November 12, 2004

Uncanny (and Infrequent) Comic Review

Okay, so the original idea was that I would take a look at each week’s X-books. That lasted about three weeks. I just do not have the patience or the talent that Paul O’Brien does at the X-Axis. I have meant to run some comic reviews here, but I just never seem to get around to it. Well, that stops today. Here are some books I have checked out recently. I hope that this will end up an weekly thing.

Astonishing X-Men #6
While it is easily the best X-book, and probably the best superhero book out there, this issue fell a little flat. It wraps up Gifted, the first storyline. It ends a little abruptly, as if Marvel forced Joss Whedon’s hand on this to make it fit in a trade. There are many storylines going on in this book, from Colossus’ return on down. The smaller bits are still the best, like Peter and Kitty’s reunion or Emma’s classic one-liners. The art by John Cassady is unbeatable. While his Colossus is still a little oddly shaded, his layouts and level of detail are remarkable.

District X #6
Like ASM, the finale to this first arc was disappointing. Unlike that book, where the overall quality is still excellent, the finale to “Mr. M” fell with a thud. The previous five issues had built an excellent sense of place and timing. That was lost this issue. The previous issues hanging threads were tied in a perfunctory manner, one that combined two hoary clichés: the mistaken identity and the reset button. This title has been better and should be again.

X-Men #161-163
This is the last storyline of the Chuck Austen Era. It isn’t bad, and Austen includes some nice character bits in the middle of a senseless storyline. Pretty much defines the Austen era, doesn’t it? Between the ludicrous Gambit is Blind storyline (totally ignored in his ongoing series) and the inexplicable Xorn’s brother lies some really nice work between Gambit and one of the Cuckoos and Juggernaut’s believable reaction to Sammy’s death. The biggest problem is the main storyline, as the Brotherhood decides to infiltrate the Mansion and kill… for no apparent reason. I mean other than they are bad people. Speaking of invasion, the Mansion has now been attacked in all three core X-Books. How bad is the security in this place anyway?

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1
I love the Green Lantern. Check that, I love the Idea of the Green Lantern; I just very seldom like the execution. Kyle Rayner does nothing for me. John Stewart is my favorite, but his solo tries (like the lovely but moronic GL: Mosaic) have been lousy. This series starts the rehabilitation of Hal Jordan after a decade in the wilderness. The GL: Emerald Twilight is a classic example of empty, shock-for-shock sake comic storytelling, and caused a huge (unbelievably so) rift in DC fandom. It was also necessary, as Hal has never been that involving a character. In fact, he is the most vanilla major character in comics. This new beginning, showing what seems to be a battle for Hal’s soul between the good, evil and indifferent part is a good, solid comic. Geoff Johns seems to know and relate to the characters, and Ethan Van Sciver puts in his best work to date.

JLA: Classified #1
While I acknowledge how important Grant Morrison’s run on JLA was, I never got into it much. It seemed too big, too impersonal. This new series is much the same, except this time it barely features the JLA. The focus is on the Ultramarines, a creation of Morrison’s from another book. I didn’t have a clue who they were, and certainly don’t after the rather chaotic introduction from this book. It’s an interesting premise though, the super-team hijacked by villains. The villain in this case is Gorilla Grodd, a thoroughly ridiculous villain that has been played pretty frightening recently. The only JLA member to show is Batman, and this highlights the problems of putting a street-level superhero in a cosmic group like the JLA. Batman whips out his flying saucer and his boom-tube gauntlet. He seems to have an entire closet of this stuff. Why doesn’t he that against the Joker? Afraid it would be too easy?

The Question #1
Man, did I love the Question back in the late-1980s. O’Neil and Cowan made for one of the great runs in recent comic book history. It was dark and compelling, interspersed with a few light moments to lessen the gloom. So how does this new version measure up? Not real well so far. This is a six issue limited that moves the Question to Metropolis. The featured tagline is “The Human Enigma meets the Man of Steel”. Superman and the Question aren’t exactly the most natural pairing I can think of. Rick Veitch’s script seems way to smart for it’s own good, and includes some ludicrously pretentious narration. The first lines in the book? Try this: Inner ear’s clocked to the background murmur; Overloaded with the buzz of the cluster hive. I’m inhaling the psyche of the city. And it just keeps going in this motif. There is good news though. The art by Tommy Lee Edwards is spectacular, with shades of Alex Maleev’s stellar work on Daredevil. The character bits between Lois Lane (She and Vic Sage went to school together) and Jimmy Olson are nice. I’ll give this a shot.

Posted by Frinklin at November 12, 2004 06:33 PM
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