Author Topic: wktf and Sam Wilson's Comic and tpb Reviews, 9/8/06  (Read 2871 times)

Offline Sam Wilson

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wktf and Sam Wilson's Comic and tpb Reviews, 9/8/06
« on: September 08, 2006, 01:13:25 pm »
Wktf’s Reviews

It’s good to be back in the saddle after having to be traveling out of town last week.  After a couple of expensive weeks, this week was extremely light.  The Bowen Designs Classic Adam Warlock statue was on display at my lcs right next to the Bowen Thanos, and Hard Hero’s Thing statue had arrived as well.  They all looked great!  What I’m reviewing are all the comics I bought…though I also picked up the new trade paperback collection of the recently concluded outstanding post-Infinite Crisis Batman story arc, “Face the Face.”  My pick of the week is Dynamic Entertainment’s premier issue of their new Lone Ranger comic (“Hi-Yo Silver!  Away!”) but high marks and honorable mention must go to a title that’s not getting much fan notice at all, the Beyond mini-series by the most excellent JLU writer, Dwayne McDuffie, who also wrote an outstanding Fantastic Four one-shot story about Reed and Doom several months ago.

The Lone Ranger #1
Dynamite Entertainment
Written by: Brett Matthews
Drawn by: Sergio Carriello
Art Direction and Cover Artist: John Cassaday

I’ll admit it, I’m a Lone Ranger fan.  I loved the Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels movies and TV series, I’ve got the Electric Tiki Lone Ranger statue proudly displayed in my collection as well as a framed Lone Ranger movie poster hanging in my office at work.  So, suffice it to say, I was looking forward to this new series as soon as I read about it on newsarama.com.  I’m not sure what John Cassaday’s “Art Director” role is on the book, other than providing a big comics name to boost sales.  Both his covers for this issue are pretty cool, though…especially the blood soaked Ranger badge cover.

This issue takes us into the life of John Reid, son of a Texas Ranger.  In the brutal west of 1869, his lawman father takes no pleasure in killing and wants John to grow up with values and morals.  John’s older and larger brother, Dan, also a Ranger, teaches John that brothers don’t ever let each other fall.  Even though John leaves Texas, presumably for an education on the east coast, his dream has always been to be a ranger with his father and brother.  And it is the granting of that wish that begins the chain of events that, similar to other great heroes in comics, leads to enormous family tragedy and pain, and starts John down a path, possibly to justice but equally possibly to wreak vengeance on the evil Black Bart.

The Lone Ranger does not appear in this issue, though Tonto certainly does.  And John Reid, whom we know will become the Lone Ranger, is surprisingly small and frail looking, at least compared to his older brother and father.  In fact, he still appears to be very much a boy in this issue which only seems to increase his level of pain but left me wondering how this scrap of a man could become the greatest hero of the old west.  There’s some nice flashback storytelling here as we relive parts of John’s youth.  Carriello and colorist Dean White use the interesting techniques of both washing out the colors and mimicking photo creases on each panel to give the impression of the distant past.  Matthews plot and script are serviceable enough, but this first chapter felt a little thin and left me wishing for a little more.  Still, this issue was strong enough for me to come back for issue #2.  I hope we’ll see the beginnings of Reid’s relationship with his American Indian companion as well as a compelling process toward which he dons his famous mask.  We’ll see…

Detective Comics #823
DC Comics
Written by: Paul Dini
Drawn by: Joe Benitez

The most important outcome of Infinite Crisis, in my opinion, is the re-characterization of The Batman.   Gone is that colossal, paranoid two dimensional jerk who emerged from Frank Miller’s work post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Miller gave us a darker Dark Knight but the succession of writers who followed him both in Batman’s own titles and in JLA pretty much took Batman down a path from which, fortunately, he’s emerging.  In Morrison’s Batman we return to the hero who values his family and relationships and whose Bruce Wayne is again a big part of Batman’s world.  And in Paul Dini’s Detective Comics we get a more thoughtful, cerebral Batman, a detective again.

