Vlog 06.25.2011 – Catching Up With Comics

Thirty long minutes of talking up and discussing my reactions to a handful of comic book series I’ve been reading and getting caught up on. The four series I talk about are all ones I’m pretty pleased with as of late; the only one I’ve been waffling on is IDW’s Transformers, and honestly, it really is the least of those discussed; I started reading Uncanny X-Force because of good buzz, while Transformers is something I’m reading because, eh, it’s Transformers. To be fair, these past two issues were especially well crafted, mostly a result of Guido Guidi’s always strong artwork. (Honestly, I think he’s a better Transformers artist than everyone’s favorite Pat Lee ghost-artist Alex Milne, and there are times I prefer him to king of the fan faves Don Figueroa.) And, as I say above, it pushed my nostalgia buttons pretty hard; I’m always a sucker for Rodimus and Galvatron.

Anyway, watch & comment. It’s a long one, like I said, so I don’t expect a massive amount of viewers and hits and stuff, but I’d be interested in seeing what other people have been reading out there comics-wise.

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Tearing Into The Pile: What I Read Between My Morning Meeting & My Proper Work Day.

I had a little time to kill between our hour-long meeting at work this morning (at 8 a.m.) and my proper shift (which started at 11:30 a.m.), so I reached into my pile of comics and just grabbed a bunch of stuff I thought I’d like. Here’s a few dashed off thoughts on all that.

DEADPOOL #1000 by a whole bunch of people.

There are sixty-nine pages of comics in this five dollar thing, plus a gallery of “Deadpool Month” variant covers that you’d only have if you were totally obsessive and/or possessed of far more money than brains, so if you like Deadpool’s particular brand of wisecracking amorality with a side order of voices-in-his-head, this isn’t a bad value. My favorite stories were a bizarre extended fat people and fast food joke by the UNCANNY X-FORCE creative team of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena, a two-page vignette by Peter Bagge, and a neat dark little mob Bar Mitzvah story by Howard Chaykin. But most of ’em at least brought out a smirk, or a chuckle, or were at least better drawn than your random issue of …

DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #889 by Jeff Parker (writer) & Steve Sanders (pencils)

Guest starring Gorilla Man of the relaunched-and-relaunched AGENTS OF ATLAS. Sanders was last seen drawing the short-lived S.W.O.R.D., which didn’t get anywhere near half the chance ATLAS has gotten over, and over, and over again. Bought this random issue totally on pedigree and found it to be well-crafted but underwhelming. Half the issue is Deadpool fighting Gorilla Man, half the issue is Deadpool fighting alongside Gorilla Man against the entity that hired Deadpool to fight Gorilla Man. The two don’t bounce off each other in any particularly interesting ways; the villain of the piece is more interesting, at least conceptually — and certainly visually!

DOCTOR WHO #14 – 16 by Tony Lee (writer) & Matthew Dow Smith (art)

The final three issues of the Tenth Doctor era in comics. The Doctor winds up in the middle of a war on a battered planet, a war being manipulated by the enemy that’s been manipulating him and his companions throughout the IDW ongoing series, the blue-skinned Advocate. Between the predestination, time-loops, double-crosses, characters getting captured and recaptured again, and the big twist regarding the two factions it really feels like the kind of high concept space opera you’d see in the Peter Davison era back in the 1980s. I really like Matthew Dow Smith’s cartooning, and the story was quite good, but I’ve found that ever since mid-way through Matt Smith’s first season I just don’t like the Tenth Doctor as much as I used to. I think I liked him because he felt more like the Doctor of old than Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, at least to me; Smith, to me, seems even more like the Doctor of old, and much more naturally than Tennant’s performance. And now, in retrospect, it’s how unlike the “classic” take on the Doctor that has me warming to Eccleston’s performance all these years later. And yes, I know, David Tennant isn’t actually standing there in the comic, playing the role, but it’s his voice I read in my head, his voice Tony Lee is writing for, and the tics of his Doctor that Lee’s is writing and Matthew Dow Smith is drawing.

In short: bring on the Eleventh Doctor comics in January!

FANTASTIC FOUR #581 – 584 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Neil Edwards (penciler, 581 & 582), & Steve Epting (penciler, 583 & 584)

Jonathan Hickman’s FANTASTIC FOUR continues to be full of big, cool ideas, continues to be paced so perfectly that each issue still feels like an entity unto itself — whether it be an exciting first act with a nail-biting cliffhanger, or a complete story with bubbling subplots that then ALSO lead to a nail-biting cliffhanger — and beautifully gives off a feeling of radiant warmth that comes from being a series that is at its core (when it’s at its best) about a family of scientists and adventurers plunging headlong into the unknown. The first two issues feature Reed Richards’s father going back in time to enlist college-aged Reed, Ben Grimm, and not-yet-Doctor Doom to battle a version of himself from another reality at the climax of a HIGHLANDER-like tournament, which ultimately neatly folds back into the plot of this run’s first arc, where Reed met the council of other Reed Richards from throughout the multiverse. Then Reed and Sue’s daughter Valeria makes a discovery that leads her to have a chat with Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer makes a discovery that he feels warrants the attention of Galactus, and Ben Grimm is returned to his human form for a day out with Johnny. Seriously, Hickman’s FANTASTIC FOUR runs like a piece of precision clockwork, ever building upon itself, but also takes enough time to breathe with its more human, more humane characters, that it never feels obnoxiously overthought. It remains one of the highlights of my not-quite-monthly comics reading experience.

GENERATION HOPE #1 by Kieron Gillen (writer) & Salvador Espin (artist)

A well-drawn and potentially interesting X-MEN spin-off featuring long-term MacGuffin character Hope, the first mutant birth since the Scarlet Witch uttered those damned words “No more mutants,” who has now basically become the new Cable who might also be the new Phoenix, conveniently putting all the overly confusing X-eggs in one basket. The whole thing is totally let down, though, by a disgustingly obvious AKIRA rip-off character and sequence which wouldn’t have passed muster even in the “hey, let’s rip off all this anime stuff that isn’t really out in the mainstream yet” era of the 1990s. Is this the fault of writer Kieron Gillen (whose work I adored on PHONOGRAM and S.W.O.R.D.) or is it the fault of artist Salvador Espin (whose work I should have recognized from the final short-lived volume of EXILES, which I really liked, and who’s also done a lot of work on various B and C-level Marvel books over the last few years)? Either way, it’s too close a match to call “pastiche” — it’s just a straight rip-off, which soured me on the book as a whole. It’ll take some really clever stuff in the next few issues to clean off that stink.

IZOMBIE #2 – 7 by Chris Roberson (writer) & Michael Allred (artist)

Mike Allred’s art is extremely easy on the eyes, and was the main reason I started picking this series up. And while I ordinarily avoid zombie-related comics, movies, etc., the idea of a lead character who died and should be a zombie but is clinging to her humanity by occasionally feasting on the brains of the newly dead — that’s enough of a hook to lure me in. The fact that she then plays Girl Detective using the memories of the deceased sounded like a lot of fun … except that the series already appears to be flying off that track by starting to build its mythos way early, dragging in a know-it-all “mummy” (he wasn’t a mummy, he wasn’t high-born enough for that, though he does hail from ancient Egypt) who explains the way souls work in this series, why lead character Gwen still has her wits about her, why the “team’s” hacker consultant is a were-terrier, etc. I hope Roberson isn’t being forced to accelerate his schedule due to poor sales, but given that this is a middlebrow “fun” Vertigo book I bet it isn’t lighting the sales charts on fire, even with known quantity Allred on art and the word “zombie” in the title. I really hope it’s doing better than I think it is; I think I like it.