Sunday, March 19, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 3-18-06

Annihilation Prologue #1
Keith Giffen, Writer
Scott Kolms with Ariel Olivetti, Art

I am not 100% sure what Annihilation is about, however since I like science fiction and I like me some Gabrielle Dell’Otto art and I really like Keith Giffen, I figured I couldn’t go too wrong with this book. I am not sure how I felt about it. Okay, that is not entirely true as this Prologue smells a bit like the recent Green Lantern Corps Recharged series from DC. I am certain some of this will fade once we get in to the individual series that make up the actual Annihilation event, however it left something of a bad taste in my mouth and in light of my experience with recent Marvel special events the first issues of the individual series are really going to have to pop to keep me interested.

DMZ #5
Brian Wood, Writer
Riccardo Burchielli & Brian Wood, Artists

I have to admit that I had my concerns about this series with the first few issues. I am having trouble suspending enough disbelief to see Manhattan as a DMZ separating an America locked in the throes of a second civil war. Add to this the fact that through the first few issues Brian Wood was very heavy handed with some of his plotting and the art while he was telling us how bad everything on the island was. He slapped us and then rubbed our faces in it. While I can appreciate that this fairly closely replicates the experience of the main character of the series and may have been done for that effect, I still prefer some subtlety. The past two issues have convinced me to stick with this title for the long haul. Back to back one and done stories are a rarity in the biz today (heck any one and done is an unusual event) and that goes twice for stories as finely crafted as these last two issues. In this issue Brian Wood engages in a bit of world building by way of staging a chase sequence that spans the island from Stuy (or Stuyvesant) Town to the Lincoln Tunnel. I highly recommend issues 4 and 5 of this series. If you’re nnot hooked after that I suspect you’re not human.

Green Arrow #60
Judd Winick, Writer
Scott McDaniel, Penciller
Andy Owens, Inker

Damn you, Scott McDaniel! When I saw the cover of this issue I was looking forward to seeing Ollie in his Longbow Hunters cowl, a look I much prefer to his poncy little Robin Hood cap, and then I have to wait until the last page of the comic to see Ollie. And he is in civilian clothes! Mr. McDaniel, you sir, are a tease, and if this issue hadn’t been as interesting and enjoyable as it was I would have to mock you viciously for something. (As I don’t actually know very much about Scott McDaniel this could be challenging, however I have been known to make baseless accusations in the past. I wonder where I picked that habit up. Did I mention I used to listen to Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh?) As it is Scott is safe from my somewhat tiresome ad hominem attacks as I thought this was one of the best OYL titles I have read sp far. (Excluding Aquaman because I am still suspicious of its OYL cred.) I am intrigued to see what happens in this series now that Ollie is Mayor and the city is recovering from the devastation of the bomb attacks. I am also interested to see what Winick does with the not to subtle parallels to the New Orleans situation he is building into the story. He has set up a fascinating chance for commenting on the real world that, quite frankly, rarely exists in comics, and I am excited to see what he does with it.

Planetary Brigade #2
Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis, Writers
Fabio Moon, Zid of IFS, Joe Abraham, and Alfa of IFS, Arists

Ah, all the crunchy goodness of the Giffen & DeMatteis Justice League without the heavy hand of editorial dictates limiting their bizarre creative juices. To be honest I do not know if there were any limitations put on this crew of comic miscreants when they worked for DC, however I just get the feeling that the shenanigans from Formerly Known as the Justice League and I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League may have been toned down because Giffen and DeMatteis were playing with corporate toys. Now Boom Studios has given them their own toybox to play with and bring more Bwah-ha-ha stories to a genre primarily bereft of humor. Spinning out of the Hero Squared one-shot and miniseries, the two issue Planetary Brigade series is a humorous exercise in world-building (there seems to be a bit of that going on this month) as Giffen and DeMatteis show us the group of superheroes that surround Captain Valor. I really enjoyed this issue (I managed to miss the first) and I am really bummed to read that this is not going to be an ongoing series. Fortunately Hero Squared is slated to return as an ongoing series from Boom Studios sometime this year. Until then I will have to satiate my hunger for the bwah-ha-ha by picking up the Hero Squared trade and the first issue of this series. This stuff is a definite must for fans of Giffen’s and DeMatteis’ work on JLI and the like.

