Sunday, July 12, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXV

Comic reviews by a fan, for the fan.

** As always, mind the spoilers, fanboy. **

- OPENING REMARKS -

Captain America: Reborn #1
by Ed Brubaker & Bryan Hitch
Marvel Comics


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Whole lotta hype. Whole lotta effort. Whole lotta big whoop.

Steve Rogers is back (or will be eventually). If this story were taking place in the regular series instead of an overpriced mini, I might actually care. If I hadn't had spin and sales intrigue jammed down my throat for two months, I might be a little less critical. If I hadn't been forced to order this book completely oblivious to what it was about, coaxed only by a sly promise that it was going to be "big," I might not be so pissed off. But it was. And I am. So fuck it.

This isn't going to be a bad series. Brubaker's writing has been impeccable on the character, and there's no indication that he'll deliver anything less than gold this time around. Hitch is on his game, laying it down just as smoothly as ever. What makes this book a waste is the letdown resulting from the buzz generated by the Marvel media mogul about this fucking shit. No one gave a steaming turd that Steve Rogers was coming back. He's a comic character. They all come back eventually. If they'd just left the shit to play out on its own at the very least we wouldn't feel like we were buying a gimmick instead of a book. But instead Marvel just fucking HAD to compete with DC, flailing wildly to catch up with both Batman: Reborn, Blackest Night, and now apparently Wednesday Comics, and it came back and whipped them right in the tits.

In the end, with this or any other medium, it's all about the stories. You keep it real and tell a good tale, people will read it. It might not make a bazillion dollars, but you'll walk away with your dignity in tact, and the fans will respect and remember you for it. Sacrifice the story for the sales chart and it's anyone's guess what will happen. Marvel's had a lot of good luck with flashy shit in the past, but this is a prime example of how the same tactics can blow up in your greedy little hands.

I hope they learned from their mistakes. I know they haven't. Either way, it's swell to watch this fuckers try to wipe off the copious gobs of embarrassing spooge sticking to their stupid faces. I'm loving every second of it. Loving it.

Far Arden
by Kevin Cannon
Top Shelf Productions


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Not one to mince words; I'm not sure what I think of this book. There's a lot of good and a lot of not so good. I've thought, agonized even, about what to say of Far Arden, written by Kevin Cannon, which I bought, sight unseen, solely because it was solicited as a book for "Mature Readers," which is always a dumb reason to buy anything.

Far Arden follows the quest of an embittered sea dog, a vengeful orphan, a lovesick ex-wife, a deceitful college student, a fake girlfriend, and three disillusioned former friends on their quest for Far Arden, a tropical paradise in the midst of the Artic Ocean. To look at such a brief synopsis is to see nearly every pirate story ever told. Like I said, there's a lot of good and a lot of bad here. To get the bad out of the way first: the book starts off very rocky. Lots of silly coincidences, stereotypical characters, and a few unfocused plot developments that had me groaning to the point where I almost stopped reading the book. There's also a heavy use of some goofy onomatopoeiaish action blurbs (I'm not entirely sure what else to call them). For instance, when Army Sharks, our protagonist, saves his orphan companion from a watery grave, instead of a fluid sound emphasizing the action of his dive into the frosty Arctic waters (like "SWOOSH" or "BLUGH" or whatever) we get "Rescue!!" sprawled across the background, as if a five year old were narrating. It's amusing at first, but the device quickly gets tiresome. I struggled through the first 1/3 of the book, feeling like the author knew what kind of story he wanted to tell, and had all the elements needed to tell that story successfully, but was stumbling to put all the correct pieces in proper order.

The good new is he managed to eventually pull it off. Things begin to pick up as we journey deeper into the tale. The jovial atmosphere of the narrative begins to turn dire, then downright murderous. Characters become relatable and interesting as motivations and exposition is injected seamlessly. Intriguing nautical fantasy becomes intertwined with the plot, modern living becomes meshed with mariner lore, all blending for a rocky tale of the grave costs of desire. Eventually even the goofy sound effects became enjoyable (i.e. "human-sized bite"). The conclusion, by far, makes this book 100% worthwhile. It's a very brutal ending to an otherwise mostly light-hearted tale, and I didn't see it coming in a bazillion years.

