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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, November 19, 2009

Captain America: Reborn

Just finished Captain America: Reborn number 4 of the time - tripping - we - may - get - Steve - Rogers - Captain - America - back mini-series (though I've been great with Barnes as Cap; the writing is that good).

It's been a wicked slow build to number 4, but now I'm on board. Ready for the mighty conclusion in no. 5, but suspect / and am worried it'll be a long-tail kickoff, a la the "Dark Reign" shenanigans.

But, hey, it's Ed Brubaker -- he had me at "hello".

(Oh, and Guice (Jackson? Butch? Mheh.) and Bryan Hitch rock, too; though I'm least crazy about the art in this particular ish, for some reason.)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reading Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter

Reading Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #2. Dear Marvel, Please stop selling me reprint titles I've already bought as "backup stories".


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Captain America

Reading Captain America #601 - vampires, courtesy of Gene Colan.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

X-Men: Dark Messiah

I'm weeks behind in my comic book reading.

Among the things I read today was the X-Men: Dark Messiah one-shot / lead-in to the most recent X-book crossover.

I was going to wait and catch this later in trade format, but Ed Brubaker continues to amaze me (why do I not automatically read everything he writes?). It feels kinda "Mutant Massacre"-ish, which is maybe my previous favorite X-arc.

I may have to re-add the X-books to my pull list. This is dangerous; things go on my pull list, but they never come off ...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Moon Knight

I just read Moon Knight #13.

What the hell just happened?

If the title had been pulling like this throughout the tailing of Charlie Huston's run, maybe there wouldn't have been a tailing to Huston's run.

You might remember Huston and I traded words, and he copped to his part in the Moonie decline, and encouraged me to stay with character for writer Mike Benson, and artist Tomm Coker.

Problem is, starting with issue #14 it's writer Benson and artist Mark Texiera. I like Texiera (dude has come a long way since the nineties), and though Benson's an unknown quantity to me, that's not the issue.

The issue is Huston plus Coker in MK #13 equals a new level of amazing. Seriously, for me this was like a mini Daredevil Frank Miller / Bill Sienkiewicz graphic novel.

And now Huston's leaving.

I take back the "nice guy" stuff I said about him. He puts out work this high bar and than leave me wanting more. Jerk.


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Sub-Mariner #5 is on its way to finishing out "The Initiative"(ish) tie-in miniseries, and I'm OK with the arc.

I picked the series up on a lark, and even though this issue was a bit lighter for me on the impact side, I've been pretty pleasantly surprised by the run.

I can see where #6 can go, and it's boring, so I hope I'm wrong.


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Reading the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk #111 is better than World War Hulk #5.

But it doesn't occur "between World War Hulk #4 and 5" -- it occurs during World War Hulk #4 and 5.

And it should be called The New Champions, and I'm good.

Now let's see if they can pull a Captain America. But they don't have the Brubaker factor.

(I missed the Champions.)

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World War Hulk

"This ... is how the (Hulk) ends."

Just finished World War Hulk #5, the "end" of the World War Hulk saga.


John Romita Jr. art is great, but Hulk versus Sentry is no Thor versus Iron man (my new king of throwdowns), and this was just a generally unsatisfying ending for me.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

The Order

I just read The Order #3.

It's Matt Fraction's book, so I'm going to support it. Dude's talented on the art front, and putting himself out there on the writing front with this book.

Though I'm not sure why there's no connection between issue #2 and issue #3. I'm confused.

Keeps me reading, though.


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Avengers: The Initiative

OK, Avengers: The Initiative kind of snuck up on me, and started not sucking pretty quick. At least enough to keep me reading.

Issue number six is a self-contained one-shot with a twist I didn't see coming.

The issue makes a massive jump in art style -- Steve Uy's art is so anime-like (down to the cell-shaded coloring vibe), that I think I dig it. I'm still deciding.


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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight

Just read Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #7. Brian K. Vaughan hasn't missed a beat picking up scripting from Joss Whedon. Brilliant. Yay, Faith (/Hope)!


