Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #25

Wow. Raise your hand if you remember these insane hologram covers. These things seemed pretty awesome on the trading cards of the time, I’m not sure it works so well just glued on the cover of a normal comic book. It is still cool, but it certainly prevents any uniform type of look on those covers.

So this is part of the Fatal Attractions storyline, almost a crossover, but not quite. There is a “mystery” villain, but I’m going to go ahead and spoil Magneto’s involvement now (20 years later). But while Magneto is the big bad of the issue, most of the fighting is between X-Force and Magneto’s disciple Exodus.

I always like it when Magneto uses his powers in a way that makes sense. After lurking in shadows for most of the issue, when it comes down to it, Magneto and Cable finally battle it out. Now, Cable is a half-metal cyborg, so how long do you think that fight should go? Fabian Nicieza does a nice job keeping Cable’s involvement an overall “win,” but boy, that is a short fight. Cable honestly shouldn’t have much of a chance against the master of magnetism. Since Cable manages to bring most of his recruits home and save the Professor (the AI program that helped raise Cable), he can claim a win, but c’mon, Magneto whipped up on ol’ Nate.

This is one of those issues where the rich history of the X-Men really makes for some interesting interactions. When Exodus takes most of the team up to Cable’s former spaceship, the mystery antagonist might still be shadowed to the reader, but the characters have no doubt about who they are speaking with. Cannonball and Sunspot spent years with Magneto as their mentor, so when he shows up as the mastermind, they aren’t concerned. It is pretty neat seeing the way Magneto sort of backs down and flatters his former students too. The characters’ history makes the moment work.

Greg Capullo does another nice job with the art in this issue. Exodus is a bit of a challenge, though. Not only is his 90’s look ridiculous, but I have absolutely no idea what his powers are. When Exodus uses his vague powers take on the X-Force team, it just looks like big blasts of random energy. Seriously, what the heck can he do besides be ominous and menacing? (And sport a sweet mullet?)

Another thing Capullo’s art really emphasizes is how strong the team line-up is at this point. Rictor might look like another 90’s bozo, but aesthetically, his green and brown toned costume really looks good in the group. Warpath’s red and blue still takes up a lot of space on the panel, contrasting with Shatterstar’s white, Feral’s orange, and the pinks and yellows for Boom Boom. Capullo does a really nice job with the team action, and Nicieza has the personalities and power sets into an interesting and useful mix. This is a well-rounded superhero team.

This isn’t a great comic, merely GOOD, but it is an easy, fun read. The art keeps the book interesting, and frankly, using Magneto makes the book feel more important than it has so far. This is definitely on the stronger side of the X-Force books I’ve sampled so far. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #15

Here we go, Greg Capullo! 

And man, does the art take a turn for the better! Capullo is a respected artist and huge draw now, but this is one of his earliest assignments, so he’s nowhere near as polished as he is on Batman. That said, there is no denying the immediate improvement in storytelling and anatomy that he brings.

Capullo gets to show off with a couple nice fights, too. Deadpool vs. Cable works out pretty well, with Deadpool rocking some Spider-Man poses as he throws down with Cable. I can’t say I understand why Cable wants to go punch-for-punch with DP, except that it looks cooler and more “comic book-y.” 

Capullo is the best X-Force artist (so far) at drawing women too. Domino looks fantastic. Without her metal facemask and in some conveniently torn clothing, she looks fantastic. As a more mature reader, I question why her pants now look like a thong and how she got a conveniently placed hole on the chest of her costume, but I’m sure younger Timbotron didn’t mind.

The other fight goes by a tad quicker, but still shows off the team’s powers nicely, Crule suddenly re-enters (almost like a movie skipping back a few seconds) and comes after Cannonball once again. I swear, it is like a few panels of last issue just get erased and Capullo gets to do them over with his better pencils. Is that possible? 

