Monday, July 9, 2007

What I Read This Week

I'm so far off my normal weekly reading schedule. The holiday this past week threw a monkey wrench into things, as did my parents coming to visit me and my fiancee for most of the week. I'm mostly caught up, though, so here's a smattering of comic books for your perusing pleasure.

Wonder Woman #10 -- I was never much of a Wonder Woman fan until Justice League began airing. Sure, I liked the old TV show when I was younger, but I never knew much about her or had all that much interest in the character. After JL, as well as her little appearance in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, she started to interest me more. Jodi Picoulot's arc, despite taking place smack-dab in the middle of Amazons Attack! and re-using Circe, is actually pretty darn good. It's interesting for an outsider (not an Outsider, they're coming up later) like myself to read these self-questioning thoughts WW is having, since they echo what the new reader is asking. This issue is mostly a running fight, a given considering the events of the previous. But by the climax, there's an interesting character twist between Diana and Hippolyta which brings to the forefront a trait which was key to Wonder Woman's original creation: compassion. Very enjoyable overall, even with the art being a little varied for my taste. I never thought I'd read Wonder Woman, much less enjoy it. Worth checking out. (And no, I cannot believe that this is how Picoulot's run is ending. The mind boggles...)

X-Men: First Class #1 -- The lone Marvel I read this past week, at least it was a good one. Fresh off the surprising miniseries and entertaining special, Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz return with more old-timey stories about the most forgotten era of X-Men history. This particular issue is a fangirl's dream: Marvel Girl, under the isolating and harsh pressure of being the only female at Xavier's School, is arranged to be a "shadow" to the Invisible Girl! Not only does this setup allow Parker to explore young Jean's personality and sense of isolation, but it also is a perfect excuse to have him write the Fantastic Four, which is worth the purchase price alone. The original X-crew was an odd bunch in an odd time, struggling to find their footing amongst the supremely more popular FF and Avengers. But with this series, they come to life in relatable and fun ways. This remains the best mutant comic book on the shelves, and one which even burnt-out former X-Fans like me can enjoy without worry.

Outsiders #49 -- The finale of "Checkout" happens here, proving that 6 part storylines play better in 3 months than in 6. Anyway, while the Royals of Checkmate move their pieces around the board, its their agents and the Outsiders who are in harm's way. It's more of the same as previous installments, as the field team gets to fight with Chang Tzu's defense systems, but now with the added threat of the fact that everyone's now sitting in North Korea. *gulp* I'm a bit annoyed that DC decided to spoil the outcome of next month's Five of a Kind miniseries with the house ad revealing the new lineup. I mean, that pretty much answers who Batman chooses, doesn't it? And on the same track: Catwoman? Huh? At least Martian Manhunter is in there, and let's face it, J'onn J'onzz rocks the party which rocks your body. As to this comic itself, pretty fun Outsiders tussle, with a nice advertisement for Checkmate in there as well. A nice crossover which didn't challenge the brain too much, but provided plenty of brawling and posturing -- typical when you have so many Type-A's kicking around. Should be interesting to see where Outsiders goes from here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street #8 -- It's been a while since the last issue of this came out (that whole Aztec dream-demon story), but as this is a one-shot before the book goes into "specials only" mode that's not a problem. Our tale focuses on a young man who spends entirely too much time working at Burger Heaven, a fast food restaurant with a weird religious theme to it. In fact, he's even started dreaming about the place! Needless to say, as this is a NOES book, that's a bad sign. Anyone who has ever worked fast food (like me) will get a kick out of this gory and funny story. This is what I was expecting when Wildstorm initially anounced the series -- short, self-contained horror with a little Krueger touch. The nature of the Nightmare franchise allows for that, but I guess the appeal of such a series was limited at best, especially in this day and age. Still, horror fans should be satisfied. The last panel is gruesome and hilarious all at once.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53 -- Finally! A big shout-out to the crew at Borderlands (Hi, Stan!) who tracked this down for me despite Diamond doing their best to make sure it didn't happen. Tad Williams' old school-meets-Infinite Crisis story rolls on, with Artie Joe and Cal Durham being held prisoner by Black Manta. I'm inclined to give the thumbs-up to any comic book which stars Black Manta, but he really does shine here; Manta takes the role of the audience, blasting "Aquaman" any chance he gets and constantly reminding him that he's not the "real deal." His Ozymandius-esque comment about not giving away his master plan was great, too. McManus's art remains cartoony but at this point it has grown on me, and it reflects the tonal shift following the writer change. This title remains fun and vibrant, moving from one plotline to another as quickly as the shifting tidal waters. I literally have no idea where we're going next. I am not as turned off by SoA as some other bloggers, but I have to admit that if this series starred the original Aquaman, it would be even better. The last page provides some hope, maybe?

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #31 -- I picked this one up on a whim. Blame the cover, with it's "everybody flying at ya" imagery and "The Quest Starts Here!" copy, coupled with a lot of LOSH exposure for me over the last few months, what with "The Lightning Saga" and the cartoon and what-have-you. This is a good "jump-on" point, as the team reloads following the Dominator War and things get geared up for the next story. There are some confusing bits, but with any team book that is bound to crop up, so I can't hold that against this comic too much. No real action, but there's some good setup for future action, which hopefully will come to fruition very soon (preferably with Lightning Lad going to town on some poor sap). Time will tell if the series can build upon this foundation, but this issue was interesting enough for me to check out the next one at the very least.

(Also be sure to check out Matthew's Legion Abstract!)

I also picked up, but did not get a chance to read The Collected Normalman. Wow, I go years with only a smattering of Shadowhawk, then two Valentino strips in less than 2 months. Its like I'm in a funhouse mirror or something!

Pick Of The Pile: Some really good comics this week. Wonder Woman had action and pathos, and was kind enough to save me from having to spend money on Amazons Attack!, but Aquaman was more fun to read overall, so it gets the nod this week. Williams is telling an interesting "fish story" there, and if it goes where it looks like it might go, we're all in for something very interesting in the next few months.

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