Sunday, August 27, 2006

Two for the price of one

All those weeks without any posts and now you get two on the same day. And you owe it all to the fact that any time I try to change the previous post in any form internet explorer just crashes and erases my work for the seventh time in a row. So now you get this second post with what should have been a simple add - on.

More comics from my brother´s pull list

Amazing Spider - Man 533 and 534 - The first issue ties directly into the end of Civil War 2 so if you have read that you already know the big shocker ! And if not you haven´t seen any tv or heard any news at all. Now if this is still a spoiler for you just scroll down to the next comic.

Done that ? Okay. Marvel finally did it : they unmasked Spider - Man. Not a dream. Not an imaginary story. The real deal. Now while that may bring some interesting new storylines for Peter the question remains if that was a wise decision in the long term. But for now let´s enjoy the ride and have fun. The longer Civil War rages through the Marvel universe the more it seems that spider - Man is caught between a rock and a hard place. With the position he has taken he supports Iron Man who has become more and more of a father figure to him but it pits him against the one man Spidey respects ( and idolizes maybe a little ) more than anyone else : Captain America.

With good characterisation by J. Michael Straczynski and powerful art by Ron Garney you really feel like you are in Spider - Man´s shoes. And it seems to me that he gets more doubts if he has made the right decision. When Civil War was announced we were told that not only would the heroes have to choose sides but that it would be possible that some of the heroes would switch sides during the story. I wonder if spidey is one of them.

Black Panther 17 and 18 - At last the big event takes place ! Although I already knew that Marvel would wimp out on the bachelor party it´s interesting to see how they try to justify it. Thank you Mr. Political Correctness. It´s really interesting how diferent it is when two persons do the same thing but it´s not the same because they have a different gender. Bachelor party = sexistic, chauvinists degradation of women and utterly horrible. Bachelorette party = liberated and free - minded, empowering sisters partaking in harmless fun. But that´s not the topic here. The wedding issue has some good dialogue especially in T´Challa´s try to reconcile Iron Man and Captain America.

Especially when Tony tells T´Challa to keep his nose out of things that don´t concern him and T´Challa tells him to leave his crap in his own country. Well, they use other words but it´s still a strong scene. Civil War seems to have some interesting repercussions on Wakanda which could become a safe haven for heroes like Luke Cage who don´t want to register. As for the weddding ceremony can please someone explain to me the meaning of the word " Lieberstesh " that Nightcrawler uses when he sees Storm´s wedding dress ? In the 39 years I´m now living in Germany I have never heard the word before. For the issue as a whole it´s an entertaining issue especially the party small talk and the wedding superhero / supervillain brawl that just has to take place at every superhero wedding. It even has a kind of cliffhanger concerning the wedding gift they receive from.....Latveria. Which will lead directly into next issue when we have a guest star. One tip : his name rhymes with Dr. Foom.

  • Black Panther 17

  • Ms Marvel 6 - Not much to say about this Civil War tie - in issue. Ms. Marvel has chosen her side but I´m not sure if she is really happy with her decision. Mainly because there really is no decision to make that is right. I mean if superheroes wanted to work within the confines of the legal system wouldn´t they become policemen or firemen or soldiers ? A superhero is someone who has already come to the conclusion that he can´t operate within the laws of society because the society does not work. If we had a perfect society in the Marvel universe there would be no superheroes. So if the question is wrong to begin with the answer itself is irrelevant.

    A superhero is not just a soldier with superpowers who obeys blindly orders - even if some people may believe that to be the case with Captain America or Superman. And all the promises of S.H.I.E.L.D. mean nothing because we all know how good the american government can keep it´s secrets.

    I can´t say much more because this is the first issue I get to read. Which may change if it´s true that this is the title for which Mike Wieringo ditched FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER - Man for.

