Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goodreads Review: Peter Parker Spider-Man Volume 4

Peter Parker Spider-Man Vol. 4: Trials and Tribulations Peter Parker Spider-Man Vol. 4: Trials and Tribulations by Paul Jenkins

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Honestly, this book would generally rate three stars from me, maybe even four stars for the fun Vulture vs. Spider-Man in the snow outing or the story where Aunt May talks to Peter about his life as Spider-Man, now that she knows the truth.

But what makes this a five-star book is the story "Heroes Don't Cry" about a young boy named LaFronce and his (imaginary) relationship with Spider-Man, which is by turns funny, heart-breaking and uplifting and is probably my favorite thing that Paul Jenkins has ever written. It is also among my top five Spider-Man stories ever.

View all my reviews.

My original review of "Heroes Don't Cry" from Fourth Rail

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weekly Comics - April 29, 2009

Green Lantern #40 (Some good moments, some not-so-good moments... so far the Orange Lantern concept isn't as interesting as the Red Lanterns or the Sinestro Corps, and I much prefer Ivan Reis to Philip Tan)

Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #2 (Loved the first issue... went into skim mode on this one and never fully left it. Wyatt Cenac's awesome on The Daily Show, but his Luke Cage story was meh, Galactus' daughter was a disappointment from the usually-outstanding Adam Warren and Elsa Bloodstone is as annoying here as I found her in Nextwave. Which means one of these three will probably win the online poll instead of D-Man or American Eagle from the last one)

Muppet Show #2 (Fun... not as much of a blast as the first issue, but possibly only because I didn't know what to expect from the first issue. Also, unrelated note: Where's Incredibles #2? That book has great momentum, it doesn't need to lose it to lateness and it would have been nice to have #2 (and the reprint of #1) for Free Comic Book Day too)

Nova #24 (Suki is, to put it mildly, a bit of a cliche, which makes her less interesting than the Kree woman who took over for Nova in a similar role, but seeing the Nova Corps just spanked by the Imperial Guard was interesting... the story of rogue Worldmind is seeming a little long, but it's still got enough there to interest me)

RASL #4 (I know I'm going to love this book even more when it's collected and I can read the whole thing, but I'm really loving it right now already)

Sherlock Holmes #1 (Not bad. On the same level as the Man With No Name and Lone Ranger comics from Dynamite)

Uncanny X-Men #509 (Lots of cool moments, Proposition X is of course timely (and if Fraction is to be believed, coincidentally tied into Prop 8), nice to see the science team at least *mention* Forge, and I like Fraction's take on Northstar so far)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weekly Comics - April 22, 2009

Buck Rogers #0 (Nice art, solid enough sci-fi action, occasionally cliched dialogue but an interesting enough start)

Detective Comics #853 (After a two-week wait, this probably would have been a pretty solid little story. After two months, it can't help but feel a little small, and a little disappointing. It's good, and I'm glad I read it, but I don't see myself buying the hardcover)

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 (Great tie-in to War of Kings, love the expanded team)

Incredible Hercules #128 (All-out superbrawl with the Dark Avengers, the Greek Gods and our heroes... fun!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Goodreads Review: Wondermark Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death

Wondermark: Clever Tricks To Stave Off Death Wondermark: Clever Tricks To Stave Off Death by David Malki

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm tempted to invoke TV critic Alan Sepinall's use of "dayenu" for this book, but as a non-Jew, I don't think I get to do it. So instead I'll go for the gentile version, which is to say that the book is fantastic on many levels, and would have been great even without the extra tidbits.

At it's most basic, Wondermark is a blend of Victorian visual sensibilities and modern-day/postmodern Internet humor, and instead of being jarring, it's hysterical. Malki has a sense of humor that is clever, insightful and just the right amount of bizarre. The strips made me laugh out loud more than once.

And each strip has several layers of gags. In addition to the strip itself, there's a title, an ad-on to the strip's link (rest easy at WONDERMARK!) and a bit of commentary at the bottom from Malki.

Even better, though, is that Malki has carried over this unusual sense of humor to the design of the book. The conceit that it is designed as a Victorian manual of health is evident throughout, from the picture of maladies that opens the thing to the "Malady Matrix" full of hilarious non sequiturs on each page that culminates in a gag explaining them all on the closing pages. Even little details, like the index or the notes explaining context, are done mostly for humorous value.

This is a fun book with an amazing design. I hope Dark Horse and Malki do several more just like it.

View all my reviews.

Added to Blogroll: Superhero Haikus

I hope they don't get tired of doing these haiku summaries of Amazing Spider-Man (and maybe others, in the future?) because I'll never get tired of reading them.

Superhero Haiku

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goodreads Review: Green Lantern Origins HC

Green Lantern, Book 6: Secret Origin Green Lantern, Book 6: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have to admit, I didn't really think Hal Jordan's origin, and his relationships with Abin Sur, Carol Ferris and Sinestro needed revisiting again. Especially with all the momentum Geoff Johns has been building towards "In Blackest Night."

But I was wrong. While re-tracing a few steps of Hal's rise from test pilot to Green Lantern, Johns introduces backstory elements that reinforce his take on Hector Hammond, Sinestro, Black Hand and indeed the Green Lantern mythos as a whole. By going back to Hal's roots, he can plant seeds that will come to fruition in "In Blackest Night," thus looking like it's the culmination of a decades-long plan rather than an invention in the last few years.

Is this "ret-conning?" Well, yes. But it's done fairly artfully, and given that DC's continuity is so open to re-interpretation and even outright erasure, it doesn't particularly bother me. Johns puts some deeper levels of characterization in here, building on what we've known about the characters but tweaking it so that it all feels like one big mythos, rather than what it is, which is the result of dozens if not hundreds of writers introducing their ideas, sometimes clunkily, to form a big tapestry of Green Lantern's mythos.

