Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday - 11/2011 Update


I can’t believe the last time I did one of these was in August. That’s inexcusable.
I mean, inexcusable if I got paid or had a boss or deadlines or anything. As it is it’s more just lazy.

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ACTION COMICS STARRING SUPERMAN
Grant Morrison and Rags Morales are obviously powerful team. And they’re doing a great job of making Superman interesting again. From the minor details like his blanky-cape and his haircut to their fresh yet dead-on characterization of Lex Luthor, the whole thing is just fun. And tell me you didn’t laugh out loud at that crook yelling, “Somebody save me!” at the beginning of the first issue then we’re just really not going to get along.
ANGEL & FAITH
I love this pairing of characters, so I was really expecting a lot out of the comic. And it delivered. The folks in charge of all things Buffy over at Dark Horse have apparently decided to go for a more episodic feel with the comics and it is working like crazy.
ANIMAL MAN
I wasn’t going to buy this at first, but everybody raved about it so much I felt I had to check it out. It’s fantastic. Like, I’m going to have to check out Sweet Tooth fantastic. I do not like the art, but the story is so good that I just don’t care. Thumbs up, Mr. Lemire and DC for giving this a shot.
ASTONISHING X-MEN
Thank goodness they finally wrapped up those alternating storylines. I wasn’t excited about reading the newest issue, as it featured a creative team that I have never heard of. That seemed to me to indicate Marvel’s abandonment of what has up until recently been a premiere, special X-book. But I am happy to say I was wrong. (writer) and (artist) told a great one-and-done story about Emma Frost and Danger (and Hank McCoy) that was both entertaining, exciting, and which explored the characters. It was pretty great. Even if you gave up on Astonishing a while ago you should check this issue out. I really dug it.
AVENGERS 1959
Howard Chaykin at his Chaykin-y best. I hear this idea actually began in the pages of New Avengers, so I guess I’m going to have to go check that out. I just hope Bendis didn’t write it. Speaking of which, I still like Scarlett, but I tried his new book with Mark Bagley and did not like it at all. I can’t remember what it’s called or I would do a separate listing. It’s basically twelve Peter Parkers sitting around talking about stuff they might do. For thirty-five pages. But they’re edgy.
BATGIRL
The more I think about this book the angrier it makes me. I don’t know why Gail Simone is writing Barbara Gordon as though she were Stephanie Brown, but it pisses me off to no end. The dialogue is bad, the inner monologues are confusing and often redundant, and the new villain is just stupid. I hate to be so harsh about anything Simone writes, but I was so excited about Batgirl that it is hard to take it being one of the most disappointing titles of the New 52. The art isn’t bad, though. I just don’t like her Giger-esque gloves.
BATMAN
Scott Snyder continues to be outstanding. He actually tells stories rather than simply moving from splash panel to splash panel. It’s fantastic. And it is an absolute joy to have Greg Capullo back on a real comic book. I love that guy’s art.
BATMAN AND ROBIN
This isn’t very good, but it’s not as much of a letdown as Batgirl. I didn’t care for Tomasi & Gleason’s first run on the book so my expectations weren’t very high. But they didn’t even meet those. I guess the last five or so years of Damian Wayne’s character development got thrown out along with the Crisis and Barbara Gordon’s wheelchair when the reboot happened, because he is just a dick now. Like, a Jason Todd-style dick. This comic is not very good.
BATMAN INCORPORATED
I think another issue of this is coming out someday. Maybe?
BATWOMAN
Still perfect despite Rucka’s absence. Let’s see how long they can keep that going.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9
Only a couple of issues in and this title has improved by leaps and bounds over Season 8. Each issue feels like an episode of the show and has a more natural narrative flow and that Whedon flair for humor. I’m so glad everything is more grounded now. Plus the whole sub-plot of Buffy’s student loan is hilarious. I don’t know how Georges Jeanty isn’t sick of drawing this yet, but I’m glad he’s not.
CATWOMAN
I am just so outraged that Selina Kyle doesn’t just sit around her apartment in her full Catwoman costume 24-7. How dare the people who created this comic show her as any kind of normal human being who might get caught unawares by bad guys or… I can hardly bring myself to say it… fornicate! I have got so much sand in my vagina right now. So please forward this to USA Today or something.
But seriously – what the fuck ever. The first two issues of this book are a lot of fun and to me are just portraying Catwoman as Catwoman. I guess maybe that makes me a big ol’ misogynist or something, but that’s ground we’ve covered here before.
And guys, you know this is for real because I do not ever want to have to defend Judd Winick, much less actually like something he wrote. But there you go.
DC COMICS PRESENTS: DEADMAN
If Deadman were to get a great reboot in the modern DCU, this is what it should look like. Which is a good thing because that’s exactly what this is. Boston Brand is a teeny bit more humble than he was way back in the beginning, but you can still hear Ashley J. Williams’ voice coming off of that page. And the new interpretation of Rama Kushna is great. I love this book and want it to just be its own Deadman title.
