Pull List Review (5/25/11 Comics)

FF #4: If I didn’t already kinda love Sue Richards, Marvel has Barry Kitson go and draw this issue of FF. Homina homina! Also, the interplay between Reed and his symposium guests is wonderful. He really is shown as the smartest man in the room, and it’s obvious to all who are in attendance why Reed and his family have beaten these adversaries time after time. As Sue told Spidey, “Do you think I should be afraid of them . . . or should they be afraid of me?” And, towards the end of the issue, a nice homage to the cover of FF #1. I cannot wait to see how Sue responds to these alternate Reeds, because this is really what this book is about for me: how Sue is awesome.

Green Lantern #66: Umm, did Krona just snuff Sinestro? Of course not, but it sure looks like it. Plus, we find that Indigo wasn’t always the compassionate creature we’ve been shown. And there’s a multi-colored panel of Hal and Guy getting zapped by Krona that the artists did a fantastic job on.

GL66-1a

Green Lantern Corps #60: The only interesting thing in this issue is that John Stewart kills Mogo to prevent the living planet from doing Krona’s bidding. If left alive, Mogo would allow Krona to succeed, so John does the mercy killing thing. Really? John already has issues with killing a planet’s population (from Cosmic Odyssey–go read it!), so why go there? Because only Nixon can go to China? I saw someone else’s review of this event and thought it was a good idea. I don’t get it–this bit just comes across as repetitive and unnecessary.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10: Again, only one interesting thing in this title: Guy Gardner saves the Green Lantern Corps (and not Hal). I love that Guy is the one that sets Parallax free from the central battery allowing the possessed corps to be free of its influence. Guy’s rallying cry of “I love the Corps! I hate being filled with rage!” as he uses the red and violet rings to tear the battery in two is comical but powerful.

Mighty Thor #2: It’s weird reading this at the same time as Fear Itself. Odin and Thor’s relationship is completely different in the two titles. I’d like to know where they fit in relation to each other as far as continuity. I will assume for now that Fear Itself comes first, especially since they are back in Asgard and we just saw Odin restore Asgard in the event book. The main plot point of this first arc begins: the Silver Surfer arrives in Asgard heralding Galactus’s intent to feast off of the energies from the World-Tree Seed (I think?). So, of course, we have to have the obligatory super–I was about to type “human” there, but neither Thor nor Silver Surfer are that, are they?–being fight. Another comparison to Fear Itself: Odin’s cryptic responses to everything (“You wouldn’t understand”) is getting old. I call lazy story telling (both title are written by Matt Fraction). It’s ok if you do it one book for suspenseful reasons, as long as it pays off in the end, but two? C’mon, Fraction.

Ruse #3: Whereas Sigil #3 was boring, this issue of Ruse really made me feel like I was reading the old series again, with all the wit and sass it used to have. Although, two odd things happen: Simon Archard loses his temper (for a good reason, imo), and he actually gives Emma credit for coming up with the solution to the two cases they are working on. Of course, Emma has no idea what Simon is talking about, but we will next issue.

Xombi #3: Another good issue from Rozum and Irving give us the battle between David and Marantha, and there are some cool visuals in this issue. One is the “dead” body of David after Maranatha takes a big ol’ chomp out of his side. Another is the POV of Maranatha as it gets blasted by the skull gun. The panel is colored in white and violet, with an almost negative quality to it. And then there’s the scolding a ghost gives us, the readers, essentially telling us that life is wasted on the living, though Rozum has a bunch more to say about it than that. There’s still the plot dangler where David must deal with Roland Finch, who put all the events of the last three issues into motion. Unfortunately, it appears that David Kim will only have this one problem to solve before the DC relaunch. I don’t get that. Why start a new series when you know that in a few months you’re not going to continue it? Considering DC’s “more diversity” line, Xombi fits the bill in at least two ways: the title character is Asian, and it’s not your typical superhero title. DC’s missing the boat not keeping this title in its line up.

2 x 2: FF #2 & Xombi #2

Soon I will be caught up with these titles and integrate them into my regular pull list reviews, but for now, here’s the #2 issues for FF and Xombi.

“I am Doom!”

