Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Three 9/8 Books That I Read So That You Did Not Have To

As always, I tell you about three comics that I did not hear a lot about this week, and then I ask you all to fill me in on comics that I did not read this week.

PVP #18, Villains United #5 and House of M #6 Spoilers Ahead!

PVP #18

I will be honest with you, I have not heard a lot of good things about PVP, so when I picked this issue up, I was not expecting much, but man, this was really a funny, nice book. One of the reasons I always shied away from it is that I got the impression from others that this was not all that nice of a book, but this issue, at least, was very friendly. I liked it.

Scott Kurtz's art is not amazing, but it is good enough. He's better than that guy who draws Dilbert, at least.

The stories, though, were quite fun. The book is a collection strips that Kurtz does on his wesbite, PvP, and I will admit, it is a bit annoying to be reading, in September 2005, strips from February 2004, but timeliness aside, the stories are good. The two major storylines are the boss Cole firing his two slacker writers because the magazine (Player vs. Player, natch) was being sued by a website claiming that a review the two wrote that everyone thought was good was plagarized from one of the website's writers. The second story involves an accident that gives a cat super-intelligence. Scratch the cat then tries to take over the world, with hilarious results. I think I have read somewhere that Scratch has become a big character in the time since then, so that's good to hear, as he was quite humorous (at one point, he tries to kill Cole by poisoning some cat nip. He has to be informed by his owner, Skull the Troll, that humans don't LIKE cat nip, so it is not much of a trap. Scratch cannot believe this, and as he explains why cat nip is so great, he almost ends up eating the poison himself!).

In any event, there is a lot of story in this issue, and it was funny, and nice, so I guess I would have to say...

Recommended!

Villains United #5

Before he began work on Identity Crisis, Brad Meltzer's only comic book work was an arc on Green Arrow after Kevin Smith left called Archer's Quest. I really enjoyed it. I felt that it was the love letter to the DCU that Meltzer CLAIMED that Identity Crisis was meant to be. In any event, the one problem that I had with the story arc was that Catman turned out to be a total tool in the series. And yes, I know, the dude is a yellow and orange Batman opposite whose main power was that he had a lucky cape, but that does not mean that he was a lame character!!! So I was irked that Meltzer made him a bum just because he wanted to make a villain a bum. That rambling opening was placed there so that I could tell you how pleased I was to see Gail Simone make Catman respectable again. That was much appreciated, and Catman continues to be cool in this issue.

Dale Eaglesham's art was good in this issue. I have to give Wade von Grawbadger a lot of credit, as well. I think this was probably his best issue, art-wise.

Okay, Scandal Savage? Funny. Now here is my question. I have not heard anyone else mention this anywhere else, which makes me think that I am totally insane, but is this NOT the same daughter of Vandal Savage that was introduced during Mark Waid and Christopher Priest's run? If it was any other writer, I would not even think it, but since Gail is friends with Waid and she ALREADY has an obscure Christopher Priest creation on the team (The Parademon), I figure the chances are not so bad. But no one else has mentioned it, so I wonder. Miss Watkins was her name.

The dialogue was good in the comic, and there were lots of cool moments, like when the Parademon whips out a pile of mother boxes in case they need them. Hehe...nice.

Lady Quark is dead, but it was fun to see her again. In fact, since she already is dead, then I can't be mad when she is killed off again later (which is certainly seems like they're leading up to).

My one big complaint with the comic is the same that I had with #3. I understand that comics are affected by editorial, in the sense that you cannot kill off characters with abandon. I get that. However, I think the way to avoid that is to come up with good reasons why characters WON'T kill. I do not see such reasons in this comic. Cheshire announces to the team that she betrayed them to the Society. So Deadshot doesn't kill her WHY exactly?! I get why Catman wouldn't, but exactly why would Deadshot not just shoot her there? I don't get it. It seems waaaaaaaaaay off.

In any event, this was still a fun comic with a lot of action, but with the connection to Infinite Crisis, I will give it two rankings.

