X-Men Vol 2: Muertas; by Brian Wood.

X-Men, Vol. 2: MuertasX-Men, Vol. 2: Muertas by Brian Wood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is actually less than a 2-star book.

It should be called X-(wo)Men; how many ovaries can we throw into one book?

This was supposed to be a great idea, a team we could enjoy, by a great writer (Wood). Instead, it feels like a gimmick-y, quota-filler.

So from last time, and then the events of Battle of the Atom; Kitty is no longer in the picture, nor is Rogue (still not sure why on her). Instead we’ve got that chick who was in the coma and then became possessed by John Sublime’s “sister”, and is now back better than ever. Oh and some other girl. She seems pretty strong.

Apparently all they needed was a world-crisis, and Storm and Rach are besties again. (Maybe Kitty just pissed them both off?)

Anyhow, Lady Deathstrike returns (this time as an entity/spirit, who is unleashed by a rich Latino hottie teenager…who likes to paint herself like Day of the Dead…right.

Apparently all you need to do is bring back the “spirit/soul/aura” of anyone, shoot them into a new body, and boom. Wood seems to use this for everyone.

Last volume; here, with more baddie ladies: Maddy Pryor, Selene (both of the Hellfire Club) and the Enchantress, who was on Earth cast out by Thor? Apparently everyone wants to team up to get more power? IDK…really.

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Honestly, I just gave up. I didn’t try to understand, I didn’t try to let it make sense, I just said OK, sure, whatever you say.

Storm decides to let Pryor and Selene go? Enchantress walks away? Lady Deathstrike doesn’t want to be her anymore? Seriously? WTF? I’m just so not interested. I swear, Wood just gave up and didn’t care anymore? Who knows.

I read this yesterday, and I’m already straining to remember more than good girls(and randoms) versus baddies(and randoms). There’s also more of the X-(wo)Men leaving to join some other dudettes I’ve never heard of either. WOW bust out the obscure shit…I like obscure, but not this much out of nowhere.

Really, a big swing and a miss for me.

Please don’t sit on this grenade.

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X-Men: Battle of the Atom; by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron & Brian Wood

X-Men: Battle of the AtomX-Men: Battle of the Atom by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK All-New X-Men makes a LOT more sense now.

I read all of that and all of Wolverine & the X-Men before this.

Now that I’ve read it, it makes a bit more sense.

But still, as a whole, meh plus?

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Yes that’s me straining to enjoy a bowel movement, much like RDJ.

There’s stuff to like here, as many friends have already mentioned:

It flows very well, you hardly know when you’ve changed books, because it flows man. Like the river. Whoa.

Aaron and Bendis are what’s missing from Wood’s X-Men…ie HUMOUR. Wood’s X-(wo)Men would be a perfect DCU book.

Iceman is awesome. Seeing not 1, not, 2, not 3…oh ya.

Also explains why Kitty leaves the Jean Grey School (and Iceman), and why the All New (PAST) X-Men end up where they are.

Explains why Jean has some serious confusion about things.

There’s also a lot to not like:

SOOO MUCH ANGER!!! INFIGHTING! GARRRGH!

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This is from a documentary of my high school…I actually saw some kid flip a whole cafeteria table over during a MAGIC card game…it was awesome. I was hoping to see some spellcasting or at least a magic wand shoved somewhere dark, but no such luck…

If Hank McCoy is so smart, why has he continually fuct this up? Bringing people forward in time worked so well, why not bring more back in time? That oughta be cool right?

We get 3 versions of Beast, 2 Cyclops, 2 Jean (I mean…no…maybe we don’t? ummm…ya.) 4 Iceman…but only 1 Angel??? I mean seriously, he’s the only one who says “DUDES, WE DON’T BELONG HERE! LET US GO HOME TO THE LAND OF TV DINNERS AND HOTPANTS!”

Shockingly, there’s only 1 Wolverine, and that’s kinda telling, knowing what we know now.

