Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Hickman’

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

Doomwar #6 (of 6)
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

The conclusion of Jonathan Maberry’s excellent mini-series arrived this week and my LCS actually had a copy of it sitting on the shelf when I showed up this time, way to wait until the last issue to get your shit straight guys! Doomwar up to this point had been the best thing Marvel has put out this year, not that most people seemed to have noticed. Even Marvel seemed to have lost interest in this series after a few issues, their loss I guess. My biggest worry for this series is that the conclusion to the story would not live up to the setup. I mean, Doom is a major bad guy for any hero to handle and this time around old Doc Doom seemed to finally have the Black Panther and Wakanda’s number, it wasn’t looking good for T’Challa and the small band of heroes committed to stopping Doom.

Maberry does something interesting here to bring this series to an end. Early in this issue Doom’s final plan for taking over the world has finally come to fruition and he becomes more powerful than he has ever been before. Now, I was expecting either some sort of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ to arrive that would stop Doom this time around, all of Earth’s heroes show up to kick his ass or Mr. ‘Deus Ex Machina’ himself, Reed Richards, to invent some sort of secret weapon that would take him out. To my surprise Maberry has T’Challa make a very tough decision that will stop Doom’s plans for world conquest, but at the same time forever change the economic and political future of Wakanda.

At first I was like… “WTF is Mayberry doing here? He’s screwing Wakanda big time.” But after I thought about it I can see where Maberry is coming from here. Vibranium has always been a double edged sword for Wakanda and T’Challa, it did bring the country a measure of world power and prosperity, but it also attracted guys like Doctor Doom and other threats. I look forward to seeing how Wakanda finds it way in the world as a country without most of it’s Vibranium.

All in all, Jonathan Maberry brings this series to a surprising and satisfying end here, and I look forward to his future stories.

IronMuskrat’s Rating: ****

J.’s Two Cents Worth:

Just like last month and the month before I can not for the life of me figure out why other review sites are so down on this book. Since I can’t figure out where they are coming from I guess I should just take solace in the fact that we here at the CCW are not as ignorant as most.

What was it that turned other reviewers off about this book? Was it that it centers around the Black Panther and his sister Shuri? That Maberry uses boring ol’ politics and diplomacy to help end a villain’s tyranny? That it has superheroes acting like god damn HEROES for a change? That it has a large cast of strong, assertive, intelligent, ass kicking female characters?

This book has all of that and more. One other thing that this book has in spades is very well written and very strong dialog. The final speech that T’Challa gives to Doom right before metaphorically calling “checkmate” is something that a lot of comics as of late have been missing. It’s filled with what T’Challa has learned about himself, his friends and his own country over the course of this series and he is not ashamed to tell Doom that is was Doom himself who taught him these things.

Two more reasons reviewers may not have liked Doomwar’s conclusion was because
1. There is a perceived “Deus Ex Machina” used and 2. Nobody fucking died.

As for #1: well, it could been seen that way except that Maberry went into detail about what Shadow Physics is during the series. The plot device used to defeat Doom is not something that just appeared out of nowhere. It is something the theoretically had been discussed and is it really that hard to believe that T’Challa was ALWAYS one step ahead of Doom? That may be something that most fanboys just can not accept.

And #2: I guess now a days EVERY event has to have some sort of major, tragic death for the sake of tragedy, huh? Never mind that T’Challa DOES make a huge sacrifice but since it is one that is sort of intangible I guess it doesn’t count to most people.

I would normally ask “What more can I say about this book?” but I am sure I will think of more to say next week when we review this on CCW TV.

J.‘s Rating: ***½

Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher #1 (of 4)
By Jonathan Maberry and Goran Parlov

As the Doomwar mini-series ends, Jonathan Maberry brings us the first issue of his new Marvel limited series dealing with an end of the world scenario, staring everyone favorite vigilante, Frank Castle. As much as I enjoyed Mayberry’s Doomwar, I found myself a bit disinterested in this new series, it sounded a little too much like a cross between Marvel Zombies and 28 Days Later and I just didn’t see myself getting into another ‘Zombie’ story. Well, I was right and wrong.. I was right about this book being another story in the same vein of ’28 Days Later’ or ‘I am Legend’, Mayberry even try’s to preempt people from pointing out these obvious similarities by having Reed Richards explain in the comic why the events in that are occurring are not at all like ’28 Days Later’ Nice try Jonathan! =)

This really a case of style over substance, there is nothing really new story wise. It’s a pretty standard last man standing against hordes of zombies/infected people plot. The thing here is, Mayberry does a hell of a job writing this story, I still found myself getting drawn into this comic. The Punisher is the ultimate survivalist and it makes complete sense that he is still alive and kicking despite all of the super-powered crazies running around, and the plot twist about the origin of the plague is a nice touch that should lead to some awkward moments later on for the Punisher.

Goran Parlov’s art fits nicely with the story. I like his take on Frank Castle and his version of Marvel heroes gone crazy.

I really enjoyed this first issue despite my initially misgivings, this should be a fun little mini-series and it’s only four issues. Jonathan Mayberry is quickly moving up as one of my favorite writers at Marvel right now.

IM’s Rating: ***

J.’s Two Cents Worth:

Just Like Doomwar #1, MU vs. The Punisher #1 succeeds in doing what every first issue of a mini should do and that is give the reader all the important information they need to enjoy the rest of the series from here on out. That’s not to say that this first issue was not enjoyable but I think it’s main purpose is to let the reader in on what this “alternate Marvel U” is all about. The issue gives you a lot of expository dialog in the form of the Punisher’s “War Journal” but it never seems boring like most other book’s uses of “info dumps”.

