Thursday, September 15, 2005

House of M

COVER BY: Esad Ribic
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Olivier Coipel
INKS: Tim Townsend
COLORED BY: Frank D'Armata
LETTERED BY: Chris Eliopoulos

I know it's been a while since I've done much writing, but truth be told, it's been a while since I've done much reading.

Tonight I decided to catch up on the House of M, and I must say I'm impressed.

I'm not buying any of the side stories. I know there are House of M: Spiderman, House of M: Iron Man, House of M: Fantastic Four, etc. I just get the main story, and so far I've just thought of it as fun.

Issue 5 changed that for me. Specifically the two or three pages that deal with Peter Parker. I don't want to get into the story, but he out of anyone had the best reaction to being shown the truth (with Scott Summers puking).

I hate to admit it, but I'm gaining a little respect for Spidy. Recent writers have done a good job of making him the whipping boy of the Marvel Universe. He's showing the pains of being a superhero (a side of comic books that interest me greatly).

House of M only has a couple more issues. I'm not expecting greatness, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it (unless it has a Identity Crisis crap-twist).

More reading and more writing to come.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

"See you next Wednesday..." Issue 7

Today, I'm here to plead for peace. I know disagreements sometimes arise in the comic book world, and when those disagreements can't be resolved through words, they have to be (regrettably) solved with fists. Or power rays. Or psychic blasts. Or adamantium claws. Whatever. The point is that in superhero books, from time to time, fighting does go on. What I'm pleading today, is not that I want to see an end to all fighting forever in comic books. I simply want to pick up an issue of my favorite titles and not have to skim through 30 pages of punching, crashing, laser blasts and page-size splashes of art that took about five strokes of the keyboard to imagine. I want a little story, damn it!

The Invincible Iron Man #3
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Adi Granov

Here's Exhibit A in what I was just talking about. The schedule for this book has it arriving in stores every six weeks, so when it does arrive, I have a reasonable expectation that Mr. Ellis will provide me with enough to chew over for the next six weeks. Not so with this issue. Here, Tony Stark dons the Iron Man costume in battle for the first time in this series (if I can remember right. The last issue came out so long ago) and confronts Extremis. And that's it, folks. That's the story for this issue. The rest is a crash-bam showdown on a freeway that features flipped cars, sliced vans and exploding stuff aplenty. Just no story.

Warren Ellis has made it no secret that he holds superhero comics in the same regard most of us hold our more eccentric relatives. He continues to associate with them, but only because it seems he has to. Ellis has plenty of ideas and can use them well if he chooses (check out his "Planetary" series). Here, he's got one idea "Extremis" as some kind of biological super-soldier. Ho-hum. The art's pretty to look at and supposedly the reason this book is on such a delayed schedule. But pretty art just ain't enough anymore. Marvel books have been accused a lot recently of padding their storylines for 6 issue arcs and this is definitely one of the byproducts.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

There's no cover shot for this book because DC's website doesn't have the correct art on its entry for this issue. That's because "Rebirth" is way off schedule, again, with the art holding everything up. And when that's all a book's got, I guess we've got to wait. That's right, this yet another all-fighting, no talking issue. Johns did some great set up in the first 3 issues of this series, but the second half seems to be dragging. It's as if he had 5 issues of story and was persuaded to pad it to six with some cool fighting scenes. So we're treated to 30 pages of this. I read both this and "Iron Man" in less than 15 minutes and felt like I'd wolfed down a rice cake afterwards. I had the crumbs all around, but I couldn't remember eating anything. I hope he brings everything to a nice conclusion because the regular GL series is set to start next month.

Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage and The Painting That Ate Paris
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Richard Case

This was a nice relief from the lameness of recent issues of good comics. Grant Morrison really made his name on this run of the "Doom Patrol" and in reading it for the first time I'm realy reminded of Alan Moore's "Swamp Thing" run. It's obvious Morrison is more excited about using his own ideas in the series than working with any pre-existing material, which works just fine for this series, since the original characters of the Doom Patrol aren't that compelling (check out recent issues of John Byrne's recent relaunch if you don't believe me.) Art history seems to be one of the main influences here, with the Brother of Dada being one of the most interesting super villain teams I've seen in quite awhile.

