Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hellblazer #220 - Vertigo

Ok, this new writer, Denise Mina, she's ok. Her stories read well, and I remember what's going on from book to book. I don't really know what else she's done, but I feel that this story may be bigger than her though. Like I said it reads well, and there's alot to keep your interest, Constantine is complicated. At any one time, there can be 10 to 12 things going on in the background. Not to mention that his motives and goals are never obvious. Even second or third guess' can be way off. But that's what I like about his character. He's like a duck, calm on the surface, but paddling like hell under the water. Leonardo Manco's art, while not awesome, has the perfect grit for this story and series. Constantine is trying to help his friend Cole. He's in a bit of a pickle that, when examined, is actually Constantine's fault. But's that how anyone in connection with Constantine is. Trouble finds them if not because of something Constantine did, then because they know him. Once you're in his circle, anything can, and usually does, happen. There's a couple of things going on in the background. And, as in most of his stories, he's being misdirected by someone we don't know who it is, or what their motives are. Yet! And as with any Constantine stories, things always get worse before they get worse. No, I didn't say that wrong. But, that's what you get for following the ghost of your mates ex-wife about. He's supposed to be protecting Cole, but after getting misdirected by the ghost, Cole gets snatched. Or something. All we really know is he's not where Constantine left him. There's only 2 chapters left of this story, but that's what fun about him. You're never really quite sure how the story is going to end. And your next question is, what kind of fresh hell is going to slap him in the face next. And usually, further on down the line, whatever resolution you thought happened in this story, didn't really have the desired effects in the grand scheme of things. There's a lot of things that come back to bite Constantine in the ass. Kind of like life that way. You know, how your girlfriend yells at you for something you did a month ago, because of something you didn't do today. Good stuff.

Spawn #156 - Image

I started out as a huge Spawn fan. The animated series on HBO was awesome. The movie. . . . .well . . . . . I tried to like it. The book though, was one of my favorites for a long time. Sometime in the middle of the run, I really had no idea what was going on. For a while this turned in to one of the books I only bought because I had every one. I discussed that disorder in a previous blog so I won't get in to it. But, I would read a book, have no recollection from the previous one, struggle through the one I had, then bag it & board it & forget about it. Sad, but true. I don't even really know how long that lasted, but it was quite a while. But, for the last couple of issue, I've been getting into it again. I really don't know what's going on with Spawn, he's gathering up souls for some reason or another, but the stories have a lot more to do with his supporting cast. This issue has Wanda just discovering that one of her twins, with Terry, has just bashed the other ones head in with a baseball bat. But apparently, only she can see it. That or the zombie twins really did clean it all up before anyone else got there. And it ends with one of the twins strangling Cyan, and the other standing on the bed over a tied up Wanda, holding a gun to her head. This time Terry comes in time to see what's going on. And that's where the issue ends. Kinda how the last issue ended with one twin standing over the others bashed out skull, holding the baseball bat and grinning from ear to ear. I liked it. I want to love it, but all this Heaven & Hell war stuff, and mysticism and all, has been dragging on for a long time. Besides, wasn't it all done by Black Sabbath ? "The world is full of Kings & Queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams. It's Heaven & Hell." I know this is the world Todd McFarlane has made for him, and as a product of Hell his torment and torture is eternal. But, do we have to experience it forever too? Like I said, I'm really trying to like it. I don't know. I don't know what else to say.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Hawkgirl #52 - DC

Ok, first of all we have the team supreme, Walt Simonson writing and Howard Chaykin drawing. The reason they are the team supreme, is because had they switched roles, it would have been just as awesome. Again we're in a 1 year later title, where, Hawkman died or disappeared or something during their space battle. Therefore, Shayera has come back and taken over his role as curator of the museum, and turned the book into a book about a hot chick, which seems to be doing well for everyone right now. There's some kind of mystery going on in the depths of the museum, which is where the conflict comes in because the people that normally finance them are trying to cut them off so they can obtain whatever the item is. Add to this Shayera's anxiety and dreaming about past lives, mostly in Egyptian times. There's also the coy love interest of someone who she seems interested in, but then she's not. And those scene's that Howard draws of her getting out of bed in her nighty, RAWRRR!!! Meow!!!! Walter & Howard are definitely the dynamic duo. Well, so are Frank Miller & Jim Lee over on All-Star comics, but these guys don't get as much recognition. And they deserve it. Fantastic book. This is a must have. Walt & Howard took over with issue #50, so they are 3 issues into their run. If you can get the previous 2, I would definity suggest it.