There’s too many monologues and fighting, not enough questioning why, and then Kitty gets mad at the present X-Men (Wolverine’s gang) for trying to get Cyclops and Jean back when they run away (the past ones) and don’t want to go back…umm…isn’t that what you all knew you had to do to start with??? I mean I know letting people decide things for themselves was a good idea, but you can’t seriously think letting the teen X-Originals decide to run off and stay hiding in the present was a good idea?? Ugh. No.

There’s some cool characters we get to see:

Future Icem(e)n; Future Colossus, Magik gets to really let loose, we see how some of the X-kids do in the future (Quentin Quire) and we see what shit goes down (to a certain degree).

I love that Wolverine and Magneto come across as the voices of reason here…that’s too funny.

Iceman from the Future is great. Needs his own series, pronto. If it weren’t for Bobby Drake, I don’t think I’d have laughed once…”So If we’re going to the future, shouldn’t we pick up a sports almanac or something?”

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Yup. THAT is how you do time travel and funny.

This book really hovers into nearly DCU levels of seriousness…not loving it.
I can see how this isn’t really meant to be funny, but see the Iceman? Make-a-the-funny words? MORE OF THIS!

So, it’s OK, there’s a few nifty moments, but it also causes more problems than it solves.

It is what it is, and if you’re not an X-person, stay away. FAR AWAY!

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Review: X-Men – Primer; by Brian Wood

X-Men, Vol. 1: PrimerX-Men, Vol. 1: Primer by Brian Wood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What a HUGE disappointment.

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Brian Wood! YAY! (DMZ, Northlanders!) with an all-ladies X-(wo)Men team!

So excited by the all ladies all the time, they forgot about plot, or good writing, or character interactions that make sense.

Oh and they also decided to include a bunch of characters no one knows/remembers, which is the fastest way to get new reader and others (ie. ME) to stop caring.

John Sublime (some uber-badass, now seemingly in need of the X-(wo)Men to help him, says that his twin sister’s…spirit? Aura? Being? Hard Drive? USB Stick? Or some shit is alive and has tricked it’s way into the Jean Grey School.

All thanks to:

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Yes that’s right, all thanks to: MALLRAT GIRL! (her given name is Jubilee, and she’s a vampire too apparently, but only needs sunglasses…at night…so she could be called Corey Hart)

Anyhow, Jubes (as someone decided to call her, which makes sense, as she’s about as substantial as a Ju-Jube) randomly takes a baby from the ruins of a Bulgarian hospital; because ya. But do any of these normally rational women make a single mention of baby napping a foreign child who may have parents waiting for it? (actually, no. Jubes is about the only one who feels bad about it, and when Mallrat feels bad about something it usually involves Orange Julius being out of slurpees)

So, cue up evil sister “entity” which possesses some chiquita banana who’s been in a coma while Beast tries to figure out how to save her…

In the midst of it, Storm is ready to make the decision to take her out in order to stop the entity. Apparently Mz. Rachel Grey doesn’t care for this. Funny enough, they decide to make this into a high school popularity bitch fest contest. Instead of saying um…I was Queen of Wakanda, I have been to the future, I survived getting busy with Wolverine, and I’ve had the Black Panther inside of me (No euphemism actually), oh and I’ve been an X-Man since before you were a dirty thought in your dad’s brain; they go to a full out leadership debate.

Hint: if you want a cool new team of ladies, then don’t try and make them just like the men (we DO NOT need you fighting like X and Magneto, Cyclops and Wolvie or anyone else. Just show you’re better than that by getting along). It just feels awkward and forced, like someone said “better have a leadership crisis”. Not “OK Storm is OBV. the boss, since she’s the boss of everything else too. Oh and MOHAWK. Shiver me timbers that’s hot. White hair and everything…mmmmmm.

OK so blah blah, more shit; I think we’ve got Storm; Grey not Jean; Rogue; Betsy Braddock mmm nice new costume fit for the modesty era; Jubes, and I think Kitty was in there too.

Oh and by the way; wouldn’t Kitty be a natural choice for leader behind Storm anyhow? Seriously. I guess they just tried to make Rachel less appealing? Also, it looks like she was on a month long bender….the artwork makes her look exhausted and sorta manga styles.

