Sunday, April 03, 2005

Three Comics That I Read So That You Didn't Have To

Hmmm...I wonder if I should change the title to say which week it is. Any ideas?

ANYhoo, as always, I pick a couple of titles that "fell through the cracks" and tell you about them, and perhaps you can repay the favor with the books that I did not read!

Spoilers away!

Fantastic Four #524 - The way I see it, the biggest problem Mark Waid's Fantastic Four run had was that Waid seemed to be too desperate for the run to be considered "historic." Way too many attempts to recreate "This Man, This Monster." I think that is silly, and Waid should have had more faith in his own storytelling abilities, and just tell the best stories he could, like he did on his Flash run (I guess a lot of that had to do with the fact that there were no "definitive" Wally West runs before Waid).

In any event, this issue was no different. It is Waid and Mike Wieringo's last issue on Fantastic Four, and it really reeks of "this is the last issue, and we KNOW it is the last issue."

Reed tries to take Ben's powers himself (perhaps this is Waid compensating for the rather odd decision to have Reed be able to switch Johnny and Sue's powers, but never trying it with Ben and himself), but Ben does not let him.

A lot of speech-ifying in this issue.

From Sue, from Reed, and most especially from Ben.

Still, there were a lot of good things in the issue as well. There were some funny scenes, and the art was nice (if you like Ringo's style, which I do).

Overall, though, I think this issue, like this run, was too much of trying to be some ideal comic book, and not enough good stories.

I would not recommend this issue.

Casefiles: Sam & Twitch #15 - This issue marked a return to form for this title, in my opinion. This issue had all the sharpness of writing I liked in the last storyline (until that storyline just dragged on way too long), and the art from EJ Su was strong. The plot of the story involves a vampire woman and her gang of vampires. The exchanges between Sam, Twitch and the old woman (who doesn't look old, natch) were quite amusing.

Meanwhile, the vampires are trying to eliminate a gang, and they decimate most of the gang, who end up taking refuge in a church at the same time Sam & Twitch also take refuge there.

The issue ends with the stained glass windows of the church being broken into by the vampires.

That is quite a set up for next issue, eh?

I thought Mark Andreyko did a very good job of giving a forward-moving plot to go along with the snappy dialogue.

I would recommend this issue.

The Goon #11 - Some books you recommend. Other books you IMPLORE people to read. This is the latter of the two. Eric Powell continues to amaze me from issue to issue with the sheer amount of comic book joy he squeezes into every issue of The Goon.

In the issue, Dr. Alloy's face is corroding, so he enlists the aid of The Goon and Frankie to retrieve for him a special alloy from another dimension. Once in the other dimension, well, to quote a cliche "hilarity ensues."

But the main plot is not the best thing about the comic (nor is the interesitng change in Alloy that will effect the book in later issues)....no, it is the little touches, like Frankie's fight with the crippled boy. Hee-larious.

I recommend this book soooo much.

So that's my three books this week.

The only book that I didn't read that I would like to know about is:

Amazing Joy Buzzards #4

So if anyone read it, fill me in!

19 Comments:

Blogger Lex said...

I disagree with your theory on Waid's FF run. But that's cool. Personally, I enjoyed it from beging to end.

4/04/2005 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

FINALLY!!

I finally receieved Lex's blessing to run rampant in my "not like so much" view of Waid's FF!!

Nyah ha ha ha ha ha!!

Seriously, though, I did feel sorta bad about knocking Waid's FF, as I knew you dug it (I actually was thinking when I was writing, "I feel sorta bad, because I know Lex really digs it, I will try not to tease it too much").

The other FF entry on this blog was removed, so why don't you share why you think his run was badass again, for everyone else, Lex!

4/04/2005 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

I've enjoyed The Amazing Joy Buzzards since issue #1, and last week's #4 was also pretty good. The band puts on a show to try to catch "the killer", but then the culprit shows his face and they have to fight off thousands of "zombie extras". Good stuff. The story ends with another To Be Continued, but they direct you to a website in which you can read the conclusion for free. I guess the online conclusion will be available in the upcoming collection of the first four issues. Whatever. It's a fun comic. I dig the art and the whole goofball vibe. Recommended.