This time, Cannonball barks out some orders, setting Shatterstar and Feral after the close-quarters combatant. It’s pretty neat seeing Cannonball treated like an effective team leader. Sam Guthrie was one of my favorites when I was younger, and THIS is how I liked seeing him. Confident and battle-trained, he’s much cooler than he was in the earlier issues. More importantly, with Cable gone, there is actually a role for Cannonball to play. With Cable around, Cannonball barely deserved a few lines of dialogue. Now he’s making decisions and recruiting his best friend Sunspot back onto the X-Force roster.

Man, do I like Siryn. Her costume is so dynamic and cool; I can’t help but like her. That under-arm cape is tremendous! And while Liefeld made his mark drawing Shatterstar and Feral, Capullo is no slouch. Both characters look really nice in these pages. I remain stunned that Shatterstar’s padded facemask can look so neat under so many artists’ pencils! Crule, though? He’s awful. From his name to his generic look, I’m remembering why I blocked this storyline from my memory all those years ago.

This GOOD comic is back to being art-driven, but now it is being served by Fabian Nicieza’s plot and pacing. This is the best it has been since I started re-reading.

Tomorrow, we see how the X-Force team responds when placed into an X-crossover…

Monday, December 29, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #14

We are in uncharted waters here, folks. I chose this issue to review because I thought it was the debut of dynamic penciller Greg Capullo. (You may have heard of his Batman work? Or Spawn?) But it turns out Capullo only did the cover, and the interior pencils are by fill-in penciller Terry Shoemaker. 

Shoemaker’s art is fine, but it is a bit cartoony. It’s brighter than Liefeld’s crosshatched work in the first issues. I think I see some Chris Batista-like details in the faces, and Larry Stroman’s style in the figure work. So a book that launched to feature the artist is saddled with a workmanlike fill-in, but clearly the art-driven direction of the book is taking a back-seat.

Fabian Nicieza is still writing, and things have cleared up nicely. The book opens with Cable and Domino infiltrating Tolliver’s estate while Cannonball and the rest of the team take on SHIELD. This era is clearly part of the confusing Externals plot, a storyline I have worked hard to block from my memory. The silly-named Crule shows up to kill Cannonball at the end of the issue, because… I think the Eternals are sort of like Highlanders? There can be only one… (maybe?) The main team doesn’t have much time to decide on their future plans. There is some talk about a long-term plan for the team without Cable’s influence, but they can’t really decide on a plan before Crule’s arrival.

I remember being very surprised by the other big development in this issue. When Domino and Cable get inside Tolliver’s home, they find Domino tied up against the wall. That’s right; the Domino who has been appearing in this book since the New Mutants days is in fact Vanessa, Deadpool’s sometime girlfriend. The real Domino has been captured and tied up for all this time. I do appreciate that Cable seems to zip through Tolliver’s other flunky at the close of the issue, setting up a big Cable/Deadpool throw down for next month. Of course, Deadpool seems to kill regretful Vanessa as he arrives, so it isn’t all fun and games.

While the art isn’t as fun as the early issues, the plot does move along more smoothly. Having Nicieza plot and script his own stories does seem to have improved the pacing of the issue. This is still only a FAIR comic, but it is getting better as the pacing and story improve. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #4

Here we go! Rob Liefeld must have been focused on this issue for the past few months, because this book looks a ton better than issues 2 and 3. The horizontal layout challenge must have been a fun one, because Liefeld’s art hasn’t looked this good since issue 1. Sure, Cable is still wearing that absolutely atrocious metal armor with the prongs; and Cable’s thighs are still unbelievably huge, but almost everything else in this book looks better than the last two books.

Liefeld’s Spider-Man is distinctly McFarlane-esque, which makes sense since this story crossed over with McFarlane’s title. There are almost no backgrounds throughout the entire issue, but that time seems to have been made up in details on the core characters. Juggernaut (sporting glowing red eyes in most panels) looks demonic and dangerous. The mutants battling him look great, with some nicely detailed panels for Siryn and the other ground-level fighters.

