Once more into the breach with CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, where I frantically attempt to catch up with comments on comics that I have bought and/or received during my two-month hiatus, to be specific since March 21st, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.
THE BOYS #'s 29, 30: The stale X-Men satire finally expires, with little in the way of laughs or thrills, and now gives way to the inevitable "shoe's on the other foot NOW" storyline, in which our poor persecuted super-shits get a measure of revenge on Butcher and the titular lads (and lass). If it sounds like I'm down on this book, I'm not- there are more than a few little plot threads I'm interested in, even though, if you remember my piece on spinoff Herogasm the other day, I'm kinda dreading the outcome of one of 'em because I just don't think Garth has it in him to be kind. Anyway, it's still well done, although I think I'm beginning to wish it was a bit more well done, if you know what I mean- but I'm still on board. For now. #29: B+; #30: A-
FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: DANCE 1
FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: ESCAPE 1
FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: RUN#'s 1, 2: Run gives us the Human Flame doing just that, as all the "good"guys want payback for the death of Martian Manhunter, and is against all odds quite compelling as we see his desperate attempts to survive. Of course, he can't help but remain a douchebag even as he does so, which makes it all the more interesting. Escape presents Tom Tresser aka the Nemesis, locked away in some World Peace Agency prison or psych ward or something, and hits every Prisoner note imaginable as he attempts to figure out what the hell is going on. Cameron Chase, Count Vertigo, Amanda Waller, and some guy who wears a jacket that makes him look like Number Six, as if we didn't get it already, figure in as well. It's needlessly complicated and poorly drawn. Dance features Morrison's Final Crisis Forever People anagrams as they go through the old X-Statix-style fame/fortune/media attention vs. being altruistic superheroes thing. The team is likable, the script is fun and funky even though it's weighed down by Morrison's shadow, and Chris Cross' art is very good. Dance: A-; Escape: C-; Run: B+.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #12-14: Fast-paced cosmic action, written with wit and spark, and tied in successfully to the whole "War of Kings" event, which I haven't been following but Abnett and Lanning have been doing this sort of thing for a long time now and if they can't get in the spirit of it, nobody can. #12 resolves the whole Drax/Moondragon thing, Wesley Craig's art going down a bit smoother than in #11; #13 has better art and features the Guardians taking a direct hand in the outcome of the War; and #14 continues that story, with an amusing cliffhanger at the end courtesy of newly-minted loose cannon "Martyr" ("Ugh"), formerly Phyllida Mar-Vell. Brad Walker and a thousand digital renderers provide art which suits the proceedings a bit better, I think. #12: B; #13-14: A-
HEXED #4: Rote finale with the requisite clever twist at the end, not bad as these things go but a little familiar just the same. I would read more if Boom so chooses to put them out, just to see if they do anything interesting with the somewhat charismatic lead. B+
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #12, 13: After a while, I tend to realize that don't want the fucking carrot anymore. C
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #'s 24, 25, 26: Others have disagreed, but I've enjoyed the "Escape from the Eighth City" storyline as much as anything Frubaker did in their tenures. Travel Foreman's art has been more problematic, especially during fight scenes, which are pretty much the lifeblood of any martial arts-themed endeavors, but I've gotten used to it, and I can't deny it's dynamic. So well done, fellows. And now, we count down until the hiatus and an uncertain future for yet another Marvel title which deserved to continue to be published, but probably won't be for much longer. A-
INCOGNITO #3: Hard to come up with anything clever or illuminating to say about this wonderful title, done by two gifted creators at the top of their form right now. You should be buying this, yep. A
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #12, 13: The Dark Reign continues here, too, with Tony Stark on the run, as Norman Osborn sends mercenary badguys after him ,and Pepper Potts tooling around pissing Normie off in her own super-armor, and for good measure Maria Hill takes on old Jim Starlin villain the Controller. Lots of stuff going on for sure, and Matt Fraction is playing honest with his readers, which becomes him. Too bad Salvador Larocca's art jumps all over the line between underdone and overwrought. Way more interesting that it ought to be, for sure. Both issues: B+.