Red Sonja/Claw #1 (of 4)
John Layman, Writer
Andy Smith, Artist

Mmmm. Just what the doctor ordered for this fanboy, more sword and sorcery titles featuring at least one character who is starting to be overexposed on the comic racks. I have repeatedly stated my fondness for the genre and that is at war with my growing dislike of the number of Red Sonja books out there. I certainly understand the desire to capitalize on a hot trend, however I think that comic companies are shooting themselves in the foot when they do this to the extent that some of them seem to do. There seems to be a tendency in comic companies to try and wring every little bit of money out of a property within six months of the license having been signed. I understand they are companies that have to make money, however I feel the number of books they are releasing contributes to exhaustion in the market (particularly in a time where the economy is somewhat stagnant) and ultimately hurts their long-term performance. They are giving up longevity in the quest for the quick profit. But enough about that, lets talk about the book. Quite frankly it was okay but nothing spectacular. I know nothing of this Claw the Unconquered character and so entered with no preconceptions about him. Due to this I found the character somewhat derivative from Ash in the Evil Dead movies where his hand has become evil and seeks to control him. Due to the tone of the Evil Dead movies I find this concept to be somewhat laughable and therefore had trouble suspending my disbelief for the comic. I guess I am somewhat jaded these days. Beyond the character, I found the plot to be somewhat predictable and the big reveal at the end of the book was not really a surprise. Overall a ho-hum experience and if this book were ongoing I would drop it, however since it is only three more issues the completist inside me will make me buy them.

Teen Titans Annual #1
Marv Wolfman & Geoff Johns, Writers
Ed Benes, Dale Eaglesham, Tom Grindberg, & Elton Ramalho, Pencillers
Oclair Albert, Mariah Benes, Alex Lei, Drew Geraci, and Wayne Faucher, Inkers

Note to DC. Please don’t mess with my head. Seriously. I have enough confusion in my life as it is. I certainly don’t need to be reading Teen Titans #33, and then be wondering how I could have missed Connor Kent and Cassie bumpin’ uglies. Release books on time. That’s all I ask. And a footnote in Teen Titans #33 mentioning that Cassie and Connor hooked up in the Teen Titans Annual would have been nice, too. As far as the book goes it was nice to see some of the Titans growing up and taking on their responsibilities as heroes in a more mature manner. The story, as most stories in the DCU, seemed to center around the Batman/Superman dichotomy represented by Robin and Superboy. In this case it is Superboy coming into his own as a hero after the past few months of doubt due to the amount of control Lex Luthor seems to be able to exert over him and Tim Drake coming into his own as the de facto leader of the Titans, a role he has been taking for some time, and his willingness to lead other superheroes in getting a job done. I particularly liked how Superman encouraged Robin’s role as a leader in the Bludhaven crisis and how the other heroes reacted to Superman with awe. I am glad to see that returning to the DCU and I hope the writers of the OYL Superman books can bring back that feeling of awe and majesty that seems inherent in Superman, but has been missing for some time.

The rest:
  • Batman: Year 100 #2 (of 4)
    • Paul Pope, Writer & Artist
  • Birds of Prey #92
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Paulo Siqueira, Penciller
    • Robin Riggs, Inker
  • Conan #26
    • Kurt Busiek, Writer
    • Timothy Truman, Artist
  • Conan: Book of Thoth #1
    • Kurt Busiek and Len Wein, Writers
    • Kelley Jones, Artist
  • Fury: Peacemaker #2 (of 6)
    • Garth Ennis, Writer
    • Darick Robertson, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Infinite Crisis: Secret Files & Origins 2006
    • Marv Wolfman, Writer
    • A whole passel of artists doing the drawin’
  • JLA Classified #18
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Penciller
    • Klaus Janson, Inker
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #201
    • Christos N. Gage, Writer
    • Ron Wagner, Penciller
    • Bill Reinhold, Inker
  • Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #4 (of 4)
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Yanick Paquette, Penciller
    • Serge LaPointe, Inker
  • Spider-Woman: Origin #4 (of 5)
    • Brian Michael Bendis & Brian Reed, Writers
    • Jonathan Luna, Pencils, Colors & Inks
    • Joshua Luna, Layouts
  • Ultimate Extinction #3 (of 6)
    • Warren Ellis, Writer
    • Brandon Peterson, Artist

Essential Godzilla
Doug Moench, Writer
Herb Trimpe, Penciller
Some other dudes, Inkers

I haven’t read this one yet, but with a back cover blurb that reads:

“You have your fear, which might become reality. And you have Godzilla, which IS reality.”
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)

And what a reality it was! For two years Japan’s greatest export was one of Marvel’s biggest stars, and the King of the Monsters upheld his title against some of the best and worst the House of Ideas had to offer – including the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Nick Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Godzilla shrinks, goes West, travels through time and hosts one of Spider-Man’s most gratuitous guest-shots ever! Plus: aliens, mutants, mad scientists and almost a dozen more giant monsters!

I am SO in.

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