Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Comics Catchup

Previously when I talked about comics on this blog no one really cared.  Even when I briefly contributed to Laplume's blog not many people really cared.  But that's not going to stop me!  So here's a good chunk of comics I've read after my exile from Comics Reader.  Most of them are Spider-Man related because with the new movie and such there have been a couple big sales, which is when I buy most of my comics.

Black Widow:  Name of the Rose:  It's a Black Widow solo story that was probably the lead-in to a series that probably folded up soon after.  Anyway it was interesting as she goes on the hunt for an assassin who seems to know a lot about her.  It was also confusing in that it seemed to suggest Black Widow has been around since before WWII and not aged at all.  Um...OK then. (4/5)

Justice League Dark Vol 1:  I read a couple of Justice League Dark comics previously so for the hell of it I bought the first volume when it was on sale.  It really wasn't very good.  Like the new Justice League of America it basically takes the whole series for the team to get together and even then they aren't much of a team. (3/5)

Shazam! Vol 1:  This title is misleading as to date there is no actual Shazam (aka Captain Marvel, the DC version) series.  This was actually part of the Justice League line and is a rebooted origin story for Captain Marvel, who's a kid named Billy Batson who is chosen to become a big strapping Superman-like hero when he says the magic word.  It was pretty fun and with all the crap they have in the "New 52" I have to wonder why they don't have a standalone Shazam series.  Maybe it's that whole name thing, which has plagued him for like 50 years now. (4/5)

Green Arrow Vol 1:  Since the New 52 started in 2011, this really has no similarity to "Arrow" except it involves Oliver Queen as Green Arrow, who goes around shooting arrows at people.  Other than Oliver there really aren't any other characters who appear in the TV show, but maybe they will in the future.  He has two henchpersons, one to design weapons and one who does computer hacking and stuff, which I suppose was the basis for the Felicity character.  Anyway, it was OK but largely not as good as the TV show. (3.5/5)

Green Arrow Vol 4:  I missed a couple volumes--because they weren't on sale.  This involves mostly a bad guy named Komodo who is an old friend of Oliver's dead father.  He is conveniently another archer, who also takes over Queen Consolidated.  It seems they're trying to dovetail this more with the TV series, introducing Shado, Diggle, and Count Vertigo.  I'd have liked it better but the abstract art style employed by Andrea Sorrentino (who is apparently a dude) is annoying.  I prefer the more traditional styles and can tolerate even the more Manga-like styles, but I couldn't get behind this. (2.5/5)

Flash Vol 1:  This is another New 52 volume but like the Batman ones it's not a reboot, so I was pretty damned confused, having never really read any Flash comics.  I really had no idea what was going on most of the time.  The first story involved clones of this soldier guy and pigs for some reason.  I don't know.  Whatever.  (2/5)

Aquaman Vol 1:  What's great about this kickoff of the New 52 Aquaman series is it immediately confronts our misconceptions about Aquaman from Superfriends, SNL, Family Guy, or Robot Chicken.  (Series writer Geoff Johns actually has contributed to the latter.)  He doesn't "talk" to fish (he telepathically "pushes" them), he doesn't wear an orange "shirt" (it's scale armor that is bulletproof), and he has a trident that can lift a whole truck.  The first three issues involve some piranha people from "the Trench" who start wreaking havoc and only Aquaman can stop them.  Another involves Aquaman ending up in the desert after recovering an artifact.  And another involves his wife (or girlfriend or whatever) Mera going to buy dog food, which naturally takes a circuitous route.  The biggest accomplishment is by confronting our misconceptions about Aquaman, Johns actually makes the character a little deeper. (5/5)

Green Lantern Vol 1:  Another New 52 non-reboot.  So somehow Hal Jordan pissed off the Guardians and lost his ring to his archenemy Sinestro. And then Sinestro begins using his ring to take down his own evil Sinestro Corps with Hal Jordan's help.  There's also a lot of setup for the "First Lantern/Third Army" stories that apparently followed this. (3.5/5)

