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The fine print, up front:
Having returned to reading comics after a 20-something year absence, I can, conclusively, say: "Wow. What happened while I was gone?"

These mini-reviews are just my opinions, based on comics I bought with my hard-earned money. Feel free to respond and disagree; I don't mind discussion, I rather enjoy it. My reviews tend to be on the positive side as I try not to read things I don't like, nor, if I don't like something, do I write reviews of it. (For the most part. See: House of M.) I have a great deal of respect for the writers and artists who put out comics, and if I didn't like their comic, it just means it wasn't for me, not that it was necessarily bad.
Current Month
Jan. 15th, 2007 @ 10:11 pm Comics for January 10, 2007
Short list, as I'm rushed....

Meltdown #2 (Schwartz/Wang; Image). The conclusion of this two-part graphic novel (this book was 48 pages, no ads, and I believe the first one, out last month, was the same). This second part is not quite as strong as the first - the voice-over narration drags a little and the ending is a tad contrived - but, having gotten those two things out of the way, this was a very strong debut by Schwartz. The lead character, Cal, is set-up very well and you really feel for him in all of his problems and struggles. Sean Wang's (Runners) art is strong, and he uses a variety of styles in the different toned sections of the book that works very well. Overall a fun read and recommended.

Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1 (Warren/Denham; Marvel). Total high-action fluff with fast-paced banter and many mustache jokes. Totally and completely out of character and continuity, but it's amusing enough that I don’t really care. Call it AN Invincible Iron Man. We get a couple whiffs of plot here, but mostly the first issue is gee-whiz aerial combat shoot-'em-up stuff, with a flashback to Teen Tony on a hot bike with a hot chick (no, not that Teen Tony, this is the teen-aged Tony Stark). The art's very nice and suitably wow-inducing. The little nod back to Live Wires was amusing, as well. I'll give it another issue to lay out plot.
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Dec. 29th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm Comics for the end of the year, December 28, 2006.
So, short but sweet:

The very good:
Winter Soldier:Winter Kills (Brubaker/Weeks-Gaudiano-Hoberg; Marvel) - I like introspective, talk-y character-y things and this issue is definitely one. The interaction between Winter Soldier and Namor and Winter Soldier and the Young Avengers is wonderful.

The good:
Nextwave #11 (Ellis/Immonen; Marvel) The Elvis MODOK just about requires a "very good" but I think my patience for the Nextwave AND HATE antics is starting to wind down, and it's good that the title is going on hiatus, and I'll be fresh and ready for it when it returns. Not so much the end of an arc here as just where the plot happened to fall on issue #11, which is just slightly annoying. Not sure I wa reading for actual "plot" anyway, of course....

Crossing Midnight #2 (Carey/Fern; Vertigo) Interesting issue, great art and very hard to see how all this is going to get wrapped up in just one more issue.

A good start:
Okko: Cycles of Water #1 (Hub - hey, that's all it says - Archaia Press)- Very interesting art, although a couple panels required some head-scratching to figure out what I was seeing, and some of the scene transitions ar less than clear. On the other hand, the characters are interesting and so is the story.

Maintenance #1 (Massey/Rodrgiuez; Oni). Two janitorial schmoes work for an evil think tank and spend their time coping with the messes and monstrosities all of the evil geniuses come up with. Amusing, light and fun.

Interesting concept, but losing my interest:
The Killer #2 (Matz/Jacamon; Archaia Press) A very cold hired-killer is slowly losing his nerve as a hit starts to go wrong. I enjoy the feel/tone, but there are a couple of problems: first, the translation from French to English is questionable in a few places and there were some dialog bits I had to re-read to figure out what the character was trying to say and, second, it's hard to like and care about a stone cold killer. I don't think you're supposed to like the character, but at this point I'm HOPING he gets caught, and I don't think you're supposed to hope that.

The so-so:
Snakewoman #6 (Wells/Hyrapiet; Virgin) The switch away from Michael Gaydos is unfortunate, as I was enjoying his art quite a bit, and this replacement artist, while not bad, is just not the same caliber. The focus switches away from Jessica and on to the story of one of the lowest and most pathetic of the 68, in all his incarnations. The ending is totally inevitable and the issue just felt like spinning gears. Is this what we have to look forward to, all Jessica kills the other 64 who are left?

And, off in a completely different category, which is None of the Above:
Bye-Bye Harvey: A Gun Theory Short Story (Way/Proctor; Bad Press) - Although I've heard about Gun Theory, I've never read it, and was rather surprised when this turned up in my box (my beloved LCS guy, looking out for me as always, and feeding stuff into my box). Hmmm. Very violent unapologetic bad-guy noir. Well done, nicely illustrated, but, like The Killer above, probably not my thing.
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Dec. 20th, 2006 @ 09:42 pm Comics for December 20, 2006
There be spoilers in this here review - I'd spoiler tag them, but, really not enough tag-worthy actually HAPPENS in the issue.