Evil thingy is defeated; baby is kept; Rogue saves people on a plane by absorbing more powers but somehow this drains her, and she can’t even fly anymore? Also, where the FUCK did she go for the next installments??? She’s not even in Battle of the Atom FFS.

There’s a side story with Jubes taking the baby on a road trip around Cali with Logan, who ends up buying the house she grew up in for her, just cause. Right. Everyone loves Logan, he’s always had a soft spot for vampires mallrats idiotic children who pretend to be X-Men.

You might also have noticed, this is only 4 issues…

So we get Jubes’ “CLASSIC” first appearance, when she is saved by the X-Girls circa 1989 when Storm was still hot, Rogue was Carol Danvers, Dazzler was…really? Dazzler? Isn’t she just Jubilee without the soft Asian vampiric overtones? The one who used her fireworks for making money and disco dancing, not just walking around the mall all day?, oh, and Psylocke who looks like she’s straight outta 1896.

They save her from a…MALL. Yup.

So in all, this is a big disappointment, like forced on me somehow, and I didn’t like it. I really WANTED to like this, truly, I did, but really.

Malls, babynapping, possessed evil entities, and someone thinking they can talk shit about the Goddess of Thunder? Fuck that noise. She’s like Thor without the hammer…(double entendre here…see what I did?).

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Review: Scalped: Vol. 4 – The Gravel in Your Guts; by Jason Aaron

Scalped, Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your GutsScalped, Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your Guts by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well shit got even darker than it already was pretty fast…

Intro by the great Ed Brubaker rightly points out: This is Noir. Noir is when you know shit gonna go bad, but you can’t help but watch, you just know things aren’t getting better.

There’s some beautiful work being done in the Noir world, and Jason Aaron makes it raw, unflinching, and downright sad.

He also writes characters that are some crazy shades of grey. Red Crow was an asshole at the start, but now we get a glimpse into who he thinks he is, why he’s done what he’s done, and who he thinks is evil. Dash was going to be our unconventional hero, but he’s getting tainted with darkness all over his white hat too.

It’s like this is the Graphic Novel version of Alice in Chains beautifully miserable “Down in a Hole”.

Down in a hole, feelin so small
Down in a hole, losin my soul
I’d like to fly but my
Wings have been so denied

Red Crow is becoming a Shakespearean villain (ie. multiple layers of evil/bad on top of what used to be a pure/decent soul; or simply one bad decision that led down the road to years and years of them).

The “romance” between Dash and Carol Red Crow is agonizing and makes you feel like shit, because you know it’s based on something so real. Neither of them has anyone else they can come close to trusting, so they join together for the downward spiral.

(This really is an early 90s Alternative Music video adaptation I swear.)

Bravo to Mr. Aaron, it’s so authentic, so real, I’m amazed this hasn’t been made into an HBO series yet. It’s right up there with those ideas.

If you’re not already reading this series, what is wrong with you? Wake up! Get it!

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Review: Even More Bad Parenting Advice, by Guy Delisle

Even More Bad Parenting AdviceEven More Bad Parenting Advice by Guy Delisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Randomly reserved at library due to funny title.

Turns out it was quite a laugh. This guy’s dad character seems like a cross between me and Calvin’s dad from Calvin & Hobbes. Some of the things are right on, to the point my wife was laughing hard and saying “did you read that? That’s so you!” Well yes. The section where the dad buys comics for the kid instead of real books, and then promises a new PS3 (with Mario Kart??? oops!) to be the cool dad. Telling the son he’s going to have a homeless man move into their house, or fooling mom into thinking the son actually knew his speech.

But the best is when the bully gets smacked in the head during pinata time. Priceless.

Well worth a read, very quick and easy.

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Review: Fantastic Four Vol. 6 (Foundation) by Jonathan Hickman

Fantastic Four, Volume 6Fantastic Four, Volume 6 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think the best way to describe the final volume of this collection would be disjointed. It’s all over the place, trying to do way too many things at once, and none of the stories flow. It really is a bunch of individual issues tied together because they were all published in the same 6 months.