One issue of this run in particular really sold me on Morrison's talents. Set entirely within the "Painting that Ate Paris" this issue is narrated in the form of a letter Frenzy, one of the super villains, is writing to his mother. The poor spelling and grammar are both hilarious and heartbreaking and for the first time, Morrison gave me a new perspective on the mind of a comic book baddie.

Though he doesn't quite earn his place in the great pantheon of comic book writers in my mind, Morrison really showcases some nice, nutty ideas in a short run of issues. I think I'll need to read "The Filth" and "The Invisibles" before I can make a definite decision on Morrison's abilities. However, his current "Seven Soldiers" project promises to be one of his greatest.

Friday, April 08, 2005

"See you next Wednesday..." Issue 6

It's all horror in the comics reviews today. Both of these issues came out this week.

The Walking Dead #17
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard

Comics fans on the Internet have been going bonkers about this series for awhile now, and with good reason. Kirkman isn't just writing a great horror comic, he's writing a great story. Period. Fans in the letters column continue to encourage this series to be adapted on HBO and I agree. With each issue, Kirkman adds on the layers, making the story richer and more resonant.

Until now, Kirkman's zombie story has been slowly laying the foundations of the series. It's a world almost identical to George Romero's zombie movies, but Kirkman does it with enough humanity to be forgiven. But with this issue, he kicks it up a notch and I think we're about to get to the meat of this series.

The cast of characters (and it's a large one) have spent the last five issues holed up in prison, regrouping and trying to establish a bit of routine in their world overrun with zombies. The cliffhangers of the last two issues have established that a serial killer is in their midst and this issue brings that subplot to a head, with Rick finally losing his cool. What develops from this confrontation however, pushes the series into the sort of social commentary that Romero achieved masterfully with his "Dawn of the Dead." I'm anxious to see where it goes.

Kirkman is not without his faults, however. He's allowed the cast to get too large and I hope he performs some trims soon, since many characters seem to stand around with nothing to do. He also has a real writer's tendency to let his characters talk and talk. No thoughts or emotions are allowed to go unmentioned and subtextual meaning isn't his strong suit. Still, he's a young writer finding his legs and the same can be said for his series. Keep on going. I'm hooked.

Blood of the Demon #2
Writer: Will Pfeiffer
Artist: John Byrne

From a comics professional who's just beginning to learn his true potentional, to one who reached his peak long ago and who's struggling to retain it. This is plotter/artist John Byrne's second current on-going series after his "Doom Patrol" and it's much stronger, thanks in part to the scripting skills of Will Pfeiffer.

As a writer Byrne is a great artist, and his dialogue in "Doom Patrol" has the creakiness of grandpa trying to rap. Here, he just handles the plot, and the comic is stronger for it. I also enjoy the darker, more mature feel of this comic. How can you hate a story that features the Demon tearing a thug's face off and eating it?

Batman arrives in a cameo appearance near the end of this issue and so the story's horror elements may soon be dampened in favor of tradional super hero antics. If so, that'll be a shame, because with a comic like this, the darker the better.

Friday, April 01, 2005


At first I was mad. Then I was disappointed. Now that I've slept on it, I'm kind of excited.

DC's got something big brewing and I'm signed on for the ride. Their 80-page kick off to 2005's Big Events "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" ends with the death of a much beloved character (Well, beloved to those of us who got into the Justice League through Giffen and DeMatteis' clever run on the book) but I have a feeling that's just the beginning of the story.

Andrew was upset. Not just at the severe disrespect given to the Blue Beetle, but to the complete and through trashing of Maxwell Lord's character. It's going to take a lot to rehabilitate either one of these characters, but I've got a feeling the Powers that Be at DC have a few more tricks up their sleeve.

After all, it's not just Blue Beetle's death that's playing into this crossover. It's "Identity Crisis" from last year. It's "Green Lantern Rebirth" from this year. It's Jason Todd coming back in "Batman" and Supergirl returning in "Superman. It's the mysterious cabal in "Aquaman" that caused San Diego to slide into the ocean. It's intergalactic war on one front in "Adam Strange", a villainous superteam led by President Lex Luthor on the other. It's huge. And like a drooling fanboy, I'm hooked.