Batman #653 - DC

Batman and Two-Face. It's a classic struggle. Somehow during the previous year, that we've all missed and now have to get caught back up on, Harvey Dent was rehabilited and given plastic surgery so he looks normal. So much so, that Batman, being gone for a year, decided to put him in charge of keeping Gotham safe. Where did Batman go? I think that's a different story. Anyways, now Batman has come back. Harvey, already balancing on a very thin precipice, now feels that Batman has returned to take back the responsibility from him, and he's questioning whether he ever really deserved it or not. All of this internal conflict is turning Harvey back into a man of 2 faces. As if we didn't know that was gonna happen. The story is actually very good though. It's on, I think, like part 5 or 6 now, and basically what it's doing is every chapter is another person's response to Batman's return. Batman, Bruce Wayne, Robin, Jason Todd, Harvey Dent & now Two-face. Batman's return is a good thing, right? Well, for some it is, and for others it's puts them back in their old familiar role. The artwork by Don Kramer, is actually very good. I mainly follow the Batman & Detective books because, first, I really like the character. And second because I have every one for about 20 years. Which is sad sometimes, because the story before this, "City of Crime" I think, was a dozer. But I bought it because I had 'em all. I hate it when I do that. But because I'm obsessive, I do it anyways. They've been doing these longer story arcs, in both books, 6 or 8 issues, which I like, as long as the story is good. Batman can generally keep my interest, but Detective goes up and down big time. Right now I'm happy with it. I really like the cast of characters they've developed around Batman. The other 2 books, Gotham Knights & Shadow of the Bat, deal more with the people around him, and just kind of use Batman as kind of a motivating figure. He's always there, you just don't always see him. But anyways, I wouldn't rate this book as a must have, but if you like the Batman mythos, you'll dig it. James Robinson is a pretty good author, and the covers have been awesome.

Strangers in Paradise #82 - Abstract Studio

Strangers has in my opinion, been consistently one of the best produced books out there. Terry Moore is awesome. His writing is great. His stories flow from frame to frame and book to book with an effortless ease. Whether its 4 or 6 wks between books, a page and a half into the book and I'm right back in the story. Now his artwork isn't the painted kind like Adam Hughes or Alex Ross, but in the context of the story it is perfect. Who cares if its black & white? And, for the same price as the big companies, it's adless. Who'd of thunk it? Cut out the ads, give us 3 or 4 pages of letter columns, and original artwork on the inside & outside of both the front and back cover. Is anybody in the other companies paying attention to this? The only downfall, there's only 8 more issues until he wraps up the series. Boo Hoo!!! These characters are great. They all have their own unique personality, and you really find yourself caring for them. There's been a little over 100 issues in 3 different volumes. I came in to it kind of late. I started at the beginning of the 3 volume with not having read anything of the first 2. I was instantly hooked. I soon began to get all the books I missed in the first 2 storylines. This is just a great series. Some times the stories are sad, sometimes they're not. But, like I said, you always find yourself caring for what's going on. And he always, without fail, leaves you hanging on the last page. He always leaves you wanting more. If you've never checked it out, you should. You can get all the stories in trade paperbacks, if you don't want to go searching through comic bins. This is a book that I am always glad I bought.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

JSA Classified #12 - DC

I like these offshoot titles. This one and it's predecessor JLA Classified. I mean, seriously, if you have a team of 20 to 30 + members, how are you supposed to give any of them adequate time to develop a character or story in a once a month title? So, both of these titles have been nice, in that you get a chance to see a story about a character that wouldn't normally be in the spotlight. This is the 3rd part of the Vandal Savage/Green Lantern storyline. I say that because it's more a story about Vandal Savage than Green Lantern. Somehow he ended up in the middle of nowhere during the Infinite Crisis, way out in space, and had to "hitch-hike" a ride back to earth in a meteor. Now that he's back he's found out that he's dying of a brain tumor. So his dying with is to take his arch nemesis Alan Scott (Green Lantern, Sentinel, White King, whatever) with him when he goes. On top of this his donor bank of replacement organs is depleted, after all you don't live for 37,000 years without a kidney, or liver going out. Right? Also, since he's been off planet for a while, all of his hideouts have begun to crumble with decay. Add to this the brain tumor which is causing bouts if illusion, depression, anxiety and a reversion to his cro-magnum behavior, and it all comes up to be a pretty good story. Stuart Moore is the author and he is doing a fine job. As I would expect after reading his work on Firestorm. Then you have Paul Gulacy on pencils. What a great team. I used to think that Doug Moench and Paul meshed well, but guess what, Paul works well with others. I wouldn't say this is a must have book, but it is an interesting story. I don't know if it will have any long term repercussions for Green Lantern, but I think it definitely will for Vandal Savage. How can this guy be around for so long, and we know so little about him?

