Saturday, April 22, 2006

COMICS: Quick Comics Reviews!

Yeah, I know, not much posting lately. Mucho work projects, including a fairly top-to-bottom redesign of the paper we're premiering Sunday. And I've got a cold. Achoo. Anyway, a couple quick comics reviews to prove I'm still worthy of being listed on the Comics Blogotron™ Listing Service

Image hosting by PhotobucketIdentity Crisis #6 (of 7) – Wish this didn't all feel so much like work. DC's latest universes-spanning crossover ought to be better than it is. It's got a lot of debts to the 1980s "Crisis on Infinite Earths," but little of that project's heart. Both projects boast a cast of zillions, dozens of tie-ins and spectacles like entire Earths being crushed together in the cosmos – yet "Infinite Crisis" lacks' the old "Crisis" series' grandeur. It feels hastily plotted, with too many tangents, no clear goals, and no moral beyond "heroes used to be better citizens" than they are. It constantly deflates its own argument with such overwrought characters as a retro Superboy who wants to bring back "good heroes" yet turns into a psychopathic killer himself. You need a flow chart to follow this series, the most new reader-unfriendly comics event in years. (As someone who's been reading comics for 24 years, I still got lost in a few parts.) In addition, the art, which started off nicely, has devolved into a hash of rushed fill-in guest artists and sloppy inking. There's still nice moments – Batman acting like a human being again instead of a total lunatic, the geeky thrill of dozens of brightly clad heroes gathered together – but little real heart. It imitates the original "Crisis" without pushing anything in new directions. The final scenes of this issue are a blatant attempt to evoke the death of Supergirl in 1986 – and it's as synthetic as a photocopy. Grade: C

The Thing #5 – Best new comic Marvel's put out in years, featuring a delightfully old-school charm thanks to writer Dan Slott ("She Hulk," "GLA"). It's got that '80s "Marvel Two-In-One" vibe combined with a bit of John Byrne's "Fantastic Four" run, and fine detailed art by Andrea DeVito. Funny, densely plotted (a real pleasure in the age of $3 comics that take two minutes to read) and big-hearted, this issue takes ol' Ben Grimm back to the Yancy Street neighborhood and shows you never quite outgrow your past. How good is this comic? Good enough nobody's apparently reading it and it looks to be cancelled with #8. Well, fudge. Buy it while you can. Grade: A-

Moon Knight #1 – Everybody likes Moon Knight because he looks cool and he's Marvel's version of Batman, only crazy. But nobody really buys Moon Knight comics (he's much like Ghost Rider in this regard). The best of them were a brief spell back in the '80s. Here's another try to rejuvenate the franchise, with writer Charlie Huston and artist David Finch. Surprisingly, it's not terrible, even if the first issue has a plot you could write on a Post-It Note and leave room left over for grocery lists. Mostly about mood and tone, this issue sets up Moon Knight as a lean, mean avenger who's suffered some kind of mysterious total breakdown. Little else, but it's well done of its kind – David Finch's grimace-heavy art doesn't appeal to all, but it reminds me of a young Barry Windsor-Smith and is passionate, moodily colored and works well here. It's all set-up, but enough to make me come back and see if following issues deliver a story worth reading. Grade: B

Image hosting by PhotobucketMarvel Zombies #5 (of 5) РThis sleeper hit miniseries is a gory, guilty pleasure that takes the hoary "let's imagine our heroes in an alternate universe" clich̩ and breathes new Рwell, undead Рlife into it. It's a world where the heroes were all infected by a zombie plague, becoming immensely powerful flesh-eating terrors. It's a ridiculously goofy idea, but damn if this wasn't some of the most fun I've had reading comics in months. Writer Robert Kirkman, who also does the Image Comics zombie road-trip series "The Walking Dead," tweaks all our superhero ideals into twisted, hilarious distortions. Spider-Man eats his Aunt May, but he feels really bad about it; Iron Man may be ripped in half, but he's still hungry. This series just kept topping itself with the gruesome humor, and the final issue delivers a suitably twisted "Twilight Zone"-esque finale. (And some more great one-liners Р"Hulk eat Rhino's head. Head not so good. Hulk regret it.") Much better than it sounded like it would be, and by far the best zombie superhero series ever. Bonus points for the excellent covers parodying famous comic covers, only with zombies. Because zombies make anything better.Grade: A

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