and their ability to influence you toward a desired outcome based on that. So close to perfection. Sigh. So, so close. Grade A.

Astonishing X-Men #18 (Marvel): I'll caveat this by saying that I still think in 20 years, Whedon's run of AXM will be one of those fondly remembered runs that everyone wants to own and is a defining moment for one or more characters. However, this particular issue is a bit complicated to follow through all of the mental machinations/projections of Cassandra Nova, Emma Frost, the "White Queen," and members of the Hellfire Club, etc. I get the general gist and like that there is not even a pause as we gear up for the next arc involving the run to the Breakworld. In some instances, I feel that if Whedon inserted just *one* more line of dialogue it would add a much needed level of clarity. Example: Scott says "Kitty, understand... Cassandra brought you here to open the box. What Emma brought you here to do... is what you're doing now." And then it just stops! I don't know what she's doing exactly. Pointing a gun at Emma? Challenging her authority? Freaking out over her and Piotr's "dead baby?" Fracturing her divisive inner voice? I'm just not certain. Grade A-.

Civil War #5 (Marvel): Having not been too terribly perturbed by the characterization thus far in the book, I enjoyed this issue. It's really in the realm of mindless entertainment now, like a summer popcorn movie. The brief scuffle bewteen Tony/Iron Man and Pete/Spider-Man was fun (though I find it hard to believe that Peter's new suit designed by Tony wouldn't have some sort of fail-safe over-ride code implanted in it surreptitiously). There are some fun moments, Daredevil being captured, and the clever introduction of Punisher with a nice homage shot. Grade B+.

The Leading Man #4 (Oni): So, I missed issue 3 somehow and really have no idea what's going on here. Looks purdy and I do trust B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun as creators, so I'll probably forego issue 5 and pick up the eventual trade. Grade B.

Checkmate #8 (DC): Too much Kali Yuga. Not enough political espionage hoo-ha. And that's really why we read a Greg Rucka book, isn't it? Had a big issue with the color rendering too. Despite being from different nations, being different ages, and being like the poster children for United Colors of Benetton, pretty much all of the characters are colored the same here, with the obvious exception of Michael Holt. I was intrigued by the reference to who Holt will pick as his new Bishop (since he's recently been appointed as King), but for the most part I tuned out. This should be the Queen & Country of the DCU, but is a bit too inconsistent to maintain that mantle. Grade B-.

Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident #2 (Dark Horse): After being really entertained by the first issue, this one falls flat. It's weird in a creepy way, not weird in a funny way. I didn't laugh once. Grade C.

52: Week Twenty-Eight (DC): Wow, that's some ugly, jerky, rushed art. Ironic that the nice JG Jones cover depicting a less advanced race being influenced by the Red Tornado head (ala the worship of the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) is more interesting than anything in the book. This issue feels extremely cobbled together as some plot threads long absent rear their dysfunctional heads. Grade D+.

I also picked up;

Absolute New Frontier (DC): What a beautiful edition of a masterful and important work by Darwyn Cooke, well worth the $75 price tag.

Outlaw Nation (Image/Desperado): I don't know much about this, but picked it up on a recommendation from one of the columnists over at CBR. For 19 issues @ $15.99 though, it's totally a steal.

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