New Avengers #26 (Bendis/Maleev; Marvel) Definitely a let-down, as I expected more answers and information. I'm not unaware of the irony of that, having had Dr. Strange hammer in the point that neither Clint - nor, by extension, the readers - would get much of an answer.

First, the good: the Maleev art. Lovely, emotive, very expressive. Interesting cool, muted color tones, with Wanda's burning reds the sole exception. Strange's Sanctum looks suitably stately and serious (though Strange himself looks more like something out of Chekhov, say Uncle Vanya) and the closed double doors to "Aunt Agatha's" room look pretty foreboding.

The rest, though - I can't really give an opinion of the story, because it's so obviously "to be continued." There are some elements I liked - Hawkeye talking about the friend he'd lost - but equally some I don’t like - Hawkeye talking about wanting "closure" like he's been visiting a therapist recently. Equally, Hawkeye sleeping with the clearly still insane Wanda was odd. I'm sure it pleases the Wizard "d-u-u-u-u-u-de, I'd so totally tap that" crowd, but it seems as though it's taking advantage of Wanda's diminished capacity and hence on the reprehensible side.

Also, what IS happening at the end? I gather Hawkeye does not open the door, and thought that was a hint of Wanda's signature chaos magic swirling around on his hand from touching the knob. But is he leaving or staying? In Disassembled, Bendis used Hawkeye as the mouthpiece for describing how the Avengers never really solved their own problems - so what is he having the character do here? Stay and try to solve the problem (which would be touching, because it's way beyond him) or cut and run? Do we really have to wait months to find out?

Far more comics to come, this was a HUGE week for me (Criminal! Fables! She-Hulk! So hard to pick a favorite!)
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Dec. 13th, 2006 @ 08:55 pm Comics for December 13, 2006
This week's comics theme seems to be people annoyed with either Heaven or Hell - and pretty much everything in between. A very strong week for comics!

Pick of the week:
Sandman Mystery Theater #1 (Rieber/Nguyen; WildStor
m) Excellent first issue for this relaunch - very good script and great art. I'm a fan of Eric Nguyen's from his work on the first 8 issues or so of Strange Girl, and this series features a more restrained, serious style from him. No less complicated and detailed though, and his is the kind of work that I see something new in the panel each time I look at it. The first issue puts together two stories; the present story of a journalist embedded in a combat unit in Afghanistan and the second the story of the aged Wes and Dian of the original Sandman Mystery Theater. I'm sure the stories are going to collide head-on at some point. Definitely my pick of the week for such a strong debut.

Strange Girl (Remender/Stakal; Image) Strange Girl takes a turn into the grim (okay, grim-ER) as Beth and the half-demon sisters head into Hell to try and get Bloato back from the depths. Remender does a great job developed a creepy and grim set of illusions and delusions and the prices that Beth pays get higher and higher as she goes. Absolutely adore the Pekar image on the back page.

Ex Machina #25 (BKV/Harris; WildStorm) Things aren't going well for anyone in this title, and this issue we spend a bit of dysfunctional time with Bradbury. The "dread level" in this title is starting to go up every month, as Hundred and the people around him come apart. This can't be good.....

Fallen Angel #11 (PAD/Woodward; IDW) The Angel is annoyed. With everyone, because she has cramps and it looks like everyone in the title, except her, is having sex with someone (or someones) else. There is also a new drug and a new pusher in Bete Noir, and several of the principals are setting up to clash. This should be a fun arc.

The Damned #3 (Bunn/Hurtt; Oni) Really enjoying this title as all of the plots start to come together. Eddie gets a few more clues about what's going on, and in standard PI style finds that he's been seriously underinformed by all parties. The subplot regarding the truth about Eddie's" immortality" is very interesting, and I'm looking forward to see how that works out. This title has a great feel and moves along very nicely.
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Dec. 7th, 2006 @ 08:36 am Comics for December 6, 2006
What an odd week in comics for me. There are two titles that came out this week that I like but have reservations about (Desolation Jones and Tranquility). Generally it's pretty clear as I'm reading the comic whether it "works" for me or not, but both of these leave me thinking that I need to put them aside and read them again later. No real spoilers in reviews for the week, so no cut tags.

