Sunday, August 23, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXXI

Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans!

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

- OPENING REMARKS -

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Collected Edition Vol. 1
by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
Mirage Publishing


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This collection was a long time coming. For years I'd heard rumors of a grittier, child-unfriendly turtles who swore, shot guns, and drew blood. Yet for some unknown reason I and the rest of the world had been denied viewing and enjoying these stories for so very, very long. A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in this project for finally putting our decades-spanning yearnings to bed.

After reading the entirety of this collection, the first thought that comes to mind is " ... yeash, this stuff kinda sucks." It does. It's crudely drawn and awkwardly written, particularly the early issues. It's embarrassingly set in it's pre-modern comic dialogue, painfully clunky devices (like exposition, for example), and utilizes some of the most ineffective faux profanity I've ever witnessed (i.e. "dung").

It's also a piece of comic book history. From those humble beginnings an unstoppable empire sprung forth, rivaling any comic property. These comics shaped, maybe even defined the childhoods of an entire generation. You simply cannot consider yourself a sequential scholar and have not read and understood these revolutionary stories. This book is also a credit to the independent comic book scene and an inspiration to all creators working outside of a major publisher. It's motivating to know that these two guys literally changed the landscape of all facets of entertainment with little more that idea and the gumption to put that idea on paper. If that weren't enough motivation for checking this collection out, the Cerebus issue and the image of Raphael getting fucked up on alien alcohol should be enough to pique your interest.

It may not be pretty. It may not be intellectually stimulating. It's still worth every penny. I'm very grateful to own a copy of these issues after so many years, blemishes and all, and look forward to (hopefully) owning more.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1
by Brian Michael Bendis & David Lafuente
Marvel Comics


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I can't say why Marvel felt it was necessary to relaunch this series, or why they felt the need to raise the price on it. I guess they're just assholes, and we're idiot sheep for letting them do it to us.

So why am I still reading this series? I have no love for its author, it's embodies some of the more shameless sales tactics used by this wicked publisher (i.e. price increase without justification, relaunch for no apparent reason besides potential sales stimulus, and so on ...) and it features Spider-Man, whose visage causes minor dry heaves ever since the goddamn "One More Day" cocksuckery. Why the fuck am I still hanging around?

It's still a good book. After all these years on the character, Bendis still understands what makes Peter Parker tick. His takes on classic Spider-Man villains are, while not always faithful, nonetheless unique and attention grabbing. His stories are fun and unpredictable (especially right now. Gwen Stacey?! What the fuck?!). Spider-Man's dialogue, particularly his fight banter, has never, ever been funnier. Despite everything, it's still a worth while book.

I'm not crazy about the new artist, David Lafuente. He draws Spider-Man like an adolescent midget with a bowling ball head. That's the only complaint I have about the title, and it's not something that'll keep me from coming back.

I have a lot of bad things to say about the author of this book, the character the book revolves around, and the publisher who gouges for reading it, but so long as nothing drastic changes here, I'll put up with it. Against all expectations, it's still worth it.

The second something changes however, and I'm fucking outta there.

A.D. - New Orleans After the Deluge
by Josh Neufeld
Pantheon Books


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I bought this book against all common sense. Pantheon's a habitually pretentious publisher, and so are many of the authors published by them (you people know who you are). I just couldn't pass it up though. There was too much potential.

A.D. collects five different perspectives on one terrible event: Hurricane Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans. The author attempts to collect and retell the experiences of people who survived the most horrific American natural disaster in recent history, in the most realistic and accurate manner possible. To an extent he's successful. The sheer horror of human suffering felt from these events is palpable, as is the shining courage and endeavoring spirit of the residents from this broken city. The helplessness these people experience as their lives literally wash away is crushing. It's obvious the author labored to ensure his book was as accurate and detailed as possible, and that dedication shines through in each individual panel.

Unfortunately this book falls short in many ways. Over-ambition is a major problem. The author crams too much story into too short a narrative. This prevented us from getting a deeper sense any one character, but a broad generalization of all of them. The story could have been about people whose lives were destroyed, but on the page it fails to transcend being about characters who have some bad stuff happen to them. The use of color is also detrimental to the flow of the narrative. Each narrative day is printed with a different color scheme. While theoretically this device demands attention be paid to the chronology, some of the colors are jarring, almost blinding. Overall the use of color subtracts more than adds to the narrative (not to mention the cost of the book could have been drastically dropped had it been printed in good ol' black and white).

I was expecting either a spectacular read or a disappointing one. Never once did I think I'd have a middle of the road experience here. That's what you get for projecting expectations. Overall, A.D. delivers some very pertinent voices into the spotlight, which have some very real views on a tragedy unparalleled in our lifetimes, but it lacks a humanistic quality that could have made it great. It's a provocative read, one that's good to have under your belt if you ever care to mingle with a more refined class of fanboy, but other than that you're better off taking a pass if "current event" comics aren't pivotal to your own sequential bowl theory.

- PICK OF THE WEEK -
Fables Vol. 12: The Dark Ages
by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and others
Vertigo (DC) Comics


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Fables has always been interesting to everyone else but me. Well, no more, apparently.

I've been sticking with this book since its infancy, but I've never really seen what the big deal was until this latest collection. In The Dark Ages, with the adversary vanquished, I couldn't help but think "what the hell are we gonna read about now." It never once occurred to me that all the big, bad nasties the Adversary kept in check until would rear their butt-ugly heads and fuck up Fabletown now that there's no one to keep them in check. Accompany that with the demise of a major character (if the cover doesn't give it away I don't fucking know what will), and we've got things shaping up for one hell of a crazy ride.

I thought this shit was done and over with. Well hold on to your asses, 'cause it's just beginning.

- PAN OF THE WEEK -
Daredevil #500
by Ed Brubaker & all freakin' sorts of others
Marvel Comics


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What a stupid way for an otherwise exemplary run to end.

1. The conclusion of The Return of the King wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fucking great either. Lots of open endings and non-resolutions. And now Matt Murdock's the leader of the hand. Yikes. Can't imagine where'd you'd take the character from there. I guess that's why I'm not lined up to write Daredevil anytime soon. I'll tell you one thing though: I'd have to be the guy who is. He's getting tossed into one heck of an unresolved story.
2. Previews of one-shots don't count as added material. They especially don't count if they're involved with fucking Dark Reign.
3. Ann Nocenti's back-up is atrocious. Bluh. Stiff dialogue, stale action, obnoxious characters, and uncharacteristic behavior from the protagonist (who takes his mask in front of total strangers and only needs a minute of sitting on the ground to recoup from a thorough ass-kicking). I suppose this technically counts as added material, but we shouldn't be charged for material so poorly written, no matter how "legendary" the author is.
4. Pin-ups don't count as added material.
5. Reprints don't count as added material.
6. Cover galleries don't count as added material.

In conclusion: Marvel delivers another pricey ass-fucking. Face front and take it like the bitches you are, true believers.

You've been warned.

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