Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Comic Time! (3/18/09)

With most of the DC books I follow closely not scheduled this week, it's a nice chance to catch up with the good boys at Marvel. And most of the titles this week have us digging into the universe of the X-Men - and it's the Good, the Bad and the Average. Beware our good friend Mr. Spoiler below.

Comic Reviews for the Week of 03/18/2009

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Mike Deodato

Even if this story wraps up next month (and it looks like it will), I can't really consider the first arc of this book anything except underwhelming. The rather unique (if you never read Thunderbolts) approach is that the "Heroes" are actually fighting a battle more for their own self interest (firming the alliance with Victor Von Doom), than any noble endeavor. But Morgan le Fay, even as drawn by Deodato, is an underwhelming first opponent for this team. She isn't iconic enough to merit comparison to the more traditional Avengers' villains. She's too covered in this title's omnipresent shadows to be attractive. She's also too ill-motivated, what with this being about a lover spurning her as opposed to some good old-fashioned world conquering.

For now, I'm off this book despite its marque creators and rather centralized location in the Marvel hierarchy. In these tough economic times, our hard earned comic dollars deserve better than: could be good.

Final score: D-

Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Terry and Rachel Dodson

This month, we've got our old friend, Dual Fights Edited Together. And as we usually have, one of the fights can't possibly live up to the other. I mean Colossus' angst-ridden I-Want-to-Feel-Pain story can't live up to Angel getting in touch with his inner Horseman of Death, Archangel... especially when his opponent is a giant lizard monster. Dodson's artwork is nothing new, a good style wasted with the pedantic parallel fight elements and matching panels for both story lines on the same page. When are people going to get tired of revisiting this tired visual cliche? I did when I was 16.

As far as the Colossus story, I was never a big fan to start with... more a supporter of the Wisdom/Pryde days of good old Excalibur. And the ultimate decision for Colossus getting a "Katya" heart tattoo is the type of idea that shouldn't be addressed after 1988. And a fight scene that includes Peter turning his armor off to beat up the Emotional Tattooed Man shouldn't be addressed ever.

On the other hand, Beast's rogue science crew takes a back seat while Angel ditches the fluffy Messenger of God routine for some hardcore Archangel action straight out of his time on X-Force. That Hank is discovering this recent change in his old friend for the first time adds some emotional weight to what otherwise would just be a razor-winged demon hacking a giant lizard to pieces... not that there's anything wrong with that. While this fight rips with both violence and nice characterization, it would be nice if the opposing story wasn't so very lacking. So it's a ya take the good, ya take the bad approach this week and our score reflects that.

Final score: C

Written by Mark Millar, Art by Steve McNiven

"Old Man Logan" was the arc that I was born to hate. I have never, ever, nerver been a fan of stories with no implication set in some never-to-be-realized future. If they at least have some relevance to current day that's one thing, but this is the type of event that would be fine in a double-sized issue of What If?, not an extra-long arc in a main title. If this story didn't involve the names Millar and McNiven, I'd like to think the raving fanboys supporting this arc would agree with me. But this road trip story is old and the only thing I'm glad about is that the ending is in sight.

The issue does look fantastic and has some nice ideas touched upon (Emma Frost married Von Doom to save the mutants, Old Man Black Bolt vs. Venom-Rex), but there are too many holes. And the double-splash pages of the bones and long past deaths of the heroes loses the O-M-G effect real quick... like five issues ago quick. I pretty much checked out last issue when it was revealed that Logan's enormous angst comes from the fact he was tricked by Mysterio killing all the X-Men... that's right... let me repeat that. He. Killed. All. The. X. Men. After countless wars with the Shi'ar, Magneto and the Brotherhood, the Sentinels, the Hellfire Club and Apocalypse... they are beaten by a D-level Spider-Man villain. And this issue is no better with the entire journey being revealed to be pointless in the end. Well, unless the point was Logan being set-up to pop the claws after a six month wait.

Don't even ask me why I'm reading a Wolverine book, when I've always argued he's best in smaller doses as a supporting character. I suppose I'm one of those raving fanboys lured in by the names of Millar and McNiven.

Final score: D-

X-FACTOR #41 - "Back and There Again"
Written by Peter David, Art by Valentine de Landro and Marco Santucci

And so the kicking of ass continues and David once again reasserts himself as the craftsman of the best X-book of the month. And just because he asks so nicely, I won't be spoiling this one... too much. No, even though the only people reading this are my dad and a few other random internet trollers, I will not ruin things. But I can mention the story does reintroduce the other members of X-Factor having adventures in a post-Madrox line-up. And while a couple are generally ignored, Monet, Guido and Darwin (yeah that un-killable guy who I never liked) have a nice little action sequence.

But while our favorite minister, Maddox (the clone that Madrox left alone to live his own life) actually gets a surprisingly exciting sequence, there's only one grab you by the throat and never let go story line. And my only complaint is that I want to see more of it. Layla's back and as cool as ever, even ripping off the Terminator quotes and spinning Madrox into a storyline set in a different time, but hopefully with massive impact on the present (unlike some other stories Mr. Millar).

For the second month in a row I must congratulate the artists on this book, if only for doing solid work on a title that was so recently (like three issues ago) the worst drawn book in the history of comics ever.

To sum up, this is the only book this month that I demand the next issue of right now. I'm not kidding, give me the damn thing... c'mon... I'm really not kidding... stupid inability to travel into the future. Comic book heroes get all the luck. Just for that I'm adding a minus to the grade. But if anyone reading this is listening to me at all - Don't be a fool, stay in school... also go to your comic shop and pick up issues #39-41 of this title.

Final score: A-

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