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Reading Sub-Mariner #3 and #4. Not bad. I'm along for the ride.

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Captain America: The Chosen

I just finished reading Captain America: The Chosen #2.

Interesting. Not enough between issues number one and number two to know what's going on (so far I feel like this six-issue arc should be four or five issues).

And too early to tell if this is something "important", or Chuck Austen.

I like Mitch Breitweiser's art. The story is too minimalist for me at this point to feel one way or another about writer David Morrell.

I can see one way this story could go, and I don't want it to go there.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Astounding Wolf-Man

I'm reading The Astounding Wolf-Man #3, written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Jason Howard.

I've been fan of Kirkman's for a while. Even so, his The Astounding Wolf-Man started out a bit slow for me in issue #1. Number two bit me (sorry) in the last panel, and issue three gets smartly complex, with great visuals and composition.

There are some domestic scenes that I'm not sure why I find so compelling; maybe it's because they juxtapose so well with the supernatural backdrop.

Dialogue layout continues to be a little wonky, with a few balloons laid our weirdly so that I'm not sure which to read first. That's a basic that should be fixed, because it yanks me out of story-mode, and into critical mode.

Otherwise, it's a great series so far.


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Saturday, September 29, 2007

World War Hulk: Frontline

Reading #4 (of 6). This is probably a series with which I could have done without, but now I'm in it for the completist factor.

I do like the John Watson cover art, though.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

World War Hulk

World War Hulk #4 continues the solid, up/down ride of the series, and is, frankly, a better part of the series than the mainline Incredible Hulk book.

Greg Pak is writing some top-notch scenes, and John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson's art is pretty. Gritty pretty, but pretty.

And we get some more "sideline Sentry" moments (and a little more info as to why he's sidelining), and the last two-page spread is one of the better "to-be-continued" spreads I've seen in a while.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Marvel Comics Presents

Marvel just relaunched their Marvel Comics Presents series, and issue #1 has a potpourri of three too-short prologues, the first installment of a Hellcat (Patsy Walker) story by Kathryn Immonen (and art by Stuart Immonen), the first of a 12-part Weapon Omega story by Rich Koslowski (art by Andrea Di Vito), and Spider-Man (Stuart Moore / Clayton Henry) and Thing (Nelson / Dave Sharpe) one-shots.

It's a bit a slow re-start for the series, but I'll probably hang out to see if it picks up.

The prologues are, again, too short, with only prologue #2 piquing my interest (thanks to the last panel).

I like the Hellcat story -- I think Kathryn Immonen's feminine writer sensibilities come through in a cool way, and the Stuart Immonen art is sharp and poppy.

"Weapon Omega"? Mheh. I mean, the Omega Flight limited series just didn't get anything done, and this series doesn't seem to be doing any more on that front. And I really don't like U.S. Agent (the Guy Gardner of the Marvel U he's not, no matter how hard they try).

The Spider-Man story is fun, if a bit throw-away, and Henry's work is really slick, and the Sotocolors ... colors ... are well-done. Moore's dialogue is spot-on, too, and the whole story is playful enough.

The Thing story is well laid out, wtih good use of panels, framing, and flashback devices, with a good sentimental vibe. I think it would have been better served as an additional story in a Fantastic Four annual, though.

So, the series gets another couple of issues to grab me.


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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The New Warriors

I didn't see this title coming, and I certainly didn't expect to be taken in by it.

But I just finished issues three and four of The New Warriors, and the story, art, and vibe continue to be pretty compelling.

Kevin Grevioux keeps the plot and dialog pretty tight (though some of the training banter is a little stilted), and I like the clean art and layout of the panels and perspectives from Paco Medina (and inked by Juan Vlasco).

So I'm now four issues in and comfortably along for the ride.


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Moon Knight

I just finished Moon Knight #12.

First, I really like the character. Up there with Beta Ray Bill and Deathlok, Moonie has been one of my favorites.

And I like Charlie Huston as writer, and he did a good job at the beginning of Moon Knight relaunch.

