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Offline Sam Wilson

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sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 3/11/09
« on: March 12, 2009, 04:09:21 pm »
Keith’s Review

Invincible Iron Man #11
Marvel Comics
Written by: Matt Fraction
Drawn by: Salvador Larocca

I have mentioned this fact every time I have ever reviewed this book, but it bears repeating. I think that this title is one of Marvel’s most cinematic and well-choreographed books they publish monthly.

We are in issue eleven now and with each new story the main character and his cast are continually put through the paces, there is a clear cut rise and fall in the plot, and the stories are almost rhythmic in how they are paced by Matt Fraction and Larocca.

Tony Stark’s world came crashing down the minute Norman Osborn became took his place as the world’s top cop. SHIELD has been disbanded and rising from its ashes is a more aggressive organization called HAMMER. Norman Osborn has taken it upon himself to make Tony Stark the world’s most wanted man and has launched a massive manhunt to bring Iron Man in.

Tony has very few people in his inner circle these days and as it so happens, they all make an appearance in this issue as the fallout from Tony being hunted reaches them also. Tony has made an Iron Man armor that Pepper Potts can wear to be protected, Maria Hill is investigating off on her own, while looking over her shoulder every 30 seconds or so, and even Jim Rhodes comes calling only to have to engage in a quasi-real battle with Iron Man (to make it look good for Norman), while the two are able to talk via their armors privately.

There is only one problem with having Iron Man battle War Machine in a non-extremis powered Iron Man suit. War Machine far outmatches Tony’s older armors and short of a last ditch Hail Mary by Tony, War Machine sends Iron Man into the ocean with a badly damaged suit.

This of course plays very well into Norman Osborn’s hands as his pact with the Illuminaughty has Tony with a sinking and damaged suit of armor falling right into Namor’s hands. Norman implores Namor to kill Tony for him and Namor gladly agrees.

This book always seems to deliver. Out of all of the titles that Fraction pens for Marvel, this I believe is by far his best. Every issue reads like a movie and you can’t help but frantically root for the hero as he goes through nightmare after nightmare. Salvador Larocca is turning in the work of his career here as his current style plays incredibly well with this cast of characters.

I think there is no bad time to jump on board with this title if you are an Iron Man fan, or even if you are not… by the end of your first issue, you probably will be.

Farhat’s Reviews

Scalped #26
Written by: Jason Aaron
Drawn by: Davide Furno
Cover by: Jock

Dashiell Bad-Horse is the baddest motherfu**er in comics. Let me explain: he has a background as a combat vet, having served in Bosnia; he’s pretty adept at Jeet Kune Do (and the use of nunchucku by extension); and he’s a bona fide FBI agent. If you’ve been reading “Scalped” from the beginning like I have, you really don’t learn all that stuff until a few issues in. Dashiell introduces himself by beating the living fu** out of a bunch of people. With nunchucku. Yeah. Word. Soon enough we learn he is a tribal cop working for Chief Red-Crow, who is pretty much the Don of his rez (a South Dakota Native American reservation). Red-Crow came into power pretty much by violence and intimidation, and he is also responsible for the murder of two FBI agents, a crime which dates back to Wounded Knee in the 1970’s. Involved in that murder is Dashiell’s mom, whom he left when he was 13 intending never to come back. But he came back, and now works as a cop for the man who was indirectly responsible for his mother’s death and who lives off the subjugation and exploitation of his own people. Well, Dashiell really doesn’t work for the Chief. He actually works for a corrupt FBI agent who was friends with the agents Red-Crow killed back at Wounded Knee, and who wants Red-Crow taken down by any means necessary. Dashiell is more or less a tool, used by both sides unwillingly. Dashiell usually deals with the stress of this life by beating the living sh** out of people, having meaningless sex with old girlfriends, and most recently, drugs. So where is the story now?

Issue 25 begins a new arc, “High Lonesome,” which introduces us to a con-man, a black guy, who finds his way to the rez to count cards at Red Crow’s casino. A career criminal, we never get a name but we know he’s a pro and might be more addicted to living the life than the actual con. At the end of his downward spiral of an introduction, we find out a connection he has to one of our main characters, and the last two pages are pretty goddamn hard-core. The second part of “High Lonesome” focuses on Diesel. For those of you who don’t remember him, Diesel is a white-boy FBI agent who is also undercover on the rez. He is also a wannabe Native American. He’s butted heads with Dashiell before, kicked his a** even. But then he fu**ed up; he killed a crack-head and then her son who sought revenge, so Dash shot his a** and put him in jail (yes, bad a**). Anyway, issue 26 is the origin of Diesel, or maybe a better title would be, “How a Sociopath Comes To Be”. Goddamn. It was brutal, but that’s why this book is great…

Hands down this is my favorite book coming out right now. Not since Preacher have I been this excited about a monthly. Jason Aaron is brutal, raw and unflinching in his story about life on the rez. After reading scalped sometimes you will think to yourself, “man, how bad ass is this?”, and sometimes you will feel like you just got punched in the balls. Aaron is so good at what he does that he evokes that kind of emotion in everything he writes. Seriously, check this book out. My pick of the week. Word.

