Friday, February 24, 2006

Imparticular particulars

I am honestly not sure what I am going to write about here. Especially not at four-thirty in the morning. I suppose I could have waited until later today when I (hopefully) get my shipment of comics, and discuss the newest issue of Daredevil. I mean it has a new writer, new artist... supposed to be a great issue, but I am probably not going to do that. And indeed, there are no doubt other great comics coming as well.

I could talk about my day at work yesterday, or various other things going on in my life. The desire is just not there. There's new video games, movies... even novels, all of which I could talk about. Probably with a fair amount of passion, but I kind of feel like I want something different for this blog, or probably more correctly no blog at all. It just seems misplaced... floating around here in cyberspace stagnant.

Ah well, I will figure something out. And in the meantime, I have all that great stuff I just mentioned.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Marvel at Peter David... or Peter David at Marvel

From Peter David's site:

February 11, 2006

Yes. The news is true.Peter has signed an exclusive with Marvel.He is quite happy about it.
"Fallen Angel" & 'Soulsearchers and CO." were grandfathered into the contract as was his Spike mini-series.
Oh I am very happy about it too but then I have been happy about it since last year. *grin*

Posted by Kathleen David.

Man, this news has me grinning from ear to ear. Peter David at Marvel has always seemed to me to be one of those great fits. Not that he hasn't been there anyway, he started off more than a decade ago working in Marvel distribution. Got a writing assignment on either Spectacular or Amazing (both of which fairly close to each other) then made history with a 12 year run on the Hulk. Of course, never one to leave his best behind. He still is a master storyteller. Blending his trademark comedy with all sorts of genres. Be sure to check out the site, his blog is always amusing. Welcome home, PAD.... welcome home.

(Go one post down for a new blog from me... if you dare)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Loser Reviews r' Here

It's a bit harsh, but let's face it. You have all been in that store, seen that bundle of comics. And for a fan it is like an oasis in the middle of a desert. Even now, when I am quite content with the comic books I purchase, there is that sheer "light from above" feeling that is seeing comics somewhere outside a comic shop.

If you haven't had the pleasure of finding one of these sacred bundles. Well, you are both fortunate, and missing out. It is a strong lesson one must hammer into their brain, a dollar a comic is probably still too much. Quite often, you are purchasing the majority of your product sight unseen. You will never unearth some richly possession, but luck finds the occassional priceless periodical.

So, my finds... my oasises (oasi?) were found in the local Walmart. Very surprising, as once this place kicked comics to the curb more than a few years ago, I thought they would never reconcile. But I have told that story a great many times. In my selection I tried to find the varied packages (each group contained two comics that were visible on either side and three lumped in between). Limiting my selection was not hard... as there were only four bundles with different comics than all the other packages. And the ones that were the same contained the same duo of X-Men comics on either side.

So, without further delay, I bring you the assuredly affectionate titled Loser Reviews:

The 100 Greatest Marvels Of All Time #1- This is a good comic, let me preface by saying that. Classic! That being said, I didn't read it, because I have read it. I probably nearly know it by heart ( I know, I am slipping). Amazing Fantasy #15. But of what I did read... something went horribly wrong. The cover is an eye grabber... that much is certain. However, from cracking open that first page, the approach was off. There was a fine intro stating that the Top 25 issues chosen will see print (of the top 100) and these were for any fan whoever bagged and boarded a comic book. Who would go to the comic shop feverishly awaiting the next installment in the lives of their heroes. It is all nice and gushy and flowery... but it's not true. This can't be for those people, because they have already read this. Wrong Audience to focus on... and if I were that other audience, I might toss this back feeling quite unprepared. And since I am the intended audience, and read this issue before (cheaper, I might add) I did pass it by the first time.

