Author Topic: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 5/15/08  (Read 2376 times)

Offline Sam Wilson

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KDawg’s Reviews

It is a great thing to sit down with a cup of coffee this week and write my reviews. I enjoyed every single page of the books I anxiously read last night. In fact I couldn’t get to all of the books I wanted to beyond the ones I am reviewing. I did read a couple that are not being reviewed and I have to tell you…

It figures that Spider-Man would be what in my opinion is the best of the Brand New Day run and it’s the first time I think I am not reviewing it since. BAH! VERY fun and excellent job by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin on that book this week…

Also Titans #2 was on the stands and I was quite a bit shocked that the creative team was already different! The issue was pretty good too and it doesn’t matter who draws Donna Troy and Starfire… they are among DC’s foxiest.

X-Men Legacy was it’s usual solid flavor under the helm of Mike Carey and lastly X-Men: Origins with Colossus was a fun trip backward in time that I am not quite sure I have ever even read anything else about…

These next three books however are where the Mightiness comes through this week. I figured these other books however at least deserve an honorable mention.

Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Paul Cornell
Drawn by: Leonard Kirk

I have been a gigantic Captain Britain fan since I was first introduced to him back in the 80’s when he appeared in the Uncanny X-Men Annual #11. Alan Davis was the artist and I had just been introduced to him not long before this as well.

It wasn’t long after that we were given Excalibur in its first of many incarnations. There was something that was truly magical about Excalibur in those early days and I couldn’t get enough. All good things come to an end and Alan Davis and then Claremont left the title and it became pretty bad. Alan Davis returned and so did the magic for a while. Eventually this book was cancelled and rebooted twice under Claremont with different premises, the last of which was Captain Britain and a gaggle of Claremont’s other favorite X-related characters the only one that belonged really was Pete Wisdom. It wasn’t all that bad either, but it wasn’t great by any stretch.

The book was cancelled for a 3rd time…

There had been rumors of yet another re-launch for Excalibur under Paul Cornell. It has been getting a good amount of buzz on message boards throughout comicdom based on Cornell and Kirk’s previous bodies of work. The rumors continued and finally it was revealed that the title would be under the new moniker of Captain Britain and MI: 13. This was largely due to the fact that having the masthead of “Excalibur” brought a lot of baggage with it as well as having the fear that its past failures would put it on the fast track to being cancelled yet again.

So here we are finally and the book has hit the shelves. How does it do?

I am absolutely floored! I loved this book more than I thought I would. I have been anticipating picking it up due to the good buzz it was getting on the internet, but I would have never expected it to be as good as it was. These are the characters that should be defending the realm… Captain Britain, Spitfire, Union Jack (eventually) The Black Knight (though American, he’s still great friends with Cap)… Not Juggernaut and Dazzler.

In fact after this issue I have a new favorite character in Spitfire… She is a skrull stomping mamma and she gets the Holy Sh*t of the week with her panels…

Captain Britain is written more intelligent than he has been in 15 years and he is written as the man who wants to become again the symbol of Britain much like Captain America was here and he even tells Pete Wisdom so on a helicopter ride to head of a cadre of the invading skrulls that are headed for the Siege Perilous.

This title has so much potential that I am hopeful that this is the time where it will succeed where the disastrous Excalibur books failed. The skrull invasion is really a secondary element to the start of this book. If nothing else it is a convenient way of bringing the characters together without putting a lot of though and pages into explaining it. The Avengers came together in a dark time, from different walks of life, united under a common enemy. This is no different for the heroes of the realm, who are now all operatives under the MI: 13 banner…

This book is my pick of the week and should be yours as well. Pick it up and give it a whirl. Let’s just say it’s been a long time since I have seen Captain Britain punch a bad guy’s head actually off of its shoulders… and Spitfire…Well you can see what she does for yourself. WOW!

Wolverine #65
Marvel Comics
Written by: Jason Aaron
Drawn by: Ron Garney

The old hairy canucklehead is hot on the tail of Mystique. In the wake of Messiah complex and her betrayal of the X-Men (for the 27 time) Cyclops has more or less tasked Wolvie to “Get Mystique”.

Logan and Mystique go way back and the seemingly endless untold tales that are the makeup of Logan’s history takes a front and center role in this story. Some wounds take terribly long to heal and between these two there is one as yet unrevealed event or maybe more that has them from being partners to the point where Wolverine is out to kill her because of some betrayal that happened in the past that we readers find out about in this last issue of “get Mystique”.

