Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What I Read This Week

Annihiliation Conquest: Quasar #1 -- We knew from the start that the new Quasar (nee Phyla-Vel) would play a big role in AC, so I was eager to see how her mini would play out, especially in light of of the Prologue. The verdict: pretty cool. At first blush, it doesn't have the mystery of AC: Wraith or the action of Nova, but it has a bit of both mixed together: What is the mysterious voice speaking to Phylla from the Quantum Bands? Who is the savior she has to find? And will there be any Kree space left to save by the time she completes her quest. 3/4s of the way through the first issues of AC and everything still has a nice sheen on it, and this issue does nothing to negate that, even if it doesn't polish it up too much. Worth reading for a break from Marvel political comics.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #54 -- We found out not too long ago that once again, Aquaman is on the chopping block. Which means that we only get 3 more issues of Tad Williams' fast and funny take on the new undersea hero of the DCU, and hopefully that is enough time to finish everything he has in mind. The pace doesn't lessen here, as Cal Durham and company investigates why GeneTech was trying to obtain DNA from Aquaman, Tempest journeys to the mysterious Leah to learn about the Thorny Crown, and AJ and Lorena check out Tri-Dent Industries. Oh, did I mention that they tangle with the HUMAN FLYING FISH?! Plotlines go in all sorts of directions as more mysteries are unveiled and a surprise villain checks in. The fight between AJ and the H.F.F. is a doubled edged sword: on the one hand, it's great to see someone like H.F.F. made out to be a threat (even if he looks ridiculous... at least that's a plot point), but on the other hand it also demonstrates who low-level (power-wise) the new Aquaman really is. Still, there's a ton of interesting stuff going on right now, and it seems to be building up to something, so I just hope that Williams and McManus have enough pages left to finish things up. And, yeah, possibly bring back the real Aquaman, but that's just snarky of me.

Legion Of Monsters: Morbius -- This sadly marks the end of the Legion of Monsters one-shot series, at least for the time being, but at least it goes out with a little bite *groan*. The first tale stars Morbius, of Living Vampire fame, and details the anti-heroes attempts to waste away and die. Hrrm. The second tale stars Dracula and his kin Lillith, and is suitably filled with machinations and intrigue in addition to blood-letting and dismemberment. Both tales are very solid Marvel Horror, and fun to read, but not much more than that. That's not a dig; given the space provided these are both very nice shorts. The slick, lush pencils Finch turns in for the Dracula tale are a harshly beautiful contrast with Gaydos's washed out Morbius work. And both Cahill and Cebulski have good outings, creating distinct voices for their respective characters in a very tight page count. Obviously, given a full length, these would be more involved, but for this format I have no complaints.

Seeing as this is a comic book blog, I will now make an arbitrary ranking of the eight LoM stories. With 1 being the highest,
1. The Living Mummy (Satana)
2. Werewolf By Night (WBN)
3. Monster of Frankenstein (WBN)
4. Man-Thing (Man-Thing)
5. Morbius (Morbius)
6. Dracula (Morbius)
7. Satana (Satana)
8. The Zombie (Man-Thing)

And honestly, other than the Zombie story, I liked all of these. Horror fans should definitely check these out. And join me in pestering JoeQ to make this an ongoing anthology.

All-Flash #1 -- Wally West is back! So is Mark Waid! So screams the hype for this special, which bridges the gap bewteen Flash: The Fastest Man Alive and the return of Flash v.2. And appropriately, it deals with the fallout from that last series, with Wally tracking fown Inertia for the murder of his nephew, while the other Rogues hit the deck. The art is a bit uneven (a given, considering the number of artists), but Karl Kerschl's pages look fluid and dynamic -- a must for a Flash artist. Waid knows how to write Wally with his eyes closed, so that's not really a problem either. There is some controversial stuff in here, though. First off, when the Rogues beat Bart to death, there was a lot of backlash (rightly so) about making the Rogues into murderers. But Waid attacks that head-on here, as the Rogues immediately turn on Inertia and realize that killing a Flash is a big, big mistake. I suspect that is not the last we will hear on that subject, either. The other issue is how Wally deals with Inertia once he catches him. Perhaps taking a page from Hell Labs' "Ironic Punishment Division," there are some critics who think that Wally would never be this cruel, even to his nephew's murderer. I disagree -- the way I see it, this is the only prison which Inertia cannot escape from. (Thematically, I flashed back to the end of the first Zoom storyline Johns scribed.) A solid launchpad, even if I don't think that F:TFMA needed to go anywhere. We'll see where the ride goes from here.