DEADPOOLMAX 2
Hooray! Wade and (formerly) Hydra Bob are back and in deeper shit than ever! You know what my current pipe dream is? That the exact same animation house that did Rob Zombie’s El Superbeasto movie would adapt this.
DEMON KNIGHTS
Right up there with Remender and Gillan and Rucka amongst my comic writing heroes is Paul Cornell, and his Demon Knights is probably the most fun of the New 52. I love it.
FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.
This Jeff Lemire fellow bears watching. I like his stuff.
GI JOE
This whole Cobra Civil War thing seemed like such a gimmick at first, but IDW’s creative teams are really fleshing out the conflict between Joe and Cobra and giving us a reason to care about this new take on the Joeniverse (can I say that? Is that stupid?). GI Joe: Cobra is particularly outstanding with its take on the conflict between the different contenders to replace Cobra Commander and the story of Steeler, a Cobra double-agent working from within the Joe team.
GI JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO
Okay, I have to admit. I might be getting a little burned out on this one. We’ve spent too many issues dealing with Darklon and I hate Darklon.
GREEN LANTERN
The story of Sinestro once again being a Green Lantern is just great. Buy it if you like evil guys with big heads being extremely irritated all the time. I do.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS
This hasn’t got me all caught up like the main GL book. It isn’t bad, it’s just not igniting my imagination or whatever. Some of the books don’t seem as fresh and new and that’s okay. But not in this one. It feels like the same old story.
HACK/SLASH
I still like this book a whole lot, but I can see it falling into a rut in the near future. I think Seeley should line up some guest writers for next year – at least every other arc or some fill-ins. I’m available.
The current arc has Vlad ailing, which is an interesting development. Cassie has to find Sam Hain for backup and you know that's not going to end well.
HUNTRESS
Okay, obviously I know the name Paul Levitz. Just being a comic nerd means it’s a familiar moniker. But I can’t think of a single thing he’s written, much less received accolades for. But he should get them for Huntress. The first issue felt like the first real, old-school superhero comic out of all of the New 52. That isn’t to say some of the other books aren’t good; this one just has a certain charm and panache that the others are lacking. Please pick this up next time you hit your local comic shop.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
While I still enjoy this book, Tony spent three or four issues just hanging out with some dwarves. Compress this shit, Fraction. That’s just ¥€∞£ing ridiculous.
JUSTICE LEAGUE
Despite the wonderful Jim Lee/Scott Williams art I really loathe this book. Everybody is a dick, which seems to be one of the imperatives of the New 52. Maybe “DC” stands for “Dick Comics” now. I understand that many classic team-up books start with the characters in conflict, but that was after the characters were already established. These new versions of the classic DC heroes are not, technically, established yet. So all this cock-fighting just comes off as immature and pointless. I feel like a 12-year-old is writing this dreck.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
I am not totally behind this one. It’s not bad, I just don’t want to admit that I didn’t totally understand it. But I did like it better than non-Dark Justice League.
NEW MUTANTS
Abnett and Lanning are still doing a bang-up job on this one and David LaFuente’s art brings me back to the days of Sienkewicz New Mutants. Not so abstract, but involving to look at. I like the writing so much on this that I picked up Abnett’s Doctor Who novel that just came out. I’ll let you know if it’s any good if I ever have time to read it. It’s about the Ice Warriors, so I’m excited.
NIGHTWING
I wasn’t going to buy this, but Kyle Higgins’ work on Gates of Gotham made me give it a chance. I’m glad for that. Despite Dick Grayson straight-up letting some cops get slaughtered in the first issue (which I think was a narrative oversight; admittedly a pretty major one) I’m enjoying this as a straight continuation of Scott Snyder’s work on Detective Comics.
PUNISHER
Greg Rucka’s first issue did nothing for me. The story seemed a little too high concept for a guy that shoots people in the face and the art was just not great. I’m hanging in there because Rucka has built up so much goodwill with me. I strongly hope to be eating my words in a couple of months, looking back at this post and thinking, “What an idiot I was!”
That's what I wrote back in August. What an idiot I was! I’m hooked now. This is an engrossing story that has absolutely sucked me in. Much like Scott Snyder, Greg Rucka is a storyteller that takes a bit to build but then gets absolutely relentless. Punisher is no exception. I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen with the widow in the hospital. Could we possibly be looking at Frank Castle’s replacement? Nah – it’s not like Rucka has a history of writing strong women or anything…
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS
