Friday, February 5, 2010

What I've Been Reading - Terra, Irredeemable and Immortal Iron Fist

In this edition of What I've Been Reading, I'm taking a look at a trio of super hero comics. First up, the recent collection of DC's Terra miniseries by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner, which I picked up for both Conner's art and to see if it would get me interested in checking out the Power Girl ongoing by the same creative team. Next, since the library had a copy, I take a look at the fourth volume of Immortal Iron Fist since I gave up on the series when Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker left. Finally, I take a look at Mark Waid's take on Superman turning evil - Irredeemable. Hit the jump to see what I thought of these books.

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Amanda Conner
Collects Terra #1-4 and Supergirl #12

My interest in this collection mostly stems from the fact that, aside from a great deal of images on the internet, I've never really read that many comics featuring Amanda Conner's artwork. I've seen her work before and always enjoy it, but have never had the opportunity to read an actual comic featuring it.

Conner's artwork alone more than justifies buying this and I'd definitely rank her as one of the better artists whose work I've read. What particularly separates her work from most other Marvel and DC artists are the facial expressions and body language she gives the character, which are, well, just genius at times. She really does bring the characters to life and it is what makes her such a great artist.

As for the story, it was enjoyable, but mostly for the characters. The story was kind of on the weak side and the villain did absolutely nothing for me as he was just kind of generically evil but I don't really consider it a problem since Palmiotti and Gray do such a wonderful job with Terra and guest stars Geo-Force and Power Girl. They go a good job of both introducing the new Terra and developing her into a pretty good character as well.

Terra is mostly a combination of the alien/outsider hero with the young/inexperience hero archetypes, which works really well but that isn't really a surprise since they can play off of each other to humourous effect. In fact, most of my favourite sequences in the series are when Power Girl and Terra are interacting and Power Girl has to explain not only some of the basic super hero stuff to Terra, like secret identities, but has to introduce her to American culture as well. Power Girl and Terra are also a good combo and I like the mentor/protege relationship the characters developed towards the end of the book and I hope to see more of it when I start picking up Power Girl in trades. Overall, a very enjoyable comic that got me interested in future works by the creative team.

Verdict - Buy It

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Travel Foreman, Russ Heath and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Collects The Immortal Iron Fist #17-20 and The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and The Death Queen of California

There is little chance that Duane Swierczynski's run on The Immortal Iron Fist would have been anything other than disappointing since he had to follow Matt Fraction's and Ed Brubaker's critically acclaimed run on the book, which I personally loved.

Long story short, this collection did end up being disappointing though I was already expecting that since I bought issue #17 when it came out.  I wasn't impressed by it then and I was still left unimpressed by the other issues collected in this volume. Swierczynski's work isn't bad per se, but it isn't great nor anywhere near as good as the Fraction/Brubaker run. The story Swierczynski told lacked the mystique and intrigue of first volume or the epic, mystical action of the second volume and is just a pale shadow of what Fraction and Brubaker did on the title.

While the story was merely disappointing, the art was just down right awful. Travel Foreman isn't a bad artist and his style works well with certain types of stories, but Iron Fist is not one of them. His art is rough, scratchy and lacks the grace that made David Aja's artwork so appealing. Heath's art, while not as much as a mismatch with the story as Foreman's, is unremarkable and lacks any kind of distinctive flair that the flashback art in the earlier issues had. Combined with the lackluster storytelling, the post-Fraction/Brubaker Iron Fist was a let down.

On a related note, I'm surprised the title lasted as long as it did after Fraction and Brubaker left since they were so pivotal to its early success. One of the problems of having a title gain acclaim based on it's creative team is what to do when said team leaves. Marvel didn't find a new team that was able to capture what made fans love the series already and the title obviously end up cancelled.

I think, from a creative point of view, it might have been better to cancel after Fraction and Brubaker left because it was unlikely that Marvel would find a suitable replacement team, which is what ended up happening. This is not to say that Swierczynski's efforts on the title were worthless but his run was going to be immediately compared to Fraction's and Brubaker's and that wasn't likely to be a favourable comparison. Marvel could cancelled the title and relaunched it at a later date so the new creative team, Swierczynski and Foreman in this case, wouldn't have go up against the high expectations the original creative team built up. It would give the new creators a chance carve out their own niche instead of taking over one that someone else created. Obviously, sales dictated that Marvel could keep the book going for a while and they did make the correct decision in that regard.

For me, my love of books like The Immortal Iron Fist are based solely on the creative team and I would rather see the book cancelled after its original creative team left than have them be replaced by someone else. For example, Nextwave without Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen isn't really Nextwave and Iron Fist without Fraction, Brubaker and Aja isn't really Iron Fist given that they defined the character for me.

Sure, another creative team may come along and produce another great Iron Fist run but the odds of that happening immediately after Fraction and Brubaker left? Very little, especially with it being one of Swierczynski's earlier comic book works. And this is not to say that Marvel should have never done any more Iron Fist stories but, rather, they should have waited a while so the new team wouldn't have to directly compare to the old one that generated all of the acclaim in the first place.

