Monday, November 08, 2004

Hits and Misses

Top of the Heap – November

Ultimate Spider-Man – continues to be well written and respectful of the original. There is almost always a sense of “what comes next?” about the title. Peter Parker is again a kid struggling in an adult world. A great read. And the artwork is better than that deformed Ramos garbage.

Savage Dragon – never-ending comic book smash style fun! You don’t get emotionally involved with these characters but you do have a lot of destructive fun. We have yet to find out the truth about the dragon, yet does anyone truly care. It is an auteur’s piece and should be celebrated for that fact alone.

She-Hulk – I love it. So, of course it’s being canceled. This story has a nice feel to it. There’s humor, some nice below-the-radar subplots, great art, good writing. All-in-all, nicely done. When it comes back in May it won’t be the same and it won’t be as good.

JLA – I enjoyed John Byrne’s short run on the book and I didn’t mind the introspective follow-up run that should have taken a reflective look at the first failures of these heroes rather than having them experience failure now and being devastated. Of course any failure these heroes suffer should affect them, especially when life is lost. They shouldn’t be inured to it, but they should by now have developed a philosophy about it. Casting the events in issues 101-106 in a flashback sequence would have helped make the run more realistic and they could have had one of the sidekicks or newer heroes (the new version of Firsestorm?) suffering his first loss instead. I look forward to Kurt Busiek’s eight issue run. Busiek plans, of all things, to do a comic book story: adventure, excitement, thrills. No politics, no social commentary, no posturing. Just good comics. Imagine that!

Daredevil – I totally hate Brian Michael Bendis. The more he writes the better he seems to get. I know for a fact that he’s taking at least one opportunity away from me to write a book for Marvel ;>) Still, his Daredevil – while occasionally suffering from verbosity – is an elegant piece of work that many issues ago redefined the character without tearing him down. Coupled with the stunning artwork of Alex Maleev, this is one of the best books extant.

JSA – I can’t remember the last time a team book has been done so well. With such disparate characters, this series could have become a hopeless jumble, but Geoff Johns and David Goyer have really kept this title humming. The stories take wild turns and keeps the reader guessing along the way. The usually good artwork helps, too. Get the earlier trades and then catch up with current issues. It’ll be worth it.

Goon – This is just a lot of weird comic book fun. Eric Powell is a genius. Nothing having to do with reality. Just plain gooey fun. Reminds me of the wild abandon in the old Madman and Flaming Carrot Comics. We need more of this and less posturing and pontificating.

Bottom of the Barrel – November

Marvel’s Marvel Age – I don’t like the entire line. I don’t think kids need or want “manga” style comics using the classic American characters. Sales for the FF and Spidey titles probably prove me wrong, but the Hulk and Team-Up titles back me up. Regardless, the best way to attract new, young readers is not to develop a new line of books (they’ve done that with mixed results!) but to gear a few of their mainstream titles toward younger readers. Today, the median age of readers is in the mid-20s. Comics used to be for pre-teens. There ought to be a few titles out there that can be directed toward that historical audience without turning away the current readership.

Batman Strikes! – What happened to stories in these animated Bat-books? For four series and about 150 issues we got good stories, not just cat-chasing-mouse cartoons. Characters had pathos, there was meaning to their actions. Man-Bat is a prime example. In the animated show (and in the pages of Batman Adventures), Kirk Langstrom is a well meaning scientist whose creation gets away from him. In Batman Strikes (and the concurrent “The Batman” animated series) Langstrom is a man set on gaining power. Where are the moral questions and the deeper decisions that some of these characters had to resolve? Victor Fries is another great example. Here is a man who appears evil, but is motivated by true love. Even when he is successful in rescuing his wife, circumstances for him into bitterness, and crime, again. This series ain’t “da bomb,” it’s just a bomb.

District X – gets a big Who Cares from me. There was no suspense in the story. Except for the mutant aspect of crime, there was nothing in the first six issues you haven’t seen on “NYPD Blue.”

The New X-Men (X-Men Academy) – Yawwwwnnnnn. The only thing of interest is at the end of the first arc when former New Mutant Rahne (now a teacher at the academy) does a little necking with a *gasp* student. All of the new students are non-descript. And, is it just me, or are mutant powers getting lamer.

Conan – Just couldn’t get into it.

Starjammers – Why did I buy this series? Somebody tell me!

Fantastic Four – World’s Greatest Comic my backside! Neither the mainstream title or Marvel Knights 4 is worth the paper it’s printed on ($2.99!). They are boring and devoid of character. Where are our heroes? Where’s the First Family of Comics? I don’t think even the Galactus run can help. Both are off my list, although I’ll probably get the Galactus story when it appears in trade about an hour after the last issue in the run is published.

Worth Watching

Fade From Grace and Ballad of Sleeping Beauty – Both titles from Beckett Comics. These are value priced, but loaded with good artwork and pretty good writing. They may be tough to come by in your comic shop but you should get the run as long as it lasts. In Fade, they deal with superpowers in a very human way. In Ballad they use fantasy and horror in a western motif without deconstructing iconic characters (à la Marvel’s Two Gun Kid).

Aquaman – I like the King of the Seven Seas, even more than I like Namor. But I never cared for his angry, bearded phase, and I certainly hate that water hand of his. Thankfully, it looks like the hand will be gone soon and (hopefully) a real hand will grow in its place (hey, why not? Arthur really is a mutant so stuff like that can happen). What’s interesting about this series is the fact that the title is taking some surprising turns, not just trying to stir up old Atlantean waters. As big as it was, the sinking of San Diego was a masterstroke in story telling. (What is it with the destruction of San Diego? It seems to be a favorite target among SF folk.) It opened up a whole new range of stories for the character. About the only thing I regret is that Aquaman was not included in the “Pain” issues of JLA. I mean, really, he’s got to be feeling some (undeserved) guilt for so much loss of life in his oceans.


Post a Comment

<< Home