JERSEY GODS #'s 3, 4: I can't really say for sure why this doesn't work for me; Glen Brunswick's script blends the world of Kirby with the world of Kevin Smith (the filmmaker) well enough, and Dan McDaid has a Cooke/Pope style that is at home with both the mundane and the fantastic, appropriate for a series dealing with both, all mashed up like chocolate and peanut butter. Maybe if I was from Jersey, or liked rom-coms. Don't know. I do know that #4 was my last issue. B-
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #25, 26: #25 wrapped up the Marvel Family saga, for now, and was typically angsty and draconian solution-wise. Not that it's going to stay that way for long, mind you. Jerry Ordway, who specializes in such things, provided a solid art job. #26 was a once-more-around-the-horn one-and-done by departing Geoff Johns and initial series artist Dale Eaglesham, with Nathan Massengill on inks; it's pleasant and often amusing, as good a way to go out as any, I suppose. You don't see that type of story all that much anymore. Next up, only God knows. #25: B; #26: A-.
THE MIGHTY #'s 3, 4, 5: While Boom! and Mark Waid's newest Superman deconstruction Irredeemable gets all the attention, here's another take on the "what if Supes wasn't such a nice guy after all" genre, and while I haven't read the other yet, this one isn't half bad, because writer Tomasi is taking pains to spend more time with the normal liaison guy than he is the title character, and I think it will pay off in the end. This is not a series that will have anyone talking, and will probably eventually be as forgotten as, oh, Trouble Magnet or Relative Heroes is now, but it is a good read so far. Chris Samnee, last seen (by me) on Marvel's Devil-Slayer rethink, comes along in #5 to replace Peter Snejbjerg, whose bowing out was done with no fanfare or publicity that I've seen, and he does a great job picking right up where Mr. S left off. Samnee's got real talent, he does, but that said, I'll miss Snejbjerg, whose art we don't see too much anymore. Oh well, at least I won't have to type his name again anytime soon. A-
THE MUPPET SHOW #1: I've always kinda liked the Muppets, but I never really had a strong attachment. Yeah, I used to watch the show upon occasion, especially when they had a musical guest I wanted to see, and yeah, I went to see the movies, too- heck, I even remember when the Muppets used to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, fer chrissakes, singing "Mena Mena", and watched Sesame Street (even though I was a little old for it)...but seeing a new Muppets thing has never been a priority of mine, really. While I'm a little amused and puzzled by the need or desire to see a Muppet Show comic book in 2009, at least 30 years after the show it's based on last aired, I realize the characters are perennials (though I'd be willing to bet that the average 20-something would be more likely to ID Sesame's Elmo than the Swedish Chef or Rowlf) and the sales figures seem to confirm Boom!'s faith in the property. Of course, the real reason to buy this is Roger Langridge, who has a deft cartooning hand and is capable of parroting that trademark cornball Muppets, Inc. humor. I'm sure this will do quite nicely for the Boom!sters, but it's probably the only issue of this I'll need to read in my lifetime. A-
POTTER'S FIELD: STONE COLD #1: Somehow I missed this series when it was published initially a year or so ago; my bad. I did get the opportunity to read this one-shot, and I liked it as much as anything I've read from Boom! in a long time. This is a really interesting premise, done with an appropriate gravitas and featuring a kinda-novel idea inspired by the real-world term for a place for the burial of unknown or indigent people. Here, a fellow named "John Doe", appropriately enough, has charged himself with the task of, as the press release puts it: ...naming the unnamed in this cemetery! Using a network of underground operatives who don't know each other, he fights to save the unsaved and solve the mysteries of the unjustly slain! And of course, it's absolutely ready-for-TV! But the real ace in the hole is artist Paul Azaceta, whose work I always love (which you know if you've read my blog at all), and who doesn't disappoint here. I see where a collection of the first miniseries is coming soon (if not already out)...I definitely need to keep an eye out for it. A
SCALPED #'s 27, 28: The peripheral cast spotlights conclude, with #27 focusing on loathsome FBI agent Nitz, providing some much-needed depth to what has been pretty much a one-dimensional character. Good job by Francesco Francavilla, whose work comes across here as a little restrained and flat compared to what we've been given previously. #28 welcomes back regular artist R.M. Guera, and provides some long-awaited info on what happened to Red Crow, Gina Bad Horse, Catcher & company back in 1975 when those two Feds were killed. As always, first-class drama all the way. #27: A-; #28: A
SEAGUY: THE SLAVES OF MICKEY EYE #1, 2: Damn it, Grant, didn't you get this shit out of your system via The Invisibles so long ago? I mean, as with that title, I understand what you're getting at, but you make it such a goddamned chore to parse through all the allusion and illusion and metaphor and just plain old flights of fancy that it really diminishes your message in general. Classic can't-see-the-trees-for-the-fish-type scenario. Of course, bear in mind that as I write this I haven't read concluding issue #3, so I may get struck by a crimson bolt of enlightenment yet. The saving grace, as far as I'm concerned, is Cam Stewart's wonderfully open and inviting art; he's very good at reining Morrison in. Until I read #3, I give this an incomplete C+.
