Monday, April 19, 2010 02:16 PM
(Last updated on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 09:06 AM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 3/31, plus a Fletcher Hanks collection. Beware spoilers!

Back issues and old data
You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!
I mentioned in my review of the first collection of the work of Fletcher Hanks, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, that I would definitely have to check out the second collection, and now I have! The last line of the book says that these two collections constitute the complete works of Fletcher Hanks, so I guess that's that. It's quite a body of work. This volume includes a straight text introduction that repeats and augments the information included in the comic-style afterword of the first volume, adding more biographical information and even some fascinating sketches by Hanks. It's an interesting introduction, but also unsettling. Knowing more about what a wretched person Hanks was leaves me even more uncomfortable about enjoying his work so much.

In a lot of ways this book is just more of the same stuff that we saw in the first book, except that some of these stories seem to lack the truly wild imagination of those included in the first volume, and more seem to stray from Hanks' standard plot structure (God-like hero discovers evil plan, allows evil plan to commence, then finally intervenes and punishes evil-doer with poetic justice). Which is not to say that this is a bad book, or that Hanks takes any sudden, shocking turns into entirely new story types. His heroes are still all God-like, and they still spend their time defeating incredibly dangerous and destructive villains in unlikely ways. This book is maybe not as wildly inventive or as thematically consistent as the first, but it's nearly as fun and full of nearly as many crazy ideas and insane, evocative images. I particularly enjoyed the Fantomah story in which an immortal Egyptian mummy super-scientist uses a ray to blind the people of the jungle, and then resurrects all the mummies on Earth and transmits them through the sky to come live in a new jungle empire for Ancient Egyptians. Another great Fantomah story sees her fighting fifth columnists by sending hordes of lions and tigers through the sky at parachutists, and then destroying the remaining grounded planes and soldiers with Godzilla-like lizard monsters. Hanks even mimics other popular comic books of the day by giving one of his heroes, Stardust the super-wizard, his own squad of child assistants (although considering Stardust's infinite abilities, they seem kind of superfluous).

Overall I'd say this book is definitely worth getting, especially if you own and enjoy the first book.
Thumbs Up

New releases
Blackest Night #8
Here it is at last, the crappy conclusion to a terrible miniseries. I mean, if your comic opens with your main character narrating, without any trace of irony, the words "The truth is, I am afraid of one thing. I'm afraid to get close to people," then you need to consider taking some writing classes. I mean, that shit is awful. I'll admit, I always enjoy an epic two-page spread featuring everybody fighting everybody, but it's happened so many times in this series it's beginning to lose its affect. And when Jordan uses the Entity's power to just magically turn all his buddies into White Lanterns (a term which I'm still uncomfortable with), it's pretty much literally a deus ex machina. I do like the way they reverse the usual ending of epic comic book stories like this one by having the heroes fix everything by bringing the villain back to life instead of by killing him. But the way the Anti-Monitor (once hyped up by Johns himself as the biggest and most terrifying villain of them all) just pops up at the very last minute, hangs out for a few panels, and then pops out again seems pretty ridiculous. And bringing almost all of the dead heroes back to life again in one nonsensical, inexplicable act of resurrection is rather lame - it's pretty much what Johns has been doing with all his Rebirth miniseries, but multiplied by ten and packed into one giant spread. And of course he closes things up with another gag-inducingly cheesy conversation between Barry and Hal.

I think this series has pretty much put me off Geoff Johns for good. He's just not a very good writer.
Thumbs Down

Incorruptible #4
This issue isn't as great as the previous one, but it's still pretty fun, with more insight into Max's motives and character, more development of his twisted relationship with Jailbait, and a fight with a giant robot (something I never say no to).
Thumbs Sideways

New Mutants #11
This one-shot story explains the deal Moonstar made with Hela during the events of... the last big X-Men multi-book series, whatever it was called. Turns out she's now a Valkyrie, but instead of ferrying human heroes to the afterlife, she shepherds the souls of the Gods themselves! Which means she has powers again, but at a pretty high price. It's a vaguely interesting story, but one-shots are always a bit boring, and there's not a lot very exciting or imaginative going on in this one.
Thumbs Sideways

The Terminator: 2029 #1
I wasn't a big fan of Dark Horse's other recent Terminator comic book series, but this one had Zack Whedon's name on it, so I gave it a shot. I was not disappointed. Whedon wisely focuses on characters and relationships (because those are what make good stories, people!) and introduces us to a funny and interesting group of folks, including one that any Terminator fan will recognize immediately: Kyle Reese. I love that Reese tells one of his really depressing and terrifying stories, like the ones he's always telling in the first movie, and somebody finally calls him out on it: "Your stories suck." But the comic's not all people talking - after all, it wouldn't be Terminator without a bit of good, old-fashioned ultra-violence. So there's shooting and killing and a huge machine invasion, not to mention the historic and deadly first meeting between humans and the T-800 series of Terminators. This is a fine comic right here - a worthy continuation of the Terminator saga - and I'm looking forward to the next issue.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Blackest Night (Not), Comic books (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Kieron Gillen (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Robots (Not), Terminator (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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