Welcome to Adventures in Poor Taste’s weekly comic review. A typical week might see over 50 book releases, and that’s just the big two over at DC and Marvel. This column serves as a buyer’s guide to those of us holding a single Hamilton and can’t afford to read every single issue.
Each week I’ll read a glut of the good and the bad and post enough reviews to reach the budget of $X. Yes, that’s $10.00 for those of you who aren’t Roman. I’ll also post comics to steer clear from. Sadly a quality comic is few and far between these days, but using this column a diligent reader can still get their comic on.
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi (Dark Horse Comics)
This is the first issue in a 5 part series detailing the events that formed the Jedi 36,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. For you non Star Wars nerds the Battle of Yavin was the battle that occurred at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope. Essentially the first 15 pages in this book are a history lesson in the creation of the Jedi. Unfortunately they are told in a similar style as cliff notes, which leaves a lot of questions, but it gets the job done. Anyone who’s interested in neat details that expand on Star Wars universe should take a look at this book. For example, one detail outlines how Tatooine became a desert planet.
Space pyramids. I guess the creators of this book love the Ancient Aliens TV show.
Growing up I was a Star Wars nut who read Star Wars encyclopedias, and read a few books that expanded the universe, but since entering college all of that was stopped. Probably because girls can’t wrap their heads around a guy being worth dating, and at the same time knowing the names of all of Jabba the Hutt’s minions. I’m not sure if comics have come out that have tapped into this ancient Jedi history, but the comic’s description promises that it, “establishes the beginnings of the Jedi!
Travel advisers say electricity powers are a must when travelling with evil intentions.
Unfortunately the history delivered in the first issue is so spotty and filled with gaps that I can’t help but think this is a poor job at establishing a history of the Jedi, let alone establish my anticipation for the second issue. Spaceship pyramids? There may be an explanation later, but as far as I can tell a white robed, white bearded guy named God sent those things. The relationship between good Jedi and bad Jedi is also one you don’t get a handle on. Even though the book opens with the beginning of the Jedi nothing is explained as far as light sabers being created or how everyone learned their skills. Everything jumps ahead and leaves a lot of head scratching.
Jedis in the past apparently could Force Push with ease.
It is explained more answers are to come, and for a story like this that’s the selling point. Unfortunately the character development is very weak, and for a reader with no prior knowledge it’s going to be tough to get into. The main Jedi villain Xesh is clouded in so much mystery there’s really no chance of forming an opinion on him. He works for a bad man and wants to reveal Jedi secrets. Is he really bad? Who knows. As far as this issue goes it’s a so-so introduction to all things Jedi especially for readers who don’t know every detail ever written about the Jedi.
Budget: $10.00-$0.0 = $10.00
Wolverine #301 (Marvel)
Last issue was great, but it was a whopping $4.99. This week the price is reduced a buck, but the thrills and action are amped up even more. The plot isn’t the most simple, but for a Wolverine story in Japan it couldn’t get any better. Yakuza are fighting ninja assassins who have kidnapped Wolverines daughter. Wolverine and Sabertooth are at each others necks, and Silver Samurai’s son is dating Wolverine’s daughter. Fighting ensues.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t Sabertooth die?” The answer is, “Yes, but he’s cool so shut up.”
The art is split up between 3 artists and while the style change is a tad jarring, every artist pulls their own weight and the book doesn’t drop in quality. You know a comic book is good when you’ve reached a certain page and said to yourself, “oh wow this is satisfying I can’t wait for the next issue.” Then you turn the page and the comic is still going. There were 3 moments in this book that made me say that to myself. The book has it all, enjoyable fight scenes, character development and the plot is always moving forward. Nothing feels like filler and it’s all very interesting.
Yakuza thugs on crotch-rockets armed with chainsaws. Nuff said.
One of my favorite parts didn’t involve fight at all. Logan goes looking for a ninja that will help him. The only one he knows of is in a coma, but of course Logan knows there is no such thing as a ninja in a coma. What ensues is a neat little battle involving two dudes standing with swords and sweating their asses off.