The storytelling suffers on the Cable-centric pages. Either Cable is walking or the hand holding his huge gun is just mysteriously switching for no reason. If there were backgrounds or more of a sense of motion, I’d probably know which it was, but as I said; no backgrounds. Cable also acts like a tough guy in his panels, blasting Black Tom as he dangles down an elevator shaft. Somehow missing at point blank range, Deadpool just pops on panel to rescue Mr. Cassidy before he buys the farm. 

Unfortunately, the Tolliver sub-plot bleeds over into this story big time, with Deadpool porting out Juggernaut too. And after the heroes had just gotten his helmet off too! (Now, I’m not certain how much a difference that made. It sure doesn’t seem to me that even the entire X-Force team (plus Spidey) could stop Juggernaut. Juggs is no worse for wear after 30-plus minutes fighting the heroes. This is a well-choreographed boss fight that really feels big-time thanks to the horizontal page gimmick.

Spidey just doesn’t fit in that well with the X-folks here. (This is in the married Spider-Man era, so it was nice to see Spidey making references to Mary Jane.) There aren’t really any good “connections” for Spidey among the X-Force roster, so there aren’t any great bonding moments. It’s too bad; I know Fabian Nicieza could do more if there was a kindred spirit amongst Cable’s young troopers. Heck, I think the strongest bond for the web-slinger is Juggernaut due to their past conflicts.

Tomorrow I’ll be jumping ahead in the X-Force chronology, so this wraps up the initial “Liefeld era” of the title. I remember liking it, but not loving it. Reading it over 20 years later, it doesn’t hold up that great. The art is more uneven than I remembered, although the sense of kinetic action is still strong. I still think Liefeld’s greatest strengths are his character design and frenetic action sequences. When the story slows down, when I have time to really pore over the anatomy, I have a lot of questions. But dangit, I still like the overall energy of Liefeld comics! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #3

Oh my gosh, three issues in, and I’m having a hard time. Rob Liefeld’s art, which was so nicely laid out and designed in issue 1 is really starting to look rushed. The thighs and general anatomy of the characters has gone out the window. I mean, there are panels where Warpath’s waist looks thicker than Juggernaut’s whole body! And Cable’s armor, oh my gosh, it is awful. There are two strange sharp prongs that look like they should be jabbing ol’ Nathan in the face during every fight. Juggernaut looks OK, but most of the characters really don’t look good.

But that isn’t a universal comment, because once again, Liefeld seems to be spending a lot of time on Shatterstar and Feral. Both characters look more completely penciled in. Their cross-hatching is more detailed. They have more lines on their uniforms and faces. In general, these two look the best every single issue. The list does grow here, though. Black Tom Cassidy is nicely realized on the page here. From his fantastic, over-the-top villainous posing to his moments in battle, Black Tom looks good. 

Siryn, for the most part, looks good too, but there are a few iffy panels for her too. Adding Siryn to the team does wonders for the color scheme of the team. With this early 90’s coloring, the pinks, purples, and silvers were not looking good. Only Warpaths’ blue and red really breaks up the bland-looking team. Adding Siryn's greens and yellows really breaks up the page.

I love Fabian Nicieza’s dialogue for Black Tom and Juggernaut. They sound like classic comic book bullies. It is weird seeing this much talking between Warpath and Juggsy, but it is amusing seeing the tough guy posturing. Plus, any book with a “Krathakapow” sound effect is OK by me!

This book is a set-up for issue 4, the “all-horizontal” issue guest-starring Spider-Man. Issue 3 doesn’t stand too well on its own, but it does pull the book out of the nosedive of issue 2. Issue one remains the high point of this FAIR series. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #2

Kane! Weapon X! With the power to shoot his hands and feet off like a broken toy! I can’t remember if he had more powers, but those are the only ones he uses in this issue. The opening pages are as dynamic as the premiere issue, but man, the overwhelming RED on the page makes it hard to enjoy. I know you can’t change someone’s costume design, but having Deadpool and Kane throw down just makes for an overall sense of red bleeding over the entire page.

