Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Thursday, September 28, 2006

So - how is DC's 52 shaping up? (spoilers)

Well, DC's foray into a weekly non-anthology series hit issue #21 this week. From a scheduling standpoint, this is amazing - especially in an industry that is (in)famous for comics coming in months late (I think I saw a copy of Ultimates 2 #12 in the store this week as well. Issue 13 will be out in mid 2007 at this rate), DC deserves serious kudos for keeping this series on track and on-time.

But it adds up to very little. There is only one seriously intriguing mystery: What's up with Skeets and why is he evil? The other mysteries make little sense, and the Ra;[h Dibny/Elongated Man storyline seems rather pointless.

The Lobo/Starfire story arc has the potential to be fun, but so far it seems to exist merely to give us "peek-a-boo" T&A shots of Starfire. Lobo as interstellar Pope should have been more fun, but instead it seems rushed and unnecessary.

Luthor's dastardly plot seems to have potential, but given that the rest of the comics in DC's line-up are "one year later" there's no suspense as to what happens to Luthor.

All in all, it seems more of a marketing gimmick than a serious attempt at a series. Plus, the Question isn't on panel enough.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blade #1

Well, Marvel is trying once again to capitalize on a character that is a media icon. After the moderately successful movies and Spike TV series, this Blade comic feels not only inevitable, but late as well (why release it AFTER the series is over?).

And as with any other hot Marvel property, there is an attempt to make it more "user friendly" by melding the comic universe character with the TV or film version (we had a Betsy Ross who got plastic surgery and looked a lot like Jennifer Connley, a Spider-man with Organic Web Shooters and X-Men with Black Leather Outfits). In the comics universe, Blade wasn't half-vampire (just immune to vampire bites) and didn't have any bloodthirst or special powers (at least not until the 90s when he got bit by Morbius and gained some powers). This series, which is explicitly set in the current Marvel Universe, decides to ignore all that and go the route of the TV series: Blade was born half-vampire, thirsts for blood and had a parental figure feed him blood as a child to sate his thirst.

I liked Blade the TV series: it wasn't great, but it was entertaining. However, I also like Blade the comic character for entirely different reasons: And now we have something neither fish nor fowl. It gets rid of the comic Blade's uniqueness, yet still keeps him distinct enough from other versions to cause confusion for the newbie and the seasoned comic fan.

Well, I'll give the series a few more issues. This first issue moves a nice quick pace and ended on an interesting note. Only time will tell if these retcons stick or get explained away.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Beowulf #1

Wait - didn't I review this comic way back when? Nope.

Heading into the comic store this week, I encountered a pleasant surprise in my pull box: Antarctic Press' manga-ized version of Beowulf. Apparently, the title "Beowulf" was still listed on my subscription list, so the comic stores guys ordered this, even though it was the Speakeasy comics version I had in mind (too bad about that company - they produced some quality comics, even if their Beowulf had a severe drop in quality when the creative team changed).

This one billed itself as a "manga" version (though it is in standard comic book format) of the original legend, so I figured I'd give it a try.

As Napolean Dynamite might say: Freakin' awesome.

It follows the original tale very, very closely (though it skips over things like long drinking parties and boasting competitions), even though the setting has changed into the futuristic wasteland often found in anime. I don't want to give away too much, because a lot of the fun is seeing how naturally the changes made in this adaptation fit the story.

Go get a copy of this now - this series deserves to be a best seller.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Superman Returns non-review

Finally got around to seeing Superman Returns. Rather than review it (there are plenty of those on the net already), I'll just give my random thoughts, which may be a.) profound, b.)obvious, c.) too idiotic to merit serious consideration, or d.) all of the above.

1. Okay - I get it. Superman is Christ (or something). If any of my literature students try to write a paper on this, I'll tell them to do something that isn't as obvious, such as the connection between Joseph Campbell and Star Wars.

And the movie reminded me of that symbolism every few minutes. It was almost like the director was using the techniques of propaganda instead of dramatic fiction.

2. Anyone catch that basically the kid is now in a very non-standard family? Two dads and a mom? The picture he drew at the end shows the kid even thinks of it that way. I'm not claiming that this is part of the director's agenda to destroy the family or change the definition of marriage (though I'm surprised the 700 Club hasn't done an attack on the film for that reason). It was just an interesting point. I am glad they didn't make Lois' boyfriend a cad - making him a decent guy was a very smart thing to do.

3. Did Lex Luthor's plan make sense to anyone?

4. Parker Posey/Kitty was fun to watch, and Kevin Spacey/Luthor did a good job (so did whoever played Jimmy Olson). Other than that, the main actors were a bore. And what's up with Lois looking like she's 15?

5. I can't really say I enjoyed the movie. It moved too slowly, made little sense and I felt like I had been preached to for over two hours. On the other hand, I did come away impressed by the visuals.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Summer Comics

So, I just finished reading through my stack of summer comics, and here are some thoughts:

1. Planet Hulk is the best storyline in comics right now. Totally unpretentious - it doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is: Hulk fighting a whole lot. It's as sophisticated as a buddy movie, but it works.

2. Marvel's Civil War is way too pretentious. The main series plays it (mostly) straight down the middle, but spin offs like Civil War Frontline make it rather clear the whole series is really about the evils of the current American Government (and they aren't subtle about it - the short but well-done piece on Japanese internment camps was about as subtle as a pitchfork up the nose).

3. Spider-Man revealing his secret identity: The gutsiest move ever made in comics. Killing off Superman was a cheap publicity stunt: Everyone knew he would be back. Killing off Spider-Man would have the same reaction. But the reveal of the secret identity? Now that is serious status quo shakeup. I don't like it, but now that they've done it, I hope Marvel has the guts to stick with it. Having a mystical memory wipe a la the Flash would be a cheesy cop out.

4. The new Battlestar Galactica comic has horrid art and a barely comprehensible storyline.

5. Peter David's Fallen Angel at IDW comics is, hands down, the best comic he has ever written. (Fair Warning: it's "mature readers" with some nudity and language). It's incredibly cynical, but I find myself enjoying it far more than any other comic currently on the market - except for Fables, which is the best comic Vertigo/DC produces.

6. Marvel's Exiles remains a nice guilty pleasure. I generally can't stand mutant books, but this one manages to be very fun and avoid all the mutant angst usually found in the X books. Plus, the latest issues make fun of Wolverine's overexposure by giving us more Wolverines in story arc than you could have thought possible. (best scene: 14 Wolverines and they all say "Bub.")

7. The new Moon Knight comic outs Frenchie, in a totally unnecessary scene that basically says anytime two men are really good friends, one of them is gay and in love with the other one. Whatever. Instead of outing old characters, I think it would be better to create newer ones that happen to be gay. The scene in Moon Knight took up too much space, made little sense given Frenchie's history, and attempts to justify it by (in essence) declaring that heterosexual men can never be really, really devoted friends. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm Back!

Back where there are comics to be bought. I just spent a whole lot of money (that I had saved up over the summer) on the comics I missed.

New posts and reviews of summer highlights and new comics start tomorrow. See you then!