52 - week 3 - DC Comics

This is a new series by DC, and an experiment really. In the recent Infinite Crisis mini series, fantastic by the way, Superman Batman and Wonder Woman all dissapear at the end. The following month all the DC titles picked up 1year later. With the 1 year jump in the continuity, all the books have different characters at the least, and some with a completely different feel. This series "52" is going to attempt to tell the story of what transpired in the DC Universe during those 52 weeks of absence. Hence the name. The focus is really on a handful of characters, and through them all the other DC characters that revolve around them. Booster Gold, Black Adam, Lex Luthor and John Henry Irons (Steel) are the focal points of the story. First of all it's a noble experiment. Second, they have an exemplary staff of creators with their fingers in the pie. Writing is Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. Those 4 alone make it a must read. Then you have Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert involved. Which is really just icing on the cake. With the writers alone, you just know that there are going to be some fantastic story lines and ideas that come out of this. We've seen a little preview in the 1 year later titles - how come Black Canary and Shiva switched places, how was Two-Face cured and rehabilitated and given control to watch over Gotham for a year by Batman, why did Green Arrow dissapear for a year to train and what did he learn and accomplish, how did the Titan lineup change so much, how did Superman lose his powers, how did the Outsiders become a vigilante black ops group, how did Alan Scott become the white king of Checkmate not to mention Mr. Terrific and Amanda Waller, what happened to Wonder Woman during that year, what happened to Wally West and Bart Allen, and that's just the tip of the iceburg. Then on top of that, as a backup, they're doing an updated "History of the DC Universe" story. It's only about 4 pages at a time, but you get it every week so who cares. And the covers by J.G.Jones have been incredible. The little nuances they're putting into the story are great. But then, I would expect nothing less from these 4 fantastic writers. Booster Gold looks like a NASCAR driver with all of his endorsements on his uniform, Skeets is back and helping Booster with historical facts (even though he seems to have a glitch, I'm sure to be explained later, because some things he says are dead on, and others aren't even close), Black Adam seems to be on the side of angels but with a drive to "be a hero who doesn't just patrol the world, they change it!" as he rips Terra-Man in half. Also John Henry seems to be on a mission to keep his neice Natasha out of the super-hero game, or at least out until she decides to work smarter not harder. And that's just in the first 3 issues. If you haven't picked this up yet, now is the time to do it, while you can still find the first 3 issues. This is a title that is definitely going to pick up steam as it goes along. It is a title that just by definition is going to create and herald change all across the face of the DC Universe. I love titles that shake things up. My biggest pet peeve about mini series is the number of them that don't create any signifigant change. They seem to be a good story, but by the end the conflict is resolved and nothing in the title characters life or personality has changed. So if you were to read the regular continuity without that story, you would never know it was even there. This is definitely not going to be one of those stories. We're in for a very bumpy ride for the course of the next 52 weeks, actually 49 left now. Can't wait to see it play out. Go out and get it!!

