Sunday, 15 April 2012

Issue #18: Blue, green and spandexey.

I’ve been reading a lot of trades lately, and my single issues have been piling up.  I’m not really into reviewing an entire trade paperback, so I’ve been a little absent.  I’ll simply offer up a quick list, because I enjoyed everything:
Scalped: Indian Country by Jason Aaron.  A great story.  He writes his own characters so much better that I wonder what he would concoct if Marvel really let him off the chain.
Fell: Feral City by Warren Ellis (art by Ben Templesmith).  This was fantastic.  It has a palpable mood of dread and depression that reminded me of the movie Seven.  So good.  Just buy it.
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.  It’s been a few years since I read this.  A classic for good reason.
Watchmen by Alan Moore.  Yep, I’ve never read it, but I started last week.  I figured if I’m going to review everything from Before Watchmen in a couple of months I need to know what I’m talking about.  I’m nowhere near finished but all the praise everyone heaps on this is very much justified.

O.M.A.C. #8   Back in January I mentioned that O.M.A.C. was one of six casualties of DC’s next wave of the 52, and this eighth issue marks his exit.  I’ve enjoyed this title more than most, with it’s not-so-subtle nods to Kirby era Hulk, and general old school charm.  It’s a comic that had it’s tongue glued to it’s cheek, sadly not nailing it’s own intentions enough to win over the crowd.  O.M.A.C. is hardly a clever comic book, but it is crazy fun.  After issue #7 which saw a setup where Superman appeared and began a hunt for O.M.A.C. this ending seems rushed, and probably was.  We have Kevin Kho’s inner monologue about the death of his parents squeezed into the corner of almost every panel.  What the fuck!?  There was a dead parents origin story?  Someone wanted to get this across before saying goodbye, and saw fit to shoehorn it in without considering that it was unnecessary, or that it’s detrimental to the flow of the book, or that’s it’s just shitty writing.  We also get Cadmus suddenly aboard Brother Eye and taking him apart from the inside, with no explanation of how they managed to get there.  Still, I like that Brother Eye leaves a parting “gift” for Kevin, being freedom of thought and action coupled with the inability to transform back to a human.  And yeah, I just spoiled the ending but nobody was fucking reading this book anyway.  -Jem

Green Arrow #7 & #8   When I reviewed all the DC number ones last year I never invested more than a mild curiosity in Green Arrow.  I didn’t know the character, and despite my polite and brief note about it I actually thought it looked crap.  Flicking through a couple of recent DC comics I saw an advertisement for Green Arrow #7 proudly announcing a new creative team, and I liked the look of the cover so I thought I’d check it out.  The step up in the quality of the artwork makes this comic a lot easier to appreciate.  Take a look at this comparison below between issue #1 (top) and issue #8 (bottom).

This arc starts with a fantastic scene of Green Arrow on top of a building poetically flinging office memos into the air and lamenting the woes of leading the double life.  He is suddenly attacked by Skylark, a trio of sexy blonde sisters, who inform him they are fans of his, and offer an invitation to inspect some superior weapons tech they’ve created.  A smitten Green Arrow accepts, and enjoys a non-confrontational and tastefully alluded-to foursome on the jet on the way.  Upon his arrival it quickly becomes clear that there’s a freaky level of genetic experimentation on animals going on.  DC sure do like their mad scientists!  This Green Arrow arc is strange, sexy, and seems to now be going somewhere.  –Jem

Avengers Vs X-Men #1   Marvel’s big annual event has landed, and I’ve been in two minds about it ever since it was first announced.  On one hand we get the spectacle of the good guys fighting each other on a scale not seen since Civil War.  On the other, we get a publisher desperate to emulate the success of the last event that really sucked in a whole bunch of new readers, Civil War.  Good thing or bad thing?  Well having just read issue #1 I’m actually still in two minds.  It seems the premise for kicking this shebang off left me a little wanting:  Cyclops is a jerk, and it’s going to start a war.  Perhaps the whole Hope/Phoenix thing is more exciting if you’ve been reading X-Men.  I haven’t, so it seems a little slapped together too.  In fact, there’s a lack of polish evident throughout, with some lazy colouring, and some panels just looking shithouse.  I feature the worst offending example below.  What the fuck is going on here?

This is pencilled by John Romita Jnr, a big name with experience to burn, and also his own biggest critic.  He is one of my favourite Spider-Man artists.  In this he somehow manages to scratch out a pretty boring Captain America, and a frankly arse Iron Man.  For such a veteran, I simply accept no excuse.  Why would Marvel let their big event for 2012 come out looking like this?  Secret Invasion, Civil War, Fear Itself, all great looking first issues that set a visual standard that Avengers  Vs X-Men simply does not live up to.  And this event stuff is the vehicle that is supposed to appeal to new readers!  It’s almost as if they’re dependent on the title alone.  
I shuddered as they dumbed it down a little too much when Iron Man is talking to the president about Jean Grey, and Cap feels the need to add "Jean Grey of the X-Men".  You know, just in case your mum suddenly takes an interest in Marvel events.

I’m putting the boots in a bit though.  I’ll stick with it because Avengers Vs X-Men is likely going to be a lot of fun.  This kind of stuff is really why I read Marvel.  The next issue is only two weeks away, so I’ll be putting that through it’s paces here as well.  -Jem

Thanks kids.

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