Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Joe Rice Media Review 1/19/04

I'm on a posting spree! It's crazy! Can you take it? You probably cannot.

Overall, a pretty great week, with a couple of notable exceptions. Let's jump into the fun. Plastic Man was a fun, funny cartoon romp with two "endings" I didn't expect. It walked through the tropes of cat and mouse cartoons, did them well, and added to them a bit. The art is beautiful, and though it's a quick read, it's a pretty densely quick one. Great.

I really, really like Invincible. I know I've said it before, but it's true. It's what straight-up superhero books could and should be. It's not blowing the genre apart, but it doesn't have to. It's doing the genre, it's doing the material with love, and, more importantly, with skill. Kirkman forwards multiple plots without making any of them seem Claremonted. I care about the characters, and I have fun reading it. It's a great experience to read this book every issue. Great.

So Milligan's taking over X-men. And, on the cover, at least, Larocca tones down the silly boobosity that made his work so repulsive to me in the past. So how did this turn out, you ask. Is it "Enigma" Milligan? "X-Force" Milligan? Or, most frighteningly, "Marvel Crossover Book for a Buck" Milligan? Well, one issue's a bit early to tell, but it doesn't seem to be the last of those three. It's also not the first, and probably not the second. Milligan hits some good notes here and has started an interesting plot. I'll give this an arc before I judge it too harshly. Good.

Does anyone write alternate reality superhero stuff like Alan Moore? Even when he's only plotting, Terra Obscura is incredibly strong stuff. Sure, it's informed by silver age DC stuff, but, like the issue of Superman/Batman before the cowboy wankfest, it's nerd pleasing and not nerd pandering . . .the extra knowledge is an added bonus, not a requirement for story understanding. The art's nice, the plot is tricky but rewarding, and I almost wish this weren't a mini (but at least it'll have a satisfying conclusion). Great.

Mignola, Mignola, come back to us. I need Mignola art. I thirst for it like Claremont thirsts for punishment from a strong woman. But there's nothing wrong with some choice Guy Davis art. And at least Mignola is coplotting or whatever. Arcudi's doing fine with this, too. I know some folks have said that Roger's characterization in BPRD: The Dead is a bit off, but it's an enjoyable "off" so I'm not too concerned. This issue threw a lot at the reader and most of it is REALLY interesting. As in, I can't wait for the next issue. That's a good sign. Great.

I think I just don't like The Authority. Sure, Brubaker's vision is stronger than most any I've read, but I just can't find anything to LIKE here. The characters are all dickpits, from "hero" to "villain." I can't see many satisfying reveals for who the "hooded mastermind" is. Perhaps Brubaker is better suited to more personal stuff, even in comic universes. I know I'd take Gotham Central or Sleeper or Cap A any day over this. I just don't see why I should be reading it. Not good.

Ultra took a turn for the much darker, but did so with dignity and without gratuity. The death is painful, the violence is shocking in the right way, and the suspense is real. But, as always, the real attractions are the relationships between the characters. Liv and Pearl clearly feel uncomfortable being angry with each other, and Jen's embarassment is palpable. The art's pretty, the jokes are spot on (when used) and even the arsonist gets a nice little twist on some archetypes. This is a very strong book and not, as one blogger put it, icky treatment of women. Look no further than DC for that. Great.

The last issue of Bullseye: Greatest Hits is just like the others: way better than it had any right to be. Sure, the AMAZING Dillon art is a plus. But the story works, too. I remember reading fanboys bitch about Daniel Way's other work, how he got continuity wrong. Well, here at Comics Should Be Good, Continuity Can Suck My Dick. Bullseye's in control the whole time, we find out his secret plan, and the truth behind all the "truths" he's revealed in the series. I'd not call this great, despite the art, but it's definitely Very Good.

I was all set to drop Nightcrawler. I've no inherent love for the character, nor for Robertson's art. But I do like Aguirre-Sacasa's 4, so I tried it out. We get the first half of a spooky two-parter. It's nice to have a writer at least know a bit about New York when writing about it. The details are on. Logan's quite funny throughout. Storm's more interesting than Claremont could ever dream of making her. Best of all, the story moves. Things happen. There's plenty of talk, but it's not there just to impress sorry readers. Good.

So I guess Mighty Man ran as a back-up in Savage Dragon? It probably was a fun back-up. Put together like this . . .um . . .yeah, it's pretty disjointed, jerky, and not altogether interesting. Not good.

So did Wanted redeem the filth and detritus it wallowed in for the other issues in the finale? No. It's more of the same, with one of the nastiest, most petulant "angsty 14 year old who watched a few Twilight Zones" endings I've ever seen. What would you expect from a comic that thought "Shithead" was clever? Absolute garbage with more starhumping artwork. Get over it, Millar. Hollywood's not coming to your door.

