Friday, October 28, 2011

The Bill October 27, 2011

Jeez, has a week gone by already? Time flies when you're swamped I guess. I apologize for the lack of updates, as things have been rocking and rolling over here (Check out my other blog for an insight) I've found myself without a whole lot of time to chat about comics. That said, nothing's gonna keep me from prattling on about at least one new book this week. Which one? Why don't you follow me after the credits and find out?

The Book I Want to Like:
Avengers Solo # 1
Writer: Jen Van Metter, Jim McCann
Artist: Roger Robinson, Clay Henry

Confession time: I have a complete run of the first volume of Solo Avengers (or Avengers Spotlight). The start of that series (the first year or so) are some of the best Hawkeye stories around, written by, surprisingly enough, Tom Defalco. The stories from that period have endeared me to Hawkeye and made me want to give all of his series chances. There are a few good ones, but most of the time they're pretty shitty.

Unfortunately, Avengers Solo is one of the shitty ones.

'Shitty' is a hard word and not the right one. Disappointing, confusing, needless complex, not fun... any of those are a bit more accurate. For me, a good Hawkeye story involves some snarky one-liners, some espionage, and some high flying action. This issue opted to give me none of that, and I think that's my problem with it.

The issue begins with Hawkeye stopping a routine mugging between a normal dude and a hi-tech armored assailant. Said assailant escapes, leaving The Hawk to figure out why the dude was being attacked in the first place. From there, it becomes a detective story as Hawkeye goes from mysterious benefactor to mysterious benefactor, getting tips and getting closer to a solution. Or something like that.

Honestly, it was around here that the story started to lose me. It's not that I can't handle a detective story, but there's only so many times you can use the same cliches before I get tired of it. It felt like it desperately wanted to be an awesome mystery, but only had two tricks to play before the writer ran out of ideas.

Suffice to say, I was not impressed.

Rounding out the issue, was a short little backup featuring my faves: The Avengers Academy. Here, Hank Pym takes a couple of the more troublesome kids out on a fieldtrip, only to have tragedy strike. It was fun, if a bit short. There's a part of me that wants to continue the series just for those backups, but at 3.99 I don't know if it's that worth it.

Yeah, I don't know about this one. I really want to keep reading and support the idea of a Hawkeye series (again), but not if it'll be written like this. Alas, I fear this'll have to be one of those that I grab out of a dollar bin in a few years.

Oh well. Better luck next time, Hawkeye!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bill October 20, 2011

Did you hear that? That was the sound of this Marvel's big mega event coming to a close for the year. But was that an explosion of awesomeness? Or a thud of disappointment? There's only one way to find out...

Not Afraid Anymore:
Fear Itself # 7
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen

The short version: That sound was most definitely a thud. The longer version: Well, it's complicated.

I really wanted to like Fear Itself. With a great setup, big ideas, a fun writer, and a fantastic artist, I felt like this crossover was going to be an instant classic. Unfortunately, it ended up a half baked story that never quite lived up to that potential.

As a whole, the series felt a bit hollow for me, very superficial. It was a story where nazi robots backed by crazed Norse Gods attacked New York, yet I never felt the panic. A story where Bucky Barnes met his demise, only to get a cursory nod of 'yup, he's dead.' Deep down, it was a story about people overcoming fear to find the true hero inside, but I never felt the struggle of their decision. It was a series in which things happened, but nothing mattered regardless of its impact on continuity.

While I'm on the subject of things that didn't work, let me just toss out there the decision to have the villains speak in nothing but foreign tongues was one of the worst decisions ever. Similar to what happened in Secret Invasion, I found myself not caring about the villains at all. I get that they were trying to make the 'Breakers' seem otherworldly, but it only succeeded in distancing me from the story. Want to make me really feel afraid of an enemy? Have him say something threatening that I can understand.

But I digress...

This final issue picked up the threads of the previous chunk of books (tie-ins and all) to showcase the big final battle between our heroes and the aforementioned 'Breakers'. The heroes got some sweet new hardware to use, but, as is the norm with this series, those effects were glossed over to get to the next pinup shot. In the end, one hero (and I'm pretty sure you can guess who if you really try) sacrifices himself to defeat the big bad in a moment that ought to be the big emotional climax of the series, but instead just feels like a thing... happening. Sigh.

To the issue's credit though, there is one moment mid way through where one of our heroes arms himself in a big way. For whatever reason, probably the implicit gravitas of what was happening, really 'hit' in a big way and is one of the best moments of the entire series. Not that there was much competition.

On the art side, Stuart Immonen was kicking ass with every issue. Regardless of what was written, Immonen delivered every moment big or small with perfection. I can't wait to see what he moves onto next.

