Monday, November 10, 2008

What I Read This Week

Kull #1 -- The barbarian king of Valusia has all but solidified his rule, but Count Areyas still stands against him.  Will Kull be able to breach the Iron Fortress, and if he does, what will his next move be to maintain control?  The new miniseries starring Howard's "other" barbarian hero gets off to a great start here, as
Arvid Nelson and Will Conrad weave an engrossing adaption of Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom," which is very demonstrative of the differences between the Atlantean and the Cimmerian.  I ended up with the Kubert alternate cover, which is also quite cool.  S&S fans will definitely want to check this one out.

House of Mystery #7 -- Fig, Harry, and Lady Anne begin to explore the dark and scary basement of the House, while the Poet entertains the guests at the pub with a tale about the never-ending battle between the cats and the birds in the eternal gardens.  The mystery deepens, as is appropriate, and the basement seems to have an odd effect on the residents of the House.  Just where this is heading (and what is lurking down there) is anyone's guess at this point.  The Poet's story was quite charming in a sort of C. S. Lewis kind of way.  

Justice Society of America #20  -- It's a reunion of sorts as the JSA meets the JSI, and New Earth and Earth-2 are introduced to each other proper.  It's a lot of explanation and hand-wringing, as we learn how the Earths of the new multiverse relate to one another and why exactly we have 2 Power Girls.  There's some good sequences (a section with Mr. Terrific meeting Earth-2 Paula Holt is really quite moving), but overall this feels more like a story which Johns "had to" tell in order to explain how things work more than anything else.  Pretty unmemorable, though the art from Eaglesham (New Earth) and Ordway (Earth-2) is top notch as usual.

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #1 -- From the landing at Omaha Beach to preparing to move deeper into France, cartoonist Kilroy and top kick Sgt. Frank Rock run into each other, keeping up on each other as the Army moves deeper and deeper into the French countryside.  But this next manuver might very well be the last for all involved.  Bill Tucci's labor of love dedicated to the real Lost Battalion has been a long time coming, and is a very different animal than pretty much any Rock comic I have ever seen before.  For one thing, Tucci's look has a sort of Expressionist look to it, with deep colors and humanistic characters.  His Rock is not a square-jawed super-man (like the sketch Kilroy makes on the first page, obviously a Kubert Rock), but just a tough SOB who is going to do his job no matter what.  I'm not sold on the look just yet but the story and the detail have me, so I am on board here.

Storming Paradise #4 -- As 1945 gives way to 1946, the American advancement in Japan is slow going.  But while the Allied forces are bogged down moving from village to village filled with fanatical defenders, the remaining Axis powers have begun work on a weapon which will change the course of history.  This series is very thought provoking, but the way it goes about it is somewhat unusual, with Dixon and Guice focusing less on battles and brass and more on skirmishes and downtime; there's a sense of isolation and fear which I imagine is pretty accurate.  Features an appearance by a celebrity who already popped up in this series, which was a nice callback.

Invincible Iron Man #7 -- My Marvel subscription is acting up, it seems, as I did not get this yet.

Iron Man: The End -- Tony Stark, CEO and Chief Technologist of Stark Universal, is finally ready to unveil his greatest and last gift to humanity: Big Jump, a space elevator which will allow transportation to orbit at rougly 2% the current cost.  But even as Tony unveils his ultimate achievement, can he ever give up his earliest?  Or is he destined to wear the armor of Iron Man forever, wasting away after years of abuse inside the iron shell?  David Michelinie and Bob Layton, along with penciller Bernard Chang, tell a story which clearly draws a through-line from their time scripting the adventures of Shellhead, telling a story about control, heroism, and mortality.  A long time coming (I remember reading about the basics of this on Bob Layton's website at least a year ago), this does not disappoint, and any and all Iron Fans need to pick up this examination of Tony Stark as he comes to grips with not only the world but with himself.

Venom: Dark Origin #4 -- The newly united Eddie and symbiote take some time to get to know one another, and then head out to track down the hated Parker.  We hit more established Venom continuity here, and Wells and Medina do an admirable job of adapting it, though Medina's Venom is clearly more radical a design than anything MacFarlane concocted.  I don't think anyone who is not already a Venom fan would enjoy this, but as I am a fan, this is a lot of fun to read.

Two-Face: Year One #2 -- How bad has the justice system gotten in Gotham City?  Bad enough that having your fate decided by the flip of a coin gives you a better shot at a a fair verdict than a trial by jury.  And bad enough that Two-Face is leading in the polls for the position of District Attorney!  With Gordon and Batman at odds with how to deal with their former friend, will Two-Face extert his own brand of justice over the city?  Or will the mob still control the courts?  Mark Sable and Jesus Saiz go all out here, as we get to see Two-Face's campaign volunteers at work (including Riddler, Scarface, and Joker, who threatens to blind a voter's child if they don't vote for Two-Face), and Gordon's team of "untouchable" cops bring law and order back to the city.  This won't go down as one of the greatest or most important Bat-stories of all time, but this fits in very nicely with the other stories from this era and is one of the better Batbooks I have ever read.

Final Crisis: Resist -- Or, Checkmate shows up in Final Crisis.  I picked this one up on a whim and while there is some neat stuff going on here, I could have passed on it as I don't read Checkmate.

The Pick Of The Pile is Iron Man: The End, which was simply too strong for this Iron Fan to overcome.  But had that title not come out this week it would have been a dogfight.

So what did YOU read this week?

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