Thursday, July 24, 2008

Snap Judgments: Reviews of Invincible, Liberty Comics, War Heroes and More

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

There are probably some minor SPOILERS herein.

Liberty Comics: A CBLDF Benefit Book gets an A- from AHR
Mark Millar's tale of Vampire ennui is reason enough to get this book. I've been asking Albo for a while why Mark Millar is considered such hot shit when all I've read by him concerns former-nerd baddasses in rubber suits, but this five page story surprised me. I do wonder why it's the only story in here with nothing to do with censorship. The minus grade is only for the Criminal story, which is as emotionally bloodless and by the numbers as every other issue of Criminal I've ever read.

Ambush Bug: Year None #1 gets a B from Albo
I usually don't like humor books, but this book is full of genuinely funny gags. I'm sure I'd get even more out of it if I wasn't such a Marvel Zombie, because most of the humor is DC in-jokes (Ambush Bug inspiring Jean Loring to kill Sue Dibny, for instance--and even accidentally suggesting the method!). Anyway, some of it is very meta (Ambush Bug wondering why his thoughts don't appear in clouds anymore), which is always exciting to me. Recommended for you DC freaks.

Reviews for Avengers: The Initiative #15, Invincible #51, Two-Face: Year One #1, War Heroes #1, Joker Asylum: Scarecrow #1 and New Avengers #43 after the jump!

Avengers: The Initiative #15
gets a B from Albo
Dan Slott's finding a way to make his Avengers book relevant to Secret Invasion but compelling on its own, something that Bendis isn't quite managing over at Mighty and New. This story, brilliantly titled "The Only Good Skrull..." is about just that--the only good Skrull. It's a little hokey in execution, but somehow I think that's the style Slott's going for. It's like an after school special about a closeted gay teen. Except this one's about a Skrull who's been in hiding and operating as an Earth hero and who worries that the current Skrull invasion might reveal his true colors, at which point it'll be too late to convince the Earthlings he's a good guy. Anyway, far from perfect, but Super-Mega-Colossal-Event tie-ins are so tough to do well that I'm giving it serious props.

Invincible #51 gets a C+ from AHR
"Jump on!" they said. "The new story starts here!" they said. Feh. Only having read a bit of Invincible before, about half of this issue felt like talking heads, and heads that belonged to people I didn't know. The half that followed Invincible and his kid brother, however, was fun enough and the art in this book is appealing enough to get me through. Don't like the new costume though, and I don't even remember what the old one looked like.

Two Face: Year One #1 gets a C from AHR
It's always nice to see some familiar faces from Gotham Central (Maggie Sawyer, GCPD lezforce go!) and it's neat that they integrated the crime boss from Dark Knight, but then they destroy any continuity with the movie by offering the tried and true split-personality acid origin Harvey's always had. Throw in some really strange writing choices in which white-collar characters brush-off random acts of agression by their colleagues like it happens every day, and this feels like a rush-job.

War Heroes #1 gets a C from Albo
I believe I'm getting Millar fatigue. Maybe I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Wanted. I wanted to like the film, some reviews said I would like the film, but... ugh. Anyway, there's been so many Millar books recently (Fantastic Four, Wolverine, 1985, Kick-Ass, on and on and on) and more often than not I like them. But I think I've reached my saturation point, because I found very little to enjoy in War Heroes. Just that same slick Millar attitude with not much below the surface. I might be being too harsh, as it's only the first issue, but... Millar has wowed in the past with first issues (Kick-Ass, for instance). It doesn't help that in the back of the book he spends half a page declaring how awesome he is.

Joker Asylum: Scarecrow #1 gets a C- from AHR
It's really cheesy that all the issues in this miniseries are #1's, even though they're all part of a sequential anthology. Also the plot is like one of those teen horror movies from the mid-90s, except instead of a killer in a black cloak the bad guy is the Scarecrow. What a sad excuse for a spotlight issue. But I couldn't bear to give a book with such awesome art a D. It's chunky and colorful and very web 2.0. Sure it's not very scary, but with a script like this it was never going to be.

New Avengers #43 gets a D from Albo
Bendis, you have really blown it. You spend years setting up the Marvel Universe for one huge event, and then when it's finally time for shit to hit the fan--you hit the pause button. Let's see, what has happened in Secret Invasion thus far? A ship of Skrulls posing as heroes have crashed in the Savage Land and are fighting our heroes. A handful of Skrulls have appeared in Times Square and are fighting our heroes. That's it. Oh, sorry, last issue of Secret Invasion had Nick Fury show up and fight. Bendis' Avengers books, meanwhile, are stuck in the past, telling us all about how we got to this moment but not progressing the "event" in any way. I'm sure this Invasion stuff will make a great hardcover one day, when the stagnancy of it is softened by the absence of month long waits between issues, but for now it's growing more and more fetid.


Degan said...

I totally forgot ambush bug came out this week... i've been looking forward to this title for some time-i actually ran back to the comic book store on a thursday (i know, crazy right... who goes to a comic shop on a thursday?) to buy the book. It was nice to pretend i was just buying one book for the week though...

Anyway, it was a little too DC in-jokey even for My tastes... HOWEVER-the dead-DC-female-characters-catapult had me laughing more than any book i've read in ages. So just that joke alone made the book worth while-and there were plenty of other things to laugh about. So i was pretty pleased!

Albo said...

To DC in-jokey even for YOU, Degan? You're the DCest guy I know! Who the hell is this book's audience?!

Degan said...

I think probably for guys who are as into DC as i am... but have been that way since 71...