Wednesday, September 10, 2008 01:29 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's weekly comic book review post.

This covers new releases from the weeks of August 27th (a big week, with lots of great new books) and September 4th (the smallest week in a while - I only bought five comics!), as well as a couple of trade paperbacks that I got out of the library.

Back issues and old data
X-Men: Kitty Pride - Shadow & Flame
This is a collection of a five-issue miniseries from 2006 by Akira Yoshida, with art by Paul Smith. It opens with Kitty receiving a mysterious letter from Japan with a picture of a dragon that Lockheed once had a brief affair with, and a message requesting that Kitty come with her dragon to Japan. She decides to head over and see what this is all about, and is met at the airport by a woman from the Japanese Department of Supernatural Sciences - but she's not the one who sent the letter. The group responsible for the letter is a bunch of ninjas known as the Path of Destiny; and they also stole the other dragon from the JDSS. Both the ninjas and the JDSS have their own secret plans and goals, and both seem interested in manipulating Kitty and the dragons toward their own ends. Making things more complicated is the fact that the ninja seem to be connected somehow to Kitty's former master - an enemy she thought dead - Ogun, AKA The Demon.

I was completely unaware that Kitty had this whole history in Japan, where she'd been mind-controlled and trained in the martial arts by some crazy demon guy, so that was interesting to read about. And this story is an intriguing mystery, with plenty of entertaining action, twists, turns, and surprises. The surprises aren't all that surprising, and when the mysteries are finally all resolved, it turns out the plot wasn't as interesting as it seemed. But it's still a reasonably fun book, with clean, pleasant artwork. It's not something I need to own, but I'm not sorry I read it.
Thumbs Up

Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four
As you might have guessed from the title, this is a collection of a crossover between Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four, which apparently consisted of two one-shots: Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four and Ultimate Fantastic Four/X-Men. The writing is by Mike Carey, and the art by Pasqual Ferry (with some additional work by Leinil Francis Yu). Apparently even Marvel felt bad about selling a trade paperback collection that contained only two comic books, so in the back they also included The Official Handbook of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, parts one and two.

The crossover opens up with a hologram of some weird alien babe appearing to Charles Xavier in his bed, telling him there's a spaceship on collision course for Earth, loaded with mindless mutants bent on destruction, and the X-Men need to be dispatched to save the planet. All indications are that she's telling the truth, so off they go, leaving behind only Iceman, Shadowcat, and Wolverine to mind the store. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that the story about the planet-destroying mutants was just a diversion to clear out the school so someone could infiltrate it and steal part of Cerebro. That someone is the brilliant, fast-talking, extremely dangerous Rhona Burchill. I'm completely unfamiliar with the character, but apparently her supervillain name is the Mad Thinker. Anyways, she dispatches of the remaining X-Men quite handily and makes off with her prize, and when they try to follow her trail, she manages to make them think the culprits are the Fantastic Four. Apparently the X-Men and the FF had never met before, so it seems reasonable to the mutants that the FF could be the kind of people who would break into their place and steal their stuff. They rush into the Baxter Building with guns blazing and the usual mistaken identity crossover fight between good guys takes place. Of course, it doesn't take long for everybody to realize they've been had, and that the real culprit is elsewhere. Then it's time for a big ol' showdown.

Rhona is an interesting character and is a surprisingly dangerous foe, even when facing off against the entire FF and three X-Men. This is a fun, exciting little story with some clever concepts and even the occasional funny line of dialogue. The art is a bit clumsy and could use some work (sometimes it looks like Wolverine has a towel on his head, when he's really just supposed to have long hair), but it's not so hideous that it makes the book hard to look at.

As for the handbook in the back, I flipped through it very quickly, and it seems useful and informative, but I wasn't in the mood to read an entire encyclopedia of Marvel characters, especially since I was already familiar with most of them.
Thumbs Up

New releases from 8/27
Gravel #4
Bill Gravel is, understandably, getting a little tired from going around killing all these wizards, and he feels a bit uncomfortable walking around with half the Sigsand manuscript on his person, so he decides to make a pit stop at his secret hideout, drop off the manuscript, and then go have a beer down the pub. Unfortunately, just as he's heading out for that drink, he's ambushed by another member of the minor seven - who's accompanied by nine acolytes. A brutal, insane magic fight ensues, spreading out across the rooftops and down through the nearby alleyways. But the outcome is inevitable, and at the end of it all, Bill has a lead on the location of the next part of the Sigsand, not to mention a new, better hideout.

