7.28.2011

7.27.11 Reviews

Uncanny X-Force #12 (Marvel): Inconsistency will also ultimately kill the cat. On the art side of the equation, Mark Brooks is trying his damndest to blend the styles of Jerome Opena and Jim Lee, almost keeping up in the process. It’s always a crap shoot which artist you’re going to get on this title, and it’s a shame. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who they stick on the book, because it just keeps me yearning for Jerome Opena, and anyone else is just a bitter reminder that he should be there when he’s not. As for scripting, Remender seems to be slipping into cyclical peaks and valleys as well. The first half of this book really isn’t written that well. It’s basically an extended conversation between the Logan of “our” world and the Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey. Not only is it a sleepy read, but some of the transitions from panel to panel don’t flow very well. It’s like one character says something, and the other character’s response seems to be pointed toward an entirely different question or statement, like lines were suddenly chopped out. There’s a very thin thread about saving Warren with an Eternal Life Seed, blah blah Apocalypse, I think they mentioned Mr. Sinister too, and maybe Gateway jumping them back home, but then a Samurai Sentinel attacks and I don’t understand why if the Sentinels know the mutant resistance is holed up in Atlantis why they don’t just attack with everything they’ve got? By the end, Remender seems to get his groove back, tossing in lines like “Happy hunting, Lepew. Don’t botch it.” That’s the type of humor amid the action we’ve come to demand. As usual, Deadpool (with one of the most salient observations, surprisingly) and Fantomex (still after Psylocke as the cover reveals) seem to steal the show with every scene they're respectively in. There’s a huge exposition dump at the end, yet some interesting alternate timeline fun with M.O.D.O.K., The Black Legion, and Kirika, as Logan’s alternate future daughter. Honestly, if Rick Remender could sustain the magic he found in the first arc of the book (or even the second half of this issue) and Jerome Opena was on every issue, this thing would be getting A’s and A+’s every time out. As is, a pretty low Grade B.

X-Men: Schism #2 (Marvel): The best thing I can say about this issue of Schism is that Frank Cho’s art is really clean and classy. He seems to have lost some of the more cheesecakey qualities I typically associate with his style and laid on a slight tweak to the aesthetic that called to mind John Cassaday or Howard Chaykin in some isolated spots. And “Slim” is actually slim, pretty neat. I guess I appreciated the new Hellfire Club trying to purge their ranks of mutants and the Kitty & Rogue vs. Manmeat Almond Joy (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), but that’s about it. The biggest problem I have with the script, which is very surprising to me considering how much I love most of Jason Aaron’s work, is that I don’t feel it’s striking the right tone. It’s too funny! There’s all these in-jokes about bands and t-shirts and coffee mugs and snot, like sight gags and stuff, and it just doesn’t have the gravitas this is supposed to have. Isn’t this supposed to be some big Earth-shattering rift between Logan and Scott that shapes the future of the X-Men for years to come? It was solicited as redefining the future status quo of the franchise. I realize it’s all probably hyperbolic marketing hype, but taken at face value, I want that story. It should be making me wince, not laugh. We’re 40% through this series already and I’m not seeing anything at all suggesting this big “schism” that will shake the foundations of the team irreparably. I’m not feeling it; I’ll give it one more issue to self-correct, and then I’m out. Another pretty low Grade B.

Secret Avengers #15 (Marvel): One of the worst guys to be in comics is the guy who has to come in and crank out a couple of filler issues prior to a big name talent taking over a run of a book. Nick Spencer sacrifices himself for that cause and commits a form of verbal seppuku here with something that is talky, preachy, and terribly overwrought with melodrama. I guess it’s supposed to function as some sort of meta-commentary with Black Widow (speaking on behalf of the corporate machine) defending the publishing strategy of repeatedly killing off characters, only to eventually revive them, vis-à-vis a group of tabloid reporters (who apparently represent, well, you and I, as the reading audience). Widow’s contention is that Marvel is just giving us what we want as readers, that somehow we need those types of stories to give us hope. They keep selling, after all, with the correlation between cheap deaths and readership spikes speaking for itself. The tabloid folks counter by saying that those types of pseudo-deaths are an affront to real people and only cheapen the existence of the living. Widow retorts by saying how hard it must be (aww, tear!) to endure the physical pain and uncertainty of death, only to be brought back, while the rest of the world has moved on. The tabloiders say yeah, but they’re still alive. When real people die, they stay dead. To me, Black Widow ultimately loses the argument, so the entire issue is a gigantic waste of time. Your mileage may vary. I could probably end the review right there, but a few more random notes… on the plus side, I did like the clever recap/credit page that’s a faux tabloid web-site screen cap. On the down side, the art is pretty wonky at times, with weird camera angles and panel shapes, along with a handgun that repeatedly flips back and forth between the left and right hand, even though Widow is clearly right handed judging from the way she grips the weapon initially. I’m ready for Warren Ellis, because this was awful to the point of being nearly insulting. Grade C-.

It’s probably not coincidence that I bought 3 Marvel books this week and I paid $12 plus tax. I walked out of the LCS thinking “hrmm, they must have all been $3.99.” That sucks. It seems like a subjective threshold, but $12 plus tax for 3 books seems outrageous to me. Remember the days when you could buy pretty much any 3 comics and you’d be under $10? That seems so much more reasonable and appropriate. I know, I know, bitch, bitch, bitch…

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