Paul Dini’s last two issues were tremendous self-contained story.  But that really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Being one of the creative geniuses on Batman The Animated Series which, for the most part, is four seasons of some of the best self-contained Batman stories in any medium, not to mention the self-contained tabloid size works on DC’s biggest icons he recently created with Alex Ross, we should expect no less.  And, so far, he’s delivering in spades.  Last issue’s teaming with “Face the Face” artist Don Kramer was a high point.  Unfortunately, this collaboration with Joe Benitez is not nearly as strong, though clearly the writing outshines Benitez’s rather cartoony art style.  Pamela Isley, locked away in Arkham, finds herself in an impossible position.  A form of plant life is trying to kill her, she who’s always been the guardian and protector of all things flora.  Of course, Batman and Robin get involved and, while Ivy’s safely ensconced in The Batcave, our dark knight detective does some investigating.  What he turns up, kudos to Dini, is some pretty heinous and murderous activity on Ivy’s part that’s not only put her in this counterintuitive situation but even created a new, murderous life form.  Clearly she’s not the innocent victim that she appears to be.

Overall, while Batman’s discovery truly is gruesome the story and, especially the art (I really liked Don Kramer’s art last issue), feel far more rushed than the prior two issues.  I’ve enjoyed the more cerebral nature of these storylines and feel like Dini took a bit of a detour with this issue.  Kind of a disappointment, overall, especially given the expectations the writer has created.  I hope next issue, with The Penguin, gets back on track.

Beyond #3 of 6
Marvel Comics
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie
Drawn by: Scott Kollins

Remember in Secret Wars when the Beyonder’s high tech contraption appeared in Central Park and took the greatest of Marvel’s heroes of to Battleworld?  Well, that same construct appeared in Central Park and transported Greg Willis, aka Gravity, to a starship where he met a rag-tag group of (for the most part) other B-level characters:  Wasp, Henry Pym, Firebird, Kraven the Hunter II, The Hood, Medusa and Venom (the new Venom, the former Scorpion).  Oh, and Spider-Man.  But with the Beyonder’s promise to grant “all you desire” if the group killed their enemies, Venom drove his symbiot-formed tail through Spider-Man, shockingly killing him.  Medusa proceeded to whip the tar out of Venom but all this led to the starship’s crashing on Battleworld where this very peculiar collection of characters encountered both Deathlock and Dragon Man, whose fiery breath blasted Hank’s previously shrunken Avengers quinjet out of the sky.

This issue kicks off with a bang as the downed party must subdue the uber-powerful Dragon Man.  The action’s pretty fast paced and the interactions between the members is both colorful and intriguing.  I especially liked Deathlock’s “medium well” response the the Wasp who asked if he was alright after having been on the fiery end of Dragon Man’s blasts.  One mystery at the end of last issue was how the dead Spider-Man could get up and walk away.  Kraven picks up Peter’s scent, and he’s joined by The Hood.  Of course, all is not as it seems and we discover a creature who first debuted way back in Avengers #2 and has not been seen much of since that time.  I may be in the minority but I’m really liking this mini-series.  McDuffie, as always, delivers on the plot and especially the dialogue.  Honestly, I can’t at all figure out what’s going on here and why this particular group has been assembled, but I’m having a good time reading through the confusion.  I’m also a fan of Kollins’ art both from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Thor: Blood Oath.  Like I said, I don’t really get what’s going on but I’m having a good time trying to get there.  You guys who aren’t reading this should give it a spin and see if you aren’t intrigued enough to want to pick up issue #4.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: wktf and Sam Wilson's Comic and tpb Reviews, 9/8/06
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 01:13:54 pm »
Sam Wilson’s Reviews

A really small week this week, notable being Y The Last Man  and Paul Dini on Detective Comics.  My pick of the week this week is Garth Ennis’s The Punisher (go Garth), and let’s not forget to pick up the Gen 13 tpb from DC/Wildstorm, which recaps the team’s origin in preparation for the new book by Gail Simone and Talent Caldwell.   Keeping it short and sweet this week, let’s get on to the reviews…

The Outsiders issue #40
DC Comics
Written by: Judd Winick
Drawn by: Matthew Clark

For those of you who haven’t been following “The Outsiders”, they have recently been through some tough times. On top of being fed all of their bad guy intel by Deathstroke disguised as Batman, one of their own members went crazy and tried to kill all of them and the Teen Titans (Indigo, the android from the future who turned out to be a Braniac). Nightwing quit the team in disgust, Starfire and Captain Marvel Jr. signed on and Jade and Arsenal blew up their old headquarters. Then there was “Infinite Crisis”, which split the team up as Donna Troy grabbed Starfire and a few others to go off and do some cosmic battling, and Nightwing stayed behind to lead the assault on the alternate Earth’s (Earth 3 I think, I don’t know, who can keep track?) Lex Luthor’s artic stronghold. Then “one year later” happened, and the team once again went through another major change.

