Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Comic Haul

I've been on a bit of a comic book reading spree this past week. I'm not sure what, exactly, has gotten into me, but it would appear that, for the time being, I am very much back in the habit! Now, to be fair I never really gave up on reading my usual stuff, and I always picked up a trade or two whenever I went to the library, but the sheer volume of stuff that I've been going through, old and new, has me a little surprised for someone who was pretty much fed up with the big two for a while.

Anyway, enough mental meandering, on the the reviews...

Annihilation Conquest: Starlord #3 - I was a bit surprised by this issue. I went into it expecting more of the same but 3/4 of the way into this mini-series, Giffen has decided to slow things down, get into the character's heads, and mix up the story in such a way that I'm honestly wondering how he's going to wrap everything up with only one more issue left in the series.

Starlord also continues to be the best looking of the Annihilation minis, and debatably on of the best looking things Marvel is publishing period. Timothy Green II never ceases to delight both in the quiet moments between characters and the action scenes. His storytelling is fluid and, when combined with the rest of the creative team's efforts, make for a very enjoyable package.

I should also give a shout out to the cover artist, Nic Klein, who is also doing a (pardon the pun) stellar job. Normally, a series of head shots or team poses don't do much for me overall, but all three covers so far would make for great posters and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up one or all of them if they were offered as such.

I have to say, it's been a while since I've enjoyed Giffen's writing this much and I'm eager to see how it all turns out in the end.

The Spirit #9 - I know at some point I'm going to have to go and reread every issue of this series because I do feel like I'm missing something. All the elements are there for this to be thegreatest book on the stands, and I know a lot of people are enjoying Darwyn's take on things, but for the most part, I'm not finding this series to be a 'can't wait to get and home and read it' kind of book for me. That being said, I have enjoyed a number of the issues so far, this one being a good example of that.

The story of El Morte felt more atmospheric, more mysterious, more noir, like some of the best Eisner penned tales. The supporting cast all played their roles admirably and very much in character (I just can't get enough of Darwyn's Ebony), The Spirit was faced with an antagonist who posed a genuine threat and was someone who shared a past with Denny Colt and The Spirit's origin. The whole thing just played out very nicely and actually felt like a genuine Spirit story for a change.

Vimanarama - I heard a recent interview with Steve Rude where he claimed that there were no fun comics anymore. Personally, I just don't think he's looking hard enough.

Case in point, Vimanarama.

The desire to finally read Vimanarama two years after the fact was inspired by another interview I recently listened to, this one with Grant Morrison. What I discovered once I settled in was an incredibly fun and very witty end-of-the-world tale of first loves and second chances beautifully illustrated by the always enjoyable Philip Bond. Bond has always been a personal favourite for me and it's always a joy when he gets to dig in and really have fun on a project.

I'm sorry I waited this long to read Vimanarama. There were a couple of lines in the story that gave me a heartfelt belly laugh which was not only needed, but also not an easy thing to achieve. Morrison and Bond have spun gold with this one and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick but thoroughly entertaining read.

Marvel Zombies - Originally when I'd heard about this series I thought it was possibly the worst idea put to paper since Secret Wars II. Sure Kirkman is a great writer and his Walking Dead series is sheer brilliance, but Marvel characters as zombies? Do we really need to see more lame marketing stunts like that last Marvel super-hero-as-Transformer thing a year or so ago?

What I didn't know at the time was that this was a story inspired by something kooky done over in Ultimate Fantastic Four, a book which I was also avoiding until about 5 months ago. Then I listened to an interview with Robert Kirkman and certain phrases stood out for me. For the life of me the only specific example I can remember is Kirkman describing how some kid is going to have found Hawkeye's head and hung on to it, or something like that. He was laughing, the interviewer was laughing and so was I. This sounded like a fun read and I made a point of checking out.

Well, I read all five issues tonight in one sitting because I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened next everytime I hit on the cliffhanger ending. Everything from Spider-Man moaning about eating his aunt and MJ, the Hulk being the hungriest one there is, to the whole gang trying to eat the Silver Surfer was so ridiculous it cracked me right up. It wasn't until the final couple of issues, though, when Galactus shows up and you just know they're going to try and eat him that things get too much. I actually squirmed in my chair with glee when the Surfer said his master was coming because I knew what that would lead to, and the payoff was absolutely satisfying.

I should also point out that any art by the great Sean Phillips is always welcome and the riffs on classic Marvel covers by Arthur Suydam were a nice touch. A nice package overall.

I hear that there's supposed to be a sequel coming out soon (if it's not already out). I'll have to look into it. If it's half as much fun as this it'll be a good ride.

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1 - Just to show you how out of the loop I was/am, I didn't even know about this mini until I read a review of it over at Johnny Bacardi's blog. He didn't like it very much but, curiosity and pocketbook in hand, I headed down to my LCS and grabbed a copy for myself before it disappeared into the nebulous world of, "I can backorder that for you if you want."

Anyway, I brought it home, read it over, and while it doesn't offer anything new to the Hellboy universe or to the genre in genral, I still found it to be a very enjoyable book. Maybe I was just in the mood for it but it was atmospheric, hit all the beats that it was supposed to, and featured some very lovely art by Jason Armstrong (looking a bit like a cross between Gary Gianni and Mignola himself). I won't be beating down doors or anything to get the next three issues, but I'll certainly make an effort to pick them up. If you're a Hellboy or B.P.R.D. fan, this is something you should be giving the once over.

Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1 - You know, the funny thing about this mini is that I never even made the connection to the Iron Man movie coming out. I just thoguht to myself, "hmmm, here's a completely superfluous mini-series spinning off from a perfectly superfluous parent title." Can you tell I'm not an Iron Man fan? Still, the names of Joe Casey and Eric Canete do carry some weight in my books, so I checked out the first issue and was pleased with what I found.

The artwork was a bit scratchier than I'd anticipated, but Canete brings all his animation skills to bear on the storytelling and does a wonderful job of bringing Joe Casey's scripts to life. Casey does his part by not writing a dull tale by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing I'm concerned about is the fact that this is supposed to be a six-issue mini-series and we have already seen in one issue what it would normally take four in any other book being published by Marvel. The book ends with Iron Man and the Mandarin in a final fateful clash of titans, looking to the casual observer like the overall climax of the story. What Casey will do for the other five is anyone's guess but I'll stick around long enough to find out, if that's any consellation.

Oh, and I couldn't do a proper review of this book if I didn't mention that great deco cover. Is that a poster or is that a poster?

It's getting late and I think I'm going to call it a night for now. catch you on the next Comic Haul!

Onwards and upwards!


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