Wednesday, June 4, 2008 04:09 PM
(Last updated on Friday, March 27, 2009 03:14 PM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's weekly comic book review post.

New releases
All-Star Superman #11
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have knocked it out of the park again this month with this title. As Superman continues to die, Luthor heads toward ascendancy. Or, to put things in a more spoilery fashion, Luthor survives execution thanks to a potion that will give him superpowers for 24 hours. He then goes on a little rampage, meets his hilarious niece and tells her to go rampaging as well, unleashes his secret ally, and then heads over to cause trouble at the Daily Planet. Meanwhile, Superman continues to prepare for his passing, then heads out to fight Solaris the tyrant sun in a solarsuit. It's all totally insane and entertaining and hilarious and moving in that wonderful retro Silver Age kind of way, and Quitely's art is just stunningly beautiful. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. I wish Morrison's work was always this good. I am at once excited and sad to see the next issue, as I believe it will be the last one for this creative team.
Thumbs Up

Star Wars: Dark Times #11
Now I'm kind of sad that I haven't been following the big Vector storyline that's currently crossing it's way over all the different Dark Horse Star Wars titles, because this latest issue in the storyline is interesting and good, but it also left me a little confused, as it's clearly dealing with characters and events introduced in previous episodes of the story arc. Still, I got the gist of what was going on: an ancient Jedi was sealed up in a special casket that's kept her alive for millenia, and that people have been fighting over for much of that time without even knowing what was in it, and which Darth Vader opens up, thus instigating a kick-ass lightsaber duel. Oh, did I mention this issue has Darth Vader? Because it does! Freaking Darth Vader in my comic! That is good stuff, people. Loved this issue. Looking forward to the follow-up.
Thumbs Up

Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor #3
Jack has sex! He also finds at least one of the dealies that's been dampening his powers, and has a little confrontation with one of the people messing with him, who just might be responsible for giving him his powers in the first place. Next issue, giant robot fight!

Now that the mystery is beginning to get solved, this comic isn't quite as exciting as it used to be, but it's still pretty fun, and well drawn, and I'll definitely be sticking through to the end, unless something really painfully stupid happens in the next couple issues.
Thumbs Up

Uncanny X-Men #498
I almost forgot I was collecting this comic until I found the new issue on the shelf. I thought maybe I'd missed an issue, but thankfully no. More of the backstory, and the true name, of the Goddess are revealed here, but it didn't mean much to me, until I hit Wikipedia. Thanks, Wikipedia! Anyways, she and her enslaved hippy mutants face-off against Scott and Emma while Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler get tortured for information by the Russians. But of course, chaining up Wolverine is never a good idea, because inevitably he's going to get out, and when he does, he's going to be really, really mad at you. After a kick-ass action sequence, the boys find themselves in a face-off of their own against somebody called Omega Red (I again turn to Wikipedia for help - good old Wikipedia). I don't always like Brubaker's work, but I do like what he's doing here. It's fun stuff, and Mike Choi's art is good, too.
Thumbs Up

X-Men First Class #12
Wow, lots of X-Men titles this week! And two of them focus mainly on Angel. In this one, Angel runs off all the sudden on his own after a short visit from his folks. Turns out it's because they told him his favorite aunt has vanished, but she only vanished because she found an ancient civilization hidden behind a waterfall. He settles in there with her quite happily, because nobody there is surprised or horrified by his wings. It's an interesting and rather touching issue, and makes you realize how different Warren's mutation is from the others'. Plus it takes Angel out of the team for the foreseeable future, which is an interesting change.
Thumbs Up

Angel: Revelations #1
This is the second Angel-centric X-Men title I picked up this week. It's a new Marvel Knights miniseries taking a look back at Angel's origin, and I actually hadn't planned to pick it up at all. But I flipped through it in the store, and the art was so unique and fascinating, and the story so interesting-looking that I decided to buy it after all. And I'm not sad I did. The frame story involves a mysterious religious man who's called in to help with a little girl with stigmata who's having visionary dreams of young Warren. Warren is in high school, where he's popular, successful in sports, and has a beautiful girlfriend. But he also has a disturbing secret: he's getting thinner and lighter, and he has weird bruises spreading out across his back. He's afraid he's dying. And now it seems the creepy religious guy from the frame story is after him.

Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is crafting an interesting and engaging story here, but the really neat thing about the book is Adam Pollina's fascinating art. It's full of surreal extremes: the weird Gothic preacher, the creepy old house, the creative panels and framing, the almost impossibly tall and lanky Warren. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes.
Thumbs Up

Marvel 1985 #1
This is an interesting new miniseries from writer Mark Millar and artist Tommy Lee Edwards. It's set in the year 1985 (obviously) in our world, and centers on a young boy who discovers that the super villains from his beloved Marvel comics have invaded this universe and they're living together in a weird old house down the street. Sounds like a great idea for a sitcom! Thankfully, the book takes on this premise with the proper mixture of awe, humor, and realism. Mark Millar has failed me before, but I like this so far - especially Tommy Lee Edwards colorful, realistic art. I'm going to keep following it for now.
Thumbs Up

Final Crisis #1
(UPDATE: Since I wrote the below review, I've read this comic again, along with the rest of Final Crisis, and my opinion of it has changed a great deal. Check it out.)

Well, the third and final "Crisis" storyline is finally here, in the form of a miniseries written by Grant Morrison with art by J.G. Jones. I expected to dislike this, and indeed I do. It opens with a trip back to the beginning of history where everyone speaks in exclamation points and question marks, and the New Gods have to show up to teach humans how to use fire. Then we jump forward to the present, where a cop finds a New God who drops a cryptic message on him before dying. The Question gives the cop some more cryptic information while the Green Lanterns start trying to solve the case. Then some lame super villains beat up some lame heroes and grab a lame artifact for another lame villain. Then a perfectly good super hero gets killed, the cop gets to meet some Anti-Life zombie kids, the Monitors get all touchy-feely, and we get a quick glimpse of a Planet of the Apes-style post-apocalypse.

I have many problems with this book, the major one being that it's loaded with things I just don't like. I have yet to read a "Crisis" I liked. I've yet to read anything about the New Gods that I liked. I hate Libra. I hate the Monitors. I think the new Question is lame. I don't really like Dr. Light or Mirror Master. And then there's the fact that this issue is just not very well written. It's melodramatic and ridiculous, and it tries to be funny in weird places and mostly fails. I'll admit, I'm curious as to where he's going to go with this story - I even found some things about the Monitor storyline vaguely interesting - but I don't think I'm curious enough to actually buy six more issues of this thing. I'll just try to keep up with it on scans_daily or something.
Thumbs Down

Green Lantern #31
Hal Jordan's origin story continues right where it left off, with Hal and Carol giving each other the look of love. Refusing help from Carol's "boyfriend" in understanding his new powers, Hal heads back to bury Abin Sur, gets a recharge from his lantern, and is then whisked away to Oa for Green Lantern training. Meanwhile, Abin Sur's murderer starts wreaking havoc on Earth and Sinestro is called in to help Hal on the case. It's a good issue, fast-paced and exciting, and there's a bit of mystery and intrigue surrounding Sinestro's new orders. Should be cool to see him and Hal working together next issue.
Thumbs Up

Dan Dare #6
Dan Dare freaking rules. I am so glad I didn't notice when I picked up the first issue of this that it was written by my enemy Garth Ennis, or else I might never have experienced the joy that is this series. It's totally changed my opinion of Ennis, and I seem to love each issue more than the last. Part of what makes it so excellent are the excellent characters at the heart of it - Dare with his cool confidence and stiff upper lip; the brilliant and evil Mekon; Dare's unsure but extremely competent executive assistant; the tough, driven British space marines. And of course, these characters are in the middle of a thrilling, clever, lightning-fast sci-fi action epic, and they're spouting fantastic dialogue left and right. It's just great comics.
Thumbs Up

