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.
The Cape #4 of 4 (IDW)
I reviewed the previous issue a few months ago, in which the main character threw a plane into the Zakim bridge in Boston. This issue doesn’t have quite as dramatic splash pages, but the book is filled with nice brotherly melodrama.
Joe Hill, horror novelist and son of Stephen King pens this book, and he’s infusing a lot of dread in its pages. In my previous review I suggested this is more of a trade paperback read than a single issue read, as each issue is paced expecting the reader to have followed along. The plot is a simple one though, as Eric has powers, and is using them to kill all of his family members. With two down and one to go this book opens with a flashback that explains a little bit about the character.
This book really feels like a love letter to Boston.
Without reading issue 1 or 2 I still found this book exciting and interesting to read. Artist Zach Howard really blocks each panel very well increasing the drama of the superb dialogue. It’s clear Eric has some sort of mental illness, and while the book doesn’t delve too deeply on his mental state, the pages convey the fear of speaking to and dealing with someone so unhinged.
Sometimes the crazy just adds up.
At $3.99 this is a pricey book, especially considering the trade will only be six to 10 dollars more and you’ll get the first three issues too. The book was definitely a joy to read though, so if you have the cash check this book out. On a 10 dollar budget though, we can’t spare the change.
Budget: $10.00-$0.00 = $10.00
FF #15 (Marvel)
I wanted to dislike this book so badly. My anguish started with disliking the last few issues of this comic, moved onto the art not looking as previous issues, and if you’ve read Fantastic Four #627 you already know how this book ends. But Jonathan Hickman adds enough flavor, humor and thrill to an otherwise transition issue to make this a purchase.
This silly banter, while nonsensical, I find hilarious. And you should too!
Later, when the Moloids are being taught a lesson Hickman gets a few good jokes in.
No more pooping on the floor! Here here!
This issue also captures the beauty of rambunctious kids. I’m not a big fan of the Power Pack, but they’re used here in funny interesting ways, more so to show off their powers and personality than actually effect the plot, but it works.
We love each other so much we like to give kinetic energy in the form of fist to face.
As I was reading I kept saying to myself, “I already know how this ends, how could I care?” Nick Dragotta really adds character to each panel, and while his art isn’t as technically beautiful as Juan Bobillo, he does a great job here. Some of the smallest panels are quite exciting to look at. For instance, one panel, taking up about 1 inch by 1 inch real estate on the page, looks like this:
Not bad. Then later, when Valeria is getting sick of all the hand to hand combat she uses her wits to stop all the bad guys by blowing out their masks using some technology.
Brought to you by the letter E.
This book is a testament to why comics should never suck.This is clearly a transition issue to the big finale, yet it’s still a fun and exciting read. I disliked the last two issues, but if the prelude to the finale is this good I can’t wait to see how this story ends.
Budget: $10.00-$2.99 = $7.01
Astonishing X-Men #47 (Marvel)
Coming in completely cold, it’s easy enough to figure out what’s going on. To a point. Cyclops is in some alternate dimension and a bad guy named Savior, cute name, is using mutants from alternate realities to power his planet. If he runs out of mutants the planet will “split into pieces and fall into the sun.” Silly as it sounds the book is filled with lots of melodrama that should tide over most X-Men fans.
You tell me who the real “savior” is in this book. Ugh.
Unfortunately I found most of the melodrama schlocky and silly. The dialogue between characters is also very stilted. I kept asking myself, “do people talk like this?” When characters are shouting at each other to drive the plot, or speaking out loud what they need to do there’s a problem.
No seriously what? I can’t hear.
When the book brings in the idea that Cyclops is the real savior and he’s an aberration similar to what Neo was in The Matrix Revolutions you’ll start rolling your eyes like crazy. Plus the book ends with some stuffy and phony emotional attempting to pull on heart strings. Written for an older audience this book could work, but it’s easy to see through the story.
Budget: $7.01-$0.00 = $7.01
Three different comics this week had a lot of potential, and might fit in a bigger budget, but ended up not making the cut. Lets deliver them to Loki in quick succession:
Green Wake #10,suffers from being cancelled earlier than expected. Characters openly spout explanations for everything be it their position in the world, green wake itself or intentions. It’s really too bad because this book was fascinating and pretty to look at. It’s a rush job, and at the end of the day not the best single issue read. Unless you love cliff notes. Hopefully the artist and writer find some new books to work on as they are very unique.
I wanted to like Amazing Spider-Man #680 but there just wasn’t enough bang for your buck this go around. This issue sets Spider-Man rushing to space to save J. Jonah Jamison’s son. He rushes to the Fantastic Four and teams up with the Human Torch. The banter is at times hilarious, self reflective of how silly death in comics is and brings back the old duo quite well. There’s also a development that’s building towards the impending Sinister Six storyline which also gives me pause to purchase this issue. It takes a little to long to set up the story though, which is lost pages as it’s a little boring. At $3.99 our budget can’t take the hit.