FF #2: I think Ben speaks for everyone when he yells, “You gotta be kiddin’ me!” Dr. Doom has arrived! And what an utter prick. Just when Ben loses it completely and is about to tear Doom a new one, Sue shows up to stop the boys from rough-housing. Can I just say how much I love Sue? Ever since her appearance in Civil War I have been falling in love with this woman a little bit more every time I see her. In fact, I will be buying the Civil War trade just so that I can read her part in it whenever I want. :P I will definitely be buying the Hickman Fantastic Four trades soon. Anyway, this is a woman NOT to trifle with, and even Doom understands that. The bulk of this issue plot-wise is restoring Doom’s intelligence from a brain backup he created (Ok, how did Doom get lobotomized in the first place? I want to know! Must buy trades soon…), and it ends on another fantastic cliffhanger by Hickman! If I were Reed, I’d be having a very serious talk with his daughter. No, really, she scares me.

I have never been an FF fan, but I tried this new comic on a lark because of Hickman’s reputation, and I have to say it’s becoming one of my favorites to read. Fyi, if you’re like me and you enjoy listening to creators talk about their work, Comic Geek Speak spoke with Hickman in a recent episode. It’s specifically about SHIELD (another good book), but you get an insider’s look into the process.

Xombi #2: I love so many things about this book:

  • Nuns who curse.
  • Nuns who pack heat.
  • Novena bullets.
  • Spirit coins.

There are a few things starting to grate on me, though (already! It’s just issue 2!). One is that “weirdness magnet” bit in the intro box. Weirdness Magnet is a fine disadvantage in a role-playing game, but as a means to inject conflict into a story? Not so much. Another is the color scheme that Irving is using. Too many washes of singular color, especially the pink. Seriously, though, how does Irving keep a monthly schedule doing the drawing and coloring (by doing this kind of coloring maybe?)? Lastly, Julian Parker, the guy that involved David Kim in this whole mess, is drawn very similarly to a character in Irving’s run on Batman & Robin. There’s nothing really wrong with that, I suppose, but it bugs me.

Rozum, like Hickman, keeps upping the ante with his cliffhanger endings (though I prefer Hickman’s so far). This story had a slow but short beginning to ease us into this wacky world but has really punched up the action. I like it so far, but I also want to see some character moments with David, not just him reacting to the plot events. If I get that, this will be a seriously fine and fun comic.

Review: Three Number Ones

I’d planned to do a podcast talking about the number one issues of Butcher Baker, FF, and Xombi, but my schedule’s not working with me, plus, issue 2 of both FF and Xombi are already out (not to mention FF #3!), so here are my more quickly published thoughts about these three number ones.

Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker #1, by Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston: I picked this Image comic up based on the buzz I was reading and that Matt at the Comic Book Shop recommended it. I thought it was pretty meh actually. Based on the hype, I thought it was going to be this cool, hip deconstruction of superheroes, but what I read was derivative and not very interesting–think the Comedian from Watchmen if he existed in more modern times. The main character is a mustachioed, boozing, swearing, fucking (as in lots of women) blowhard who was an operative who gets called back to duty by President Leno (I did like the opening page where President Leno and VP Cheney are discussing the situation and Leno talks about convincing America that he wasn’t the douchbag they thought he was, but that’s a very thin joke with little traction). What follows is a couple scenes: one of Baker on his way to blow up a prison filled with his former enemies where he has a run-in with the sheriff from Smokey and the Bandit. I never cared for those films, so that joke or homage or whatever you want to call it falls completely flat for me. When Baker gets to the prison, he blows it up. End of story. Well, he did sort of feel bad about it. What’s in this first issue just isn’t enough to convince me to read issue 2.

I did find Joe Casey’s five-page essay on why we should read his new comicbook (no, that’s not a typo–read Casey’s treatise as to why comicbook as one word is essential to understanding what he’s trying to accomplish) somewhat interesting. I appreciated some of the ideas and the history therein, but really it boils down to this: this is a no-holds barred, helluva ride we’ll have access to if we join him. Pass.