Yes, this book is violent and yes, it does involve cannibalism but all of it was handled in a very mature and somewhat restrained way. It never felt gratuitous. Example: remember in Ultimatum when the Blob ate the Wasp? It was a full splash page and was one of the most unnecessary and vile things I had seen in a comic last year. In the first issue of MU vs. the Punisher, the Blob eats all of the patrons in a restaurant. That took up all of one panel and was drawn wonderfully subtle (as subtle a panel like that can be) by Goran Parlov. Showing the end result and leaving the actual carnage to the reader’s imagination is almost always the best way to go.

The twist toward the end of the issue as to who was actually responsible for the release of the plague was interesting and adds an intriguing dimension to this story overall. This sort of personal character tragedy is done very well while not being, again, gratuitous or exploitative at all.

Elliott and I will also be taking a closer look at this book next week.

J’s Rating: ***½

SHIELD #3
By Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

This is supposed to be a capsule review, so I won’t even attempt to explain the overall plot of Jonathan Hickman’s incredibly imaginative new series here. Just take my word for it that if your not reading this book right now, get off your ass and check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

One of things I love the most about Hickman’s writing here is the way he weaves real historical figures into his story of the origins of SHIELD. Issue number three switches from following Leonid and Leonardo da Vinci to focusing on the past and current leadership of SHIELD, especially Sir Isaac Newton’s rise to become leader of SHIELD. Newton is a pretty determined guy in his quest for power in this book and Hickman does a great job of showing Newton doing anything he can gather knowledge, and I do mean anything, even banging a hideous troglodyte woman, to get what he wants. Needless to say, after spending a couple hundred years acquiring all type of knowledge, both scientific and magical, Newton is more than a little bit unbalanced and it’s obvious that he is the reason that Night Machine and da Vinci have returned to destroy SHIELD.

I was worried that Hickman’s story would suffer when he got more specific with plot details and got away from the grand visions of wonder he was presenting in the first two books, but Issac Newton is a fascinating and formidable bad guy here and I look forward to seeing a throw-down between Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo di Vinci! Now how many times can to say you saw that in a comic book.. good stuff!

IM’s Rating: ***

J.’s Two Cents:

I loved how on the variant cover for this issue Isaac Newton’s name was spelled “Issac.” Marvel editorial seriously needs to pulling their fucking heads out of their damn asses. It is just inexcusable and quite sad at this point.

J.’s Rating: ***

REBELS #19
By Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

I know a lot of folks on the CCW site are starting to give up on this book and I can’t say I blame them. After the Starro invasion concluded the book seemed to drift around a bit trying to find a purpose. There was a lot of soap opera filler with people shacking up and generally a lot of bitching and complaining and not a lot of action. The book has righted itself in the last two issues and I think is heading back to what attracted people to this book in the first place, Brainiac! The last two issue have focused on this dysfunctional (murderous) family. Vril Dox is always at his best when he is running for his life and he gets that chance big time in this issue trying to keep both his father, Brainiac and his son, Lyrl, from killing him and enslaving Colu. The book ends with Vril making a deal with someone to save his ass that I think he will regret, but hey that never stopped Brainiac 2 before, has it.

I am still enjoying this book despite some rough patches in the past few months, but I do see the low sales figure for this title and I have to wonder how long this book will be around for.

IM’s Rating: ***

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

Daytripper #7
By Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

This book was my biggest disappointment of the week, you know I have been loving this series since it first hit the shelves last year. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba have been doing outstanding work on the series up this point. So why my disappointment with this issue? Well, for the first time the story felt forced and contrived to me. One of the joys of Daytripper up to now is how ‘real’ the stories have felt, everything about Bras and the people around him play out just like they would in the real world with you and me, Bras is just an average guy living a completely normal life. Yet, there is a magical quality about the things that happen to Bras, and not only because he dies at the end of every issue, but everything up to point where he dies has such a familiar and natural flow to it. One of the strongest elements of Daytripper is that Bras is a nice guy that everyone can relate too, the stuff that happens to him could happen to any one of us and many of the situations that Moon and Ba create in the series have occurred in my life. The excitement of falling for a beautiful women on vacation, stressing about work, living in the shadow of your more talented parents, or your first kiss as a kid while away on a family trip. When I am reading Daytripper it feels like I am staring into a mirror and reflecting on past memories of situations I have found myself in during my life. There is something about the character of Bras that is both fascinating and familiar to me at the same time.

This issue is really the second half of a story that started in the last issue. In issue #6 a major plane crash in Sao Paulo, Brazil, turns Bras life upside down and changes him forever. The crash affects him in two ways, Bras believes his friend and coworker, Jorge, was on the ill fated flight and is most likely dead, and to make matters worse Bras job as the obituary writer at the local newspaper places him in the position of having to write dozens of obituaries for people on the flight. It’s almost too much for him to handle, but he finds the courage to honor the dead from the crash by writing beautiful obits while still struggling with the pain of not knowing what has happened to his friend Jorge. The last issue ended with Bras finally getting a call from Jorge, letting him know he is still alive, but not coming back to his job or his former life. Bras attempts to drive to Rio to see his friend, but dies in a car crash on the way there.