There’s good stories, boring ones, some interesting ideas, and some very touching ones.

Feels like this just got thrown together, or Hickman just had a bunch of ideas he wasn’t done with.

1)Reed and Nathaniel go forward in time to see what becomes of the FF, and it actually leads to a rather touching moment.

2)Parallel Universe Reed works for Hitler, who won WWII, ends up becoming all-powerful a-la Doom, and leads into the Council of Reeds…

3)Parallel Doom creates his own universe, and it isn’t quite what he bargained for; is saved by unlikely child.

4)FF performs brain surgery on Willy Lumpkin. (Marvel has now had 3 different instances of shrinking to do brain surgery in less than 2yrs: Hank Pym on Daredevil; Hank McCoy on Broo; Reed and FF on Willy…are they trying to suggest something?)

5) Tie-up of the parallel universe Reed saved being moved to the future or something so they never have to worry about not having somewhere to be…

All in all some interesting ideas but just so much going on…

I do like Hickman’s attempts to make things cosmic large, and I do like that each member becomes stronger as individual characters.

Not the place to start with FF though, and I do feel like Fraction’s Marvel Now stuff isn’t quite as good.

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Review: Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vol. 1: Trust Me by Al Ewing, Lee Garbett (Illustrator)

Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vol. 1: Trust MeLoki: Agent of Asgard, Vol. 1: Trust Me by Al Ewing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I’m not really a fan of Hiddleston as a sex symbol, but I know a lot of you ladies are, so…
You’re welcome.

As far as this title went, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It mixes up the god of Mischief with a James Bondesque con man, and spits out a fun tongue-in-cheek heist caper.
Loki has steadily grown in popularity with the mainstream audiences since his appearances in the Marvel movies, so we’re now seeing this translate into comic book titles. Sometimes, a move like this can backfire and alienate the hardcore readers.
But Marvel seems to have the golden touch right now, and with the popularity of titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers making both movie and comic fans relatively happy, it appears they are reading the pulse of both new and old fans quite well.

The character of Loki in this one might be somewhat confusing, if you haven’t managed to read all of the tie-in books. I’m currently digging around to find the source material for all the changes to this guy, but even without all the pertinent information, this one was still a lot of fun.
Basically, you need to know that the old Loki died, was resurrected as a child (Kid Loki), was overtaken by a somewhat bad version of himself, and is now a twentysomething trying to (maybe?) atone for his evil ways.
There may be more to the story, but that’s what I’ve got so far…

As of right now, he’s working as an agent for All-Mother in the service for Asgard, with each completed mission erasing some of his past sins from recorded history.
However, there’s a snag in the plan. A big one.
Too bad for you, I’m not handing out spoilers in this review!

The parts of this volume that had Loki running around in present day, conning gods and mortals?

Excellent stuff!

But the parts that were set in the past, with all of the olden tale adventures?
Well, I’m going to have to agree with Sam’s review, and say that that part was less interesting.
I did, however, enjoy when the stories finally collided.
And the story with Sigurd and ‘Kaluu’ was laugh out loud funny on so many levels, that I’d almost recommend this title for that part of the issue alone.

I think fans of the new Loki are gonna love this one.
I know I’ll certainly be coming back for more!

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Review: Green Arrow, Vol. 1: The Midas Touch by Dan Jurgens

Green Arrow, Vol. 1: The Midas TouchGreen Arrow, Vol. 1: The Midas Touch by Dan Jurgens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So Green Arrow is not the best thing to come out of the New 52, but it’s not the worst thing, either.
It lives in the Land of Meh.

As other people (Sam) have pointed out, the Billionaire Playboy/Costumed Avenger thing has already been done. And, let’s face it, done better. In a world where Iron Man and Batman reign supreme, Dan Jurgens is going to have to work hard to carve out a niche for Oliver Queen.
Did he manage to do it in The Midas Touch?
Ehhhh. Not so much.
I will say that Jurgens tried to make him cooler, and there were a few things that I really liked about this new Green Arrow. Unfortunately, they were mostly cosmetic changes.
The retarded goatee? Gone, and replaced by stubble.
The goofy Robin Hood hat? Gone, and just…gone, thankfully.