If you are really into Infinite Crisis, Recommended!

If you are not really into Infinite Crisis, still Recommended (although less so, of course)!

House of M #6

Remember when Olivier Coipel debuted on Legion of Superheroes? Oh man, was he disliked. He really has come a far distance since those days (and I did not hate his work then or anything, he just has improved a lot). Now, if he could just drop that weird "making guys broad (including their faces" tic, he is one of the best mainstream artists out there.

There are two ways of looking at the pacing in this comic. On the one hand, you could argue that writer Brian Michael Bendis is slowly catching the reader up on the grandeur of the situation, or, on the other hand, you could say that this is being written for the trade, so he feels free to use SIX pages of simply introducing guests at a big House of M dinner (the guests being the leaders featured on the cover of the comic book). I think it is probably somewhere in the middle between the two.

Bendis has a lot of fun with the premise in this issue, with the scene where Luke Cage calls up his girlfriend (soon to be mother of his child) Jessica Jones, only to see that she is married to someone else (by the way, who else is impressed by Bendis not using Jessica Jones in this thing? I mean, yeah, it was probably a conscious decision thing...you know, like "I know people say I use her too much, so I will show them, I WON'T use her at all in this thing!"...but even so, impressive on his part), while Peter Parker also bemoans the fact that Mary Jane has become much more successful as a single woman. In addition, Bendis has a really good scene where Jessica Drew does the old "do we really WANT to change this?" and Wolverine gives her a "Are you a moron?" reaction. Good, good stuff.

By the by, so...the Iron Man and Fantastic Four mini-series had NO impact whatsoever? Good to know.

There is a speech by Cyclops that highlights something I have noticed about Bendis' Marvel Universe work. He really has this sort of sense of, whatever is happening in MY story is THE biggest thing that has ever happened top to these heroes. I think that is actually an angle that probably works well for the ephemeral new reader, as they get to get a sense of "Wow! This is the BIG time here!" But at the same time, it is a bit eye-rolling to hear Cyclops give a speech about how THIS time they should not hold back, because it is super important. Oh really, and all those OTHER times that they were fighting for the sake of the galaxy...those were times that they should have held back? Seemed silly. But not a big deal, really.

In any event, there was a decent amount of action, and some new clues as to where Professor X. So it was basically an enjoyable ride, that is, if you are into this storyline. Which leads to two rankings...

If you are into House of M, Recommended!

If you are not into House of M, Not Recommended!

Now on to the books that I did not read, so I was hoping you might have read them and could tell me what I missed out on:

Bakers #1

Simpsons Super Spectacular #2

Thanks!

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12 Comments:

Blogger James Meeley said...

Brian:

I can think of two reasons why Deadshot just didn't shoot Cheshire right then and there:

1) He just got his butt handed to him by Catman and wasn't 100% sure he'd hit her on the first shot. And with Cheshire, one shot is all you'd get.

2) With her announcement about carrying Catman baby, with Catman right there, he knew Catman would stop him and just didn't want to get pounded anymore, especially considering the other villains have come to kill them.

Both might require a bit more effort than you might like, but I think either of those can appropriately cover why Deadshot did shoot right then. Of course, we still have a whole issue to go. So, he chould still shoot her before it's all over anyway. ;)

9/14/2005 05:01:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Even if I were to say, "Yeah, I guess that can fit" (And I don't think either explanation fits at all, really, as Deadshot had his gun up against her head. Let me repeat that, with an emphasis...DEADSHOT had his gun up against her head...in other words, he was not afraid of not being ABLE to kill her, he just decided NOT to, for whatever reason) it would be a huuuge stretch, and one I think should just be avoided.

Why create a situation where you have to invent reasons (and worse, reasons not evident IN the comic) why a character would act against their nature?

We all understand the metatextual reason for why Deadshot wouldn't kill Cheshire right after she just revealed that she just betrayed the team, but there has to be a good "in comic" reason, too.

That being said, I will certainly allow for the possibility that next issue will give a good reason (like Deadshot secretly working with Cheshire, or something like that).

