Saturday, May 06, 2006

Comics Rant - Infinte Crisis finale and other books


So much for trying to be regular on my posts on this Blog! Anyway, I've realized I pick up way too many comics. Of course I'm quite positive I can't go toe to toe with the rest of rabid comic fans out there, but I'm really running out of shelf space to put my comic books in. And here I thought I kinda slowed down from when I was young! So today, as I was cleaning up my apartment from the assorted stacks of comic books piled on the floor, it was kind of funny to look through some of the books I picked up in the past few months. It's an assorted mess really, and as I organized the comics (in a nice numerical order, not alphabetical anymore, I just got tired of doing that!) what went through my mind was a quick Q and A of whether I liked the title or not and why.
So I thought I'd post up some of those impressions I had, in my blog! What a better way to rant, eh?! So hang on to your hats, 'cuz I'm gonna start my rapid fire reviews! Oh and there will be spoilers on these books, so scroll and look at the covers to see if you wanna read through this or not!
Infinite Crisis is finally over and I'm looking forward to the new 52 series. The funny part about Infinite Crisis is that I think the prelude, the countdown stuff, the one year later stuff (and I predict the 52 stuff) was actually more interesting than the event itself. Maybe because so much was going on? But personally, I think the thing that got to me was how the trapped crisis survivors were acting. Namely Superboy and Alexander Luthor. Okay so I understand it's been ages and the 'aloneness' they went through must've been horrible, but c'mon! It's Superboy from earth prime! There could not possibly be a more noble soul than that kid!

And Alexander Luthor, I don't think would've bent that way even though he is a 'Luthor'. His dad was basically Superman on his planet, but with worse odds. The main reasoning for their apparent craziness is attributed to being in confinement for so long. But to me, Superboy was Superman as a kid. He's got some solid core values. If anything he wouldn't be as jaded as our Superman now, and he definitely wouldn't just slaughter heroes and pound them into paste just because he didn't think they were 'real', or he didn't think they were good.

Anyhow Infinite Crisis was such a massive undertaking I don't think it could've lived up to it's own hype and the nostalgia of the old one (flipping through my crisis hardbound, I realize how confusing that must've been to read for anyone not entrenched in DC lore!). BUT it did an admirable job. I think the best thing Infinte Crisis has going for it is the shake up it created. The DC heroes weren't changed because 'worlds lived and worlds died'. They were changed because of the choices they had to make. Supes, Wonder Woman and Batman faced a bad time that tested their characters and their friendships. I think what Infinte Crisis brought out was more depth to these heroes and an appreciation for them more than any great sacrifice-to-destroy-a-machine could (sorry to the Conner Kent /Superboy fans).

There were some truly great scenes in the series with the big superboy on superboy / superman on superman beatdowns as well as a great standoff with superboy (with the lame o anti monitor armor) and the Green Lantern Corpse, as well as the surprise revalation of the crisis survivors from the end of the first infinite crisis.

While I question some of the motives of the characters in the book, it didn't turn me into a total hater! DC did a good job to tie in all ends together and is making a gutsy move with the 1 year later and 52 stuff. Though not ending up as grand as I wanted Infinite Crisis to be (like the first one), I'm ready for the can of worms DC's opening up this next year!

Ooops looks like I ranted about infinte Crisis too much! I'm gonna go fast on these ne
xt few ones! Promise!
The world without a Justice League was a good read, I liked reading about the fallout from Identity Crisis a lot and the writers followed through with it very well. Though, I have to say I thought the Key was lame. The story was arc was handled well enough though that even those lame-o bad guy characters were used effectively to let the various JLA vent out their frustrations with one another and have confrontations finally happen (Batman and Zatanna, Green Arrow and Batman, Green Arrow and that Manitou lady... etc.). And it was nice and surprising to see who would actually try the hardest to keep the league afloat, even when everybody had given up on it.