    Birds of Prey 95 and 96 - In the finale of the PROGENY storyline the identity of the mysterious new member of the Birds of Prey is finally revealed : none other than Gypsy. Of course it is a little difficult to recognize her since she has changed her look completely and seems to be gaining a new superpower per issue. This story with Black Canary and Jade trading places doesn´t really work for me. Like the art by Joe Prado it´s not really that exciting. Now issue 96 is the start of a promising new storyline involving Black Alice and the new Society of supervillains that also is a kind of rmembrance of Blue Beetle. Since it is now one year later it´s kind of strange that we haven´t seen some kind of gettogether of Ted´s friends...the few that survived. But maybe DC is going to adress this in 52. The art by Paulo Sequeira shows clear influences by Terry Dodson and has been the best so far after Ed Benes left the title. An entertaining read that leaves only one big question : Namely if Babs and Blue Beetle cyber - did it or not.

  • Birds of Prey 96

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    Finally a new post !

    I have been working on a new post for quite some time but every time I write a new introduction for it I can not post it. So I decided to post the few lines I DO have up until now to show you I´m still alive and posting.

    Now I wanted to post the usual list of comics I have read since last post but the list gets longer every week. These are the few comics I had the chance and time to write about until now. The rest will follow as soon as I can get to it but for some reviews I will have to reread the issues because it´s been so long. So without any further ado here is how far I have gotten ( along with the introduction I wrote a month ago ) :

    This is the end of summer ! It´s official now : the last days it has been, pouring and next week it is probably time to dig out the sweaters and the rest of the winter clothes. The weeds are growing like crazy at the museum and you can´t go anywhere without an umbrella. Luckily somebody forgot his umbrella at the museum so I´m using that one.

    It´s been a few weeks since I found the time to write something new for my blog. At the end of last month my younger brother came back from his vacation in Spain which normally means three things : comics, comics and more comics. And DVDs. Uncut DVDs. Since most movies are only available in a censored version ( even movies like DOUBLE DRAGON or LILO & STITCH are censored ) in Germany we buy most movies in the uncut spanish version. Which is kind of difficult for guests who don´t dominate the spanisch language but that´s the price you have to pay. Anyway, since there are more comics available in Spain and they are cheaper our luggage on the return trip is loaded with 80 percent comics ( the rest is for clothes and DVDs ). When I go down there I usually go with a small handbag with clothes and return with a big suitcase full of comics. So the last days I have been reading some of the comics my brother brought from Spain as well as the ones I normally read.

    But I didn´t post since my brother has to catch up to four weeks without internet ( me too ) and the reviews have been piling up - as well as my comics. So my comments are mostly about two or more issues from the same series. I hope that prevents most of the spoilers and gives a more rounded picture about the issues. On to the comics :

    Comics from my brother´s pull list

    Sidekick 1 and 2 - As a comicfan who reads a lot of superhero comics I´m always sceptical when another series is announced that just wants " to poke some fun at superhero comics " because mostly those comics are either from people who don´t " get " superhero comics or indy comic artists who whine all the time that superhero comics are more successful than whatever it is they are doing. So most superhero " satire " is just an excuse to get rid off all the pent up hate and frustration with storylines that just are there so comic book artist " X " can show us how stoopid, unrealistic and ridiculous superheroes are . And we were all better off reading serious comics like Vertigo or Indy Comic X. I always wondered who is the target audience for such comics ? The readers of superhero comics who will suddenly realize how they have wasted their lives and run out and trade it all for " better " comics ? The readers who already hate superhero comics so that they all together can have fun ?

    Now if you have already read some of those comics who " absolutely love superheros but focus on the funny aspects of it " then you have read the good three there are - and all the others who all seem the same. There are a few recurring themes in all of those. Of course most superheroes who have sidekicks ( who are younger and male ) are gay. Must be.

    There can be no other explanation for two guys working together. So, for any of you out there who have male coworkers - you better watch out !

    Although you may not know it, you might already be gay. Another theme is that the superheroes themselves are totally incompetend and only their sidekicks know what is really going on. And the hero is either impotent ( if he is not gay already ) or so square that his girlfriend or his significant other ( in most cases a reporter trying to find out the super hero´s secret identity - how original ) has to go somewhere else for a little bit of action. Now there must also be some big conspiracy involved and the only one who knows it is our hero who - of course - gets ignored by all the other big shot superheroes. That are just a few of the cliches you will find in most superhero spoofs.

    Now why the long winded explanation to the cliches ?

