Monday, February 25, 2008

What I Read This Week

Iron Man #26 -- For a review, let me just say that this issue features Iron Man and Mandarin going toe-to-toe, Iron Man battling an army of genetically-altered supermen, and a man-made, tactical black hole. At the risk of sounding like Chris Sims, this is the most awesome thing ever. The Knaufs and De La Torre keep on rolling on this hardcore armored series, dishing out equal doses of old-school Marvel Mayhem, "nu-Marvel" relevance, and super-spy espionage action. Still the most under-rated title Marvel publishes.

Tiny Titans #1 -- This has surpassed the super-deformed, plush Kamen Rider toy I got when I was in college to become the cutest thing I own. Whether it's at Sidekick Elementary, or the Titans Tower Treehouse, the Tiny Titans are ready for adorable adventures! I'm obviously a little older than the target audience for this title, but like Patrick The Wolf Boy, this is a true All-Ages title which can be enjoyed by young and old. The old (that is, myself) will be tickled by the cute versions of the Teen Titans old and new, and the amusing interplays that require some knowledge of the characters. The young will enjoy the colorful characters and the gags, which are broad enough to transcend the history of the Titans and stand on their own. The story involving Cassie's costume is a perfect example of this breadth: I read it and laugh because I know Cassie and her "non-costume," whereas a kid with no Titans knowledge can read this and laugh at it based simply on the fashion and costume jokes. This would make a great title to read together with one's kids or neices and nephews. And I love the activity page in the back! This one is definitely on the pull list.

Batman And The Outsiders #4 -- Aaand now we do the 180, as this issue opens with Green Arrow trying to put a shaft through Batgirl's chest! Turns out that Ollie is still ticked at the League of Assassians. But there are more pressing issues right now, as the Outsiders are trying to stop a space launch by the mysterious Mr. Jardine -- a launch carrying strange organic creations which could not function on Earth, designed by Brother I! Dixon turns in another solid adventure, and introduces Green Arrow to the team nicely. Lopez's pencils remain clean and dynamic, and I am really enjoying his work on this series so far. There's a nice piece of design work in here as well, as we see Katana and Metamorpho donning camoflague for their jungle mission! There's a few more mysteries introduced, and a pair of earlier ones keep developing -- Dixon has a nice pacing going on here which keeps things moving along nicely, but still feels substantial. Very enjoyable, and looking forward to the next issue. Only downside: No Geo-Force.

Flash #237 -- Kieth Champagne and Koi Turnbull pop in for a quick fill-in story about the Fastest Man Alive and his wacky family. While Wally West spends his day fighting a robotic space yeti with Superman and trying to get a job, Linda has a field trip to Metropolis planned for Iris and Jai. But the sudden appearance of one of Superman's dangerous foes means a change in plans! Fun two-pronged story, with the narrative jumping back and forth between Wally and Linda and the kids until the end when the stories intersect. Champagne has a pretty good handle on the Flash Family, including Jai who seems really kinda troubled for a kid his age. Turnbull's art is a major turnoff to me, but for a true fill-in, this is not bad. Nice enough outing with the new Flash status quo, but nothing to write home about.

Avengers Classic #9 -- The lead story is a reprint of Avengers #9, by Stan Lee and Don Heck, featuring the debut (and death) of Wonder Man. The backup is written by Dwayne McDuffie (EDIT: My mistake! The backup is actually written by Macon Blair, not McDuffie as solicited. Thanks for pointing this out, Mr. Blair!) with groovily bombastic art by Juan Doe, and fills in a gap from the original story -- namely, how Wonder Man managed to capture the Wasp to use as bait for the other Avengers. The lead is classic, old-school Assemblers stuff, with lots of back and forth action. It's still weird seeing Heck working on this title, but he did his share of it with Kirby, so that's mostly just wishful thinking. If you don't like the Silver Age Avengers, this story is not going to convince you. Anyways, the backup is pretty darn cool as well. McDuffie Blair writes Wonder Man as a mix between Rock Hudson and Bruce Campbell, and Doe's artwork is immediately evocative of the Sixties but also quite modern. I especially like his hulking Wonder Man. Interesting to note that this title has two covers (the new one on the front, and a reprint of the original on the back), and no ads -- not bad for $2.99! Wonder Man fans (like me!) should definitely grab this one, and Avengers fans will probably like this series in general as well -- it's nice to get color reprints.

Terror, Inc. #5 -- The blood-soaked finale to the showdown between Mr. Terror and his long-lost (not to mention absolutely insane) lady love leaves little to the imagination. Lapham and Zircher don't deviate too much from what they have established here as Terror has to overcome the loss of the mystical arm which prevents him from rotting away to stop his ex from turning the world into one big void. It's gore galore, in all it's over-the-top manner, which defines this book. Terror himself is a sort of play on the Ennis Punisher, but he is a lot funnier in my opinion, and the horror archetype of the character makes him unique. A satisfying conclusion and a decent set-up: as I said earlier, if this is in fact what Terror is doing in the Marvel Universe, then I am digging it the most.

The Pick Of The Pile normally would be Iron Man. It's a title which has done everything right for months on end and this was no exception. But this week it finished a very close second -- enough that we had to send it to the booth twice just to check it -- to Tiny Titans, an opening salvo of cuteness which appeals to two distinctly different markets of comic book readers and scores a direct hit with each. I cannot remember the last time a new comic (that is, not a reprint!) made me smile and laugh as much as this one did. The Tiny Titans are here to stay, and I for one am looking very much forward to the ride!

So what did YOU read this week?


Macon said...

Respectfully, the backup story was written by Macon Blair (me.) The book was solicted several months ago when Mr. McDuffie was scheduled to write the backups. However, when he was unable to, I filled in for issues 5 through 10 (so some readers' enjoyment and to others massive annoyance.)

Glad you enjoyed the story though!

Macon said...

"TO some readers enjoyment", I meant to type.

Luke said...

My mistake, Sir! I was unaware, so please accept my apologies. But yeah, that backup was great! I really liked your voice for Wonder Man -- he had that early 60's Rat Pack "Man's Man" tone going on, and it fits Simon perfectly.

Thanks for the head's up! I'm going to have to see if I can track down some of the other issues of this title.

Macon said...

No worries, man, and no apologies necessary! It made me smile when you mentioned WM's Bruce Campbell flavor in this one because Alejandro Arbona-- the exceptionally keen asst. editor on Avengers Classic-- had advised me from the outset to approach him here as "the Bruce Campbell of the Marvel Universe."

Thank you for the kind words! I only discovered the Bunker recently but it's now on my daily checklist-- keep up the good work!