I still don't like the way this new guy (Oscar Jimenez) draws Gravel, but otherwise the art is pretty okay, and of course the story, dialogue, and action are great. I loves me a kick-ass wizard fight, and this one involves eleven different wizards (!) and all kinds of insane magical violence and trickery. Good stuff.
Thumbs Up

Angel: Revelations #4
This is the penultimate issue of this miniseries, so things are finally really starting to come to a head. Now that Warren is aware of what Father Reynolds has been doing to his friend Andrew, he cooks up a way to use his powers to take care of the problem. It works surprisingly well, but a huge brawl on the stairs outside the school leads to Warren, Andrew, Warren's ex Amanda, and Warren's worst enemy, Brandon, all stuck in detention together in an otherwise empty school - near perfect conditions for the creepy religious guy to strike. Which he does! So next issue will obviously be the big showdown. The teaser graphic also shows Warren in his Angel costume, so perhaps the X-Men will show up, too? We'll see.

This isn't my favorite comic ever, but it continues to be engaging, with unique and creative art and panel layout. I'll definitely be picking up the final issue to see how everything turns out.
Thumbs Up

Star Trek: Year Four - The Enterprise Experiment #5
I'm guessing that Star Trek: Year Four is the type of title that is sort of pseudo-ongoing, in that they don't have one book with one continuous numbering system, but they do keep putting out new miniseries - like B.P.R.D. This is the final issue of the current miniseries, "The Enterprise Experiment," and as with the previous issues, it features the introspective ruminations of one of the major characters in the form of a flashback. In this case, the book opens with this introspective flashback, and the character at the center of it is Spock. He's thinking back to an encounter with his father on Vulcan recently which interestingly enough references the events of a specific episode of the animated series ("Yesteryear"), and in fact even directly quotes dialogue from said episode. As usual, Sarek is ragging on Spock for not being more Vulcan, and also for dwelling on the past. And he wants Spock to go through the Kolinahr. Cut back to the present, where Spock is attempting to interface with the alien artifact, which starts to overload and zap him, so they shoot Spock off of it, and beam it into space, where it blows up. Woo hoo! That's how you start a comic. Luckily, Spock got some interesting info out of the thing before it went haywire - like the fact that the galactic barrier was built by the Preservers to protect the civilizations they were transplanting throughout the galaxy from some mysterious and very dangerous outside force. They built various outposts to generate and maintain the barrier, and it's one of those outposts that Federation scientists stumbled upon. Spock knows the way to another outpost now, and they have to get there first before the Klingons do. But just as they find it, the Organians show up and hide it from them for good, telling both the humans and Klingons that they're not ready for the advanced technology of the Preservers. They also explain why they've decided to take a more hands-off approach to the Klingons and humans. Then it's time for a giant battle. Later, an interesting deal is struck between the Klingons (in fact, two particular Klingons that fans of the series will recognize: Kor and Koloth) and the Romulans (represented by a familiar woman), which has actually ultimately been manipulated into existence by the behind-the-scenes machinations of a wily Federation Admiral. A final coda takes the form of a rather moving and philosophical conversation among the Star Trek trinity: Spock, Kirk, and McCoy.

This was a really excellent miniseries throughout, with very intelligent dialogue, a complex and multi-layered story packed with intrigue and action, and lots of fun references to familiar characters and storylines from the rest of Star Trek canon. This particular issue has all of that in spades, plus a fascinating discussion at the end about the politics of the Star Trek universe, the place of humanity in the galaxy, and the meaning of the Enterprise's mission. Really, really good stuff. I am thoroughly impressed. I will definitely keep an eye out for the next Year Four miniseries.
Thumbs Up

