Tales to Astonish!

Direct Download (30:09)

This episode, I talk about some newer Marvel, Boom, Dynamite, and Image titles I’ve been reading:

  • Fantastic Four
  • Superior Spider-Man
  • Unstoppable Wasp
  • Firefly
  • James Bond 007
  • Criminal

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com, chat with me @longboxreview on Twitter, and visit longboxreview.com. Please subscribe, rate, and review the show via Apple podcasts.

Thanks for listening!

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Pull List Review (First Half of September 2011)

Because Travis & I reviewed the first two weeks of DC’s new 52 comics in episode 10 & 11 of the LBR podcast, I’ll toss the first two weeks of non-DC comics into the review here. To find out what I thought of the first 26 DCnU comics*, have a listen.

Episode 10: DCnU, week 1

Episode 11: DCnU, week 2

Now on with the rest of the comics I read from the first two weeks of September.

Continue reading

Pull List Review (8/10/11 Comics)

Alpha Flight #3: Hrmph. The plot continues on, with the capture of the team from last issue being undone this issue, but what I find interesting this month is 1) Puck is back! Yay! 2) Why are the non-human characters so derisive (Snowbird) and almost anti-human (Namorita)? Did I miss something over the years when I wasn’t reading any Alpha Flight? Or is Pak and Van Lente wanting to play up that aspect of the two women? If so, to what end? It makes the characters one-dimensional and ineffectual. In fact, ALL of the women on the team are being portrayed as antagonistic. It makes me go hmm.

Batgirl #24: As I tweeted when I read it, “heartbreaking, bittersweet, beautiful”. Check out Episode 7 of the LBR podcast (coming soon!) for more of my and Oddfellow’s thoughts about this fantastic, wonderful, amazing book. Even though it’s over, you can still go buy the trades. In fact, I may buy all of the trades so I can read the story arcs whenever the mood strikes me, which I think will be quite often. And check out the great Dustin Nguyen cover featuring every major character from this two-year-old comic.

Batman & Robin #26: After Grant Morrison left, this book lost all its steam. A few writers tried to pick up the dropped ball, but it never really worked. This last issue was more of the same, but I also enjoyed it as a stand-alone Batman comic. The whole Dada angle was enjoyable, and for this dumb reader, an unexpected reveal when I got to the end of the issue. For more about this issue, listen to Episode 7.

Birds of Prey #15: No Gail Simone? Who cares? This two-parter was such a waste of the characters and my time. I’ve never cared for Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary was little more than scenery. Seeing an aged Phantom Lady was kind of interesting, but not that much. Poor ending to what was a really good series.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #3: Not to detract from what a good story Brubaker and Phillips are crafting, but I can’t help it. The best thing about this issue is the artricle at the end of the book by Jay Faerber on Magnum, P.I. Squee! Here’s a guy who just gets it–gets how great this tv detective (er, private investigator) show was. In fact, we share a love for one fo the show’s finest hours, “Home From the Sea”, which never fails to choke me up, even after all this time.

Fear Itself #5: This is mostly a fight issue, but there’s still some great moments:

  • Tony Stark telling Odin to give him access to Odin’s workshop because Tony makes really. great. weapons.
  • Thor having Mjolnir punch a hole through the possessed Ben Grimm, while telling the possessed Hulk, “And him I liked. But you? You were always a giant pain in the ass.” Hah!
  • Capt. America throws his unbreakable shield at the Serpent, who catches it and BREAKS into pieces!
  • (Hmm, I just noticed this: Thor and the Serpent both make the same guttural yell when the former strikes Hulk and the latter shatters Cap’s shield. Is there something to that, or is Fraction just word echoing?)
  • Spider-Man leaving to be with loved ones (and not sticking out the fight) and Cap, at the end, admitting defeat. The second bit is too much for me. It’s only in there to make the situation sound very dire–If Cap is ready to give up then it must be bad, Billy!–but besides losing the battle, the war continues, and who knows that better than Cap? This reads false to me, Fraction. Fix it next issue, please.

Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #3: So is the lightning strike at the end supposed to be poetic justice (is that Wally exacting revenge in a Flash way?), or just deus ex machina (I suppose it’s both)? Eh, it ended.

Flashpoint: Deadman & the Flying Graysons #3: This also ended, but in slightly better fashion. The art in this story was one of the better of the tie-ins, and even though Boston Brand’s character arc is rushed, he still gets there by helping Dick Grayson, who becomes the new Dr. Fate. Now that’s a Flashpoint tie-in that I want to read!

Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3: I didn’t care for the third-person narration appearing on the first page and then more than half-way through the book–it was too distracting and telly, not showy. I enjoyed this and the Wonder Woman tie-in for the back story it gives me regarding the Atlantean/Amazonian war, but that’s about it.

Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown #3: If these tie-ins were a way to drum up interest in Frankenstein as a character in the new 52, I would say DC failed to hook me. I did like the monster squad aspect to the tie-in, but Frank is a one-note character in this title. And I hate that the creatures’ creator is still alive thanks to the restorative factors of his new home. Ugh.

Superman #713 & 714: For some reason, I didn’t receive 713 last week when I should have from my CBS, so I’ll write about both of these issues now. Hmm. In 713, Clark tells his proteges they should stop being public heroes and help behind the scenes, like he used to, convinced he and they could do more good that way, and not a risk to their loved ones. But then Clark goes through a kind of It’s a Wonderful Life arc in that a guide shows him that Superman is important to everyone. If you can’t tell, I was not too impressed with this bit of story telling–it’s so overdone. 714 is the finale of the “Grounded” arc. You may recall that mysterious woman who has been dogging Superman and affecting him in some way for reasons heretofore were unrevealed? Yeah, she’s just an Earth woman under the spell of a Kryptonian sunstone. THIS is what J. Michael Straczynski (and later Chris Roberson) was heading towards? Meh. As always, JMS started strong (I know this story had its many detractors, but I enjoyed it for a while), but the ending suuucked. Good thing Grant Morrison is back helming the Man of Steel in Action Comics.

War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #2: What is with the ending where the Guardians go to Ganthet and approach him with these wide, threatening eyes, their hands reaching for him? The next panel shows the central power battery and Oa’s sun with Mogo’s lantern insignia surrounding it with a caption that reads “The end . . . for now”. I know that the new Green Lantern books come September will pretty much be intact from we have read already, so I hope that this mystery gets answered at some point–it’s just an odd way to end a mini-series that I thought was supposed to tie up some loose ends, but really didn’t.

I also read New Avengers #15 and Teen Titans #99 (17 pages of fight scenes ends on a two-page splash showing Titans Tower being protected by pretty much any other Titan from this latest volume). I have not read Unwritten #28 yet since my comic shop somehow missed giving me the issue.

Pull List Review (7/27/11 Comics)

Batman: The Dark Knight #4: You know, I only bought this series because of Finch’s work on covers I’d seen. I am always leery of artists with seemingly no writing experience taking on writing & art duties in a book (insert your early Image Comics joke here), but I have to say I was impressed by Finch’s first few issues of this title. Of course, he doesn’t draw this issue, but Jason Fabok on pencils and Ryan Winn and Batt on inks do a really good job of evoking Finch’s style. I am intrigued by Ragman’s appearance in this story (and the devil-worshiping cabal whose cloaks look an awful lot like Ragman’s suit). I’m not sure all the demons and demon-possessed folks showing up as much as they are in a Batman story fits, but I’m along for the ride (at least until September). That final two-page spread was done well, evoking a sense of cinematic dread (but does Batman really not see or hear them approaching?). I am ignoring the Gordon sub-plot, just because I won’t be returning to it in September. Four Batman-family books are enough, I think.

Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing #2: Bah.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #2: Another great issue. Ed Brubaker does a really good job of developing character, which is my favorite thing about any story, in a comic book or otherwise. Plus, I love the bad guy as protagonist, which Criminal the series excels at. The art style of the flashbacks continue to please me, and add a nice juxtaposition between the dark grittiness of the main story and the Archie Comics feel of the past sequences. Nicely done.

Fables #107: I bought this only because Terry Moore was listed as a guest artist (plus that Joao Ruas cover is quite striking). I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in what I got. Moore’s work on Strangers in Paradise is at times sublime, and almost always better than most comic artists out there, but here, it was . . . typical for this book, I guess. The story was also typical if you’ve read enough of Fables, as I have. I did like, however, the sign shown in the background of one panel where a line of newly minted princes await their turn to kiss the Sleeping Beauty; it reads: “No tongue! No touching! No ogling! No drooling! No gifts!”, and then, tacked onto the sign at the bottom: “No singing!” Hah! Take that Disney!