The events in this issue take place five years after the plane crash and Jorge’s disappearance. The strength Bras found after the crash has finally allowed him to finish writing the novel he had been working on for years. The novel is well received and Bras has become famous as a result, but he is still troubled by not knowing what has happen to Jorge. Bras finally gets a clue to his friends whereabouts when a postcard arrives from a hotel halfway across Brazil. Despite the protests of his wife who feels Bras should just leave Jorge alone, Bras still feels he owes it to Jorge to find him and at least speak to him about why he has abandoned everything in his life. It doesn’t take long for Bras to find Jorge, living like a hermit on the beach. Unfortunately for Bras, Jorge has completely broken with reality and the meeting Bras after all of these years sends him into a psychotic rage, killing Bras with a knife and then killing himself.

I guess my disappointment with this issue is Bras just isn’t the nice guy that I remember from other issues, he’s famous now, but has become distant and cynical because of it. He is dismissive of his wife’s concerns and seems rather selfish in his pursuit of Jorge. I found myself agreeing with Bras wife that he should just let the matter drop and let Jorge go. There are flashbacks in this issue showing the first time Bras and Jorge meet and those scenes show the fun loving younger days of chasing women and big dreams for the future. Contrasting those flashbacks with the finally meeting between the two just seems forced to me. Jorge’s actions at the end of the story just doesn’t make any sense to me, nothing that I have seen in previous issues would lead me to believe that Jorge would act the way he did.

I don’t mind that Bras was murdered, he was killed rather brutally in the first issue and I don’t even mind that his dead was senseless, most of his deaths have been. I guess it was just the fact that it was his best friend that killed him this time around, and it bothered the shit out of me. For the first time in the series I actually felt manipulated by Moon and Ba. There was none of the subtlety and natural flow of events from other issues, it was heavy handed and in the end Bras death at the end of an issue didn’t fill me with a sense of wonder, it just pissed me off.

Rating: **½

Chew #11
By John Layman and Rob Guillory

John Layman and Rob Guillory kick off the ‘Just Desserts’ story arc in fine fashion. Tony and John have to investigate the murder of man who is found with a Grey-Tailed Pygmy stuffed down his throat and it just gets crazier from there. What I like most about this issue is for once Tony has a good day. Tony’s boss isn’t giving him a hard time anymore (thanks to a little timely ‘intervention’ from John), he solves the crime and gets the girl! I’m sure John Layman has some nasty stuff in store for Tony in the future, but for now it’s cool to see Tony having his day in the sun.

Rating: ***½

The Invincible Iron Man #27
By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Well it looks like Tony Stark is finally going to stop pissing and moaning and start kicking some ass. The Hammer girls finally put their plan in motion to take Stark Industries place as the primary weapons supplier to the US government, although the plan is a little silly since Stark Industries is kind of broke right now and Tony doesn’t seem very interested in selling weapons anymore. As cool as it is to see Tony finally fart out his armor to do something other than open crates and fly to business meetings, it’s Pepper Potts that really shines in this issue. She makes it clear to Tony that she is not interested in just being his helper, but she wants her armor back! It’s nice seeing Tony squirm around under Pepper’s unrelenting pressure and finally giving in. Oh and War Machine is back to help Tony out, I think. Hopefully, Iron Man and War Machine will put ‘Detroit Steel’ out of it’s misery in the next issue.

Rating: ***

SHIELD #2
By Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

This issue makes me sad, not because it is bad (it’s actually quite good), but it just shows how badly Hickman’s Fantastic Four is spinning out of control right now. I wish Hickman would show some of the focus he is showing here in this book on the Fantastic Four. So what is the story in this issue? Beats the hell out of me, I’m still not sure what we are suppose to be seeing here, but finding out is going to be pretty damn cool. My vote for best new hero of the year has to go to Leonardo Da Vinci, the guy is a complete bad ass, sporting mechanical wings and a groovy Jesus beard. How could you not love this guy? This is just one of those stories where the plot takes a back seat to the shear coolness of the characters and the world they exist in. More please!

Rating: ***½

Avengers Academy #1
By Christos Gage and Mike McKone

I decided to pick this book up and wasn’t disappointed. In case you have no idea what this book is about, think New Mutants only the kids are mostly dysfunctional assholes. I like that Christos Gage didn’t go the pussy route and make them a bunch of cute kids. Gage is creating that season of Real World, where not only does everyone hate each other, but they have superpowers to do something about it. Any bets on how soon before Hazmat irradiates someone for leaving the toilet seat up? This looks like a book that has the potential to be a lot of fun, and the twist at the end made me laugh. I thought the upcoming cross-over with the Thunderbolts was a strange choice, but after the reveal at the end of this issue they may have more in common than I had at first thought.

Rating: ***

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horseshit

Brightest Day #1
By: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado

This was the ultimate impulse buy of the week for me. I had already picked up three other books and was still wandering around, I really wanted a fourth book to round out the week. “Finding everything you are looking for?” asked the guy running the store for the third time. He was a young kid who I don’t see often on Thursdays. I guess he wasn’t use to seeing me wander around aimlessly like Jen, the nice lady who usually works the store on Thursday. “Just looking for something new and exciting.” was my response. “What about Brightest Day, you get a free white ring when you buy the issue.” To be honest, the whole ring thing set sail for me a long time ago, and I told myself no more ‘events’ this year. But I didn’t want to be rude to the guy, so I looked over at the display set up next the register and picked up a copy, it was a nice looking book, took a quick look at the back and noticed no filler, all for $2.99. So I say, “What the Hell.” I paid for my comics and went on my way.