Justice League of America #11 -- For all the hype he had coming in, I don't think anyone can really proclaim Brad Meltzer's run on the new JLoA to be a success. The initial launch went on forever, then the crossover with Justice Society was uneven and somewhat slapdash in places. He may not be suited to being the regular JLoA scribe, but Meltzer is not a bad writer per se; witness, this comic right here. A 22-pager featuring only two characters, some really claustrophobia-inducing pencils by Gene Ha, and a lot of dialogue. Red Arrow and Vixen are fighting for their lives when a building they were evacuating collapses on top of them and into the Potomac River. This leads to a bit of survival horror mixed in with a pretty interesting character development as well as a peak inside one new Leaguer's head. The whole thing comes together very nicely (there's a bit where the creators "play with the frame" which I totally marked out for), but it's a serious case of "too little, too late" for Brad. A pretty good read but nothing heart-stoppingly amazing, either.

The Brave & The Bold #5 -- Batman is transported to the 31st Century and then fights Karate Kid in mid-air... that pretty much sums up this issue in a nutshell. I have no idea what else is going on, but the idea of Batman managing to elude and cause lots of grief for the entire Legion in the future is far too amusing for me to pass up. Not knowing the rest of the story hurt my enjoyment of this comic book quite a bit, but the parts I did like were still pretty cool. If you're not reading The Brave & The Bold regularly, you can skip this one.

Action Comics #852 -- When I first got into reading comics, once I got past my initial "ZOMG X-Men and Image RAR" phase, I collected Superman. Back then, of course, there were four monthly Superman titles, which essentially functioned as 1 weekly series. Eventually, I drifted away from the titles (mostly because of lack of funds, admittedly, due to newer stuff catching my eye), but I have always retained a soft-spot for Big Blue. So every now and again I will check out an issue of his two remaining series. Action has been on a seemingly non-stop fill-in schedule for the past year, what with Johns and Donner Phantom Zone story seemingly stuck in, well, the Phantom Zone. So it seems we have another fill-in here, but it's a multi-part fill-in which also crosses over with Countdown. Got all that? Well, all you really need to know is that Jimmy Olsen's the star here, and Mister Action has superpowers now. Busiek touches on what Johns is doing in the "main" story as well as working in parallel with Countdown to create a fun story about hero worship and heroic motivations. Walker's art is lively, and Busiek can write Superman stories as good as anyone. Definitely a fun pick up. In the same vein...

Superman #664 -- ...Busiek also pens this tale, another installment in the ongoing (and also delayed, but not nearly as much as Action, partly because of how the fill-ins had been handled) "Camelot Falls" storyline. Arion, the ancient wizard from Atlantis which all good DC buffs should recognize, thinks that Superman is derailing the natural progress of the planet, and wants him eliminated, invoking a mind-control spell to try to turn the public against Big Blue. But Supes is more prepared than Arion -- or, seemingly, anyone else in the world -- realizes. Pretty much one long fight, but with a little bit of Busiek world building in there to beef things up, plus a few guest stars, including the Prankster, who has rapidly climbed the scale of awesomeness for Superman baddies. I don't have all the parts of this story, and I am seriously thinking of either tracking them down or picking up the trades -- assuming the fill-ins are in there as well. But all told, this issue and Action Comics are both high quality and enjoyable Superman comics, and easy buys for any Superfan (err... wait) out there.

The Pick of the Pile is All-Flash. Waid's work with Wally West still holds a place near and dear to my nerd-heart, and the return of both of them at once is to much for me to overcome.

So what did you read this week?

No comments: