Friday, June 20, 2014

Comics Roundup

BTW, today through Sunday you can get the second Scarlet Knight "collection" The Wrath of Isis for only 99 cents!  That's 5 huge books for less than a buck.  (Seriously they're all over 100,000 words, especially the last one.)  The first collection is only $2.99 in case you haven't bought it yet.  

I know you still don't care about comics.  Objection noted.  But if I review these then it sort of legitimizes my purchases so I feel less guilty about wasting all that money.  So here we go:

Marvel 1602:  This predates steam power so maybe you'd call it horsepunk.  Is that a thing?  I just made it a thing!  Me and Neil Gaiman, who wrote this story set in (duh) 1602 mostly in England.  It features Elizabethan versions of Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Thor, the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, the X-Men, and Brotherhood of Mutants.  Peter Parker and David Banner appear as their human selves.  Weird things are happening in England, continental Europe, and America while Queen Elizabeth is dying and James of Scotland is likely to take the throne.  It's a fresh take on the Marvel universe, though the concept starts to wear a bit thin after 8 issues. (4/5)

Spider-Man Reign:  This is the Spider-Man version of The Dark Knight Returns.  Only instead of 80s Reaganism it's concerned with post-9/11 paranoia.  In this case in the future New York's autocratic mayor is about to cut the city off from the outside world via "the Webb" which is some kind of force field.  When an ancient J Jonah Jameson pays the elderly Peter Parker a visit he has to swing back into action.  Though he spends about 3/4 of it whining about Mary Jane dying from his irradiated sperm.  (Seriously)  Like TDKR the art leaves a lot to be desired. (2.5/5)

Fray:  This is basically Joss Whedon taking Buffy and setting it in a more Blade Runner-type universe.  Melaka Fray, a 19-year-old thief, is chosen as "the Slayer" to kill a bunch of "Lurks" (ie vampires) in a futuristic city.  Mayhem ensues.  The whole idea of conflicting ancient orders, the way she's chosen, the snarly trainer (in this case a weird goat demon dude), and the age of the heroine  reminded me of my Scarlet Knight series--the second volume of which is only 99 cents if you recall.  Though Melaka is a lot different than Emma Earl, being a loudmouth with purple hair and a bunch of tattoos, which I suppose is more what people think of as a tough female lead.  This was written in 2003 so I must have ripped Whedon off.  But seriously I am as great as Joss Whedon, so there Marvel, go give me a multi-million dollar franchise to helm. (3.5/5)

Transformers:  More Than Meets the Eye, Vol 1:  If you read my post back in April called Xenophobia then you'd know I wrote some Transformers fanfics back in the late 90s during college.  I must have been a genius because this comic book series kinda uses the ideas from both my series.  The first being that the Autobots have won the war and Optimus Prime has stepped down as leader.  Only instead of humans being pissed about Autobots on Earth it's about neutral Cybertronians who return home and get pissed at the Autobots' seeming military dictatorship.  The second was a group of Autobots exploring deep space.  In mine it was a Voyager-type situation but in this Rodimus Prime and some others go out to look for the mythical "Knights of Cybertron."  Anyway, this seems like a kind of Marvel-ized version of the Transformers, featuring a lot of bantering and quipping.  It would be better than the crappy Michael Bay movies for sure.  It would probably help if you'd read the IDW comics that come before this, but I hadn't and I still got the gist of it.  The art is a lot better than the last batch of old Transformers comics in the early 90s when Andy Wildman would draw the Transformers with drool and spit despite that they're fucking robots.  The designs for a lot of the characters have been tweaked from their toy versions to make them look a little more streamlined and futuristic, but not as weird and clunky as the Bay movie versions.  (4/5)

Transformers:  Robots in Disguise, Vol 1:  This is the B-side to the More Than Meets the Eye volume.  It focuses on the Autobots who stayed on Cybertron to deal with the influx of refugees and remnants of the Decepticons after the war.  Ostensibly Bumblebee is in charge but like Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones even though he's smart and capable, Bumblebee has a hard time being taken seriously because of his size.  He struggles in vain to create a coalition government with a refugee named Metalhawk and the ever-shifty Decepticon Starscream.  Meanwhile Prowl tries to deal with renegade Decepticons with help from the female Autobot Arcee, who is his bad ass assassin.  I should give this to my brother to read because Prowl was one of his favorite characters and in this he's kind of a Batman figure as in he does what he thinks is right to keep order, but it tends to piss off a lot of other people.  What I really like about this and the other volume is that it focuses only on the Transformers; there are no humans at all in the book.  That's the problem with the movies where the Transformers are used largely as props to create destruction, like smaller versions of Godzilla.  But true fans know that the Transformers have their own culture and are in many ways like humans; while they're robots they can actually feel and hope and dream like we do.  And they have personalities that are more than ethnic stereotypes used for comic relief.  I'm just saying.  (5/5)

