Monday, March 13, 2006

Some reads from the break

Well, I was called in to work early tonight. Unfortunately the guy who works before me had a family emergency. So, since I have a little extra time, I figured I’d talk about some of the stuff I’ve read during my hiatus (not much, since I’m still in trade-only mode).

More than anything, I’ve been devouring volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub as fast as I can. I’m up to volume 15, and volumes 16 and 17 are en route along with House of M: Incredible Hulk.

Speaking of HoM, partly inspired by Chris Allen’s positive review of the House of M trade, I ordered it and found it, surprisingly, to not completely suck. I was more impressed with Coipel’s pencils than Bendis’s writing, and in fact a scene close to the end of the trade helped me get a firmer grip on what I think is one of Bendis’s glaring weaknesses in his Marvel efforts. He has a tendency to make major shifts in character accompanied by really weak justifications for those shifts. For example, the scene that made me think of it in House of M was towards the end when, rendered invisible by Strange’s spells and Frost’s psychic crap, Cyclops give a speech about how killing is a-okay this time around because the stakes are so high. So, how were the stakes any higher than in a ka-zillion other Marvel crossover events? The world was changed, yeah, but vs. threats of the world being invaded or threatened with destruction or being sucked into hell or everyone’s heads turning into blocks of cheese, having a world in which everyone gets what they want doesn’t really seem to rate, does it? I felt the same way with his intro to New Avengers (though I generally liked the first two or three issues while I felt it went downhill after that). A contrived, impromptu gathering of heroes inspires Captain America to restart a team? Well, how about being inspired by the fact that he wears his underwear on the outside and all his friends do, too?

Speaking of the intro to New Avengers - David Finch’s art was one of the highlights of those first few issues and, assuming it will be collected in a trade, I’m looking forward to this new Moon Knight, even though I’ve never really cared about the character either way (and it seems like, particularly considering how hard Marvel’s pushing it, a trade collection is inevitable - Hell, if they collected Alpha Flight . . . ). I read a few Finch-hater comments on Newsarama, and I don’t know. Obviously, everyone has their own tastes, but it seems like criticizing a superhero comic artist for subjects who are too “overmuscled” seems a little bit like criticizing a lawyer for being too argumentative.

Let’s see, what the hell else did I read? I checked out the Spider-Man/Human Torch: I’m With Stupid digest, and it was pretty cool. Though I almost choked on my food when I read a comic book writer’s (forget who, but no, it wasn’t Slott) comments that it was the best limited series of the year. Also in Slott land, I got the GLA trade and was a little disappointed. It was good, but not as funny as I remembered. I’d already picked up the first two issues as floppies (right before I changed to trade-only), so maybe that had something to do with it.

You may or may not remember I surprised myself by giving the first volume of the Kirkman/Kolins Marvel Team-Up a thumbs-up. Mainly, it was just fanboy nostalgia for me. Well, I bought the second volume. Oh boy. Not even Kolins’s art could save that one for me. The clincher was the Punisher/Blade chapter in which Kirkman revealed, hold on to your seats - this insight is going to make Sherlock Holmes shit his pants, Blade and Punisher . . . are in some ways . . . alike. And man was I glad Robert Kirkman was there to let me know. I never thought a psycho loner who kills shit would find common ground with a psycho loner who kills shit. No more MTU for me.

About a month ago, I decided I want to check out some of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics trades and with the exception of Whedon’s own Fray, they were all disappointments. Most of them are just too derivative of the show. I read The Origin, Ring of Fire, and The Death of Buffy, and most read like fan fiction. I may check out Peter David’s various Spike books if/when they get trades, just as I’d be willing to pick up the future Buffy book Whedon plans to kick off, but other than that I ain’t interested.

Speaking of Whedon, in the past few months I picked up Serenity: Those Left Behind and the first tpb for Astonishing X-men. I wish I’d stayed off the Internet enough to get the full impact of Colossus’s resurrection, but other than that Astonishing rocked. The “fastball special” moment was beautiful. Serenity was good, but a little disappointing in the half-assed way they dealt with the Blue Hand Men.

Tom Strong, Book 2 was, without surprise, a lot of fun, as was the first oversized Avengers Assemble hardcover. I got the first Seven Soldiers of Victory trade, but had already read all of the collected stories in floppy form, so it was mainly just to get the stories in preparation for the subsequent trades (I think, in floppiness, I read as far as #3 of Shining Knight, the first two issues of the other four mini-series that kicked off the project, along with the #0 issue). WE3 was the work of genius everyone said it was, and that means a lot coming from me. Not that my opinion is any more valid than other reviewers/bloggers, but violence and fluffy animals usually piss me off when they’re mixed together. Hell, I cried when that Ewok died. You know. That one.

Collections I'm looking forward to picking up include the HC editions of the most recent Defenders, Marvel Monsters, subsequent Seven Soldiers of Victory trades, along with everything I still haven't read from Lone Wolf and Cub (where most of my comic book money is going these days). "Planet Hulk" is testing my fortitude as far as my collection-only rule is concerned, but I. I will survive.

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