FCBD Buffy / The Guild
FCBD Serenity / Star Wars
My Favorite Martian: Free Comic Book Day
Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5
Free Comic Book Day and Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 "In Space No One Can Hear You Slay" / The Guild: Beach'd
(Dark Horse, 2012, Free)
Judas Priest! That's got to be the longest run-on of a title in the history of the comic book medium! Pity Overstreet when they log in that entry. Anyway, as the title indicates, this flip book starts with a (surely non-canon) tale of Buffy battling a Giger alien. Well, that's not quite true, as the indicia does not include Fox copyright, and while on-model, the xenomorph is saddled with a pussy vulnerability. Otherwise, I'd have to give Buffy the Kyle Reece speech about how unlikely it would be for her to kill an alien in this time with these weapons. It's meant to be a parody, and all of the humor comes from an entirely different set of aliens. This is undercut by violence in the second half, and by too many in-jokes requiring prior knowledge of the Buffyverse. Really nice art by Jeanty and Vines, though
"Alabaster: Shelter Part Two" requires you to have read an entirely separate FCBD book, which I declare to be bullshit. On its own it makes little sense, and when read with a break between parts it feels rather shoddy and obvious. You know how often movies rely on you to passively view the proceedings, because if you had time to stop and think about things, you'd figure out the ending and pull at the loose threads? That's exactly the mistake made here.
I've read and seen some Guild material, and thought it was mildly amusing, but nothing to sustain my interest. "Beach'd" is a character driven romp, but the characters are really irritating, and their paltry characterization is reenforced in panel after panel. This is terrible geek baiting sitcom material, I don't like these people, and after this, I don't want to read about them ever again.
Free Comic Book Day and Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64--It's Never Easy / Free Comic Book Day: Star Wars--"The Art of the Bad Deal"
(Dark Horse, 2012, Free)
No wait, somehow this title is even longer and more awful. There's a fucking serial number in there. It makes me want to punch someone in the collar bone with all of my inconsiderable might.
Zack Whedon writes the Firefly story, and the characterization is down, but the plot is mindbogglingly pointless. I seriously paused to question the cosmos as to why anyone would bother. This was also the first story I've read set post-Serenity, which served to remind me that the movie ended the series far too well for me to have any desire for "expanded 'verse" material. I understand that artist Fábio Moon has hipster cred, but his exaggerated, lumpy take of the crew only heightened by intolerance.
Zack Whedon also writes the Han Solo & Chewbacca tale, which means Dark Horse just gave every major aspect of their two FCBD books to Whedon people. This strikes me as a mistake, especially in this case, because I'm not sure Joss' brother can write. Oh sure, he's okay with dialogue, but this story's plot was also completely irrelevant, and a look at his IMDb pages fails to impress. He did one of the weakest Deadwood episodes, some odds n' sods genre stuff, and the massively overrated Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The whole premise here is that Solo is stupid enough to deal with a guy guaranteed to fuck him, gets fucked, then almost gets extra fucked save for a completely predictable Chewie rampage. It's plumb stupid. At least the art of Davidé Fabbri and Christian Dalla Vecchia is a marked improvement.
"Alabaster: Shelter Part One" is the first half of an ill-conceived two part story. Caitlín R. Kiernan sets up an interesting situation, but given that the protagonist as presented is essentially Buffy by another name, the only conclusion is readily apparent. Instead of using Greg Ruth's cover to the first issue of the mini-series four times in two comics surrounding a pair of two page stories, how about running the full four pages in one comic? Surely Star Wars alone could have sprawled out its backlist advertisement across several pages, turning a redundancy into something on the furthest periphery of opportunity?
My Favorite Martian (Hermes Press, 1964/2012, Free)
They say that this is the greatest time ever for comic book artistry. If that's so, how come the best of the four books reviewed here is a forty-eight year old reprint of a cheap TV sitcom adaptation written by a wildly prolific hack, drawn by something of an industry pariah and paid for by one of the most unimaginative, antiseptic publishers ever?
After the period cool painted cover came a photo interior featuring Martin the Martian introducing himself through a six inch long brick of text against a forest green background. I groaned at the prospect of reading it, but once I started, found it breezy and insightful. I never watched the show as a kid, but always assumed it was a gender switched I Dream of Jeannie. It's much more of a reversal than that, as Martin is highly intelligent and capable with his alien powers, but a planet full of stupid monkey people keep managing to foil his bids to return home. In spite of his windbag arrogance (hell, because of it,) Martin is engaging, and you really root for him.
"Destination Mars" comes from Gold Key's My Favorite Martian #2, which as a volume only lasted nine issues. Hermes Press really wants to soak you on the hardcover, which only collects seven issues with "bonus material" for a whopping $49.99. You can get Good/VG grade copies of eight issues online for less than that, but I must admit that the glossy paper stock and potent colors make for a fine presentation. The story, presumably by Paul S. Newman, is a gas. Dan Spiegel's art is much cleaner and less idiosyncratic than one would expect from his better known work, and though it's strictly journeyman, it tells the tale clearly. I enjoyed how straightforward and unpretentious this comic was, and appreciate the completeness of it all. Done-in-ones are a lost art, clearly. Make more comics like this with your highfalutin' so-phisti-cation, why don't you?
The Transformers: Regeneration #80.5 (IDW, 2012, Free)
I liked a given Transformer for only as long as it took me to turn it from a robot to a machine of another sort and back. I once got a little extra oomph out of one by Transforming it in front of a strobe light. Also, I was poor, so I typically was stuck with the off-brand Go-Bots, or really shitty miniature Transformers like Bumblebee and the cassette tape bird things. I have yet to see any of the movies, and avoided the cartoon as much as possible.
"Regeneration One" is a love letter to old comics I rarely read and had no interest in. This includes employing the same tired old talent that helped guide the Marvel series to cancellation. Lip service is paid to this being a fresh, accessible start, but I found it tedious, uninvolving, and obtuse. I halfway know a number of these characters, which is good, since not a single one gets a proper introduction. It's all about epic scale, stoking old fires, a Thunder Clash of Soundwave and fury, signifying nothing.
There's a three page preview of "Transformers: Autocracy," which looks like it was edited by Roger Corman. Everything that isn't in complete shadow is poorly lit, and you can only tell what is going on in the broadest strokes. There's one panel of Optimus Prime punching an unidentifiable area of another robot that's abstract cubism with a dialogue balloon and a sound effect. It's some of the least competent storytelling I've seen in recent memory.
Friday, June 8, 2012
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