So how was it? The first thing that stood out was the artwork, Ivan Reis, Pat Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado (Christ, that’s a lot of artists!) turned out a beautifully drawn book here. But beyond the art I honestly didn’t feel any love for this comic. I mean all the elements are there for this to be an awesome book. I just feel like I have been here before with Geoff Johns, he is writing a mystery dealing with 12 characters, heroes and villains, that were resurrected at the end of Blackest Night. By the end of the issue I found myself thinking “ I don’t give a shit.” I just spent the last year following the Blackest Night event, a story that was nothing but characters being brought back to life (or unlife), sure they were evil and what not, but after seeing just about every major and minor hero and villain in DC universe coming back to cause trouble, I was just having a hard time caring as to why this bunch is running around again. After reading this book, it feels like Blackest Night all over again, not in the sense that it was the same story, but the storytelling and the structure of the book felt very familiar to me. Johns was creating a lot of cool individual moments here that were not adding much to the overall story in the long run. Black Manta shows up for the big reveal at the end of the issue left me cold, I knew this was a cool geek moment by Johns that was suppose to get me all hot and bothered for the next issue. Instead I was left thinking what did this have to do with anything related to the ‘Big Mystery’, I guess it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy, Johns jerked me around so much in Blackest Night that I have become automatically suspicious of anything he does story-wise.

I can’t quite put my finger on why it is this book felt so lifeless for me. Perhaps it was seeing Hal Jordan and Sinestro still hanging around bickering like kids, long after they should have parted ways. Maybe it was the fact I have just never been a fan of many of the characters the Johns has chosen to focus on here, Aquaman, Deadman, Firestorm, J’onn J’onzz and the Hawks have never been big draws for me as a comic reader. Or it could be that there is too many characters being dealt with here, some of the characters get as little as two pages of face time in this book, certain scenes feel rushed or incomplete, perhaps fewer characters would have allowed Johns to focus more on the core story. I have a bad feeling that unlike Blackest Night the readers will be forced to buy the crossovers to get the complete story here and if that is the case I will be taking a pass on this one. I am really feeling “event” fatigue at this point and I am more than happy to spend my money on ‘smaller’ stories was focused plots, good characters that I care about and writer that just want to create a likable story and not the next big, world shattering event.

Rating: **

Doomwar #3 (of 6)
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

I know this book is two weeks old, but I was surprised to see it on the shelf this week during my visit to my LCS. I am loving this series so far and I know this is a tough story to following along with if you miss a issue, so picking this one up was a no brainer.

First thing I noticed was the cover by JRJR was his best effort so far, and by that I mean the least sucky and the easiest on the eyes. Sorry Romita Jr. fans, but this a far from his best artwork. Opening the comic up finds T’Challa and his forces back in tentative control of Wakanda. Unfortunately, Dr. Doom was able to defeat the final lock on the vault containing Wakanda’s supply of Vibranium and has made off will every last bit of the valuable metal. After two fast paced issues filled with action, writer Jonathan Maberry slows things down quite a bit in this issue. The story breaks down into two parts, T’Challa enlisting the help of the Fantastic Four to help him find the stolen Vibranium and the second part being a flashback revealing how Dr. Doom managed to delete the final lock on the vault that was suppose to keep guys like Doom out. The storyline with T’Challa and the Fantastic Four is pretty standard stuff, I never realized what a crutch Mr. Fantastic has become in the Marvel U, this was the second book this week I read with a hero calling on Reed to help solve a problem for them. I think Reed Richards needs to start screening his calls or he will never get any quality time with the wife and kids. The second part of the story dealing with Doom is by far the meatier part of the book. Maberry expands Doom from a evil super-villain who wants to conquer the world for selfish reasons, to a true believer, who really believes what he is doing is the best thing for the Earth in the long run. This mini-series is still the best thing Marvel is putting out this year and if you are not reading this series yet… well, I would tell you start reading it, but you really need to start it from the beginning to understand and get the full impact of the story. So for you late comers, wait for the trade.

Rating: ***½

Fantastic Four #578
By Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham

This is part four of of the ‘Prime Elements’ storyline from Jonathan Hickman and he is still piling it on in terms of creating a epic storyline with no mercy for the casual reader. I couldn’t even begin to summarize the story so far, there is no way to put what’s happening here in a nutshell. I would venture to say a person just picking up this issue to give it a look through would be scratching their head as to what is going on, and I would not blame them in the least if they put this book back on the shelf and moved on to something else. But for those of us who have been following along from the start you could call this a Johnny Storm issue. Poor Johnny has a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ moment with a woman he meets in a bar that leads him to make a rather rash decision that could spell disaster for him and everyone in the Baxter building. Oh, and for those keeping track, the fourth civilization is revealed and the war of the four cities begins. I liked this issue overall and it was nice to see The Human Torch get the spotlight for change. I am starting to worry a bit that Hickman might start losing people if he introduces any more plot elements into the story.