The next two pages (opposite the Amaz. Fan. cover) are a rather nice history of just how this last chance story came to be... last chance for Amazing Fantasy, last chance for Stan Lee to want to work at Marvel, and first and last chance for the little spider that could. And who wrote this history tale? Hell, if I know, that signature is impossible to read, this is why they tell you in high school when preparing for a job, to type your name below your signature, so that it might not only look great but also mean something to whoever reads it. (EDIT: After a scan of the credits looking for a name that came close to what was scribbled, I came up with Bob Greenberger) The story is great, dated but great. This is not nostalgia or hype talking. This story is one of Stan Lee's best... and Ditko conveys the emotions of Spider-Man's origin very well. And there is that life lesson people can recite like it was motherly advice. Now some of the purists would probably disagree with this next point, but again, purists have read the story... this is Marvel's 100 greatest... and Amazing Fantasy is not "great" because of the couple stories that came after Spider-Man's in that issue. So why reprint them? It is my belief that they could have left those tales and the ads out, and stuck in Fantastic Four #1 (which was #2 on the all time list).

The cover price is a bit much... $3.50 for this issue. Take that over 25 issues, and you got a pretty slim wallet on your hands. Anyway, in hindsight, I am still glad I did not pick this up when it came out, and I don't even think a person would have to look hard to find a nice copy that could be haggled down to fifty cents.

Outlaws (DC) #4 - I have to remember that when jumping into the middle of a series it pays to be perceptive. Well, at least in this case it would have helped a little. The cover reads Outlaws: (and in smaller print) The Legend of the Man Called Hood! Yeah that would have helped a bit. Published in 1991, this is a pretty good example of the industries financial security and the resulting ability to throw anything out there for readers. This the story of a guy named Hood, who runs around in a dystopian future... always a cliche backdrop. I had alot of trouble with this.

First of all, it doesn't start off with the lead character... actually I wasn't even sure there was a lead character, I thought maybe it was a book about DC bad guys. Again, my mistake. Anyway we start off with some king approaching the house of one of his lord's, and a woman at the window screaming a warning to her lover. The lord and his lady prepare a rather odd greeting... and right off I wonder about the audience of this book. Then we move to a gathering of unsavory characters enjoying the delight of a battle. And asking about the character Hood and whether or not he would return from his latest mission. That's when a man, lost in his own thoughts, stops the battle from leaving a man dead. All of this may have been exposition, but it felt like filler. My confusion sets in as to where this takes place. There have been no indicators whatsoever. Modern dialect is swimming quite poorly with historic fashion and location.

After switching scenes back and forth between the King and his lord, discussing the Outlaws (finally the title comes into play) and the Outlaws still messing around. Hood returns on a horse to tell his band of men that they need prepare for a new mission. More talk between the King and his lord... and the talk shifts to the King wanting the lord's concubine, and the lord giving her away. Cut away to the next scene of a Jeep driving through some rather depressing streets and I finally get to see the modern doomed future to go with the language. Grasp of the plot here I come! Anyway in the Jeep are several "slaves" but since they are Hood's decoys... they are all armed with bombs... that look like soda cans. Keep an eye out folks... I feel a premonition coming on. The sabotagers are not found out placing the soda cans in various areas, but just in time to precede a location change, the slave inspector makes a surprise visit. Then the King and the Concubine go off together... it was well before this I was wondering where the Mature label was that I seemed to have missed.

Anyway, they don't have sex, so back to the semi interesting part (well we did just have that twist). The inspector sees someone he knows in the group of slaves. A woman. He remarks how good she looks... says "Let me see some more." pulls her jacket open, and out drops a can of soda. He makes some comments about it being a relic... but with... stuff inside. And says to check the other slaves. Sure enough they find more Pepsi Relic.... er whatever. It is about this time, the guy who's thoughts we heard during that fight, says that he and Hood need to get out of there before the inspector starts asking who drove those slaves in (we are dealing with some real minds here). Hood does his thing... runs for that Jeep and bolts out of there. While gaining other slaves for his resistance... woo. Fill-er. Perhaps this might have been fun, had their been little parallels, something going back to Robin Hood. Unrealistic, but it would have been something. The art was ok... in some parts juvenile. The story was all the tricks we seem to now appreciate, the Bendis chopped time-line, the Oeming panel arrangement. But those people crafted those tricks to a fine art.

