Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Poly-verbal comics review revue!

Haven't done one of these in a while. Of course, I've hardly done anything on here in a while, I suppose... Anyway, here is the space where I talk about some of me latest purchases at the ol' comic book emporium. Naturally my imaginary audience will want to read this. Any of you that are part of my real audience probably aren't very interested. Well, says I, too damn bad. Now, let's do this...erm... alphabetically!

Astonishing X-Men #6: Joss Whedon (Buffy? Angel? Firefly?) and John Cassaday (Planetary, Captain America) finish up their first arc here. My opinion of this comic changes with every issue. The first one was poor, the second and third were amazing, the fourth was alright, the fifth was a little better, and this one is a mix of all of those. It starts off great, with some fun exposition scenes, until that's interrupted with an out-of-nowhere bit that derails the plot. Then there's some stupid exposition (and Joss trying to shoehorn a 'prophecy' into a sci-fi book) followed by a rapid-fire ending which seems to go way too quickly but has a nice moment tucked into it. It wraps up too neatly, but there's some good character stuff at the end, and then a cliched cliffhanger.
As for how I feel about the return of Colossus from the dead, I dunno. Comics are riddled with pointless resurrections, and frankly I've never had any interest in this character. But Joss is the master of bringing characters back from the dead, and aside from the complete implausibility of this, the emotions ring true. We'll see where the book goes. I'll buy to #12, when Joss and John are apparently exiting the book. If they leave then, so will I... and if they stay, I'll think about it.
Anyway, I'll be nice and give this issue a 7/10. The art was pretty. And, hey, there was a letters page!

Fantastic Four #520: So now Johnny Storm, the former Human Torch, has the Invisible Woman's powers, and vice versa. Oh, and Johnny's the herald of Galactus, the gigantic alien being who eats planets. So it's a nice set-up, and all, but I think it would've been better just to have Sue be the herald. Anyway, this is the best issue since #513, and that's because of some excellent character moments in the two flashbacks that occur here. This, however, doesn't mean that there aren't lame bits. I'm reeeally tired of this book being stuffed to the gills with characters from other planets who still speak freakin' English. I just can't suspend my disbelief with that anymore... I can take an explanation, sure. Throw in a babelfish or something! Maybe Johnny's cosmic powers translate for him, now (which doesn't explain Zius and crew from the last few issues, though). Whatever. This issue's also got some goofy high-tech and a surprise guest star that probably no one expected to see again. And it ends a bit abruptly. Still, there's some really good bits, as well. I was planning to drop this title, and now it looks like I'll have to, as Waid and 'Ringo are leaving the book, anyway. So I'll ride out the arc and bid adieu to the book. 6.5/10

Gotham Central #25: This marks Michael Lark's final issue on this book as artist, as he's moving to Marvel. It's a damn shame, as the guy defined the style for this book, and I'm not sure if anyone can replace him on a regular basis. I guess we'll find out sometime in the early 30's when the new guy comes on. Anyway, it's also a shame, because the art seemed rushed and sloppy in this issue as compared to previous ones, but it still fits the mood. In this episode, scripted by Greg Rucka, the Commissioner of Gotham City (not Gordon, anymore, but the new guy, Akins), due to some Bat-crossover I never read, has severed the GCPD's ties with Batman, and removes the Bat-signal (which gets all smashed up). We see the cops' reactions to this, the mayor's reaction, and Batman's. All good stuff, and this book deserves all the awards it's been winning. I only wish more people were reading it, is all. 7.5/10.

Human Target #16: It's the end of the "Christopher Chance impersonates the supposed new messiah" arc, and, in the Peter Milligan tradition, new plot points pop up, some characters are shoved to the background, and everything's resolved with painful death. There's so much tragedy in this issue that one gets tired of it. Throw in some art inconsistencies (not that the art isn't still great-- Cliff Chiang is a wonder, and perfect for this book) and it's the weakest one in a few months. The first two parts were better. This comic, however, remains one of my absolute favorites, and it desperately needs sales. This issue gets a 6.5/10. Future issues bring back some neat old characters and also include guest art from Cameron Stewart, of Seaguy fame. Buy it, damn you.

JLA: Classified #1: Grant Morrison teams up with Ed McGuinness for the first three issues of this new Justice League anthology series. One would naturally assume that the Justice League would appear in the first issue of their new series, but they do not; only Batman shows up in this one. The real stars of this issue are the Ultramarines, the "nu-edgy kewl" super-heroes who spout cool one-liners and kick ass and take names... that is, until they start getting asses kicked, at which point one of them calls in Batman. Then the book gets really good.
At first, I didn't really care for this issue, and I thought it wasn't up to Grant's usual snuff. Rereading it, however, and reading the Barbelith commentary, gave me a renewed appreciation of the issue. It seems like it lacks substance, but one finds here is a delicious pop comic dripping with new and weird ideas: jet apes, Gorilla Grodd, infant universes, cosmic keyboards, floating cities, sci-fi closets, flying saucers, secret Pluto bases, and nuclear-sumo-engines-of-destruction-that-speak-in-haiku, just to name a few. Throw in hilarious kitsch like the Batphone and you've got yourself one helluva joycore book. The dialogue is also excellent in that regard, especially Batman's: "No, I'm Goldfish Man. Can't you tell?"
The art is slick and wonderful, with some absolute brilliant page designs and panel formations. The writing is equally as fabulous-- this is where comics are heading, and I'm happy for quite a bit of that. This also reads like it's a prelude to Grant's upcoming Seven Soldiers event next year, which I'll also be getting. The guy's a maniacal bastard, and a genius. 8/10.

We3 #2: This here's the other Grant Morrison comic I picked up, and it packs all the energy of an atomic bomb. It's full of ultra-violence and explosions and stuff, but what it really is is a story of three lonely and confused animals looking for their place in the world, and only finding tragedy. Basically, our dog, cat, and bunny, who are also cyborg killing machines, fight back against the army and We2. Until a tragic fate befalls one of them, that is.
This issue packs plenty of emotion, but the real star of the show is the artwork. This is easily the best art I've ever seen in a comic book. It's incredibly dense yet flows perfectly, each panel trapped in time but portraying a sense of movement. The panel layouts are incredible, with quite a few things I've never seen before. Never have I seen violence so brutal and terrible yet so utterly beautiful to behold. Frank Quitely is a master.
There's one more issue of this, and it comes out in January. I seriously cannot wait. If you've ever said "Why can't someone take The Incredible Journey and add cyborg death machines?" then this comic is for you. It's got stunning artwork, brilliant writing, and tugs at the heartstrings just moments after it's shocking you with brutal violence. This comic is literally redefining the medium. My only question is, is anyone listening? Easily one of the best comics of the year. 9/10.

That's it for this installment. Join us next month for another Review Revue, won't you?

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