This isn't a perfect book, but after much agonizing over its merits, did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I pick up a sequel if one presented itself in the future? Yes. Would I recommend it to others if they enjoyed that sort of thing? Yes. Despite all its faults, this is still an overall enjoyable read, which in this day and age is something I don't get to say very often.

Green Lantern #43
by Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke
DC Comics


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I hopped back on this series so I could get a kick start on Blackest Night. And boy did I ever.

This stand alone prologue, featuring a retelling and retooling of the Black Hand, is blunt, fast-paced, and quite grotesque. Most importantly though, it's completely engrossing.

If you're getting Blackest Night and didn't pick up this issue, you'd best go get it now. 'Cause if the event can continue the momentum gained by this issue, it's gonna be the fucking event of the decade. Ho lordy I can't wait.

The Nobody
by Jeff Lemire
Vertigo (DC) Comics


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Jeff Lemire is going to be huge. HUGE. Isn't the first time I've said it. Won't be the last time. I probably won't stop saying it until the rest of the industry catches up to me and he IS huge. I'll just keep mouthing off like some retarded parrot until that day arrives.

I normally don't buy hardcover books, but when I saw The Nobody offered through Vertigo I couldn't fucking contain myself, or bear the thought of waiting half a year or so for a softcover edition to be made. I'm very glad I chose to do so.

In case you didn't pick it up from the cover, The Nobody is about the Invisible Man. Yes, H.G. Well's Invisible Man, who lodges in the small town of Large Mouth seeking solitude to concoct a cure for his obvious afflictions, all the while beneath the unwavering gaze of a suspicious community. Lemire spins an existential horror story of vanishing people, both externally and internally. It's about the power people close to us hold, how if they choose to disappear from our lives they take a small portion of our being with them. It's a chilling sentiment, and one that's delivered with unwavering authority.

A major sticking point I had with the plot was the nagging thought of our invisible, naked protagonist scurrying though the deserted winter streets of the quiet town, and how long it would take before he succumbed to frostbite or hypothermia. Aside from that, it's a haunting tale of a classic character, satisfying on all pertinent levels.

As most treatments of classic characters often are, this book might be too much for any Invisible Man purist or fanatic (I'm sure there are some of you out there). For the rest of us, much like the closing panel of the tale, it's another step towards Lemire's eventual ascension into sequential stardom (i.e. until he blows the fuck up).

- PICK OF THE WEEK -
Wednesday Comics #1
by Various
DC Comics


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I heard a lot of folks uncertain about this book. I also heard a lot of folks becoming rather frustrated when their local shop ran out of copies. I was almost like you, but thankfully I'm a whore for gimmicky shit most of the time, so I bought in. Ha ha ha!

In any other format this would fail miserably. Big name stars doing campy treatments of all your favorite DC characters? Gimme a break. Nobody wants to read a comic of faux nostalgia. But in this newsprint format, which requires you to unfold until the comic is positively sprawled across your lap, it's endlessly entertaining and fun. I'd never have believed such a format could make or break a book, but here's a prime example. In a nutshell this book is genius. Pure genius.

If you have any interest in this series at all, I recommend you get your shit in gear and pick up this first issue. This isn't a book that's going to maintain its magic in a collected form. It needs to be read down and dirty on a weekly basis in shitty newsprint format. So start now, before its too late, or save you bitching for someone who didn't tell you otherwise earlier.

- PAN OF THE WEEK -
Marvel Comics' Shipping Schedule


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Jesus fuck I am so sick of getting one or two Marvel books throughout the month, and then getting the rest of them on the final Wednesday. Not counting mini-series or one-shots, I get approximately 12 monthly Marvel titles. Know how many I got last week? Fucking one. Know how many I got the week before that (that week being the last Wednesday of the month)? Like, fucking eight.

There are fucking four or five Wednesdays in a month, Marvel. No reason for all your books to hit the shelves on the last one, leaving all of us, the fans AND the retailers, with a huge fucking glut of books to buy. Get your fucking shit together, you cunts.

You've been warned.

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