But, hey, any week with Invincible, Plastic Man, Terra Obscura, and BPRD is a good week for comic fans.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanted #6.
Three word review: So fucking what?

Wow. That was it?
I didn't find it that unpleasant. Kind of uncomfortable. Like a little fart that you discover has a bit of 'juice' in it.
But yeah. A real damp squib that one.


1/20/2005 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger alex said...

WANTED can suck my dick.

Macho, posturing, frat-boy horseshit. Nerd tough guys are lame.

1/20/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I was honestly fooled into thinking that Mark Millar had something to say with "Wanted." I wasn't enjoying the series (buying it on my wife's insistance), but I did think he was going to turn it around and surprise us with some kind of point. Whoops! The surprise is that he didn't do that!

But what he DID do was tell the people that purchased his comic book that they did so because their lives are shitty and there's nothing they can do about it.

Brilliant! Except I thought Mark Millar was a 30-something year-old man. I might have gotten a kick out of this juvenile jag he's on when I was 16. "That guy said 'fuck you in the ass!' HA HA HA!" So I'm guessing that "Wanted" was made for high schoolers so they could all have a good laugh at how stupid adults are for having, y'know, jobs.

Because otherwise it's just kind of shrug-inducing.

I'll totally lose respect for Eminem (y'know, out of all that respect I have for him) if he makes a movie of this. "Fight Club" has already done it. And way, way, way better.

1/20/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

I'd mention some of the books I bought this week, but Joe would hate me.

Though, I did get the Ex Machina trade. I've been waiting to get this for awhile and it was everything people said it was and more! It was amazing! The writing was great and the characters were facinating. I was very happy to get this book.

1/20/2005 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Eminem and his publicist both have disavowed any interest or knowledge in the project. This sent Millar scrambling to erase the posts where he said otherwise. They were basically like, "Who said WHAT?"

1/20/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger thetechnocrat said...

Is this the new home of the review?

1/20/2005 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Yeah. The personal blog, which I guess I should rename, is now reserved for, well, stuff more about my life than comics. Stuff with my kids and such.

1/20/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...



1/20/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger thetechnocrat said...

I noticed it has disappeared from CBR too.
As long as I can still read it, I'm happy.

I can identify with using the personal blog for that. It's hard for me not to pontificate my adventures & the daily struggle of life when I have such an open forum.

1/20/2005 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I think Plastic Man should be knocked a bit for being so darn slight. I mean, there were a few good gags in there, but come on, the book took, like, 47 seconds to read. I think that should knock it down from "great" status.

Invincible was awesome, except for the ending. Which was both A. Predictable and B. Something Gruenwald would have done in an issue of Captain America. Ottley is improving every issue, I think. He's still not as good as his predecessor, but he's become a really good artist, I think.

X-Men made me Didn't dislike it, and I didn't like it. I think I, too, will wait for next issue, and see where Milligan goes with this.

BPRD...I have nothing different to say. :)

The Authority gives us a well-told story, at least. Although I would agree that, except for maybe Swift (as I still just love the fact that a member of Stormwatch created with a whole pile of crappy characters is now a "hip" character), I do not particularly LIKE a lot of the characters in the book.

Ultra, I thought, was excellent. The art was very good, as usual (okay...there were a few scenes that struck me like Chuck Austen's art in Elektra, but those were few and far between). And the story was to the point where I would like to show it to the people who told me that Ultra wasn't "Their type of book."

Bullseye, like I have said in the past, is an example of Way getting his head out of his ass, and actually just concentrating on writing a good comic book story. And the fact that he has an awesome artist working with him makes that a lot easier.

Nightcrawler, I was telling people the other day, was a HUGE improvement over recent issues. I would definitely recommend it. Although Aguirre-Sacasa is late with the "Boy From Oz" joke, as Claremont already made it a few months back.

Mighty Man, I liked as a serial. Haven't read it collected yet.

Wanted, I also have not read yet.

1/20/2005 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Yeah, I kind of hated CBR for quite a while so I decided to pull up and leave finally. It's been awesome.

As for the other blog, hey, take part in my NEW CONTEST to RENAME MY BLOG! It'll be the funnest ever.

1/20/2005 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Perhaps never having bothered to read Gruenwald Cap, I was less let down.

As for Plastic Man, I didn't find it too slight. I took my time, as there were more gags than first sight may have made it seem. And I'd rather have something "slight" like that than "dense" like a Wolfman/Perez book.

1/20/2005 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Some books Joe did not mention...