I have to say that I am now more in favor of the recap page today's comics have... but at this point I would have settled for a little box blurb telling me something. So there you go. Needed a Mature Rating. Needed something indicating seperation from the DC Universe (as Hood looks kind of like Green Arrow) Hell that might have been a finale twist for the series, who knows? Basically, it could have used all the good things that comics are doing now.

Uncanny X-Men #401 (Marvel)- This was a nuff said issue. I don't know if this is even fair. My only comparison was the fantastically done Daredevil nuff said issue. And in the back of my mind, I kept wondering, "Was this good for fans keeping up month to month?" And the answer was probably yes. I had fun with it. Took a bit of work, had to go by the look of who was who. In the beginning, Banshee is standing at Moira MacTaggert's grave... poors some booze in front of it. It's good that I pushed myself to remember who Banshee was, it helped. Then we are introduced via caption to other players (only X-Men) in this story. It was for the sake of introduction I guess, but captions felt like a cheat. Then the setting jumps to a castle with some woman standing at the window... looking out. Then she turns to see Toad, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch ... Toad is ecstatic. So much so that he runs up to kiss her and wraps his tongue around her head. (Gross!) Yeah, that guy-- from the movie.

Just then Magneto comes in, all pissed off. He starts kicking Toad's ass... so I assume maybe the woman is Polaris (Magneto's daughter) except she has green hair. So maybe just some love interest that Mags had at the time? Turns out that it is a dream sequence by the window woman, as she is now in a coma, being looked after by all sorts of doctory guys. Now comes the Wolverine portion of the story, he is hiding in the trees outside a mansion... when he goes in he walks around to see all sorts of dead bodies lying around with smiles on their faces. I then have to wonder if Marvel got the rights to the Joker. Shot of a fat guy lying on his bed with a grin on his face... only his unmentionables on. Then this woman / thing flies out, and starts going toe to toe with Wolverine.

And then I remember... when they did that caption introduction to characters... she was there... Stacy X. Her Power? Phermone Control. And I smile... let out a girly giggle and move along. After a nicely drawn battle she touches Wolverine presumably using her powers. Next scene they are sitting on the couch in the X-Cave watching TV, when in teleports Nightcrawler, really angry. I assume Stacy X and the X-Men have had troubles before... Wolverine takes Nightcrawler off to the other side of the room in sitcom fashion to talk in a hushed tone, so the woman-thing, who does not even have a wall between them, cannot hear. Anyway, Nightcrawler goes out the way he came, which leaves a sulfur stink, and Wolverine pinches closed his nose. This scene was one of the best laid out scenes in the comic... as everything except the secret was conveyed well. Facial reactions were spot on. Finally we go to the Blob being carried in by five helicopters. He goes in somewhere I am not familiar with being escorted by two guys that I don't know, and they leave him in a room and he freaks out. He is alone with Banshee, and Banshee lets out this devastating scream (hence the code name) and Blob is lying there a whimpering mess. Logic tells me to assume Blob had something to do with the dead woman at the beginning. Following that was the six page preview of the script. For me it was worth it based on that alone. This speechless issue was written by Joe Casey, Penciled by Ron Garney, who will be doing Amazing Spider-Man soon, so to see some of his work was also a plus. I think this illustrates that my background in Marvel outdoes DC by quite a bit... even with a fully scripted DC issue I was lost. Apples and oranges though.