FF #1, by Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting, & Paul Mounts: I have heard for years how good Hickman is on Fantastic Four (hereafter referred to as F.F.), S.H.I.E.L.D., and pretty much anything else he does. I read the first volume of S.H.I.E.L.D. and can understand why he’s so talked about as a premiere writer, so I wanted to check out his F.F. work. So, if you don’t know–SPOILERS!–, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is presumed dead at the end of the F.F. series. So Marvel has now started F.F. over as FF (for Future Foundation) with the three remaining members of the team, plus Spider-Man (who was asked to join because Johnny specifically asked the other Fantastic Four members to recruit Spider-Man should anything happen to him–how convenient that Johnny made that holographic last testament). (And since we’re on the subject, Spider-Man is stretched pretty thin, I think. I don’t follow Marvel all that much, but he has his own thing going on, plus membership in one of the Avengers teams, and now this? Does Peter ever sleep?)

There’s a really great scene where Peter comes a-calling to officially join and runs into Ben. Ben responds to Peter’s greeting by slamming a door in Peter’s face. Sue is very gracious about it, telling Peter that “has nothing to do with you . . . he blames himself”, and the last panel on the page shows Ben sitting on a bed, hunched over in a dark room–nice work that. Sue proceeds to give Spidey a tour of the Baxter Building and the new FF suits: these white and black things with hexagons on them (at least for the Fantastic Three) that can also change its color and pattern at the wearer’s will. I like the idea of alterable suits, but the design is not good. White? Really? And giving Ben a tank top is another bad idea. Plus, Spider-Man does NOT look good in white, black, yes, but not white.

There’s some action involving AIM kidnapping the Wizard, but that’s not the strength of this issue. Hickman excels, much as Bendis does (but with a different tone), with the interplay between the characters. When Reeds’ father announces that Reed’s idea to terraform the moon is a terrible idea, Reed just looks at his father for a moment, and then says, “How refreshing.” Then there’s the final page surprise–SPOILER!–Dr. Doom shows up to join the Future Foundation. Talk about a can’t-wait-for-the-next-issue moment.

Xombi #1, by John Rozum & Fraser Irving: Now for the best of these three issues. I first encountered the Xombi character, David Kim, in Brave and the Bold #26 (from August, 2009!). I knew of him from the Milestone series, but had never read anything featuring the character until that B&tB issue and I was intrigued by David Kim. Then when I found out that Fraser Irving would be the artist, I knew I had to read this comic. I loved Irving’s work on Batman and Robin after Quitely left (in fact, better than Quitely–sacrilegious, I know :)), and Irving’s work here is no less spectacular. In fact, it often overshadows the fantastic story elements by Rozum. For example, there’s this great two-page spread showing us time passing, but instead of doing it in a panel layout as most comics do, Irving gives us essentially two splash pages with multiple images of the same characters as they “move” toward the “camera”. If that’s not enough, on page two, Irving cuts the camera to show the opposite side of the room but never cutting the flow of movement an time–brilliant! One thing I may get tired of in this series is Irving’s use of color. He seems to use a wash of a color to depict different scenes (though he’s not always consistent), and, for example, him using pink on the cover and then in 7(ish) pages was a little much.

I have to admit that Irving’s style is so distinctive that I sometimes forget that Rozum’s work is what I really like in this series. The comic opens with a bunch of weird stuff happening across the world, including chickens giving live births of their chicks and a tiger from one painting attacks a cow in an adjacent painting. Then there’s a guy holding coins that talk and whose presidential profiles actually move (well, their mouths anyway). We’re later introduced to Nun of the Above (who can see what anyone is doing within a 30-mile radius just by “looking”), Nun the Less (who can shrink–handy for this plot), and Catholic Girl (flight, energy discharges, force fields, etc.) who David helps with a prison break-in/out, but the prison is condensed down so that it fits on a large table. The Snow Angels then show up and proceed to eat a priest’s face off (we see it later being worn by one the angels), and then try to do the same to David’s arm. If that wasn’t enough, some demon-possessed, Halloween-costume wearing children show up for some trick and death-dealing at the end of the issue. It’s not quite the OMG moment that FF had, but there’s just so much to this wacky world that I cannot wait to see where Rozum and Irving take me.