Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Let's spoil this!


Over the weekend, between watching the Olympics, I worked my way through a couple of week’s worth of comics. More than half were Marvel titles and most of those were SECRET INVASION tie-ins. I’m going to just quickly go over them, not really reviews, but just quick comments. I also read a few DC books and independent titles, which I’ll cover in the same manner. Oh, there will be….

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Secret Invasion: Frontline continues the story of the first day of the Skrull invasion in New York City and how it affected the lives of a half dozen people. We see the Skrulls and various super-heroes, but the focus here is how the average citizen reacts in such a situation. Of course, since it is the Marvel version of Manhattan, you’d think those folks would be used to this sort of thing. You won’t find answers to the major questions the main title brings up, but the writer Brian Reed and artist Marco Castiello do a good job.

Peter David has been among my Top Ten favorite comic writers for years. I haven’t liked everything he has written, but even Charles Dickens had off days. He is the current writer on both She-Hulk and X-Factor, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that given the natural crossovers taking place during the SI event that PAD would bring his characters into conflict. Currently, the X-Factor team is working as ‘mutant’ detectives, taking cases for private individuals and being forced to perform the same tasks by the U.S. government. Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters is working as a bounty-hunter, along with her Skrull partner, Jazinda and naturally (or else it wouldn’t be a super-hero comic), Jennifer and various members of X-Factor end up fighting. I have to be honest and admit that I’ve never been a big fan of Larry Stroman’s art and in fact find many of the characters he draws in the X-FACTOR book (#33) ugly and misshapen. It’s almost jarring then to immediately pick up SHE-HULK (#31) and find the animation style work of Vincenzo Cucca. Wow, what a pleasant surprise! Both books are, of course, well written, but your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about the art in either.

I really don’t know where writer Dan Jurgens will eventually go with TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN, but he is doing a nice job so far of keeping my interest. About half the current Justice League, led by Batman, has gone to Tangent: Earth to rescue some of their members who have been captured by that world’s Superman. Having made himself the ruler of the planet, Superman feels that the ends will always justify the means when it comes to remaking the world in the way he sees fit. Reading the mind of Green Lantern John Stewart this Superman feels threatened by the hundreds of super-powered beings who exist on Earth One. Believing that his world would be threatened by ours Superman decides that he should strike first. The art by Jamal Igle with inker Robin Riggs is clean and keeps all the characters easily identifiable as the action heats up. As I said last time out, I have a bad feeling about the fate of Tangent’s Guy Gardner where he is a hacker picked up by what may or may not be the government, rather than holder of a green ring.

Final Crisis #3 may be the final issue in this series for me. I still have no real handle on where this is going and Grant Morrison makes no attempt at making things clear. Personally, the appearance of the bitchy Mary Marvel cuts any points I might have given the issue in half. The appearance of Barry Allen and the Atomic Knights on their giant Dalmatians doesn’t make up for it. J. G. Jones is a good artist and he certainly is doing a better than journeyman job on this book. Unfortunately, nice art and good dialogue do not make up for too many unanswered questions and the fact that I’m expected to buy several tie-in series in order to follow everything. While you could say some of that about SECRET INVASION, at least the Marvel folks are giving you a hand with a ‘what has gone before’ page in every issue. Check with me in a few weeks to see if I decided to give Morrison & Co. one more chance.

I finished off my pile with three books I have really been enjoying. First, you cannot go wrong with Stan Sakai’s USAGI YOJIMBO and #113 is a nice little done-in-one tale that brings an end to the partnership of Usagi & Gen. IDW continues to bring us two entertaining DOCTOR WHO books each month, one (DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC) featuring reprints of the tales of the Tom Baker Doctor and the other (DOCTOR WHO) stars the current incarnation of the Time Lord. Both are fun and recommended.

Finally, from BOOM! Studios we have ZOMBIE TALES: THE SERIES which is comprised of stand-alone and multi-part stories of survival. As in WALKING DEAD the world is coming to grips with an ever increasing horde of the undead. Whereas in WD the zombies are pretty much what you would assume zombies to be, in ZT the writers are given a free hand. Some stories actually have the zombies maintaining their intelligence and slowly rebuilding civilization, but on their terms. Namely, the ‘norms’ are corralled and raised as livestock for the undead citizens. In other stories, they are your typical Romero shufflers and pretty easy to dispatch if they don’t outnumber the living. The stories are a mix of straight horror, human interest and humorous or a mix. Writers such as Joe R. Lansdale and Steve Niles have appeared along with lesser known folks and a number of artists. To paraphrase something the late, Don Thompson used to say, if this is the kind of thing you like you will like it.
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