Then Logan used his imagination to beat Galactus in 79 moves.
Jason Aaaron is definitely a hot writer right now. His work on Wonder Woman has revitalized the book and knowing this is his last story on Wolverine for awhile means he’s not pulling any punches. A very enjoyable read from all points of view.
Budget: $10.00-$3.99 = $6.01
Winter Soldier #2 (Marvel)
Winter Soldier #2 starts exactly where the last issue ended. A rampaging, machine gun touting gorilla who can speak Russian is firing on our heroes. Doesn’t get much more awesome than this. Name one type of entertainment that can deliver a guerrilla like this that isn’t a comic book and I’ll call you a liar. Oh, did I mention he has a jet pack?
They said apes couldn’t fly!
Artist Butch Guice does a great job once again, although I would have liked less snow in the opening action sequence. It did give the page a cluttered chaotic nature, but it made it tough to decipher all the killer moves Winter Soldier was making. That said I can’t get his holographic designs enough. They really make the images pop and give a hyper-realistic tone that any espionage flick would die for.
“Once we get an N64 in here, this War Room is really gonna start cracking.
Guice is also nailing the action. Black Widow was always a sultry and sexy character, but he adds to her persona by carrying that sexiness over into her fighting. She’s practically Spider-Man when it comes to her agility, which gives Guice a chance to make her do some gymnast poses before smashing some faces.
She must have seen that movie Bend it Like Beckham… sorry.
Really when it comes to the espionage genre the main thing you should be looking for is the stakes always being raised. Judging by the final panel in this book, the stakes are going up, and are only going to get higher.
Budget: $6.01-$2.99 = $3.02
Peter Panzerfaust (Image)
If you’re a fan of the comic book Green Wake you might pick up this book thinking it’s more of the same from writer Kurtis Wiebe. Think again. This book isn’t dream like, visceral or as inventive as Green Wake. It does do something different, albeit by changing a classic story, so in a way it’s not doing anything all that new. Peter Pan is re-imagined here, only this time Peter is an American during World War 2, who ends up saving a few boys lives who are lost. Lost boys. Insert chuckle.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to this book. Aside from the premise the book appears to have one goal alone. Symbolically connect this story with the classic children’s story. Peter “flies” by jumping between buildings, Peter is looking for Belle, a lost love, oh and when Peter is flung against a wall from a blast you see this,
a mark of his outline, which when you use the powers of deduction you realize it’s supposed to be a connection to Peter Pan’s shadow. At least I think that’s what it’s supposed to signify. The problem is this book is more about the witty ways Wiebe can connect his story with the classic Peter Pan. Instead of being fun and exciting it’s more of a scavengers hunt to find all the connections. Not the best way to spend 3 dollars.
Budget: $3.02-$0.0 = $3.02
Three different comics this week had a lot of potential, and I think they might make the budget another week, but ended up not making the cut. Lets deliver them to Mr. Sinister from the X-Men cartoon in quick succession:
I am really getting sick of the .1 issues Marvel wont’ stop printing. Amazing Spider-Man #679.1, is a good example. If you don’t know, the .1 issues are supposed to signify a great jumping on point for readers who haven’t been keeping up with a series. What ends up happening is a few pages tend to recap the story so far…even though Marvel already does that in every single issue on the first page! This book has its moments, but overall it feels like it’s just refreshing a lot of ideas rather than adding new ones.
The Activity #3 was a decent attempt at a done in one story that spends the majority of the issue explaining how hard it is to mess up in fire fights. The characters wax on and off about war and how it’s a big mistake to begin with, but at the end of the day it’s more preaching then character development. Maybe if it wasn’t so preachy and interspersed more action this would be a worthy buy, but not so here. The art is still great to look at though.
