All Crime Comics #1
Avengers: The Enemy Within #1
The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1
The Movement #1 (2013, $2.99)
X #1 (2013)
It's been a long time, I know. Been very busy for an extended period of time and let the floppies pile up (or let planned reviews pile up on the stuff I did read.) Well, let's suck it up and dive back in, eh?
I bought this for the sweet Bruce Timm cover and the promise of an extended quality story at the price of a standard Marvel comic. It's squarebound with heavy stock (but appropriately flat finished) interior paper. When you lead off a review discussing printing specs, the story probably doesn't get to where you wanted it to. The first third is drawn by Ed Laroche in the style of a modest Vertigo noir release, and the hoodlum's initial scheming plays out similarly. The middle section is a flashback to 1966 drawn by Marc Sandroni in a period style complete with color dots and "yellowed" pages. It ran a bit long and conventional for my taste, really telegraphing the final act return to the present and Laroche, who does not have the storytelling chops to be placed in direct competition with Sandroni. You get more than your money's worth from the package, but at the same time, there's nothing here to inspire a return trip, either.
I don't read a lot of Marvel comics anymore, so I'm not sure how prevalent self-covering is, but man the practice makes a book look cheap and dull. It's like a Kip's Big Boy giveaway comic from the early '80s. Say, remember what I just said about All Crime Comics? I assume this book was meant to hook myself and Avengers readers into the cult favorite work of Kelly Sue DeConnick on Captain Marvel, but this book grated on my nerves. The plot was extra-super lame and involved supporting characters introduced to poorly for me to be concerned about their fates, not that they're ever seemingly imperiled. I don't recall Spider-Woman being a Spider-Man clone in personality, and all the stabs at humor or girl power are totally flat. About the only thing I halfway appreciated was the art of Scott Hepburn, though again, it's not truly ready for prime time, so I'd be more willing to cheer it on if this were a small press novelty instead of the set-up for a big two event crossover.
Even when I was a child myself, I wasn't really into kinder-centric comics when I could get my hands on teen titles, being a precocious little runt and all. I never warmed to Art Baltazar & Franco's Tiny Titans or Superman Family Adventures as a result of that inclination, so I didn't expect much from those titles' writers on an oddball New 52 title. Color me surpised that their debut issue was actually quite good; meaty in that way rarely seen these days, by guys who've obviously been hungry to cook up heavier stuff for years. At the same time, they're seasoned veterans at setting up characters in the span of a few panels in gag strips, so of course they could render even filthy rich dilettantes as complex, intriguing figures when given twenty pages. Full advantage is taken through dense caption boxes and fat ass word balloons that flow smoothly with relatively natural dialogue. I was familiar with the artist Ig Guara through his flashy Wildstorm-style art on Stormwatch, but here he wisely dials it back with a looser, lighter look entirely appropriate for the subject matter; an impressive display of versatility. With everything going against it, the creative team managed the minor miracle of crafting trade-wait worthy material out of a Bronze Age premise typically mined only for ridicule. The only thing ridiculous here is Amanda Conner's cover, which plays into every negative assumption readers might have coming into this book. It's a misleading misfire, but the only one to be found in this enjoyable debut.
The Movement #1 (DC, 2013, $2.99)
So DC set up this (politically outdated) stunt with the release of two new titles in the same month, one to represent the 99% of average people, and one for the 1% of super-rich who control more than a third of all wealth. This one was by a name writer (Gail Simone) with a commercially known artist (Freddie Williams II) featuring the kewl rebel kids, and the other one was by kiddie book creators whose title was in a cancellation dead pool before the first issue was even solicited. Surprisingly, this one was much less good. The characters are far less sympathetic-- obnoxious caricatures of Anonymous that play as a seriously off-brand X-Men at best but really more like cheesier unhip wannabes of yore like the Wolfpack/Fallen Angels/Psi-Force. Between the rigged rhetoric and the lame chartacter intros lies a threadbare plot and an insubstantial read. Williams' art isn't the annoying cornball chiarascuro of Captain Atom, but he's still drawing grim n' gritty posed action figures instead of human beings. More than anything, this debut reminds me of Grant Morrison's parody of Rob Liefeld Doom Force rather than the many crappy but sincere New Mutants knock-offs, and this is easily the worst thing I've ever read from Simone. The only movement I felt was in my bowels.
I must confess that I read this a while back, and my memory has already gone a bit hazy. I seem to recall thinking the parts involving war atrocities and regular folks dealing with being caught up in the brutal closing days of World War II was good stuff. The parts where the Nazis develop super-villains and unleash them were maybe not so good, while still not as offensively bad as it would be if this were a Mark Millar joint. At 44 pages of story on hardy, gloss stock, I can't imagine why you wouldn't buy this instead of corporate garbage. Kieron Gillen's script is sound, though I care fuck all about the characters, placing a trade purchase on the bubble. The art by Caanan White and the overall production quality will help, though Avatar's likely inflated price won't, so it's all up to this being released on a non-competitive month, given that it's basically All-Star Squadron for sickos.
Speaking as a guy who collected the entire Comics Greatest World weekly mini-series two decades ago and still held enough residual fondness for urban political vigilante X to pick up X Omnibus Volume 1 five years back, I can say with some informed opinion that this is easily the worst take on the character I've ever had the misfortune to suffer through. X is a perfect vehicle to indulge in populist bloodlust against the polarizing political corruption and idiotic demagoguery of our times, and one would expect that contemporary leniency would allow the most controversial possibilities with the edgy character yet. Instead, Duane Swierczynski scripts an utterly banal '90s action tale that shifts focus to a pathetically threadbare update of the intrepid girl journalist trope as unpaid, paranoid blogger. Rather than going more extreme and gratuitous on a character built for gore and askew commentary, X is presented as an utterly generic, compromised pseudo-protagonist battling ill-defined naughty people. The art of Eric Nguyen is horrid, recalling greats like Dave Johnson and Kyle Baker along with more arguably valuable types like John Paul Leon and Tommy Lee Edwards without a fraction of their abilities, as though their influence were a looped backing track for some sorry ass flowless crap rap tune.
a blogger journalist
Monday, July 22, 2013
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