Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weekly Haul: July 22nd

Agents of Atlas #8 (Marvel Comics) As I mentioned in my previous post, I was unable to pick this issue up last week, when it was released, because Diamond operates like this. So chances are that if you like things that are awesome—talking gorillas wielding high-powered rifles, thought-controlled 1950s-style UFOs, blonde Namors with breasts—you probably already have this.

It is a comic book written by Jeff Parker in which The Agents of Atlas fight a bunch of Moduloks made entirely out of hobos and also The Hulk.

(And if you didn’t happen to play with the same toys I did growing up, this is Modulok:

He’s a member of Hordak’s Evil Horde, appears during the five most tolerable minutes of the He-Man/She-Ra movie, and is completely awesome. Much more awesome than the similar Multi-Bot. So that. Only made out of hobos.)

Avengers: The Initiative #26 (Marvel) I keep vacillating between dropping this book and not dropping it, as for the last few months it’s reached a point where I don’t really enjoy reading it so much anymore, but there’s always a little something in it that makes me curious to see how it plays out in the next issue, and then I end up getting one more and thinking the same thing again.

In this issue, it was the glimpse of The Mandrill in a couple of crowd scenes (I love the look of that guy!) and wondering how the to retake Prison 42 plays out.

The rest of the plot seems overly reminiscent of other Marvel books I’ve read in the past few years though, particularly the New New New Warriors as legitimate heroes on the run in a world gone mad, and writer Christos Gage’s intentional call-back to that nasty New Avengers issues where Brian Michael Bendis had some villains break into Tigra’s bedroom and pistol whip her in front of a video camera. Here, Tigra breaks into the bedroom of one of those villains, and beats him while filming it. Justice!

I like Rafa Sandoval’s pencil art, except I’m not quite sure why he’s given Tigra actual tiger paws. Each of her digits is about the size of Ultra Girl’s wrists now, and it just looks weird.

Captain Britain and MI13 #15 (Marvel) Farewell Captain Britain and MI13. The world—well, the direct market, was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

So yeah, this is the last issue of one of Marvel’s more enjoyable ongoings, the climax of the war between England and Dracula. It’s mostly wrapped up rather nicely, although some of the goings on here—the multiple couples, Union Jack suiting up, motherfucking Death’s Head appearing (!!!)—mostly simply hint at the interesting places Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk and company’s ensemble title could have gone in the future.

Maybe it will end up like Young Avengers, and we’ll get a miniseries every year or so, tie-ing into whatever the big crossover of the moment is?

In the mean time, if you sat the series out, be sure to look for it in bargain back-issue bins in a few months time. The first and last arcs are fantastic, and the middle one’s pretty okay.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 (DC Comics) Well look who finally decided to stroll into shops this week, the final issue of a five-part monthly series that launched last fall, and tied (extremely loosely, to the point that this last issue never even mentions it) into a an event miniseries that ended (also late) back in March.

Now that I’ve read it, I think I see why it was so late. Artist George Perez didn’t fall behind schedule, despite having to draw every Legion character ever (gathering the costume reference on this miniseries alone must have been a six-month task). Rather, the final pages sat on Dan DiDio’s desk for a few months, while he and writer Geoff Johns fretted over whether the mean-spirited criticism of their fanbase as the ultimate villains was a little too on-the-nose here.

You know how everyone was always saying that Johns’ evil version of Superboy-Prime, introduced in Infinite Crisis, was basically a caricature of over-entitled superhero fans? Well, in the conclusion of this series, Johns takes that as literally as possible, to the point that Prime is actually logging in to the DC Comics message boards in his last appearance.

So was this series any good?

I don’t even really know how to answer that. I was pretty lost during this last issue, and had a hard time telling who was who. I’m not, never was and probably never will be a Legion fan, so keeping three different versions of the team straight in a story that pits them against all their villains ever and teams them up with all of their allies ever, was always a bit of a challenge, and the months between issues sure didn’t help any.

It kept my interest enough that I read all five issues, and I’ve yet to encounter a comic book drawn by George Perez that wasn’t worth reading if only to drink in the artwork. He’s definitely in his element here, and was probably the only artist capable of drawing this series and making it make any sort of visual sense.

I don’t think it met its own promise though. What really sold me on the series was the cliffhanger at the end of the first issue, where Superman announced that not only were they going to defeat Prime, they were going to reform him, which was obviously the much more difficult task, and I was extremely curious to see how Superman would attempt to do such a thing.

As it turns out, he doesn’t make more than a half-assed attempt at it, and ends up basically just beating Prime up for most of the series. At the end, Prime is—of course—defeated, but he’s still just a bad as a bad guy as he was going in.

Which I suppose means Superman failed, and that doesn’t seem all that Superman-like. (Not that his failure is brought up or acknowledged here; he seems to have forgotten that declaration, in much the same way that I forgot who half of these characters were).

