When it was announced that Brian Wood would be taking over the “adjectiveless” X-Men title, my reaction was along the lines of, “Now I’ll finally have a reason to read this!” The whole “Vampires vs. Mutants” storyline that kicked off the title didn’t have any appeal to me at all, while the writer at its helm, Victor Gischler, hadn’t done anything in the past to make me consider giving his run a chance. That sentiment wound up holding true for each subsequent storyline in the title as well. Of course, now that Wood was taking over, everything was going to be all better. Right? Not quite, or at least not as much as I was expecting it to be. The stories he wrote in these collections have their merits, but aren’t his best work by a long shot. Then you’ve got the awkward way these collections are structured, in addition to their overall quality, and you have some “X-Men” stories that will likely be most appreciated only be dedicated X-fans.
If he were a lucky man Lord Henry Baltimore would’ve spent the rest of his life trying to live down the trauma of his active duty in World War I. However, upon encountering a very old vampire named Haigus on the field of battle and scarring the monster for life, Baltimore doomed not only his family but himself to a lifetime in vengeful chase. That’s the status quo which was established in first volume of “Baltimore,” subtitled “The Plague Ships,” a new series co-created and written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden with Ben Stenbeck providing the art. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have any direct ties (not yet at least) to the larger “Mignolaverse” established in “Hellboy” and “B.P.R.D.” The good thing is that’s not an issue as the first volume was a satisfyingly dark supernatural adventure and this second one manages to be even better.
Regardless of its status as one of this summers many high-profile financial disappointments, I loved “Pacific Rim” and would recommend that everyone check it out on the big screen because a lot of its appeal is going to be lost when it comes to the home market. Hell, if you can see it in IMAX 3D, then I’d say you should do just that because director Guillermo Del Toro really managed to capture the scale and impact of the Jaeger/Kaiju fights in all their over-the-top glory. It’s the extremely rare film that I think can be enjoyed for its spectacle alone. As for the human elements, they were perfectly unobtrusive and didn’t get in the way of the action. It’s those elements that are spotlighted in this hardcover prequel to the movie written by Travis Beacham, the co-writer of the movie. You might question the wisdom of picking up such a collection based on that, except I found this in one of the half-off boxes at Comic-Con. I think I got my money’s worth here, however...
Before I left for Comic-Con, a few new comics had arrived on my doorstep. I could let them be lost to the mists of time (otherwise known as my backlog bookshelf) but I figured I’d talk about some Ultimates, Wolverine, and Billy the Kid instead.
If I was going to recommend one run about the exploits of Marvel's First Family, this would be it.
Another Comic-Con has come and gone, and while my wallet took a major hit, I came back with a lot of great comics that I’ll be talking about over the coming months. I’ve already got plans for one podcast based on what I’ve picked up, so expect my thoughts on “The Killer” by Matz and Luc Jacamon now that vol. 4 is out. Of course, it wasn’t all just wandering the dealer’s hall and rifling through the bargain bins. I went to a lot of panels with friends too and found entertainment, surprises, and even embarrassment on one occasion. Though, I guess that all depends on how you look at it. Now on with the list!
The latest film based on a Dark Horse comic opened nationwide this weekend. I’m talking about “R.I.P.D., ” a comic originally published a while back to relatively quiet critical and commercial reception. While other films based on obscure or low-profile comics have gone on to be successes (“The Crow,” “M.I.B.”) this is not what has happened here. Pre-release buzz and advertising for the movie were almost non-existent and with its estimated $12.7 million opening (on a budget of over $130 million) it has now joined the ranks of “After Earth,” “White House Down,” and “The Lone Ranger” as one of the summer’s biggest bombs. With any luck, Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges will come out of this relatively unscathed and go on to make better films in the near future.
Even more regrettable is the fact that “Pacific Rim” took a 57% dive from its opening weekend, indicating that it won’t have the legs to match its massive $175 million budget stateside (overseas is another matter). It’s a shame because that film was goddamned AWESOME! Be sure to see it in IMAX 3D while you can because this is the rare film that demands to be seen on the giant screen.
Marvel’s current crossover has yet to even begin and already the ending for it has been somewhat spoiled. I won’t go into specifics, but if you want you can check out the link to Comic Book Resources’ article on the upcoming “Inhumanity” event. The short version is that there are now a whole lot more Inhumans out there and the main royal family of Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Triton, et. al. has fractured and split into different factions across the globe. “Game of Thrones” was given as the main analogue to the conflict and intrigue that’s supposed to define the new “Inhumans” series that will be the centerpiece of this initiative. I’d like to be excited about it, but it’s written by Matt Fraction who tends to do his best work when he’s working off in Marvel’s fringes rather than in its spotlight. Compare his work on “Fantastic Four” to the quirkier “FF” or look at how “Hawkeye” is the best thing he’s done with superheroes at the company. Right now, the most interesting thing about the event is that promotional image with Spider-Man back in his old costume, Wolverine getting a new one, and the fact that Nightcrawler’s init. Answers will be forthcoming eventually.
Also, just about everything ties in with “Infinity” in these solicitations. Whether or not the event will be big enough to give them all a boost is yet to be seen.
Last year, issue #100 of “The Walking Dead” was the best selling single issue thanks to its major milestone and the twelve or so covers that accompanied it. It was gratifying to see that it beat out Marvel’s much-hyped “Uncanny Avengers” with its over twenty covers and assorted retailer incentives. Since then, there have been more variants on “The Walking Dead” and they’ve helped spike sales for the issues that feature them -- vaulting the title into Diamond’s list of the top ten comics sold each month in most cases. Now they’re back with another stunt for issue #115 to mark the title’s tenth anniversary: ten interlinking covers to showcase the title’s history, plus regular and blank covers. I’ll admit that the idea of “ten interlinking covers to showcase the title’s history” sounds like a really cool thing, though it’d be something I’d rather have as a poster as opposed to buying each issue like Image wants me to. However, all of this cover madness on their best-selling title has me worried that these stunts are going to continue and soon we’ll see variants on nearly every issue like we get with Marvel and DC’s top titles each month.
Still, I’d totally go for a poster made out of all of those covers. The idea is just that compelling.
Okay, so the word on the street is that something has been left out of DC’s solicitations for this month. Not only was it done deliberately, but it seems that other companies are also leaving things out of their solicitations as well. Coincidence? Or something more? I could do some detective work and find out myself... but it’s so much easier to let Rich Johnston do it for me.