FF #7: Part two of the Black Bolt interlude. Nothing to say here, really.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #2: I wonder if anything will be made of the facts that the Flash, in the present, and Kid Flash in the future knows that the universe has changed. Or is it simply that because of what the Reverse-Flash did to change the DCU via his anti-Speed Force (dark SF?), and that Barry and Bart are connected via the Speed Force, that’s enough of an explanation? I guess in this case I’d like things to be spelled out for me a bit more, but then, why do I care when we get the new status quo next month?

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #2: This is currently my least favorite of the tie-ins. When I pick up something called Lois Lane and the Resistance, I expect Lois Lane to be the focal point of the story, but she really wasn’t in this issue. Plus, I just don’t care for Grifter.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #2: Now this issue was actually pretty good. Seeing how General Lane adopts the alien Kal-El as a surrogate son over time was nice to read, plus how Subject Zero helps Kal over the years, only to be schooled in humanity by the alien boy was also nice. It’s definitely a nice change of pace from the General Lane we were shown in Superman: Secret Origin (I feel like I have to spit when I type that title . . .).

Mighty Thor #4: Now this is more like it! Odin and Thor (and the other Asgardians, presumably, though they are conspicuously absent in this great battle) take on Galactus! But it’s not merely a physical fight, and I appreciate Matt Fraction showing us a battle of minds between the two “gods”. We get to see a side of Galactus that I have never seen, and I actually feel some compassion for that old blow-hard Odin. Then, after Thor has flung himself and Mjolnir at Galactus’s head, the Silver Surfer attacks Thor and they land on Mars! That’s a helluva distance, I presume.

Sixth Gun #13: Ok, so now we know why Sinclair was so spooked by the appearance of the mummy from last issue. Regardless, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep reading this title. It definitely started out strong for me, but these last few issues is just more of the same. I want the plot to move along, little doggey.

Teen Titans #98: I haven’t had much to say about this title in recent months, and I’ll only add this now: Superboy-Prime is back? Blech. I am so sick of this character. So sick of the recurring trope of Conner saying he’s the “real” Superboy and Prime going all ballistic. Just sick of this story being retold again and again, and this storyline is what will end this title before the relaunch? Ugh.

Wonder Woman #613: We are finally shown the events leading up to the “old” Wonder Woman being replaced by this “new” version. The rest of the issue is mostly a fight scene between Nemesis and WW, ending with Diana reclaiming all of “herself” that Nemesis had taken, but still, and refreshingly, in her new outfit (which I have grown to like quite a lot–I hope the relaunch WW keeps the pants). Next issue is the last before the relaunch, so I suppose we’ll have a battle royale.

Xombi #5: God, I love this book. I love the visuals, I love the ideas, I love the characters. Rozum and Irving have created something unique at DC Comics (hell, anywhere, really), and I hate to see it go (I know, I keep saying it, but it’s still true). Irving’s art is either getting better or I’m just getting used to it, but I still think it’s lovely. I love how he uses shading/shadows to create form. And I think where I’m getting used to the art is where he uses coloring–I didn’t mind it so much this time. The only problem I have with this issue is the two pages that were spent on David talking about the love of his life who, correct me if I’m wrong, we haven’t even seen in these five issues. Why bring this up now and spend so much time on it? If it doesn’t come up in some way in the next, the last, it was a wasted moment on Rozum’s part. I look forward to the resolution of this storyline.

Pull List Review (6/1/11 Comics)

Adventure Comics #527: Well, now. THIS is the Paul Levitz I remember. He actually made me care about Comet Queen. Comet Queen! (Note to self: look up on the interwebs to see if CQ is a fave character of Mr. Levitz’s–why else bring her back into the Legion Academy?) Ever since the Academy storyline started in Adventure Comics, I’ve wondered why some of the old-timers were still being trained (the passage of time in comic books notwithstanding), including CQ, so we get a story that explains that in a cool, tied-into-current-continuity way. I also like how Levitz has updated CQ’s lingo–she used to be all Valley Girl–although all the space slang gets a bit old quickly.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #1: The next Criminal series is here! Now, I’ve only read two of the Criminal stories so far, but this one’s a little different, and resonates with me on a very personal level as it starts off with the death of a family member. It’s different in the art in an interesting way: the flashbacks are drawn in a simple, retro style. While not original, it lends itself to the nostalgia of someone going back to their small-town home after living in the Big City for many years. Other than the beginning when you have the main character being threatened to get the money before Monday, I kept wondering when the crime noir aspect of the book would kick in, and then I read the last panel. Bang! I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but now I think I will.