In fact, I’m not sure if it is the coloring or printing errors, but this book is full of problems. Boom Boom’s awful costume is mis-colored on one page. Cable’s face is pure yellow in on another. The quality control on this one wasn’t too high, I think.

Rob Liefeld’s pencils are not as tight as in the first issue, and the anatomy on some of his figures seems more off than normal. I don’t expect realism in comic art, but I’m pretty sure that Warpath has three elbows per arm in one panel. In fact, a lot of the cast doesn’t look great here, with the grimacing and wincing through the roof. BUT, Liefeld still makes Feral and Shatterstar look tremendous. I wonder if Shatterstar was his favorite? That padded mask actually looks cool to me!

In issue 1, Fabian Nicieza really throttled back the caption boxes. They are back with a vengeance here. Kane in the opening sequence, and Feral in the back, the dialogue is heavy and obvious, not the best I’ve seen from the writer. He does do a nice job with Deadpool’s dialogue though. It’s so weird seeing the character show up in this comic as a villain. He’s working for “Tolliver,” who I don’t even remember!

The main plot isn’t a barn-burner. GW Bridge wants Kane for his anti-X-Force team, and Feral loses control and guts Cannonball while on a training exercise. I’m much more excited about the cliffhanger; Black Tom Cassidy has kidnapped Gideon and Sunspot. PLUS, Tom has just rescued the Juggernaut from a non-corporeal state.

This AVERAGE issue isn’t quite as fun as issue 1, but I’m anxious to see the team go after the Juggernaut. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

12 Days of X-Mas: X-Force #1

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season! 

Once again, I’ll be doing a special theme for the 12 Days of X-Mas as I look at an older X-Men comic, series or theme. Over the years, I’ve changed from a more general “X-Men” theme to looking at a specific series. This year, we’re looking at volume 1 of everyone’s favorite 90’s creation: X-Force! Launching in 1991, this is going to be interesting. I haven’t read these issues since early high school!

A lot of people say a lot of things about Rob Liefeld, but I have to say, I’ve always enjoyed his work. The pencils aren’t the most realistic, but that sense of dynamic action on every page really pops. One thing that really struck me as I re-read this issue was the panel layout of each page. Liefeld never goes for a straight grid. Each page is unique, with smaller insets, partial splashes, and odd patterns and colors set behind the panels. In some cases, I had a hard time figuring out what order to read the panels, but for most pages, I found myself pleasantly engaged by the non-standard layout. Some of the background patterns even reminded me of Snake Eye’s Arashikage tattoo!

Fabian Nicieza provides the dialogue, and one thing absolutely blew me away. There is almost no narration in this issue. The story is told through dialogue, either yelled or spoken. We don’t have the yellow boxes of modern comics to tell us what is happening. That’s an even more impressive factor considering how much is introduced in this debut issue. We meet the X-Force team itself, their main target Stryfe, and his team of mutants the MLF. We see X-Force’s new HQ established. And simmering subplots are introduced with SHIELD’s G.W. Bridge.

In our debut issue, the core team is fairly straightforward. Most of the characterization is focused on Cable. There are elements of his past that I do not remember AT ALL. I forgot he kept his powers hidden from the team when this series started. I had totally forgotten that he had a father-son relationship with some dude named Tyler. I think Cable and Domino are still together in this too, but I’m pretty sure that gets retconned at some point soon.

As for the rest of the team, Domino is Cable’s girlfriend. Cannonball is the earnest young soldier seeking Cable’s approval. Shatterstar and Feral are both wildcard brawlers. Warpath is almost totally silent, although Cable does allude to the fact that Warpath’s strength seems to be increasing. Plus, I forgot that Sunspot was trapped in narrative limbo with the Externals and that silly guy Gideon. Oh man, I’m dreading that External plotline.