4/04/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I loved FF 524 like a woman.

4/04/2005 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I loved Waid's FF... well, a good chunk of it. Since #517 (#514 if you count Kesel's abysmal arc, but I like to pretend it doesn't exist) it's been slipping. But the nine-center, the Sentient arc, Fifth Wheel, and Hereafter are some great comics. The other ones there were good too, but these were great.

Modulus was a neat little idea, Kirby-as-God was predictable but well-handled, and that one speech of Ben's in the second part of 'Fifth Wheel' (#502) had me on the verge of tears, and no comic before or since has done that.

So yeah, I really liked it. And Ringo's art is snazzy.

4/04/2005 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I love The Goon, but I didn't find #11 that funny. I loved the gag with the disabled boy, but the comic was missing a good "KNIFE TO THE EYE!" They were fighting a giant eye! It was the perfect setup.

Anyway, the ending was a little disturbing, but that's what I love the best about the comic -- its ability to turn on a dime from comedy to drama to horror to ... whatever. Can't wait for #12.

4/04/2005 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

Thanks for the consideration, Brian. But I really don't want my (or any other poster's) opinion to effect what you write in this blog. Still, it was nice of you to consider my feelings. So, as to your request, I will now pour out my love of Waid, Wieringo and their Fantastic Four run:

My love of Waid's FF knows no bounds. In the decade that I have been collecting comics, I've tried the FF several times. Each time I found it boring and undeserving of the "World's Greatest Comic Magazine" title. When the book restarted after that dumb Heroes Reborn/Return crap, it was almost the kind of Fantastic Four I was hoping for (and it was beautifully drawn by Alan Davis). I thought the first 4 or 5 issues were good. But, it quickly got bogged down in un-fun stuff and I lost interest. Then came Mark Waid. I've loved his writing since his run on Flash (which was the first comic series I regularly collected). So, for the first time, I found myself excited about a FF book.

There are people who think Waid was trying to write like Grant Morrison when he did all those wild ideas in FF. That's not true. I think he's tried to write FF like back in the Lee/Kirby days.

In the his first FF trade, Waid wrote: "Stan and Jack's Fantastic Four was, at its peak, the richest and most imaginative comic in the history of the medium. It is where the new happened." He went on to talk about how the creators following Lee and Kirby got too caught up in what Lee/Kirby had previously done and forgot that this was a book about looking forward. And for 13 issues, I believe Waid embraced that idea with every fiber of his being. His stories were all about new ideas and looking at the FF characters in new ways. Even when bringing back Dr. Doom, he tried to look at him from a brand new angle.

And then came Authoritative Action and Waid being fired (temporarily). I liked the AA story, and thought that it was a great follow up to what happened with Doom. And the actions they took finally moved the characters forward to get beyond the stagnation that has been part of Dr. Doom stories over the years. There were a lot of good ideas in there to play around with, but I fear that the boring status quo will return as soon as Waid leaves the book.

Anyway, then came Hereafter. Religion has always been a weird topic in comics. It seems that Nightcrawler is the only character with faith that was ever portrayed in a positive light. I'm sure there have been other positive characters, but most of the time I see religion either being mocked or showed as evil and cultish. So, I was surprised that Reed had the team go to Heaven. I really liked that idea. If any comic book characters were to explore Heaven, it would obviously be the FF. This story was touching and heartfelt and I loved every minute of it. It easily became my favorite story in Waid's run.

After Hereafter, well, I believe that Waid gave up on the "bringing in the new" philosophy and instead embraced a "bring in the old, with new twists and angles" idea. We saw a return of the Frightful Four, a weird Avengers tie-in and Galactus... for the one millionth time. I'm not a Marvel fan at all, and I find myself sick of Galactus appearing so often. I wonder how people who have followed Marvel for many years feel about him. But the Herald story was interesting and I didn't expect Torch to become that Herald.