Road Rage #1 is going to be an instant buy for a lot of folks. Do the names Joe Hill and Stephen King ring a bell? This father/son duo take over writing duties on a story about a biker gang who want some revenge. Seems they lost 60k dumping it all in a meth lab that burned down. Now they want to make it right the only way they know how. Ultra violence. Unfortunately they run into a trucker who decides to pick them off. The gore is pretty narly, but the story spins its wheels for nearly 2/3rds of this book while we get to know the plot. These to awesome authors couldn’t fix the pacing issues in this book? It’s only a 4 issue series, so here’s hoping it picks up soon.
Cartoon Sinister kills with as much nostalgia as evilness.
Mondo #1 (Image)
This is an original work written and drawn by Ted McKeever. The book is about a man named Catfish who works at a chicken processing plant. The plant seems to be doing things to the chickens to get more meat out of them. Catfish is bullied by some coworkers, and when he falls into one of the machines he’s given super strength. Okay, so the story isn’t going to win the Pulitzer, but damn ol’ mighty the art is pretty.
The origin of a super chicken-man.
The inking job here is phenomenal, and while much of this book is dark and twisted, McKeever adds just enough humor to make it go down nice and easy.
Now that’s what I call Kung-Fu grip.
Unfortunately Image is charging $4.99 for this book, which is quite a steep price but you do get 33 or so pages. If you have the dough this is worth a purchase. Unfortunately this budget can’t take the hit.
Budget: $3.02-$0.00 = $3.02
Avenging Spider-Man #4 (Marvel)
Zeb Wells is joined with Greg Land in this done in one issue so don’t expect Joe Madureira to continue the art this go around. I suppose it should be expected considering he didn’t draw a comic for years, but Land adequately picks up duties here.
I want me one of those bikes!
This issue is a classic team up issue between Spidey and Hawkeye. Wells sets up a semi-believable plot, Captain America wants the two heroes to investigate some going on’s in NYC, but that’s not the point. The point is to take a dip in the mind of Hawkeye and I have to say it’s a fresh take. Hawkeye consistently can’t help himself when it comes to fighting bad guys. He has to make a mark before Spider-Man can because he’s used to having to prove himself on the Avengers. A team that includes super powered humans and a God when he’s just a measly old human being. It fits nicely with the plot and gives just enough character development to be enjoyable.
Superhero egos is probably a subject that doesn’t get enough attention in comics.
Wells adds some nice quips in the story as well and balances the characters nicely. It all adds up to a nice surprise from the story department, but at the end of the day can that warrant a $3.99 price tag with so many books on the shelves to buy? Unfortunately this week, the answer is no. A good book that’s fresh and interesting, but there are even better books on the shelves this week and a 10 dollar budget can’t warrant a purchase.
Budget: $3.02-$0.00 = $3.02
Batman #6 (DC Comics)
Batman sure can take a beating and keep on ticking. This issue carries over from last issue when in the last panel Batman was completely stabbed through the stomach. This issue carries on the brutality. Part of me hates it when heroes can be beaten so badly they’re practically confetti by books end. But I suppose it works here, especially in this story where the Court of Owls is trying to break him down, it works well enough to show how resilient Batman can be if indeed that is the point.
Truly brutal drawings here.
Writer Scott Snyder can really craft an evil enemy. The Court of Owls is filled with maniacs of all ages, and apparently they have enough bad guys to throw at Batman that it doesn’t seem to phase them when they lose a few soldiers. If anything gave reason for there to be a Batman Incorporated this issue proves there’s a need.
It’s like a hospital operation observatory, only with evil owl nightmare maniacs.
Greg Capullo really outdoes himself here. Each punch feels like it comes from an insane place. It might be the eyes, or maybe the blood splatter, but it definitely feels like things devolve into a emotional disorder by the time Batman takes charge and beats some asses.
When Batman finally takes the upper hand he’s drawn more like a vicious bat than a human. The connection between bats versus owls is made visually which helps connect this new villain to the Batman mythos.
Rise of the Bat.
Hopefully Snyder stays on this book a long while because he’s definitely adding a new layer to Batman in the last place most end up adding to, the villains. Typically writers play around with his gallery of villains, but it’s pretty clear Snyder doesn’t want to just play. He wants to build something. Definitely worth a look.