Simpsons Comics #102 - The Simpsons characters as analogues for Barks' Uncle Scrooge characters. The basic joke is funny, and the comic is extremely well-told, with excellent art that breaks out of the "house style" of Simpsons Comics.

Batman: Gotham Knights #61 was the surprise of the year. In that it was pretty good. Which came as a hell of a surprise to me!

Adventures of Superman #636 is the kind of comic that makes you want to make continuity suck your dick. Hehe. Just an awful, awful continuity-driven comic book designed to tie in with Identity Crisis. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Teen Titans #20 somehow manages to AVOID being just like Adventures of Superman, and Johns, for once, uses his obsession with continuity to tell a nice, character-based story. I was surprised, and pleased, to see it. Of course, it is also amusing to see him devote a couple of pages to Starfire leaving the Titans to join the Outsiders. Because, you know, that's something we NEED to see. Hehe.

Manhunter #6 - It is great to see an artist grow right in front of your eyes. Jesus Saiz is going to be BIG. In either event, he's not going to be big on THIS title, which is not a bad book, but it is not particularly good. And DC also shows a lot of faith in the promise of this book when they tie it into their big crossover RIGHT AWAY. Hehe...I guess otherwise, we'd be seeing a Bloodhound effect here.

Human Target #18 - I didn't like it. Milligan is often off and on for me, and this issue he was off.

Catwoman #39 - I disliked the hell out of last issue, so I was totally taken aback when I liked this second part by Scott Morse. Good characterization, and even Gulacy's art was not so terrible (although it was really bad at some times, like the scene where he has Catwoman smiling broadly when she is supposed to be angry!?!?).

Outsiders #19 - The conclusion of THIS month's "Serious" storyline. Weird book, man, weird book. And I think it is great that they have Arsenol's kid get kidnapped, branded, and then returned emotionally scarred! Oh, I think that is a terrible idea! That's right! Please excuse my mistake.

Wonder Woman #212 - Ugh. The JLA guest-stars to test the now blind Wonder Woman. Boooooring. But nice Saiz guest-art!

Daredevil #69 - Really good issue, I think my favorite of this arc. Some big nepotistic continuity by Bendis. And I'm always a sucker for "people learning to use their powers in amusing ways."

Madrox #5 - A pretty good ending. I don't think the artist really served this book well.

Powers #8 - I thought this was the best issue of Powers in awhile. The sad thing (IMO) is that the best issue of Powers in awhile is no longer a book that leaps to the top of my "good books that week." But it was a good book, at least.

Wolverine #24 - I thought this was a fun issue...but I really hate this Gorgon guy. I mean, come on, he can beat Elektra in combat...oh, and he can KILL PEOPLE WITH A LOOK!!!! How dumb of a power is that?!?!

Ultimate Spider-Man #71 - GASP! Is that...a...a...a cover that has to do with the content inside the book!?!?!? GASP!!! Hehe. This was another slight, but enjoyable issue during Bendis' 6-part "team-ups" storyline.

Cable/Deadpool #11 - This book actually has been pretty fun. Although, for the life of me, I do not understand why Patrick Zircher, who is a better artist than Mark Brooks, is spending the book APING MARK BROOKS!! I know he wants to give the book some continuity (as Brooks drew the first couple issues), but come on, man, you area a BETTER ARTIST! Give the book YOUR style! The book will be all the better for it.

There are a few more books, but this is getting boring. Joe, how do you do these things? It gets so repetitive. Hehe.

1/20/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I find it's easier when you find amusing ways to hate most of this shit.

1/20/2005 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger alex said...

Visa vi WANTED... When the first few issues came out, I said they were lame, BUT, if he pulls out a nice bit of satire, ala Clockwork Orange, I will recant.

He didn't. It was just lame wish fulfillment frat boy crap.

Anyway, I LOVED BPRD. This is such a great book. The art is sweet as hell, and the story is bizarre and mysterious and compelling, and has me totally hooked.

PLASTIC MAN sometimes is a bit twee for me. This is one of those issues. Not every one is a home run, ya know.

The EX MACHINA trade reminded me how great a series that is. Just firing on all cylinders, that one is. Tony Harris is one of the current greats.

And of coures the GREEN LANTERN archive was a delicious treat.


1/21/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

At Brian's request, I'm posting about the books I bought. Get ready for a Johns/Rucka love fest!

Teen Titans - I really enjoy this. I was worried about it, since it focuses so much on a plot from Identity Crisis, but it turned out really good. Jeff Loeb has really burnt me out on narration, but I thought Robin's narration worked great. Is it sad that Robin was better written here than in the last year of his own book? Anyway, I thought this was a great issue.