Rating: ***

Invincible Iron Man #25
By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

An over-sized issue to kick off the post ‘Siege’ era for Matt Fraction’s Iron Man book. I am happy to say the extra pages contain no filler, just a whole bunch of story dealing with Tony Stark attempting to rebuild his life, rebuild his company and repair a lot of burned bridges. There is a whole bunch of stuff happening here in this book, so don’t be surprised if you have to read this one a few times to absorb everything that happens in this comic. At times it feels like there might be too much ground being covered here. Tony has a lot of stuff on his plate and at times the story seems to rush through certain scenes leaving me unsatisfied. I wanted less of the Hammer girls, a story that quite frankly feels a bit rehashed and not very original, and more of Tony mending relationships with Pepper Potts and Thor. Tony has a scene with Mr. Fantastic (to the rescue again!) where they talk about everything that is happening with Stark’s body and the aftereffects of the Extremis armor, but the one thing they don’t talk about is what happened during the ‘Civil War’. Tony starts to head down that road and Mr. Fantastic, instead of talking with Tony about what happened, simply says, “Well what’s done is done and what’s now is now.” Really? That’s all Reed has to say on the subject? He should have just handed Tony one of those picture’s of the kitten dangling from a string, with the caption “Hang in there!” on it. I liked most of what Fraction was doing here, but I just wanted more of the personal stuff with Tony and less of the Hammer girls and Detroit Steel.

Rating ***

Thunderbolts #143
By Jeff Parker and Miguel Sepulveda

This issue marks the end of Norman Osborn’s version of the Thunderbolts. A lot of action and not to much talking, the whole issue is one long pitch battle. The Mighty Avengers taking on Scourge, Mr. X, and Grizzly for control of the Spear of Odin. Ghost, Paladin and Ant-Man also do what they can, pitching in to help make sure Osborn never gets his hands on the Spear. Nothing earth shattering or really surprising happens here. Everyone that should get their asses kicked get them kicked pretty good, villains that should get a second chance get one and Norman doesn’t get his spear. There are a couple of good moments, Ant-Man gets the chance to rub the yellow off his belly and Mr. X gets the beat down of a lifetime from Quicksilver. The book ends with Luke Cage taking over the Thunderbolts and talking about bringing villains up, instead of bringing them down, at least I think it was Luke Cage. Did I mention the art was pretty bad in this issue? I wonder if the editors at Marvel looked at that last splash page and told Miguel Sepulveda, ”Hum, why don’t you put a name tag on his jacket, just to make sure.” I am looking forward to Jeff Parker’s continuing run on Thunderbolts and this was a pretty satisfying end to this current incarnation of the Thunderbolts.

Rating: ***

-IM

From: IM
To: J.
Subject: Tripping Balls

I’m tripping out this week Jose!

Just kidding, sort of… I picked up several books this week and all of them seem to have something in common. They all do their best to blow my mind with some seriously twisted takes on comic book reality. Sure comics in general make you suspend your disbelief, but many of the comics I read this time around take it to another level =)

*Old News, But Good News!

Chew #1 – I am a huge fan of Chew and what John Layman and Rob Guillory have been doing on this series but I never got the chance to pick up the first issue after all of this time. Now that I think about it, if I was as big a fan of the series as I say I am, I would have made the effort to pick up the first issue or buy the trade by now. Man, I am full of shit sometimes =) Well, Image saved me from being exposed as a Chew fan poser by offering the first issue this week for a dollar!

I was surprised at how strong the first issue was, I was also surprised at how serious John Layman plays the first book, a lot of humor that shows up in later issue is absent here. That is not necessarily a bad thing, the strange thing about the way Layman writes Chew is he can play it both ways, serious or silly. Despite the rather silly premise of the book, the writing seems to work on several different levels. This allows Layman to flip the switch anytime he wants to fuck with the heads of the readers. I really like the level of controlled chaos that Chew brings to the table.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

*The New Stuff!

Turf #1 (of Five) – A new mini series by Johnathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards. Probably the densest book I bought this week. More word balloons and information boxes than you can shake a Thai Stick at. But when you have a story that includes rival mob gangs, vampires and outlaw aliens from another solar system fighting it out in 1920′s New York City, you have a lot of explaining to do! Jonathan Ross is writing an ambitious, epic story here and he only has five issues to do it. Unfortunately this isn’t a story to read while chemically imbalanced, so while I enjoyed this story and the art by Tommy Lee Edwards I cannot recommend this story to my more “enlighten” friends out there.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ bong hits out of five!

SHIELD #1 – Hey! Did you know that Shield been around since ancient Egypt, when Imhotep was bashing in the face of a Brood queen with his super duper golden shield or when some Chinese guy builds a giant Pagoda so he can talk turkey with a Celestial. I won’t even bring up Galileo and his tricked out telescope that is used to take out Galactus(I think). Jonathan Hickman is doing what he does best, writing a shit load of techo-babble while weaving it into a compelling story. He is creating a wildly inventive story of the history of SHIELD that appears to take place outside of the 616 world. Dustin Weaver’s art is perfect for this story and he really brings to life the story Hickman is writing. About the time when Leonardo Da Vinci fly’s in from outer space hold a glowing orb of hope you will be begging for another hit or hot boxing in confusion.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits of of five!

Spider-Man: Fever #1 (of Three) -

Marvel: So what have got for us Brendan?

Brendan McCarthy: OK, man, check this out! It a story about Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and demon spiders from another dimension that want to eat Spider-Man’s soul!

Marvel: Sounds good, can you elaborate?

Brendan: Hum, that’s it..did I mention the Vulture is in it?

Marvel: So he plays a part in the story?

Brendan: Yeah, he totally sprays Spider-Man with bug spray!

Marvel: What?

Brendan: Huh?

Marvel: So how is Dr. Strange involved in the story?

Brendan: Well, it’s sort of all his fault, he reading this book and then the book does all this crazy shit. Anyway, Spider-Man ends up in Dr. Strange’s bath tub.

