Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Comic Haul

In my continuing effort to start a somewhat regular comic review post (something which I have yet to truly conquer) I bring you some thoughts on my comic haul for this week, with some carry over from previous outings and library stops.

The Flash #231 - I think I like where this series is going, but I'm not sure yet. I'm a loooong time Flash fan so I'm kind of excited about the new creative team, but considering prior hits and misses, I'm reserving judgment. I reluctantly gave up on the previous Bart Allen incarnation of the character after its first storyline and will give Waid and Acuna the same benefit of the doubt here. My main worry, however, is that I'm still seeing traces of the wishy-washy soap-opera crap that made me tire of the Geoff Johns stories that came post-Waid (the first time around) but before the Bart-as-Flash stuff. I mean, for a character that doesn't really offer up much in the way of...well, character, Linda Park-West has managed to occupy a lot of story time that could have better served past storylines by being greatly abbreviated. Having recently reread some of the issues between #206 and 213 (the stories that ran parallell to Identity Crisis, I believe) I'm hoping that Waid goes in the opposite direction, takes full advantage of this new start and the new characters, and just hits the ground running like he did so many years ago when he took over from William Messner-Loebs. Gone, I hope, are the countless pages of Wally worrying about his marriage or the Rogues talking, talking and doing more talking about what's coming in the next collectable 6-issue arc in favour of fun, adventure, interesting character developments and a some, but not a lot, of melodrama for flavour. So, far, this first issue has a strong start and the makings of a cool arc for Wally and the family so I'm crossing my fingers. I really hope these guys throw me for a loop for a change. I'd love to be buying a Flash book again after all this time.

The Batman Strikes! #36 - I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the credits lately but it looks like regular series writer, Bill Matheny, has been on an extended hiatus. According to the DC site, the last few issues have been written by the likes of Russell Lissau, Jai Nitz and J. Torres (that might go a long way to explaining why I've been unhappy with the series for the past 5 months or so) and #36 is no exception. The writer's credit for 'Gearhead 2.0' goes to Mail Order Ninja's Josh Elder who brings a welcome new voice to the book, and possibly the only Gearhead story I'll ever admit to enjoying. This issue was a vast improvement over the Harley Quinn disapointment in #35, and stood out as one of the better issues of the series in recent months. My interest in this title hasn't been what I'd call very strong of late, but Elder's managed to rekindle something and I can say that my curiosity for future stories from him, and other writers, is piqued. I look forward to checking out #37 (another Jai Nitz issue) followed by the return of Matheny a month after that.

Hellblazer #234 - This one improved for me on the second attempt. The first time I tried to read it I only got a few pages in before I had to put it down again. I was really hoping that it wasn't something indicative of Diggle's run so early on into the new storyline and that it was just me not being in the mood for a horror comic. As it turned out, it was the latter as a couple of days ago I gave it another crack and thought it was very remiscient of the very early Hellblazer books written by Delano and illustrated by John Ridgeway. Pretty grim subject matter but I am interested to see how this one plays out.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #44 - A definite downswing for this title as the Silver Surfer storyline hits its third, and most blindingly dull, chapter. Carey seems to be spinning his wheels in earnest with this issue and has the Surfer mumbling a lot of jibberish about how his master will do this and his master will do that while the FF and S.H.I.E.L.D. wander around and wonder how everything went so wrong. The only real 'event' that we needed to see this issue occurs in the last three pages. I know this is so Marvel can package it as a 6-issue story in an upcoming trade, but the whole deconstructionist style only works if your timing is right, and the characters carry you through the dead points. Carey's done the SciFi/Super-hero/Space opera thing in past issues so we know he's got the touch, it's just missing here. #45 is already out so maybe it picks up again. We'll see.

Annihilation Conquest: Starlord #1 - I shouldn't like this book but I do. As much as I love the writing of Keith Giffen this is not him doing anything even remotely new. Readers of his other work will recognize the overlapping chatter, the witty quips and comebacks, and the overused hackneyed plot contrivances that drive the story's main points: suicide mission, motley crew of misfits 'volunteer' for the job, no expectation of coming back, sounds like fun. The characters within the story even acknowledge the obvious Dirty Dozen parallels and there is a definite leftover resonance from Giffen's run on Suicide Squad. Still, the art is beautiful, the dialogue better than a lot of stuff out there, and the Rocket Raccoon jokes alone were worth the price of admission. I'll probably carry through with this 4-issue mini but I won't knock over old ladies and small children to get to it.

That's all I have time for just now. I'll try and come on again later tonight and post the rest of them.



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