Gotham City Sirens #2 (DC) Boobs, lips, crotch, lips, crotch, boobs, boobs, boobs, lips, boobs, boob, butt, boobs, boobs, boob, butt boobs, boobs, butt, boobs, lips, lips, lips, lips, lips, lips, boobs, boobs, boobs, boob, lips, boobs, butt, boobs, boobs, boobs, butt, boobs, crotch.

Green Lantern #44 (DC) Okay Geoff Johns, you really got me with this one. Seeing one of my favorite DC superheroes kick the hell out of two of my least favorite DC superheroes for the majority of an issue? I did enjoy seeing that, in a base my favorite hero is stronger than yours kind of way.

Johns does a pretty good job of writing Martian Manhunter, at least in terms of having him remember to actually use all his superpowers, and to have the other heroes legitimately afraid of having to take on a character who’s basically Superman Plus. (J’onn doesn’t just float up invisible and intangible and then blow their heads off with martian vision, but then he does seem to have some kind of unknown agenda that isn’t quite clear yet).

This issue picks up right where last week’s Blackest Night #1 left Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, at Batman’s desecrated grave, confronted by a zombie Black Lantern version of J’onn J’onnz. They fight a while, while, back on Oa, the vomiting guardian Scar exposits a bit and vomits a bit more.

The art is provided by Dough Mahnke, who I’m starting to wish penciled every DC comic. Even with three different inkers (in addition to himself), the art is smooth, clean and extremely detailed throughout.

Johns also gets off one of his biggest “Oh shit!” cliffhanger endings I’ve seen in a while here. Johns almost always tries to go out on a splashpage cliffhanger in which an unexpected hero, villain, team or plot complication arrives on the last page, and here it’s a big one. Completely obvious in retrospect, although I didn’t expect it.

(Confidential to J’onn J’onnz: That tiara isn’t really working on you. I think you need hair to really pull a tiara off.)

Question time! You know how the rings “talk” in Lantern-shaped, tail-less word balloons? Do they talk out loud, so anyone can hear, or do they just talk directly into their wearer’s mind? I always assumed it was out loud, but now I’m not so sure. For example, if Ha’s ring scans J’onn and then says “Vital signs: Negative,” can Barry and J’onn hear that, or is it telepathically communicating with Hal?

Incredible Hercules #131 (Marvel) Do you know the sound of Sisyphus having a brand new boulder appear before him after a pair of wrestling Herculi destroy his old one? “SISY-POOF” of course.

God I love this comic.

This issue brings to and end the Herc and Amadeus in the Underworld arc, with pretty disastrous results for their relationship. It’s another issue that reminds me that while Incredible Hercules is extremely funny and a very engaging look at the long-term fusion of Greek myth with Marvel mythology, it’s also about things and shit. I was honestly a bit moved by the climax of this book.

I didn’t think it possible, but apparently Marvel’s best comic book is getting…better?

Tiny Titans #18 (DC) The vaguely Vaudevillian three-page sequence in which The Anti-Monitor brings The Monitor his coffee is pretty much my platonic ideal of superhero comics. This issue is pretty heavy on the adults, with Principal Slade, Coach Lobo, the Monitors and Lunch Lady Darkseid getting a majority of the panel-time. Also, the cutest drawing of Man-Bat ever.


John said...


It's not every day that I buy a comic based solely on a blog review - but I have to say you've sold me on Gotham City Sirens #2!

Matt said...

I was about to agree with you and say that it's weird that Johns dropped the whole "redeeming" aspect altogether, but then I realized that the message board post Prime is on at the end is "Can Superboy Prime be redeemed?"

So I no longer know what that means.

kromelizard said...

I am intrigued by your review of Gotham City Sirens and wish to buy it.

googum said...

For Captain Britain, is that fun, old Death's Head? The one that talked funny and messed with Dr. Who and the Fantastic Four? And not the terrible, Death's Head II?

Man, the original needs an action figure, although his pointy tusk things would be a hazard to kids and adults.

Caleb said...

It's not every day that I buy a comic based solely on a blog review - but I have to say you've sold me on Gotham City Sirens #2!

Imagine the sales if they called it Gotham City Boobs and Butts.

For Captain Britain, is that fun, old Death's Head?...And not the terrible, Death's Head II?

Oh I don't know. He was only in two panels, and I don't think I could differentiate the two.

Jack Hare said...

I suppose even if the rings do communicate telepathically that doesn't mean J'onn can't hear it...

chiasaur11 said...

Dang, I was trying to think of a way to explain how to distinguish the two Death's Heads visually, but... it's not as easy as I'd like.

Did he have tusks? Big ones?

Because that's the cool Death's Head.