Jason Aaron seems to really have the “voice” of Wolverine but this issue is owed to Garney’s visuals. It’s the last issue and these two characters with more history than any of us knew about fight more ferociously than Wolvie and Sabertooth ever did. How awesome is Ron Garney? Especially scenes from the 1920’s where we finally get to see the reason that Logan and Raven aren’t pleased with each other. At first it’s actually a surprise to see that Wolvie was the one who initiated the feud, but it was quickly explained away that he was on to Raven and just beat her to the punch.

IT is almost a dance between these two and a character study in motivations. The X-men have given Raven many chances to become part of them, for the very same reasons they gave Wolverine a chance. They feel anyone can be redeemed because Logan has taught them that, and yet Mystique continues to make the X-Men look dumb by double-crossing them every time.

This is the real heart of this arc… Logan has made many mistakes, and from the sounds of it, quite a few were with Raven in the picture, but he has left it all behind and clings tightly to the hero he has become. Much like a reformed smoker, he speaks the loudest against the wrongs of his past and has dared even hope that Raven would someday rise above. To her it’s all a game and almost a way to keep from being bored, so she dances with Wolverine and enjoys watching his deep seeded hope come crashing down every time.

The fight in this issue is among one of the very best I have seen in a Wolverine story ever and despite an ending that was a typical cop out, the issue was fantastic. This creative team will be missed! The last splash page of the battle and Wolvie’s musings while he “repairs” himself is a nice tip of the hat to the characterization of Logan that Aaron seems to get so well.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Roberto Aquire-Sacasa
Drawn by: Barry Kitson

The heroes with the longest and deepest history with the invading skrulls are the FF. They have seen the first and best Super Skrull (coming soon from Bowen Designs, sculpted by yours truly  ) and Johnny Storm was even married to a skrull for awhile having some crazy, green alien, rabbit romps.

It sucks that we have to have a mini series to delve into this astronomically huge skrull invasion when it comes to the FF, but Millar and Hitch are presently dragging the flagship book through its own mud and the rest of the Marvel U can’t touch them right now.

Enter this mini series. The Baxter building has been whisked away into the Negative Zone, because of the skrull posing as Sue Storm. The real one was taken captive right before the imposter makes her way from Vancouver to NY to take out the Baxter Building. So we can cross off another 70’s hero coming out of the ship in the savage land being authentic. The real Sue was not on the ship and as I had suspected was recently taken elsewhere.

Meanwhile this skrull goes over its mission to eliminate the remaining 2 members of the FF. The imposter Sue is tasked with neutralizing Ben and Johnny.

Once in the negative zone we are brought up to speed and see that Johnny is the first to make contact with the skrull and she tries to impersonate Sue awhile longer to gain John’s trust. Ben’s single mind-set is to protect the children (Val and Franklin) and stomp anything that gets in his way in doing this. (Sammy would be proud of Ben for being a true SAMurai)

Johnny proves himself to be far more resourceful than anyone gives him credit for and sees through the Sue-skrull façade, but decides that there is something unusual and off about her…

Long time FF fans can pretty much see the writing on the wall here and I won’t delve in any further, but I am anxious to see where this mini takes us.

I am disappointed that it can’t happen in the main book, but I do at least appreciate that the FF are having a role in this event. They have far too much history with these little green bastards not to. I am hoping that we get to see Reed at some point here too, but somehow I know deep down that it is Sue that will save the day…

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

DMZ #31
DC/Vertigo Comics
Written by: Brian Wood
Drawn by: Riccardo Burchelli

To catch up those who haven’t checked out this book yet: our story opens five years into the second American Civil War. The conflict is between the United States of America and the “Free States”. According to the White House, these “Free States” Soldiers are “thugs and murderers”, and they are indiscriminate and uncivilized when it comes to warfare in civilian areas. As far as New York City goes, the “Free States” control New Jersey and the inland, and they are amassing at the banks of the Hudson River. The United States of America has Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and is well dug in on the coastline, with Manhattan Island caught in-between in the “DMZ”. The thing is, there are still people living on Manhattan Island, and even though there has been a formal ceasefire in effect from the last three days (when the story opens) the reality of life there consists of looters, gangs, local militias, insurgents and contract killers. All a day in the life in the DMZ.

