Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on Wednesday Comics

Not my thoughts on comics released yesterday (since there weren't any, really), but my thoughts on THE Wednesday Comics. I figure the easiest way will be to just go through each story.

Batman - I wasn't pulled in by Azzarello's characterization of the Batman character, but I like his anxious Gordon. The art was suitably dark and noir-ish. This installment did a nice job of setting up the story with a simple but exciting premise, no prior continuity knowledge required. Some rich dude is minutes away from death and somehow Batman's gonna defy the odds and save him (maybe). I'm hoping there'll be some twists here and there, though,and I'm sure the reveal of the villain will be good stuff. Grade: A-

Kamandi - Not exactly a novel observation, but the artist's Prince Valiant style artwork really suits the Wed. Comics format. The story itself was all setup, but probably necessary because no one knows who the hell Kamandi is. Too soon to judge this one yet, but at the very least I can say that it definitely suits the spirit of the format, and pays homage to its predecessors in the newspaper action comics genre. Grade: A

Superman - Even though the art isn't what you'd think of when remembering the old Sunday narrative comics like the Phantom and Prince Valiant, I still thinks it's very well done. Not much happens in the form of story progression, but the story provides some much needed action and punching shit that was lacking in the last two. I love how Superman finds time to scold the idiots telling him to kick the alien's ass. Grade: B+

Deadman - A noir-ish murder mystery is about what I'd expect with a Deadman story, which is a little disappointing. Again, lots of setup but Deadman has a somewhat complicated origin so it's probably necessary (again). While I'm certainly not adverse to violence in my comics, I thought the whole double-murder, heart removed from chest during kinky sexy time was a little too to TV-14 for this format, which is supposed to hearken back to the old Sunday adventure comics. I don't think Mary Worth ever stumbled onto such a scene (that we know of...). The panel layouts were well done and the art was well-done; the artist even managed to render the gruesome murder scene in a way that made it fairly unobjectionable (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, though). I have hope for this one, though. Grade: C+

Green Latern - Bo-ring! They couldn't think of any better set up for a comic where a jet pilot uses a magic ring to police the cosmos than having a bunch of goofy 50's rejects sit in a bar? I mean, they're not even saying anything interesting -- just, "Where's Hal? Where's Jordan?" Yeah, assholes, where IS Hal? I'd like to see what he's doing, too, rather than listening to your dumb asses wonder about where he might be. Probably fist-fighting with Sinistro on Mogo the Living Planet. We won't find out this issue, kids! Well any of these "average Joe" characters have anything meaningful to do with a sci-fi space story? I sure as hell hope not. Anyway, the story didn't explain GL's origins or powers at all, which is bound to confuse any new readers unfamiliar with the character, and there was absolutely no hook to make readers care about Hal or get excited about GL's adventures. All we know is that Hal is a womanizing asshole who doesn't show up for work. Decent art couldn't save this otherwise boring story. Grade: D

Metamorpho - Neil Gaiman shows *everyone* how the hell this Wednesday Comics thing is supposed to be done! Crazy goofball character? Check. Weird Silver-Age style action sequence involving Giant Clams? Check. Cornball dialog with a little innuendo that goes over the kiddies' heads? Check. The art was a perfect fit as well -- reminded me of something between Venture Bros., Johnny Quest, and Jack Kirby. Not only that, but Gaiman manages to introduce a completely unknown super-hero and his supporting cast with hardly any boring exposition or wasteful setup. You get right into the story, see the man's power's in action, and are thrust headlong into an adventure. This is newspaper comics done right! You don't need 10 panels of internal monologue to explain a character, just a little picture of his head with the caption "Neaderthal Manservant" tells you everything you need to know. Grade: A+

Teen Titans - And then there's this turd. What the fuck is this? I don't even understand what's happening. The story is narrated by some asshole who doesn't seem to realize he's in a "book" where his story was preceded by a woman getting trapped by a Giant Clam. There's like 56 different characters, most of whom I have no idea who they are. To make it even worse, as others have said, it seems like the stupid thing is in continuity! I hate the art, primarily because of the confusing "panel" layouts. Also, it appears that the villain stabs a teenage girl through the heart at the end, but I can't tell since she doesn't have a head. Hey Kids! Comics! This one completely misses the entire point, in terms of content, style, art, and theme, of the format. Grade: F