TOP 10 SPECIAL #1: Another not-bad script by Zander Cannon that focuses on Girl 2, the hapless-but-likable clone replacement for popular-but-killed-in-action Girl One. Unable to hack it in law enforcement, she has shifted into the legal profession, and finds it just as difficult as her previous gig. Even though it's not the freshest plot in the world, borrowing liberally from a thousand-and-one courtroom dramas on TV and film and counting on the injection of the semi-serious superhero people to give it a little novelty, "spin" if you will, it's somehow enjoyable just the same because Cannon does such a good job of writing the characters like Alan Moore established them so long ago. It's not helped by the all-wrong art stylings of "Chinese superstar Da Xiong" (as the solicit text says)- perhaps it's just me being so used to Gene Ha and his definitive versions, but the storytelling is lifeless and bland, and some of the characters just look odd- Shock-Headed Peter, for example. Unfortunately as well, it appears this could be the swan song for this still-enjoyable and regrettably-truncated series, read more here on Cannon's blog. Not the best note to go out on. B-
YELENA BELOVA AND THE THUNDERBOLTS #130-132: I know, I know, that's not the title- but let's face it, Diggle notwithstanding, I wouldn't be buying this now if not for the presence of my favorite Black Widow. Diggle does well by her for the most part, and I especially appreciate the attention paid to her dialect and accent, but I kinda miss her insecure, eager-to-prove-herself side of the miniseries- it's been replaced by a mercenary matter-of-factness that does fit the tone of the book better and probably suits a characters that's been transformed into a lizard monster and disintegrated. #130 & 131 wastes my time with everybody's apparent favorite character but mine, Deadpool, who comes across as a mix between Bullseye and the Creeper with bad skin; #132 gets back in line with the more interesting Dark Reign stuff, and thankfully Diggle indulges himself in some good character work as well as accomplishing the difficult task of making some Wolverine badguy that I'm completely unfamiliar with kinda interesting, not an easy thing to do considering my apathy towards Marvel's cash cow and his extended cast. Bong Dazo's (that name makes my inner Beavis and Butt-Head snicker) art on those issues is too broad and exaggerated for my taste, but I suppose it suits the broad and cartoonish character he's asked to depict. I hope to sweet Internet Jesus that Yelena never dons that ugly eight-eyed mask again, "black widow" visual metaphors be damned. Roberto De La Torres' art on #131 is a bit more of a proper fit. I'm liking this book just enough- it might be one the first I'd drop if I had to, but not the first. #130, 131: C+; #132: B+
UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #5, 6: The saving grace here is the messy relationships between the Academy members, because Way is like his obvious inspiration Grant Morrison in one way in particular- he loves to lard on the odd-for-odd's sake. Unlike Moz, though, he knows when to pull back a bit before everything gets lost in translation, and while this weird-ass time-travel/Kennedy Assassination riff does teeter on the brink of incoherence at odd times, it gets resolved nicely and points towards more almost-incomprehensible future exploits and continued acrimony. Can't not mention Gabriel Ba's art; without it in all its angular glory, none of this would be half as interesting or readable. A-
UNKNOWN SOLDIER #6: Look- this is well-researched, earnest and sincere, successfully (if in an often too-complicated fashion, but it's a complicated situation) calls attention to a truly dire problem, and it's a smart rethink of a venerable old character. Problem is, though, to me anyway, it's also dull as dirt, with unexciting art. This book has its admirers, and I can see why, really I do, but it just doesn't push my buttons and it failed the six-issue tryout period for me, so with this issue I bade it a fond adieu. C+
One more to go, including comics I got Friday the 12th!