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Magazines, novels, articles, poetry, interviews or other textual (and sometimes illustrated) media that's currently caught the mind of Adam Creighton ...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Captain America ("The Extremists")

Actually, I'm trying to read the Marvel's Marvel Knights incarnation of the Captain America comic book character.

I tend to get all things Captain America, but the problem I'm having currently is I'm in the Chuck Austen-written "The Extremists" story arc, which comes after the John Ney Rieber "New Deal" arc.

I don't like Chuck Austen's writing. Probably a very nice guy, but I don't like what he does with characters and franchises.

It's not just me -- My local comic shop, if they hand me a Chuck Austen-written comic, let me know I can return it if I hate it. If I wasn't such a compeletist, I'd take them up on this. And what he did with Nightcrawler in the X-Men book was an abuse of writing, and poor management on the editing side for allowing it to happen.

But, as far as Captain America Travesty's go, I lump Austen with the Rob Liefeld and the late Mark Gruenwald. Talented folks all in their own right (Sqaudron Supreme is amazing), but they all screwed up this franchise in their own special way.

I need to finish my lengthy essay on "Why Captain America Matters", but the short version is if he's done right, Cap is patriotic, noble, inspiring, and outside of policitical dogmatism. Since the 1970s Done wrong, he's at best an overgrown boy scout or jingoist, at worst fascist.

Chuck Austen alternates the character between boy scout, jingoist, and fascist. Nice.

Again, probably a nice person, but I'm not happy with his writing.

Must. Get through. This. Story arc...

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill

I'm a fan of Beta Ray Bill, Marvel Comics' alien, co-incarnation of their Thunder god Thor character.

So when the Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill miniseries was released as a trade paperback, I picked it up right away.

Bill was created by Walt Simonson, and it's hard to compete with that caliber of talent, but Daniel Berman, Michael Avon Oeming/Andrea Di Vito do a solid job on the story and art.

The beginning is strong, the emotion and stakes are well-articulated, and though the cosmic battles could go the tiresome way of the Dragonball Z Frieza Saga, they're kept pretty tight and engaging.

It's the series' ending with which I have a problem.

I have to be vague to avoid spoilers, but the last issue tie-in to the Marvel Universe seems like a forced marketing tie-in, and the last-minute dovetail to the origin of Thor (abandoned for Thor himself for a reason) and nod to Simonson seems (to me) hacked. Overall, it weakens the saga.

On the upside, maybe this will give Bill some more play in Marvel Universe.

I'd recommend this trade for Beta Ray Bill fans. For those unfamiliar with the character, I'd recommend The Mightly Thor in The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill trade paperback, which collects Simonson's introduction of the character.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Avengers 20, 21

Someone screwed up.

Marvel's Comics Civil War crossover arc is a big thing. We're talking potentially re-writing the mythos big. Not Ultimate-update of franchises big, but bigger -- like "so-and-so-who-could-never-reveal his-identity-just-did" big.

So why all the miss-steps?

I mean, Brian Michael Bendis is amazing. Even more so, considering how prolific the dude is, and he's arguably redifined a big chunk of the Marvel Universe recently.

But there must be some problems with scheduling, planning or something with this Civil War thing.

The last several issues of New Avengers have been intense -- this weird "Collective" uber mutant entity comes back to earth indescriminately wipes out a town, and even kills Canadian super hero team Alpha Flight (with no more than a page's treatment, no less). Puck. Finally. Dead.

Then in issue #20, we get a faxed-in story. Seriously.

New Avengers #20:

Everything got tied together, in an overly neat, overly faux way (though with an admittedly possible opening later with The Sentry). Too much was crammed into this, including a disservice to the character of Magneto, and a non-believable change in character for beurocratic bad girl(and Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.) Agent Hill. Not very Bendis-like.

Which was probably all to get to the New Avengers #21 Civil War tie-in.

New Avengers #21:

Now, don't get me wrong, this issue is good. Bendis showcases his talent for dialog, and showing some chinks in Captain America's/Steve Roger's confidence, and a little more of his humanity, is pretty cool. And the relational banter between Cap and Falcon is really well done, shows their personalities, and why they complement each other.

(And I'm probably the only guy in the world who isn't a real fan of Howard Chaykin's art, too. But at least it's OK for this issue. Beside, he's like a artistic hero to Bendis, so that's probably why he's there.)

But where does the issue fit in the Civil War? It's almost like it's supposed to come out before Civil War #2 (and maybe even #1), but shipped after both. And the tease for New Avengers #22 sounds like it's supposed to happen before Civil War #2, also, but will probably ship after #4.

C'Mon, Marvel, get with the program! Bendis is good, but you need enough oversite at the program level to schedule these better.

And stop spoiling the stories before I read them! I am so pissed that you, USA Today, and the local paper all gave away the end to Civil War #2 before it shipped! You don't give away the end of a movie or TV show in the preview -- why do it to comic fans!

So my review has turned a little pissy. Fanboys are pretty intolerant. Deal with it.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Star Wars Legacy

I'm reading Star Wars Legacy, from Dark Horse Comics. Check out my blurb about it here:

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