Adam Strange - I loved this one. I wasn't entirely sold on it until some wacked-out space apes show up and start jumping out of space rockets, and the main character points out how, normally, this would be a fucking insane thing to be transpiring. Rather than dwell on it, he fires up the motherfucking rocket pack and flies into action in what I think is the single best panel in the entire issue. Art is a little weird and MC Escher-ish, but it works. Again, this is how its done -- hook the reader, get right into the action, and never mind the insanity because the weirder, the better. Grade: A+

Supergirl - Well, it's cute. Obviously. And you got baby Krypto and Streaky there, which is kinda awesome. Kids would probably like this one, and I certainly didn't mind it. The cartoony art suits the subject matter and the character quite well, and manages to avoid any upskirt shots on poor exploited teen Kara. This one seems to be more in the vein of Saturday Morning Cartoons, rather than newspaper comics. Grade: B-

Metal Men - I though DiDio would land on his ass with this one, but he clearly gets what the Wednesday Comics format should be. The art has many classic comics sensibilities, but retains a bit of modern edge (like the look of the robbers' weapons) to help appeal to younger readers. Each of the metal men gets a chance for a little dialog which gives us some clue to their personality. But actually, the dialog is mostly unnecessary since the artist does such a good job with the faces that we can pretty much guess how each of them will act just be looking at their expressions. Again, I like how we get right into the action, though a bank robbery seems a little passe, even for this format. Hopefully DiDio will up the stakes with a team of supervillains or something real soon. Points for the bossy dude smoking the pipe, though I'm not fond of the fawning metal woman (even though I get this is "retro," there's no reason to make the only female character a vacuous flirt). Grade: A-

Wonder Woman - I have no idea what the hell is happening in this story thanks to the terrible coloring. It was hard to read too. Did anybody bother to tell the art team this was going to be printed on newsprint? I get that this is some sort of dream sequence -- I think -- but, really, what's the point? Yeah there's magic and dreams and mystery and talking animals and witches... Neil Gaiman loves all that crap too, but you didn't see any of it his Metamorpho story. I think that this little Avengers Fairy Tale take on Wonder Woman would be really cute and fun to read -- in a different format, one where we could appreciate the subtle colors and dream-like qualities of the art. In the Wed. Comics format, it just falls flat. Not to mention that it will just confuse new-to-DC readers who are only family with the T.V. version of Wonder Woman. If it were me, I would have gone totally retro with the concept, complete with all the weird bondage undertones in the original stories. Grade: C-

Sgt. Rock - Okay, we all know the Kubert's can rock the pencils. But c'mon, was Wed. Comics really in need of a huge splash page of Gitmo-style "enhanced interrogation"? Much like the impaling of the Martian girl or the double sex homicide, it doesn't suit the format, and this story seems even grittier than those two. What I wanted to see out of the first installment of this story was some crazy WWII style action and over-the-top patriotism, like Rock and Co. with the Haunted Tank taking down a Kraut Bunker, ambushing a convoy of Nazi's, or kicking Hitler in the ass. And where are Rock's squad mates, like the crazy Hippy dude? Next issue better have the boys busting in there to rescue Rock so they can get to something other than long, uncomfortable scenes of torture. Grade: D+

Flash - They sold me on this one with the first panel. I'll buy anything with mind-controlling super-genius evil Gorillas (complete with requisite banana jokes). I like how the first story sets up the villain nicely -- we know he has some diabolical and convoluted plan, but like the Flash we can't fathom what it is yet. The author uses Grodd to good effect here because, let's be honest, Flash isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, and Grodd takes advantage of that fact plus the Flash's goody-goody nature that compels him to save people. I thought I would be bored by the second half, but Iris' inner dialog really pulled me in and made me like her as a character. I like that, through Iris, we're seeing the events from her layman's perspective, adding a whole additional layer of mystery to the story. As long as the author keeps bringing the Silver Age Flash weirdness, and plays up the mystery and intrigue in the Iris West strip, I think this one will work. Grade: A

Catwoman + Demon - This concept is interesting because you'd never expect these two characters to have much to do with one another. Strong characterization and dialog by Simonson, and the art was pretty good, especially the last panel featuring Catwoman. Name-dropping Google seemed like a hackneyed ploy at relevancy or hipness, though. Looking forward to seeing how these two eventually team up and what enemy they face. Grade: B