All that good stuff said, I think I'm giving this series one more issue to get past its red-herring covered, months-behind-the-Civil-War, convoluted, disjoint, nonsense, uninteresting presentation before I drop it. I do not like reading issue after issue of a series and getting that same "WTF + I-just-wasted-my-time-again" feeling.

Am I the only one feeling this way?

I dig Charlie and Moonie. I hope they fix stuff. Maybe issue #13, which switches artistic duties to Tom Coker (and theory, writing duties to Mike Benson, but Huston will still still be plotting), will fix stuff. Maybe there's just a disconnect between writer and artist currently. I just hope if they fall back on the whole we - need - an - Initiative - guy - who'll - do - our - dirty - wetworks thing, they make it interesting.

(And I realize maybe it's not Huston -- maybe its the art schedule or editing; all I know is I'm a year and a half and $35 bucks into the presentation of a favorite character that's pissing me off.)

UPDATED: It's not often that an author's response to one of my reviews makes me feel bad -- especially without trying.

Charlie Huston sent me a very professional, stand-up note where he didn't blame anyone, but walked through a bit of the additional factors that go into the whole "red-herring covered, months-behind-the-Civil-War, convoluted, disjoint, nonsense, uninteresting presentation". Honestly, he's just responsible for the last 4. ;-)

The fact is
Huston doesn't marry the covers to the content, handle scheduling, or decide onto which books Marvel slaps "Civil War" and "The Initiative" marketing banners. (And, hey, I fell for it, and bought a few books with the banners that weren't related. Note to Marvel: Now I'm not buying anything but the core "World War Hulk" books, because your Civil War marketing bothered me, and had a reverse effect.)

Huston copped to the "convoluted, disjoint, nonsense, uninteresting presentation" -- probably more than he needed to. He was trying something he knew might or might not work, and ishes 11 and 12 were meant to be read pretty much on the heels of each other. But publishing schedules caused things to lay out differently.

Oh, and the feeling bad part? Aside from
Charlie being such a nice, professional, non-blaming (or defensive) guy in his response, his note reminded me that I was beating up on on his series for exactly what I took folks to task for when they unfairly blamed Steve McNiven for the Civil War delay. Hello Pot, meet Kettle.

And while I said in the first version of this post, "And I like
Charlie Huston as writer", I didn't point to his well-done Ultimates Annual #2, and his excellent Legion of Monsters Man-Thing story as examples.

So, I wanted to address all of that. Glad I'm not guilt motivated, or this post would have been really maudlin. Or more maudlin. Whatever.

As it is, I'm grateful to have made Chuck's acquaintance (I have no idea whether he hates that nickname), and I now have an idea for a super team consisting of
Moon Knight, Deathlok, Man-Thing, and Beta Ray Bill. And probably Dragon Man (let me know if you know where I can find the FF Series 2 toy). And maybe Machine Man. Hey, I kind of already started it.

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The Incredible Hulk

I just read The Incredibly Hulk #110, the latest in the World War Hulk mainline.

Greg Pak's a good writer, and Carlo Pagulayan and Jeffrey Huet do good, clean art.

But this whole "Is he? Isn't he? Will he? Won't he?" back-and-forth is a bit tiresome. "He is" and "He will" are much more interesting choices.


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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #6. Faith is back! Brian K. Vaugan is now writing! Georges Jeanty and Andy Owens doing art!

Good times ...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Captain America: The Chosen

Just read Captain America: The Chosen #1.

I was on board and enjoying right up until the end. Now I'm hoping they don't Chuck Austen this story.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Comic-Con fare

I picked up a bunch of stuff at Comic-Con, and am working through all of it. Brief thoughts follow.

The Living Corpse #1/2 (Ken Haeser, Buzz Hassen):

This didn't really float my boat. To be fair, it's a half-issue, and doesn't give much time to build. Way too talky, though (and not good, Brian Michael Bendis talky).