Isn't this what comic books are all about?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Damn you DC

Thanks for ruining characters I loved.

And if this turns out to be a case of Superdickery, I'll be pissed.

Countdown to 'Countdown'

My review and thoughts on "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" will be posted tonight. In the meantime, take a look at this.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bend it like Bendis

I too have gone a long time without posting, so I'll add this.

New Avengers #4

David Finch
Brian Michael Bendis
David Finch
Danny Miki

Sometimes you pick up an issue on habit. It's been a while since I got New Avengers #3. I could remember the story, the characters, and twists. I knew I had to pick up New Avengers #4, but I wasn't really sure why.

Then I read it.

Now I know why.

This Bendis guy never fails to impress me. I remember looking at the roster for the new Avengers team and thinking it was just hype. They were putting together everyone who sold in the Marvel Universe. It was just a matter of time until this person showed up or here's that person doing his schtick. Yet the way Bendis moves his story, you realize that this isn't about who sells comics. It's just the story he had in his head, or at least he knows a story well enough that he can bring in mandated characters in such a way that makes you think that he doesn't compromise his story.

I know I'm being vague, but that's on purpose.

Keep going Bendis. Now I know why I'm picking up issue #5.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Daddy wants to rock

My girlfriend (the lovely Nicole) pointed out that I haven't posted here in quite awhile, and she's right. I have no excuses and no apologies. The comics will have to wait for another post, but I've got yer book talkin' right here.

Basket Case
by Carl Hiassen

There's nothing more uncomfortable to read than an old, rich, white dude trying to write about rock 'n roll. I'm sure it can be done properly, but music is a young man's game and the elderly (and even those slightly middle aged) had better know what they're talking about in more detail than a Harvard law grad knows his tort reform before they go wading to those murky waters.

Baby Boomers know the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and even the Clash, Sex Pistols and the Ramones. They write about these bands, quote these bands, reference these bands, and even adopt these bands' postures with commendable familiarity. Anything after that is a no-no. In "Basket Case," Carl Hiassen breaks these cardinal rules and if the world of American Letters were a mosh pit, he'd be the goofy dork on the edge in his $250 leather jacket and pressed pants. He can certainly show up and try to act the part, but we all know he should really be at home or out at the sushi joint around the block.

Hiassen's hero for this murder mystery could be pulled right out of the "How to Write a Best-Selling Mystery" handbook. He's a disgraced crack reporter with a nose for trouble and an ear for smart-assed dialogue. If you think this sounds like Mr. Irwin M. Fletcher of Gregory MacDonald's novels, you wouldn't be far off. Jack Tagger could be Fletch's long lost brother.

The murder to be solved in this little piffle of a book is that of James Stomarti AKA Jimmy Stoma of the band, The Slut Puppies. It seems that after going into rehab, Mr. Stoma is about to make a comeback album. Nevermind that in the real world of music producing, no one could give two farts about an aging 80s rocker's comeback bid. And to Hiassen's credit, he addresses this honestly. None of the kids in the book have ever heard of Jimmy Stoma. It's the details he fails at. When a producer is painted as a bad-ass by having worked with Matchbox Twenty, I knew I was in for trouble. And though the book is set in the present day (circa the year 2000), MTV is portrayed as it was in the late '80s, as a station the kids turn to to actually see videos. This is obviously taking place in a fantasy world or the world of the hopelessly out of touch.

The mystery elements here are pretty creaky, too. We've got the usual ransacked apartments, midnight muggings, menacing bodyguards, money grubbing widows and smarmy music types. It's a yawn, and they feel like stock characters carted straight out a Columbo murder mystery.

The banter, which Hiassen, consciously or unconsciously seems to be channeling from Mr. MacDonald, is pretty good. It's no Fletch, but there are a few good zingers, a couple zappos, and one or two turds.

I need to give Hiassen some credit for being dead on with his knowledge of the newspaper game. He's been a journalist for 25 years and his descriptions of a reporter's life and the day-to-day life of the newsroom are all true and accurate. So good job for that, Carl! Now stay away from my music and go back to NPR!