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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:44 PM
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009 09:34 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's weekly comic book review post.

This covers new releases from the week of 2/18, plus a book I'd missed the week before.

Back issues and old data
Gravel #9
This is a really interesting issue, as Gravel spends almost the entire thing wandering about narrating about himself. Which sounds like it could be really terrible, but it's actually quite excellent. He takes a hard look at his own strengths and weaknesses, and performs some fascinating self-analysis. Meanwhile, he's investigating the death of his predecessor in the Major Seven, and learning more about who she was. At the very end his investigation gets him injured in a pretty horrible way - we'll have to see how he comes back from that. It's a really intriguing, exciting issue. It's interesting seeing the confident Gravel, usually so smooth and invincible, a bit lost and out of his element. Well, perhaps not that much out of his element; it turns out the Major Seven is a little more like the Minor Seven than they'd like to admit.
Thumbs Up

New releases
Dark Avengers #2
Okay, this series is getting a little crazy and I'm not sure how I feel about it. This issue opens with Morgana planning to kill Victor Von Doom in his past, when he was a defenseless child, but she decides this won't do, and she must instead take her vengeance on him in the present, when he'll fully understand what's happening to him and why. Meanwhile, Osborn's Avengers have an amusing little meeting after their press conference where Osborn explains how things are going to work and the team starts to get to know each other and their roles a little better. Osborn is definitely right to forbid them from talking to the media; his exchange with Ares about this is pretty funny. I also enjoyed the following scene wherein Morgana hits Doom hard and he screams, "Gyyaarrgghh!" She responds, "You would not believe how long I have waited to hear you say that." Finally news of the fight gets to Osborn and even though he's understandably unhappy that saving Doctor Doom will be his Avengers' first real mission, it's something he has to do to hold onto his ally, so off they go. Things only get worse for Osborn from there; as soon as they arrive at the fight, Morgana destroys his cool new gigantic aircraft. But then Osborn sends the Sentry after Morgana and, in a shocking full-page illustration, he swoops down and rips her head off.

Um... what? The Sentry I know doesn't rip people's heads off. I know he's a little mentally unstable, and incredibly powerful, and he's working for the bad guys now, but I just don't see him doing that. Not that it's a permanent thing or anything; Morgana is apparently effectively invincible, as a version of her from an earlier time period immediately pops back in and... kills the Sentry?? That's what it looks like, anyway. And it looks like she's going to do similarly horrible things to the rest of the team.

Woah. WTF is going on?? This is some crazy shit. Doom gets beaten, Sentry rips somebody's head off, then blows up himself, Ares gets eaten, and the rest of the Avengers seem about to be torn apart. I'm not sure how to feel about it all. I mean, it's certainly exciting and surprising. But obviously none of it is going to stick. And I really didn't like seeing my man the Sentry tearing somebody apart on one page and then getting blown up on the next.

I generally like Brian Michael Bendis' writing, but sometimes in his attempts to be funny he gets repetitive and irritating, and that happens a couple of times in this issue. Plus, what is with the monster who keeps hopping around saying, "Gagagoo! Gadapoo!" That's just incredibly stupid. I am going to come down firmly against baby-talking monsters.

I'm sticking with the series for now, because I want to see where this goes, but I'm getting a bit uneasy.
Thumbs Sideways

Ghost Rider #32
Jason Aaron's epic story arc, "The Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance," comes to an end in this issue. Soon after the giant battle begins, an interesting thing happens - when one of the hosts of the spirits of vengeance is killed by an angel, the spirit itself doesn't die, but merely moves on to a new host. This is why Danny told the angels to leave the Ghost Riders to him; the only way to really defeat them is to suck up their power. As seems only right and proper, Johnny and Danny decide to have a motorcycle race around the world to decide the fate of existence. But just when you've completely forgotten about that crazy one-armed cop, he shows up and shoots Johnny down. It's this sudden, shocking intervention that turns the tide. Danny swoops down on the injured Johnny and drains him dry, thus capturing the power of all of the Ghost Riders. He ascends into heaven to give the power to Zadkiel. It's such a huge moment that all the big Marvel players all over the world sense it when it happens. (The scene with the Punisher is particularly funny; there's a bunch of dead mobsters lying around a pool hall, and the only one who's still alive says from off-panel, "Wait, what was... did you just feel th—" "No," says the Punisher, and shoots him.) We don't see what happens next, but Danny comes hurtling back down to Earth and explains that he did indeed just knock down the walls of heaven. Thankfully he finally realized that was he doing was wrong at the last minute, and was able to hold back some of the power and bring it back with him, handing it off to Johnny and, interestingly enough, the crazy one-armed cop, who is now a Ghost Rider as well. Didn't see that coming! What I also did not see coming is that Zadkiel has won. Which I guess makes him the new God? Seems like God will be a pretty tough enemy to fight!