Marvel: What?

Brendan: Huh?

Marvel: Never mind, so who do you have in mind to do the art?

Brendan: Dude, it’s already done.. drew it all myself, check it out!

Marvel: Is that demon spider wearing a top hat?

Brendan: Yup! ((giggle))

Marvel: Wait, is that two talking dogs eating a happy meal?

Brendan: Hell yeah!

Marvel: How long is this suppose to be?

Brendan: Three issues is what the spider in my tub told me…

Marvel: Fuck it, send us what you got!

Brendan: Groovy!

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

Electric Ant #1 (of 5) – This mini is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick… who, in case you didn’t know, is the terrific Sci-Fi author who wrote the stories that the movies Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly are based on, so the guy know his mind bending science fiction. Mr. Garson Poole is a successful businessman who finds himself in an accident that leaves him in the hospital. There he finds that he is actually an Electricants or ‘Electric Ant’, an artificial being that looks and acts just like a normal human. Garon’s problem is he has no idea what his purpose is or who made him. Like many of Dick’s stories he is exploring the meaning and purpose of life using artificial life as a blank slate to explore his ideas. I never got the chance to read this story before hand, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

Bonus Movie Review!

Kikareta onna no mirareta yoru or Man, Woman & The Wall

A very odd movie from Japan. A young man moves into a new apartment and find that the walls are very thin, he can hear everything that is going on in the apartment next door that is occupied by a lovey young lady. He does what any horny, young man would do in his position and begins to stalk her. If that isn’t strange enough, he quickly realizes that she is being stalked by another man, so it so becomes battle of the stalkers! Who will come out on top, and will the poor woman in the middle of all this craziness care? This movie treads a fine line between dark comedy and some really disturbing shit. In the end I found it pretty entertaining and worth a look. Be warned, there is a few explicit sex scenes and more male masturbation than I think I have ever witnessed in any American movie. The final shot of the movie made me laugh, only because it shows the Japanese fascination with pubes =)

You can see this movie on Netflix instant view if you want.

Until next time,

IM

Ok, this is really only one email and not multiple emails like the title of the post suggests so sue me. Every week I email IronMuskrat to see what books he bought and whether or not he’d like to do a review for us. Before I even got the chance to email him this week though I found this waiting for me in my inbox. I thought it was entertaining and informative enough that I would make a post out of it (with some minor editorial edits and changes) and share it with all of you. -J.

Subject: Preemptive Strike
From: IM
To: J.

Jose!

Just picked up a few books today and thought I would do a preemptive strike and tell you what I thought about them before you sent me a email.

Doomwar #1 – yeah I know this one is old news, but I really felt the need to go back and get it to fill in all the details that left me scratching my head reading issue two. First of all, since when is a variant cover just the original cover in black and white? JRJR original cover was bad enough in color, but in black and white it is undecipherable. Cover aside, it was a very strong issue that did fill in a lot of details that made reading issue two a lot more enjoyable. Mayberry writes a very strong story, one that you really do need to read from the beginning, I have a feeling the whole series will be like this, this event isn’t one where a casual reader will be able to jump into at any point. The art by Scot Eaton was good, but the inks are very dark throughout the book, almost to the point where I felt I had to put some light on it to see all the details. But overall I agree with you and Elliott, this is the best new series of the year so far.

Detective Comics #863- A very interesting issue, although I feel that in the end , not a very successful one. Both Batman and Batwoman are hunting different killers that appear to be almost identical in behavior and the type of crimes they are committing. Their investigations run parallel to one another and are (again) almost identical in method and how they turn out, although they never meet or appear to connect with each other in any way. I guess that my biggest issue was with the story. Both stories are so similar that it seems a bit redundant to me and since neither Batman and Batwoman ever interact in this book, I don’t really see the point of the two stories being included together. I think Rucka has done a very strong job filling out Batwoman as a strong character and a hero, it seems silly to do a side by side comparison to show just how similar she is in methodology and ability to Batman. This story was pretty good, but in the end I felt a little insulted at the idea that Rucka felt the need to show me just how similar Batwoman is to Batman in such a heavy handed way.

Now the second feature was much better experience for me, I really have been enjoying the Question /Huntress stuff and this issue is no exception. I will avoid any hysterical ‘The Question needs her own book!’ talk. But as a backup feature in Detective Comics it is a joy to read and when Vandal Savage shows up at the end I did get a little surprise and a chill up my spine that I did not get from the main feature.

And there was a Flash preview that I didn’t give a shit about, sorry, never been a big Flash fan.

Fantastic Four #577- I have to give Hickman credit, he is taking his time with this story and doesn’t seem to be giving a shit about losing any attention deficient fanboys who might be incapable of following along for the long haul without a baby being thrown out a window or a woman being abused or killed. I did have a hard time following along with this issue, the learning curve this time around is steep and I will probably be spending a little time on Wikipedia tonight researching some of the stuff that was going on here. My biggest complaint with this story arc so far is I am starting to wonder if this is really a Fantastic Four story? For the most part the FF have been spectators in everything that has happened up to this point. Something happens, the Fantastic Four show to investigate what is happening and they spend the rest of the issue watching events unfold or having things explained to them. The FF just seem to be very passive so far up to this point, not really acting on the events that are unfolding around them. The cliffhanger at this end of this issue was very cool and should spell the end of the Fantastic Four being tourists in this whole story arc and taking a more proactive role in dealing with what is happening on the Earth and on the Moon. Eaglesham’s art is very solid as usual, but I did notice he is drawing the same ‘Reed Richard’ type face on a couple of different characters. No biggie though…

I really like what Hickman is doing here, but I just want to see more from the Fantastic Four other than them standing around looking like tourists.

