- Posted by Matthew Meylikhov on Thursday, July 23, 2009
This is where I'd normally write something cute and amusing as a short preface to our reviews. Instead you get to see the new format of posts, so I hope that's just as satisfying as any one of my clever quips and comments.
Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #3
Atomic Robo is an amazing and hilarious read that everyone in their right mind should be reading. I feel that every review of this book needs to start off this way, if only to serve as a reminder. This was the first book I read as soon as I got home last night, and it was most definitely the one I enjoyed the most, for a vast variety of reasons.
First of all, the inclusion of Lovecraftian elements into the story is something that speaks to the high schooler in me. I say that because high school was the first time my friends and I introduced ourselves into the horror world of HP Lovecraft and we've never looked back. Most Lovecraft inspired comics often fall flat, though. The current Cthulhu book is too wordy and more often than not just falls flat and fails to entertain. Remember when Ash fought Lovecraftian demons in Army of Darkness vs Re-Animator? Yeah. I don't really want to talk about it either. However, Atomic Robo's current antagonist is both as original as it is an inspired monster. My favorite quote to describe the beast is, "Why does it have so many eyes!" "Teeth, it has teeth!" Clevinger shows that he's not just trying to appeal to fanboys, he's just writing what he loves because he himself is a fanboy.
Secondly, the writing of this book is pretty darn brilliant and hilarious. I can't even count on my hands how many times I laughed out loud while reading this. The wit displayed is always 100% on mark. Furthermore, what I think is really great about this issue is that I could hand it, #3 of volume 3, to anyone who has never read Atomic Robo before and I'm 99% positive that this read alone would be enough to convince them to read this comic. It's an intelligent mix of action, adventure, mystery, science, and the aforementioned humor. Suffice it to say, it's very impressive to see Clevinger move from a simple internet comic strip to a full blown original comic. For $3.50 you're getting much more than your money's worth with this.
Last, I need to point out how much I love the artwork in this book. Scott Wegner's style seems to shout out to the world "I belong on a Dark Horse series!" because it reminds me of a cool mix of the Hellboy/Umbrella Academy artwork, and Ronda Pattison's coloring and Jeff Powell's lettering matches perfectly. I can just imagine the entire Atomic Robo team holding hands and mind melding like Vulcans because the mass team effort here is really something to see.
In closing, I can't recommend Atomic Robo enough. We at Multiversity (or more specifically, I) have been known to over enthusiastically praise certain works without question, forcing my endorsement down the reader's throat like some sort of brilliant Tapioca pudding. Atomic Robo is definitely a book that I would gladly force anyone to read because I know that, by the time they finish reading, not only will they thank me but they'll be better off in the end for it. And on a side note, the writer of this book, Brian Clevinger, once responded to a tweet of mine on Twitter. #lameclaimtofame
Not that Messiah War was really bad or anything, but I am so glad X-Force is back on track. From the very first scene of this book we are reminded why this book was so awesome in the first place as the Leper Queen gets a bullet through the brain. The plot that was brewing before Messiah War was definitely much better than Messiah War was, and it's about time we get some resolution on the whole "mutant bomb" thing.
The writing by Chris Yost and Craig Kyle is once again at the forefront of this book. It moves seamlessly back into the continuity of where X-Force had left off in the present day and manages to introduce a good amount of new elements without missing a beat. Frost Giants, Legion's mom, and the MRD from Wolverine and the X-Men all find a place in this issue and none of it seems out of place or as if it's jumping the Tiger Shark. While I didn't neccesarily have a problem with the X-Force contribution to Messiah War, it was definitely weaker than the book had been for all of the previous issues. Chris Yost is a great story teller, and X-Force volume 3 has definitely been a favorite of mine. Not just because of the great violence, either. Sure it's awesome to see Wolverine cut someone to pieces (which he doesn't get to do in the other books), but there's more to it than that. The book itself is a faithful addition to the current X-Climate where Cyclops is in charge and runs a much more clever and twisted ship than Xavier himself did. So where do Frost Giants come in? I don't know, but I definitely want to keep reading to find out.
X-Force's best feature, however, is it's artwork. Sure I love the writing, but the art is just as important in the presentation. The scenes in this book, as dark and horrifying as they are, are also very wonderful to look at. There's just something about the presentation of someone's head being cut in half that really stands out in this book and this book alone. Mike Choi and Sonia Oback make an excellent team. While I do still prefer the previous artist on the book, this is nothing to snub. It definitely keeps the same dark brilliance the previous artist's had and I look forward to the future art direction.
