Friday, October 17, 2008

Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 10/15/08

Here's the late night edition of the Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews. I covered most of the remaining books I picked up this week with these reviews, but there's a couple that didn't make the cut due to time constraints and one of those I wanted to talk about was X-Men: World's Apart.

I picked this issue up as an impulse buy based solely on Christ Yost's name being attached as the writer. I was quite surprised to find out, as I didn't even flip through it or read about it prior to picking it up, that this continues the story about Storm and Nehzno, of New X-Men fame, from the excellent X-Men: Divided We Stand one-shots. Just when you think it's starting to be a tad contrived, it turns out to be an interesting Storm story with her longtime nemesis, the Shadow King. Was quite pleased with how it turned out and will be getting the next issue.

I'll let you guys enjoy the rest of the reviews, after the jump.

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Simone Bianchi

Short story is this title has been dropped. I'm not sure who this Warren Ellis is, but he's not the same creative mind behind Transmetropolitan, Nextwave, Thunderbolts and dozens of other critically acclaimed titles.

This is about as dull and unimaginative a book as I've ever read. It almost reads like fanfiction whereby the writer is trying his best to hit every possible cliche he can. Say what you will about Brubaker's Uncanny X-Men, which I am far from a fan of, it at least tries to be a good book. This is just boring on all accounts. Three issues and nothing has happened except all the forced cliches and numerous jokes falling flat.

To be honest, I'm not even sure how I would describe this issue. The new mutants with the X-gene on the wrong chromozone are revealed to be from another dimension and SWORD is brought into the mix. I believe this was just so we could be beat over the head with the Beast / Brand animal sex talk and "jokes" that made up the bulk of the issue.

Where Whedon's writing of this came off as funny and genuine, this turns the relationship into a donkey show (see Clerks 2 for details). It's about as subtle as a freight train and I just cringed and moved on after every attempt to make jokes at their expense.

Verdict - Avoid It. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Scott Wegener

Atomic Robo continues its second mini-series with another action packed issue. While still set during WWII, this issue jumps ahead slightly from last issue's ending, where Robo was tasked with tracking down the remaining nazi walking tanks.

Surprisingly, after spending time introducing Everett and the other human troops in the first two issues, where Everett was recruited by Robo to help with his mission to destroy those tanks, these supporting characters are no where to be seen. In their place is a new character, The Sparrow (see cover), a British covert operative. I have no problemw ith this little switch of the supporting cast, but assumed we'd be following Lt Everett and Robo throughout the series.

The plot of this issue focuses on both Robo and Sparrow as they try, unaware of each other's efforts, to infiltrate a nazi train and take out Otto Skorzeny, the nazi in control of the walking tanks who nearly captured Robo in the previous issues. This leads to the two into conflict as they step on each other's toes in their attempts to take out Skorzeny, which ended up being a trap set for the two all along.

During the infiltration sequence, we were treated to some excellent dialogue between Skorzeny and a woman whom, I believe, is the brains behind the designs of the walking tanks, among other nazi creations. I really liked the way they so casually discussed the nazi movements and Hitler's decisions and it humanized these villains in the process. Many writers fall into the trap of having all nazi's be the, "arrgh, we're evil and eat babies and because we're nazis we don't need motivations!", trap and it was nice to see these being people instead of hiding behind the nazi card.

The biggest surprise of the issue came at the end as Robo, who has been all but indestructible in the adventures we've seen him in so far, is taken out by an EMP or tazer-like gun as he tried to save The Sparrow, leaving the two heroes stuck on a train about to go off the tracks and showing us that Robo can, in fact, be hurt / disabled - something unheard of up until now.

Verdict - Must Read. Another great read from the Atomic Robo team. Fleshes out the villains of the piece, introduces a new character and puts Robo in some real conflict that shows he's not invincible.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Leonard Kirk

After the shocking stabbing of Spitfire at the end of last issue, I was expecting a quick resolution to that problem with Faiza, the doctor who is now wielding Excalibur, to simply heal her instantly. What we ended up with was far from what I expected and a tad confusing, to say the least.

Spitfire, who is a vampire, was stabbed by Blade last issue. A giant stake in the heart, which I imagine Blade didn't miss with his sneak attack, should have killed her, right? Instead, Pete Wisdom pulls the stake out, Blade jumps out of the helicopter to escape capture and Spitfire is good as new afterwards. I'm a bit confused as to what happens here. Why isn't she dead (undead? Un-undead?)?

Meanwhile, the big magical disaster MI 13 came to investigate turns out to be the Mindless Ones, last seen in Nextwave, and their leader, Plokta, the Mindful One. I'm not sure as to what exactly is going on, but Plokta has taken over a neighbourhood and is inducing dreams of the perfect lives for the citizens living there as he siphons off life energy of some sort.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of magic for reasons such as the premise of this storyline, but the dialogue and pacing of the story, which doesn't leave you time to dwell on these types of things, more than make up for it.