9/14/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Elephantine Room said...

Villains United annoys me beyond the ability of words to express, but time and again I attempt to express it anyway.

- The dialogue takes on a sort of reverse-Johnsification, where instead of heroes complimenting each other on how incredible they are, we have villains standing around telling each other how remarkably badass they are. This becomes especially egregious in the case of Catman, whose "revamp" consists entirely of other characters telling him how much of a badass he's become.

- The characters are stock types, barely registering a single personality trait apiece: the tough guy, the cool guy with the obscure code of honor, the artsy freak, the crazy guy with the random fixation on the artsy freak, the vamp who wants your babies. Scandal doesn't even manage that; she's a complete cipher.

- The "team of rag-tag losers up against all odds" cliche is such a cliche at this point that it really demands something special to make it work. That really isn't there.

- At the end of the day I'm still far more interested in Luthor and Talia than I am in Catman and Parademon. So why is ninety percent of the book spent following the C-list around?

A lot of people say this series is "fun." No, it's not. Plastic Man is fun. This is warmed-over McAction crap - the comic book equivalent of a bad hollywood bomb, bland, predictable, and instantly forgettable.

9/14/2005 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cory!! said...

The Bakers #1 is a quiet little domestic comedy that wouldn't be out of place in a newspaper in the 60's. Nothing in it is new (forgetting a wife's birthday, a baby learning to walk), but Baker's art makes it all seem charming and funny. THIS is mainstream comics, and would probably sell very well if it were in mainstream bookstores.

9/14/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad other people were bothered by Deadshot's inaction in VU (a series I started out enjoying, but have somewhat soured on). The Deadshot I know from Ostrander's Suicide Squad wouldn't have let Cheshire get out another word after "I'm defecting."

It'd be fine with another character, but part of the point of Deadshot is that he has no compunctions about killing. He doesn't necessarily enjoy it, but he'll kill in an instant if it seems like a reasonable option.

On House of M, my problem is less the pacing than the predictability of the plot. Has anything happened that you couldn't have predicted from the high concept (Magneto changes reality to rule the world)? The world is different. The heroes discover something's wrong. They gather their forces. They go after Magneto.

Also, why are they willing to kill Magneto? How does that help anyone?

Also, why are they looking for Professor X? He can't alter reality.

9/14/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad said...

How is this all DC?

9/14/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Whitmore said...

Good call on Bendis thinking his stories have more impact on the characters than any other story they've ever been in. I was just waiting for Scott to add: "None of that 'holding-back' shit we do when Galactus attacks."

But I liked the Jessica Drew bit much less. If Bendis had stopped the scene right after Wolverine says "you're gonna be embarrassed you said that", it would have been gold. Because it WAS an embarrassingly stupid thing to say. But she just kept going on and on, lending credence to her argument. I think Bendis thought he was actually putting a good point across through her, which is really hard to believe.

9/14/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

Villains United is one of the most fun books involved in this Infinite Crisis stuff.

And what comic were you refering to about Waid and Priest and Vandal Savage's daughter?

9/15/2005 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Justice League Task Force.

Waid and Priest co-wrote the first arc, and Priest took over the book solo after that.

Some good stories in those issues.

9/15/2005 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger Dulaney said...

Having not picked up VU #5 yet and the understanding Mockingbird will be revealed in #6, I'd like to toss something out there on the "Why Deadshot didn't pull the trigger" speculation.

He's a spy for the Society as well.

They all are. Each one serving a member of the Society leadership (except maybe Black Adam who is otherwise occupied) and gathered together by Luthor as a way to keep tabs on his fellow "board members."

Just speculation.

9/15/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

That works for me, Dulaney.

9/15/2005 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Heh. I actually preferred Coipel's older Legion stuff to his current Marvel work. His characters were less deformed (no Minnie Driver big faces back then), and I really liked the scruffy inking from (I think) Andy Lanning.

9/16/2005 01:31:00 PM  

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