Blackest Night: Tales Of The Corp #2
I love Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, but all things considered this is kind of a throw away. It's fun to see some of their ideas fleshed out but the character's fleshed out in this issue aren't as important as the last. With the previous book, we focused on central players to the Blackest Night: Saint Walker, the Indigo Lanterns, and Mongul. These characters matter. This issue, however, we're given Bleez, a Red Lantern we'd never seen before, Carol Ferris' induction to the Star Sapphires (which does matter), and then Blume in the Orange Lantern Corps, who we had seen before but ultimately does not matter because he's not Larfleeze, and Larfleeze is the only actual member of the Orange Lantern Corps since everyone else is a construct.
Carol Ferris' is the only story I read that I actually found enhanced my understanding of any of the corps. The Star Sapphire's are as old as the Green Lantern Corps is, at least in regards to Star Sapphire being an old school Green Lantern villain. Having the ring explain that "now they're different" just adds to the over all creep factor Star Sapphire's give me, because their understanding of love is so insane. I'm not saying that I understand love any more than anyone else in the room, but come on - love being this supreme power that will win the Blackest Night? Talk about egotistical! Geoff Johns took elements of Green Lantern and fleshed them out in this third volume so much that his vision becomes one of the most comprehensive additions to the DCU in recent memory. I love that Carol acknowledges she had been a villain in the past when under control of the ring, and I love that the ring apologizes for it.
The Red and Orange Lantern stories are definitely throwaways, though. We could live without them. I would much rather have had another story about Larfleeze or Atrocitus, but these characters have, for all intents and purposes, really been fleshed out already. In my mind, the only people that need to be the focus of these issues are the main players of the corps, but do we really need another story about Hal or Sinestro or Black Hand? Nope. We've seen it all in Green Lantern. Repeatedly. So Tales of the Corps turns out to be a great idea in theory, but not that great in practice. Furthermore, I have to agree with Gil's past note: When is Obama getting his blue ring?!
Amazing Spider-Man #600
Warning: Allusions are made that could be considered spoilers. I'm not going to beat around the bush: to me, this is the quintessential issue of Spider-Man, and a must have for anyone who has ever been a fan or has been following since the "reboot." It's funny, it's touching, and it's got all the neccesary cameos to make it worthwhile. On top of that, it features all original material and no unnecessary reprints of old Spidey issues that make you feel cheated at the price you're paying.
This issue really does have everything. The main story by Dan Slott is absolutely amazing. I loved the return of Doc Ock in his new and I loved more than words can say the ending. I get this feeling that Marvel is trying to return to a sense of normalcy with recent issues. We have the return of Cap, the last Dark Reign title in October (Ares), Loki is a man again, and the final page of this issue brings about one of the most anticipated returns in the comic's recent run. What's amazing to me is that I called it, I said it would happen, and then as I was reading I was still surprised. That's how you know it really is a great issue. As far as I'm concerned, this issue beats all of the other milestone issues with ease. It's satisfying in all the right ways and goes far beyond where Captain America, Thor, and Hulk have all faltered. I don't see Daredevil #500 and Deadpool #900 beating this, either. And I swear to God - I got misty eyed when Peter called Aunt May "mom." That's how big of a dork I am.
My only complaint about the main story was John Romita Jr.'s art. He's done some of the bigger arcs for Spider-Man since One More Day/Brand New Day, but I've just never been a fan. I don't really like the way he draws, and nothing has changed now. Granted, I believe in this issue that he's done the best of his career on Spidey, so I think that's saying something. The art didn't take away from the book at all, though. It's really a minor complaint, and I believe I'm in the minority with it.
The additional stories are also all awesome. Mark Waid, Marc Guggenheim, and Stan Lee all bring it in full form, illuminating the life and times of Peter Parker as a milestone issue should. A couple humorous little fake covers are placed around as well and all are highly approved, especially the last one with the Cease and Desist order on it. I won't make too many comments on the last story, though - that's something that you need to read on your own because it's big.
All in all, Spidey #600 is a great book. As more and more books hit milestones, they definitely should take a page or two from Spidey's presentation, as I feel it is the definitive example of what a milestone book should be. It might take you a while to get through it (it's HUGE) but it's well worth every minute spent reading.
