4.19.06 Reviews

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #4 (Marvel): I'm still enjoying this book, but it's admittedly not as strong as the first two issues. On the humor barometer, it's not "laugh out loud" funny anymore, it just sort of makes me smile and chuckle to myself. I like the odd mix of characters that Ellis brings some interesting life to, The Captain's random origin story, the silly banter, and the bold and blatant beating of a cop. Grade B.

New Avengers #18 (Marvel): Basically crap, except for one single panel which I really enjoyed. Cap issuing an override command to the Iron Man armor. That was creative, cool, and believable. Grade C-.

The Invincible Iron Man #7 (Marvel): Well fuck, that didn't take long. Exit Warren Ellis and Adi Granov as the creative team. Enter the Knauf boys and Patrick Zircher. Exit anything remotely intelligent or interesting. Enter a bunch of stuff that isn't the least bit engaging visually, out of character dialogue, and a gratuitous slugfest. Exit me continuing to buy this book. Enter me picking up the hardcover trade of issues 1 through 6 and calling it a day. Grade D+.

Squadron Supreme #2 (Marvel): For 18 issues of the MAX line and the first issue of this series in the regular Marvel U, I was totally on board and never questioned the quality of this book or my enjoyment of it. Until now. Still maintains the overall dark tone of the series, but I don't know, a little... wordy? preachy? condescending? overly explanatory? in spots. I felt like this issue was talking down to me, taking one extra panel or page here and there to make its points. It lost some subtlety and that hurt in a big way. Also, the cast now feels too big to manage, something Straczynski even seems to know since he addresses the entire team being sent on this mission with some of the character's dialogue. Better start killing some fools off, JMS. Even Gary Frank's usually stellar art felt a bit uneven or rushed in spots. I don't think I've ever given an issue of this book lower than an A-. Typically, there is at least one scene, one piece of dialogue, or one "hook" in every single issue that clicks with me and I say to myself, ah, that's why I buy this book and will be back for more. That hook was painfully absent for the first time ever. I'm sad. Grade B-.

Ex Machina Special #1 (DC/Wildstorm): Long time readers know that Ex Mach is simply one of my favorite books. This issue was just... not what I expected I guess. When I heard that this issue would take place largely in the past and tell one of the the old adventures of The Great Machine, I guess I expected more of an origin story or something. These are merely flashbacks. The regular series is littered with flashbacks, it's one of the primary storytelling structures that Brian K. Vaughan employs, so I'm struggling to understand the need to do a two issue mini that is separate from the main book. Just work this tale into the main series, right? I mean a two issue mini that is basically crafted in the same manner as the main book seems sorta' needless. Even the format of the book is the same, it's just another issue, why not combine it into a one-shot prestige format book? I just don't get it. Next problem. Chris Sprouse on art was a huge selling point for me. Love his work. But then he comes in and instead of sprinkling his Chris Sprousey magic atop these characters, he just apes Tony Harris' style, which is a talented feat in itself, but not why I buy a Chris Sprouse penciled book. So yeah, I'm just kinda' lost here. All that aside, the story was pretty great actually. I dug the juxtaposition of this villain who can talk to animals in the same manner that Mitchell can talk to machines. It's a nice science vs. nature riff. Also enjoyed The Great Machine team trying to work out some issues with the suit and Vaughan's typically strong dialogue. So, where does that leave us? For actual content, I'd say, right on, A-. For format and overall logic of this "special," I would really say, huh?, C-, leaving us with an overall noble mis-step of a Grade B-.

Queen & Country Declassified: Volume 2 & Volume 3 (Oni Press): Picked up the softcover treatments of these two mini-series also, which is against my general approach to Q&C. But after being plagued by lateness like two promiscuous teens, I just don't know what's going to happen with these books. Will hardcovers ever be printed? The stories themselves were decent enough, highlighting the pasts of some of the main characters, but I'm still *so* distracted by Oni's publishing attempts. They are just starting to re-establish credibility with this title. I'm looking for hardcovers of these books within 6 weeks, and I'm looking for the main title to get back on track with regular releases that are then collected. If they can do that, my criticism will fade. Stay tuned.


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