11.04.2009

11.04.09 Reviews (Part 1)

Strange Tales #3 (Marvel): Nick Bertozzi’s Uatu opener (and closer) is as fun and harmless as usual. Oni by Stan Sakai brings a clever spin to the “Banner” name, and delivers a remarkably bleak ending proving that even in a wildly different setting and time period, the guise of the Hulk is truly more of a curse than any sort of blessing. Corey Lewis’ take on Longshot, via The Fortune Full X-Man, Broadcasting Live Comix on Mojo TV, aka: Longshot Gets Lucky is pretty damn awesome. It’s full of greatly rendered punk attitude that’s well suited to these particular characters. It takes all of the appeal that I was told about, but never really understood for myself, from things like Sugarshock and Scott Pilgrim, tosses in a dash of Paul Pope's 100% future tech aesthetic and successfully pulls it all together here. I’d definitely read a feature length book regularly about this “pop-punk emo-disco whatever the heck” world, full of lines like “hey meat boy, nice entrada.” Lewis even manages to use terminology like “oh snap!” without sounding disingenuous. Instead, it comes off organically and captures teen-speak effortlessly, whereas most other writers just look old and unhip when they try this sort of thing. This short is definitely a Grade A+. Jeffrey Brown’s Fantastic Fool’s Day is full of inventive gags, I particularly liked the Iceman one, with great facial expressions that deliver much of the storytelling intent. Jay Stephens’ La Querelle Des Monstres highlights mutant science DNA verbal barbs from Beast, but most of the humor falls flat, and Morbius does nothing for me. Stephens’ style is (of course) more suited to Saturday morning cartoons for my money. Chris Chua’s two pager feels like a severely more manic version of Brendan McCarthy, being really tough to follow in spots. The Abominable Peter Pepper! by Max Cannon starts with a strong tongue in cheek discussion of things like Peter’s desire to be between “two golden orbs,” but ultimately goes nowhere, more evidence of why I don’t like anything having to do with the Spider-Man mythos. Jonathan Jay Lee’s experimental take on The Punisher is the type of thing that should be more allowed/encouraged by the Big Two – just to see where it goes, just for the sake of itself. It’s not perfect or definitive by any means, but has an interesting look and feel, with a unique voice bringing to life an alternate take on an otherwise bland character. The Incorrigible Hulk by Peter Bagge has plenty of chuckle-worthy one-liners like “Why not? Hulk hate Danish Modern.” I enjoyed the structure of Deana and Trashy serving as polar opposite influences on his proverbial shoulders. The Avengers in “Let’s Fight” by Michael Kupperman is visually very appealing, but a little flat in the humor department. Nightcrawler Meets Molecule Man by Paul Hornshemeier has a couple of witty turns of self-reflexive industry phrasing “…or as a waning population once knew me…” but the dilemma of existence sort of occupies most of the space and grew tiresome. Yeah, with superhuman powers comes boredom and chaos seems appealing. S’that all you got? King Crab by Becky Cloonan was a great and memorable way to end the affair, a fantastic visual feast, colored and rendered beautifully, with more fluid and less angular lines than I’m accustomed to seeing from her. More like this one, please. Also, “excessive crab urine” is a great line coming from Reed Richards in quasi-intellectual deadpan scientific delivery. Grade B+.

Astonishing X-Men #32 (Marvel): Jimenez’s backgrounds were the clear winner here, with high levels of detail, and cars that actually look like discernible makes and models, not just amorphous blobs. His action sequences, on the other hand, were a little confusing at times, as evidenced by the weird bubble feet things seen after the Sentinel is shot with the tow cable, ala Luke and Dack on Hoth. On the scripting side, Ellis’ interplay between Armor and Wolverine was enjoyable, almost as if he was channeling his inner Whedon with lines like “So how’s the whole ‘I’ll just run up the monster and be the stabby hero’ thing working out for you?” The Sentinel Monster shooting out Brood darts was an unexpected twist. You know what got tired really quick? Beast was a little too thick with the affectation: “my viridian, my darling, my little fruitbat, my little angel of death” etc. Give it a rest before I barf up the pad thai I had for lunch. Jimenez captured a real sense of claustrophobia with the close quarters combat and nailed the bloodlust of Wolverine. With all of the many shots of blood, blood in the eyes, blood on the bodies, blood spraying about, the foreshadowing of some type of cloning DNA mutant whatever experimentation was a little too overt for my appreciation of subtlety. And, what’s with this? Beast just got through explaining to Abby that the vessel had no weapons, and then proceeds to fire… missiles at the Sentinel? And then the team is back in the Marin HQ, what happened to being on Magneto Island? I’m really getting motion sickness with the continuity flips between books. At the end of it all, it’s nice to know what’s going on and have a set up for this arc, but it comes in the form of a big info dump of expository speech from Abby. The next issue teaser image looks like a swipe from the Summer Glau ads for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The general thrust of this book is ok, a fun action book, but all of the minor annoyances in execution and consistency are quickly stacking up to become major distractions and lower this to a Grade B-.

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