Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Comic Haul Redux

I never got to finish the previous Comic Haul and I've picked up even more comics since then, so I'm going to try and get some of those out of the way, review-wise.

The Umbrella Academy #4-6: I really enjoyed this series and was happy to finally catch up with the issues that I had missed. Gerard Way came out of nowhere and surprised everybody with how entertaining and just plain great the story was and Gabriel Ba's artwork is beyond compare. I don't think I would go so far as to call these characters the heroes of the 21st century as Grant Morrison does on the cover blurb, but they're certainly more interesting than most of the claptrap currently out there on the stands.

I'll also add a bit of a post script and say that since picking up this book I've also come to enjoy Way's band, My Chemical Romance. The main point in referring to that here is to emphasise that, although there are some definite stylistic similarities (a la the James Jean covers and the murky, theatrical, gothic vibe that it shares with The Black Parade), this comic book exists wholly outside of My Chemical Romance's rock'n'roll world. This is not some tie-in book like a KISS comic and, so far, there have been no coy references to ideas MCR presents in their music and vice versa. I think that is a definite strength of this series, especially in its first arc, and a well thought out choice on Way's part. I think I wouldn't mind it so much the second time around, but I'm not clamoring for it, either.

Anyway, check this book out.

Youngblood #1: One of the greatest things to happen to the Image super-hero universe was to have Alan Moore come down from on high to take over the writing chores on WildC.A.T.s and than to have that effort followed by the ever-capable Joe Casey. They brought something to the Imageverse that it hadn't really seen before in any long-term sort of capacity on one of its bigger books - a real writer. Both of these guys gave some street cred to these upstart third-generation X-Men clones and started a trend that continues to this day, sometimes successful, sometimes not-so-successful.

A little ironic then that Casey's previous work manages to overshadow his current debut on a new Youngblood series for upstart comic guy, Rob Liefeld. I picked this first issue up hoping to have something fresh and dynamic, political and fun, but there are just a lot of recycled ideas here, unfortunately. Some of them we've seen Casey implement before on other team books like the aforementioned Wildcats, others just seem overdone and clich├ęd, none moreso than the super-hero as celebrity set-up. Casey tries to give it some colour by adding the reality TV show into it, but that was just seen over in Civil War with the New Warriors and the team as a government-sponsored and created entity who exist to be more of a PR stunt than protectors of freedom was done over in The American Way a couple of years ago.

And that's just before dragging Peter Milligan's X-Force into the mix.

What can I say, I was disappointed. I think my feelings mirror those of the main character, Shaft, who seems equally unconvinced that this story and team are going anywhere. When he was playing in Jim Lee's sandbox, Casey gave us something we could chew on, but here we're just seeing more of the same old same old.

There's a very good chance I will not bother with issue 2.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #48-49: I don't know if I have anything more to say about this series other than I miss Pascual Ferry. Carey's writing stays sharp, the stories stay interesting and I'm willing to give Mark Brooks a chance before officially bitching and moaning for Ferry to return to the title instead of moonlighting over with Orson Scott Card on that ol' Iron Man book.

I have numbers 49 and 50 on the read pile so expect to see more UFF in future Comic Hauls.

Legion of Super-Heroes #37-39: The last time I bought a Legion #37 Giffen and the Bierbaums were writing it, Jason Pearson was drawing it and they blew up the Earth.

This is a little less grand but still more entertaining than I ever thought it could be, especially with Jim Shooter on writing chores.

So often the companies will bring back the old guard to try and revive that ol' '70s or '80s magic, and so often it fails miserably. Claremont's multiple returns to the X-Men, Wolfman's recent run on Teen Titans, and I'm sure if I hit a Google search I could drum up a few more. My point is, Shooter being back on Legion had disaster written all over it for me, but it's actually a pretty good read. It's very entry level, as far as Legion stories go, but I'm going to stick around and see where this all leads. The characters intrigue me, the art by Francis Manapul is nice to look at, and it does feel good to be picking up this book again after sooooo long a hiatus.

If you were ever a Legion fan, try an issue or two of this. You may not be disappointed.

The Spirit #11-12: I'm still trying to get a handle on this book. I love Darwyn to itty-bitty pieces, and think Will Eisner's Spirit stories are some of the best comics ever produced, so I'm confused as to why this series doesn't fire on all cylinders for me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but maybe I'm reading it wrong. Maybe I'm hanging on to Will tighter than I think I am which colours what Darwyn is trying to do.

I think after I get through 13 and 14 I'll have a better opinion, just because I'll see how someone else would have done it.

Still, each issue is a dream to look at, particularly those title pages.

Welp, that's it for tonight. More when I have time.



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