I really love Warpath’s costume. That is such a classic look; I wish the character was appearing in something more regularly. I also can’t resist the design on Shatterstar. That padded facemask, the double blades, the half-cape. Let’s face it, that’s a great 90’s design. Feral is pretty basic, but I LOVE that huge afro. Domino looks better without the weird shell facemask. I think her look here is not flattering. Liefeld really does have a knack for costume design. Cable’s huge vest, guns, shoulder pads couldn’t be more 90’s. I know it is silly, but c’mon, it’s also pretty awesome! I also love Stryfe and the MLF. Boom Boom and Cannonball have the worst costumes in the comic. The choice to go with pink as the primary color for both is a mistake, and the accent colors only make it worse. Oof, Cannonball has looked so much better!

All in all, this issue is an intellectual property bonanza! There are so many ideas and concepts tossed out in the premiere issue that I can’t help but find this comic dang entertaining. I don’t think it is just nostalgia to say this comic is GOOD!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tomorrow... the 12 Days of X-Mas!

Don't forget the best part of the holiday season! A look back at old X-comics in the
12 Days of X-Mas!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Trillium TPB

Wow. That was… insane. Jeff Lemire certainly isn’t holding anyone’s hand in this unique Vertigo series. For a book that only lasted for 8 issues, a whole lot happens, a whole lot of insane ideas get laid out, and I got a whole lot confused.

First of all, a warning: if you are going to read this book, please make sure to read the helpful narration boxes at the opening of each issue. There are a few instances where I breezed over the caption and missed very helpful guidance. Like, for example, how to read the comic book I was holding. That led to me having a much more challenging time than Lemire intended.

OK, the quick summary of what happens in this: Nika is a far-future human colonist seeking a rare flower capable of curing a sentient virus called the Caul. Nika is negotiating with aliens when the book opens, trying to gain access to a vast field of Trillium on their lands. William is an English soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as he accompanies his brother through 1920’s South America. And these two characters’ paths intersect!

I won’t ruin the how, and I can’t really ruin the why. I’m not sure what the overall “point” of this story is, exactly. But that doesn’t stop Lemire from delivering some rousing action and heartfelt moments that really make this book entertaining. There are only four characters that have any real relevance to the plot, along with a sentient A.I., yet by the close of the series, I feel like the points of view necessary for the story all worked well when viewed through those eyes.

I’m not huge devotee of Lemire like some, so while I found the story engaging enough, I didn’t love the art. It is fine, and the storytelling is perfectly clear. But Lemire’s indie style doesn’t mesh perfectly with my obvious super-hero tastes. Again, the art is perfectly capable of setting the scene and telling the story. But no one looks pretty. Since I mention it so often, I’m going to commend Lemire on his backgrounds. Each location is instantly established by a rich, detailed background that really helps ground the scene. With a story that confuses time, place, and identity so much, the surroundings are essential to establish a clear narrative. Lemire realizes this and lays out the story clearly for his readers.

This isn’t my normal type of comic, but dang, I do enjoy reading GOOD, mind-bending sci-fi. This is the type of thing that would make a kick butt movie, too. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Batman: Noel HC

It took me three years to read this hardcover. It isn’t that it is super long, but I felt that a Christmas story like this should be read about the holidays, and the narrative is so dense and purple that I’m afraid I couldn’t get through it. Three years in a row I tried, only finally managing to finish this year.

Let’s get the good stuff out first. Lee Bermejo’s art is beautiful, realistic, and striking, as always. His Catwoman looks poured into her shiny leather suit. His Superman is a golden god with a unique take on the S-symbol that has clearly inspired other artists. The Joker is a horrific, realistically-scarred madman. You can’t look at Joker and not feel queasy. Every aspect of the art is a triumph. The flashback costumes of yesteryear. The batmobile that looks like it is ready to rocket off the page. Even the coloring is luxurious.