Zeros 2 Heroes (Jay Iscariot, Rudolf Montemayor, Diego Simone, Christian Colbert):

Sure, it's a commercial. But it's a commercial for an interesting publisher / creative community concept. And it worked, as I then went and created a profile on (user adamcrei).

Demons of Mercy (R.H. Stavis, Walter Geovani, Jonathan Clapion, Andew Hennesy):

I'm curious to see how this project pans out. Demons of Mercy is the comic that will "interact" with the video game from Maxum Games. in "unprecedented ways" with the Xbox 360. I missed the panel discussion on this one, but hope to get a recap from either the Marvel or Maxum folks, to publish in my video game blog.

As far as the issue itself, it's OK. The story's not bad (if a bit contrived through the first 10 pages), and the art is kind of Scott Campbell-esque, but the forced cheesecake is a bit irritating. I actually prefer the cover art, done by Randy Queen, Andrew Crossley, and Sarah Oates.

The whole thing has a semi The Darkness / Tomb Raider / Danger Girl / Witchblade vibe(ish).

Fusion Fall: Worlds Collide!! (George Krstic, Matthew Schwartz, Chester Ocampo, Eru):

Matthew over at Cartoon Network hooked me up with a copy of the prelude story for the upcoming Cartoon Network MMO video game. This book has got a pretty slick true-to-manga look, and while I'd normally be averse to "hipped up" versions of CN properties (for me, Dexter looks too "new" Johnny Quest), it all works here.

The MMO was in fine playable form on the show floor, and there's around a year more of polish, so it should only get better. The comic sets a good backstory, provides a device justifying all of the CN properties getting together, and provides some nice sub-plots (romance and infighting) to boot.


Honestly, this just feels like a rushed, shallow Comic-Con giveaway meant to build traction for the full series (and therefore, film and game). No disrespect meant, but that's how it feels to me.


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Monday, July 23, 2007

Making Comics

I finished Scott McCloud's Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, some time ago, and (as always) I'm impressed, inspired, and better equipped than before my read. So I'm finally getting around to plugging it here.

This is the third in his "series" of books, following Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics.

By way of background, I read Scott's books for a number of specific reasons.

I love comic books and sequential medium. I think they're a powerful, nascent medium, as old (arguably older) than film, but only now starting to touch on their potential and import. These books look at the history and technique behind sequential art, ways creators try to evoke a response in readers, and ways by and filters through which readers interpret the medium.

As a creative, these are amazing books in adding process and technique for everything from storytelling, to writing, to layout, to publishing, and a bunch of stuff in between. I've used the books for things like my own recent comic book, my voice and film acting, and software design and management.

I've also got a formal usability background (academic and via a Blue User-Centered Design Center). That training and and interest in how things work (or don't) is something I apply to everything from software and service design, to writing, to comic books, to ideas for inventions. These books add to all of that.

Finally (for now at least), I'm impressed with the cognitive study and psychology laid bare in these books. In college, one of my favorite, brain-bending courses was "The Evolutionary Theory of Cognitive Development" -- these books fit in nicely (and more accessibly) into the concepts and theories introduced to me in that course.

All three books use actual comic / sequential art panels to get their message across. No long prose, and examples are inline (the whole freakin' book is an inline example), which makes for an accessible, effective how-to guide that has few contemporaries.

Before reading Making Comics, I'd read reviews and heard comments from industry acquaintances who thought the book was the "weakest" of the three.

Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but these folks' opinions are wrong. ;-)

The three books should be looked at as a funnel. Understanding Comics is a survey book for the history, tropes, techniques, and styles inherent in comic books, creative pursuits, psychology, and usability. Reinventing Comics builds on those concepts, and starts to look at (given the deeper subjects) how you can get away from "because this is the way it's done" to doing something truly innovative with sequential art.

Making Comics builds on and focuses those things raised in Reinventing Comics to a nuts-and-bolts application of creating traditional and innovative art. This latest book in particular helped me create innovative story, interesting panel layouts and transitions, and deceptively simple parody in my own recent comic book. I say this not to toot my own horn (much, but do go buy my comic book), but to provide a case-study(ish) of how the books made the creative process fairly painless, with decent output.