Eclipso #3 (DC)- Well, this was another title I knew nothing about, luckily catching up was not impossible. I like to believe that is due to the more than capable writing of Keith Giffen. Yet again we start off with someone other than the title character. And lo and behold, he is talking about being against our title character who is slowly taking over the planet like some parasitic host. Hero and villian established, check. This is 1993, and you'll all be happy to know that Superman's dead, but there is a video game advertisement for him nearly a page after this is stated. Hope pixelates eternal. This book was not as fun as I was coming to expect from Giffen, whom I am only familiar with for his comedy. Still, it is a solid if familiar plot, which helps with my own lack of knowledge in regards to the characters. Forces are building against the villanous title character... piss poor forces, but an attempt nonetheless. The issue begins with the building of said forces: a reject hero, a former hero, who is now just a normal guy trying to maintain his own humbled existence, and his wife, who it seems either is or will soon become an ex. Three people, and a small island of forces, against 6 million Eclipsos (Eclipsi?) made for a fine cliff hanger ending.

Iron Man #258 (Marvel)- Well, here's a gem, written by John Byrne and illustrated by the great John Romita, Jr., worth the price alone for that. And let me tell you why, I am not sure if this was an early Romita, Jr. issue... 1990, but you can see so much of his Dad's "look" when he draws Iron Man, there is a crisp, clean, and respectful style that makes Iron Man fly off the page (as well he should). The story starts off simply enough with two(!) Iron Man's in the clutches of some giant fiend. It is a wild beginning that pulls a reader straight in, two large hands holding our struggling hero(s), and you don't really even have to know why. We get delightful captions from the POV of the bad guy, as he launches Iron Man around through brick walls, and continues to bat him about like a cat with a mouse. Yet, for whatever reason panel by panel our bad guy grows more sympathetic, to the point that it is finally revealed things might have gone too far for a training session. As he backs off, our left over Iron Man bests his concerned foe, and goes to help the other fallen Iron Man. There is a nice twist where the talking Iron Man ends up being just a robot, and the "villian" ends up being, Jim Rhodes the best friend of Tony Stark, and even he gets fooled by the robot.

Leave it to Mr. Stark to build his own mock few city blocks just to fight in! A little later as Jim Rhodes talks with Iron Man... Tony clutches his arm, when asked what is wrong, he states that he is unaware of ever receiving injury there, despite its reoccuring pain. A next page reveal (and explained setting change) shows a group secretly monitoring the vital signs of our hero. For what purpose is not to be revealed in this issue. Later, Tony is informed by his secretary that Nuke U.(niversity?), weird name, is under attack, and that his bodyguard might be needed. The next scene revealed two things: 1) Tony has a really bad habit of revealing exposition outloud... to himself. And 2) the art makes the Iron Man suit seem possible to wear. One is thanks to John Byrne, and one is thanks to John Romita, Jr.

Well, shortly after Iron Man gets on the scene, dispensing a couple of wisecracks to himself, the entire building is deliberately sabotaged to fall on him. He makes his way atop the rubble, despite crowd insistance that he won't (I think nowadays someone in the crowd should just turn around and throw a weird glance at the others asking them, "Are you fucking kidding me?") Anyway, as shell head is trying to sort through the rubble, he again does the exposition to himself, a police man asks if there is anything that can be done to help. To which Iron Man stops talking to himself, and asks to get people out of there. Some how Iron Man finds a passage that leads to some sort of reactors about to go off... he stops two, but that leaves a third... and the villian has collapsed the hallway that leads to the third reactor. Iron Man is decidely a bit more aware of collapsing debris tricks, and so gets a bit of jump on things. But the reactor has gone off seeping a horrible gas everywhere. This is when the bad guy makes his reveal, chatting like a villian might. Left to babble on and on about his triumph, wondering if his old enemy Iron Man saw his demise coming? Then the great last page reveal... or it would have been great if I knew who it was. I have not read a comic with so many words on every panel in a long time. It was pretty good, certainly nice to end on a comic book which didn't jump back and forth.

By my opinion this last one was the best of the loser bunch so far. I suppose if there are any DC fans reading this, you can take to heart that judging by my other books, DCs current stuff must be selling pretty well, as there was nothing remotely new from that company in the bundles. Look for, probably, a final post soon. And keep your eye out for your own lost (purposely?) treasures.