Friday, May 11, 2007

Looking To The Stars -The Week In Reviews For 05/14/07

Amazing Spider-Man #540
Company Name: Marvel Comics
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ron Garney

I'm one of the few who seems to have, for the most part, enjoyed JMS' time on Spider-Man. I liked the whole "bond to Spider totem" idea, mostly because Peter DOES fit the mold of an Anansi-style hero so well and JMS spun the story in such a way as to say "This is just a theory. It doesn't mean it is right." To my mind, JMS was also the only writer who did a convincing job of explaining how Peter wound up joining The Avengers.

Still, I've been off this title for a while simply because it wasn't worth my time to deal with reading any more Civil War tie-ins than necessary. But the word that Aunt May might be shuffling off to The Great Beyond (again) was enough to bring me back for a bit.

I've missed good Spider-Man stories so much.

Granting that the concept of Peter losing it has been done before and that the only reason we have this whole "Back in Black" storyline is because of a desperate attempt to tie in the comics to the Spider-Man 3 movie, this isn't all that bad and JMS has taken the hand dealt to him by Marvel editorial and made lemonade out of lemons. And the final scene with Kingpin - who is not the least bit shocked that Peter was able to track down his men - classic.

One thing though: I hope that someone - in either one of the Spider-Man books or in Daredevil - references the fact that Matt Murdock sprung Wilson Fisk AFTER he went out of his way to try and kill Peter and his family. That's gonna be one heck of a conversation between old friends. And my conversation I mean gratuitous Marvel-style hero fighting. :)

Grade: B

Countdown #51
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Jesus Saiz

Oh, so much to like.

* A truly evil Duela Dent
* A good Red Hood
* Trickster and Piper, back to their "good, but not TOO good" selves.

And of course - an explanation for "The Monitors" that have been popping up here and there in the DC Universe, watching various characters and trying to kill others. It seems that they are, quite literally, continuity cops - killing off anyone who dares travel outside of their proper universe and anyone who continues living despite reality insisting they should be dead.

Which goes a long way to explaining why they were looking after Dick Grayson (who was supposed to die during Infinite Crisis), Donna Troy (who is, herself, a gestalt of every Donna Troy that ever existed in the Universe), Kyle Rayner (who jumped between realities during the Ion mini-series and was supposed to be the Green Lantern of Earth 8) and now Jason Todd (who was brought back to life thanks to a punch to reality).

So far, so good.

Grade: A

Green Arrow #74
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

I'm reviewing this one after having had a few e-mails asking what I thought of the attempt to try and bring Ollie and Dinah back together in three issues. Morbid curiosity and the part of your brain that makes you slow down to look at car crashes did the rest.

First things first; the cover of this book and the blurb on the DC Comics site have jack and squat to do with the actual issue contents. "All of Green Arrow's secrets have been revealed to the citizens of Star City…threatening his tenure as mayor!"

The truth is that the "Ollie fighting for his political life" story has been put completely on hold and isn't even mentioned in this issue. This is probably for the best though as out of everything going on in the book, this is easily the dullest storyline. No, the major brunt of this issue centers upon Ollie and Dinah's pillow-talk following a 40-hour marathon love-making session in the wake of a Sam/Diane style argument following Brick and Merlyn's escape.

Now, ignoring any issue one might have with the idea that two professional vigilantes & former JLA members would stop following a hot trail and allow the bad guys two days to regroup and plan while they play kissy-face... the dialogue between Ollie and Dinah is actually pretty good. I wish Dinah seemed more impressed with the idea that Ollie was willing to wait forever for her than the fact that he has been celibate for over a year but that's a minor quibble.

The truth is that being given only three issues to try and bring comics' most passionate couple back together after the events of the last five years would be a daunting task for any author and the sudden "I just realized how much you've changed" moment is probably the only way this could ever work given how little contact the two have had of late.

And McDaniel's artwork is looking a lot better than it did when he first started on this title. He even manages the difficult (for him, at least) trick of drawing an attractive Dinah Lance. Don't get me wrong - I like McDaniel's work and his Nightwing run was classic - but drawing attractive female figures is not his strong point.

Honestly, this isn't that bad all things considered. Sure, it's slapdash and forced. But as far as slap-dashed and forced books go, it's about as good as it can be.

Grade: C

Jack of Fables #10
Company Name: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Artist: Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy

Genius. That's what it is. Sheer genius!

Okay. Enough Wile E. Coyote quotes.

Seriously, I can't say a bad thing about this book. And I risk repeating myself describing all of the good things in this book. So I will just say that everyone should be reading it if they are not already.

Grade: A

Red Sonja: Vacant Shell
Company Name: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Rick Remnder
Artist: Paul Renaud

Am I the only one who thinks the Zombie meme is officially overdone? Between Marvel Zombies mania (which my colleague Paul Sebert commented upon earlier this week) and the countless independent horror titles that seem to cover the same territory over and over and over again, you can't go to the comic shop without their being some new zombie title being thrust upon you.

So here we have a story which is, at it's heart, Red Sonja fighting zombies. And yet, it is so much more than that. The plot detailing how the zombies were created and the chain of events that brings Sonja to become involved in stopping them is a nice twist on a genre that is usually limited to "here be monsters, slay them".

I can honestly say that this issue surprised me. I think it will surprise you too, whether you are a fan of fantasy comics, zombie comics or just good writing.

Grade: A


  1. Did you download the missing dialogue page for Jack of Fables?

  2. I saw it. Didn't download it. I'm planning to pick up the trades for "Jack" and they've said it will be corrected there.