Uncanny X-Men by Bendis vol. 2: Broken

July 31, 2014

In this volume, Cyclops’ team finishes out their forced sojourn to Limbo, deal with one of their own quitting the team, lock horns with S.H.I.E.L.D., and take down a new-model Sentinel at a pro-mutant rally.  So there’s a lot going on here in the six issues collected here even if their quality is somewhat uneven.  There are some clever ideas on display, such as how Cyclops orders the Stepford Cuckoos to make it so that the new team members are confident enough to fight against the Mindless Ones of Limbo.  Magneto’s complex relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. is also developing in interesting directions, I like the new mutant Hijack, and there’s a beautifully difficult moment for Cyclops when he almost loses it when discussing Professor X and his dream to the pro-mutant ralliers.  We also get more development of the new mutants and they start coming off less like ciphers as they learn about their powers and either come to grips with or freak the hell out.  One of the book’s highlights is seeing Goldballs finally embrace the ridiculousness of his name and powers and kick ass in a most satisfying fashion.

This is all balanced against the stuff that doesn’t really work in this volume.  After years of being a punchline in Bendis’ books, it’s really hard to take Dazzler seriously as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  It’s even more so after she gives a really awkward “Call of Duty”-referencing speech to the family of the mutant who quits Cyclops’ team.  Magik’s conversation with Dr. Strange is also downright confusing until you realize that she’s time-traveling and talking to a version of him from the past.  (At least, that’s what I think happens here.)  There’s also the cognitive dissonance from hearing Cyclops yell, “YOU BORE ME!” to Dormammu because it’s so completely out-of-character for him that it defeats the humor inherent in having Mr. Boring Scott Summers call someone out for it.  Also, don’t get me started on how Mystique has been brought right back to cause more trouble after she got away scot-free in the most recent volume of “All-New X-Men.”  Frazer Irving and Chris Bachalo are back on art duties, and they continue to serve up some stylized, yet appealing visuals in the course of this volume.  All in all, things felt a bit “business as usual” here with not much we haven’t seen from previous “X-Men” stories before.  It makes for decent comfort food-style reading, but anyone on the fence about getting onboard this title won’t find much here to convince them to do so.

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

“Star Wars” is top-tier at Marvel! For now…

July 30, 2014

I can’t say that there was a whole lot of comics news that grabbed my attention coming out of Comic-Con this year.  However, we were told in advance that Marvel would be unleashing their plans for “Star Wars” at the convention and they did not disappoint.  Their announcements regarding the titles and the creative teams producing them were indicative of two things.  The first is that the company is going to play it safe with the ground being covered in the franchise.  As for the second, they’re making an effort to treat the franchise like the A-list media property that it is.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Highlights (and One Lowlight) of Comic-Con 2014

July 29, 2014

That’s one more Comic-Con down.  Even though the con was insanely packed as usual, it still felt pretty manageable to me.  Maybe that’s because I’ve made it a habit to stay away from the craziness of the Hall H and Ballroom 20 lines and focus more on panels geared towards comic creators.  Of course, it still doesn’t mean that I won’t get shut out of certain ones.  I did come back with a giant haul of comics and reviews of the most interesting ones will be trickling out over the next few weeks (and months as well).  I had a good time overall, even if there was one bit at the end that put a real damper on things.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dark Horse Previews Picks: October 2014

July 28, 2014

It turns out that the manga news from Dark Horse at Anime Expo was just too big for one panel to contain.  In addition to the new volume of “The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service” and the “Panty & Stocking” anthology, we’re also getting an “Evangelion” parody manga from Tony Takezaki.  I realize that most people are going to go “Huh?” to that news, but I’m actually interested in this.  Not only is the “Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” the best manga based on that series that the company has published, Takezaki also contributed several of the funnier segments to it.  The fact that it’s a comedy anthology will also likely give Carl Horn, who I’m assuming will be handling the English adaptation duties here as he has for all of Dark Horse’s “Evangelion” manga, more freedom to make things funnier in his localization.

We were also told that the company will be re-packaging all of “Oh My Goddess” in fifteen omnibi.  Given that the series is 48 volumes in length, that seems like a very sensible move on their part.  However, even though I’m planning on buying the “Evangelion” parody manga, these other announcements seem to indicate that my continued suspicions that the future of Dark Horse manga will be in managing their backlist and anime-tie-ins of dubious quality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Marvel Previews Picks: October 2014

July 27, 2014

As I write this, in the last few days we’ve been hit with announcements of an all-new female Thor, Sam Wilson stepping into the role of Captain America and the “Superior Iron Man.”  All of these announcements were either made through a major media outlet or got some form of attention outside of the usual places associated with comics news.  As far as what the announcements mean for the comics, I’m sold on following the adventures of at least two of these characters.  “Thor” will still be written by Jason Aaron, and Rick Remender will show us how Sam Wilson adapts to being “Captain America,” only now the art will be provided by Stuart Immonen.  So that’s another definite plus right there.  The only question mark for me here is “Superior Iron Man” which has writer Tom Taylor and artist Yildray Cinar chronicling a more aggressive Tony Stark as he moves his operations out to San Francisco.  I’m not familiar with the work of either creator, so this could either be their big break or a sign that they’re going to remain on the mid-card for future projects at Marvel or DC.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Marvel editor Tom Brevoort is apparently taking $100 bets that these changes won’t be reversed by the time “Avengers:  Age of Ultron” hits theaters next year.  While I’m sure they’ll be reversed at some point, I wouldn’t take that bet with him.  While putting Peter Parker back as Spider-Man in time for “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was a great coincidence, that particular story had over a year and a half to play out and explore its central concept.  Reverting these above-mentioned changes after less  than a year strikes me as far too cynical a move even for Marvel.  I’d be more willing to take a bet that had the changes being reversed by the time each character’s new movie comes out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Image Previews Picks: October 2014

