Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clipped on 6/18/08

This past Wednesday brought a full moon – but did the comics that arrived that day reflect it? Let’s find out!

BRAVE & THE BOLD #14 (DC) – 4 whiskers – Every time I get an issue of B&B I think to myself, “How the hell does this book survive?” I mean, a team-up book? How fantastic! How wonderful! How is it still not cancelled?!? Well, it’s truly one of my most favorite current DC titles and mostly ‘cause Mark Waid knows his way around a good super-hero story. This month catches up with Green Arrow as Deadman tells him of an unholy assault on the mystic city of Nanda Parbat. There’s some great interaction between the two heroes, an honestly chilling representation of their weird, burning-blue skeletal adversaries, and of course, all the inherent fun of Deadman’s body-hopping/possessions. Add to that a wow-wow cliffhanging ending (with no actual cliff hanging - more like falling!) and the only thing I really have to complain about is Scott Kolins’ visual take on Deadman – he subscribes to the withered-corpse school of Boston Brand, whereas I’m more a traditionalist. So, bring on the next issue! How will they bring Hawkman and Nightwing into this???

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #22 (DC) – 2 1/2 whiskers – The Red Tornado is one of my favorite DC heroes and I love it when he gets the spotlight – he practically launched this current League title – but I’m left nonplussed by this latest chapter in the “Let’s Abuse Red Tornado” saga. DC: we get it. Enough already. Give Reddy a break. Really. No amount of calling out the ridiculousness of his destruction-rebuilding merry-go-around in the actual dialogue is going to make us Reddy fans comfortable with this never-ending cycle. I appreciate that you’ve created the “ultimate” body for him, but don’t dangle it like a carrot – just give it to him. He’s coming off here as the worst sad-sack, whiner, and ne'er-do-well in DC comics. When’s the last time he just went into action as a hero? When’s the last time we were shown how plainly powerful he can be? The Amazo thing is played out, too. And the training scenes between JLA members. And Vixen’s “I got a secret-poor widdle me” thing. Let’s start to fix a few problems with these heroes and get on with the adventure. I expected a lot more from McDuffie, and frankly I don’t know what I was thinking when I said he’d be great for the book as there’s barely been any difference between his and Meltzer’s run. And let’s put a moratorium on all the arching-backs, thrusting-asses, and heaving chests of Benes’ females. That too is tired. It’s become parody and the book as a whole is getting mighty close to it, too.

TRINITY #3 (DC) – Please see my TRINITY review at!

ZORRO #4 (Dynamite) – 3 ½ whiskers – I like this book a lot but I’m thinking its not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. I enjoyed Dynamite’s LONE RANGER series through most of its first arc but it soon became little substance spread way too thin over each issue. ZORRO, on the other hand, is meaty; a book that you put some time into and its text rewards you for that time. On the surface, its pretty standard stuff: the classic hero of Old California buckling his swash and beating on a few deserving soldiers. The “present day” story is inter-cut with scenes of Zorro’s childhood and formative years, with each such interlude offering explanations of his abilities and passions in the “present”. It’s written well, with Matt Wagner obviously interested in the subject matter and putting care into the depiction of such a legendary do-gooder. Readers trying to jump on-board here with #4 would do better to try and pick up #1-3, as the story is dense and the flashing back and forth could be somewhat confusing. The art by Francesco Francavilla is serviceable if not a bit crude at times. His style does set a certain tone to the proceedings, a kind of Latino flavor that puts one in the mood of dusty roads, the smell of horses, and the feel of earthen villas. You may find yourself forgiving the lack of detail and admiring the shadows he employs to nice effect. Overall, it’s a series I can recommend, especially to anybody who admires pulp as one of the progenitors of comics.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #563 (Marvel) – 3 whiskers – Let me try to be succinct in my review this week: way too much humor. The ASM team has skirted the borders of comedy impropriety on more than one occasion but never have they loaded a single issue with this many Spidey wisecracks and one-liners. It’s in almost every single panel and wordballoon. Not saying it wasn’t funny most times but it really started to pull me out of the story and there’s no greater faux pas for a creative team to make, in my opinion. And it’s not like we’ve just come off a deadly-serious story-arc and needed the comedy relief – this wasn’t what I expect from this otherwise fantastic, high-quality title. I expect a balance. And I expect more interesting bad guys than the Enforcers and a very-unfunny old man with emphysema. Not one of your finer moments, ASM team.

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