Enter rich white-kid Matthew Rose, he entered the DMZ an intern to a world famous journalist and ended up the voice of the people. Since Matthew has set foot in the DMZ he has been used by both sides, made some friends (Zee, the former Med Student among them) and has established himself as a “name” person in the DMZ. He reports the truth, no matter how ugly, so most of the time he gets free reign, and has even become a celebrity of sorts. So much so that in the current story arc, “Blood in the Game”, Matthew finds himself in the middle of an election. The current arc opens with a ceasefire declared in the DMZ so a new leader can be elected, of course both candidates are nothing more than stooges for their political parties (nothing new there). Enter Parco Delgado, a New York gangbanger (who kinda looks like Sen Dog from Cypress Hill) who declares his candidacy in a most unusual manner. In the last few issues Matthew finds himself at odds with the news agency he works for, Delgado, and his parents. Each side wants to use him for their end, all the while ignoring Matthews journalistic integrity. It doesn’t matter though because from the onset Matthew’s integrity was already in question and he choose a side. Parco Delgado’s side. In issue 31 Matthew’s mother shows up, a former socialite/political consultant who left the country when the civil war started and is now back on behest of Parco, as for what, I have no idea, but I’m thinking it’s going to be interesting. If that doesn’t get you maybe all the people strewn about the city with guns waiting to shoot someone may draw you in…

DMZ’s current storyline is cliché ridden but that’s okay, its done in a way where there is still tension and the reader actually cares about what is going on and what is going to happen next (at least I did). This modern cautionary tale relates very well to current world (or at least national) events and if that sort of thing interests you, than I would say you need to give DMZ a shot.

The Huntress Year One #1(of 6)
DC Comics
Written by: Ivory Madison
Drawn by: Cliff Richards and Art Thibert
Cover by: Matthew Clark

I’m going to start this review by talking about Joey Cavalieri and Joe Staton, the original creative team on the Huntress series from 1989, then part of DC’s brand new “mature readers” line. Believe it or not, Helena Bertinelli, aka The Huntress, when she was reintroduced post-“Crisis on Infinite Earth’s” she had nothing to do with the Bat-universe. She was the daughter of a New York City mobster who saw her entire family killed, and she was whisked away to Italy by one of her father’s trusted soldiers and taught how to fight and use weapons, and she came back to the US to seek her vengeance as the costumed hero “The Huntress”. She prowled NYC kicking mobster ass and didn’t even meet the Batman until the end of her short lived series (it was pretty good, but her costume and hair were way, way to ‘80’s CBGB for my tastes). Since then she has been reinvented as the female “anti-Batman”. Still the same beginnings, but this time Gotham for New York, and she spends her days as a schoolteacher and her nights pissing off Batman going to far “over the edge”. Yeah, I always thought that portrayal was pretty lame too, but recently since the “Hush” storyline and Ed Benes/Gail Simone’s “Birds of Prey” Helena has been given her do. She’s not just the anti-Batman, she’s just a different type of female hero; someone who will kick someone’s ass if need by and like it a little bit. DC must have figured now would be a great time to retcon her origin, so they bring new to comics writer Ivory Madison (ex-lawyer/writing consultant, founder of the Red Room Writers Society) to lay it down for us. So? What do I think? Does anyone care?

I’m liking it. The number one good thing about it so far: no Batman (yet). Helena needs to be developed as her own person, separate from the Bat and Ivory gives us just that in the first issue. She also fleshes out Helena more; she paints a better picture of life as a little girl in a mob family (her dad was kind of a dick) and introduces the family of assassins who raised her and taught her how to fight. When our story opens we see Helena as a young lady in Italy, her assassin surrogate family has been taken away from her (arrested) and it seems her past has come back to haunt her. Her “uncle” from Gotham comes to town and wants her to come back and reclaim the Bertenelli family name. Helana just wants to find Salvatore Asaro, her “big brother” in the assassin family. She goes to visit him in an Italian prison and things go the way you would expect them to go (maybe), and thus our story begins…

I’m liking it. Ivory Madison brings a fresh voice to comics, not clichéd, not confusing, just new and different. She definitely brings a feminist sensibility to the character not seen since Gail Simone took her under the “Birds” banner, which is a good thing. Let me tell you, that anti-Batman malarkey got real old real quick. I say check it out, fans of Helena will not be disappointed.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 5/15/08
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 01:16:31 pm »
Wktf’s Reviews

Dead of Night #4 of 4
Marvel MAX Comics
Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Drawn by: Nic Klein
Cover by: Kaare Andrews

This issue brings us to the end of the retelling of Man-Thing’s origin, in Marvel MAX style and format. Man-Thing still was Ted Sallis and he still became Man-Thing as a result of a terrible chemical accident combined with his immersion in the Florida swamps. This time, however, AIM was involved as Ellen Brandt whom Sallis believed was his lover. Of course, she was just using him in order for AIM to acquire chemical testing secrets from poor Ted. Her betrayal created the Man-Thing but also left her hideously disfigured, in a Two-Face kind of way, and thirsting for revenge against Ted…or, rather, what’s left of Ted beneath that moldy exterior. In addition, AIM’s human experiments turned into a murderous, cannibalistic band of swamp dwelling mutants.