I did think that making Galactus a human temporarily was a cool and fun idea. It showed me that there was still a little potential left in the character.

Before, I called Waid and 'Ringo's FF "my definative Fantastic Four run." But, since then I've gotten the Essential trades of Lee and Kirby's FF. And I am blinded by their brilliance. Usually, it's difficult for me to read comics from before the 80's, but I can't get enough of this. I just hope that JMS and all future FF writers will continue to embrace Lee and Kirby's idea of looking forward and not back to the past.

4/05/2005 03:46:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"But I really don't want my (or any other poster's) opinion to effect what you write in this blog."

Well, I still knocked the run!

I just did it more politely.

Later, I will explain why everything you said about FF is horribly, horribly wrong...hehe.

4/05/2005 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

"Later, I will explain why everything you said about FF is horribly, horribly wrong...hehe."

Even when I talked about the brilliance of the Lee/Kirby run?

You monster! :)

4/05/2005 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, youth. Lex, glad you finally got your hands on some honest-to-God Fantastic Four comics, even if they were only in black and white. You see now that there IS only one FF run?

So don't stop now: refuse to read modern-day FF at all, just do the Lee/Kirby stuff until it runs out, then switch to, I don't know, some nice Ditko Spidey or Dr. Strange, maybe some Kirby Thor. Lee/Kirby X-Men is pretty good, too! So is Daredevil. In fact every bit of that stuff is a million times better than anything on offer from Marvel today, so why not just spend some time reading it?

Then, if you dare, move up gradually into the 70s. This is a very good time for Marvel comics, too, and there's very little worth skipping: Gerber and Englehart, Thomas and Conway, Wein and Isabella. Starlin and Buckler, Steranko and Adams, Buscema and Buscema, Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe. From time to time you even get Gil Kane, and then at a certain point you get Kirby again! Though not for very long.

When you hit the Claremont/Byrne era you can stop.

4/05/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

Yeah, I've been slowly coming to that realization. Marvel of the 60's seems infinately better than most anything produced today. I mean, I enjoy a lot of modern comics, but most of them are un-fun. But, all these old Marvel comics were not only good, but fun! I'm starting to see why Marvel was able to steal the spotlight away from the awesomeness that is DC back then.

After I'm through with the Lee/Kirby FF, I want to move on to Spider-Man and maybe the beginning Avengers. Then I want to look at some Thor runs like Walt Simonson's first run. And I'm also curious about the first Silver Surfer run, but I heard that he's stuck on Earth the whole time and that didn't sound too appealing.

4/05/2005 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it all starts to seem kind of the same after a while. Some good stuff in there, for sure, but the Englehart/Rogers Surfer was definitely a breath of fresh air by the time it came around. Simonson's Thor is pretty fun and definitely worth reading, but obviously not a patch on Lee/Kirby.

Someone around here said "Englehart/Buscema Cap" once upon a time, if I can suggest it again. Also both Gerber's Defenders and his Guardians of the Galaxy are pretty damn good. Gerry Conway and Ross Andru did a great Spider-Man, that was the one that crossed over with Superman in the humongous 70s special...

4/05/2005 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

Hey, annonymous, have you ever posted at CBR? Becuase sound remarkably like a gestalt of cranky old posters who have hung out on the Classic Comics Board there.

4/05/2005 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

I'm going to feel both dumb and validated if annonymous is Rick D, Cei-U!, or Graviton, but until I get a response, I'll assume it's a gestalt. Because comics fandom needs more gestalt entities.

4/05/2005 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, you want to know if I'm a gestalt of old cranks that posts on the...?

Can I say yes?

Yes, that was me.

4/05/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous gestalt said...

And isn't Rick D that guy who did Disco Duck? See, if you young punks could only fathom the advanced culture we had back in those days...duck shit EVERYWHERE...

4/05/2005 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I like the anonymous gestalt. It/they tell me what I want to hear.

4/06/2005 11:30:00 AM  
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