Blackest Night #8- Shit what can I say about this book? It was a disappointment for sure, but I am still trying to pin down the biggest source of my disappointment. I mean the book is filled with a lot of cool individual moments, John’s is the master of writing WTF moments that make comic fans squeal with glee and Reis’ art is top notch as usual. So why did I feel so disappointed at the end of this event?

1. That’s enough Geoff Johns!

Johns spends way too much time here jerking off the fanboys and not enough time explaining what the fuck is going on, that’s cool up to a point. But John’s is like that person who is trying to give you the best blowjob ever, but they spend way too much time doing a bunch of silly shit that feels good but does nothing to finish the job, in the end you just want to tell them to stop fucking around and just put it in their mouth. Ok, that was a little graphic, but John’s basically spent two issue putting Sinestro out there as a White Lantern to rile up the fanboys, only to unceremoniously dump him when he wanted to move on to other cool moments. You have to ask yourself, why even make Sinestro a White Lantern if it did nothing to move the story along or do anything to resolve the event?

2. Black Hand did what?

Ok, so Black Hand is the anchor for Nekron and when his link is severed Nekron cannot exist on Earth. So why exactly does all of those White Lantern rings start coming out of his mouth when he is brought back to life? Is he now the anchor for the White Entity? I mean even though William Hand is brought back to life, he is still a crazy fucker with a huge hard on for death. This might be something of nitpick, but it goes to my third point.

3. Nothing is resolved or explained.

Nekron is sent back to the corn field but otherwise unharmed or dealt with. Black Hand is still alive, but held by the Indigo tribe. The Anti-Monitor is back, along with a whole bunch of heroes and villains. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan even have a conversation at the end of the book basically saying nothing has been resolved or explained.

You know after almost a year of the Blackest Night event, I would expect a little resolution to everything that has happen. Instead we just get what amounts to a huge reset button, I really thought Johns was going to do something really deep here, exploring the nature of death in the DC universe or the lack of anything resembling a permanent end for characters who die and come back, sometimes multiple times. Instead we get what looks like a cheep stunt for a wholesale resurrection of DC characters who have died over the years, free and clear, with no attempt to explain what happened. Instead of Blackest Night giving some clarity to the DC Universe it has just made things even more confusing and I am pretty sure that was not the original intention.

IronMuskrat

Title: Fantastic Four # 574
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Andrew Currie
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $2.99

An old friend of mine, Tim, use to argue with me all the time about comic book artists and their artwork. Tim was of the opinion that the quality of the art didn’t matter as long as the story was solid. He would point to Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil and his other books as an example of story trumping pencils. I would counter his point by saying 1) Comics are a visual medium, if the artwork sucks you might as well just read a book. 2) Miller’s artwork was pretty damn good on Daredevil and if he didn’t appreciate what Miller was doing he was a fucking retard. We never did agree on this subject. Tim would always accuse me of not seeing the forest through the trees or something about me not liking a forest because it had ugly trees or some bullshit. Now that I think about it, Tim was kind of a snotty ass and that’s why I haven’t talked to the guy in years. So what does this have to do with new Fantastic Four book out this week? Well, I think it may be a case of me not seeing the forest through the trees.

Round One with Fantastic Four #574

I have been a big fan of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run so far. It was the first comic I picked up when I started collecting again this year. The first 3-issue story arc “Solve Everything” was a terrific way for Hickman to start his run. The one-and-done follow up “Adventures on Nu-World” was a solid story, though it felt a bit rushed. I was excited to see what would be in store next for the Fantastic Four, so I got me a beer and sat down in my reading chair and…

Wow! What was this? Something was seriously wrong with this comic. Franklin and the other kids look a little weird. Why do their heads have bloated manikin faces? I recognize Leech and Artie, but who are these other odd looking mutant kids at Franklin’s party? Holy shit, that’s suppose to be Power Pack! You have got to be kidding me and why does this artist hate Reed Richards’ face so much? Reed has a five-o-clock shadow, not a hobo beard and a giant chin! Wait! This birthday party goes on for how many pages? I have to look at these ugly kids for almost two-thirds of the book. The last third of the book doesn’t have creepy looking kids but it does have a time traveler and some stuff about Franklin and Valeria having to stop something in the future. I am sure this is setting up future stories for the book, but all of that doesn’t matter because I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Bentley Wittman’s clone kid looks like Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic-strip. Not only was this the worst Fantastic Four comic I have read this year, this might spell the end of the entire Hickman FF run. Game over man, game over!

Later that night I messaged Jose to let him know what a turd of a comic this week’s Fantastic Four had been:

From: IM
To: Jose

Picked up Fantastic Four #574(ugh!) Chew #7(Terrific!) Detective Comics #860(nice, but I need to reread it again), and I found The Last Days of American Crime #1(I can’t believe what a quality book it was for five bucks!)

I guess I had the biggest reaction to FF #574 and not in a good way. The quality of this book has fallen sharply since the first story arc, and the poor artwork in this issue makes it worse. I can start writing a review tomorrow for any of the books, if you have one you want me to do in particular let me know.