But man. The story. This is the story of Scrooge if he were Batman with a cold. Bermejo never lets an opportunity for convoluted language and symbolism to pass him by. Bermejo is so desperate to make sure this story is “adult” and serious that it is an absolute chore to read. My god, I’m exhausted just thinking that Bruce Wayne’s quest on crime is the same as Scrooge’s lack of Christmas spirit.

This is a beautiful comic that hurt me to read. So overall, an EVIL comic, but let’s not take away from Bermejo’s immense talent. As an artist, he’s unmatched. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aquaman #36

Never underestimate the power of a good guest-star. My feelings on the new 52 are old news at this point, but I still found myself excited at the prospect of a Martian Manhunter vs. Aquaman throw down when this cover was solicited. After some positive reviews from my local comic store, I decided to drop a few bucks and see how Aquaman is doing these days.

Color me surprised! Jeff Parker is one of my favorite writers, so I had high hopes for his take on the character. He doesn’t disappoint, with a proactive, intelligent Aquaman with lots of allies and a lot of help working on Atlantis’ current problems. The last I saw Martian Manhunter, he was on the outs with the league, but things certainly seem like they are totally fine here. J’onn is trying to help Aquaman figure out what happened to his mother on the night of her death. Unsurprisingly, things are not as Aquaman believed. Seeing an eventual battle between the two heroes was probably inevitable.

What makes me the happiest here is that I don’t need to worry about the new 52 continuity at all. Tula is here as an Atlantean guard. Mera is still the supportive partner/equal that she’s been the whole time. I don’t have to pretend that Martian Manhunter isn’t meeting Aquaman for the first time. Believe it or not, that goes a LONG way for me to be able to enjoy these comics. I simply cannot re-read origins and “first meetings” over and over again as DC editorial tries to figure out what happened and what didn’t.

Man, seeing Paul Pelletier’s fantastic art really drives home how much I’m missing in the DCU. A lot of the creators are folks whose work I really like! The dang continuity and ever-present dour tone are keeping me away from comics I normally would have bought!

Pelletier’s Martian Manhunter is pretty awesome, but I sort of wish I could see the “real” take on the character; you know he’d look even better. I haven’t seen Mera’s powers used to make a giant, hard-water proxy before, but man, that is one incredible looking page. Very nice stuff.

So. Amazingly enough, I think this GOOD comic is going to have me buying Aquaman. At least until I have to pretend that I don’t know who someone is in the new 52. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

My newest obsession, Spotify!

I usually talk comics. Occasionally TV or movies. But I'm just as obsessed with music. I've actually been focused there in recent days. So no new comic review... BUT

If you enjoy Alt Rock, Indie Rock, or heck, just plain Rock, check out my current obsession, Spotify! I've been making mix tapes and CDs since 1992, and I'm getting all the playlists up onto Spotify. If you enjoy my comics reviews, perhaps you'll enjoy seeing how I became obsessed with Brit Pop in the 90's!

Here is my 2014 Playlist. If you dig it, give me a follow! (My username is 12167692409).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17

(To be honest, this is more a review of the whole run.)

How do I continually get my heart broken by series like this? Regular readers know that I don’t care for a lot of the headliner Avengers titles these days. Instead, the best team books seem to be the ones hanging out on the fringes of the Marvel U. Heroes for Hire, Mighty Avengers, MODOK’s 11, Mystery Men, Thunderbolts, I could go on and on about the best Marvel team books. And Superior Foes deserves to be in that conversation.

I picked up this series because when I chatted with artist Steve Lieber at a con, and he seemed really excited about the book. Not only did I get a great Snow Job sketch, but I also found a fantastic series.

