Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #7

Conan The Cimmerian #0
Final Crisis #2
No Hero #0
Skaar: Son of Hulk #1
Trinity #1

Hey gang! I decided to try an altered format for "Wednesdays." Again, I get a box of heavily discounted comics once a month shipped out of Nebraska, so my reviews are not timely, hence the column title. However, that's no excuse for a ridiculously long once-per-month review brick, as though it's a one-man AICN @$$holes column. I've decided to trim the usual 8+ reviews down to 5-6, and if that gets unwieldy, four at a time. Hopefully that will make things easier to read, not to mention write...

Conan The Cimmerian #0 (Dark Horse, $0.99) I was a big fan of Conan for quite a few years in the 80's, especially enjoying the "Conan Saga" black & white reprints of the early Barry Smith material. "Savage" and the later work never held my attention, and the $1 comic that launch the popular Busiek/Nord relaunch was no different. I'm afraid the streak continues here. Maybe I just don't like Howard, as I assume these newer works are more faithful to the original pulp tales, this edition borrowing from the poem "Cimmeria." The prose at first pass seems purple, but is too dry for such a vibrant shade. More of a mauve, really. On the other hand, maybe the blame falls on Tim Truman, an artist I love but a writer who has failed me on every project but "Hawkworld," which I don't believe I've read in better than a dozen years. The art by Tomas Giorello is given a painterly vibe by colorist Jose Villarrubia, recalling that third generation Frank Frazetta riff the Brits hit comics with in the 90's. I got sick of that pretty fast, and Giorello's game isn't on their level. I'm afraid I got more of a charge out of the solicitation for Frank Cho's cover to the first full-priced issue, with Conan rocking those glorious Betty Page bangs. It takes a bad motherfucker to pull that look off, but Cho delivered. Someone call me when he provides interiors?

No Hero #0 #0 (Avatar, $1.00) I have my issues with Warren Ellis, but he's been on lately, and damned if he didn't hook me from the first page. Admittedly, it was his excerpt from Bobby Kennedy's Day of Affirmation Address, but regardless, it worked. Sure, it looks like another trip to Rick Veitch territory, but the art by Juan Jose Ryp is more pleasing to the eye, and there's an altruism way down deep in Ellis that really isn't present amidst Veich's nihilistic visions. I like the concept of world-shaking social activists with super-powers, and it works better than the "metahuman kills Bush" tease in "Black Summer." Say, did that book ever come out in a softcover collection? I did mean to pick that up...

Skaar: Son of Hulk #1 (Marvel, $2.99) I will say this-- of the two barbarian books I cover this time, Skaar was the better tale. Even still, the three page recap of "Planet Hulk" followed by a heaping helping of nothin' special kind of pissed me the fuck off. I'm not so much hacked-off by anything in Greg Pak's script, though the story is at least as old as Hercules. My peeve is I'm sick of spending good money to read 22 pages of generic action or talking heads without any story, much less a resolution. This all goes back to Stan Lee's serializing Marvel stories back in the 60's, because it was easier to drag one story out than to come up with a whole new one, by his own admission. Now, every writer thinks the only way to show scale is to spend entire issues on set-up, forgetting that the pay-off rarely matches the reader's investment anytime a story runs beyond a single issue. Based on the slight plot, not a single interesting character, and the overrall Conan pastiche, who but the diehard would continue supporting this crap? Absolutely the only thing I could recommend this waste of everyone's time for is Ron Garney's art. I only ever liked his work before when given a slick finish by Scott Koblish, as I found he otherwise looked rough and unfinished. Shot from pencils with coloring given the appearance of colored pencils, Garney finally seems in his element and fulfilling his early promise.

Trinity #1 (DC, $2.99) Weekly comics especially render a semi-monthly column redundant, don't they? I'm sure by now everybody's rendered an opinion on this book, so I'll try to be brief: it sucks. Bagley seems to be shifting toward more realistic faces for his characters, like Perez did in the 90's, but to even worse effect. Super-heroes should be ideas onto which ideals can be projected, not photo-referenced into distracting specificity, especially by an artist best served by caricature. Art Thibert inks are just as ill-suited to Bagley's strengths, over-rendering to muddy results. There's slightly more story than "Skaar," and resolution in a tacked-on action series, but nothing worth bothering with. Busiek also allows his heroes and villains to do a lot of yapping without saying much of anything. Fabian Nicieza and Scott McDaniel try to help the lead creators with a more substantal back-up introducing a new super-villain collective. Shame Wonder Woman already beat her "new" foe-to-be years ago, this new Enigma guy looks like a 90's reject and... well, I like Despero, though he looks in need of Nutrasystem. That's all McDaniel though, still looking like he's drawing with the butt of a cigarette. Also, the hints of yet another reality warping story by Busiek? Fucking hell, how many times can you go to that well? Run, don't walk, from this series.

Final Crisis #2 (DC, $3.99) I can't believe I'm paying $4 an issue for a mini-series after "Infinite Crisis" led to nowhere. If this weren't my kiss-off series to DC Comics, and it wasn't reasonably solid, and that whole "heavy discount" business... Anyway, I always enjoy international heroes, so Super-Sumo's moment was cool by me. The bit with the disembodied Watcher bugged me though, as we've seen it played by everyone from Captain Marvel to General Glory, and there's not a bit of innovation here. Is it too much to ask for a twist here, especially from Grant Morrison? The death of Martian Manhunter continued to be downplayed, and I continue to take that as a good thing, especially considering Superman's last line of eulogy. I would enjoy Libra more is a knew his story wasn't going to also feel like deja vu, as it's so far the same old Faustian shuffle of Neron and Mephisto. I also wished the narrative weren't so choppy, especially the blatant obfuscation in the Green Lantern matter. All the developments regarding Superman, Batman, Flash, and Dan Turpin seem promising, and all are pretty under J.G. Jones. Everyone's still working under the benefit of the doubt...

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