Future's End #0:  After "Forever Evil" that just wrapped up, the next big event at DC Comics is Future's End.  For Free Comic Book Day they were giving away this preview issue.  But they also gave it away online so I didn't have to go to no icky comic book store.  Anyway, it's pretty much a ripoff of Marvel's Age of Ultron story that is being made into Avengers 2.  That involved an artificial intelligence called Ultron that takes over the world until Wolverine and Sue Storm go back in time to stop it.  DC's version has Brother Eye taking over the world in the future and assimilating all the superheroes like the Borg.  So Batman Beyond goes back in time to stop it.  Besides Age of Ultron, this also brings to mind the Terminator franchise and even DC's own Final Crisis and Flashpoint events. Look, I know comics are not very original, but they could try a little harder.  (2/5)

Captain America Reborn:  This came after Captain America was killed following the "Civil War" series.  It's a lot like what Grant Morrison did with Bruce Wayne in "The Return of Bruce Wayne" but this is far less confusing.  Like Billy Pilgrim, Cap has become unstuck in time.  It's all part of a needlessly complicated scheme by the Red Skull that I highly doubt will ever become a movie. (3/5)

Carnage:  I got this because it's written by Zeb Wells, who's also a writer of Robot Chicken.  I had no idea who Carnage is but apparently he's the spawn of Venom, only this symbiote is red and takes over a serial killer.  In this story Spider-Man and Iron Man have to stop Carnage after a stupid industrialist retrieves the villain from space.  Mayhem ensues. (3.5/5)

Carnage USA:  Carnage is back and this time he takes over a small Colorado town, assimilating its population.  When the Avengers (Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, and Thing) go to stop him, all but Spidey are assimilated.  So then it's up to Spider-Man, some of the town's residents, a sort of anti-Carnage A-Team, and the new Venom (Peter Parker's old nemesis Flash Thompson) to stop him.   More mayhem ensues.  (4/5)

Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks, Vol 1:  These are reprints of the first 11 Spider-Man stories written by Stan Lee.  Despite that they're from the 60s they have that Golden Age cheesiness to them.  It features the familiar story of Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider to become Spider-Man and then Uncle Ben dies and yadda yadda.  In this volume he tangles with Vulture (twice), Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Lizard, and Electro.  No Green Goblin yet.  No Norman or Harry Osborn.  No Gwen Stacy or Mary-Jane Watson either; the closest he has to a girlfriend is J Jonah Jameson's secretary Betty.  But there are a few appearances by the Fantastic Four.  The annoying thing is they put the original Spider-Man origin story (Amazing Fantasy #15) at the end so to read them in order you have to go the end and then back to the beginning.  Why?  (3.5/5)

Spider-Man House of M:  The House of M storyline was where the Scarlet Witch used her powers to recreate the world so mutants are in charge.  Spider-Man becomes a huge celebrity because people think he's a mutant.  But when he's outed, it spells trouble for him and his family.  The cause of his outing is where it gets kind of weird.  (3.5/5)

Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time:  This story arc is only like three issues but it launches a new phase of Peter Parker's life where he isn't a total loser.  He gets a job at a lab where he has creative freedom to do pretty much whatever he wants.  The first thing he does is create a "stealth" suit to take on a new Hobgoblin who has a sonic scream like DC's Black Canary.  Of course while things seem to be going good we know in hindsight this was meant to set up another FAIL for Peter when his body is taken over by Dr. Octopus, the Superior Spider-Man.  Still it was nice to see things going better for him and for him to use his brains for once. (5/5)

Amazing Spider-Man:  Spider Island:  This was a big event story where bedbugs carrying a virus give all of New York Spidey powers--except for superhumans and mutants.  There's some awkwardness for Peter Parker when everyone else can start swinging around on webs, especially when it's his current girlfriend Carlie and his ex-girlfriend MJ.  But only one Spider-Man can save the day!  OK, actually two...and Anti-Venom.  The end is reminiscent of what I did in the 8th (and final) Scarlet Knight book.  I swear Dan Slott must have read my books. Anyway, I didn't read all the issues involved with this but what I did read was fun even if I didn't really know who some of the characters were. (3.5/5)

