Tuesday, June 6, 2006

COMICS: Quick Comics Reviews!

A handful of ramblings on comics I've been reading lately....
52 #1-4
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnother month, another "event comic" begins. 52 is actually a kind of neat idea, a weekly 52-part series spanning the entire DC Universe in the "lost year" between the recently concluded mishmash of "Infinite Crisis" and the "present day." Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, the "big three," are all out of the picture here, so the series focuses on lesser lights like Steel, Booster Gold, The Question, Elongated Man and more, with a fistful of overlapping serial stories being told dealing with a world without the big heroes. So far, it's actually a pretty entertaining read, with contributions by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka and steady art by Joe Bennett. The serial nature of the stories means that if you don't much like one tangent, there's several more to dig into. The story of Black Adam, a former villain who's become much more interesting as a character than his nemesis (Captain Marvel) ever was, is pretty good, as is Booster Gold, a hero who's not afraid of selling out. As always, Grant Morrison's contributions leap out from the rest of the pack. The question, though, is whether it will all add up to anything. Two of DC's "event" stories in a row have fizzled out for me at the end – both "Identity Crisis" and "Infinite Crisis" started off well, but ended with a whimper. And 52 issues is a lot to commit to as a reader. That said, this is entertaining superhero comix. Geez, tho, the DC Universe is a violent place lately – what's with the splatter gore of seeing a character torn in two on panel? "Infinite Crisis" boasted a lot of off-putting dismemberments as well. It's like "Friday the 13th" in spandex lately. A little restraint would've gotten the same idea across in a slightly less excessive fashion. Grade: B

Ultimate Fantastic Four #30
I've been enjoying Ultimate Fantastic Four lately as a kind of high-octane, low-calories version of the "real" FF. Writer Mark Millar is revving along with the big explosions, big ideas plots and artist Greg Land, while his photorealistic art is sometimes a little stiff, does have a gorgeous slickness to his style. However, this issue isn't quite as cool as I'd hoped – part one of "Frightful," a story that holds a fun premise in teaming up the "Ultimate" Dr. Doom and the zombie version of the Fantastic Four that crept through the pages a few issues ago. But very little really happens in this issue other than set-up: Johnny Storm's got a nasty disease, evil plots are in motion, etc. I expect a three-part story to have a little more meat in part one than this; good, but not a smash hit start. You've got zombies, Doom and more, why not mix it up right from the start? Grade: B-

Books of Doom #1-6
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As an old-school "Fantastic Four" fan and a big admirer of the evil menace of Dr. Doom, I figured I'd check this miniseries out, which retells his origin with new details. Writer Ed Brubaker puts a nice spin on the tale of Doom, from gypsy outcast to scientific genius to lord of a nation. He's got a lot more space to breathe than the old Stan Lee tales do, and gives Doom plenty of humanity as the world and his own hubris warps him. It's not essential reading, and it doesn't quite change the readers' impression of Doom, but it is a tale well told. Pablo Raimondi's art is dynamic and clean, if occasionally a little stiff. The kinda banal "twist" ending at the end of this issue I could've done without, but overall, a pretty solid tale for fans of the good (well, bad) doctor. Grade: B+

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