Scott is bolstering the book with a "Chapter 5 1/2" already online, with promises (in-text and on the book's Website) of more content "coming soon".

The book is a great read without the previous two, but reading (or, *ahem*, re-reading) the two books prior really explodes the potential of the last book, and served as a creative and hard-work catalyst for my own work.

A good read all around, and I heartily recommend it.

I'll hopefully see Scott at Comic-Con this week, and hope to say "thank you" for this and the previous two books.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Avengers Classic

I just pawed through issue 1 of Avengers Classic, and while really good, I'm reserving judgement until issue #2.

I'm a big fan of Classic X-Men, have that whole run, and the bar's set pretty high from that series.

For those not familiar with the gimmick, the "Classic" iteration reprints original comics -- in this case, starting with Avengers #1. What hopefully sets this apart from just being another way for Marvel to milk the franchise, or a retread of the Marvel Masterworks or (a more expensive version) of the Essential trades, is the new, extra stories at the end of the book.

Classic X-Men, with original stories from Chris Claremont and John Bolton, really exploded the X-Men mythos for me. There's a particular Magneto story that first woke me up to the viability of comics as high art.

But like I said, the bar's been set pretty high. The backup stories in this issue #1 are good -- but they're tongue-in-cheek fun, which isn't what I want. Fortunately for me, according to the explanation from editors Andy Schmidt and Mark D. Beazley in the back of the book, the non-serious take is just for issue one, and more serious stories and character exposition, a la Classic X-Men, will be the norm.

The regular backup team will be writer Dwayne McDuffie (who I borderline worship, but who never returns my Emails), and artist Michael Avon Oeming, whose new painted style needs to grow on me.

And let's face it, it's the backup stories that need to sell the book, since the original issues are available six ways to Sunday (not least of which is in a DVD of virtually all scanned Avengers issues with original adds and letters -- albeit often from nasty looking copies -- from Graphic Imaging Technologies). These stories need to rock, because having the original issue's cover and 12-cent price on the flip side of a $4 book is a bit painful (starting with issue #2, the price should drop to $3).

But the other big selling point? Like Classic X-Men, covers by Arthur "Art" Adams. That may be worth the price of admission by itself.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Moon Knight

I finished Moon Knight #10, and am a bit nonplussed.

This series has had its moments, but is just crawling now, and this issue goes nowhere.

Sure, there's more Punisher in it, but nothing important, useful, or clever.

And I'm mixed on new artist Mico Suayan's art (this is his second issue). Some of it looks like early Alan Davis, but not in a good way.

And, honestly, as if all of the other stuff isn't enough, I'm almost done with this series just because of the red herring covers. Last issue's Punisher cover (with the Punisher in the ish as often as he was on the cover), the Spider-Man cover, the Captain America cover. So when I see the teaser for next issue's cover (with Iron Man), instead of being excited about a the slick art, I'm ticked, because I suspect it won't actually have Iron Man.

I just realized Moon Knight lately has become the opposite of fan service. And I'm a fan.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A darker Marvel Universe ...

(If you're waaay behind in comic reading, the below may have spoilers. You've been warned.)

The Marvel Universe has become a darker place.

I'm a reading a slew of comics, but we're coming out Marvel's "Civil War" cross-over arc, which split super-teams, family, and friends, and pitted them against each other.

It's culminated with Captain America being shot and killed. This is a big deal to me.

And the repercussions have made the Marvel Universe tougher, more cynical, more dangerous.

To be frank, I'm glad.

I've just worked through a ton of books, and three of them punctuate the new flavor of my favorite comic book universe:
  • Amazing Spider-Man
  • Punisher War Journal
  • World War Hulk
Amazing Spider-Man -- Spidey's got some charm. A big part of that is the everyman underdog who can't seem to catch a break, despite his gifts. Part of it has to do with his glib nature.