    Because - sadly - you will find most of them in Sidekicks. In spite of the fact that Paul Jenkins has worked in the superhero genre before with some excellent results that broke the cliches, in this series there is nothing you haven´t seen before. The only new idea is that the main protagonist tries to earn more money by playing sidekick for four heroes at the same time. Now, I´m no expert but if you are a pizza delivery boy and the sidekick to a superhero and you want to earn more money .... would you really choose the job you hate more of the two to get more money ? Wouldn´t it make more sense to punch in more hours for the pizza delivery company when you don´t have to work as a sidekick ? Or even get another source of income ? Like another job or selling some valuable information to supervillains or paparazzis like his greatest weaknesses or his secret identity ? I mean this guy is sleeping with the big hero´s chick but it would be beneath him to rat the hero out ?

    It´s really not convincing that someone who has to take a lot of abuse in one job goes for four times the abuse.

    The art was something I have not seen before. Which in this case was a good thing because it´s not that exciting. I will keep on reading the issues my brother buys but for the moment it´s not a series I can recommend to anyone. Because even if you are somebody who doesn´t like superheroes if you really want to get your money´s worth I suggest to invest it in some issues of Marshall Law. Or if you want entertaining superhero satire and slam bang action buy some issues of Warren Ellis´ N.E.X.T.W.A.V.E. Death to the fleshy ones !

    Comics from my own pull list

    Thing 8 - This is the final issue. Why is it that every time I decide to put a new comic on my pull list to give it a chance it gets cancelled ? Maybe Dan Slott just writes the wrong kind of stories for the new Marvel. He´s trying to bring in more fun and Marvel just goes all CIVIL WAR on his ass. Now for all the comic fans who are reading the series I don´t have to tell you how funny and entertaining this series has been. You already know that Dan Slott writes the best characterization of the Thing we have seen in a long time - maybe even better than J.M.S who´s currently writing the First Family of Marvel. The art is by Kwyeron Dwyer and I didn´t expect anything less. Did you really think Andrea DeVito would come back to the title after it´s been cancelled ? He´s hopefully working on his next series and delivering his mind blowing art that seems to get better and better. This issue is the big finale, the big poker tournament and also the big farewell to the title.

    As a nice touch Dan has also included the Great Lakes Avengers...X - Men....Champions or whatever they are called at the moment. Squirell Girl rules. She should definitely get her own series. Maybe with a few guest stars. Like that team of Avengers that hasn´t the words " young ", " new " or " westcoast " in it´s name. You know the one with the really cool members.

    Now if you don´t have read the series be sure to get the trade paperback because this comic is definitely worth your money. And while you´re at it get also the Great Lake Avengers Trade by Dan Slott and Paul Pelletier. It´s one of the best stories ever written with the GLA and the art by Paul Pelletier alone is worth the price of admission.

    Red Sonja 10 to 12 - This title is now officially dropped from my pull list. I think one year of sensless, unexciting stories and poor unfinished art is enough. I gave the book a chance although I´m not a big fan of " straight from pencil art " comics because I think a good inker adds his unique part to the comic. So, knowing I would not love the art I hoped for good stories but for now I´m still waiting for that one FUCK YEAH moment. And it´s not bad enough that they changed her origin to the biggest cliche for women in comics, no, it get´s mentioned every two issues. What is this ?

    As for the variant cover I think of all 12 issues I got 6 I really liked like George Perez´ cover for issue 12. Which is not enough to keep the series. So maybe there will be another series about Red Sonja that I can enjoy.

    X - Men Sonderheft Generation M - Now this comic contains all five issues of Generation M for only 6,95 EUROs at a whopping 116 pages. It´s 3 bucks cheaper than the US trade and I´m mentioning it because I´m always bitching about german versions being more expensive than the originals. So it´s only fair to spotlight the issues that are a real bargain. And with this comic you can´t really complain.

    Genaration M is written by Paul Jenkins ( the same writer like SIDEKICKS - see comment above ) and drawn by Ramon Bachs ( one of my paisanos how we say in Spain ) and tells the story about the effects of the end of the HOUSE OF M storyline. It´s told from the perspective of Sally Floyd, a reporter for the newspaper THE ALTERNATIVE who reports the changes that ripple throughout the mutant community. Ramon Bachs art looks solid though a little sketchy but I´m not sure if that was a deliberate decision by him to get an edgier, more realistic look or just a product of tight deadlines. Doesn´t matter anyway since although I like his cleaner style more it works very well with the story. Which is my main beef - the story.