The Incredible Hulk #600
FINALLY! The issue where we get to learn who Red Hulk has been all this time! It's been a long and annoying road that Loeb has given us, but we can't deny he's created one of the biggest mysteries in the Marvel U (aside from, "Ok, seriously, when is Dark Reign going to end?"). I didn't pick up this issue with high hopes but I felt confident that the identity of Rulk would at least amuse me to some level. And I am pleased to announce that the true identity of the Red Hulk is -
...wait a minute. HE DIDN'T FRAKKING TELL US.
Are you kidding me, Loeb?! The whole shtick about issue #600 is it would finally give us the answer to who he is so we could all move on with our lives and let another writer try and redeem the Hulk! You just couldn't have that, though, could you? NOOOO. You threw MODOK in the ring and then gave Rulk a monologue about how if the identity of Rulk is all we're concerned about, then we're missing the bigger picture. NO. WE'RE NOT. There is no bigger picture because this title is awful! There is no substance to it, it's just one punch after another punch thrown! I'm all for action titles but you can't even do that well! The only thing that has kept me reading is my curiosity, and you are such a huge dick you couldn't even satiate that, could you? No. No you could not.
I hate to break this shocking news, but Hulk #600 is a colossal disappointment. I know you're surprised and so confused as to why I'd say it, but it's just one disappointment after another. Loeb continues to dig himself a bigger grave and make us all forget why we ever liked him in the first place (sorry, Long Halloween... I just don't care about you anymore). I honestly feel bad for the next writer on this series because Loeb has done a colossal job frakking everything up about the Hulk, and I'll tell you why. This might be a spoiler, but who cares because Loeb wrote it - the Hulk is now de-powered. That's write. Bruce Banner can not turn into the Hulk. Rulk absorbs Hulk's gamma straight out of his body while MODOK cries, and then everything explodes. You might think I'm joking about this, but I'm really not. I wish I was, but I imagine that if I told this joke in a stand-up comedy club I'd get boo'd off the stage faster than Michael Richards.
So good job Loeb. Good job ruining your career and creating one of the most annoying characters of all time. I'd rather be stuck in a room with G'nort for the rest of my life then ever have to read your books again, but that's not going to happen, is it? No. I'm going to keep reading your crap because I'm a sucker for comics and am curious about what else you're going to screw up. Good luck Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak (new Incredible Hulk writers starting with #601). You sure have a mess to clean up.
I'm just glad Jeph Loeb isn't going to be doing any more Hulk books at all. Wait, what? Huh? OH ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Frak.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5
And thus ends the last Final Crisis tie-in series, as Geoff Johns and George Perez wrapped up Legion of Three Worlds #5 a good six months after Final Crisis itself actually wrapped up. Horrible delays brought this series down big time, as the story could never really gel together that well due to the seemingly endless gaps between issues. As many series do that face huge delays, it generated large amounts of complaints, and deservedly so.
However, I’d almost guarantee you didn’t hear any complaints about quality, as DC paired together their best writer and arguably DC’s most iconic artist and predictably the series was brilliant. With Johns providing a sprawling story with a cast of thousands that he had been building up in other titles for quite some time (namely in Action Comics and in the Lightning Saga arc in JSA/JLA) and George Perez providing his intensely dense and stunning imagery, this series and issue are absolutely loaded with quality, and seemingly a lot of content as each issue was quite the read (but with Johns being wordy often and Perez layering images with so much detail, that makes sense).
This issue wrapped up the series extremely well, as we had the final faceoff between all of the Legions with Superman, Superboy and Bart Allen on their side, and the Legion of Super-Villains with not one but two versions of Superboy Prime on their side. Although the showdown ended in a little too dues ex machine-y way for me, Johns brilliant idea to break the fourth wall and what to do with the final fate of Superboy Prime was at the very least inspired, and the very most absolute genius. When I realized what he had done, I immediately laughed hysterically and contemplated buying the guy a slurpee.
While this series may have faced prodigious delays, it did feature the return of two great heroes, appearances by thousands of characters (including a great showing of what the future Green Lantern Corps looked like), awesome usage of a bevy of villains, surprising twists, and two of the best creators in the industry. I’m not sure what else I could ask for from a series. I’d say it was far superior to the series it actually tied in to, but that’s me. Definitely pick this series up on trade when it comes out if you haven’t, as it is a great read.