Wonder Woman - I know there's been a lot of readers asking for more action in this book, but I thought the fight with the League was unfun and boring. If the only thing it boiled down to was that Batman was the only one who actually fought her like an enemy, then it should NOT have taken up so much space. But, I'm really excited about the plot with the gods on Olympus. Briareos looked really cool!

Adventures of Superman - I've been enjoying what Rucka is doing on the book, but I have to say that I'm getting sick of this Ruin character. He's not THAT great as a villain that he needs a years worth of issues as the main villain. And I was disappointed about the confronation with Batman and WW. I was expecting something better. But the thing I really liked to see was Lex Luthor beginning to play a role in the DCU again. In AoS, Titans and Manhunter this week, we see Luthor setting a bunch of plans in motion. It's like when the Monitor started appearing all over the place before Crisis started. I'm interested to see where it goes.

Manhunter - I want to like this book, I really do. There was just no hook for me into this character. I still don't see her motivation for being Manhunter. And, it kind of annoys me that a rookie hero is having such an easy time against all these classic DC villains. On the other hand, I love that this book has a lot of one-issue stories as apposed to story arcs and it's a facinating balance between being a superhero and being a lawyer. And I think it's cool that it's already integrated into the DCU with the Luthor subplot and Kate appearing in Identity Crisis. So, I'll stick with the book awhile to see where it goes.

Gotham Central - While I think this is the best book coming out of DC, I thought this was the worst issue of the series. I just didn't enjoy it (and I miss Lark).

Birds of Prey - I like this storyline. It's bringing up some interesting questions about vigilantes.

I think that's it... besides Ex Machina.

1/21/2005 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

See, no worries, Lex!

I mean, okay, I wouldn't say I loved Teen Titans #20, but I would categorize the issues you mentioned in detail as thus...

TT #20 - Good
WW #212 - Boring with nice art
AOS #636 - Terrible
Manhunter #6- Boring with great art

So basically, you and I are in agreement!


1/21/2005 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

Just because I'm always the last person one the bandwagon, I'll talk about all the comics I read this week, even though most of them are a month old:

Plastic Man 13- The usual madcap goodness, with gags a plenty and some funny swipes at the RIAA and the Patriot Act. For sheer entertainment value, this is my favorite monthly, except for maybe...

Ex Machina 7- Vaughan's doing an excellent job with the interplay between Mayor Hundred and his advisors. He's really making this a compelling series by focusing on that and Mitchell's past. I'm really looking forward to seeing how all these pieces fit together. It was also nice to see an ending to an issue that wasn't your usual cliffhanger.

We3 1- Finally got a copy of this. May not be the best idea, since I can't find a copy of issue 2 anywhere around here, but I'd been wanting to read it, because it's Morrison and Quitely. I don't think I need to say more than that around here. I wasn't blown away by this book like I expected to be, but it still found it extremely well done (the dialogueless portion at the beginning especially so) and want to see where it's going. Hopefully a trade/E-Bay lot will help in that regard.

BPRD 2- The comedy portions with Roger and Captain Zombie were great, and the cliffhanger was interesting, but I can't say I'm that interested in Abe's past. Still, I'm liking this slice of BPRD a lot.

Captain America 2- Very well paced, and Brubaker sold Cap's skepticism over last issue's big development very well. I also liked how little details from the first issue, like the Skull's disguise, were brought up. This has many of the qualities that make Sleeper good but hits all the notes you need for a good Cap stort , too.

What If Dr. Doom had become the Thing?- I really liked this. May have been the Paul Smith art, but I think Kessel did a good job of getting a self contained story out of the premise. It reminds me of the kind of story that made me a huge fan of the series when I was a youngin'.

Spider-Man/Human Torch 1- This was another good, solid self contained Silver Age-style superhero story, that had some pretty funny moments to boot (I really liked the gag at the end, especially) that even adds some nice nods to the Bullpen Originals that inspired it. And yet, my reaction to it was lukewarm. The sum didn't add up the parts, for some reason. That said, I can't find anything wrong with it.

Ultimates 2- Whereas Joe hated this, I thought it was interesting. Millar's actually adressing the consequences of the Hulk cover-up, and he's keeping the "Is Thor an Asgardian or just nuts?" plot going. The way the book's paced, it will take months for any resolution to come about, satisfying or not, but I'm interested in seeing if Millar will actually change the staus quo around here. So I'll keep with the book, for now at least.

I also picked up Samurai Executioner vol. 1. I've only read the opening two stories so far, and if nothing else, they made for interesting lunch time reading. Not every day that you can have fries with your feudal Japanese beheadings.

1/23/2005 11:05:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home