newuniversal: Conqueror
This is the second in a series of newuniversal one-shots by Simon Spurrier which are taking a look back at earlier superhuman-birthing events in the past of the New Universe. This one is set way back in 2689 B.C. It opens in an odd way, zooming in on the text of a book that seems to be a history of the events of 2689 B.C., but written in present tense. Then the book ripples and instead of reading these events, we're seeing them unfold before us. Slayer-King Starr (the Star Brand of this time) rules the shining city of Zardath, protecting it from the hideous monsters that are constantly attacking. Starr heads out to kill another such monster and meets an attractive young woman who has been labeled a witch ever since the this time period's White Event (known as the Day the Sky Burned). She was constantly reciting a strange message sent into her brain from beyond, so her people cut her tongue out. When Starr touches her, some part of the message seems to be shot into him, but not enough to make sense. Then the Nightmask of this time, Trull, shows up. He's sort of a wizard and advisor to Starr. They meet with the Spitfire of this time, a woman named Baneth. Like the Spitfire of the present, she makes machines that she doesn't understand, and doesn't know what they'll do until she turns them on. Her latest machine seems to be trying to communicate a warning to them from beings beyond their universe, but it's destroyed by sabotage before the communication can be completed. The Justice of this time is a mad, mindless giant named Ukru. He's unleashed to try to capture the tongue-less witch. When he finds her and brings her back to Trull, the secret of what's really going on finally becomes clear. But will Starr discover the betrayer in their midst before it's too late? Just as the answer is becoming clear, the action ripples again, and once more we're looking at the words of a book that describe the action, rather than the action itself.

The setting here is almost like that of He-Man - it's a Conan-type world, full of swords and sorcery, but with the addition of interesting bits of technology, apparently thanks to Baneth's inventing abilities. The names sounded vaguely familiar to me (especially Zardath), and the frame gimmick with the book seemed odd, but everything made more sense when I dug up this character profile of Starr from a fan-made Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Turns out Starr and Trull and possibly more of these characters come from stories that appeared in Marvel books back in the '70s. The original old '70s story where Starr was introduced seemed to play with the idea of him being a fictional character created by an author, but also, at the same time, a real being who was able to fight and defeat his own creator. It was an interesting concept to appropriate some existing Marvel characters and remold them so that they fit comfortably into the newuniversal storyline. It also makes for a fun fantasy story with plenty of magic, treachery, sword-fighting, monsters, and weird sci-fi machines. It's a bit corny in parts, but still a good time. I'm definitely enjoying these one-shots, and I hope more are on the horizon.
Thumbs Up

Ghost Rider Annual #2
I'm always caught off-guard by annuals (is it that time of year again already?), and I'm never sure what they're going to be like. Sometimes they're set in the current storyline of an ongoing title, and done by the regular creative team; sometimes they're a stand-alone story that has nothing to do with anything, and they're done by a completely different creative team. In this case, we get a mix of both: a one-shot story that's connected to the current storyline, but not integral to it, and that's done by a different (and sadly far less talented) creative team, which includes Simon Spurrier as writer (yep, the same guy from the newuniversal one-shots, but he's definitely not on his A-game here) and Mark A. Robinson as artist. Johnny Blaze shows up in a small town called Mercy, Idaho, following news that an angel has been sighted there. He's hoping he can get information from the angel on how to get to Zadkiel. But the local folks don't like strangers, because lots of them have been showing up in town lately only to die, apparently from suicide. Of course, it turns out it's not suicide - not really - and that these weird deaths are connected to the angel. Johnny ends up fighting the angel, only to discover too late that this being might have held the key to finally reaching Zadkiel.

This is kind of a weird, silly little story, melodramatic and clumsily told, with pretty terrible art. It just doesn't work very well. In the back of the issue is a reprint of a classic Ghost Rider comic: issue #35, in which Johnny Blaze races Death with various human souls - including his own - in the balance. It was written by Jim Starlin, and it has the usual classic Marvel shortcomings: a bit too wordy, slangy, obvious, and melodramatic, with tons of narrative boxes and thought bubbles. But it's certainly a fun concept, and executed reasonably well.

Overall, this is definitely not my favorite comic ever. There are some interesting ideas buried in it, but they're surrounded by a lot of not so good ideas.
Thumbs Sideways

