Thursday, June 12, 2008

Snap Judgments: Reviews for Kick-Ass #3, Locke & Key #5, Wonder Woman #21 and Red Mass for Mars #1

Short comic reviews based on initial, lizard-brain opinions. Arranged from BEST to WORST.

Kick-Ass #3 gets an A from Albo
No really! I didn't like the second issue either! But I promise, this one picks the story back up in a big way. There are a lot of refreshing story bits that support the "real world" setting. For instance, after our hero's first successful outing as a vigilante he comes back to school acting like a total badass, showing his classmates a YouTube video of the dustup. He doesn't reveal that he is "Kick-Ass," but it's refreshing to see a teen superhero that doesn't keep acting like a dork and go to great pains to disassociate himself with his alter ego. I mean, what teenager actually HAS that kind of discipline? I don't think I'd even be able to keep my secret identity secret for a week. Anyway, the book's only OK for the first 15 pages or so, but the ending... I haven't audibly exclaimed in surprise at a comic in a long time, but the end of this issue is a real "holy shit" moment that adds a nice wrinkle to the world of Kick-Ass.

Reviews for Locke & Key #5, Young Liars #2, Red Mass for Mars #1 and Wonder Woman #21 after the jump!

Locke & Key #5 gets an A from Albo
If you're not already reading this book I pity you. You're missing out on one of the most consistently good reads on the shelves right now. And forget catching up, back issues of this are tough to find (though a couple of recent reprints do help). Joe Hill's storytelling is very fresh for the comic book world, and his characters are shockingly well developed after only five issues. Also, where many of these non-superhero books written by non comic book writers tend to work better in their collected format, Joe Hill shows a surprising adeptness at maximizing the monthly issue format. Every time you pick up the book you know you're going to get a complete experience, not just an arbitrary slice off the story's timeline.

Young Liars #4 gets a B from Albo
This book is killing me. I hated the first issue, loved the second, used the third as toilet paper... And now I like issue four. I don't like being in this limbo where I'm not sure if I like a book or not. Love it or hate it, I just want to know! Like the second issue, this one stays in one setting long enough for actual story progression to take place, rather than using the supremely confusing time-hopping format of what I shall henceforth call "The Odd Issues." It's a bit of the problem that none of the characters are likable in the least, but there's almost enough wild adventure to make up for it. So I guess I'll be back next month. *sigh*

Red Mass for Mars #1 gets a B from Albo and a C from AHR
AHR: Does anyone actually enjoy reading a character who can see the future? It's always so much smugness and "I know" jokes. I don't like it in Layla Miller and apparently I don't even like it from Jonathan Hickman, who had two major hits with me in Pax Romana and Transhuman. On the plus side there's a fun recap of the various ways that humankind will attempt to destroy itself in the next 100 years, and I enjoyed wannabe National Front superhero who uses his power to force English on the entire world. I'll probably stick with this series if just for tangents like these.

Albo: What is Jonathan Hickman's problem? Why does he feel the need to write so many books at once? Why doesn't the poor bastard take it easy? I feel like every time I pick up an Image comic there's an ad for a NEW Hickman book. What a crazy. Anyway, after having mixed feelings on the other two books of his I've read (wowed by Pax Romana, bored by Transhuman), I'm happy to say that this was a really enjoyable read. Hickman has a real knack for pulling extremely complex societies with rich histories and interesting power players out of thin air. Some bits I found distractingly unbelievable (the superhuman trying to destroy all languages but English), but as a whole I'm totally pumped to see where this goes.

Wonder Woman #21 gets a D from AHR
Wonder Woman meets Beowulf, much olde thyme englishe ensues. Even Gail Simone can't make me enjoy this armored-men-on-horses stuff. When I pick up a superhero comic, one of DC's "big three" no less, I want to see some superheroing.


Bryan said...

i have a suggestion request:
what are three comics that are consistently good right now that i could start picking up at my local comic shop? preferably something that started fairly recently so i can either get back issues or just catch on quick. i've just become used to torrenting blocks of past comics, and want to instead physically follow a story on a regular basis.


Albo said...

AHR is out in the field, but she says:

"Hey Bryan! Unfortuantely a lot of my top books just ended (umbrella academy, countdown to mystery, jon roger's run on blue beetle) and though I love Grant Morrisson's run on Batman, it seems this new RIP story is going to be super convoluted and tied into everything that happened in Grant's last six or seven Bat-storylines. So as far as newish weekley series go....

Rasl is the new series by Jeff Smith (Bone, Monster Society of Evil) - issue #2 comes out this week, and while the content of this book is pretty mysterious, at the very least the art will be worth owning.

Although me and Albo differ on this one, I think Trashuman is one of the most fun "thinky" comics around. And if you don't like the looks of that one, try any of the THREE current books by Jonathan Hickman; he's also early into runs of Red Mass for Mars (as reviewed in the above post) and Pax Romana.

Finally, Paul Dini's run on Detective Comics is like having the Batman: The Animated Series back with slightly more blood and sexual innuendo, so if that sounds good it rarely disappoints.

Oops, one more; Killing Pickman by Jon Rea and Jason Becker is a GREAT scary, artsy serial killer book, and I'd highly recommend checking out the first two issues; unfortunately it comes out like once every six months (no idea when issue 3 is coming), so probably won't get you out to the comic shop much."

I agree with much of AHR's list, especially Pax Romana which is really really cool. The Avengers books are always a satisfying read for me, but much like Batman and R.I.P. they are getting pretty bogged down in all this Secret Invasion stuff so they aren't very new reader friendly at the moment. After the invasion will probably be a good time to hop on, assuming they still exist.

Kyle Baker's Special Forces is a fresh take on the war story... It borders on the absurd and has a weird tendency towards T&A but behind all that is a really emotional story with strong, original characters. Unless I missed something, only two issues have come out so there's not much to catch up on. Like Killing Pickman, though, it doesn't come out all that often.

One that I can't recommend highly enough is Mouse Guard. If you only pick up one of the books I mention, this is probably the one. They're a couple issues into the second volume, but it should be easy to catch up by snagging the first trade. It's a good ole fantasy story told with mice and other animals, and if that doesn't sound interesting to you just open it up and the gorgeous art alone will change your mind.

If superheroes are more your thing, I really enjoyed the first issue of Invincible Iron Man, and if it can keep up that quality level it'd be a good one to get in on the ground floor with. But often second issues really disappoint me.

Anyway, those are our picks. Anyone else have some good books for Bryan?

Bryan said...

awesome, thanks a lot! i will definitely look into kick-ass, killing pickman and transhuman. one last question- i've just recently read through civil war and world war hulk, and i developed a bit of a hankering for the amadeus cho character. apparently he's now appearing in hercules comics...thoughts? good/bad?

thanks again, that's massively helpful.

Albo said...

I haven't been reading Herc, but popular opinion is that's it's a really good read. Right now I believe it's involved in Secret Invasion stuff, but if you were a fan of Civil War and World War Hulk you'd probably enjoy picking up Secret Invasion anyway.

Degan said...

Hey, guys, just thought I'd let this bryan fella know that one of AHR's favorites, "Umbrella Academy" was just released in trade this week... so he can pick it up like i did (you guys have been talking this book up for ages-now i can finally see what all the hubbub is about). The fact that it ended makes picking up the trade easier to do-you're not worried about how many more will be coming out-is this a huge commitment or whatnot? Anyway, hope you enjoy.