Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 03/03/10

What's this?  Reviews?  Is it Wednesday already?  Why, yes, yes it is and that means it's time for the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews.  My pull list was light this week, so managed to review almost every comic I picked up.  I've got Amazing Spider-Man, Girl Comics and Wolverine: Weapon X on the review menu tonight.  Hit the jump to find out what I thought of each.

Written by Mark Waid & Tom Peyer
Art by Paul Azaceta

Before I start, I just want to point out that the rather small thumbnail of the cover image, and even the larger one at Marvel's site, does not really do this cover justice.  It's got this really cool dot effect to the whole cover that doesn't translate as well in digital format.  It's also a pretty iconic looking cover that I don't typically associate with Spider-Man for some reason.  Goddamn it, sorry about that, Ryan's got me hung up on cover design after his covers post from earlier today.

Anyways, getting to the nitty gritty of this review, what do I think of Amazing Spider-Man #623?  Well, to be honest, it's kind of forgettable.  Neither great nor bad.  It tells a story, puts some plots out there for the reader and follows up on some Gauntlet related bits, but, in the end, I didn't really walk away from this with any feelings one way or the other about the issue.  To me, that's almost worse than being a bad or flawed comic.  At least those engage me on some level.  This failed to evoke the slightest response from me while reading.

For those wondering what it was about, it involved Electro, under orders of Kraven's wife, Sasha, in an obvious tie to the Gauntlet storyline, breaks the new Vulture out of prison for undetermined reasons as he was not recruited to their cause like other villains.  

From there, we learn of connections to the mob that this new Vulture had, their reactions to his 'release' from prison and how they set out to put the blame, and Vulture's wrath, on Jonah Jameson with some fake allegations levied against the new mayor of New York.  Spider-Man obviously intervenes and we get some mild action scenes before a cliffhanger that we all know is a fake-out since it is trying to imply JJJ is dead at the hands of the Vulture.  

As you can see, it's pretty paint by numbers.  It's not horribly written, there's no stilted or groan inducing dialogue or scenes, the art is solid throughout and the story moves along at a decent enough pace - it's just did absolutely nothing for me.  I've read this type of story hundreds of times before.  There's nothing new here.  It's just about as safe a story as you can tell and, as I said earlier, ultimately forgettable in every way.  

Verdict - Avoid It.  Forgettable is just about the worst thing I can say about any story driven purchase, whether it be a movie, book or comic.  Inability to engage a reader on any level is a failure to me.  So, while technically sound in both writing and art, I can't recommend this issue on any creative or entertainment level. 

Written by Various
Art by Various

After reading Girl Comics #1, I just want to make it clear to everyone still operating under false assumptions that this is a "comic for girls" that they could not be further from the truth.  It's not all girls talking about their feelings or "girl power" or even a female characters only comic.  It's just an anthology comic featuring an all-female cast of creators telling the stories they want in honour of Women's Month.  Simple as that.  There's no anti-male agenda or any other ridiculous connotations or preconceived notions the title or pre-release press may have implied.  Just many of your favourite creators telling some good stories.

With that hopefully unnecessary explanation out of the way, let's get down to what you really want to know - was it any good and, even at 48 pages, is it worth the $4.99 pricetag? To both question, I'm going to have to say yes, it most certainly was good and is worth the $4.99.  

However, I will concede that many may not be as enamoured as I am with the various styles and different stories found within this anthology.  I imagine some will appeal to one person while others will appeal to someone else.  What will be one person's favourite will be another's least favourite.  Personally, I liked every story in this first issue.  

To me, some were fantastic, like the Punisher short by Valerie d'Orazio and Nikki Cook, some were just plain quirky and funny, like the Doctor Octopus grocery store adventures by Lucy Knisley, and some were just surreal, like the Alice in Wonderland-like prose tale featuring Franklin and Valeria Richards by Robin Furth, Agnes Grabowska and Kristyn Ferretti.  

But, like Strange Tales before it, what I enjoy most about this anthology is the diverse cast of creators, particularly when it comes to the art.  Each new story is a joy to see just for the contrasts in artistic styles and even differing storytelling approaches of each writers.

I'd be remiss if I did not mention any flaws or negatives about this issue, though.  One thing I found odd was Devin Grayson's return to comics in this issue.  The story itself was actually quite enjoyable.  It was more the content of it that I found odd.  You see, it was a story about the relationship between Jean Grey and Scott Summers and the love triangle nature and the stresses Wolverine put on them.  I liked how the story was layed out and it did a good job of outlining how their relationship was, but, well, she's been dead for a while and it was odd seeing it brought up here.  Given the timing, I'd have expected something with Emma Frost or a juxtaposition between the two relationships he's had with Jean previously and now Emma.  It's a relatively minor complaint, but just something that stood out to me with that particular short.  

Verdict - Buy It.  Entertaining read from a collection of talented creators with a diverse range of styles and influences that makes for a fun and engaging read that is sure to have something of note for even the most reluctant reader. 

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Ron Garney

I don't think there's anything I can really say that will make someone pick up this comic that isn't already doing so.  It's disheartening to say that as a reviewer, as I'd like to believe my opinion might hold some weight to someone out there, but I really believe that in regards to Wolverine: Weapon X.  

Over the year's, Wolverine's saturation levels as it pertains to Marvel comics and guest appearances has reached critical levels.  Much like Deadpool's current rise in popularity, it's hard to convince people that any one issue or title is better than the next.  They've decided they want nothing to do with the character and only put up with him in the all too often cases either imposes them on the books they are reading or in random events.  

So, even if they read a million reviews saying Weapon X is one of the best comics on the market or that Jason Aaron and Ron Garney make for the perfect team and boil Wolverine down to that essential quality that made him popular in the first place or even listing off the numerous achievements of the creative team outside of Wolverine stories, those readers aren't going to just magically start reading this or any other Wolverine title.  