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #1
Good lord, it's yet another Final Crisis tie-in! This one's a two-parter from writer Grant Morrison and artist Doug Mahnke. And they're not kidding about that "3D" in the title, either; there's a pair of 3D glasses included in the book for you to assemble, and a decent portion of the book won't look right without them. The book opens up on Earth, with Superman sitting at Lois' bedside. She's at the brink of death (I assume due to some catastrophe that took place in the pages of Final Crisis) and only a constant infrared massage from Superman is keeping her heart beating. But all the sudden a mysterious woman (apparently from the world of the Monitors - yeah, those guys again. Sigh) shows up, spouting pleasantly melodramatic, classically comic booky pronouncements, and promising Superman what he needs to save Lois if he'll come with her and save her world, thus saving all existence. Turns out she's putting together the ultimate super team, rounding up all the Superman analogs from all the universes throughout the multiverse. Besides the Superman we all know and love, there's Ultraman, Captain Marvel, Overman, and Allen Adam, the Quantum Superman. They're flying around in a trans-multiverse craft that looks suspiciously like the Yellow Submarine, and their first adventure starts immediately: they have to stop a 70-mile long Destroyer craft from crashing into a populated Earth (they manage to ram it into a graveyard Earth instead). Then they find themselves in a limbo where all lost and forgotten things go, meet a weird guy named Merryman, and find the book that contains all books, which might help them repair their ship, while also giving them some interesting clues into the history of existence. The first thing ever to exist was the Monitor. The rest was pure emptiness. A small flaw appeared in the nothingness, and in it swirled the concepts of story, action, life, love, and everything else we know. The flaw was ultimately sealed over, but one concept remained: that of the Superman, the guardian protector. Story and legend spread like a contagion. A final crisis is coming, seemingly connected with the return of Mandrakk the Dark Monitor. And according to Ultraman, and the book that contains all books, evil wins in the end.

As with pretty much all Morrison work these days, this is really trippy and crazy, and sometimes it only makes a hazy kind of sense, but I really, really enjoy it. Lots of fascinating concepts, interesting word choices, and a very strongly "comic book" writing style - if that makes sense - that works really well, given the content. As for the 3D, it isn't as cool as you might think, but it's a fun enough little gimmick. I'm excited to read part two!
Thumbs Up

Star Wars: Rebellion #16
This issue of the New Hope/Empire Strikes Back-era Star Wars comic book is the eighth part of the multi-book Vector storyline. It opens with Celeste Morne ambushing Luke in a cave, mindlessly trying to exact revenge on him for all the crap she's been through. Meanwhile, both Leia and BL-1707 stumble toward the same cave, setting things up for a big showdown. As all this is going on, Vader waits on Coruscant to hear the outcome of his gambit, struggling with his feelings for his son. As Karness Muur, the Sith spirit bonded with Celeste, gets a better look at Luke, he sees the potential for greatness there, and he tries to leave Celeste for Luke. But she has her own terrible plans which involve Muur, and revenge against Vader.

This issue is surprisingly brilliant. It really seriously blew me away. I love the ideas here, I love the characters (Vader is written particularly well), I love the shocking twists in the story, and I love when Jedi do ridiculously huge things, like crashing Star Destroyers. This book just rules. Sadly, this will be the last issue for some time, as it's going on hiatus to make room for other Star Wars projects in 2009. But Vector continues in Legacy - this month, I believe - and I plan to follow it there.
Thumbs Up

Wolverine #68
Yay, "Old Man Logan" continues! This issue opens up with a look into the weird little family relationship between Hawkeye, Ultron 8, Tonya, and Ashley. It's great and I love it. Then Hawkeye talks Logan into helping him get into the Kingpin's hideout to save his daughter. There's another weird thing involving the Moloids (I'm getting the feeling they're going to turn out to be very, very important), and then our heroes enact Hawkeye's brilliant rescue plan, which is well summarized by Logan: "smashin' through the walls an killin' everybody." Woo hoo! It works pretty well, until the tables turn in a rather unexpected way, and Logan finds himself having to make a terrible choice: watch his friend die, or be forced to break his vow to never do violence again.

I'm so, so pleased with this book. The world it's set in is deeply fascinating, strange, and funny, and the characters are fantastic: irascible old bastards and gritty heartless youngsters. The story is full of awesome, bloody action, moving character moments, and surprising plot twists. Looking forward to the next part.
Thumbs Up

Skaar: Son of Hulk #3
Princess Omaka and Skaar are about to have a fight when Skaar's friend, a priest, interrupts, mentioning his plan to take Skaar to Prophet Rock, where he'll reach his full potential and seize his destiny, whatever that means. Then the Axeman starts attacking again, and Omaka takes the opportunity to start fighting Skaar in earnest. But Skaar is tougher than anyone believes - and so is Axeman; even injured, he's able to fight off an attempt to overthrow him by his own men. Then Omaka and Skaar have to team up to fight some Wildebots, leading to a truce between them. And that's the end of the main story in this issue. There's also a back-up tale which gives us some more background on Axeman Bone and Princess Omaka, and reveals that this world has become an endless succession of treachery and blood and violence, as stronger and tougher warriors rise up and overthrow the strong, tough warriors ruling them. Does Axeman Bone's rule offer a way out of the endless cycle of violence, or is it just another part of it?