This new, “one year later” team of Outsiders is supposed to be more proactive (kinda like they first set out to be). Only different this time, I guess. Anyway, they are going to get their hands more dirty and go after some big fish and actually try and do some good in the world dealing (yeah, okay, kinda repetitive, but not, be patient). Anyway Nightwing is back in charge; Grace, Thunder, Shift and Katanna (an original Outsider) are all back, and new to the team: Captain Boomerrang. Well, Captain Boomerrang’s son anyway, the new Captain Boomerrang, who we last saw in the pages of “Identity Crisis”. So this new team decides to set wrongs with a heavy hand,  and presently they are mixing it up with Monsieur Mallah and the Brain.  It turns out Mallah and the Brain have been collecting metahuman DNA for quite some time in an attempt to clone the perfect body for the Brain, but the Society of Supervillans has been using the clones as merc’s for sale (they don’t last long, there is some defect that causes the clones to break down in a short period of time).  Currently Mallah and the Brain have all the members of the Outsiders except for Katanna and a tiny part of Metamorpho captured and awaiting DNA sampling for future cloning purposes.  Well, it doesn’t happen and the wacky antics that ensue will most likely be over next issue, in the final chapter of this current storyline…

The Outsiders is a good team book.  Not the greatest mind you, but it’s good.  I like the characters (my favorite being Grace), and I like their mission, but sometimes I wonder if they are grown up Teen Titans or bad asses on the hunt, it seems like Winick is trying to play them off as both and it doesn’t work so well for me.  Either way, the book is holding up for now, its definitely the best Nightwing book out there.  There are several tpb’s collecting old storylines, and this issue might be confusing, but if you have the time or inclination I recommend this story only if you are a fan of the Wolfman/Perez Titan’s or a Nightwing fan in general. 

The Punisher issue #37
Marvel Comics
Written by: Garth Ennis
Drawn by: Leo Fernandez
Cover by: Tim Bradstreet

My history with the Punisher is a long one, I remember waaaay back in the day when he first appeared during Frank Miller’s “Daredevil” run in the classic “Born Again” storyline, and also remember fondly some of the best Punisher stories ever told in the first 18 or so issues of Carl Potts and Jim Lee’s “Punisher War Journal”, but in the late ‘90’s Frank Castle drifting from popularity, a victim of his own hype we didn’t see to much of him, and the little we did see was a slap in the face to the great works that originally brought this character to prominence. Enter Garth Ennis and the Marvel Knights Punisher series (the 2nd one), and it’s eventual evolution into the current Marvel MAX series.  This is the Punisher we’ve always wanted to see.  Gritty, insane, violent, unstoppable.  Garth has given the Punisher a new lease on life, and the unyielding saga of revenge continues with a new storyline starting in issue #37.

Remember General Nikoloai Alexandrovich Zakharov?  Nick Fury sent Frank after him a few issues back and they two of them ended up playing a game of chicken with nuclear warheads over Moscow.  Frank won, and General Zakharov hasn’t exactly forgotten.  The General finds out through an American who was in on the Russian Operation that it was Frank who was on the ground, and goes through the steps to draw Castle out towards him.  Meanwhile, Frank is back in NYC doing what he does best, offing criminals, and find out some Russians are interested in him.  Oh yes, this is just the beginning, but I am very interested to see how the rest of this story pans out.  Something tells me its going to be bloody.

Tpb Reviews

A mixed bag of trade reviews today…

Wktf’s Review

300
Dark Horse Comics
Written and drawn by: Frank Miller
Painted by: Lynn Varley

Frank Miller has always maintained a pretty high media profile.  In addition to being one of the single most famous living comic book creator around he’s caused some serious fan outcry over his treatment of All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, is about to release his Holy Terror, Batman story of The Dark Night’s taking on Osama bin Ladin, and will recite his feelings about our country and his renewed sense of patriotism this 9/11 on National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” essay program (for more on this, see http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=82660).  In addition to his Daredevil and Sin City stories’ recently being translated into film, his OGN 300 now is in full movie production mode (for some reference footage, see http://300themovie.warnerbros.com/).  Given this, I thought I’d take a look at this little discussed and less famous Frank Miller work.