Quick Matt interjection: Greatest. Ending. Ever.
Wonderful Wizard of Oz #8
Not to discredit Eric Shanower and his fantastic adaptation of Wizard of Oz, but reading a retelling of a book/movie is not why people were buying this book. Not that he didn’t do a great job, but everyone knows the story and Shanower really presented the story in such a way to really do one thing: let Skottie Young do his thing.
Let’s just say if Spike Lee directed a documentary about the making of this, it would probably be called Skottie Doin’ Work, and it would be all about the flat out gorgeous work he did on this series, bringing the wonderful characters, the stunning vistas, and everyone’s favorite moments to life in the best representation yet. Young put on a show in these pages, especially in this issue, being targeted to deliver such moments as our heroes traveling through china country, dodging the hammerheads, their tearful goodbyes, and Dorothy’s return home, and doing so in a style only Young can provide.
Hopefully this series provides Young the opportunity to become one of the biggest artists in the industry, as he really showed off his talent throughout this whole series. A highly recommended pickup for everyone, especially if you are a very art-centric comic fan.
Robert Kirkman is a complete bastard.
Robert Kirkman is a saint!
Either of those may be true. Both may be true. Either way, there is one truth: Robert Kirkman is an awesome comic book writer. This issue was completely action packed and full of so many shocking moments (honestly, this is more gruesome than any issue of the Walking Dead I’ve ever read…which is a book about zombies…) that other books you read afterwards feel slow and dead in comparison.
As Kirkman wraps up his Conquest! arc with this issue, you can sense that a lot is going to change after this issue – as there is no way the book can continue on the same after the intensity of this issue. Effectively one huge fight scene, the writing could only do so much. So, huge kudos have to go out to series artist Ryan Ottley, who manages to make the gore and pure violence look absolutely spellbinding, especially on one completely demented splash page full of roughly 200 high powered headbutts (reminiscent of the splash page in issue #1 of Chew). Ottley doesn’t get a ton of credit, but his work on this book is alternately a throwback to 60’s superhero work and 90’s Image titles, and that fusion allows it to look great without any of the hokey stylings of either era.
After the last issue, you likely hated Kirkman and Ottley, but with this issue you’re probably back on good terms with them. Until this team supreme decides to throw a massive (and horrible) curve ball our way next issue.
Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways was one of the best series of the past 5 years or so, and was definitely one of the crown jewels of industry sweethearts BKV’s quite imposing and spectacular resume. As it was passed on to two other highly talented writers and two other sharp artists (Joss Whedon and Terry Moore, Michael Ryan and Humberto Ramos respectively), Runaways fans worldwide likely felt as if they were in safe hands.
But they weren’t. Not by any means. As deadlines flew by and quality dropped precipitously, fans started removing it from their pulls and stopped picking it up altogether. Of course, desperate times call for desperate measures, so Marvel put together an unlikely duo of budding but unproven talents in writer Kathryn Immonen (wife of Stuart) and artist Sara Pichelli. It worked once with BKV and Alphona, maybe it will work again I assume they surmised.
Well, they were right. How did they do it? They brought us back to the basics, with an us against them attitude, surprising twists, an anything goes feel to the writing, and most importantly, they brought the fun and the familial spirit back together. As Molly Hayes (*ahem* Princess Power) says in this issue, and I paraphrase, “we’re acting like a family…I thought we were more than that.” Bringing that feel back to the story was paramount to their success, and Immonen and Pichelli quickly captured that.
This issue reveals who died last issue, intrigue involving Chase, great character bits (finally we get more about Klara’s powers!) and a huge twist at the end. It is a bit of a somber issue, but for once, everything feels organic and real about the characters again. Finally, our favorite runaways feel like they should again. All is well in the world.
Dethklok Vs. The Goon
This week we have new material from the Goon and its creator Eric Powell, which normally is cause for celebration. However, celebration is reserved until after the reading of the book, as this is a collaboration with Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small. It pairs the Goon with death metal band and seventh largest economy on the planet Dethklok in a random adventure that really never comes together in a single, cohesive narrative, as Dethklok is inadvertently pulled into the Goon’s weird ass dimension of zombies and cat people and gangsters with hearts made of gold.