Beyond that, however, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
For starters, I’d like to see GA fight a villain that wasn’t totally lame.
Reality TV Killers?
Are you serious, Mr. Jurgens?
As much as I think reality tv will be the downfall of modern civilization, I don’t think the idea worked well in this story. The villains came off more like punks, and less like a threat to be taken seriously.
Midas (the toxic swamp dude), was just pathetic. Really. You felt sorry for the poor guy. Not sure what we’re supposed to think about his ninja/cyborg girlfriend, but I’m assuming the story will unfold a bit more in the coming issues.

As a side note, I was somewhat annoyed by the abrupt outfit change when they switched artists toward the end. On the last page of one issue GA is facing off with Ninja Rose (or whatever her name was), and their costumes were one way. In the next page (new issue, and artist), the look of the costumes were different. I understand what happened, but since the scene flowed between two issues, it was jarring. Not to mention, Oliver Queen went from a handsome young man, to a slightly older dude that looked like his nose had been broken in too many bar fights. The petite ninja chick suddenly looked like a stocky bodybuilder, and Naomi (Queen’s own personal Oracle) was transformed from a tech-geek in a vest, to a chick who painted her clothing on. I was not a fan of the new look.

I’m not giving up on Green Arrow or Jurgens, but there are definitely some things that can be improved on in this comic.
Here’s hoping Volume 2 will be better!

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Review: Three

ThreeThree by Kieron Gillen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Miller’s 300. The thing I liked about Miller’s book is the same thing I appreciate about THREE. Not that it’s about Spartans, war, or is historically accurate. It’s a story about self-mastery, courage, and sacrifice. Both stories deliver in that regard.

THREE flips the coin and makes the Spartans of Miller’s epic the “Persians” of this tale and three Helot slaves it’s champions. It is readily apparent that Gillen researched the Sparta’s historical mistreatment of their slaves and the Spartans inevitable fall from glory. There are a lot of other things in the book that are deliberately reminiscent of 300 as well. Gillen isn’t mirroring these things in an attempt to ride Miller’s coattails, he is deliberately showing them from the much different perspective of a Helot slave. Gillen does a great job in developing the three main characters throughout the story, revealing bits and pieces of their past as it moves along. The ending and the final fate of the “three” was also especially satisfying for me.

Kelly’s art was also well suited for the story and appropriately bloody where necessary. Overall he did a good job.

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Whether or not it was Gillen was giving Miller the bird with this story or not doesn’t really matter much to me. The Spartans, like EVERY country in the world, had moments of renowned triumph and shameful infamy. I like THREE because it exalts bravery and sacrifice and condemns subjugation. All while telling a memorable story.

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Review: Fantastic Four Volume 5- Forever; by Jonathan Hickman, art by Steve Epting

Fantastic Four, Volume 5Fantastic Four, Volume 5 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK Hickman, your convoluted and cosmos-spanning storylines finally come to a head here. It was just about worth all the headaches so that I knew what the F*** was going on.

There were quite a few HOLY S*** moments, when I was actually like:

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I feel like a lot of people don’t like Hickman because he operates on a cosmic scale, multiverses, layered stories that take a while for the payoff, and I’m usually not interested in a story taking THAT much effort (but I’m not going to say if there’s more than a couple words with 3+ syllables that I’ll stop reading…I mean I am somewhat edu-mah-kay-ted), but this was actually worth the effort.

(Shallow Reading friends, I can’t help but notice not many people have read this one/arc. If you could get all 5 volumes together at once, I think it might be worth, but I think I’ve read this over 2 years or so…)

Long story short: The Earth is being attacked on multiple fronts: The Kree, Annihilus, Multiverse Reed Richards(es?). The FF is without Johnny, who died stopping the Negative Zone forces of Annihilus from attacking Earth; and he’s been replaced by Spider-Man. (I like this because Hickman reminds people that Spidey isn’t just a punchline machine; he’s actually a brain to rival the likes of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, et al.)

