6.21.06 Reviews

All Star Superman #4 (DC): This issue is so Grant Morrison. This issue is Grant Morrison channeling his inner Grant Morrison. It's like Grant Morrison on crack. It's Grant Morrison's writing having a creative bout of manic Grant Morrison-ness. Grant Morrison-icity. Grant Morrison. Grant Morrison. It's frenetic and just spilling over with so much zany techno-babble sci-fi 1960's post-modernized goodness that I can't even keep up. Oblique references to other bits of Superman continuity and Project Cadmus stuff. Frank Quitely's art is like winning the lottery the day after having sex with Adriana Lima. It's so ridiculously good and serendipitous that you keep pinching yourself to make sure you're not dreaming it all up. I've read this twice and know that I'm still missing half of it. It's almost like Grant is acknowledging that the idea of a "Superman" is so incoherently ridiculous that he just runs with it and sees how ridiculously over the top and stuffed with incomprehensibly impossible concepts he can make it. Grant Morrison. Grade A.

New Avengers #20 (Marvel): Nothing much to say here except that this is wildly inconsistent with recent events in Civil War and the characterization of SHIELD Director Maria Hill is totally off. And Mike Deodato's art ain't what it used to be. Poorly done. Grade D.

Ex Machina #21 (DC/Wildstorm): Hey, Tony Harris! Hey man, maybe this is my nit-picky problem since I've owned 5 BMWs, but in 2001 the new 6-series Bimmer you drew on the first few pages wasn't invented yet. Kinda' pushed me out of the story from the first page. That aside, this was a solid issue. I like the idea of public servants telling the truth about drug use to stimulate discussion and actually address the issue vs. hiding behind a veil of "we don't discuss personal issues" or putting some sort of media spin on it. The quality of the scripting is really back up with some self referential and funny lines like "fucking fortune tellers..." Nice intrigue with the introduction of January and... wow! That last page! Glad to see this title on track, unlike the atrocious two issue mini that just wrapped. Grade A-.

Astonishing X-Men #15 (Marvel): Woo-hoo! This was a great issue that shows a devastatingly effective coordinated attack on this roster of X-Men by the new Hellfire Club. It pushes all the right character buttons, has great dialogue, humor, action sequences, and is beautifully penciled and rendered. Did Kitty really say "I'm not gonna' be purple-manned"? Nice nod to Bendis from Whedon. I love, love, love the drama Whedon has created between Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde, as well as his strong and capable portrayal of Kitty throughout the history of this title. Grade A.

Eternals #1 (Marvel): I really haven't enjoyed much of Neil Gaiman's comic writing after The Sandman saga, and his prose novels bore me to tears. But I really enjoyed this. One thing I didn't follow was Sersi showing up at Abigail's house. Sersi brings her a cup of coffee, she sips it, then over the course of the next few panels proceeds to brew a pot of coffee. Huh? Why? Was this just John Romita Jr. doing his own thing and not paying attention to what I can only assume was a full script from Gaiman? WEIRD. Aside from that, good times. I like the mystery of the Eternals and this is the first time that post-Superhero Registration Act continuity has been referenced and felt a bit natural. We'll see where this goes. Grade B.

Casanova #1 (Image): I was really looking forward to this book, having enjoyed Matt Fraction's online writings about the comic book industry, and much of Gabriel Ba's work, including the recent De: Tales, Stories From Urban Brazil. But, ouch, I had some issues with this book. Overall, it reads like a script that Fraction submitted to Marvel that got rejected. His super secret spy agency EMPIRE is a thinly veiled SHIELD, complete with a character that looks exactly like Dum-Dum Dugan. Cass and his sister Zephyr appear to be the children of a Nick Fury archetype. There's even an evil villain that is a big floating head, sound like anyone we know from the Marvel U? The "Heli-Casino" looks curiously like a SHIELD HeliCarrier. The similarities do not read like homage, but outright duplication. From a panel to panel storytelling standpoint, I was confused, not sure if this was less than stellar scripting by Fraction or odd pencils from Ba, but how did we get from Zephyr's funeral to a wedding(?) on the very next page? Were all those empty word balloons intentional or a lettering/printing error? And umm, yeah, I don't know French. Without subtitles, a little hard to follow two pages of French dialogue randomly placed. The rejected Marvel script then gets merged with what I can only assume is Fraction hanging out a bit too much with pal Joe Casey and picking up some things by creative osmosis. We have character names like Fabula Berserko and Newman Xeno which sound remarkably like something Casey would create for Godland. The Godland typeface (notice the little dots inside the O's) used with these characters only strengthens this theory. About half way through it just got kinda' dense and I didn't really care about what was happening anymore. Fraction used some dialogue like "blah-diddy-blah-diddy-blah" in an effort to either be funny or a bit self-aware about what he was *ahem* paying "homage" to, but it felt just like that and wasn't funny - blah, blah, blah... zzzzzzzz. As I said, I do really enjoy Fraction's writing about the industry, he's always able to come up with insightful pointed nuggets like "perfect little epiphanies of trash culture, pop decadence and confection." I love talk like that. What I don't like is writing like "Most of those issues in our neighborhood, length-wise." What the hell does that mean, is that even a complete sentence? It looks like a word collage to me. All in all, despite my confusion and disappointment, I guess I'll give it another shot because for the $1.99 price tag and Fell format, it's pretty low risk, but my expectations have really been lowered. Grade C-.


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