Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 8/08/07

DAREDEVIL #99 - There is quite a bit of confusion, it seems, about just who the skull-masked baddie at the end of this book - the apparent cause of all Matt Murdock's recent troubles - really is.

Well, I try to use this space to educate if nothing else, so let me explain.

He hasn't been seen in a while... and they don't outright name him... but the costume and the name Cranston are a dead give away. It's long-neglected Daredevil baddie Mister Fear. And this does actually explain most of the last few issues.

Ignoring some complicated business involving double-crosses and temporary assumption of another criminal's identity, Mister Fear is Larry Cranston - a former Law School rival of Matt Murdock - who used his identity as Mister Fear to try and discredit Murdock as an attorney and ruin his life.

Mister Fear uses a variety of pheromone-based chemicals to trigger emotional responses in his enemies. While he favors fear (as his name implies) he has also used his powers to inspire uncontrollable lust and anger. He can also trigger the "flight or fight" response in humans, which is what seems to freeze Matt up as he enters the bad guys’ base of operations in this issue.

In the past, Mister Fear has also hired and/or controlled through his powers The Enforcers (Fancy Dan, Ox and Montana) - who are the three guys Matt is fighting with at the end of the last issue.

Mister Fear being involved in the events of the last few issues explains a lot. Gladiator's unexplained aggression, Milla's overly-hostile to the point of trying to kill response to Lily, the drug-dealers peddling a substance that makes a person fearless - even Lily's own lust-inspiring pheromone perfume which was provided by Vanessa Fisk, who we found out this issue had been paying Cranston a handsome sum.

Brubaker deserves high praise for this revitalization of a character who, even in his best days, seemed a poor man's Scarecrow.


FABLES #64 - Normally, I don't bother reviewing this book because it is usually a picture-perfect trip. Not so this month.

I really, really, REALLY dislike guest artist Aaron Alexovich's style - which is far too cartoony, even for a story centering on Snow White and Bigby's children. The whole thing just looks like a bad parody of Jill Thompson's work on Little Endless and, for me at least, it does not work.

This doesn't distract from the writing at all, thankfully. And even a bad-looking issue of Fables is still better than most other comics today.


GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE #3 - Is there a petition somewhere I can sign to demand that we keep Andy Diggle and Jock writing Green Arrow stories forever?

If not, I'll have to start one.

Seriously, this is the best Green Arrow story in 20 years and it has neatly reestablished the core of the character while updating Green Arrow for the modern DC Comics Universe.

The big surprise in this issue is that we seem to be setting the stage for Ollie to truly become a Robin Hood figure, as he discovers that the Pacific Island he is trapped on is home to a hidden poppy farm and that an entire village has been enslaved and forced into farming the crop for processing into heroin. Naturally this doesn't sit too well with Ollie even before he finds out that his disloyal right-hand Hackett is working with the druglord behind the farm.

Two weeks never seemed so long.


GREEN LANTERN #22 - Filler.

That's this book in one word. Filler.

That is not to say that this book is bad. Far from it. But it does seem to be one running fight that serves little purpose but to set up larger battles and gives very little insight into the characters and introduces nothing new, save the image of a Green Lantern being literally eaten from the inside by his own fears.

As far as middle chapters go, I've read a lot worse. But if you're on a tight comics budget, you can skip this one without worrying about missing much.


JACK OF FABLES #13 - I would just like to note one thing.

Jack apparently does not share my taste for hot librarian chicks.

And up until now, I thought Jack really was smarter than everyone gave him credit for.

GRADE: A for the book. F for Jack's taste in women.

RED SONJA #25 - It finally dawned on me what my problem with this book in the past has been.

I've been looking at this book as a Conan spin-off rather than its' own beast and been thinking too much in the terms of the Sonja stories of old, which basically were about a female Conan. And Sonja... Sonja is much more than that and should be written as such.

And yet somehow, despite being a continuation of everything that came before, I liked this issue better than anything we've seen in recent memory. I don't know if it is because Sonja seems to be leading her way towards a goal instead of randomly being tossed around Hyboria and the etheral realms.

I don't know if it is because she tries to teach people to save themselves, rather than agreeing to save them as Conan frequently does.

I'm not even certain if it's because the annoying and difficult to distinguish members of Sonja's adventuring party have all been killed and she now has a new band of disgruntled but distinct peasants to lead into battle.

All I know is that this is the best story that's been done with Sonja in her own title in the last year. And I reccomend it highly to anyone who is not yet reading this series.


SUPERGIRL #20 - A shaky step in the right direction.