300 is Miller’s retelling of The Battle of Thermopylae, circa 481-480 B.C., where King Leonidas of Greece stood with his 300 Spartan bodyguards against an insurmountable army of hundreds of thousands of soldiers amassed from two separate continents by the Persian Emperor Xerxes whose intent was to overthrow Greece and add the small but powerful country to his growing empire.  While this battle remains one of the most important events in the ancient world, I’ve read enough reviews of this work to know Miller took some serious liberties with enough of this story to leave historical purists scoffing at this book.  That said, I’m not a scholar of ancient Greece history so I’ll simply trust those others who are so bent out of shape that this story’s lacking in historical accuracy.  But for me, I have no such issues.  If you’re looking for a sprawling, bloody, absolutely ferociously told and drawn story filled with battles, bloodshed, mayhem and even, yes it’s true, characterization and story, then you don’t have to look much farther than 300.

This book is both exciting and moving as King Leonidas struggles, stresses and tortures himself over his fear for his nation in the face of impossible odds.  Still, his inner turmoil does not prevent him from designing battle strategies, commanding his men or from plunging into battle, himself.  The story also focuses on the young soldier Stelios (jokingly called “stumbling-os” by his fellow soldiers) and the lyrical storyteller Dilios to drive home the Spartans’ bravery and overall toughness (the adjective “spartan” came from these men, after all).   The battle scenes are awesome, even cinematic in scope, aided in no small part by this book’s unique roughly 10” x 13” landscape format that makes each two page spread look like a widescreen movie shot.  Miller’s writing and art are very strong.  Given his typical crime-noir style, even in his superhero work, it’s surprising to see him tackle a story like this; however, the operatic, epic scope and style he’s employed so effectively in Daredevil, Dark Knight Returns and Sin City serve both him and the reader well here.  But it is Lynn Varley (Miller’s wife and collaborator on his Dark Knight stories) whose watercolors go the furthest to creating the dark and bloody mood and feel of this story.  The colors of earth and blood run throughout this book.

This book is still in print and delivers 88 pages of story for a cover price of $30.  With the movie coming out no doubt it will receive some other kind of trade treatment soon.  It’s available at most bookstores and is easy enough to pick up online.  While this gruesome tale isn’t for everyone, maybe not even for some Frank Miller fans, I thoroughly enjoyed it (it’s been sitting in my bookshelf for year, unread, up until now) and highly recommend it.

Sam Wilson’s Review

Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 2 (HC)
Marvel Comics
Written by: Warren Ellis, Mike Carey and Mark Millar
Drawn by: Adam Kubert and Jae Lee

So, for those of you not familiar, a quick rundown on the Ultimate Fantastic Four: yes, they are still Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, and all of their powers are the same, but there the similarities end. The Ultimate FF are teenagers, at a young age Reed Richards was found to be one of the smartest people on the planet so he was recruited to work for a government think tank operated out of the Baxter Building in New York City, Sue Storm’s father being the head honcho and scientist, and Sue herself being a genius level biologist. They never went up in space, but a lab accident, a botched attempt to teleport to the negative zone (found out later to be caused by a Victor Van Damme, also a resident genius at said think tank), gave them all of their powers. They were kept secret by the US government until recently, when on the way back from the Negative Zone they crashed on the Las Vegas strip and are forced to fight the minions of Annihilus in front of the general public. Yeah, so now they’re young, brilliant heroes who live on prime Manhattan real estate and don’t have to go to public school.  Collected superbly in an oversized hardcover is three excellent stories from UFF, “The N Zone” by Warren Ellis and Adam Kubert, “Think Tank” by Mike Carey and Jae Lee and “Inhuman” by Mark Millar and Jae Lee (from UFF Annual #1). 

The first story in UFF Vol. 2 is “The N Zone”, which features the gang’s first foray into the famed Negative Zone.  Reed convinces the army to somehow sign off on him, Sue, Ben and Johnny taking off in a retrofitted Space Shuttle (renamed the “Awesome”) to explore Negative space.  The FF isn’t really known outside the Baxter Building yet, but after they return from the N Zone crash landing on the Las Vegas ship saving the world from an alien invasion, everyone knows who they are.  The Second story, “Think Tank”, features a female version of the Mad Thinker (from the regular Marvel U) who used to be part of papa Storm’s think tank at the Baxter Building. She was kicked out for being a little wonky, and comes back with a vengance to take out Reed and the gang.  Of course things don’t go as planned.  Can’t say I’m a fan of the second story, Jae Lee’s art never really turned my crank and Mike Carey has always been a little disjointed in his storytelling efforts.  This leads us to the third and final story in the book, and my favorite of the three, “Inhuman”. 

