Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And now, some reviews

While I was at the comics shop for Free Comic Book Day, I picked up a few titles I was interested in. I don't usually do reviews but after posting shorter versions of my thoughts to an email discussion group I belong to, I figured I'd flesh them out a bit and post them here. Just for a change of pace. Anyway, here's what I read...


I don't know jack about what's going on in the Marvel Universe these days but I picked this up out of curiosity over all the hype. When did Namorita get all blue? When did the New Warriors become morons? I've missed out on all these developments since Marvel stopped sending me free comics. Anyway, I liked the total art package in this book, I thought the sum was superior to the individual pencils or inks or colors. It all worked well together somehow and the coloring in particular gave the book a very distinct look. I like Mark Millar as a writer although I've read very little of his Marvel stuff, just a few issues of Ultimates and his Wolverine run. However, his Superman Tangent book from DC years ago was stellar. So I consider myself a fan of his work.

So without knowing much of what's happening at Marvel lately, I still enjoyed this book for what it was. It wasn't the next Watchmen (although it does crib a major plot point) and I don't necessarily feel like I've got to rush out for the next issue but this was solid stuff. It was paced well and had that big event feel it needs for this giant crossover attempt to connect with readers.

For what it's worth, I'm on Captain America's side. How anyone can not take Cap's side in any sort of conflict is beyond me. He's the most principled and trustworthy character in the Marvel Universe. You know if Captain America is fighting for something, he's fighting the good fight. So fall in line, ya bunch of yahoos. I give this comic a B-.

Speaking of Captain America, I picked up the Winter Soldier trade because I like Ed Brubaker, I like Steve Epting's art, and I've heard really good things about it. I read it in three sittings and am glad to say I really enjoyed it. It was more plot heavy than I thought it would be, meaning it seemed less decompressed than I assumed it would be. Which is a good thing, I like to feel like I'm getting some bang for my comics buck!

It seems to me that writing Captain America is a pretty tricky beast. He doesn't really have a lot of internal conflict to play off of and it's not like a writer can dig in and deconstruct the character himself or do anything subversive with him. At the end of the day, Cap is going to be the same solid, decent icon that he was when he woke up, still fighting the good fight. Luckily for Brubaker, the plot he's set in motion around Cap makes up for it. It's one of the best Captain America stories to come along in a long time and Brubaker has been given a lot of latitude to play with the classic elements of Cap's world in some pretty surprising ways. Killing the Red Skull and bringing back Bucky...those are HUGE changes he's been allowed to make and as a result, it feels like anything can happen. It's as good as Cap has ever been in my opinion. I'm looking forward to picking up the next collection and seeing what happens next. I'll give this one a grade of 'A'.

Lastly, I grabbed issues 13 and 14 of Astonishing X-men. I wasn't too impressed. I read most of the first twelve issues of this book and loved it in the beginning, mainly because for the first time in years, it 'felt' like the X-Men I grew up reading. The longer it's gone, the less engaging I've found it to be. Maybe it's because it takes so long for anything important in terms of plot to happen.

The Kitty and Colossus stuff is the most interesting to me. Both characters are better when they're playing off of each other and they were long overdue to get back together. Also, I'm curious to see which mutant will be revealed as the one that will destroy the alien world. Most of it felt pretty flat to me, though. Also, I think John Cassaday is great but he's phoning this stuff in. Maybe he's got too much on his plate these days but it looks rushed and there are even less backgrounds than you usually find in a Cassaday book. Disappointingly, I give this a grade of 'C'. Considering the talent involved in putting it out, that's kind of a shame.

So that's what I'm reading lately. Anyone else?



Brad-Brown said...

Yeah I'm pretty much reading the same things. It's nice to see some solid work being on Captain America, although I'm not sure how well it's selling. I agree with your assessment of the X-men. Kind of a slow start, but that Cassiday art is nice to look at. I'm with you on Civil War front, as I'm not very up to date on my Marvel continuity. I do give them points for blowing up an area I used to live in though. I got succkered in to Infinite Crisis. The series was kind of let down, as it really didn't have any lasting ramifications. In the end some characters remember the old DC continuity and Bruce decides he needs some time off. Yes sir...high drama. And of course there's also Y the Last Man and 100 Bullets. Sure the overal plotlines kind of wander aimlessly, but taken individually those are still two of the most consistently engaging series (for me anyway) every month.

Chris Yeoman said...

I too read the "Winter Soldier" HB and enjoyed it! This was my first cap story and it was well done. Both art and writing was strong.

I've just read Bendis's "Daredevil" run in tpb's and they are brilliant! It's a long story that's told, but very exciting. Maleev's art is very fitting.

I am REALLY enjoying Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Batman/Detective comics, Superman/Action comics right now too. They have been consistently strong titles.

malinda said...

I think that Astonishing is just in a lull. We all know that there's a 3-5 issue lull between good storylines in just about every comic title.

From interviews and the like, I've gathered the opinion that Mark Millar is a dick, but I have to admit...he can write a hell of a comic.