July 26, 2014

By the time you read this, the third Image Expo will have come and gone at the Hilton Bayfront before Comic-Con’s Preview Night kicks off.  If you thought that Comic-Con tickets were hard to get ahold of, just know that the tickets for this sold out a minute after they went on sale.  More than anything else, that’s a sign of the excitement that the publisher inspires today with their titles.  They should’ve had lots of creators to show off and announcements about ongoing and new titles to make there as well.  I may even have to talk about them once I’m back from the con.  Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of Image titles to talk about now…

Read the rest of this entry »

DC Previews Picks: October 2014

July 25, 2014

It’s not being advertised as such, but October is turning out to be a big month for new #1 issues from DC Comics.  We’ve got the start of the weekly “Earth 2:  World’s End” series spinning out of its parent title.  Having not read “Earth 2” (yet), I can say that the most notable thing about it is that they’ve got a recognizable author -- “Robopocalypse’s” Daniel H. Wilson -- making his comics debut next to Margurite Bennet and Mike Johnson.  “Arkham Manor” and “Gotham Academy” look to ride the wave of success that all the other “Bat”-titles are enjoying at the moment.  This is in spite of the fact that “Manor’s” plot looks to involve everyone from Arkham Asylum being relocated to Wayne Manor, which is a move that stretches my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.  “Academy” is pitched as a teen drama in the shadows of Gotham, which also sounds dumb until you consider that it’s being co-written by Becky Cloonan, who is providing the covers as well, and has art from the stylish Karl Kerschl.  “Deathstroke,” “Klarion,” and “Lobo,”  are the latest second-string (or third, depending on your point of view) characters getting their own titles.  “Lobo”  at least has an artist I like on it, Reilly Brown, so I hope it succeeds to give him the higher profile he deserves.  

Finally, “Trinity of Sin” replaces the cancelled “Phantom Stranger” and “Pandora” series with the hope that a title featuring both of them, along with The Question, will result in bigger sales all around.  I remember when Marvel tried that years ago with “Cable & Deadpool,” which was also the series where Brown first came to my attention.  The key difference here is that I actually like Cable and Deadpool and can’t really bring myself to care about the New 52 incarnations of the characters being featured here.  It’ll be more interesting to watch the sales pattern on this title just to see if DC’s thinking actually pays off here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comic Picks 164: Morning Glories/Mind MGMT — Re-reading can be fun!

July 24, 2014

Re-reading vols. 1-7 of "Morning Glories" only further cemented its "Lost"-ness in my mind.  "Mind MGMT" on the other hand...

00:0000:00

Stitched vol. 1

July 23, 2014

Garth Ennis was a featured guest at Comic-Con three years ago and his directorial debut was spotlighted at two of the panels I saw him at.  Called “Stitched,” it featured the survivors of a downed Black Hawk chopper trying to make their way through a desolate part of Afghanistan.  Along the way they encounter some slow-moving, but seemingly unkillable people with their eyes and mouths stitched shut.  The survivors are saved by the S.A.S. squad that they were sent to rescue, and now the two groups have to find out how to deal with this new threat as they try to make it out of the desert.  For a first effort, the film wasn’t bad, and it at least made me interested in seeing what happened next.  That’s what this volume here is about as writer/artist Mike Wolfer works from Ennis’ plot to show us who winds up making it out of the country alive.

Given that he’s worked with Ennis before on “Streets of Glory” and with Warren Ellis extensively on their comics featuring Combat Magician William Gravel, Wolfer clearly knows a thing or two about how hard men and women deal with threats greater than themselves.  So even though this likely represents his vision rather than one of my favorite writers, the end result is very much in the same vein and highly readable as a result.  The only problem is that at seven issues the pace starts to drag and the violence starts to become wearying regardless of how well-executed it is.  Wolfer also throws in a late-inning twist that implies these stitched are part of a greater evil and that this business in Afghanistan is only the beginning.  I can’t say that I feel threatened by this idea as his efforts to get us to believe that these things could ever be menacing on a scale larger than what we see here generally fall flat.  What’s here is still a reasonably satisfying slice of comfort food for fans of Ennis and Ellis, even if it doesn’t do a good job of indicating that it could be more than that.

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol. 14

July 22, 2014

There’s a great line in “Misato Katsuragi’s ‘The Shinji Ikari Raising Project’ Report” (from the “Evangelion Comic Tribute” that Dark Horse brought over last year)  that pretty much sums up the title it’s mocking.  The segment basically takes Shinji’s propensity for tripping, falling, and winding up on one or more of the female cast in a compromising position.  In the “Tribute” story, this is reaching catastrophic levels and now Shinji will trip and skirts will fly up from ten feet away.  As Misato says, it’s not that they’re unaware of this problem, “It drives over ninety percent of what passes for plot events in ‘The Shinji Ikari Raising Project.’”  Truer words have never been spoken.

So if you were expecting something different in this latest volume of the series, then you’re going to be deeply disappointed.  As for the “ten percent” of events that don’t involve Shinji accidentally foisting himself on an unsuspecting member of the female cast, they involve:  Shinji purposefully groping Asuka’s breasts to keep them from being exposed after her top falls off during a volleyball game, Kensuke and Toji shooting bottle rockets at each other, Asuka’s mom starting a maid cafe, and Rei getting buzzed after being splashed with Misato’s sake and coming on to Asuka in the bath.  If reading about these things sounds like your idea of a good time, then you’re welcome to it.  At least Carl Horn’s localization delivers more than a few witty lines, but we’re way past the point where you could argue that it makes this drivel worth reading.

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com