I should know, I was one of them up until I casually picked up a copy of Aaron and Garney's Get Mystique! storyline a year or two back.  It pretty much made me a believer in the Church of Aaron and had me buying most anything he's written and I've never regretted it since. 

Take this issue of Wolverine: Weapon X for instance.  It's the start of a new storyline, Tomorrow Dies Today, and reunites Aaron and Garney for another arc on this series.  The bulk of this issue consists of the recently returned from the dead Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, and Wolverine flying around the world to various bars in different time zones and drinking their faces off in an attempt to outdrink their accelerated constitutions - Wolverine's healing factor and Cap's super soldier formula induced metabolism - and to celebrate Cap's return from the dead. 

As befits any drunken night out, there's some guy talk and tough guy feeling moments sprinkled in between bar fights, but it all made for a really good issue.  You rarely see Cap and Wolverine interact and I liked how they played off of each other.  Both are men out of time and seem to find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of tone and character.  Makes for good chemistry and I'm hoping to see more between the two of them throughout this arc.

During this drunken merry making over Cap's return, we get the actual plot for this arc set up.  Deathlok or perhaps I should say Deathloks, as it's revealed at the end of the issue that there are several of them working in unison, are hunting down members of a family line in an attempt to kill them.  The Deathloks are even operating under knowledge of the future, knowing who will marry who and apparently killing them before they can marry or have children.  They reference some having pyschic abilities as well, but I'm not sure how this all relates and did not recognize the names of any of the people being killed.  

However, these people killed off weren't primary targets.  Tying back into the Steve Rogers appearance, the next target for the Deathloks is, dum, dum, dum, you guessed it, Captain America.  The preview for the next issue's cover has Bucky-Cap's costume on the cover, so I assume we'll be seeing Bucky join the fray as well.  Hell, it may be Bucky Barnes that is the target as the Deathloks only refer to him as "Captain America" and do not specify which they are targetting. 

Verdict - Must Read.  My favourite stories are where we get to know the characters or sit on in those quiet or private moments where we see a different aspect of them.  This issue had that in abundance as Wolverine and Cap went for a night on the town.  The added intrigue and mystery of the Deathloks objective make for a promising start to this arc and capped off another great issue of this series.

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Eric Rupe said...

For the record, I would be reading Weapon X if it wasn't $4 for 22 pages of content.

Mike El said...

Alright fine, I'll get it with my pulls tomorrow... stupid Wolverine....

Actually, you had met at Steve and Logan racing through different time zones to hit bars. That sounds entertaining :)

Jonathan M Perez said...

Yeah, Weapon X is phenomenal. I hated the decision to turn his ongoing into "Dark Wolverine" with after the Old Man Logan storyline. Basically, Wolverine: Weapon X is the new Wolverine ongoing, just with a dumb title. I jumped on board with the insane asylum arc, and I thought the one-shot about all of his loves was awesome. And man, does Garney's art kick-ass--his career best stuff. I'm totally going to get the first arc and Get Mystique in trades.

Ivan said...

If a magical being appeared before me and said "which penciler's skills would you like to have?" I'd say "Ron Garney".

Anonymous said...

I must just say you are wrong that no one will pick up Weapon X based on your review. I stopped reading Marvel books a while back around the Civil War era as I just didn't find any of my regulars engaging anymore, and nothing I've flicked through since has convinced me otherwise. But I am more than excited at the prospect that one X-related title is actually worth my hard-earned cash.

brandon said...

Spot on with Wolverine. It's a very good issue and an excellent series.

The Punisher one shot was good. It barely had the Punisher in it as it dealt with a character named Butterfly. Basically she works for the mob and writes a journal of that life. The story moves from scene to scene quickly so you have to stay on your toes. When you consider the writer is basically new to Marvel and fairly inexperienced at writing comics this is an excellent read. The warning is $5 price tag and the limited involvedment with the Punisher. (I think he only has one line of dialogue the whole issue.) I was definitely happy with the purchase though.

BT said...

So Girls Comics is actully good, huh. I guess I'll pick it up.

Kirk Warren said...

@brandon - Interesting. Apparently, she was the writer for the short on Punisher in Girl Comics. Not sure if they are priming her to do more on Punisher or just some coincidence. Might have to check out that one shot now though.

Chris said...

Wow, not with you at all on the Spider-man review, I thought this was a really good issue; way better than last weeks. I also thought they made the New Vulture way more interesting than he was in the first few issues he was in a little ways back. I get what you are saying about it being done before, but I liked the classic "Spider-man has to save Jameson from a villain while Jameson tries to find a way to blame Spidey for the whole thing". I am with you on the cover though, I know its simple enough but its just a really cool cover to look at.

onefinemess said...

The Wolverine story was decent, but I thought him fighting with the civilian was kind of irresponsible writing. Usually when Wolverine fights with "normal" people, they are "bad" people so it's ok that they are probably maimed for life.

Adamantium fist punch to the face = broken skull, brain damage? Not to mention he threw the dude through the window didn't he?

Some of his dialogue felt a bit corny and dated to me as well. The gist of it was good, but the actual text used bugged me for some reason.

Matt Ampersand said...

Man, I can't wait until I get to read that issue of Wolerine: Weapon X, it sounds awesome.

Dickey said...

Seeing as it's women's month around here, I figured I would pop by and mention that Becky Cloonan's art in Demo #2 was stellar. Dark, beautiful b&w artwork that really sets off a neat story. Plus, it's about a cannibal in love so it's a win all around.

El Gostro said...

Too bad you havent got to check the latest issue of the web,was a fun interesting read on the whole sex equality subject...


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