Moon Knight #1-2: When I saw that Moon Knight would be done by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, I was excited. I’ve always liked Moon Knight (from the Neal Adam’s-esque Bill Sienkiewicz days through the Fist of Khonshu run), and done by the same team that did the celebrated run on Daredevil? Sold! But guess what? I suppose lightning can’t be bottled every time. I remember Bendis talking online about the great concept he had for Moon Knight, but it came across as derivative and really not that great. If you haven’t read anything about this series (perhaps you’re waiting for the trade or just haven’t picked up the issues yet . . .), I suggest you stop reading now. SPOILERS!!! Anyone who knows Moon Knight knows that he started out as a hero with not just one secret identity, but three. Years later, it was revealed that he suffered from schizophrenia. Bendis has taken all of that and has burdened Moon Knight with three new personalities, namely, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. In fact, Moon Knight actually dresses up as Spider-Man in the story, a costume over a costume (oh, someone’s being clever with that . . .). I do not find this take to be all that novel or entertaining. I will pass on this title.

Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1: Wow, they’re really going for a Dark Knight Returns vibe in this comic, at least with the art and the violence. What happens if Batman came to be because Thomas Wayne witnessed the murder of his wife and son? I actually like the alternative as presented here, but some of the elements fall flat. For example, this Batman kills. The actiony bit in this issue is a Batman vs. Killer Croc story that we’ve seen countless times which ends with Batman slicing Croc’s head open with a machete. The rest of the issue is showing how Wayne does what he does. He owns a casino in Gotham to help control the criminal element and obtain intel. He also has a confidant and accomplice in Chief Gordan, who knows Batman and Wayne are one and the same. What I fear here is that all we get is an Elseworlds tale of Thomas as Batman, with no actual tie-in to the larger world of Flashpoint. But Batman does feature prominently in the main event book, so maybe it’s not necessary from an editorial standpoint. But if this first issue is indicative of what I get from this mini, I won’t be impressed.

Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1: Peter Milligan writing this with George Pérez on (most of) the art? Sold! Not to mention featuring Shade, the Changing Man, who is in that category of characters I like even though I know I shouldn’t (“madness vest”, really?). While I love Pérez’s art in general, I thought it a strange combination with Shade. This character really shines with someone on the art who is more . . . expressive, I think. It was also nice to see Enchantress feature so prominently in the story–I have always enjoyed that character as well, and she takes an interesting turn at the end of the story. Finally, it was good to see Black Orchid again, if only for a few panels.

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #1: I was pleasantly surprised by this title. I was afraid we’d get something like the Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps, but there’s an actual story here that ties in directly with the larger world of Flashpoint, and told from a particular character’s point of view: Traci 13. Rex Ogle does a good job at portraying the pathos without being too comic booky. I especially loved the part at the end when her father betrays her. I can’t wait to see how she reacts to that in the next issue. Side note: I hope that whoever inked the final six pages inks all of the rest of this series. It’s not that the art of the other pages is bad, it’s just not as good as those final pages.

Secret Six #34: This may be the single best issue of this series that I have read (caveat: I haven’t read all the issues of this latest version of Secret Six). Page 10 was worth the price of admission alone, but the rest of the story is just really, really, really good. Plus, Bane goes on a date! He explains to his date that he broke the Batman’s back, to which she replies, “But he got better, right?” Hah! Later, after he has won two big stuffed pandas for her, Bane quips that it would have been more challenging if “the cartoon rabbits were throwing batarangs”. Double hah! So much goodness to this issue. In fact, the way it ended, it almost seemed like a goodbye from Gail Simone, given that the title will be no more come September (though, Simone recently tweeted that another Secret Six series was a possibility post-new DCU launch), but it was definitely a very good ending to the current storyline. This comic is awesome.

SHIELD #1: It’s back! The sleeper hit of early 2011. As I found out by listening to an episode of Comic Geek Speak, SHIELD (now presented here without the periods, because I’m tired of typing them) was supposed to be a year-long limited series, but since Jonathan Hickman was an unknown property at that time, the bean counters at Marvel said, “Let’s do six issues and then we’ll see.” Flash forward to now, and we have the start of next six issues in our hands (though restarted at 1, because, you know, that’s not confusing, Marvel).

Wonder Woman #611: Much like many of this storyline’s issues, this is basically one long fight scene, but we do get a vision of a world where Diana has amassed an army to take over the world, crushing or converting anyone she crosses, which includes dead or captured Justice Leaguers. Her fight with Superman and the splash-page finality of it was an effective visual, however. Also, this cover: I love the way it’s colored.