Goodness Gracious! How long does it take to make this book! Anyhow whatever the trouble may be that the creators of the Superman Batman book may be facing, I still pick it up! While I can't really remember the story anymore because of the gaps inbetween issues, I like looking at Ed McGuiness' super ultra buffed out characters. That's about it, I'm not a fan of Jeph Loeb's writting, but in this case I can't really remember it too well to be a critic!
The Up, Up and away storyline covering all the Super-books are a lot of fun. Essentially the story so far is that Superman's been gone from Metropolis for a year and he's lost his powers. I like seeing Clark Kent as a reporter and I'm actually sad to see him get his powers back so soon! But I suppose it's to make way for the new writer artist team coming on board after this sory arc. It's nice to see Supes relax and enjoy life as a human being. I mean life must always be so hectic for Superman! The story's written well by Busiek and Johns, people can relate a little bit easier to the man of steel. Personally I'm one of those freaks who actually favors Superman over Batman. I like the Dark Knight and all, but Superman's on the top of my favorite superhero list (so much so I know that Rhubarb Pie is one of his favorites! I know, quite sad I know that...)

Speaking of Bats... I've had Detective Comics on my local comic
stores' "pull list" (yeah double dork point for me!) because David Lapham had that run on it (kind of a dissappointing story arc actually, I was hoping he'd be able to draw it completely too). So I kind of forgot to cancel it from my file when the arc ended and have just been waiting for the right time to jump off. So I accidentally get treated to James Robinson's 1 year later tale (which is actually not bad). But I've decided to cancel it from my list today. But man, I have to admit, James Robinson did a good job writing this issue I MIGHT be tempted to pick up the rest of the arc anyways! Curse you mr. Robinson! The introduction of Batman's daytime detective Jason Bard is a good addition to the cast, and the let bygones be bygones incident with Bullock was a nice touch. I wonder where Batman went for a year? He seems a little more human... he actually forgave someone! like I said: Curse you mr. Robinson! On a side note: It's cool they integrated Robin's animated series costume into the DC univers, but it looks kinda weird on realistically proportioned characters... I kinda liked his old costume better (Tim Drakes first one I mean, not the briefs with fish scales on it).
Superman/Shazam First Thunder. Maybe because there was a gap between issues or whatever, I found my interest on this title wane towards the last half. Maybe because I felt it had multiple endings, I was just ready for it to end. I don't think I ever knew Billy Batson was a homeless boy... It actually puts a disconnect in my brain because his characters' supposed to be innocent. I'd imagine a survivor on the streets to be a whole lot more jaded than the wide eyed kid I know Billy Batson's supposed to be. Not really a problem, I can deal. The colors in the book got a little too dark and muddled towards the last few issues it was hard to see the Josh Middleton's art. I liked how the series started off (giant robots, magic vs. Supes) but I guess it just didn't maintain the pace for me.
I thought I was going to cancel this book out of my pull list, but I actually ended up enjoying reading about the Green Lantern Corps' rebuilding. The new characters introduced, as well as the interactions of the old timers was good to see. I'm a fan of seeing events have reprecussions (with Hal coming to terms with how the Corps views him, Guy's promotion and growth) and this mini series has them. I like the idea of the Green Lanterns being space cops, so it's fun to see them take on rookies and training them and seeing how those rookies fare. And of course the giant willpower battle at the end with ALL of the corps banding together to defend OA is always a crowd pleaser. All this JUST in time to slow down Superboy's mad dash to OA at the end of Infinite Crisis! Oh and I like Gleason's art, as well!
Again another book I wanted to get rid of in my pull list, but chalk it up to Mark Waid for consitently pulling me back in! I like the characterization that he's doing with the legionaires, they've always been such a massive group it was kind of hard to get to know them. And now with the 1001 years later and the introduction of Supergirl into the mix, it'll be nice to see how Waid uses her to shake things up (I mean her 'ify' induction to the league is a good start already!). I think it's also fun to see these heroes act like teenage rebels from authority figures, it add that teen titans on a massive scale appeal to them. Can't say I'm a big fan of Kitson's art, but I guess him and Waid are good at collaborating with each other (I liked Empire).