DMZ #40
DC/Vertigo Comics
Written by: Brian Wood
Drawn by: Riccardo Burchelli
Cover by: John Paul Leon

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. New York City is divided, with the “Free States” controlling 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, 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 as an intern to a world famous journalist and ended up becoming 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. Latest up for Matty, he finds himself working for Parco Delgado, the newly elected President of the DMZ (and he has an uncanny resemblance to Sen Dawg from Cypress Hill). Also in the mix is Matty’s high-powered mom, who helped Parco get elected and now is a close personal advisor to him. Thus far in the current storyline, “War Power”, Parco Delgado’s presidency is tenuous to say the least, with Trustwell (think Blackwater) working on behalf of the US Government and ready to jump at the first sign of weakness on Parco’s part. Parco is pretty much fu$#ed because he needs to start rebuilding Manhattan, and to do that he is going to need a crap-load of money. Parco sends Matty to do some fund raising in Chinatown where he is looking for some lost gold, kind of a DMZ urban legend. Matty finds some gold, and also finds out Parco made a deal with the devil both he and Matty knew to get it out of Chinatown. That devil is Matty’s redneck nemesis, the Free States Commander. In the past he’s fu$#ed Matty over, but now he’s on Parco’s dime and under orders to escort Matty and company the fu$# out of Chinatown (with the gold, of course). He doesn’t hesitate to poke at Matty either, chiding him for his journalistic integrity (or lack of it anyway). He does get Parco his gold though, but not all of it was meant for government startup cash. In the final part of “War Power” we find out what some of that cash was for, and Matty once again finds himself at a crossroads. The path he takes? Not one I saw coming, and that’s a good thing…

If you are looking for something different and politically relevant, this book is for you. This issue would be a bad jumping on point, but check out a few of the trades already out and I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 3/11/09
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2009, 04:09:39 pm »
Joe’s Reviews

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 (of 3)
DC Comics
Written by: Tony Daniel
Drawn by: Tony Daniel
Covers by: Tony Daniel

Anyone who’s read my reviews knows how I feel about Final Crisis and Batman RIP. It’s not that I’m against the principle plotlines of these stories (well, a caveat to that statement is that I don’t even know what the plot of Final Crisis was, other than Darkseid’s trying to take over Earth), I just couldn’t stand the way they came together as actual stories. The prime culprit was Grant Morrison’s incomprehensible writing which I can only describe as an insult to his readers. So, having been underwhelmed and annoyed by these two stories, it was with little expectation that I picked up DC’s follow-up mini-event: “Batman: Battle for the Cowl.” To be fair, this one’s not written by Morrison so I should have had higher expectations.

And, I’m here to tell you that this one issue delivers the one thing that neither of the two events that preceded it could. In a word, excitement! If you can put any resentment you have either over the fact that Batman’s dead (if, in fact, he really is dead, despite the charred husk of a body Superman was holding in Final Crisis), or over Morrison’s storytelling, I can unabashedly tell you this story packs some serious punch. I’ve admired Tony Daniel’s art in the flagship Batman title but have never read anything he’s written. Well, this issue adds additional respect for Daniel in my book. Gotham is in total chaos and, where Arkham’s concerned, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the inmates are running the asylum. Nightwing, Robin, Huntress, Batwoman, Black Canary, Wildcat, Catwoman and a host of other trusted Bat partners are doing everything they can to keep order in a city that’s being lit up with the news of Batman’s death. It’s amazing to realize that the reputation of one man was enough to keep this city as quiet as it was before his death.

The sheer pandemonium that’s now erupting is a tribute to the fear Batman installed in this town. Still, with the best efforts of this crew of heroes, there’s just too much to handle. Not only has every two bit thug come out of the woodwork but Two-Face and The Penguin have declared open war on each other. But that’s not all. Back to Arkham, with a nod to the fact that The Joker survived his fall at the end of RIP, The Black Mask frees some of the most notorious of Batman’s rogue’s gallery and, with The Black Mask at the helm, they’ve become an organized force for mayhem. Imagine Scarecrow, Croc, Ivy, White Shark and Zzazz as a team! The police, and Commissioner Gordon are at their wits’ end. And so are our heroes. Not to mention, there are a couple of unknowns (though I think it’s pretty clear who one of them is) who’ve claimed the Bat Mantle already, and without the consent of the core Bat team!

Daniel’s story and art are fast paced, furious, bone-crushingly impactful and just downright exciting. I felt out of breath just reading this first issue. What a blast! The story to kick off who gets the honor to don the cowl is off to a helluva start. Thank goodness, beyond Paul Dini’s Detective work, there’s a creator who can still breathe life into the Bat franchise. Great, great read and I’m on board for this series.