Verdict - Avoid It

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Peter Krause
Collects Irredeemable #1-4

It would be hard to call this trade disappointing since I wasn't expecting much out of it but it was still worse that I thought it would end up being. The easiest way to describe the collection is basically "What if Superman was an asshole," which wouldn't necessarily be a problem if there had been some depth to it but there isn't so it's really nothing more than Superman going around being an ass for no apparent reason other than "people suck."

The biggest problem though is that there really isn't a main character to follow or for the reader to view the events through so it just ends up as a bunch of people running around and doing things with no other context other than Superman is now the world's biggest asshole.  But it's not the real Superman, so...who cares? Not me, that's for sure. Waid never even takes the opportunity to really flesh out any of the main characters in any fashion since he's relying on the crutch of the fact that the Plutonian isn't a real character - he's just a palette swapped Superman being a dick. Waid kind of hints as to why the Plutonian decided to turn evil but they are the most generic and cliched reasons possible and don't really inspire me to believe that Waid has any kind of point with all of this. So, if you think you would enjoy a fake Superman being an ass for no real reason then this might be the series for you.

I would also like to take the time to point just how ridiculous the pricing for the trades of the series are. While the first trade is just $10, it only collects four issues and then has 15 PAGES worth of variant covers, which brings up the problem with the page count. The second trade though, is just a ripoff. Not only does it cost $17 for four issues, a dollar more per issue at Boom!'s standard price of $4, issue #5 was priced at only a $1 originally, meaning it is a full $4 cheaper to buy the single issues than the trade and that's just wrong on so many levels.

Verdict - Avoid It

Related Posts


btownlegend said...

I have been wanting to break down and get the Terra trade. I needed the push.

Matt Ampersand said...

I personally thought that the second arc of Duane Swierczynski on Iron Fist was a lot better than the first one, but I do agree that the artwork, which was such a wide departure from Aja, did him no favors.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I can't believe the Irredeemable trade was so much more expensive, that's pretty scummy.

As for Swierczynski's first arc, yeah, the big bad of that arc wasn't completely thrilling for me, sadly, but there were moments so I stuck with it and the Escape from the Eighth City arc is good, but I think Forman's art really lets down the grand ideas that Swierczynski so clearly had.

oakleyses said...

polo ralph lauren outlet online, longchamp outlet, tory burch outlet, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, christian louboutin, burberry handbags, michael kors outlet online, tiffany jewelry, nike free, burberry outlet, nike outlet, prada handbags, michael kors outlet, polo outlet, michael kors outlet, gucci handbags, jordan shoes, kate spade, replica watches, prada outlet, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet store, christian louboutin shoes, kate spade outlet, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet store online, christian louboutin uk, chanel handbags, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, nike air max, nike air max, coach outlet, longchamp outlet, coach outlet

oakleyses said...

oakley pas cher, true religion jeans, mulberry uk, converse pas cher, air max, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors pas cher, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, true religion outlet, lululemon canada, burberry pas cher, hollister uk, hogan outlet, sac hermes, hollister pas cher, nike roshe, nike air force, true religion outlet, north face uk, timberland pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, nike free run, michael kors outlet, nike tn, michael kors, jordan pas cher, new balance, sac longchamp pas cher, ray ban uk, vans pas cher, true religion outlet, nike air max, north face, louboutin pas cher, polo lacoste, polo ralph lauren, ralph lauren uk, longchamp pas cher, coach purses

oakleyses said...

nike air max uk, hermes belt, insanity workout, bottega veneta, nike huaraches, celine handbags, nfl jerseys, p90x workout, hollister, vans outlet, babyliss, instyler, nike roshe run, asics running shoes, nike free uk, abercrombie and fitch uk, ferragamo shoes, valentino shoes, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti outlet, ghd hair, nike trainers uk, nike roshe run uk, chi flat iron, reebok outlet, jimmy choo outlet, soccer shoes, mcm handbags, north face outlet, beats by dre, wedding dresses, herve leger, lululemon, longchamp uk, mont blanc pens, abercrombie and fitch, new balance shoes, mac cosmetics, nike air max uk, soccer jerseys

oakleyses said...

juicy couture outlet, vans, hollister clothing, timberland boots, montre pas cher, hollister, swarovski crystal, converse, louboutin, pandora uk, lancel, baseball bats, iphone 6 cases, pandora charms, nike air max, marc jacobs, oakley, ray ban, links of london, karen millen uk, hollister, wedding dresses, ralph lauren, replica watches, juicy couture outlet, supra shoes, coach outlet, nike air max, pandora jewelry, thomas sabo, toms shoes, converse outlet, gucci, swarovski

Post a Comment

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Crisis - Comic Book Review Blog. Comments are always appreciated. You can sign in and comment with any Google, Wordpress, Live Journal, AIM, OpenID or TypePad account.