While the middle issues of this tale also focused on young Jennifer Kale, a witch in the making, and her still younger brother Andy, this issue returns us to where we started. Ted and Ellen, together again. Ellen’s thirsting for revenge, her mind as damaged as her face, and she’s brought an AIM army with her. And it turns out, somewhere in the deep recesses of Man-Thing’s mind, revenge isn’t a foreign concept to the swamp monster either. Both seek each other out and meet, almost quite literally, in the middle. As you can only guess, that meeting has some pretty horrible ramifications for just about everyone concerned. Aguirre-Sacasa and Klein clearly had a great time developing this story and it’s an equally great time reading it. Harkening back to the EC days of Uncle Creepy and the Crypt Keeper, our tale is narrated by the creepy Digger, a being with a rather morbid sense of humor whose kitsch adds the right level of fun to this tale of horror without going over the top.

If you haven’t been picking this series up I’m pretty certain you can still find the back issues at your comics store. They have them in mine. I’m not sure this series got a whole lot of readership but I thought it was a blast and would be all for an ongoing Dead of Night MAX series or a continuation of this re-imagined Man-Thing. Being a MAX series, of course, some of the situations and language are pretty explicit. But it all works in this case. Good stuff and great fun.

Batman #676
DC Comics
Written by: Grant Morrison
Drawn by: Tony Daniel
Cover by: Alex Ross
Variant cover by: Toney Daniel

Man, am I conflicted about this book. Morrison is one of those rare creators whose name on a book will compel me NOT to buy it. I didn’t like his X-Men, I didn’t much care for his work on the JLA relaunch several years ago and, frankly, I bailed on his Batman after the whole Damian storyline that just left me flat. The one notable exception is his All-Star Superman which I’ve been buying since the beginning and genuinely love. I know he’s got ardent supporters and many absolutely stand firmly by his work and against my opinion. But I find his writing too pedantic, convoluted and self-important. Still, DC’s been doing enough with its “Are you ready for ‘Batman R.I.P.’?” marketing that I felt compelled to check this jumping-off-point issue out.

So, supposedly, this story is the culmination of everything Morrison’s been developing since he started on the title and, of course, ties in some way into Final Crisis. And there’s no disputing that Morrison and Daniel have given this issue a feeling of gravitas. Reading it you really do get the feeling something pretty big is happening. It’s like an aura hanging over the entire issue. Batman’s not quite acting like himself, especially in regard to Bruce’s relationship to the beautiful Jezebel Jet, introduced to us in Morrison’s first story arc and who, last issue, deduced Bruce’s secret. Their moments together give the reader the sense that Bruce may be pondering the next phase of his life and, maybe, a life without Batman. Bruce’s recent behavior, plus the string of trials he’s been through, sparks a strong and pointed conversation between Tim and Alfred, one of the highlights of this issue, actually. And maybe most ominously, a slew of new characters are introduced, affiliated with The Black Glove and harkening back to the Joker’s warning in DC Universe #0. Ah, and speaking of the Joker…

It’s hard to imagine an epic Batman story without his fiercest villain. If nothing else, Morrison and Daniel give us a Joker that’s as frightening as he’s ever been portrayed. Seriously, this Joker is just sick. And, appearing at the end of this issue, he bookends a tale that opens with a mysterious challenge by a Batman, six months in the future, shrouded by the darkness of a stormy night. This image is especially mysterious as, given this arc’s title, there’s no way to be sure just who’s under the Bat’s cowl. I’ve got to admit, despite rolling my eyes at Morrison’s signature grouping of mysterious new characters, this story and Daniel’s stunning art really got my attention. This issue was really foreboding. I’m curious and I’m on board at least until the next installment which, just based on the teaser, should yield some serious nastiness for Batman. Surprised as I am to say this, Batman #676 is my pick of the week.

Zorro #3
Dynamite Comics
Writer/Cover/Art Director: Matt Wagner
Drawn by: Francesco Francavilla
Cover by: Matt Wagner

I’m a huge Zorro fan, and have been blown away by Dynamite’s Year One take on The Lone Ranger, so I had high hopes and expectations for this series, especially with Matt Wagner at the creative helm. And I loved this title when it first came out. It delivered everything I wanted: fun, mystery, some back story and an exciting ending. The second issue, sadly, was a let down and this issue, I’m afraid, isn’t much better.

But, to cover off on the story, just as we’re seeing in The Lone Ranger where Reid is finally about to come face-to-face with his legendary nemesis, here in Zorro our hero comes face-to-face with the tyrannical Gonzales who’s been terrifying and torturing the local populace. Narrated by Diego’s friend and assistant Bernardo, we move back and forth between the current time as Zorro metes out punishment to the corrupt local officials and the past where we’re seeing the young Diego’s training for his future life. But the whole effort is mostly underwhelming. The art, especially Zorro’s depiction now that we finally get a clear shot of him, just leaves too much to be desired and the telling of Zorro’s back-story is taking too long and just plain feel disjointed from the current storyline. Given my love for the character I feel compelled to buy the next few issues but I’m starting to feel that I should just stick with Lone Ranger, delays and all, for my classic masked hero fix.

Jonathan74’s "Ask A British Dude" Trade Review

Bone: One Volume Edition
Cartoon Books
Written and drawn by: Jeff Smith

Between 1991 and 2004 Jeff Smith wrote and drew 55 issues of Bone. During the same period of time, whenever I saw a copy of this on the shelf of whatever comic shop I patronised at the time, I passed it by, rather put off by the cutesy Disney-esque characters, despite hearing only good things about it.

My resolve was worn down in 2004 with the publication of the one volume edition, clocking in at about 1,300 pages and collecting all 55 issues. Lacking anything to else read, with some serious persuasion by the then owner of my LCS, and for a decent price, I picked up this doorstopper volume. Within a few pages I was hooked and wondering why I hadn’t been reading this a long time ago.

On the upside, though I got the read the whole story in a short space of time, rather than over 13 years …..

So what’s so good about it?

The three main characters are the Bone cousins; the good natured Fone Bone, the selfish, scheming Phoney Bone, and the silly, carefree Smiley Bone. Due to one of Phoney’s schemes backfiring, the cousins have been run out of their hometown of Boneville, and find themselves lost in a desert, before a swarm of locusts gets them further lost and separated in a strange valley, populated by talking animals and humans.

It’s not long before it’s apparent that there’s something sinister going on in the Valley. Almost immediately, strange creatures are looking for Phoney Bone, while other strange creatures have them under the protection. Fone Bone finds refuge with Thorn, a young girl, who lives with her grandmother, Gran’ma Ben. Thorn is troubled with strange dreams of dragons, while Gran’ma Ben clearly knows more than she’s letting on.

The essence of the story of Bone is fairly simple; sinister powers want to awaken a terrible, ancient evil. However, there’s a long way to go, both physically and metaphorically, to get there as there’s a number of adventures to be had and characters and relationships to unfold.

The initial tone is fairly light and comedic, while things darken (and get downright macabre in some places) as the story progresses. Not that the darkness is far away from the comedic moments, or vice versa, so there is a nice balance to the tone.

There’s plenty of well timed comedy action sequences, Phoney’s attempts to rig the annual Valley highlight, the Great Cow Race (as well as his other backfiring schemes), Fone Bone and Smiley Bone’s encounter with Rock Jaw and the secret to why Phoney Bone is being hunted down.

Despite the Disney-ish art style there’s some grotesque moments too. The leader of the rat creatures, Kingdok has a fair share of indignities heaped upon up him, and Kingdok’s superior, The Hooded One, is pretty ghoulish. Most of book seven, Ghost Circles, is pretty bleak.

The story’s full of great supporting characters, Ted the bug, Phoney’s nemesis and Gran’ma Ben’s old flame, Lucius Down, the aloof Roque Ja (or “Rock Jaw”) Master of the Eastern Border and the ever present, quiche obsessed stupid, stupid rat creatures. As things move along we find out more about the characters, and there’s nice development in both the characters and their shifting relationships. There are also a couple of ill tempered giant bees in there for good measure…

As well as writing all of this, Jeff Smith provided the black and white art as well. It’s crisp and clean though out and with some brilliant sequential segments, tiny movements telling the story without words. What I enjoy most about the artwork is the use of perspective. Quite often we’re shown things at a distance, particularly the surrounding menace at the outset, or the isolation that some of the characters start to feel as the story develops.

To the best of my recollection, this is the only book I have ever persuaded a non comic book reading friend to take up. He thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that he said he finally understood why comic readers got upset about changes in movie adaptations, and when he read that Smith had recently done a deal for the movie rights, his reaction was to express concern that the studio wouldn’t “mess it up”…

I don’t think I can do justice to 13 years of work in a few paragraphs, save to say this is one of my favourite titles on the bookshelf, and I’d heartily recommend this to anyone. Get some quiche in as well!