Monday, February 4, 2008

What I Read This Week

Trials of Shazam #11 -- With two Trials remaining, Freddie Freeman must race against the clock to reach the god Mercury before his rival Sabina finds him and takes his power for her own. A bit of a let down after a pretty snazzy issue with #10. The art remains nice, but the story runs into a bit of a pacing problem as the Mercury issue is resolved too quickly in order to set up the final showdown with Zeus. Disappointing for the penultimate issue of a maxiseries.

Captain America: The Chosen #6 -- Morrell and Breitweiser's tale of heroism in the face of steep odds and unyielding opposition closes here, in a tale that starts out quiet, then turns with a bang, and ends with a certain uplifting feeling. I'm not a huge Captain America fan, but this miniseries has really made me take another look at the character and what he represents. From start to finish Morrell has impressed me with his ability to tell a story with both his words and the action, and Breitweiser's art is harsh and horrific and beautiful all at once. Cap may be in something of a personal rennaisance under the pen of Ed Brubaker, but fans and non-fans should definitely check out this series in trade form if you missed it as singles.

Project Superpowers #0 -- After being delayed a few weeks with a bit of a dispute over the title (annoyingly), the Golden Age revival masterminded by Alex Ross and implemented by Jim Krueger and Stephen Sadowski bows, and oh boy, was it worth the wait. Starting in the present day and then flashing back to World War II, the costumed adventurers of yesteryear -- including the Fighting Yank, Black Terror, the Death-Defying 'Devil, Green Lama, The Flame, and others -- defend America and the world from the Nazi threat. But what is the cause of this Great Evil that has been unleashed upon the world, and what does it have to do with these heroes who fight against it? Krueger is game, and have crafted an exciting, intriguing look at the nature of heroism and hope in the face of the most unspeakable evil. It ties into a lot of Ross's previous work, thematically, and I am left truly wondering where things go from here. And Sadowski's pencils bring these mostly-forgotten heroes to life, with all their bright colors and vivid period costumes. For a buck, you really can't go wrong -- definitely check this one out.

Iron Man #25 -- This Double-Sized issue continues the clandestine Iron Man vs. Mandarin arc, as Tony begins to put the pieces together about what Mandy is up to, and what Maya Hansen has to do with it. The feature is normal length, and is (as usual) excellent. The Knaufs have "gotten" Tony since their shot back in issue #7, and have continued to portray Iron Man as a complex character with both admirable ideals and humanistic flaws. De La Torre's pencils have grown on me as his stint has gone on -- normally I perfer a cleaner style for Iron Man (given to my entusiasm for Bob Layton, no doubt), but his gritty, expressionistic pages fit the storyline and the characters very nicely. There's a plethora of bonus material here which should keep Iron Fans happy -- a six page preview of the upcoming John Favreau/Adi Granov Shellhead mini Viva Las Vegas, a reflection on some past armors by Layton, a little preview of the movie, and a reprint of a short, 3 page retelling of Shellhead's origin, from Iron Man #1, by Archie Goodwin and Gene Colan. All in all, a really solid main story paired with some really nice extras makes for a great pickup for anyone who likes to have Iron in their diet.

Freddy vs Jason vs Ash #4 -- Act 2 comes to a close, and you know what that means: yup, our heroes are in it, and deep.Freddy possesses the Necronomicon, and Jason... well, let's just say that Jason is not so much of a dope anymore. And stuck in the middle is Ash , who's up against a bit more than your average Deadite. The art is better this time out, although Jason Craig is still only doing the layouts, but it's not nearly as weird as last time. Plenty of great setpieces this time out, including a pair of Evil Dead/Army of Darkness homages sure to bring a smile to the face of any Raimi fan. Fun, gory horror romp which accurately captures the "party film" atmosphere of the film it is sequelizing.

The Pick of the Pile is a two horse race this week. On the one hand, Iron Man continues to be a fantastic read, easily the most under-rated superhero title on the market. On the other hand, Project Superpowers exploded out of the gate and looks to have a ton of upside. In the end, I have to go with Superpowers. It's a great introduction to this new heroic world, the art is great, and it's only a buck. You can't beat that.

So what did YOU read this week?

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