I'm still waiting to be wowed by Skaar. This issue just gave me more of the same mediocrity I've gotten from the title all along. I don't know how many more chances I'm willing to give it.
Thumbs Sideways

Runaways 3 #1
Everybody's favorite naughty youngster super team
starts in on a third volume with a third writer in charge: the critically acclaimed Terry Moore. The new artist is Humberto Ramos. We open up with a gang of alien warriors floating around in space, trying to figure out where Karolina Dean is, so they can go beat the crap out of her. Meanwhile, the team is heading back home to LA (presumably after the events of Secret Invasion), where they realize they'll need a new hideout, and a way of making money to live on. They secure the former (though not without some wacky misadventures) and then Chase heads to the mall to secure the latter, in the form of a job with a shock jock clearly molded on Howard Stern. So everything seems to be going relatively well - until those aliens from the beginning show up.

I don't hate this new version of the Runaways, but I don't love it, either. The stylized, childish, cartoonish art really turns me off, and while there are moments of brilliance in the writing (the hilarious Kevin Smith sequence, for instance), it's not really as clever and funny as the stuff Whedon and Vaughan did with this title. And I really don't like the whole shock jock storyline. He's an old, boring stereotype of a character, and it makes me like Chase a lot less that he's a fan of the guy.

Of course, this is just a first issue. Maybe I'll give Moore's Runaways one or two more issues before I make any final decisions.
Thumbs Sideways

Nova #16
It's a Secret Invasion tie-in, and that means Skrulls! So there's a silly scene where the Skrulls disguise themselves only to immediately undisguise themselves. Then there's a short fight, before the original Super Skrull outs himself and turns on his pals to help Nova. He finally drops the bomb about the invasion and he and Nova head back to Earth to take part - but can Nova trust the Super Skrull?? Who knows? And more importantly, who cares? I really don't anymore. I think I'm finally ready to drop this title, after a very long string of very mediocre issues.
Thumbs Down

Jack of Fables #25
An amusing new narrator shows up to shepherd us back into the present ongoing storyline of this title, wherein one of the Page sisters is besotted with Jack, while two others are still trying to do their jobs for Revise, and the fourth is still stuck marching with the Bookburner. The latter finally manages to get the word out to her sisters about what's happening, and Jack is convinced to help stop Bookburner's onslaught.

So not all that much happens in this issue, but it's still a great time thanks to the excellent art, the funny and clever writing, and various little touches. There's a particularly wonderful Babe the Blue Ox sequence, some hilarious narration, the wonderful idea of Dorothy Gale doing a Judy Garland impersonation, and Jack's usual amusing brand of blustering stupidity. This is a very strong, reliable comic that I very much enjoy.
Thumbs Up

Fantastic Four: True Story #2
As the FF's journey through the realm of fiction continues, they realize they have even more control to shape it than they thought - but that it can also shape them. They start to pull together a team of famous heroes to help them fight the darkness, but it looks like the ultimate villain who's behind all this (who is revealed on the final page) is doing the same thing, except with famous villains. It's a fun concept with the potential for some pretty crazy, mashed up battles in the future. This issue isn't mind-blowingly awesome, but it's pretty cool, and I'll be picking up the next one.
Thumbs Up

Black Panther #40
Jason Aaron's Secret Invasion tie-in run on this title continues! Jefte Palo's art really shines in this issue - very neat stuff, dark and stylish, and powerfully accented by Lee Loughridge's colors. As for the story, it opens up with a bad-ass fight between the Black Panther and a nasty Super Skrull. It's a long hard battle, but our hero emerges victorious - only to discover that there's plenty more where that came from. And, as suggested earlier, it turns out there were also more Skrull infiltrators than Black Panther realized. Dun dun dun!

Things look bad for our hero at the end of this issue, but I'm sure he'll turn things around. It's a pretty good comic - not Aaron's best work, but engaging, with some pretty fantastic fight sequences. We'll see how he closes out the arc in the next issue...
Thumbs Up

The New Avengers #44
I had a bit of a debate with myself on whether to buy this comic at all. After all, it's just yet another Secret Invasion tie-in issue where Bendis hijacks an existing Avengers title to tell a flashback story that fills in more of the details of how the Skrulls did what they did. But I flipped through it and it looked pretty good, and anyway, I'm weak. So I picked it up. And I'm really glad I did, because it's fantastic. Definitely one of my favorites this week. (I'm going to do my regular plot summary, but if you haven't read the book yet, I suggest you pick it up for yourself first, and don't let me spoil it for you.)

It opens some years back, at a meeting of the Illuminati. Xavier has called the group together to discuss a disturbing thought he's had: what if the Skrulls have devised a way to walk among them completely undetectably? Could they have done such a thing? And if so, how? As they're pondering this unsettling puzzle, Strange realizes something even more unsettling: he can't use his powers. Also, none of them can remember how they escaped the Skrull Empire. So... what if they never did?

It's a truly freaky sequence, wonderfully executed, very well written, and extremely effective. Of course, it turns out that all of them except Xavier are just clones of the real heroes, and the whole thing was just an experiment by the Skrulls - an attempt to interrogate their greatest enemies. But one of the scientists realizes that the clone of Reed Richards had begun to think of a way that the Skrulls really could be undetectable, so they make another clone and try to coax the information out of him. When torture and threats don't work, they turn to a very clever and subtle method of getting the information out of him: they have his own son present the possibility of undetectable Skrulls as something he's afraid of. Reed, unable to let a puzzle like that just lie there, stays up all night figuring out how it could be done.

The story here is just so smart and so wonderfully constructed, proceeding as it does through a series of fascinating little Skrull situational experiments, each a new and perfect artificial construct. The way they finally get the secret to their undetectability from Reed himself is just so brilliant. I also love the dialogue and the writing in general, particularly the fascinating Skrull slang. The art's quite good, as well. Just a great book overall.
Thumbs Up

New releases from 9/4
X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1
Another universe-changing X-Men miniseries? Yawn. Still, I figured it was worth a shot, especially with so little else coming out this week, and with the main story written by Mike Carey, who's a bit hit-or-miss, but sometimes quite good. That main story opens up with Bobby experiencing some weird health condition that could be the beginning of a secondary mutation - or the after-effects of a neural inhibitor that Mystique apparently zapped him with a while back. It's decided that he should head to San Francisco so Beast can examine him, but he's ambushed en route and crash lands in the mountains, lost, alone, and ill. All-in-all, another not-great-but-also-not-terrible comic book story. Writing, art, story, and so forth are all pretty much average, and nothing really grabbed my attention. This is followed up by a much more fun story, apparently title-less, centering on one of those mostly forgotten mutants who was reinvented with a new code name a couple of times: Tabitha Smith, AKA Meltdown, AKA Boom-Boom. I knew she looked familiar, but I couldn't remember from where until, later on in the story, she mentions that she was in Nextwave (and Beast reacts by saying, "I don't know what that is," in reference to the fact that Marvel has decided Nextwave is not canon - very funny). Yay, Nextwave! But anyway, before that happens, Boom-Boom's shopping expedition is ruined by a mutant thief named Nuwa who can put people to sleep. When Boom-Boom comes to Beast for help, he convinces her to do research, and a look at Nuwa's "Facespace" page (heh) gives Boom-Boom the upperhand so she's ready for their next encounter. Boom-Boom and Beast are great characters, and they're written very well here. The dialogue throughout is very smart and very funny. The art is fun and matches the action to a tee. It's also fantastic that good triumphs thanks to carelessness with the internet and coffee. A truly great little story.