Hellboy:  The Midnight Circus:  When I bought this "on sale" from Amazon I just assumed it was a graphic novel.  Not really.  At about 58 pages it's really like two plus-sized issues or maybe 3 smaller-sized issues.  For $2.99 it was a gyp.  Anyway, the story itself was good.  Young Hellboy runs off to a weird circus that brought to mind Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.  The problem as noted is this is so short it's over before it even begins.  There was obviously a lot of material to work with, but this just scratches the surface. (2/5)

Journey Into Mystery, Volume 1:  Much like Superman started in Action Comics, Batman in Detective Comics, Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy, etc. Thor began in Journey Into Mystery.  It's actually very different from the Thor we know today from the Marvel movies.  Basically it starts as a pretty straight forward superhero story.  In Norway, a visiting American named Dr. Donald Blake is being chased by rock monsters from Saturn (this being the early 60s, before there was a Neil deGraase Tyson to point out how inaccurate everything is) when he finds Thor's hammer in a cave and becomes Thor.  But only when he's holding the hammer; if he lets it go for a minute he changes back.  Maybe since Stan Lee didn't actually write all of these early issues (he's credited with "Plot" on most of them) there seems to be some inconsistencies about how the powers work.  Anyway, it's not until the 3rd issue that he runs into Loki and not really until the second time Loki appears that the idea of them being brothers is mentioned.  Though I don't understand that since the dude isn't really Thor, is he?  I suspect there will be some retconning on that soon.  Other than Loki there isn't much of a rogue's gallery, just random space creeps and the occasional mob guy.  It's fairly typical of the Marvel comics of 1962.  Hard to believe these were cutting edge at the time, or that this character could last over 50 years. (2.5/5)

X-Men Age of Apocalypse Volume 1:  I'd been waiting a while to read this hoping the second volume would go on sale at some point but it hasn't so finally since I saw the recent movie I decided I might as well read this.  This is from that time in the 90s when Xavier's son killed him in the past or something and so Apocalypse takes over America and Magneto is leading the X-Men.  The problem with this book is since this story spanned all 15 or however many different X-Men titles at the time there's no real cohesion to the story, which makes it hard to know what's going on.  At one point Rogue mentions a husband and it's like, "When the hell did she get married?  And to who?"  It's probably Magneto since they're a couple in this (ick) but she was also with Gambit a lot, so I dunno.  Then there are these side stories about some kid brewed in a laboratory from Cyclops and Jean Grey's DNA and Blink going to the Negative Zone and stuff like that.  From the Goodreads description there are issues from 1995-1997 and then the 4-part Blink series is from 2001, which is probably why it seemed to have a more modern Marvel universe feel.  On Amazon I think people complained you should really start with Volume 2 and maybe they're right because most of this seems like filler you'd put last.  (2/5)


  1. Exciting stuff! I hope your omnibus sells like hotcakes.

  2. I probably don't need to read Age of Apocalypse but I probably should. An elderly Peter Parker sounds stupid, but horsepunk sounds interesting. I hope you have a good weekend Pat.

  3. Sounds like a lot of Marvel writers read your blog.

    The more I read your recaps the more it sounds like Spider-Man is probably the most innovative comic book out there.

    That Elizabethan Fantastic Four, though, seems like Gaiman slumming. That's what I call a "Tumblr" idea: the entire novelty of the concept is in the title, and the longer it goes on the more tiresome it gets. Like "Eli Manning Looking At Things," by the time you say "Elizabethan Fantastic Four" you've probably worn out the idea.

    (On HuffPo today there was a "What If Star Wars Had Been Written By Shakespeare" that also meets the criteria for this category of stuff. I read the first line and thought "Oh, God, this will be tedious.")



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