Yes, I know it’s been a while since I did a weekly review column, and for that I apologize. It’s been a pretty crazy and hectic last month, but I’m back on the clock, so it’s time to get down to business. I’ll be tossing in some older books as well, just to catch everyone up to date. Let’s see what we’ve got!
PULL LIST 07-2008
- Avengers Initiative #15
- New Avengers #43
- Secret Invasion #4
- Dan Dare #7
- Black Summer #7
- Glamourpuss #2
- War Heroes #1
- Final Crisis: Requiem
- Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1
- Booster Gold #1,000,000
Avengers Initiative #15
After reading the last few issues I’ve come to realize Initiative is the best Avengers book being published, and is one of the best Marvel books around. I’ve been wildly entertained by basically every issue of the series, and it somehow finds a way to stay interesting and entertaining. Writers Dan Slott and Cristos Gage have presented us with a nice rotating cast of characters with a basis of a few interesting leads, while still maintaining the action. This issue is no different, as the new 3-D Man (formerly Triathlon) thinks that the whole Initiative base has been overrun by Skrulls, thanks to his special goggles that allow him to see disguised Skrulls for what they are. The only problem is one of two actual Skrulls on the base, Crusader, has reversed the polarity on the goggles, so he is seeing humans as Skrulls, and vice-versa. We then go into the back story of Crusader, and how he came to Earth, and why he has decided to become a hero. It’s these kinds of character moments that have made this so enjoyable. Slott and Gage have taken new and old characters and made them more intriguing than anything found in New or Mighty Avengers. This has quietly become one the books I loom forward to each month, I just other people are with and this book can last a while. This one though gets a —5 out of 5.
New Avengers #43
And then we come to one of the boring Avengers books, this one revealing how the Skrulls that crash landed in the Savage Land at the end of Secret Invasion #1 came to be there. My question is, do I really need to see this? It might make for a few good pages if it was combined with a few pages from the last few issues, but this set of New and Mighty Avengers issues for the last few months has just bored me to death. It doesn’t help that I’m not a fan of Billy Tan‘s art style, which is serviceable but not interesting to me. There’s just no excitement here, the stories don’t feel vital, and I feel like I’m getting ripped off here. Time to drop this until after Secret Invasion, or at least judge it by an issue by issue basis. —2 out of 5
Secret Invasion #4
Wow, this is really starting to come off the rails, isn’t it? And I can’t point to anything really bad about this issue; it’s just that there was nothing to it. Nothing happened! The issue starts with a boring voice over from one of the Skrulls, there’s a bit of action with Nick Fury and his new commandos, there’s a bit in the Savage Land with Iron Man, and then a couple of characters show up that could make issue 5 kind of interesting. I think my biggest problem with this issue in particular and the series in general is a problem of pacing. Last year’s World War Hulk mini felt the right size at five issues, and I think this series would have benefited from a shorter length. Writer Brian Bendis’ strength lies in his dialog and in writing long term stories, which is fine for an ongoing series, but in a high octane mini such as this one, he can’t punch up the action and move things at a faster pace, which is what I want in an event book. After reading the uneven pacing in House of M, and now seeing it here, I’m starting to think that Bendis should stay away from these kinds of stories and just write the ancillary titles. As with the previous issues though, the art by Leinil Yu is the series saving grace, and makes me not regret buying this. The series is only half done, so maybe Bendis can pull something off and improve the series as for this issue, I have to give it a —2 out of 5.