Infestation 2: Team Up #1 is a slightly hilarious endeavor by IDW to poke fun at big comic book events. This book pits a cliched looking alien with the bat boy from the classic Enquirer publication. They are attacked by the infestation demon monster, but end up in a bar wallowing in alcohol. They make reference to DC, Marvel and even the current infestation event. It’s all in good fun, but makes the point that a lot of comic nerds like myself make; with so many events nothing matters anymore, and with event after event it all becomes a milaise of boredom.This is a nice read, but at $3.99 it’s much too steep for only some commentary on the state of comics.
Clearly Loki is bored with these books.
Justice League #6 (DC Comics)
After quite a few ho-hum issues Justice League actually pulls out some exciting moments, genuine team based plot elements and a nice backup issue that reveals information on Pandora. Who’s Pandora? Oh, just the mysterious woman that was popping up in a bunch of issues when DC rebooted all their books. She seems to be the reason the reboot happened to begin with. She’ll be appearing in the next issue as this story arc finally wraps up here. That being said, one thing this book has in droves is splash pages.
Bulls-eye! Get it!?
Darkseid was revealed last issue and in the new reboot seems to be gigantic. He used to be about 8 feet tall, but now he’s about 15 feet tall and huge. He doesn’t seem to be as powerful though, as the heroes deal him damage pretty easily here. For the most part this issue is a battle, but it also opens up some story elements for Superman, gives flashes of the team chemistry and does a decent enough job showing how the world perceives this new super team.
I understand it’s a truth lasso, but how do you answer whilst being choked by it?
It’s pretty clear Jim Lee had a lot of help this issue. The first two issues were very clean and would have sold those books if a toddler wrote them, but there’s a lot more sketchy pencils this go around. Carlos D’Anda does an impeccable job though, and nothing seems rushed. And with splash pages like this:
…nobody should be complaining. Above all else this book saves the rocky nature of this story arc and makes me want to pick up the issue. Some interesting character dynamics were built up in the final pages, and the perception of the team in the greater world is a fascinating one. Hopefully the book will pick up the pace though. Even though it’s only been 6 issues I feel like this story has been going on for over a year.
Budget: $7.01-$3.99 = $3.02
King Conan #2 of 4 (Dark Horse Comics)
The Phoenix on the Sword
If you’re familiar with Kurt Busiek’s run on Conan you’re going to love this book. If you’re not familiar with Kurt Busiek’s run…shame on you. Those are some of the best fantasy comics I’ve ever read, filled with monsters, boobies and exciting Conan action. Sadly Busiek left the book and Timothy Truman took over. He did okay, and overall I can’t say it’s fair for a writer to follow such an amazing run Busiek did on Conan. Truman takes the reigns with this new series explaining the backstory of a reoccurring character in Busiek’s run, and it’s quite an interesting story indeed.
Note to self: ensure proper dramatic lighting when I enter my evil bad guy phase.
Tomas Giorello is on pencils here and he’s doing a bang up job to say the least. His style is reminiscent of an older time in comics, which suits Conan perfectly, when it wasn’t about rippling bodies and boring backgrounds. Here everything is expertly done as if you were in a museum. It gives the book a very aged feel as if it were a history you were reading instead of just a comic.
Gratuitous boob shot? Check.
Half of the book is about Thoth-Amon and his history. In Busiek’s run in Conan Thoth-Amon was a needling controlling figure who would tell rulers what to do, whilst also telling old stories about the item Conan was after or describing what lies ahead for Conan. To read his own story is fascinating and fleshes out the character which actually adds to the Busiek Conan comics I love.
Gratuitous Conan with his shirt off shot? Check.
I didn’t read the first issue, but I didn’t feel lost and in fact this issue felt as if it were the first issue. This of course might be because I’m familiar with the character of Thoth-Amon, but anyone unfamiliar shouldn’t have too much trouble. The best part of this issue though is the wonder and fantasy imbued with each passing page. It definitely takes the reader to a different world that needs to be explored.
See the wonder!
I have to say Truman is definitely doing a better job from when I last read his Conan stories with the Conan Volume 5 trade paperback. That was printed back in 2008, so it’s been a long drought between Truman and I. True, I’ve only read a single issue, but based on the way it reads I can’t wait for the next issue.
Budget: $3.02-$2.99 = $.03
This was a great week for comics, especially with so few flagship titles hitting the stands. Justice League didn’t disappoint for once, and even the books I couldn’t recommend buying were at least worth reading. Next week features some choice books that tend to be great, such as Winter Soldier #3, Wolverine #302, Defenders #4, Swamp Thing #7 and Animal Man #7.