Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yes, I am allowed to read comics with the word "hell" in the title.

Hi hi hi everybody! I'm sitting here with a big stack of comics, and as always, some are fun and some are not! Which ones are which? Well, let's find out, shall we?

ASM #522AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #522: This comic is fun. The "New Avengers" storyline continues and I've got to admit I'm enjoying it a lot more than the actual New Avengers comic! Spidey in New Avengers always seems to be pointless in a fight and just there to make dumb—not even funny—wisecracks. (I really would have thought if anyone knew how to write Spidey in an entertaining way, it would be Brian Michael Bendis! But noooooo!) Anyway, Peter goes after the Hydra forces and finds that maybe he shoulda waited for Avengers backup...I'm sure we all know that feeling, right? I'm not as keen about the "the world thinks Mary Jane and Tony Stark are kissin' and cuddlin' thanks to a paparazzi photo" subplot: it's the sort of event that would be a non-issue between Peter and M.J. (and Aunt May knows better, too), so where's the drama? Not there, I'm tellin' ya! Isn't this the sort of problem that can solved by Tony Stark waving around some money or Peter appealing to J. Jonah Jameson to pull in a few press-world favors for him? I know that's the way I'd write it, and I'm not Mister Jay Michael Stratego; I'm jus' a li'l stuffed bull. But leave out the soap-opera plot and it's a good Spidey-sneaks-around and discovers a deadly plot story, with a nifty cliffhanger last page that makes Spidey (and us!) hope the Avengers are watching his back...As long as Spidey keeps up with the climbing and the action and the wisecracks and the webspinning, these comics are fun. Just watch the soap opera, Mister JMS! Don't go there! You know you have a tendency to go there! Yes you do!!

FF #529FANTASTIC FOUR #529: This comic is not fun. And speaking of Mister J. Michael Strandeightmilesofbooks... He's layering on the soap opera as heavy as chocolate frosting in this new issue of FF (Wait, I like chocolate frosting. Let's say instead...broccoli frosting). Mister Fantastic, whose greatest weapon is always his brain, has to resort to sabotaging his mission, tricking his science colleagues and abandoning them because he didn't see what the secret government project was going to be. Hello McFly! It was clear as the Invisible Girl to us all along! Add to that the same theme he brought to Spider-Man: that getting specific superpowers was pre-destined and was gonna happen whatever else occurred...and you're makin' me miss Mark Waid on this title big time. This is the third issue in a storyline that I liked when it began, but there's no real villain, concrete threat, or clear movement towards a unifying plot, and even the Thing is kinda boring this issue. I'm not impressed...and somethin' better happen, fast.

JLAC #10JUSTICE LEAGUE CLASSIFIED #10: This comic is fun. First of all: that's a horrible cover. Don't let the guy who designed "The Sims" do the cover of your comics, please, Johnny DC! But once you turn the page or rip off the cover it's actually a pretty fun roller-coaster of a old-school JLA (that is, late 1990s-style JLA). Deaths, disasters, explosions and firestorms are happening all over Earth-DC, and it looks like they're targeting the three Big Guns of the JLA (Supes, Bats, and Wondy!) Things are so bad, even Perry "Don't Call Me Chief" White is a big crankypuss! Switch to decaf, Perry! It's the sort of big disaster-things-go-wrong-that-only-the-JLA-can-stop story that Grant Morrison did so well in early issues of JLA, and Warren Ellis does a real solid callback to those earth-shaking stories. By the way (or, "BTW", as we b(ul)loggers say) this story is titled "New Maps of Hell." Which proves that I'm allowed to read comics with the word 'hell' in them! But even if I'm 'lowed to read and say it, I really don't think Superman should be. In my book, Lois can cuss. But "Smallville" don't.

Hulk: DestructionTHE INCREDIBLE HULK: DESTRUCTION #1: This comic is fun. It's a Hulk comic without the Hulk in it? How can that be fun, huh? For answers, see the Paul Jenkins issues of Incredible Hulk. Hah! But I kid Paul Jenkins. Seriously, my fav'rite Hulk writer is an' always has been Mister Peter David. Say what you like about him, he writes an incredible Hulk. I've actually been a li'l disappointed in some of Peter David's recent Hulk issues: I kinda lost interest in the "Tempest Fugit" series and I'm not really at all having fun with the "Imaginary Story" House of M Hulk, but this first issue of a four-part miniseries on the Hulk's foe The Abomination is just plain brutal Hulk fun. Lots of smashing and psychology, and you all know how well those two things go together! Nobody writes a better Doc Samson than Peter David, and I even like that he's writing General Ross again (even tho' I musta lost track: isn't General Ross dead?!?) I'm not as wild about the artwork by Jim Muniz—everybody's got big stringy veiny muscled arms that are kinda creepy to look at—but he draws good dynamic, powerful, smash-'em-up fight scenes, and really, that's a good skill to have if you're drawing the Hulk.

Hellboy: The Island #1Hellboy: The Island #2HELLBOY: THE ISLAND #1 and 2: These comics are fun. Here's s'more proof that I'm allowed to read comics with the word "hell" in them! Really, John doesn't have any problem with me reading comics with "PG" language as long as they're good comics! And they don't come much gooder than a comic by Mike Mignola! These are the last two issues he's gonna work on for a while of his "Hellboy" series, and they're doozies. He wraps up a lot of storylines and developments from other issues, but even if all you know of Hellboy is the kinda-cool movie, you'll be able to follow this. It's spooky, moody, and sad at the same time, and Mignola is a great artist of teh sort I wouldn't mind being: a little cartoony, but great shading and a keen eye on how to leave lots of space to draw the eye to the next panel. It even explains what's the story with Hellboy's big heavy forearm! The best thing about this is that even tho' it's the last Mignola Hellboy for a while, there's a whole lotta other stories he's done before that I wanna go back and read now. You will too: and that's the best kinda comic of all. That's why these two comics get my vote as the most fun comics of the week! With the word 'hell' in them or not!

Astro City #2ASTRO CITY: THE DARK AGE #2: This comic is fun. This one has all the things I like best in an Astro City comic: little intriguing tidbits of history parceled out at mysterious intervals for us to piece together, great colorful superhero characters, great ordinary human characters, a believable, amazing city where it doesn't sound so off-the-wall that superheroes and villains battle in the streets, and most of all, it came out on time! Hooray! That's a big plus in an Astro City comic. We get a few more clues in flashback form about why Royal and Charles hate the Silver Agent, but the best part is a full-page appearance by my fav'rite Astro City character, the Blue Knight. Ooooh, scary! Bad things are happening left and right in Astro City, but that all adds up to a fun comic!

Runaways #6RUNAWAYS #6: This comic is fun. You know what I like best about all the characters in Runaways? Each one of them is diff'rent...sure, they may all be the children of supervillains, but each one has a more than just a diff'rent power, they have diff'rent types of powers: there's a mutant, and a magic user, and an alien, an a time-traveller, and a's the sort of melting pot of characters that really hasn't been since the Roy Thomas/John Buscema issues of The Avengers around #60-80...and that's an apt comparison, cos' in this issue, the Runaways get another member who fits in perfectly: he's the son of one of the Avengers' greatest nemesisses nemesies nemesees villains. Just like the previous issues, there's a real sense of movement in this comic: things don't just happen, they cause characters and the team to change and evolve.

Also, I think Nico is really cute. Sigh...