Friday, June 27, 2008

Snap Judgments: Reviews for 1985 #2, Final Crisis #2, The Initiative #14 and More!

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

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite TPB gets an A+ from AHR

This is a must have. First of all, Gerard Way's six issue story is so good it makes me a little anxious; how can comic that's so smart, so refreshing, be the freshman effort of a pop star? It makes me question everything I know about the world. Aside form the main story, the extras in this book are superb: a highly credible introduction by Grant Morrison, in which he mentions listening to The Black Parade on loop while writing the brilliant Batman #663, genuinely impressive original character designs by Way himself, a wonderful piece of promo art by artist Gabriel Ba, and the Free Comic Book Day one shot in which the world got it's first taste of the Academy. Get this book. Cherish it.

Reviews for Avengers: The Initiative #14, Final Crisis #2, Mighty Avengers #15, Walking Dead Vol 8, Thunderbolts #121, 1985 #2, New Avengers #42.

Avengers: The Initiative #14 gets an A from Albo

This has been a "pick up and scan in the store" book for me for months now, along with Amazing Spider-Man and anything that looks a little sexy. But I swear, once I started seeing what was going on within these pages I had no choice but to buy it. Dan Slott takes what could have been a pretty ordinary *COUGH*mightyavengers15*COUGH* Hank Pym-is-a-Skrull story and turns it into a hilarious situation comedy. The issue starts with some flashbacks that show Pym Skrull having to using his hidden extra powers to escape particularly tough scrapes, and then attributing his miraculous survival to "shrinking a lot." Needless to say, Pym Skrull thinks the gullibility of Earthlings is hilarious. There are many more standout moments, such as an Initiative cadet's "discovery" of Pym as a Skrull based on his choice of lunchables and a very Twilight Zoney ending that will make your heart sink. Highly recommended read!

Final Crisis #2 gets a B+ from AHR

For the first half of this book, I was sure it was going to get an A. I LOVE the Japanese superhero team. I wish DC would let Grant Morrison write a guide to the DC Universe, where he just makes everything up. His inventions and reinventions are almost always way more fun and interesting than anything that existed before. I even love what he's doing with the Monitor in this book; it reminded me of parts of Jonathan Lethem's Omega series, oddly enough. But parts of this book are so hard to understand, and so full of made-up space jargon, it feels like a slog in order to get to the next fun bit. Also, if I was a fan of Martian Manhunter, I think I'd be pissed by the one-page funeral scene. Didn't Bart Allen get like, an entire book to himself? He's not even a JLA-er!

Mighty Avengers #15 gets a B from Albo

If you like naked people, this is certainly the Avengers book for you. There are only seven pages in the book that DON'T contain a nude or only partly clothed individual. Anyway, Bendis seems intent in telling the bulk of Secret Invasion through flashback stories, no doubt to illustrate how fiendishly clever he's been these past few years. This one's all about Pym being replaced by a Skrull, and while I certainly can't claim the read isn't enjoyable (Bendis crafts some great little scenes here) I can't help but ask "Why?" when I'm all done with it. I didn't feel like I came out with any important information I didn't have going in. And surely I'm not the only one sick of these frickin' "warehouse talks" the undercover Skrulls seem to have every other night (See New Avengers review below).

The Walking Dead Vol 8: Made to Suffer TPB gets a B- from AHR

I got a little frustrated with this arc of this story, because I felt kind of dicked around with. There are a few too many "gotcha" cliffhangers, which at least won't be as irritating in trade paperback seeing as you don't have to wait a month to realize what seemed to be a horrifying twist was actually just a misunderstanding with no consequences. Thought to be fair, there are a hell of a lot of game-changing events in this book, and some very gut churning moments for long-time readers. But the supervillain-style antagonist of this story arc really gets on my nerves, and his dystopian post-apocalyptic society reminded me too much of Mad Max meets A.I. I never could reconcile it with the intimate, relatable world the story had inhabited beforehand. Also the zombies kind of fade into the background, and that's never a good sign.

Thunderbolts #121 gets a C+ from AHR

Not as fun as the Green Goblin rampage of last week. Not enough angry Moonstone. Too many panels where characters are simply running from one place to the other. And where's Venom? Did he die in the last issue? I can't remember. But; Bullseye comes back, and he's making up for lost time. Lost MURDER time. I liked Ellis' work on this title a lot, and am sad to see him go; I wish this mean, somewhat silly book could have gone out with more of an absurdly violent bang.

1985 #2 gets a C from Albo

Is it a second issue thing? Is Mark Millar just incapable of following up a strong first issue with anything but a dull slog of a story? Much like his Kick-Ass, the first issue was a fun, fresh, exciting setup and the second is just plain dull. Aside for the introduction of some new mystery, this book squanders the momentum it had coming in. Nothing happens. It's that simple. I'll still pick up the next one, though, because if Kick-Ass #3 was any indication, Millar really knows how to pick up the pace after a dull sophomore issue.

New Avengers #42 gets a D from Albo

As mentioned above, I am so sick of reading these scenes of standing around in a warehouse talking about their strategy to destroy the humans. There are invariably a few Skrullettes who look exactly the same and I'm not sure who's who and I'm so bored I can't even muster the energy to figure it out. Yes, we know Jessica Drew is a Skrull. Yes, we know she's working for Hydra and Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Why don't you tell me something new, BMB?