Batman #677
I'm really not sure I like where Grant Morrison is taking Batman now. Of course, it's quite possible that the disturbing suggestions he drops in this issue (the mysterious files that smear Batman's parents' and Alfred's reputations, and the idea that Batman himself may just be a half-crazy man-child with multiple personalities, playing a dangerous game with himself) are just lies planted by the Black Glove as part of their plan to destroy Batman from the inside out. In fact, the more I think about it, the more true that feels. I was left feeling uneasy and unhappy by this issue, but maybe that's all part of Morrison's plan, and eventually we'll come out on the other side and I'll see and understand what he was doing and I'll be okay with it. Anyway, I'm going to stick with the book for now. But if Morrison kills Alfred, or reveals that Alfred or the Waynes were actually creepy scum bags all along, he's dead to me.
Thumbs Sideways

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #1
This new miniseries takes a very Gothic look at the Batman mythos, portraying Batman visually as an impossibly muscular, half-human monster, and Gotham as a hellish landscape peopled by demons, ghosts, and monsters. The story, however, is a pretty straightforward mystery so far: the Scarecrow strays from his usual M.O., and drops an obvious and incredibly cliched clue in the form of a book of matches with the name of a restaurant on it. Batman heads into the place suspecting a trap, so even though things don't seem to have turned out well for him at the end of the book, I think he's probably fine.

Kelley Jones' art is interesting and surreal, but also occasionally sloppy, and Michelle Madsen's coloring work is mostly just ugly. I like some of the weird touches, such as the scene where the clock strikes twelve and all the criminals sneak out of their hiding places, but in general this is just kind of bland. I don't plan to pick up any more issues.
Thumbs Sideways

Action Comics #865
Meh. Another disappointing issue of Action Comics. I'm not sure what happened to Johns on this book since he finished up the fantastic Legion storyline. This one's a one-shot about Toyman and it's just boring, cliche, melodramatic, ridiculous, and hard to believe. Toyman kidnaps Jimmy Olsen in the hopes that Olsen - because he's young - can be trusted to tell his life story. Toyman wants everyone to know he would never hurt a child, and that the child everyone thinks he killed was actually murdered by a malfunctioning robot. Sounds like a lame attempt at retconning to me. Of course the usual heroes show up just in time to make everything right. Blah.

I'm still picking up next issue, though, because I keep hoping Johns will get back into the groove, and because it promises to be the first part of an important new storyline centered on Brainiac, and that sounds interesting.
Thumbs Down

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Joss Whedon's fantastic run on Astonishing X-Men comes to its epic conclusion in this extra-long one-shot. Most of the big Marvel heroes on Earth are called together to try to come up with a solution for the problem of the Earth-killing bullet that's headed their way, with Kitty trapped in its nose. Meanwhile, up on the Breakworld, Colossus fights the secret mastermind behind the entire plot. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that the Earth is ultimately saved (because c'mon, did anybody think the Earth would really be destroyed in a Marvel comic book?), but someone is lost in the process, and those left behind have to deal with that, and deal with what's happened to each other and their relationships in the wake of all this madness.

Whedon manages to bring together and wrap up pretty much everything he's introduced throughout the length of this series, and to do so in a satisfying and emotionally effective manner. It's a thrilling, exciting issue with some fun comedy, and a breath-taking, heart-breaking conclusion. It's all that I've come to expect from Joss Whedon. It doesn't hurt at all that John Cassaday's art, coupled with Laura Martin's colors, is crazy beautiful. All-in-all, a great way to end a run on a series. And now I can look forward to seeing where Warren Ellis will take this book. Dark and twisted places, I'm sure.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Comic books (Not), The Take (Not)

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