Historically and almost thematically, this series picked up after Jeff Parker’s wonderful run on Thunderbolts. I wasn’t tremendously familiar with Nick Spencer’s work, but from the opening pages of the first issue, this series boasted top notch characterization, laugh-out-loud moments, and an entertainingly confusing plot. The Sinister Six (who have only 5 members) consist of Boomerang, Beetle, Speed Demon, Shocker, and Overdrive. This mix of classic, new, and legacy villains was a delightful ensemble. Even though Boomerang was a raging jerk, you couldn’t help pull for the guy. With supporting appearances from Mach-V, Chameleon, Silvermane, Punisher, Owl, and a lot more, this was firmly planted in the Marvel U.

Of course, as we learned in this issue, we have had a darn unreliable narrator for the entire series. Boomerang isn’t exactly trustworthy. The last issue (like many of the others) has a lot of late reveals and explanations that our guide didn’t want to let go too soon.

Spencer really proves himself in one aspect. He leaves the Marvel U richer than he found it. Boomerang has had some moments of characterization before. But the new Beetle being Tombstone’s ambitious daughter? Overdrive pining to eventually become an Avenger? Who knew that Speed Demon had a soft spot for dogs? And Shocker, truly, his potential is the most surprising (or not). These goofballs are the type of characters that drew me into the Marvel U when I first discovered it as a kid. The costumed villains can have lives just as rich (or richer) as those of the super-heroes.

Aside from a few fill-in issues that couldn’t live up to the standard set by the rest of the series, this run is the child of Spencer and Lieber. The book wouldn’t have worked without Lieber’s art. In addition to solid super-heroics, Lieber shows off a tremendous sense of comedic timing. His art direction seamlessly flows between drama and comedy. And his action scenes? He rarely if ever delivers them straight. If there is a fight in an issue of this book, you are going to get something new and special. The pacing of the fight scenes keeps the book moving at an amazing pace. Sure, the world is never at risk, but a LOT happens throughout this run. Lieber’s gritty but clear pencils are key to making that fast pace work.

Folks, this is an EXCELLENT comic. The type of comic you can look back on fondly and realize that you’ve discovered a hidden gem. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Energy Analyzer in December

The Energy Analyzer is going dark for much of December as I focus on one of our favorite annual traditions, the Twelve Days of X-Mas.

Here's a hint about this year's selections...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Avengers: Adapt or Die TPB

In my ongoing confusion about Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers opus, a little clarity is appreciated. So we are finally getting the sort-of-origins of the Mapmakers. I even appreciate that the beings are sort of tied to some existing villains in the Marvel U (the now-headliners in AIM). But man, why did this origin story have to involve YET ANOTHER ALTERNATE EARTH. 

Seriously, folks, This is getting ridiculous, right? All of Hickman’s Avengers. Superman/Batman. Earth-2. Multiversity. Half the DCU. Are we really so out of normal story ideas that one Earth is not enough? And we can’t even just have 2? I mean, this zeitgeist confuses the hell out of me. I like What If’s as much as anyone else, but seeing the Evil Avengers running around as the spotlight characters just seems pointless when it is so hard to get quality time with the real Avengers. 

And now we are adding in time travel too. I know this is going to be a major plot point coming up, but man. Why can’t we just get normal Avengers stories? Why are there two or three or four versions of characters running around?

I hope folks aren’t coming to this book hoping for action starring the Avengers. Because when the real Avengers are lucky enough to be on-panel, they very often are just talking. Animatedly talking, sometimes, but discussing things. The action and quality fisticuffs I enjoy in my comics are almost always reserved for alternate versions of our leads.

Maybe it is just me, and I read comics totally differently than other folks. But for me, the types of conflict happening in Uncanny Avengers and Mighty Avengers are much more what I’m looking for from Marvel’s premiere super-team.

Again, Marvel is putting top notch artists on this title; you can’t say Hickman has had to suffer with sub-par artists. Salvador LaRocca and Esad Ribic are some of the biggest guns in Marvel’s arsenal. I just wish they were working on a title more my speed. The art is the undisputed highlight of this run for me.

This EVIL comic is another huge miss for me.