Sunday, May 1, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Crisis of Infinite Reviews!

The quick-read among you may have noticed that it has been quite a few weeks since I have written a review for the regular reviews section of This Ol’ Nexus. The reason for this has been a combination of weeks when I wasn’t picking up that many books or the result of me asking for a break due to a vast workload in class.

I won’t bore you all with details or excuses. Suffice it to say that I will be well and pleased when I finally get my Masters Degree and I never have to do a group project where I am one man doing the work of four again.

But since I spent over $40 on comics this past week, the result of most of my pull list coming out the third week now… I think it long past time I let loose with some opinions.

Amazing Spider-Man #519

Would that this issue had come out a week or two earlier. Then I could have been spared the rantings of a thousand Mark Millar fanboys about the new writer of Marvel Knights Spider-Man had no idea how to write Peter and why was he biting Wolverine’s head off and wasn’t it sudden how Peter moved into Tony Stark’s tower? Here, all is explained. How Peter, MJ and Aunt May moved on up to the East Side. How Peter started getting really possessive of MJ around the hairy midget with the thing for redheads. And how Hydra is coming back in force. I’m not digging the Peter as an Avenger idea so far, but with JMS writing like this, it may grow on me yet.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Birds of Prey #81

Oddly enough, they repeated the JL Unlimited titled “The Cat and the Canary” this past weekend and this issue has that title on the cover. Black Canary and Wildcat team-up to take down drug-dealers in Singapore. Meanwhile Huntress, who walked out on the team last issue, reemerges in Gotham with two other Oracle agents gone rogue, apparently intent on taking over the Mafia in Gotham… as Helena Bertinelli. I was liking the way Helena was really starting to play of Barbara and Dinah as a team player, but I’m sure Simone is going somewhere good with this. And any story with Helena sneaking into the Mafia that updates her status in the wake of Greg Rucka’s atrocious “Cry of the Huntress” mini-series is okay by me.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Conan #15

Cary Nord takes a break and Greg Ruth takes his place this issue. And Ruth does a good job in this story showing the early days of Conan as an eight-year-old warrior in training. This is another title that everyone should read.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur #1

The writing and art style is different than that of the regular monthly title, but this three-part special by the legendary P. Craig Russell is no-less enjoyable. Russell proves himself as skilled as any writer who has ever adapted Howard before and his art is fine as ever. All fans of heroic fantasy, as well as Russell’s work at Vertigo will want to pick this up.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Ex Machina #10

This book got nominated for an Eisner in writing for every category it was eligible for. That says a lot more for it than I ever can except that it is bloody good and everyone should be reading it.

Score: 10 out of 10.

Fables #36

I don’t know why, but this introductory issue to the saga of Boy Blue trying to infiltrate the lands of the forces of darkness just seemed a little flat to me. Not bad by any means, but not nearly as entertaining as I usually find Fables. Perhaps it is because we are looking at general monsters and not the specific reimaginings of classic storybook characters that the book usually centers on. Regardless, this is merely a good issue of a great book.

Score: 7 out of 10.

JLA Classified #6

Every issue of this comic seems like a black comedy now. The more the Countdown to Infinite Crisis continues, the more it seems that characters in this book disappear. The real shame is that this title interests and me more than the “excitement” over in OMAC Project. But then again, I’m a sucker for any story with Etrigan. The REAL Etrigan who is, I just realized, also on the way out thanks to John Byrne. I’d be laughing a lot more if this book weren’t so sad thanks to other people’s work. As it is, I’m still laughing a lot.

Score: 9.5 out of 10.

JSA #72

Geoff Johns is still writing it. It is still one of the best books out there. If you’re not reading it, you should be… whether you’re a DC fan looking for more info on Infinite Crisis or just a fan of good writing in general.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Knights of the Dinner Table #102

With all the big “event” stories going on, it is to the credit of KenzerCo that this issue did not promise a big surprise on the cover. For we did get a big surprise of major importance to the Knights history in this issue with little fanfare. And yet, that makes it all the bigger news. I won’t say what because I’m hoping that maybe some of you non-gamer types might give this book a shot.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Lucifer #61

With a little over a year before this title comes to its’ appointed end, things are starting to wind down to a big war between the Angels of Heaven and the children of Lilth (both by demons and by a rogue Angel named Sandalphon). And somewhere in the middle is the retired adversary himself, his half-angel niece Elaine and Jill Presto- a stage magician impregnated by a living Tarot Deck. This is one of the strangest and certainly one of the best books put forth by Vertigo and I will miss it when it is gone. This is a very difficult book to jump into, so new readers would be advised to start with the Trades and work their way up.

Score: 8 out 10.

OMAC Project #1

It’s a good thing I had recently read the revised Batman: The Ultimate Guide by Scott Beatty. Otherwise, I might have been totally lost as to who the heck this Sasha Bordeaux woman is. I read most of the Bruce Wayne: Murderer storyline and I still had to struggle to remember her. Odds are I’m not alone and Greg Rucka really would have done well to have explained her background a little more and not assuming the readers are all brazen fanboys; Particularly on a series which, according to editorial, is meant to bring in new readers. As it is, I am still deeply worried about the darkening tone of the DC Universe but I’ll probably still read this for another issue if only to see where this is going. As it is, this is a rather poor introduction that explains little and keeps the reader wanting more only because so little is given to us.

Score: 4 out of 10.

PS238 #11

You know, maybe it’s because the market is becoming saturated with several books along this theme (most of them coming out from Image in the near future), but this humor book about an elementary school devoted to super-powered children has just been a little bit stale for me lately. I think perhaps the problem may be that I am not the target audience, since Williams’ stories of late have centered more upon the magic of childhood than on superheroic satire, which is more my speed. Also, the book just hasn’t has seemed as funny since it adopted the non-powered Tyler as a main-character. There’s only so much that can be done with a non-powered kid screaming in terror or diving for cover as things happen around him. The stories here could take a page from the recent Death Jr. book and take a good look at the lives of each kid without using Tyler as an everyman. Because sadly, Lil’ Spawn’s vague descriptions of the realm he was born of and the brief speeches by Lil’ Dream (aka Murphy) are so much more amusing than the idea of a 4-Square tournament of Doom!

Score: 5 out of 10.

Spectacular Spider-Man #27

Spidey swings into the sunset on the cover as Paul Jenkins swings into a long rest and this title swings into antiquity. Thanks be to Marvel, who had the good graces to let Jenkins close out the title he started after a long and often ignored run on this book as well as on Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Aside from giving us one of the best “character” issues of all time, we also get a cute little tribute to the long lost Calvin and Hobbes comics of my youth. Take a bow, Mr. Jenkins. You deserve it. Rest well and get better. I’ll want to see you writing Spider-Man again someday.

Score: 10 out of 10.

Ultimate Spider-Man #76

Sadly, I got more entertainment value out of the comic at Spider-Fan then I did this issue or indeed the entire Hobgoblin storyline. There’s no sense nor motivation to Harry’s transformation other than foreshadowing what might happen in Spider-Man 3 and adding more unnecessary drama to the Peter/MJ relationship. It seems that all claims that Bendis is getting stretched too thin with his current workload and getting lazy are justified. At least Bagley’s artwork is still good.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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