This issue, for all intents and purposes, is a complete and utter waste of time. It isn’t that funny, it isn’t continuity (unless Frankie really is dead and William Murderface is permanently disfigured and the anti-christ), and its art is a combination of Powell’s strangely painterly style and Small’s extremely basic Cartoon Network work. The transitioning between the two art styles is jarring at best, and is often completely disappointing to see Small’s intensely basic work mixed in with the Goon’s fantastic work.
Really, there are not a lot of good things you can say about this, besides the fact that in a weird way, it presents the two strangely similar worlds in such a way that it makes the Goon fan in you want to watch Metalocalypse and Metalocalypse fan want to read the Goon. So, I guess as an advertisement, it works, but as a comic it fails miserably. I would have preferred a new issue of the Goon in my life.
Green Lantern #44
Hoo boy. When Geoff Johns crafts a story, he certainly goes for the jugular. It starts at a particularly somber tone, showing the grave of one of DC’s most beloved heroes, The Martian Manhunter. But all that is torn away, when the body is revived, thanks to one of those Black Lantern rings. Seeing Hal and Barry together is a welcome image, but is also unsettling as you realize they have both died, and Death wants them back.
Geoff Johns is in true form here, picking up where Blackest Night 1 left off, and ups the stakes. The art is beautifully rendered by Doug Mahnke, who most recently took over for J.G. Jones at the end of Final Crisis. Mahnke is definitely one of my favorite artists on the DC roster, possibly of all(after Gary Frank, of course), and as I implied, he definitely does not disappoint.
There are glimpses of the Black Cloud spreading throughout the universe, from Ysamault, the home of the Red Lanterns, to Okaara, home of Agent Orange. We even see the return of a Lantern we never see enough of, John Stewart, who is reflecting at a dead planet, when he meets his first Black Lantern.
The story is brisk, and it ends far too soon. But in my mind, this isn’t bad, this is a definite good thing. If a property leaves you wanting more, then they’ve done their job.
The Incredible Hercules #131
Why DO the ancient gods speak in Shakespearian English? The Greek Gods lived two THOUSAND years before Shakespeare ever lived. And I’m glad our hero Hercules finally bought it up. That being said, this book certainly was a bittersweet. We find out more about Amadeus’ family in Heaven, and it’s certainly shocking. Fred Van Lente’s art is in fine form as well. And while there’s a rather amusing twist left at the end, the (hopefully temporary) break-up of Herc and Amadeus certainly upset me, as I love their dynamic. The giant larger than life powerful hero teaming with the shrewd (albeit young) brainiac is one that can really work if done right, and Pak certainly did that. The only question I have is, if you have a son named Amadeus, why name a girl Maddy? Seems redundant! But it’s really a nitpick that ultimately means nothing. I love me some Herc.
Guardians of the Galaxy #16
Hooray for the 90’s! Well, sort of. The brings back the original line-up of The Guardians, and it certainly was a welcome sight. The artwork that they’re rendered with though, not so much. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s Larry Stroman bad or even Rob Liefeld bad, but it’s a bit on the sloppy side. I do appreciate that Abnett and Lanning chose to drop the De-brief scenes for this epic, seeing as how it takes out the mystery of who lives and who dies, in my opinion.
The story itself is wonderfully dystopian, as we see a possible future after this War of Kings between Black Bolt and the Kree Empire and the Shi’ar Imperium led by Emperor Vulcan. And I definitely like the twist as to WHO caused what, and how this dystopian future actually still exists. Sweet.
Wednesday Comics #3
Only three issues issues in, and I’m getting a little weary of it. Sure, there are some great stories here, like The Flash, which I do not believe I’ve spoken of before. I’m usually not a fan of time travel, but I do think that his is going to be the stand out. There seems to be marked progression in Barry Allen’s story, as opposed to Superman, who does the most predictable thing I’ve ever seen. If he’s feeling alienated, he goes and see’s Ma and Pa. Yawn. Mostly though, there has been a lot of crawling in the plot movement, especially in the segment I was originally looking forward to the most, Metamorpho. And while I said Wonder Woman was interesting for having a dream, she’s STILL IN A DREAM. Is this Nightmare on Themyscria? Do not want. The art though, is as always, absolutely stunning. Especially on such a large scale. Superman is especially gorgeous, as is Green Lantern. At this point, I’m sticking to it for the prettiness. It makes it worth it, but only just.