Sunday, November 1, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXXX

Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans.

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

- OPENING REMARKS -

Fantastic Four #572
by Jonathan Hickman & Dale Eaglesham
Marvel Comics


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When I found out Hickman was set to pen this title, I didn't know what to expect. Heralding the first family of Marvel Comics was far removed from his gritty, darker, more realistic body of work from Image comics. How could the creator of visceral, gory, politically subversive books write about a quasi-dysfunctional family of super-powered dynamos?

The answer to that question is: astoundingly well, apparently. "Solve Everything," Hickman's first FF storyline, concluded with this issue. The misadventures of a multiverse of Reed Richards, trying to essential right every major wrong in existence, was imaginative, unpredictable, and (dare I say) the most fun since Mark Waid was on the title all those yesterdays ago. It's as simple as that. This is a great freakin' story, on par with the best of the best, no argument. I can't spell it out any clearer than that.

This is the first in what hopefully will be many great stories from this powerhouse of a newcomer. At this point it's fair to say the only thing we can safely expect from Jonathan Hickman is the unexpected.

Ignition City #5
by Warren Ellis & Gianluca Pagliarani
Avatar Press


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There's very little that's more dumbfounding than a mini-series that doesn't end with its final issue. 'Cause, like, what's the point of telling a short story, and leading us to believe it's a short story, if it's not a short story at all? Like, c'mon.

Ignition City, a Warren Ellis space western complete with swearing cosmonauts, crocked space lawmen, quests to avenge kin, and extra-terrestrial street merchants, is a respectably enjoyable read. Gianluca Pagliarani's artwork fits perfectly with Ellis' expectedly quirky scripts. It's realistic enough to add weight to a literally fantastic tale, but animated enough to let you feel the sting when someone gets shot to fuck with a ray gun. And of course, the story, complete with trademark Ellis dialogue (as well as such pleasant Ellisisms like "gun fuck") is a pleasure as is all his other Avatar pieces. The problem here is the story doesn't conclude in any remotely satisfactory manner. Our protagonist achieves her goal in some small part by gaining retribution for her fallen father's murder. Yet in the process she uncovers a huge conspiracy and becomes some sort of cliche law officer in a lawless town, implying that the story's only just begin. I fucking hate it when Ellis does this shit. Finish the fucking story, or make it a continuing series, but don't leave us with our collective dicks in our hands, mumbling to each other dumbly, "Was ... was that it?"

This is a good book in most instances, but it's lacking a conclusion. With all the purported projects on the author's plate, who knows if it'll ever be finished. I haven't heard any plans for an Ignition City sequel. Have you? Didn't think so. So ... if there is a sequel in the works, you may want to wait for a collection before delving into this one. If you're unable to handle a mini-series with a plot that doesn't ride off into the sunset, ya'll might wanna take a pass. If shit like that doesn't bother you, then don't let me stop you from reading. Knock yourself the fuck out already. Be warned though: no fucking ending. None. Zip. Nada. Niet. Bupkis. Fuck all. Jack shit. No ending.

The Last Days of Animal Man #6
by Gerry Conway & Chris Batista
DC Comics


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I admit it: I'm a sucker for this character. Grant Morrison did me in here. Since his groundbreaking run on the character I've amassed an embarrassing number of issues from the Animal Man Vertigo series, followed all of 52, and suffered through his Dwayne McDuffie appearances in JLA. I knew this series was gonna be bad. I picked up it from start to finish anyway. I won't lie that doing so made me feel like a frumpy teenage girl collecting clippings of Taylor Hanson (or whoever the crap teenage girls get all screamy over these days). What can I say? I'm smitten for a fictional character in an orange jumpsuit.

Fortunately, the series wasn't THAT bad. A little underwhelming, sure, but it kicks the living crap out of anything Dwayne McDuffie ever did with the character. Last Days ... takes place in the near future, following our hero in his golden years as he struggles with losing his powers. Those of us who have followed Animal Man know this is not an unfamiliar path for the character. But this time it's for keeps, as Buddy learns that being a true hero doesn't necessarily involve feats of the fantastic, but triumphs of the heart. The fact that I can sum up the plot with such a sugary-sweet synopsis should clue you in that it won't be receiving any Eisner nominations. As you may have already surmised, the plot's a little flat, the villains a little too animated, and Buddy's kids, now in adulthood, are pretty fucking annoying. It also has numerous "if he doesn't have any super-powers how is he surviving super-powered punches" moments. But still ... considering the character ... I've read much worse. Much worse.

All around, this series is average at best, uneventful at worst. I deem it to be exclusively for Animal Man fans. Average fans, or folks unfamiliar with the character, are gonna be bored after the first ten pages. Anyone who doesn't get an erection from the mere mention of "The Coyote Gospel" is gonna get left out in the cold here. So if reading that last sentence didn't make you pitch a tent, this book's not for you.

-PICK OF THE WEEK-
Groo: THe Hogs of Horder
by Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier
Dark Horse Comics


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I don't know if Groo's always been a political satire comic. I don't care either. It's a political satire book now, and it's a great one at that.

This latest series, "The Hogs of Horder," starts off another insane Groo adventure, full of murder, mayhem, and most likely cheese platters, simultaneously providing hilarious misadventures and intelligent, witty insight into the jumblefuck that is our current economic crisis. Funny and biting in its characterizations, this primary issue hits the ground at full speed in what will most likely be another barbaric masterpiece.

The only problem here is at some point in this comic Groo's going to inadvertently solve this fictional land's financial woes, and when we close the cover of the comic our's will still be present. If only reality was as rational as that clumsy, ignorant barbarian and his smart-ass talking dog.

-PAN OF THE WEEK-
Superman #693
by James Robinson & Gernando Dagnino
DC Comics


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Congratulations are in order to James Robinson. I don't believe I've ever panned an author in back-to-back weeks before.

I tried to hang on 'til the end of this World of New Krypton storyline. I really did. It's 75% done at this point, and I've been there for nearly every issue (and that's including most of that horrific Sterling Gates Supergirl book). But I just can't do it anymore. This book, this storyline, everything about Superman right now sucks balls, and has from the very beginning.

This, my final issue of Superman for the foreseeable future, focuses on an imprisoned Mon-El and his captors, namely General Lane. It's a clinic in generic characters, particularly Mon-El, who resembles a knock-off Superboy, and General Lane, who reads like a second-hand General Thunderbolt Ross. It also features a painfully tedious plot, a near page of blacked-out panels, and allusions (once again) to other Superman books you need to be reading in order to get the entire story. It's a comic bad enough to make me want to stop reading comics all together. That's fucking bad.

Fuck this shit. If I read another Superman, or another James Robinson book, in the near future it'll be too motherfucking cocksucking soon.

You've been warned.

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