Hawkman - "We flap?" Seriously? Is that supposed to be poetic or something? I just kept thinking "We fap" and chuckling like Beavis and Butthead. And why the hell did Hawkman take the birds up to an altitude where they can't breathe?! What an asshole, those are endangered species! He apparently was able to trick the birds by telling them there'd be oxygen in the plane. But can you imagine like 3 dozen birds inside one fucking plane? What the hell? That doesn't help anything. They're not going to be able to stop the terrorists from killing people or blowing holes in the plane; they're just going to scratch up the passengers and shit all over the place. And how did the terrorists get a goddamn AK-47 onto a plane anyway? Not even TSA is that stupid. Between the contrived danger scenario and melodramatic bird narration, this is just retarded. The art is nice, but most of it is just one gigantic splash page. Poor way to end the issue, in my opinion. Grade: D

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Death Adder doesn't stand a chance

Topless Robot posted a sweet-ass live action Golden Axe movie. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that this is the best movie I have seen in years. Adult Swim should hire these guys to do regular 5 minute skits like this. Micheal Bay should be ashamed.

If you're like me and dig that heavy metal Golden Axe theme, you can download it, as well as a shit ton more of cool video game themes covered in heavy metal format, from the band Mega Driver's website.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pull List for this Week

As Gish predicted, since last week held so much goodness, this week has only a few comics. Here's what we're getting:

Batman and Robin #2: I freaking love Grant Morrison and I love this series. The last issue was everything I expected it to be and then some. Professor Pyg and his Toad henchman have the potential to become great new Batman villains. I also love Dr. Hurt and the Club of Villains, who will probably be making a come back to this book in a few issues. I just wish it wasn't limited to only twelve issues. Of course, D.C. probably can't keep it in their pants long enough to let Bruce stay "dead" for twelve issue.

War of Kings #5: Probably too late to get in on this if you haven't, but it's quite a ride. This is especially true if you've been following the other cosmic titles with any regularity. DnA will probably throw the kitchen sink at us in this one, because they tend to like big surprises and cliffhangers in the final issues of an arc. The War was looking a little one sided up until issue 4, so expect the bad guys to push back.

Secret Six #11: Who knows what madness to expect from the mind of Gail Simone this month, but I'm sure Secret Six will kick ass like it usually does.

Dead Pool Merc with a Mouth #1: Isn't one Deadpool on-going monthly enough? Why do we need two? I'm not optimistic about this book, but Gish will probably make me buy it. Hopefully it at least provides some laughs.

Captain America: Reborn #1 & Buffy: The Vampire Slayer #26: I'm on the fence about these two. I've been reading Buffy since issue #1, and I've seen all the TV episodes, so I'm pretty highly invested in it. But the last 10 or so issues of Buffy have not grabbed me at all -- they lack all the elements that made the first issues, and the TV show, a hit. They aren't that funny, there's very little character development, and the whole Slayer Army thing just doesn't fit the tone and style of the Buffyverse. I'll probably skip it. Captain America, on the other hand looks like it might be pretty good. I love Brubaker's Cap work, and he'll be teaming up with Bryan Hitch whose work is usually pretty good. This has all the elements of a successful book, yet I find that I'm not that interested in it. Probably because I don't really care about Steve Rogers and I think his return is forced. Brubaker was telling some great stories with Bucky Cap? Why jeopardize that by bringing bad Cap v.1? I was much more interested in the new Girl Bucky that showed up in #600. I'll probably skip Reborn, though.

Random Thoughts

I really like the Batwoman Detective Comics issue, even though it was mostly set-up. The "religion of crime" concept is cool, though I was probably most pulled in by Williams' art.
I wasn't as thrilled with the Question backup. I just don't think the character works that well as Montoya. I liked the conspiracy nut/right-wing loon Rorschach-for-kids version from the Justice League Unlimited series better.

I wish they would switch the Manhunter and Question features -- I think Montoya would work better in parallel with the street-level Gotham stories.

Incredible Hercules was downright philosophical this week, what with all the musings on the nature of God and how, if he exists, he must be an asshole just like Zeus. Not only that, the book suggests that being an asshole is a prerequisite for being God. Not used to such deep thoughts in my super-hero books, but I like (I'm sure Herc is slated for cancellation any day now).

I don't want to spoil Runaways for anybody, so don't read this if you haven't read #11 yet. I thought Immomen did a great job with the characters; Nico as the de facto mother is still kind of irritating, but whatever. I was hoping she'd be the one to get the axe, but no, they kill off my favorite character which, of course, is the awesome telepathic dinosaur. I'm not blaming Immomen because I'm sure this was an editorial decision, but still -- why couldn't they have killed Nico? I'm assuming this is some convoluted way to bring Gertrude back to life. But since Gertrude doesn't actually have any powers, I'm not sure what she's supposed to do without Old Lace. Nevertheless, I'm excited the Gert's coming back because she was many favorite character along with Alex.