Sensational Spider-Man #26 - Marvel

First let me say that I really enjoy Clayton Crain's artwork. I first noticed him on the first Ghost Rider Mini Series that he did. But, he has definitely improved over the course of time. I've always been a big Spider-Man fan. I really like how real the character of Peter Parker feels. He best displays that angst that Marvel tried to build in to it's character development in the late 60's to early 70's. To me he is one of most real characters out there. I feel like when most companies were developing this huge cast of characters around all of it's most popular characters, that Marvel was spending more time developing the emotions, concerns, anxieties, stess, etc of this one specific characters. Don't get me wrong, Spider-Man has a great supporting cast of characters. But I don't feel like any of them were forced. They just kind of developed as they developed over the years. I may be wrong, again it's just my opinion, but to me that's how the character and stories of Spider-man feel to me. Anyways, this specific book, has a couple of things going on. First they're developing the story of his new suit and it's many new attributes. Second, they're gradually, very gradually, moving the story along about the changes to Peter since his "re-birth". This part of the story I feel could move along a little faster than it has. Then there is the story where all the animal based characters (Spider-man, Black Cat, Puma, Vulture, Lizard, Man Wolf) are all being affected on a primal level. Have you ever thought about just how many of Spider-man's rogues are animal based? Rhino, Dr Octopus, Vermin, plus the one's I previously mentioned. Anyways, that's the 3 basic sub-plots going on. I haven't heard of this writer before, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, but in the 4 issues he's been on the book, I feel like he's definitely digging his claws in. Also, this one doesn't have the annoying recap page. YAY!!!!!! That and the Clayton Crain artwork make this a must have book. And, if you can, I would definitely go back to 4 issues to the title change. They're definitely trying to breathe some excitement into this book. So far, so good.

New Avengers #19 - Marvel

First let me say that Brian Michael Bendis is arguably one of the best writers in the medium right now. The various levels of the stories that he creates really pull the readers in and get them thinking. Really the only negative comment I have on this book, and it's on the part of Marvel itself, not any of the creators. This recap page in the beginning has got to go!! I understand what they're trying to do. They're trying to make it that someone can come along at any time, pick up the title, and with the recap page be caught up and into the story. Ok, whatever. First of all the story is awesome. The way Bendis writes, within 2 or 3 pages you're immediately back into the story. Without reading the recap. Again I understand what their intentions are, but they're also unintentionally telling the reader that they don't think they're smart enough to remember what happened and get back into the story. And that insults me. Maybe I'm reading to much into it, but it's something they've been doing for a year or so now, in all their books, and it really disturbs me. But, that's me. Now, more importantly, the story is fantastic. The character interaction is superb. The different character personalities are always exhibited, no matter what is going on in the story. And Mike Deodato Jr's artwork is incredible. The cover I just thought was average, but the interior work is definitely worth the price of admission. I almost feel like the artwork is overkill, except that I love it so much. I mean, the story is so great, the flow from panel to panel and book to book is flawless, and the subplots are intersting. I would buy the book if Donald Duck was drawing it. But the whole package altogether, is definitely worth the $3. I don't even want to get started on comic book pricing, but they're running a business just like anyone else. You gotta make money to keep the talent happy. If you haven't picked up this book before, it would definity be worth the effort to try to get the first 18 issues. Plenty of people have them for sale on E-Bay. There is a character for everyone in this series. Spider-man, Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Iron Man, the Sentinel (marvel's version of Superman), Luke Cage, and Sheild as a co-conspiritor both on the "good" side and questionable side. Add Bendis and Deodato to that, and you definity have a fun book to read. On a side note, I would be willing to bet that you don't see Deodato on this book much past issue 25, maybe 30. Bendis will be around for a while, but like I said before, the artwork really is overkill, so I'm betting that Deodato will be moved to a less popular title. But that's just my opinion.

American Way - 4 of 8 - Wildstorm

This book is interesting. This particular issue attacks a subject that everyone is afraid to talk about, racism. If you don't want to see this subject discussed, definitely do not buy this book. If you're open minded and can handle a story about ignorant, close minded people, then you may enjoy this. I thought it was ok. The basic premise of the book is interesting. The government has assembled a team of superpowered people, both "good" & "bad", which they made and now control. They send these people out to perform in public and try to booster the "american way" by having the good guys win in their little plays. That being said, it then is just average because it's pretty obvious what is going to happen. The "control" is only illusionary, the "heroes" & "villians" question their roles, things happen that shouldn't, and the whole drama spins out of anyones control. When all is said and done, some "heroes" will rise from the dust, and some "villians" will also come out. But, actually, who cares. It's a mini series so character developement is minimal. More could be developed if there was a sequal, but I don't see that happening. It's a political comment on the governments control, or lack of, public perception and trying to control patriotism. It could be said that it's an allegory of what's going on now in the middle east and how some people might percieve it as a ruse to booster patriotism. Whatever!! It's an interesting book, it 's a decent story with decent art. I'll probably continue buying to it's completion just to see how the story comes out. If you haven't bought it yet, it's probably not worth the effort to go out to get the first 3 issues. That's your call though.