3.21.2007

3.21.07 Reviews - Part 1

Checkmate #12 (DC): The fill-in pencils are a little outlandish here - just check out Bane's distorted features and proportions throughout the book, yes, distorted even for him. They're just a little soft and uneven overall, they don't hold up to the gravitas and taut political posturing that a Rucka script requires. It was a really nice change of pace here to see Fire and Taleb Beni Khalid spotlighted. Still one of the best written books coming out from DC right now, wish there was a stronger artist attached to this title to help ensure its longevity in the market. Grade B+.

X-Factor #17 (Marvel): Man, before I even cracked open the cover, I sighed to myself in disbelief. Another artist?! I've lost count. Aren't you tired of hearing me bitch about the revolving door policy regarding artists on this book? I sure am. Khoi Pham's pencils are ok overall, they range from serviceable and good in spots (Rictor and Rahne's exchange, the facial expressions and detail are nice) to inconsistent and odd (Jamie's look when he's crying? Ummm, really stiff and bad). At this point, I really don't give a flaming fuck who the artist is, just so long as they stick around a while. On the writing front, there are some playful jabs at DC here, a plethora of pop culture references, and an interesting moral/legal dilemma is flirted with. Are Jamie's dupes considered sentient individuals responsible for their actions? If that dupe had killed the cop and remained alive, could he be tried and jailed, even executed with no impact to Jamie prime? What is the legal precedent around that? Really enjoyed Rictor's retort to "99% of the time, blah blah happens" with "well, 85% of all statistics are made up, so there." All in all, an intricate plot with the return of Val Cooper, and Peter David juggling multiple plot threads and interpersonal relationships in a completely entertaining way. Grade B+.

Army@Love #1 (DC/Vertigo): The macro bits of this I think are worth exploring. What is the impact to the media, the military, technology, and society back home in general when war becomes commonplace? But in the micro execution, I'm just not buying it. The humor associated with the MOMO, Morale & Motivation unit, is so forced and feels tired. "I wouldn't have missed that for an interview with an Olsen twin's navel!" Ba-dum-bump. The bits that are designed to titillate come off as just silly and have no credibility. Overall, the book needs to rely on an air of authenticity or believability to get the points across and rather than doing that, or even relying on pure satire, it comes off as disingenuous. Grade C-.

52: Week Forty-Six (DC): "The final crisis is coming." Yeeeeeeeeeeahhhhhhhhhh. Yawn. Waid and Kubert's back up Batman origin story was good. I hope they collect all the origins separately. Those are all quite fun, sort of like a modern version of the old Who's Who? with a few more comic panels and less text. Grade D.

Aquaman #50 (DC): I think it was a brilliant idea to give Aquaman this type of treatment. In the past, it's been very problematic having a superhero book called Aquaman. So, stop treating it like a superhero book, start treating it like a fantasy epic. That thought is quite clever, but good God is the execution convoluted and downright flawed. It starts right, that cover by Mario Alberti is right on. It's sets the perfect tone and is basically what attracted me to the book in the first place. But, then we get Shawn McManus' interior art, which is great matched with the right book. But here, it's just too cartoony, it loses the edgy tone that the book really needs to deliver. And some of the character designs just look like rejects from Pirates of the Caribbean 2. From a scripting standpoint, it was the usual Tad Williams for me. The usual wordy exposition that I just get tired of reading. There's no zip or hook to the dialogue, it just lay's there looking up at you for approval. I don't quite get the voice of the new Aquaman, and the humor doesn't mix well with the serious tone the book is trying to hit, it's just flat and out of place. For something purporting to be a jumping on point, I'm totally confused. Who is the new Arthur Curry? There's Arthur Curry, Orin, the Sea-King, somebody named Dweller of the Depths, and Aquaman. Who the hell is who? Are they the same, different? Even some of the characters don't know who's who. If the characters aren't even sure who they're supposed to be, how the hell am I gonna' figure it out? Then Garth/Aqualad shows up. He's been gone a year. Would be nice to know where he's been and what happened to him. Wasn't that supposed to be the point of 52? Explain what happened to major players in the missing year? Seems like too-little-too-late to address it here. Love that cover, though. Grade D-.

I also picked up;

The Leading Man TPB (Oni Press): We'll see if B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun's Spy/Hollywood hybrid reads any better collected.

Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser (Dark Horse): The long out of print Chaykin/Mignola interpretation of a classic Fritz Leiber fantasy epic.

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