    The first thing that bugged me is that the main character is just too full of cliches to really get a live and voice of her own. It seems all female reporters in comics are the same. They are always on a downward spiral of drug abuse, preferably alcoholism, self loathing and some unresolved trauma in most cases the loss of a child. They always are nothing but trouble for their editors but they always get some leeway because they used to be star reporters and at the end of the story they will get the big scoop. And at the end they always give some speech at an assemblance, preferably alcoholics anonymous, that´s uplifting and inspiring.

    Because that´s so realistic. I can´t help myself but the whole alcohol problem of Sally looks like the writer couldn´t get a handle on her trauma because she lost her child. Like that wasn´t strong enough she had to be an alcoholic on top off that. The only problem is that it is not very logical that a mother would be drinking as long as her child needed her. If she would have begun with the substance abuse after the death that would be understandable like plunging into a deep, black hole where nothing matters anymore. But the whole self destruction while her kid hangs onto life just goes against the realism the story is shooting for.

    There are other parts of the story that I didn´t the fact that while the mutants should be the main focus the writer is much too enamored with his main character and gives her too much stage time. We never really learn how big the fallout of House of M is and if there are really more than the few dozen mutants affected than we see in these issues. But maybe that´s just a clever marketing ploy so that people buy the 198 series. And it´s only a rumor that 198 is the exact number of mutant related series Marvel is going to publish this year. Onto the story. The end of the story was a bit strange and the whole resolution seemed rushed and shoehorned. Some things don´t really make sense but at least we don´t have to suffer the whole " Hi, my name is ( fill in name ) and I´m an alcoholic. " speech. So for longtime X - Men readers this story will not be very entertaining while readers not so familiar with the mutant population and more interested in series like THE PULSE or ALIAS might possibly get their money´s worth. For me the whole comic was just too full of unnecessary cliches. I think a writer like Paul Jenkins should not have to resort to these crutches.

    Last Planet Standing 1 to 5 - I finally got the last issue of this miniseries so I could red it all in one sitting. The story would have worked better before the annoncement of the second Spider - Girl series was made ( good move by Marvel to start with a new number one. They almost had a title with a female lead that lasted more than 100 issues in a row ) and everyone knew the MC2 universe would live on. So the big suspense if the universe survives misses from this series BUT it has everthing else in it. From the beautiful art of the early Spider - Girl issues to top notch writing and guest starring almost every superhero of the MC2 universe. And while we all know that the universe will survive we still don´t know how. So for all MC2 fans or readers of Spider - Girl this is required reading. And for all who want to check out the MC2 universe - here is your chance.

    Last Planet Standing 1 / issue 3 / issue 4 / issue 5

    Blood of the Demon 17 - Okay, the last thing I heard was that BLOOD OF THE DEMON is going to end with issue 18. So why is issue 17 the last one ? Anyway, this is the last one and John Byrne pulls out all the stops. You want to know how many Etrigans you will get for 2 bucks 99 ? Not one Etrigan. Not two Etrigans. No - three Etrigans for the price of one. Three Etrigans in a no - holds - winner - takes - it - all slugfest in best last - man - standing - manner to end all survivor series. Who will survive ?

    The final end wraps everything up very nicely ( kind of like on Doom Patrol ) and though some readers may find it a little bit cheating I´m okay with it. Of course I will always wonder how the story would have ended if John Byrne would have had the time to finish it ( as most of the stories that have started don´t really play out their full potential ) but that´s just another big WHAT IF for now. Luckily the new series with art by John Byrne THE ALL NEW ATOM has already started so I don´t suffer from Byrne deprivation.

    So that´s all for today. It seems that I have gone from daily posts to every two days and then to none. Maybe with a little luck I can now get on to weekly posts although my brother has new plans to sabotage my blog ( more successful then he has done till now ) by trying to install a new graphic programm - not onto the computer to which I have no access because it´s reserved for work purposes only but onto this one who initially was solely bought to surf. We will see how that works out.

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    By the power of Castle Grayskull !