Regarding the art, I am of two minds. On the one hand, I agree that Kara does look a lot better. She is not, despite what many an idiot on many a message board says "fat" nor is she "dumpy" nor does she have "cankles". She looks like a real teenage girl.

However, I think that while Kara looks a lot better, her costume looks about a size too large and almost frumpy. She looks somewhat like a younger sister who hasn't hit her full growth spurt yet trying to wear the school uniform of her fully-grown older sister.

Still, I find this artistic vison of Kara to be a step in the right direction and a lot more acceptable than having nipple impressions on either side of the S. That being said, I find the artwork somewhat inconsitent in quality. While certain panels look fantastic, others look... odd, for some reason.

As for the story, I'm giving Bedard the benefit of the doubt simply because he's coming in on the middle of a horrible cross-over. That said, he seems to have regressed Kara from being the rebel at heart we've seen in past issues to the Patty Duke sycophant she was back in the 50s.

I'm hoping that's just because Kara is too focused on trying to stop more of her Amazon friends and innocent people from dying that we see so little of her past personality here. Time will tell, I suppose.

GRADE: A very cautious B-.


  1. Daredevil 99
    Hi there,
    I'm sort of warmed by your comments. I've just been slurred by a blogger who wrote that he didn't know who the heck the evil mastermind revealed in DD 99. I just pointed that the Villain had in fact last seen in s story written by Joe Kelly in DD just before Quesada and mith took over the title, so his last appearance in the title was relatively recent. or at least to me, as I've been a keen Dd follower since the first Miller run.
    I just wanted to be informative and helpful, and he just has trashed me: it seems that to him, having loved a character and collected his stories for a while longer than him makes me a "comic encyclopedic w*nker" out of me. It seems that it is a sin to know and love the character beyond the Daredevil film.
    Should one only read comics for just ten issues? can't one like to follow a character for years, if one pleases to do so?

  2. Next issue of Supergirl is, from what I understand, a Countdown tie-in. So I'd say it will be issue 22 before a non-biased take can be made of Bedard's writing...
    And wow, are we polar opposites in regards Alexovich's art...

  3. Re: Daredevil 99
    Hey, I have no problem with trying to tell people about how, ya know, people wrote Daredevil before Brian Michael Bendis...
    I think he may just be one of those "new" fanboys who never go looking for old comics to read. They just collect whatever Wizard Magazine says is "hot" this month - not one character or one writer or even one artist's complete work.
    Which blog was this on? I sense someone who deserves a mental spanking, Starman style!

  4. Re: Daredevil 99
    It was on BeaucoupKevin aka . I'd say his "old school" comics fan credentials are pretty solid...

  5. Re: Daredevil 99
    Criminal is well worth checking out. The only reason I don't review it on a regular basis is because I can only say "This is damn good" so many times. Same reason I don't usually review Fables or Ex Machina.
    Sadly, I find there are two kinds of comic fans. In deference to a similar statement made by Douglas Adams, I shall refer to them as "The American Fans" and "The British Fans".
    When a British fan comes across a character, a device or something in a comic story they haven't seen before that has obviously shown up before, they ask "What's wrong with me that I don't recognize this?"
    When an American fan comes across a character, a device or something in a comic story they haven't seen before that has obviously shown up before, they ask "What's wrong with the people who wrote this that they didn't make this so that I can understand it?"
    Seriously, there's the fans who strive to learn the history and the ones who don't want to be bothered. The people who go back to read all the classic Frank Miller stories from the early 80s and the people who are keeping Judd Winick working.

  6. Re: Daredevil 99
    Re the discussion elsewhere, nolo contendere I'm afraid I get hot sometimes over some issues. Probably the last story with Cranston in the Daredevil series wasn't precisely a grand one, even though the Karen Page trial rings some bells about what could be the future developments in Daredevil (though, with Brubaker, it would be difficult to tell: he is very apt at surprising the reader
    Again with the previous Mr. Fear story, I didn't feel it was so long ago... well in my mindset: the Marvel knights relaunch seems so recent in my mind... time flies indeed
    But I think that the past shouldn't be ignored, because there are great things there to be enjoyed: If I only had the money, I'd get myself reprints of Frank King's "Gasoline Alley", Alex Raymonds' "Rip Kirby" or any work by Alex Toth or Osamu Tezuka, or indeed many other American, European or japanese masters of comics history, and of course, a lot of good ols classics from Marvel and DC, not to forgetting a lot of European... as far as a comic is good, I frankly don't mind if it is a hundred years old.
    Oh, and I'll definitely check Criminal. About Fables, I've read some trades published in Spanish, and I admit that I quite enjoy the read very much:D