“Inhuman” opens with some hikers up in the Himalayas, apparently they have made it too close to a place called “Attilan”, and two human like creatures (which are unrecognizable as any regular Marvel Universe character) take them back down the mountain, unconscious and probably unaware of what happened and what they witnessed. Cut to New York City, the Baxter Building. Reed, Ben and Sue are performing some type of Gastric Surgery on Papa Storm, and Johnnie is out clubbing. Just as Johnnie is about to leave the place he is at, he sees a beautiful blonde woman being chased down the street by the same two people (creatures, whatever) us readers recognize as the folks from the Mountains. Johnnie gives chase, gets his a$# kicked, and then a big a$# dog shows up (Lockjaw, duh), scares off the attackers and teleports Johnnie and the blonde off to safety back to the Baxter building. This woman, named Crystal, turns out to be from a superior race that lives in the Himalayas, a race where everyone has super-powers and live in a utopian society; no crimes have been committed in thousands of years because they stay away from the outside world. Apparently it is also a very boring world, and a proper one, for Crystal is royalty, and like most royalty she has been betroved, and the person she is betroved to, Maximus, is kind of mad so Crystal skips town and here she is. In NYC at the Baxter building with a big a$# teleporting dog. Soon enough though Crystal is whisked away by the same two persuants from earlier and the FF give chase, with the help of Lockjaw, and end up in the Himalayas in the City of Attilan. Oy vey, and so the adventure goes…

UFF Vol. 2 (HC) is in print and readily available for $29.99.  Definitely worth the price. 

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Re: wktf and Sam Wilson's Comic and tpb Reviews, 9/8/06
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2006, 06:21:16 am »
hmm... so it looks like the Space Phantom figures into the Beyond story.. ah..
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Offline masigl4179

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Re: wktf and Sam Wilson's Comic and tpb Reviews, 9/8/06
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2006, 02:52:40 pm »
12 picks
12) Cable & Deadpool#31- Actually this wasn't bad at all. I even thought this issue was funny, and I like how it hints that someone gets killed in the next issue of Civil War.
11) Young Avengers & Runaways#2- Much better than the last issue. I'm still not sure that I like the Runaways though, although the Young Avengers don't come off looking too much better with the inevitable "misunderstanding fight"
10) Outsiders#40- I like Outsiders, but come on Brother Brain and Monsieur Mallah are not that interesting. It's been at least 3 issues so far, let's see some new villains.
9) The All-new Atom#3- This was probably the best issue yet. I've committed myself to supporting this comic since it is written by a woman and features an Asian.  I can tell Gail Simone is in the process of setting up some interesting things here.
8. Mythos Hulk- This is way better than the X-men mythos. Maybe that's because Paul Jenkins already had extensive experience writing the Hulk before. Hopefully, the next one will be this good.
7) Hunter Killer#7- I didn't think I would like this title at first, but it's really been drawing me in.  I'm happy that it seems to be shipping on time now, because I'm starting to get hooked.
6) Detective Comics#823- This was another good issue by Paul Dini, but the story didn’t hold my attention has much as the art.  I don’t know I just thought it was missing something but maybe it's just that Poison Ivy isn’t that interesting to me.
5)52 Week 18- On point as usual. I was happy to see Ralph Dibny up and about after his tragic breakdown in week 13. I'm also really digging Renee' Montoya as well, especially the way she was trying to goad Black Adam into killing her.
4)Uncanny X-men#478- I'm telling you Brubaker's superb use of b-team X-men like Havoc and Polaris could really rival the work that Joss Whedon is doing on Astonishing and best of all, this title consistently comes out.
3) Agents of Atlas#2- This may be just be the sleeper hit of the year. I mean I was intrigued by the premise, but the execution is off the chain.  This is definitely a contender for mini-series of the year so far, especially since the writer doesn't ignore old bits of continuity, but rather tries to incorporate them into the mystery.
2) Local#6- Wow, this is brilliant. I really feel like I'm reading an autobiographical comic or something. This chick in the series has some serious personal issues, but it's fascinating to explore.
1) Beyond#3- Beyond is off the chain, and Dwayne McDuffie is hitting all the marks. I like how there is a lot going on in the beginning but then at the end there is yet another twist.