Paul Pelletier, who pencilled War of Kings and the first issues of Guardians of the Galaxy, is coming to Tampa in 2 weeks for a coand, of course, I probably won't be able to go because I'm moving that weekend. Dammit!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Say Thee NAY!

Via Weekly Crisis I hear that JMS is being taken off of Thor as of September. Hmm. That's interesting. Excuse me for just a sec, I need to go to my room for a minute. Ho-hum, doo-dee-doo...

... ahem. What the hell Marvel? Who are you going to replace him with? PLEASE tell me it'll be Jeph "I'm Such a Fucking Douchebag that I Can't Even Spell 'Jeff' Right" Loeb, because that would just be so awesome. Maybe Thor and Rulk could have some hot man sex after they kill all of the Runaways? That's thinking outside the box! Or maybe they could sub in Bendis -- I'm sure he won't mind a 25th book -- he can just use the same damn scripts for all of them anyway.

The only writer I will accept is Matt Fraction. Unless that happens, the remote control *stays* in.

Update: Obviously we don't know whether JMS left voluntarily or not. He probably did (or else Marvel is idiotses). But that wouldn't make for a very fun post.

Gotham City Sirens #1

This morning, I read a couple reviews of GCS which mainly had the same things to say.

1) The setup is contrived.
2) The art is too "cheesecake."
3) The characters are flat.
4) Nothing really happened and the bad guy was lame.

This is my take on these issues.

1) Considering the state Catwoman is in, I'm not sure who else she'd have to turn to right now. The Batman she knew is out of the picture and neither heroes nor villains trust or like her entirely. Unless she were to be kept out of the current storyline completely (not an option, as far as I'm concerned), who better to team her up with? Besides, I love all of these characters, and even if there weren't a good reason to put them together, I'd like it anyway.

2) Yeah, well, what the hell did you expect? It's called Gotham City Sirens for fucks sake. I'm not really into fan service myself, and I admit to rolling my eyes at the Zatanna scene a little, but I kind of knew what I was getting into here. Again, I love the characters so much, I just accepted the whole cheesecake thing from the start. Besides, I read Bomb Queen recently, and I guess it kind of desensitized me. (Ask shadow how amused I was at the nip slip therein.)

3) Since this is the first issue, I'm going to cut Dini some slack regarding how well-rounded the characters seem. A lot of first issues fall victim to obvious or hyperbolic character "development" in the interest of having the reader know about the characters as quickly as possible. This is presumably so we can just get to the action already. Hopefully he'll round them out a bit more as time goes on, especially considering he had a hand in creating one of them.

4) Again, this is a first issue. It's mainly going to be about setup. And yeah, the bad guy sucked out loud. But a) this is a female-centric comic book, which means the bad guys are often going to suck (see: Oracle v. Calculator or Wonder Woman v. Ninja Turtle Genocide Cheetah) and b) his presence is indicative of what's going on in Gotham City right now. The death of Batman has brought all kinds of weirdos out of the woodwork, and they all want to make names for themselves, like the doofus in question. As Sirens seems to be one of the more lighthearted titles in what has been a bummer of a recent storyline, I guess this is as good a place as any to portray that side of the new Gotham.

Overall, I liked GCS and will probably be adding it to my pull list. I guess if it's month after month of nothing but flat characters and cheesecake with nothing to show for it, I'll drop it. But it's worth giving it a shot, IMO.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barack the Barbarian

Yes I bought it, and so should you. It actually looks like some fun political satire. Also, c'mon, the art? Freaking sweet. A lot of comics bloggers like to bitch about how certain comics are cashing in on Obama. But I don't see anything wrong with it. Look, some people like to blow their stack on crappy Jeph Loeb* comics and the 103-or-so weekly X-books. I like crap with Obama in it. Both are guilty pleasures, I suppose, though I would argue that certain Obama books, like the biographies, Savage Dragon, Barack the Barbarian, and Bomb Queen VI are all better quality books than anything ever written by Jeph Loeb (ever, even in alternate universes in which Loeb still sucks) AND your money goes to support independent publishers rather than the Marvel-naut (that's Marvel + Juggernaut). That Spider-Man/Obama backup was pretty bad, though.

* It is a little known fact that every time you buy a comic written by Jeph Loeb, a little, adorable kitten dies. It's true, look it up.