It's an appropriately dark and shocking ending to a pretty impressive story arc. But for some reason, just as with Aaron's recent miniseries Wolverine: Manifest Destiny, it left me a little underwhelmed and disappointed. I can't even explain exactly why. Maybe it's because this arc started out so crazy and inventive, with gun-toting nurses and cannibal ghosts and a bible-thumping killer, that when it turned out the ending was just a big fight and a race, I was a little let down. It seemed like Aaron expended all of his creativity in the early issues and had nothing exciting left for the conclusion.

I guess I'm being a little unfair. The art is still really impressive, and it was really cool that Johnny and Danny got to have a motorcycle race across the world to decide the fate of existence, and that the cop leaped in at the last second there to decide things. And the fact that the villain won and broke down the walls of heaven, and that the cop is now a Ghost Rider - that's interesting stuff. Still, I just have this feeling like something's missing. Maybe I need to step away from it and then come back and read it again in a month or so. Maybe then it'll seem much cooler and I'll realize I was just wrong when I wrote this review.
Thumbs Sideways

Highlander Origins: Kurgan #2
I only bought this because the first issue was kind of intriguing, and because the miniseries was only two issues long, so why not? But man, was it bad. Yeah, it's interesting to see the rest of the Kurgan's life story, and how it fits in with the events of the first movie. And there are some interesting concepts in here that put a bit of a new spin on the film. But the writing is really over the top and melodramatic. And there are some sequences - like the Kurgan's run-in with the Horsemen - that just don't make a lot of sense. His centuries long conflict with Ramirez is a fascinating subplot, but it's not handled all that well, and I find it odd that they just skip over the outcome. Sure, we saw Kurgan kill Ramirez in the movie, but it seems odd to not even spend one panel reminding us of that here, especially after so many panels are spent on the rest of the battle. It's also odd that the Kurgan keeps having visions of the future that show him the face and the name of the man who will kill him: Connor MacLeod. There's never any explanation for why this happens, although it does at least explain how the Kurgan knew Connor and knew to come after him in the beginning of the movie. Another thing I can't say I enjoyed very much is the gratuitous rape and murder sequence in the middle of this comic. Admittedly, "gratuitous" is what the Kurgan is all about as a character, but still. The final couple of pages with Connor and Brenda, while fascinating in that they give us a further glimpse into what happened to those two characters immediately after the end of the first film, are still really lame and poorly written. The art in the book also tends toward the clumsy, particularly in this scene.

So yeah, this turned out to be a pretty crummy miniseries. But hopefully now I've learned my lesson and I won't be buying any more Highlander comics.
Thumbs Down

The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #67
For some reason I'm having a little trouble keeping track of who everybody is in this story arc, and how they're all related to each other. There's Benji and Walter and Louis and Cavalier and Deirdre... I know it's not that many people, but it's all just a little confusing to me, partially because there's this kind of in medias res thing going on where we're dropped into the middle of conversations between these people and we have to kind of figure out what they're talking about as we go along. Still, I think I'm getting a hold on what is going on. And anyway, the Punisher's part of the story is simple enough - and fun, too. He's just going around killing as many bad guys as he can get his hands on before he dies. There's even a fun tie-in to the events of Punisher: Force of Nature, a one-shot by Swierczynski that I read a while back. Unfortunately, now the Punisher's got the Mayor after him, on top of all the usual people who want him dead. Interestingly enough, he runs out of nearby people to kill pretty quickly, and decides to take a look at the file on the guy he was hired to take out after all.

The story's kind of interesting, but also a little over-the-top, what with the brutality and the unnecessary subplot involving the veteran who was tortured and now pisses his pants. I really didn't need that. I wish I enjoyed Duane Swierczynski's comics; I really want to! But they always leave me disappointed for some reason. Part of the problem here is the artist, Michel Lacombe. He's not bad, but I just can't get over the weird way he draws the Punisher. He just doesn't look right. I might stick with the series anyway, just to see how it turns out. But then again, I might not.
Thumbs Sideways

Spider-Man: Noir #3
In the penultimate issue of this great miniseries, we come back around to the scene that started this whole thing: Spider-Man standing over the corpse of J.J.J. with a gun in his hand. But now we get a better idea what led to that scene and what it really means. Plus everything is building toward a big showdown between Osborn and Spider-Man. It's tense, exciting, and all around just very well done. I'm looking forward to the conclusion.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Comic books (Not), Ghost Rider (Not), Gravel (Not), Highlander (Not), Jason Aaron (Not), Punisher (Not), Spider-Man (Not), The Sentry (Not), The Take (Not), Warren Ellis (Not)
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