In the scheme of things, Fear Itself wasn't the worst Marvel event in years, but it certainly wasn't one of the best either. For the emotional problems of the series, it did do a great job of moving the story forward issue to issue. I'm interested to see where things go from here and I'm holding out hope that the next event is the explosion of awesomeness I've been desperately waiting for.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bill October 13, 2011

I think I know what I want for Christmas.

It might be a little unorthodox, not to mention way out of season, but I don't care; it's what I need for my comic life to be complete. So what has me all riled up and excited about comics? Well if I told you here, you wouldn't want to keep reading then would you? Come on and join me as I elucidate about my favorite comic of the week....

The Book That Goes Bump in the Night:
Legion of Monsters # 1
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Juan Doe

It's books like this that remind me why I love reading comics. Bursting with big ideas, bigger action, and great one liners, Legion of Monsters ought to be a model for how to properly execute a comic book.

I'll admit that I have a little bias here as this book involves not only some of my favorite supporting characters from the sadly missing FrankenCastle series AND one of my favorites from the greatest book of all time, NEXTWAVE! It's a match made in heaven, my kind of heaven.

The story here is pretty simple, Elsa Bloodstone is hunting a killer monster and finds herself thrust into a team up with the self-styled police force calling themselves the Legion of Monsters. If you need more than that to get you excited, you best check your pulse because you might be dead.

Handling the art chores is Juan Doe who brings nothing but energy to his work. While at times a little deformed, his characters are always vibrant, full of motion, and a joy to look at.

And if all of that didn't get you excited, guess what's coming up next issue... Motorcycles. MONSTERS ON MOTORCYCLES!! DAMMIT! I LOVE IT!

I want this to be an ongoing series. Please. I've been a good boy this year....

And now, Nazis Riding Dinosaurs

That is all.

Guy faces off against my nightmare teamup in Guy Gardner Warrior #23 via dreammakers Beau Smith and Mitch Byrd.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm Just Going to Leave This Here...

I'd be remiss in my bloggerly duties if I didn't post the new Avengers trailer (not to be confused with the New Avengers trailer, that I'm sure is more than a few years off), regardless of how prevalent it is on the interwebs.

Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go pick up the bits of my brain that are scattered around the living room.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Bill October 6, 2011

I unofficially dubbed this week my 'Jeff Parker' week as all of my books (all two of them) were written by the man.  So what's it going to be this week, the always entertaining Thunderbolts?  Or the surprisingly compelling Hulk?  There's only one way to find out...  just, you know, flick your eyes down like an inch and you'll see it.

um...  Reviews Ahoy!

Surprisingly Compelling:
Hulk #42
Writer:  Jeff Parker
Artist:  Patch Zircher

The Red Hulk shouldn't be a compelling character.

He was a giant, red joke of a character when he popped up, in a book that was only entertaining because it was so outlandish.  His motives were murky at best, his tactics nothing but shock, and his powers mildly ill-defined.  I really liked the start of his series because of all this, but it wasn't enough to sustain my interest.  In a short burst it was fun, but any more than a few months it would grow tired.

Still, with all this against 'Rulk', I couldn't help but to be drawn to the character.  There was something about the design, the over-the-top-ness, the whole package that was enticing.  Thank God Jeff Parker came on the scene to give me a reason to check out Rulk.

There's something very classic about what Parker is doing on this book.  His ability to balance action, drama, a supporting cast, and cursory nods to the wider Universal continuity is something that most writers can't do nowadays.  It is very old school in the best possible way, and I wouldn't have it any different.  This latest issue is no different.

This issue marks the beginning of a brand new story line, Hulk of Arabia.  In short, Rulk gets word that an old friend met his untimely death at the hands of some revolutionaries and leaps off in search of revenge.  Of course, there's a little bit more, but that'd be spoiling.  Suffice to say, I felt very satisfied at the end of the issue and very anxious for the next one.  

Picking up the art chores this week for Gabriel Hardman is Patch Zircher and he does a bang up job.  In fact, Zircher's pencils are a crazy match for Hardman's, giving the book a very nice, consistent feel.

In the end, this continues to be one of my most bafflingly favorite books of the month.  It's full of all the creativity, action, and pathos that I want from my books, and leaves me itching for more every month.  If you're not buying this book right now, you're going to be regretting it because this is a run that's going to go down in the history books as a classic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Punisher, Teacher of the Year

Bully of the century!

Old Man Castle teaches these punk kids a thing or three about swirlies in the 1991 anthology classic, The Punisher Back to School One Shot.

My New Favorite Animal Mascot.

Doc Clamson.

Just kidding. Nothing will ever replace my love of Throg, not even an insane looking, mohawked clam. Not until Doc Clamson gets his own series, that is....

The good doctor flouts his only published appearance EVER in the pages of Peter Porker Spider-Ham # 16.