Dan Dare #7
This is a series I’m kind of sad to see come to an end, because while this has been very good, I don’t have enough connection to the character to necessarily pick up the next mini, particularly knowing the Garth Ennis won’t be writing it. He was really the element that made this series shine, with his clear fondness for the character and also his love for war comics, which sci-fi trapping aside, is what this story has been. But ooohhhh, those sci-fi trappings really show up this issue, with the massive space battle I was hoping would show up. It’s the end of the battle between Dare and his arch-enemy, the Mekon. The battle in space is epic, and is given the right amount of page space, without losing focus on the other elements going on. Will make for a great trade for any fan of Battlestar Galactica or Ennis’ other war stories. —5 out of 5
Black Summer #7
And we come to the end of a different mini, this one Warren Ellis’ look at what would happen if a superhero killed the president. The series has been kind of uneven, and does not approach Ellis’ best work, but it’s been largely fun, and features the highly detailed art of Juan Jose Ryp. The art has kept me interested enough to keep buying, although I will admit the story telling gets a little rough in parts of this issue, and it won’t be for everyone. The story wraps up here, with not too many surprises, and while there may have been a few interesting concepts in the story, the whole thing was just a bit average. Don’t waste your time and go read Transmetropolitan for better Ellis’ material. —3 out of 5
I can imagine this issue being even more divisive than the first issue, and I’ll say that this really isn’t for everyone, but I still enjoyed it, but I’m a fan of Dave Sim‘s art style, and I’m kind of interested in the art history aspect of the book. I can’t say I really enjoyed the middle portion of the book, which is basically Sim ranting on the “evils” of anti-depressant drugs and while his argument ends up being more even handed than you might think, I just don’t care that much and it was on odd departure. Still, the first and third parts of the book where Sim goes into the history of realistic schools of comic art hold my interest and will keep me buying the series. I will say that due to the amount of text in the series, I can’t see this being an easy read when it gets collected, so this ends up being a series that actually reads better in single issue form. —4 out of 5
War Heroes #1
Here is another series that I can see being just as divisive as Glamourpuss, except for different reasons, and I can’t say I really enjoyed this, just because of where my personal beliefs fall. What we get here is an alternate reality where the war in Iraq goes worse than it currently is, and the US finds itself going to war with Iran and most of the rest of the Middle East. In order to increase enlistment in the army, the government finds a way to give normal soldiers super-powers like strength, flight and speed. Now, there I things I would have liked about this, given a different viewpoint. The art by Tony Harris is up to his usual standards, although I’m curious how he’s drawing three different books at the same time. However the writing by Mark Millar in the first half of the issue was so heavy handed, it took me out of the rest of the issue. If you’re of a certain political stance, you might get more out of this, but me I’ll have to pass on the rest of the series. —3 out of 5
Final Crisis: Requiem
On the other side of the fence, we get the first tie-in issue to DC’s big summer event, which focuses on the life and death of Martian Manhunter. Writer Peter J Tomasi does a good job of reminding us why some many people enjoyed the character of MM, and how he matters to the other characters of the DCU. Tomasi bounces around a bit in time, showing the funeral, than an extended look at his death, and then the aftermath of his murder. It really worked for me, even as someone who is aware of Martian Manhunter but has never really read too many stories with him. He is a lynchpin character for the JLA, and you can feel the pain that all the other heroes feel because of his loss. And all this is an excuse for artist Doug Mahnke to draw all the major DC heroes, and he does a fantastic job. But he really does a good job in getting the emotions of the characters across, which was vital for this story. So, if you’ve enjoyed the first two issues of Final Crisis so far, or are a Martian Manhunter fan, you owe it to yourself to check this out. I give it a —5 out of 5.
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1
I’ve never read the supposed classic run of Geoff Johns/Scott Kolins on the Flash from a few years back, so this didn’t really hold any nostalgia appeal, but I’ve become enough of a fan of Kolins’ artwork to give this a shot, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. Kolins’ detailed line-work has tons of energy and is the perfect fit for this group of characters. Johns’ script does a good job of explaining who the characters are to someone who hasn’t followed them much in the past (like myself) and while there’s a lot of set up here, there’s enough going on to keep me interested. So far, we’ve had some good tie-ins to Final Crisis, books that I have probably enjoyed more than the main series. This one gets a solid —4 out of 5 .
Booster Gold #1,000,000
It’s kind of weird that they bothered to call this issue 1,000,000, as it’s meant to tie into that DC event from however many years ago, but not much of the issue actually ties into that story. It’s just a little odd to me, but it doesn’t make any impact to the story, which is good as usual. This is a tie up to the last half years worth of story, and it’s a satisfying end. Booster and Skeets travel to the far future where they meet Peter Platinum, a version of Booster Gold in the year 1,000,000. Booster is less than thrilled to meet his counterpart, and is rescued from the future by Rip Hunter, just in time for Booster to tell Rip to leave him alone. But, this is an ongoing series, so Booster gets a pep talk from Batman, and then Rip finds a way to lure Booster back onto his team, so the series can keep going. Finally, we get a pretty shocking revelation, a possible villain introduced, and one of Geoff Johns patented “This year in…” scene with shots of Dick Grayson in his Robin costume, Elongated Man with Booster in the time stream, Cyborg Superman, and then Booster and Braniac 5 fighting a dinosaur. This is just another solid issue, and I really enjoyed the more upbeat ending, and also the scene with Batman. This isn’t a series that impresses you with how good it is, but every month Johns, Jeff Katz, and Dan Jurgens tell a fun story with decent art with characters you enjoy, which all add up to a —5 out of 5.