If you look at the cover, you’ll note…Johnny is on the cover.
So….HE’S SOMEHOW NOT GOING TO BE DEAD LONG!!!

Which is a shame, as his death/sacrifice was done very well. This would fully support Sam’s belief that character deaths in comics now are pointless. I’d have to agree, but this explanation didn’t take a year-18 months to get to…we pretty much had it less than a few months later.

So here’s the deal: Galactus tells Reed that there’s an evil coming that’s so powerful it’s bigger than him. Sue suggests this might just be Galactus tricking them…Big G-Unit says nope, if this evil arrives, the universe dies…just a lot faster than if he’s in-charge. I like the little detail like that, which acknowledges that Galactus still does what he does. Big G-Unit gives RR a device sorta like a pager for when shit hits the fan.

Meanwhile, the FF-Kids transport the Baxter Building out of NYC, where the attack is coming (one of these days, I swear, it’s going to be in Toledo, Ohio or Bumfk, Iowa. – It almost makes me go back and give the Siege Event more stars because things happened in small town Oklahoma and not NYC.)

Reed sends Spidey to go check on the wee ones…he runs into Annihilus fanatics trying to open the gate the the Negative Zone…and…it opens…UHOH!!!

But then, who should be standing on the other side of the gate?

Johnny freakin’ Storm.

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We then get a whole issue+ setting up what happened to Johnny, and how we ended up where we are. (I appreciate the explanation, which actually helps to prevent it from feeling cheap with his ‘death’). Suffice it to say, Johnny is in pretty decent shape…(view spoiler)

The fight between the Kree and Johnny’s Storm-mada (You like that one? I just invented it) isn’t going well, and there’s all kinds of space wreckage going to hit Earth, so not looking good…Reed and Sue go summon Galactus, as they think this was the Evil/death he spoke of…turns out, it wasn’t…

Someone summons the Celestials (Gigantic Super-Gods), and just as Big G-Unit is telling everyone that shit hasn’t hit the fan yet, he’s like, oh nevermind, my bad…

Galactus defeats one of the Celestials, but they they go all Voltron/Super-Power-Ranger/Ultimate Optimus Prime Transformer, and merge into a gigantic one. Even Big G-Unit can’t handle that…

There’s no chance to defeat Super-Mega-Power Celestial, except that…oh wait…there is. Remember that Council of Reeds? The Reed Richardses from all the multiverses, they got together and figured out this would happen, and prepared mega-weapon on every Earth. It’s time for this one’s turn…good thing Reed’s Dad Nathaniel is there to tell him to let loose…They get a great hit in…but, that ain’t gonna cut it.

The only thing keeping the destruction at bay is Sue…who shields Reed and everyone (oh the whole EARTH I mean…she’s a badass lady…no wonder Namor loves her (see corny line on page 2 or 3)) just in time for the cavalry to arrive…and the cavalry isn’t who you’d expect…unless you paid attention to everything in the previous volumes.

The payoff is stellar. The revelations are astounding. There’s a sweet life lesson (family is more important than anything…awww Mr. Hickman). This finale is so good, it really is.

I won’t ruin it for those of you who will actually go and read it (You should. All in one shot. 5 Volumes. It will make you appreciate Hickman’s scale and scope of his projects.)

But for those of you who want to know: (view spoiler)

But is it just Franklin? No…turns out, the pocket universe is used to summon Franklin’s herald…a fellow you may know, by the name of Galactus.

WHAT!!!?!?!?!?! Yes. In this version, Galactus is the one and only herald of Franklin Richards. Together, Franklin, and Galactus infused with the consumed life of an entire pocket UNIVERSE (not just a planet) has the power to defeat the Celestials. Then we have some nice father/son moments. (hide spoiler)]

Yup. A stellar ending. I am a sucker for Father-Son relationships, they always get me emotional. Hickman, who’s all about cosmic level universe expanding, crazy convoluted stories, boils it down to the love of a father for his son, and visa versa, as the saving grace of the world.

Well done. (There seems to be something in my eye…)

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