Captain Britain, who was on the scene first, handles the situation in an unorthadox fashion - he actually talks to the villain to find out what's going on instead of simply smashing stuff first, asking questions later. A rather refreshing take to super heroing.

Meanwhile, Blade, who dropped on site of this magical incursion, ends up clashing with Spitfire, who entered the buildings to save people (ya, that chest wound didn't really do anything). I really enjoyed their dialogue and the entire scene, right down to the final, "oh, Blade is going to get along with her now scene", which ended up going the complete other way as Blade politely asks her to die if she is now in control because she should know she's a monster.

In the end, we cut back to see Plokta offering Captain Britain his greatest desire, his wife, Meggan, whom I'm guessing is currently dead based on the reaction. With how solid the writing has been on the title, barring the whole stabbing / she got better incident, I imagine Cornell will avoid the pitfalls of the cliched "dream world / willpower struggle" that these types of stories can invoke and give us another great issue next month.

Verdict - Must Read. Grab the second or third printings, or even the trades, and get on board this series. Even if you've never been a fan or if you don't have any experience with these characters, just give this book a shot.

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Steve Kurth

What the hell is wrong with me? I went over this in the previews, but I keep buying these Secret Invasion tie-ins and, every time I do, I tell myself, "No more tie-ins for SI.", yet I find myself always with a new one on the pile every other week. As soon as I read these, I'm immediately filled with regret over the purchase and this issue was no different.

I originally decided to get this issue based on the solicit's promise of a shocking revelation for the future of the Mighty Avengers team. Add the fact Noh-Var was in this issue along with Captain Marvel and I figured he'd be taking over the mantle of Captain Marvel, just as the Illuminati confronted him about in their mini-series, or maybe joining up with the Mighty team or, at the very least, something to make his inclusion in this event worthwhile.

What I got was another, "this is something you know happened, but I have 22 pages to fill, so you get a bunch of filler fleshing out a pointless plot thread that could have been summed up with a one panel flashback in any other title", story.

Yes, you read right. Nothing happens in this issue. We get some pointless scenes of Marvel and Noh-Var prior to their appearance in the last issue of Secret Invasion, where we saw Marvel crashing into a parking lot and Noh-Var just conveniently flying by at the time. It was a throw away scene there and, as this issue is all about the build up to that throw away scene, it makes this a complete throw away issue with no purpose or direction or redeeming qualities. Even the art was less than stellar.

Verdict - Avoid It. Unless, like me, you like flushing money down the toilet for some reason, just avoid this. You read everything this issue had to offer in the page or two it took up in the last issue of the Secret Invasion series.

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Andrenn said...

Too bad about Astonishing X-men and Mighty Avengers.

I was considering picking up the HC of Elli's run, but if what you say it true...oi, nevermind.

Great reviews, Kirk.

Keith Gammage said...

I also thought, based on the solicitation, that Marvel Boy might become Captain Marvel and join Mighty Avengers - but all the reviews I've read seem to say that there is no revelation about the MA team at all. How can they get solicit info wrong if Bendis has, as he claims, everything planned out six months in advance?

Ampersand said...

I believe Meggan died around the time of House of M, in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, but don't quote me on that.

Naymlap said...

I'll defend the Astonishing X-Men. There is a point to this story. Ellis is asking us what do the X-Men do?
Sure they are here to handle mutant issues. But what does that mean? They've spent most of the past 20 years fighting internal conflicts. And especially post M-Day, they really don't go out and save the world.
I think the revelation of the Chinese X-Men contrasts that last part especially. It's a slow burn story, but there is a point to this story.
And how can you not like Cyk cursing or Beast reluctantly calling Brand his girlfriend? That's pretty heartless, even for a Canadian.

Paul Cornell said...

Thanks very much for your very kind review of Cap. I just wanted to say, about the staking scene, if you pop back and have another look, Faiza *does* heal her. And Meggan was lost between dimensions at the end of House of M, not dead, but Brian couldn't find her.

Pj Perez said...

Yeah, I had to drop "Astonishing" after Ellis' second issue. The pacing is too slow; Bianchi's art is too drab. I also dropped "Uncanny" though, because, well, after re-reading Claremont's '80s stuff, it all kinda just pales.

Bill said...

I call shenanigans! I bet you only gave Robo a positive review because Red 5 quoted you in the back.

Anonymous said...

Secret invasion should have ended 2 months ago. It is dragging on and is refusing to die. We haven't gotten any of the avengers since this crap started. Final Crisis is kicking Secret Invasion's ass. I am so excited about final crisis 4 next week.

Anyway, Great reviews.

Lazaraki said...

the delays are killing me

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