From: Jose
To: IM

Huh, I haven’t yet gotten to FF yet. Is it that bad? Really? I’ll now HAVE TO read it next. Do a review of whichever book you feel will give you the best review, positive or negative. That’s usually how I go about it. Just let me know which one you decide on because I am going to TRY to do a review myself in the next day or so.

From: IM
To: Jose

The art by Neil Edwards is pretty bad, he seems to have a hard time drawing human faces. Reed Richards in particular seem to suffer at the hands of Edwards, looking like a bum most of the time. There is a panel on page six I think where everyone is standing around a birthday cake for Franklin, Reed looks like some kind of horrible manikin. The art really put a damper on the whole Birthday party, which takes up almost 2/3 of the book. the last third is better, but it looks like a set up for the Siege. I am hoping that is not the case.

Right now I am leaning toward doing a review of FF.

From: Jose
To: IM

OK. I just finished reading it. I actually liked it but ya, that art was fucking terrible. One of the only things worse than Bryan Hitch art is someone trying to imitate Bryan Hitch art. The art alone almost killed the book for me

All in all it was a set up issue for future storylines which is fine for me. I think that this is eluding to the Doom War and not the Siege, though I could be wrong. And Franklin got his powers back so that was cool.

Following the last issue with this story I can see where you have a problem with it not living up to the first story arc. To be fair, last issue was all about Hickman cleaning up some shit that Mark Millar left him with. I am glad Hickman resolved that shit Millar plotline right away (for the most part) because I really would rather not deal with it in the future.

I’ll be interested in reading your review.

So, Jose liked it? How was that possible? Didn’t he see all of the ugly kids running around in it. Set up? What set up? I tried to remember anything important that had happen in the comic and I had to admit to myself that I pretty much had stopped reading dialog after the first three or four pages. Could I have been wrong about this issue, did I let the art get in the way of the story? If anyone else had told me they liked this issue I would have laughed at them. Unlike most people I know on the internet, I respect Jose’s opinions on things though. With the idea that I may have missed something important in the comic, I decided to take a second look at the book.

Round Two with Fantastic Four #574

OK, things start out with Franklin and Valeria making some plans of their own on the day of Franklin’s birthday. Valeria has made something special for Franklin and he is worried it might not work. Valeria assures him he will be happy with the results. The birthday party gets underway with the whole Fantastic Four family present, along with Alex, Jack and Katie from Power Pack. Leech, Artie and that ugly gargoyle dude (who’s name escapes me right now) are also attending [Editor‘s Note: That “ugly gargoyle dude“ is none other than the android Dragon Man-Jolly J.]. The child clone of The Wizard is present here also, tying up a loose plot-line from an earlier issue. Franklin had questioned his father on what would happen to the child clone of Bentley Wittman, the clone kid that was the sole survivor of an earlier battle with the Fantastic Four. It looks like Franklin was able to convince his father to take care of the child for the time being. Sue Richards has a rather nice moment with Bentley(or number 32 as he likes to call himself) involving a piece of birthday cake. Reed offers Alex from Power Pack a job working with him on a special project, although no mention of what that special project might be.

After a bit, Spider-Man shows up to entertain the kids, much to the disappointment of Johnny Storm who has some nice dialog with Sue about Spider-Man’s needing to make a dramatic entrance to the party. As the party winds down, Franklin in a bit of twist gives presents out to everyone who came to the party. The presents range from gift certificates, to a key for a room at the FF headquarters for Leech to live in, and a helmet built by Val that allows Artie to once again project his thoughts to communicate. Spider-Man also gets a joke gift from Johnny that I won’t reveal, you will have to pick up the issue to find out what it is.

Later that night after the party is over, FF Headquarters get a visit from a time traveler, who quickly erects a force field to prevent the Fantastic Four from interfering with him. The traveler appears to stun Franklin as he walks out into the hall to see what is going on. The stranger seems to be interested in speaking to Valeria and gives her a rather cryptic message about “The future must be avoided at all costs.” This actually leads to the best part of the book, as future guy gives his message to Val, there is a series of child like drawings in the background that seem to give clues to what the traveler is taking about. I think there are some spoilers there if you can figure them out. By the time Reed gets the force field down the mystery man(who really isn’t a mystery anymore at this point, its pretty easy to figure out who he is) has finished his mission and taken off back to wherever he came from. The book ends with Valeria not revealing her conversation with the traveler to her parents and Franklin apparently regaining something that he had lost. I guess the traveler did more than just stun him in the hall.

Overall my second look at this book revealed a lot of good stuff I had overlooked because I hated some aspects of Neil Edwards art. There is a lot of setting up for future story lines here and some very nice character moments for just about everyone in the story. Hickman is doing a fine job of writing the Fantastic Four as not just a superhero team but as a caring family as well. He is really taking his time to flesh out Franklin and Valeria as major players in this book and not just background material. I should talk about the art for a moment. I had major problems with Neil Edwards art, but in truth, beside his apparent inability to draw children and not have them look like Rugrats, he does a pretty good job penciling everything else and I was surprised to notice he did the pencils on the last issue. I remember liking the art in that issue.

In the end this was another very solid issue of the Fantastic Four and planted the seeds for at least a few future story-lines here. I was very quick to label this book a turd, when I think I was the one being the turd for dismissing it so quickly. The forest through the trees indeed. I hate to say it, but Tim was right about me. I let art get in the way of a good story. I still believe comics are a visual medium, but in the future maybe I need be a little more forgiving.

IM