But since we've had a mediocre story and a great story, it's now time for the bad story, and that comes in the form of a wordy, melodramatic piece of crap about a mutant named Shan who can take over people's minds. It's all about what a hard time she's had, and how she can't seem to control her own emotions enough to use her power well, and how she really needs some therapy or something. It sucks. The perpetrators are writer C.B. Cebulski and artist David Yardin. Yardin's work is sometimes realistic and impressive, but other times just creepy and ugly. And Cebulski is pretty much terrible throughout. Ah, well. I doubt I'll pick up another issue of this, as it looks like it's just going to be a lame mixed bag title.
Thumbs Sideways

Fringe #1
This is the first issue in a Wildstorm prequel miniseries to J.J. Abrams' latest TV show, which looks to be a new kind of X-Files (although apparently the creative team dislikes the comparison). The first episode of the show actually premiered a few hours ago. I'd been looking forward to it, but didn't actually have time to watch it when it aired; I'll have to catch it online later. As for the prequel comic, it consists of two inter-related stories, the first called "Like Minds," written by Zack Whedon (!) and Julia Cho, with art by Tom Mandrake and colors by Carrie Strachan. The comic starts by introducing us to a straight-laced Harvard professor named Walter Bishop. He's brilliant, but not so good with the inter-personal relationships, and not so great as a teacher, either. He runs into an equally brilliant and ambitious young man, but with an opposite personality - friendly and easy-going. His name is William Bell. They don't get off on the right foot, but Bell is the only one who believes Bishop's crazy theories about communicating knowledge from one person to another non-verbally. So they collaborate on Bishop's experiments on rats. There's an accident, and something happens to Bell. Did some of Bishop's thoughts get transferred to him? Hmm...

The second story, "The Prisoner" (by Alex Katsnelson and Danielle Dispaltro, with pencils by Simon Coleby, inks by Cliff Rathburn and Coleby, and colors by Jim Charalampidis), turns out to be about a similar experiment, this time into the concept of total mind transference. The experiment is wildly effective, but not in the way the doctors expect, leading to some pretty horrific sequences featuring regular people who find themselves suddenly and inexplicably stuck in other people's bodies.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this comic, but it turned out to be pretty interesting and effective. The art's a little clumsy and ugly in the first story, but otherwise both stories are pretty strong. I may very well pick up the next issue.
Thumbs Up

The Authority #2
I was kind of expecting a lot of a new Authority comic by Abnett and Lanning, so I was pretty disappointed when #1 turned out to be so mediocre. But with my expectations lowered, I was hoping that #2 might be better. Sadly, it's mostly just as dull and forgettable as the first issue. A big bad shows his face, but it's a pretty lame, ugly face, and I'm just not impressed. I might give this title one or two more tries, just because it's an Authority ongoing by Abnett and Lanning, but I'm starting to think it's just not going to be good. It doesn't help that it includes an ongoing back-up story written by Christos Gage. The second part is 100% exposition and bad dialogue - the usual Gage crap. I don't get why they keep hiring this guy.
Thumbs Down

Green Lantern #34
The sixth part of Hal Jordan's Secret Origin story opens right in on Jordan and Sinestro facing off against Atrocitus, without the benefit of their power rings. Sinestro schools Jordan some more, then they light up and save the mysterious William Hand from being ripped open or whatever. In the midst of the fight, Jordan seems to successfully use a ring construct against a yellow object, which is puzzling and fascinating. After the fight, Sinestro does some quick psychotherapy, pointing out to Jordan that he has some anger issues that need working out. So Jordan decides to go work them out right away, by flying over to Carl Ferris to give him a piece of his mind. But when he gets to the Ferris house he discovers that the Ferris family is just about as sad and screwed up as his own. He and Carol comfort each other, and then he and Sinestro do some bonding. All seems well until they get the order to report to Oa to be disciplined for fraternizing. Tut tut tut!

There are some corny bits in this issue - the way Jordan's relationships with Carol and Sinestro are being portrayed isn't particularly believable or well done - but it's pretty fun, and there are some interesting ideas. Plus I'm really wondering where Johns is going with the whole using the ring against yellow bit.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #18
The Fray crossover continues! Buffy finds out the future sucks, and somehow nothing she did seems to have mattered. Willow uses the power of lesbian sex to get a hint on how to get Buffy back (I kid you not), and also uses Battlestar Galactica curses in the cutest way. Xander and Dawn continue to try to make their escape and end up in a hilarious argument with some tree spirits. Fray and Buffy have a disagreement on fundamental goals and tactics, then Fray meets evil future Willow and seems to turn on Buffy. Hmm...

Anyway, I'm not sure why I bother writing about Buffy every month. Of course it's awesome and sexy and funny, and I'm hooked and can't wait for the next issue.
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Tagged (?): Comic books (Not), The Take (Not)

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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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