This is another book the internet yaks tore apart. I like it. I think it’s fun and I think the characterization of Starfire as an amoral alien is interesting. BUT I do tend to agree with the few wise folks that pointed out that Starfire is a character beloved by children because of the ultra-successful Ten Titans cartoon. And I am a little torn on how she should be portrayed after that particular iteration. We’ve got to remember that she has always been a free spirit to one degree or another. This interpretation may be a bit more extreme, but is really nothing new.
I also have to admit that the degree to which I like Jason Todd in this is greatly informed by Jensen Ackles’ performance in the Under the Red Hood feature.
RED LANTERNS
Oh, shit this is so boring. But I’m giving everything at least one story arc to be fair. Provided that arc does not extend past six issues. I’m looking at you, Green Lantern Corps.
SHADE
I totally fell in love with the character of Dickie Swift back during “Blackest Night”. DC teased a James Robinson-penned title for a very long time and now here it is and it is GREAT. One of the books with very little direct connection to the New 52, Shade is immediately a fascinating, immersive read. Swift’s character is so clearly defined that he’s one of my favorites of the new DC status quo.
Plus, Deathstroke doesn’t look like such an idiot douche when he shows up at the end. They definitely toned down his Liefeldelity.
The really good news is that this is slated for 12 issues. I'm sure more will follow if it is successful.
STAR WARS: INVASION
This is such a good series of stories. I’m glad we’re continuing to follow the main characters from the first mini-series, but I hope there is room for more tales from the New Jedi Order era.
SUICIDE SQUAD
The first issue was maybe not so great, but I found the second one really interesting. I’m fine with giving this book a few more dollars to find out what’s going to happen.
SWAMP THING
This might be my favorite of the New 52. Obviously I’m going to gush about Scott Snyder and his fantastic storytelling, but Yanick Paquette’s artwork is just great. I do believe Francesco Francavilla is illustrating the next arc though, so get ready for the first ever pictures of me having sex with a comic book.
TEEN TITANS
I liked the first issue well enough to buy the second. I’m a huge fan of Tim Drake and if this is how I have to get my fix I’m going to give it a fair chance.
UNCANNY X-FORCE
This is the best X-story going right now. And “Schism” was pretty darn good.
UNCANNY X-MEN
The final issue of the original run of Uncanny just came out and was great. Kieron Gillan is one of my favorite writers now. That final issue was what a final issue should be. Except for the fact that Uncanny X-Men #1 came out the next week. I hate when they do that shit.
VENOM
I would normally never buy a Venom comic. But Rick Remender is writing it so I was already tempted. Once they added the amazing Tom Fowler on as artist for the surprisingly good “Spider Island” arc I was sold. And it’s a great comic. Flash Thompson as the main character was an inspired choice and now I’m hooked even though Fowler’s run is ending. I highly recommend you pick up the trades of these first issues when they come out.
WALKING DEAD
The comic continues to be great. Issue #90 featured my favorite spread I’ve ever seen in a comic book (the one at the top).
Rick looks absolutely empty and hollow. Outstanding. Adlard really nailed this one.
WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN
The first issue was really cute. That’s not really something I want to say about an X-Men comic, but there it is. Jason Aaron’s writing was fine and I did enjoy the tone, but I honestly didn’t feel (dude’s) art was right. Especially not for a big, premiere issue. I can deal with a cartoony look on some books, but a primary X-title is not one of them.
WONDER WOMAN
An extremely unlikely contender to be my favorite of the New 52, but definitely in the running – neck-and-neck with Swamp Thing. I have never given a crap about Wonder Woman, but I only recently found out it was because this comic book had not happened yet. WHAT A GREAT FUCKING COMIC!
X-FACTOR
New story arc! Still great! Does Strong Guy have a soul? Is Rictor done with Shatterstar? Is Layla Miller on the up-and-up? And just who is Jamie Madrox!?! Okay, well – Madrox is just Madrox. But this book is the shit.
X-MEN: SCHISM
This was a very solid bit of storytelling that I had to read twice to really appreciate. The build up to the conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine is very solid and very believable so that by the time the big confrontation happens you’re just grimacing with the tension of it. The battle between the two was illustrated beautifully – not a let-down in any way. The ending felt a bit flat to me at first, but I think that’s because we all knew how it was going to end.
Oh, and I’m siding with Wolverine here. Because the children are our future.


SPECIAL EXTRA!

THE WALKING DEAD TV SHOW
I swore I wasn’t going to watch this because of the whole Darabont thing, but you should all know by now that my oaths are somewhat suspect when it comes to nerdery. I couldn’t help but watch the first episode of the second season. I thought it was boring as fuck up until the end and the following episodes have been way better. Not great, but worth following for the time being. Now that I’ve basically stopped watching televised wrestling I have a lot more time for this sort of thing.

But you ABSOLUTELY need to be watching Ringer and American Horror Story. They’re the best things on TV right now and I can’t wait to watch them every week. I am totally addicted to smutty television.

Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

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