Ivan Reis's artwork is spectacularly good, reminiscent of Carlos Pacheco and JG Jones, and he does particularly exceptional work on all the spaceships, airplanes, alien landscapes and human hangars that dot the story.

This book also introduces the backstory of Atrocitus, my vote for most on-the-nose-yet-awesomely-named bad guy ever, and it's a nice tie-in to the Guardians' folly with the Manhunters, as well as to Alan Moore's famous Green Lantern story about the planet of demons who wound up putting Abin Sur in a spaceship.

If all retcons were like this, the word wouldn't have such a bad rep.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weekly Comics - April 15, 2009

Captain America #49 (Sharon Carter spotlight - heartbreaking, fantastic work by Brubaker, Ross and company)

G.I. Joe Cobra #2 (Easily the best of the IDW G.I. Joe books, reminiscent of Brubaker's undercover genre stuff)

Green Lantern Corps #35 (Crazy chaos on Oa - not as good as the rest of the Green Lantern stuff, but still a nice tie-in to the Blackest Night lead-up)

Incognito #3 (More of the same darkly funny, darkly violent crime/supervillain genius from Brubaker and Phillips)

Secret Invasion Aftermath Beta Ray Bill: The Garden of Eden (Great one-shot with Beta Ray Bill as a prophet/space god to a cult of aliens, with really great pencil art by Dan Brereton that recalls Simonson's work in all the right ways - can't wait for Godhunter)

Uncanny X-Men #508 (Really? We're doing Kwannon again? Crazy complex, and the Greg Land every-woman-looks-alike thing isn't helping a ton either - I like the characters, I like the general vibe of Fraction's stuff, but there are some specific issues that keep me from fully enjoying it)

Walking Dead #60 (As always, dark as hell, but completely involving. I'm not sure how I can love these characters so much and yet also enjoy watching Kirkman and Adlard torture them for issues at a time)

X-Men Legacy #223 (Not wild about the past that's been given to Xavier, but Carey does a nice job with the redemption side of it, and does some nice work on Gambit, Rogue and his new Shi'ar pirates)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Down the Line Returns - April 2009

Welcome to Down the Line, our monthly look at Previews! Each month we look at what’s coming out in comics (and manga) a few months down the road. This installment covers the April Previews for comics due to ship out June 2009 or later.

We're making a few changes this month, and we'll probably keep tinkering with the format as time goes on. First and foremost, Randy is back to write the column, and he's brought along a new co-writer, Jason Murphy, who writes movie reviews and podcasts about comics over at

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Weekly Comics - April 8, 2009

The theme this week is disappointment. Four new number ones, all of them less than I'd hope for, although BPRD never disappoints, at least.

All-New Savage She-Hulk #1 (Well, it's different, that's for sure... it's a goofy concept played straight, and not as impressive as Van Lente's work in places like Scorpion or Incredible Hercules, but a few glimmers of potential, plus Van Lente's track record, means I'll give issue two a shot)

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2 (Weirdly, the least disappointing Marvel/DC book I read this week. Maybe it's lower expectations, but Daniels is doing pretty good pot-boiler comics here, reminiscent of Chuck Dixon's work in the '90s. Just hope, and assume, that the cliffhanger is a fakeout, otherwise it's a waste of a really good character)

BPRD The Black Goddess #4 (Holy crap, but this book is awesome. Big giant apocalyptic battles on one-third, backstory on another, and a cool Johan solo story on the other)

Exiles #1 (A bit disappointing. A retread of the first issue of Winick's run in a lot of ways, with less instantly likable characters, and Espin's art is weak and uneven compared to his work on Incredible Herc.)

Green Lantern #39 (Solid opener to the Agent Orange story, but a bit of a letdown after the great Rage of the Red Lanterns arc)

Marvel Zombies 4 #1 (Pretty solid opener, although without Machine Man, it's not quite as much fun as the last one)

Superman: World of New Krypton #2 (It's not bad, but the intricacies of New Krypton are all a little bit goofy, and yet played so seriously)

War of Kings: Ascension #1 (Abnett & Lanning team up to give Darkhawk an upgrade... or maybe more than that. Intriguing, not as good as their Nova work, but intriguing)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Weekly Comics - April 1, 2009

Agents of Atlas #3 (Best issue of the new series thus far, bummer that the cover reveals the last page cliffhanger)

Cars The Rookie #1 (A fun look at the early days of Lightning McQueen and Mack)

G.I. Joe #4 (Weakest issue of the relaunch yet, as blond-haired young goofy Scottish accent Destro is a terrible incarnation of the character, but the stuff in the Pit was still fun, and made use of some nice obscure Joe characters)

Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #1 (Nothing against current Marvel editorial, but can we put these guys in charge? D-Man, American Eagle and Hawkeye star in good, great and decent stories respectively... seriously, I'd read an American Eagle series in that style in a heartbeat)

New Avengers: Reunion #1 (I'd much rather he was Hawkeye than *ugh* Ronin, but it's fun seeing Clint Barton and Mockingbird together again, and I like the idea of her running a freelance, benevolent spy network)

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 (Wow, that didn't make a lot of sense. But in a good way.)

War of Kings #2 (Fantastic, galactic level epic stuff with some nice characterization of the Inhumans and the new Starjammers. I still hate Vulcan, but he's a good one-note villain who I hope dies in the course of all this. Excellent as usual from Abnett & Lanning on Marvel's space stuff, and beautiful art by Pelletier and Magyar)

X-Men First Class Finals #3 (Not as good as issue two, about on par with issue one, I'm liking most of the stuff about post-graduate X-Men but the actual action isn't clicking with me as much)