I was getting tired of the glib nature.

I mean, I like it, but it was becoming a schtick. Let's face it, Peter's life sucks. And people he loves keep dying. That's gotta get old.

Then, a big-time, old-time baddie arranges a hit on the Wallcrawler, and Aunt May takes the bullet. And doesn't look like she's going to make it.

Peter is done. He's back in the black costume. He's done with the kid gloves. He wants revenge, he's ready to kill, and he's OK with that.

Not since the Mike Zeck "Kraven's Last Hunt" arc have I cared about reading the Spider-Man titles this much. It feels more "real" (it's all relative).

Punisher War Journal -- I got into the Matt Fraction relaunch early on, and I'm glad I did. Turns out Frank Castle's got a thing for Captain America (not like that; perv), and he's not taking his assassination lightly. And when a new Hate Monger comes onto the scene in a costume that's a rip-off of Captain America, The Punisher takes him on, in a Punisher-meets-Cap costume version of his own.

OK, that mixed costume is hokey to me (The Punisher wouldn't do that). But everything else works.

Like Fraction doing a good job with dialog.

And the new Hate Monger? They're actually making him a racist hate monger, and showing that (and telling us a little too much, but I forgive it). Marvel's finally nutting up to showing swastikas (that's long been taboo). And it roots this bad guy as a really bad guy.

And there's also humor in the Hate Monger costume, since it's a version of the Rob Liefeld, "Heroes Reborn" Captain America revisionist travesty that was a part of the near death of Marvel in the 1990s. That's meta funny.

World War Hulk -- If you've been out of the loop, here's a quick summary. Turns out there's a group of the brightest in the Marvel U. acting secretly in concert, orchestrating events for years. They're called the Illuminati, and they include Iron Man, Reed Richards, Professor X, Black Bolt, Namor, and Dr. Strange. They, in their infinite wisdom, decided the Hulk was too dangerous, tricked him into a spaceship, and shot him into space.

The Green Goliath crashes into a distant, waring world, quickly ascends as a warrior king, integrates his intellect with his power, chooses a queen, and has a baby on the way.

Things are looking good for Green Gums until the ship that brought him to the planet explodes, killing this wife and unborn baby.

Now, he's coming back to earth. And he's pissed. He's coming back to kill the Illuminati. Not just smash them. Kill them.

Seems appropriate for a betrayed teammate who's now a childless widower.

All this to say there's an organic nature to the whole darkish universe, and it seems to fit. Writers and editors need to be careful not to make it angsty and whiny boring, but things are looking good so far.

And I've long said I suspect the rift caused by the Civil War may well be healed as people come together to stop the Hulk.

But if it's done right, it'll actually further fracture relationships, as I suspect a number of folks will side with the Hulk.

"It's gonna be dark, dark, dark, violent day ..."

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Astonishing X-Men #21

OK, I like Joss Whedon. And the last several issues of Astonishing X-Men have been OK, but I've been OK with the impending end of his run on the book.

Then I get ish #21.

Now I'm not so OK with him being done.

The depth and quality of the dialogue pulls full back (using a jet, or perhaps X-Wing, metaphor), and the plot twists and possibilities run hot and heavy (and that language is intentional).

Thick, solid issue, good cliff-hanger, and I'm even willing to forgive the red herring Armor cover.
The banter between airborne Cyke and Emma is top-notch (from an execution pespective), and some of the other quotes in the book are rattling about me noggin:

"But I don't think compassion is a sin. I think it may be a mutation."

"You're amoral, your abrasive, and right now you're looking at me like a taun-taun."

Good stuff ...

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Marvel Team-Up

I just read Marvel Team-Up #7 (Spider-Man and Moon Knight) and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #10 (Spider-Man and Man-Thing), which came with my recent Marvel Legends eBay acquisitions of the Moon Knight variant and Man-Thing.

Marvel Team-Up #7 is written by Robert Kirkman, who I really like.

His writing is fun, solid, complex but not convoluted, and he has some fun with Ringmaster, and Spider-Man getting chatty with Moon Knight. I'm not crazy about some of MK's dialogue, but that's probably just me.

It's illustrated by Scott Kolins, with whom I (honestly) go back and forth. I don't know why. Maybe it's just a matter of his style applied to some content that seems not-good disjoint with me. Here, it's fine. I like his Moon Knight, Spider-Man, and Ringmaster; I'm a bit blase on his Mary Jane and Peter Parker. And there are lot of panels with just figures -- no background. Not sure if that's stylistic or lazy (says the guy who can't draw).

My peeve about this issue is it's just about getting to #11 for the "real team-up".

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #10 is way less interesting to me. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is a superstar, but why recreate a core character (the trademark of the non-continuity "Ultimate" universe) -- in this case, the Lizard -- that's counter to the original character? What, for the sake of recreating them? That's more Glen Murakami than Bruce Timm.

And there's no real team-up between Spider-Man and Man-Thing. Just an incongruent, unimportant same-place meeting that's probably there to further a plot device outside of the issue.


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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (Will Eisner)

I've been wanting to read Will Eisner's seminal works (A Contract With God, A Life Force, and Dropsie Avenue) for some time.

So I was excited to stumble across the The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue hardcover, which collects all three.

This is raw, heady, sentimental, and sobering stuff.

Collecting a series of stories set almost exclusively in a single Bronx tenement (and largely during the Depression era), the book is nearly 500 pages of brilliantly interwoven slice-of-life.

Themes and topics are diverse and gutsy, from race relations, the rise of unions, infidelity, the Stock Market crash, Prohibition-era runners, classicism, and the like.

Eisner's own summary of three books puts A Contract With God as an exploration of the relationship between God and man; A Life Force as an exploration of aging and the ephemeral nature of life; and "Dropsie Avenue is a story of life, death, and resurrection."

All three works are a stunning mix of history, biography, and autobiography (actual and creatively licensed).

A Contract With God was published in 1978, based on a lifetime of work and living. All stories are written in graphical format, and Eisner is arguably the father of the modern graphic novel. And because of the heady content and importance of his work, I've tagged this post as "literature", in addition to "comic books" -- if for no other reason than connotation. And this is adult fair -- not family-bound "funny pages".

For me, this was a solid, important read, and well worth the investment.

As an aside, Montilla Pictures's documentary film, "Will Eisner, The Spirit of an Artistic Pioneer," was accepted into this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Joss Whedon

I've been reading Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly; Serenity) over in Astonishing X-Men, and now that he's picked up Runaways (starting with ish #25) at Marvel and is doing the "Official" Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8" over at Darkhorse, I am a happy, happy fanboy.

I really wasn't expecting much out of Buffy. Dunno why, since Fray rocks, but I didn't see how a TV series season 8 could come to fruition in a monthly.

How wrong I was.

This is Whedon, for crying out loud -- so he gets dialog, he gets the characters, he gets the characterization he and the actors brought to the series.

Signature cool, quirky, subversive, action-packed, horrific stuff.

For me, the jury's still out on Runaways. I mean, it's good, solid stuff, and great Joss dialog, but for me it's the weakest of his current comic series. Admittedly, this may be because I'm not lifetime-familiar with the characters like I am X-Men and Buffy. Still good stuff, the dialog moves quickly, and the cliffhanger splash page makes me think this run is going to go well.

And, all in all, each series is well worthwhile.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Captain America #25

Brubaker, I'm just asking you do something important with this.

It's a strong issue on it's own. And because it's you (Daredevil, Criminal, etc.) writing this (rather than detractors like Austen or Jenkins), I'll give you time to do something more with it.

Just, please, do something meaningful.

And thank you, New York Times, for ruining the issue for me last week during my morning coffee, before it even hit the streets.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Punisher War Journal

I'm trying to decide whether I like the relaunch of Marvel's Punisher War Journal.

That said, issue #4 is an interesting mix of the funny, the poignant, and the macabre -- the latter being especially fitting for the franchise. Plus it's more than a passing nod the "Scourge of the Underworld" storyline.