Amazing Spider-Man:  Ends of the Earth:  Conveniently they had lots of Spidey comics on sale at the time of the series relaunch with Peter Parker at the helm and the sequel to the movie of the same name.  Anyway this continues Dan Slott's run on the series (which is still going) as a dying Dr. Octopus seemingly has a way to stop global warming and save the Earth.  But of course it's a trick!  So Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Silver Sable have to stop him and the Sinister Six.  It's a fun globetrotting adventure that illustrates why it's too bad Sony's ownership keeps Spidey out of the Marvel universe. (5/5)

Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish:  The Superior Spider-Man thing begins with this, where Dr. Octopus is dying in prison.  The moment he switches brains with Peter Parker is anticlimactic.  It's like oh, this just happened?  I thought there'd be like a big flash of light or something.  Whatever.  So then Peter spends pretty much 2 issues trying to save Dr. Octopus's body by calling on supervillains to break him out of prison.  But in the end he does a "The Crow" on Doc Ock so that at least he'll continue being a good guy--sort of.  It was nice how they worked in some flashbacks and callbacks to events and people from Spidey's past, though really the whole "afterlife" thing was something I already did in the Scarlet Knight books (3 and 8 mostly) so once again I am ahead of the curve.  Because I am superior!  (5/5)

Superior Spider-Man Vol 2:  I reviewed the first volume on Laplume's comics blog.  The short version:  I really liked the new Dr. Octopus Spider-Man because he finds solutions to problems instead of whining about them.  At the end of Volume 1 Superior Spidey had killed the evil Massacre with a gun.  This and beating a couple of super pranksters to a pulp on live TV/Internet brings down some heat from the Avengers, which in the comics universe Spidey is part of.  Though strangely there's not a whole lot of fighting involved with that.  After the Avengers let him go with a warning, Superior Spidey has to fight the battle within against the last vestiges of Peter Parker.  Since there are about 20 more issues, guess who wins?  Anyway, this continues the fun of the first volume and the growth of Otto Octavius as Spider-Man. (5/5)


Superior Spider-Man Vol 3:  This is sort of like Arkham Asylum, where Superior Spidey is locked in a prison with a lot of the villains he's beaten to a pulp.  Doc Ock's arrogance makes things a little difficult in combating the Spider-Slayer, but in the end he's able to prevail.  Now that he's free of Parker's influence, Doc Ock is giving in to some of his evil urges, like when he blackmails the mayor to give him the prison to use as his private base.  In this volume we begin to see the Green Goblin forming an army from the rejects of crime families Superior Spidey has broken up.  Overall it's not quite as good; I kind of miss the interplay between Doc Ock and Parker's ghost.  (3.5/5)

Superior Spider-Man Vol 4:  Most of this volume focuses on a time rift that sends the Spider-Man from 2099 back to 2013, where he meets the Superior Spider-Man.  Like the Terminator, 2099 Spidey has to save an ancestor from being destroyed, even though he knows this ancestor is evil.  An annoying thing is one issue promises the return of Black Cat, Spidey's version of Catwoman.  Except her return is all of about a page.  Superior Spidey finds her stealing jewels, beats her up, webs her up, and leaves.  What a gyp.  But I suppose part of this was to show how Doc Ock has let go of Parker's old love interests:  Black Cat, MJ, and Carlie Cooper and even his old girlfriend as Doctor Octopus in favor of a super-smart dwarf in his physics class.  After the time rift thing Doc Ock is left unemployed, but as he always does, he comes up with a solution--in this case to start his own company.  Meanwhile after Superior Spidey leveled the Kingpin's headquarters, the Kingpin's former employees (including the Hobgoblin) have joined forces with the Goblin.  But probably nothing big happens with that until the final "Goblin Nation" arc to close the series.  And Parker's old girlfriend Carlie along with a hero known as "the Wraith" are closing in to find out how Spider-Man has been funding his toys.  Anyway this felt like more of a grab-bag volume that is building stuff for the future but isn't so interesting at the present. (3/5)


Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1:  This is the 2000 reboot of the franchise, not the 2011 re-reboot with Miles Morales.  Except this being Marvel it's not a reboot, it's another universe.  Whatever.  So basically we again get the familiar origin story of Peter Parker.  Since it predates the movies you can see where maybe some of the seeds for the 2002 movie were planted.  I don't think it's really that much of an improvement to the original.  Like the 2012 movie reboot it doesn't add that much of value.  (I don't consider giving Uncle Ben a ponytail added value.)  (3/5)

Ultimate Extinction:  I didn't like "The Ultimates" comic this was a sequel to so I probably shouldn't have bought it but it was on sale and I was reading the Galactus-themed third Girl Power book so I thought this might be educational.  Anyway while in the original comics Galactus is a big dude who strips planets clean, in this it's referred to as "Gah Lak Tus" and is a swarm of killer robots, which actually fits into what I did with my book.  Anyway, Mr. Fantastic works on a way to kill the thing while Professor X and Jean-Grey try to contact it psychically, which only pisses it off.  And Captain America, Nick Fury, and the Falcon kill a bunch of clones who worship a Silver Surfer, because I guess there's more than one, which is good since Iron Man rips the head off one.  It occurred to me what these "Ultimates" books are missing compared to the Marvel movies is the fun.  There's not really the banter or humor that makes the movies so watchable.  Basically it's a bunch of squabbling and then punching and/or blowing shit up.  Author Warren Ellis said in an interview included with one issue that British writers like him didn't really read all those old Silver Age comics (like the ones originating Galactus) so maybe that's part of the problem. (2.5/5)

Green Arrow Year One:  Unlike the first New 52 comics, this actually has some relevance to the TV show.  Although in this Oliver Queen goes with his British bodyguard on a yacht, but the bodyguard betrays him.  Oliver ends up on an island, where he constructs a crude bow to survive.  The plot is far less labyrinthine than the TV show.  Basically China White is using the island as a base for growing heroin and Ollie has to save the day.  There's no mention of his family or anything like that.  Though I suppose there might be an Easter egg in the TV show in that this comic is written by Andy Diggle.   (4/5)

5 comments:

  1. Arrow actually has its own comic, but I don't recommend it.
    I read the first few issues and it is so tied up in the show that it was not worth it.

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  2. Aquaman sounds good! If they make a movie it should be based on that. I have a code for a free Arrow comic somewhere so I might read it for grins. David, I'm going against your recommendation. Sorry. ;)

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  3. I disagree with you on your whole "fat is not beautiful" thing.

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  4. I'm going to be honest. I skimmed this. Then I saw Michael's comment and went back to see what I missed but I couldn't find it so that must be a comment from somewhere else?

    I disagree with you too, though, if that's what you said.

    From what I remember about Black Canary, she was a Golden Age hero who came to Earth I or whatever where Silver Age heroes were, I think? Wikipedia is really good for that but if I start reading Wikipedia about superheroes I won't get anything done tonight.

    I checked some comic omnibuses (hey! It's a trend!) from the library and one was the Flash, and I found it equally mysterious. There's a whole "Speed Force" thing and it was terribly hard to follow.

    Aquaman was always one of my favorite heroes. The miniseries back in the 80s or 90s was really very good. They gave him a new outfit, but it sounds like he's back to his old one. Anyway, Aquaman is sort of useless for land adventures but when they set him loose in the sea he's pretty cool.

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  5. For the record, your posts had good readership. Probably your regular readership, thanks to the links you kept giving here.

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