Pick of the week:
Meltdown #1 (Schwartz/Wang; Image). A very nice character study and story with lovely art. The flashback scenes to his childhood are particularly well-rendered, with a cartoony and naive look back to a simpler time that works well with the narrative. A boy is born with special needs which eventually turn into special powers, but he doesn't really want to be special. He wants normal things and his powers mean he can't have them. He tries to adapt and adjust but can't quite fit in - and when he finally gets the chance to "hit the jackpot, tiger," it all goes astray. Good use of time sequences and various flashbacks without being over-narration heavy. Some of the science concepts that are thrown around to explain things are somewhat eyebrow-lift-worthy, but it doesn't really distract from the story. Definitely worth picking this up.

Newuniversal #1 (Ellis/Larroca; Marvel). An interesting introduction to the characters and general concept, thoroughly enjoyable. Hadn't read any of the previous material, so I had no expectations going in, and the story moved along with nice scene transitions. Just enough info to make the story clear and explain the characters a bit. I like Larroca's style, but I'd prefer not to "almost recognize" quite so many characters - it's distracting and, frankly, Larroca has no need to do that.

The back-burner issues:

Desolation Jones #8 (Ellis/Zezelj; WildStorm). The concepts of coincidence and synchronicity in this issue irk me (the Phillip K. Dick references, the Fullerton references, the highly irritating cabbie), but there are some absolutely gorgeous moments in here. This may be a title I should really read in trade, to better catch the complicated flow of story elements, because I suspect what I didn't like here will turn out to be a style and threaded bit of narration that will become important and end up feeling much less obvious and heavy-handed. I think.

Tranquilty #1 (Simone/Googe; WildStorm). What's bothering me about this is the conflicted tone, the balance between mocking the senile super-oldsters and the affection for them. Both elements are there, the first in the overall tone and depiction and the second in one of the character's behavior ( the town's sheriff, Tommy, a character I quite like). At this point, it feels too mocking-heavy, but that may change on reread or the second issue. We'll see, as there are a lot of things to like about this issue and general concept.

More to come:
White Tiger #2, Ant-Man #3, Midnighter #2
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Dec. 7th, 2006 @ 08:33 am Comics for Nov. 29th
Yes, it's another placeholder...
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Dec. 1st, 2006 @ 02:34 pm Communication versus miscommunication
I've been enjoying the Civil War miniseries in a sort of "What If" way: What If these characters actually behaved like this? As a Major Marvel Cornerstone Event? Not so much. I originally bought several of the tie-in books but have dropped everything except my "regular" books, the ones I'd be buying anyway. But what I really haven't been enjoying is the behind-the-scenes discussion of the function and mechanics of getting an event out, especially one that's slipping schedule.

It's good that the EIC (Joe Quesada) and Chief Editor (Tom Brevoort) take the time to pitch books talk to fans on the internet (in the Joe Friday column on Newsarama and the Civil War Q&A on CBR) - what's not so good is that the two gentleman spend so much time defending the actions of Marvel. Civil War is, not for the first time, late. Perhaps only two weeks late this time, which isn't such a big thing, except that it pushes everything else back with it - and it makes it extremely difficult to believe the final issue will still be out that month, pushed back only a week. What strikes me about the tone of some of their comments is the passing of blame. Doesn't it seem to be in seriously poor taste to have the EIC and the chief editor ragging on their hand-picked writer and artist choice? You PICKED them, two people with whom you have tons of prior experience.You CHOSE to push the schedule, even though, allegedly, you were seeing McNiven's pages as soon as he was done with them, which should have told you what was happening far in advance. You pushed back the schedule for #4, a month plus, and then insisted that the following issues would all be on time because... because a miracle occurred.

My point? The buck stops with you two gentlemen. It's not McNiven's "fault" nor is it Millar's. Fans (including me) don't need to see the blame game and the inner workings (or non-workings) of Marvel.
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Nov. 23rd, 2006 @ 03:42 pm Comics for November 22, 2006
Red Menace #1 (Bilson/Demeo/Brody - Ordway; WildStorm)
Enigma Cipher #1 (Cosby/Nelson - Greg Scott; BOOM! Studios)
Snakewoman #5 (Wells/Gaydos; Virgin)

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Nov. 18th, 2006 @ 09:50 am Comics for Nov. 15 - Special Iron Man Week Edition
IRON MAN WEEK (Iron Man #13, New Avengers #25 and Civil War #5)

Spoilers ahoy, under the cut

I'm not kidding about the spoilers....Collapse )
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Nov. 10th, 2006 @ 09:30 am Comics for Nov 8, 2006
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes V2 #1 (Casey/Rosado; Marvel).
Fables #55 (The 'Hams; Vertigo).
Wisdom #1 (Cornell/Hairsine; Marvel).
Stormwatch PhD #1 (Gage/Mahnke; WildStorm).

Part the first for reviews, because I haven't made it to the regular LCS for the larger haul...

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