There's also a super hero cameo that shows writer Matt Fraction gets the character, and there are more subtle -- but bigger -- changes to the Marvel U. from the recent Civil War arc.

So I'll stay on board for a while longer.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Civil War #7

This is the last of the Civil War core story arc.

I'm not happy with this issue, or how the Civil War "ended". It feels faxed off and not at all organic to what the rest of the arc did.

There's some stuff outstanding, so maybe the Civil War: Initiative series will fix some stuff (great, another non-core series on which to spend my ducats).

And I have a nagging suspicion this summer's Hulk War epic will heal the Marvel U.

We'll see.

Not happy right now. Time to read something good. Like Elephant Men ...

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Comic Books

Each year, I try to pick up some holiday-themed comic books. I'm a little light this year, and they're all Marvel titles, but I did manage to work through a good/bad/ugly trio.

Getting the bad out of the way, Wolverine #49 isn't terrible, but it's pretty mheh. The issue is oversold from the solicitation blurb to the cover (Wolvie never shows up in a Santa suit). There's a funny moment after Wolverine kills a bunch of terrorist elves (seriously), the beginning is solid, and the climax and end are top-notch, very stylistic, and powerful with their lack of dialog.

The good is this year's Marvel Holiday Special #1, I surprisingly great, entertaining read. Not serious at all, the pace is great, and there are some fun stories to be had. "A.I.M. Lang Syne", Shaenon K. Garrity and Andrew Farrago's take on a holiday office party (where an unknowing date is attending at the offices the A.I.M. terrorist organization) is a fun romp, with Ron Lim's solid and personable art pulling the story along nicely. Also, spreading that story across the issue (24-style), is clever.

Scott Gray and Roger Langridge's "how fin fang foom Saved Christmas" unexpectedly pairs up the legendary dragon Fin Fang Foom and Dr. Strange's faithful manservant Wong (that looks weird spelled out). The two thwart a botched Hydra holiday attack. The art is Ditko-esque, and the whole piece is satire, with some not unimportant things to say about dogmatism and relationships. And it's funny.

Then there's Mike Carey and Mike Perkins' Dr. Seuss-ian (ish?) "A is for Annihilus", which is arguably brilliant, and is the "whole package" -- writing and art, and really needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

And there's a "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" entry for Santa Clause, written (edited?) by Jeff Christiansen, and does a great job of marrying the history the myth with Marvel's treatment of it over the years.

Finally, there is a gallery of select previous Marvel Holiday Special covers (1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996), with my favorite being the Arthur "Art" Adams 1991 cover, the original issue of which I have somewhere. (Art did the cover for 1993, too, but I think that's an inferior cover, and for me (for various reasons), that cover is a sad snapshot reminder of Marvel's first year in serious decline.)

And the bar from last year's issue (a Harvey Award nominee) is pretty high...

The ugly isn't bad -- it's actually great. But it's the Punisher: X-mas Special #1. Not only does it typify the anti-hero nature of the character (which straddles the fence between that and "non-hero"), it's even grittier when put against a holiday backdrop (think select issues of the Daredevil "Born Again" run). Stuart Moore's story is tight, and C. P. Smith's art is much better than the New Invaders stuff, which may be due to the one-shot nature of the issue, and Dean White's coloring. Smith's art is bit inconsistent, most noticeably in not keeping character's (like Frank Castle's) faces consistent. It's annoying when you have remember the main character is the main character.

Why this get's the "ugly" designation is it's pretty rough stuff, content wise. Published under the Marvel Knights imprint, geared to "spotlight its darkest corners and grittiest characters". The problem is it doesn't bare the MK logo on its cover, and it's even missing Marvel's kludgey (and changing) rating system. While MK titles are generally for "readers 15 and up", I'd argue this title -- with its child death, attempted suicide, strip club, and such -- is somewhere between "Parental Advisory" and "MAX".

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Adam Creighton: Headshot

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