Alex Ross is a great draftsman. He can handle watercolor like
nobody's business. But I'm actually one of those weirdos that's tired of his work. He's an absolutely phenomenal painter, but everytime I pick up his books I find my brain wandering off to somewhere else, rather than reading them. Take the Justice book he's on for example. Solid Alex Ross stuff. I got rid of it from my pull file. I dunno, I'm just not that engaged or captivated by the stories he tells. I always get the itch to buy the complete set of all his over-sized super friends stories (the ones that were done with Dini). Then I pick one up from the bookstore shelf, flip through it, and I lose the urge. Maybe I'm done with realistic looking superheroes? I feel like I've seen him draw realistic heroes in that upshot pose so much... I need more. I also find that I sometimes get lost in his storytelling, where things could've been clarified with panel placement or staged better. I think that writing is also key for mr. Ross when he does comic books. I mean, I liked Marvels and Kingdom come, but Justice just isn't grabbing me. So out my pull list it goes!
I like the All star Superman book Morrison and Quitely are doing, it's quite a refreshing re-invention of Superman using the old school stories of yore: Superman revealing his identity but Lois not believing, Lois gaining Supes powers, the crazy secret experiments Superman has in his fortress of solitude, Superman competing for Lois' love (kinda),lemme stop there cuz I know you catch the drift and this sentence is AMAZINGLY long. I really have no qualms about this book, I enjoy Quitely's art (though I wish he was inked with a brush rather than 'digitally inked'. Oh! Here's a qualm! I wish it cam out faster! Morrison does a good balance of playing in the tongue in cheek in these stories and delivers a pretty clean and engrossing lead.

On the flip side of that! I regularly pick up Morrison's Seven Soldiers Series and lemme tell ya: I feel like I'm growing a brain tumor trying to put the pieces together. The Seven Soldiers series is a whole lot more mysterious and cryptic. I feel I still haven't gotten the grasp of what the storyline is (other than giant bug creatures trying to eat all of humanity).
Morrison presents these stories in such a bizarre order, that it definitely requires thinking on the readers part. And thinking is hard! But I'm enjoying trying to piece the parts together, though some titles in the series seem to be a whole lot more confusing than others. I think my favorites form the line are Zatanna, The Guardian, Klarion (love Fravier Irving's work in this!) and Bulleteer. Maybe cuz they're kind of straightforeward reads (kind of pertaining to Zatanna and Klarion!). Mister Miracle has totally got me baffled. I have no idea what he has to do with New Genesis (if any) or the New Gods, or what universe he's in! Where's the real Mister Miracle? And the story in Shining Knight just drives me nutty! Which is maybe where all my confusion stems from as this is the most directly related to the Sheeda enemies. Frankenstein's... a big questionmark for me as he's not even a DC hero per se, and he reminds me too much of Steve Skroke's Doc Frankenstein for me not to do a double take everytime I read it. Anyway, I'm confused with the Seven Soldiers storyline and where it fits into the DC universe. To tell you the truth I thought the Seven Soldiers thing was taking place outside of DC continuity (even with zatanna in there) but lo and behold they can be seen fighting in Infinite Crisis. Any way, I'm here until the end of the series, and then I'm going to sit down and read them all AGAIN to try to make sense of it all. Ow. My head hurts.

I picked the New Warriors book up because it's fun. That's about all there is to it! Scottie Young's competent at delivering some pretty funny faces and action sequences. Though his backgrounds are usually pretty lacking and I really REALLY want to add line weight to his drawings, he's pretty capable. Glad he's able to pump out work relatively fast and I can see he takes a lot of influences from Kaare Andrews. It's reality tv show premise is pretty funny and I'm glad it doesn't try too hard on
taking itself so seriously (I mean speedball... c'mon!). Though that might all come to an end with Civil War looming and apparently the Warriors are supposed to play a key role somehow.

Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's Next Wave follows suit on that 'fun' kind of comic book. I think with all the real big time drama, the House of M or Identity crisis pumps out, I'm glad Marvel has books like these. I totally dig Stuart Immonen's new style, though I still see some of his 'realistic' side take over when he has to fall back on something. I thin he should totally run with this new style it's very refreshing to see. It's cool to see more of Marvel's no-namers poke fun at themselves. And I've never realized Machine
Man could be so funny. I mean compared to the gorgeously drawn but really boring Earth X, who would have thunk it? Good Fun stuff! I do have qualms with how Ellis ended this recent evil cop storyline, though. That just didn't seem altogether that funny to me. It was a little more twisted and wrong, than the light and fun tone the book generally has.
And to cap off our fun marvel books, is my personal fav: She-Hulk! Yeah I know, sounds lame, I know, but I find I always have a good time reading this title. I enjoy Slott and Bobillo's combo from when they started this book up again. I really hope they don't lose Bobillo, he does a good job of pacing the comedy scenes and I love how he draws She-Hulk's tiny tiny hands compared to here ginormous forearms! Showing more of the Jennifer Walters' side of She-Hulk is a good take and all the intergalactic/superhero Lawyering provides some really funny storylines! I'll be along for the ride as long as they keep pumping out the funnyness!
Peter David writes some good stuff in the new X-Factor. I enjoyed the first story arc and this cool noir spin he's placed on the book and it's characters. Sook is one of the good Adam Hughes clones out there, and I enjoy his renditions of these x-factor characters (Incidentally the other good Adam Hughes clone is Yanick Paquette, of Seven Soldier's Bulleteer... ow headache.). Unfortunately I think when Sook left the book so did my interest. I like Peter David's stuff, but I liked their mesh alot. I'm sure it takes a while to pump out art with that quality but it added alot to the stories. And the unfortunate thing is with the tie up of the Siryn getting beat up arc, that was a all too convenient stopping point for me. The Characters are well defined already early on in the series, and the most recent issue with a spotlight on Layla Miller's seemed promising; I just didn't seem that interested in it anymore.

And speaking of not interesting, what the heck happened to spider man! What is up with the funky outfit and the weird eating of other people's faces! Eywww! Please tell me he's a clone! Anyway, as you can tell I'm not to excited about how they 'fleshed' out spider-man's abilities. The extra stuff 'seems' cool, but just out of place (for me) on who spider man is and how he ticks. This 'darker' part of his abilities just doesn't sit well with me. I have the whole 12 part "The Other" storyline, but I have to confess I bought it because of Peter David's writing (strangely enough since he apparently couldn't keep me on X-Factor!). I don't like this Morlun character Straczynski plugged into Spider-man's 'history'. It feels like this forced mystical re-interpretation of spider-man's origins, that kind of strays from his true roots. I didn't enjoy what Straczynski did when they introduced this concept back when John Romita Jr. was still on the book. And I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that I don't like this Other business now. Still I was sucker enough to buy 12 issues of this stuff! I'm not a fan of his writing so I suppose it doesn't help my opinion. I also didn't like Pat Lee's art in those Marvel Knights books. He's lacking in structure in his anatomy and faces and it shows especially when there's a lot of drama and dialogue going on. Everything seems stiff and rigid, not very natural at all. He's good at drawing Transformers though.
Joss Whedon is the man. I'm sure tons of internet blogs have that sentence somewhere but I've only been recently 'turned' (horribly bad pun) to his works with Firefly; so yeah I'm late to jump on the band wagon. Not to worry! I'm rapidly catching up, I'm plowing through Buffy season 5 and soon Angel season 3! I have the Firefly box set, serenity in my dvd line up and am eagerly waiting for Wonder Woman! When he got onto Astonishing X-men it was great! I don't think I've ever had this much fun on an X book. Okay I'm lying, I haven't had this much fun on an X book in a looong time, since Claremont's run back inna day. Sadly, Claremont's recent writing leave me with a lot to be desired, but luckily mr. Whedon fills the gap! It's nice to see Cyclops getting defines and Kitty Pryde getting more respect. The return of the Hellfire club makes me all giddy, and Xavier's turn is actually a welcome twist. All good stuff for these characters to bust out of the mold that they've been in for so long and yet strangely enough... to stay true to themselves! So pick it up already!

I also borrowed Whedon's "Fray" from a friend and read it all in one sitting! Yep, I'm a fanboy.
Good times all around with Fray, and I highly recommend it to Buffy and Angel fans. For the non-fans, it great as well! Good characters and an interesting story arc that's a lot of fun to read. When it first came out on the stands I have to say I wasn't very attracted to the art or the character design. I actually kinda still am not mainly because it's in this state of solid-draftsmanship-but-not all thime. Some panels are constructed well but then others are not. She looks sometimes realistic, but then sometimes she's kinda manga. Maybe it's that weird mix that throws me off. I usually eat up anything Dave Stewart colors in, but for this book everything just seemed so busy, everything competing. Anyway a good read, and I don't think I really get lost on the storytelling and to have that in a comic book is always a plus for me!

Okay I'm sure I've offended enough people! 'Til my next unintelligible rant! Good night and God Bless!
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