Captain Britain and the MI13 #11
Marvel Comics
Written by: Paul Cornell
Drawn by: Leonard Kirk
Cover by: Stuart Immonen

Last issue we saw one of the coolest and most innovative moment in comics. Well, maybe that’s pushing it but when I saw Dracula negotiating a cease fire with Dr. Doom on the surface of the moon I couldn’t help but think that was pretty freaking cool. And not only did Dracula required no life support at all, he could speak and be heard in the vacuum of space. Yeah, maybe not the coolest but a pretty cool moment. In this discussion Dracula made clear his plans, plans written in his victim’s blood on a mirror this issue for Blade to see: “I declare, on behalf of my landless nation, war on the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Tell any of you that are left: We will be coming. You will be the last.” Dracula fully intends to settle his diaspora of vampires in Great Britain and, so, in his arrogance and twisted sense of honor, has pronounced a formal declaration of war. And with the threat, “tell any of you that are left,” Dracula references the attacks on Captain Britain and his band of warriors at the end of last and beginning of this issue.

And this attack is one of the most brutal in comics. A force of magically enhanced vampire warriors have been launched from Dracula’s stronghold on the moon directly at the various components of Captain Britain’s partners as well as the Captain himself. With the first page we’re treated to an explosion of bodies as well as brutally severed body parts. Really pretty gory for a standard comic book! The Black Knight, now wielding the true Ebony Blade, and Dr. Faiza Hussain, in possession of none other than Excalibur itself, are similarly struck in their plane 10,0000 feet above the ground. And Spitfire, she of the 1970’s Invaders days, recently revealed to be a vampire herself, encounters her dead vampire son who arrives to recruit her for, well, that would be telling. But, suffice it to say, there’s more than one traitor among the MI13.

There’s some very serious trauma that happens all throughout this issue and Dracula, the Vampire Lord, clearly has control at this point. It’s great to see Blade take a central role in a comic book again following the cancellation of his own book, wherein he battled the Vampire Lord, several months ago. Long time Tomb of Dracula fans will delight at a Gene Colan style Dracula that’s presented to the gathering MI13 as Blade addresses them concerning their enemy, they assess their situation and plan for war. This book long has been considered one of the very best of Marvel’s recent offerings. I’m sorry to say I never picked it up until two issues ago when Dracula made his appearance. Cornell and Kirk are delivering some serious goods here, blending action, horror, suspense and intrigue into a story that mixes superheroes with the supernatural. While that combination doesn’t always work out, here it delivers the goods.

Ghost Rider #33
Marvel Comics
Written by: Jason Aaron
Drawn by: Tony Moore
Cover by: Arthur Sudyam

There’s a reason Jason Aaron was named Wizards Best Comic Book Writer of 2008. It’s because he’s so damn good! Check out my writing partner’s review of Scalped if you don’t believe me. Or, if not, check out Ghost Rider. While DC was having their Final Crisis and Marvel’s Secret Invasion was happening, this quiet little book (yeah, right) was accomplishing the unthinkable, the true Final Crisis. Recently Johnny Blaze learned he was not a pawn of Hell at all. Rather, the Ghost Rider is a weapon of Heaven, put on Earth to mete out vengeance and justice, and that the Ghost Riders’ handler was one of God’s most trusted Angels, Zadkiel. Problem is, over the last few issues it had become very apparent that Zadkiel had an agenda of his own now and, by combining the power of Earth’s various Ghost Riders, this renegade Angel actually succeeded in overthrowing the Kingdom of Heaven! That’s right, Zadkiel accomplished something Lucifer could not. He conquered Heaven. That’s how last issue ended and, seriously, how do you follow something like that up?

If you’re Jason Aaron, you back up into a one issue refrain. In this issue, titled “Trials and Tribulations,” we find the Caretaker dead and his beautiful young granddaughter mourning his body and reflecting on both the state of the universe and that of the Spirits of Vengeance. And in her tearful reverie, we are treated to a history of sorts of the various Ghost Rider incarnations going all the way back to the time of Noah and the Great Flood and the earliest days of America. Every single Ghost Rider throughout history has terrorized and killed evil doers and tracking forward through time and viewing all of their historical, violent handiwork is a real treat for the eye. Especially with Tony Moore, he of Walking Dead fame, rendering them in all their flaming and furious glory. But, as mind blowing as all this is, the story really shifts into high gear when the all-new Caretaker visits the convent where her Mother Superior dwells only to find all of the nuns there savagely beaten by a Hulk-like creature of called The Deacon who, along with an as yet unnamed vampire, is an emissary of Zadkiel’s. Seriously, only Jason Aaron could dream up a savage battle with a mountainous villain against a convent of nun-chuck-wielding nuns!

Just as all hope seemed lost, hope is renewed in the strangest (but kind of in a Terminator-like) way. Of course, that being the case, knowing that an evil arch-angel is now in charge of Heaven, any hope (even in the form of vengeance) is going to have to face its challenges soon. Now that the battle for Heaven has ended, and ended badly, all our heroes have to find their way back somehow, right? Aaron’s story is twisted, surreal and compelling. Moore’s no stranger to the supernatural and his pencils seem to be a perfect match to the craziness Aaron’s cooking up. For sure, this book is my pick of the week.