Monday, October 20, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Quick Reviews

Once in a while, some books are written that I don’t get a chance to write about during the course of the regular weekly review schedule. When this happens, I use my column to let you, the readers of this magazine, know what I thought about some of the fine periodicals of the day.

And why do I think you people want to know what I think? I know this simply because more people write to tell me how much they like my writing than no.

Incidentally, a quick note to all of my non-fans; the reason I didn’t have a column out last week was due to my being busy with mid-terms and had nothing to do with me being fired. The management would like for me to apologize for getting your hopes up….

but I’m not going to. Honestly, why do you keep reading my work if you don’t like it?

There. On with the reviews!

1602 #3

Shaping up to be the classic you’d expect anything by Neil Gaiman to be. I’m not a big fan of Kubert’s artwork, but he does a good job here and the digital painting technique used on his pencils gives the whole thing the look of a storybook or a stylized woodcut. And yes, it has DOOM!

Agent X #15

The good news is Gail Simone and UDON still have it. The bad news is that #15 is the last issue. The great news is that the door has been left open for more Agency X madness in the future, with all of the old gang together again. And a classic hero (?) thought dead is returned to bring us more ultra-violent buffoonery in the future.

Daredevil #53

Good stuff, but I wish this had been done as an Echo mini-series rather than a part of the regular series. It seems a bit anti-climactic after the epic battle in issue 50 to devote five issues toward a secondary character trying to find a new place for herself in the world. That said, I applaud David Mack’s efforts to develop Echo as a character and must say he has done a great job in making her stand out from the many other women that Matt Murdock has had a disastrous relationship with.

Dr. Fate #3

I’ve been loving this new series, though this was the weakest issue so far. And this weakness came more from some excellently illustrated fight scenes rather than the good dialogue and interesting characters that Golden exposed us to in the first two issues. Still, I plan to stick around for another two issues at least. So far, this book proves to be something magical.

Green Arrow #31

Judd Winnick shows his strength for writing good comedic dialogue, if not keeping his characters consistent with their past portrayals. Consider how Connor Hawke, who has spend years living away from technology in an ashram is now e-mailing and file-swapping with the best of them.

While I don’t think it impossible for Connor to have become a little more techno-savy, I do have some issue with the “all life is sacred” Buddhist cavalierly attacking even a metahuman opponent with intent to kill, going so far as to blow up a building to hurt an assailant whose only apparent power is heightened reflexes. Apparently, someone hasn’t noted that while Oliver Queen has no qualms about killing villains under desperate circumstances, those have to be VERY desperate circumstances. And Connor has always been one to honor life over getting the bad guy. And the issue of Oliver Queen’s casually cheating on Dinah Lance is easily side-stepped as the woman involved in the affair is killed off and forgotten as quickly as she was introduced.

Come back Kevin Smith! All the missed deadlines are forgiven!

Hulk Grey #1

If you like The Hulk or enjoyed Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow or indeed anything that Jeph Loeb or Tim Sale have ever done, then you will love this series. ‘Nuff said!

Knights of the Dinner Table Illustrated #27

One of the funniest issues of this series in recent memory. Misfit adventuring team, The Black Hands, finds themselves having to find a new fourth member after the barbarian Kraggin dies a most messy death in the arena. Sadly, none of their new recruits seem to be making the cut… or are cut down by the assassin Rasputin after only a few hours of questing. A funny book whether or not you are a gamer, all fans of Sojourn, Scion and other fantasy quest comics will greatly enjoy this look at the less-than noble side of adventuring.

Spectacular Spider-Man #5

“The Hunger” has easily proven to be the best Venom story written in the last fifteen years and Paul Jenkins deserved our highest thanks for having given some serious motivation to a character who has often times been written with little of it besides “I want to eat your brains.” While I didn’t like Humberto Ramos’s artwork much in the past, he has grown on me the past few issues and I can’t wait to see this team tackle my favorite Spider-Man villain, Doctor Octopus, in their next major story arc.

Superman/Batman #3

Superman and Batman fight a whole army of super-villains. Simple. To the point. And fun as all get out to watch. I especially liked the “Butch Cassidy/Sundance” moment…

Batman: I think we can take them. Do you think we can take them?

Superman: You always think we can take them.

Batman: Yes I do.

Honestly, I pity you if you aren’t reading this book. World’s Finest, indeed.

Ultimate Spider-Man #48

Few are the writers can pull off a scene that has double-meanings to the action. And triple meanings are rarer still. And yet Brian Michael Bendis creates such a scene here, with apparent ease in Spider-Man’s assault on the Kingpin’s tower.

Angered by how the media has turned against him, even as Wilson Fisk walks free despite being caught on tape, Peter Parker swings with his best feet forward, intent on confronting Fisk face to face. It is a scene we’ve seen many times before- Spider-Man crashes through the glass window to arrive just in time, like a streak of light. But technology has caught up with the comic book industry and Peter bounces off the reinforced window to Fisk’s office like a bug off a windshield.

And here we have the three elements. First, the humor in that the unexpected has happened and our hero looks foolish because of it. Second, the sheer drama and anger as Peter swears at an impassive Wilson Fisk through the window. Finally, there is the symbolism of the window as the shield that prevents Fisk from being touched by anyone… especially Spider-Man.

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website.

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