Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Weekly Chain Reaction: February 18, 2009

I think Gødland #26 came out this week, but it wasn’t in my box and I forgot to ask about it, which sucks.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a copy next week.

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The Amazing Spider-Man #587, by Marc Guggenheim, John Romita, Jr., et al. If that’s suddenly an “inhibitor collar” Spider-Man’s been wearing around his neck all the time (nobody told me), then how did he manage to almost break those pretty massive-looking restraints earlier on? It’s one of a number of things that don’t seem very plausible here, just in terms of pure plot mechanics, but also beyond. The characters have to take the backseat to all the contrivances, and none of them come across as very authentic. In terms of pacing, the storyline is all over the place: The cliffhanger from last month’s issue is dropped, while the cops involved in the conspiracy storyline finally end their brief conversation in Peter Parker’s apartment after spending three issues on it. And who had the brilliant idea to spend a page on exposition right after the recap page? There are some brave stabs at making the reader care here, to be fair, but it’s too little, too late.

(Marvel Comics, 24 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: D+

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Ghost Rider #32, by Jason Aaron, Tan Eng Huat, José Villarrubia, et al. As far as big conclusions go, this is pretty flat, not least because Mr. Huat has evidently given up on the idea of drawing backgrounds altogether. As a result, colorist Mr. Villarrubia is left to fend for himself, and he loses. The chief insight I get from this story: More than one flame-headed dude on a page looks pretty stupid, and not in that good, fun way of “stupid” I’m reading this nonsense for. Oh, and some stuff that the story forgets to get me interested in happens in the plot.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C-

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Mysterius #2 (of 6), by Jeff Parker, Tom Fowler, Dave McCaig, et al. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anything to change my impression of the series for the better. Mr. Parker provides a solidly executed mystery plot, but the characters remain a bit flat. I still have no idea who Delfi is or what the point is of having her in the story; there’s nothing there. And Mysterius himself is a collection of quirks that never add up to anything approaching a proper character. There are some neat lines in here and I’m mildly curious where the plot is going, but the strongest argument to be made in favor of Mysterius remains the artwork by Mr. Fowler and Mr. McCaig—who, unfortunately, are developing a tendency to give every character in the story a big, red nose, which is not only odd, but also rather takes away from the portrayal of Mysterius himself.

(DC Comics/WildStorm, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C+

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Uncanny X-Men #506, by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, et al. Emma Frost has a sticky black dream. Colossus rescues a group of illegal Russian immigrants about to be forced into prostitution. Cyclops tells a bunch of characters who don’t normally appear in this book to take it easy. Angel and Beast fight a bunch of disproportionate crustaceans in Japan. Sounds like a lot of things going on, but don’t be fooled: It’s just a random collection of generic storylines that don’t connect. It’s all very competent, but so is the phone book. Matt Fraction on autopilot is as much fun as watching paint dry—given his lively, inventive work on Invincible Iron Man, this is almost a little insulting.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C

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X-Factor #40, by Peter David, Valentine de Landro, et al. “The climax of this issue will quite simply blow you away,” Mr. David promises on the recap page. Well, it doesn’t; I don’t much care about it, as a matter of fact. What does blow me away, though, is the plainly fantastic character work the creators do in the 21 pages prior to it. Much of the issue consists of Madrox the Multiple Man holding a monologue, and it’s an entirely convincing, delightfully choreographed performance that allows me full empathy with the character—for which Mr. De Landro deserves a considerable share of the credit, certainly; his task here isn’t easy, but he pulls it off admirably. The whole thing would have worked even better if last issue hadn’t had such a phony ending, of course. Just imagine how much this would have resonated if Madrox and Terry had actually reacted to their tragedy like real people, as opposed to genre stereotypes. But enough with the complaints. If Mr. David turned in this kind of work every month, my guess is that he probably wouldn’t have to worry about plot-based “spoilers” so much.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: B+

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X-Men: Legacy #221, by Mike Carey, Scot Eaton, et al. Let’s not sugar-coat it: I can’t even believe this is by the same guy who’s written sprightly things like My Faith in Frankie. Xavier, Gambit and Rogue spend the issue stumbling through re-enactments of some twenty-year-old storylines while delivering exposition on what it was that was happening in there when it was happening, you know, twenty years back. Is there any point to this? I swear to god, this is one of the dullest X-Men comics I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a few. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would have found this pretty dull even back when I cared a lot more about X-Men lore than I do now.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C-

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I also review The Great Unknown #1 this week, the first part of a new five-issue series by reliably quirky cartoonist Duncan Rouleau.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit perplexed. You write the DC Sales chart overview, but yet, it doesn't appear you read any DC comics.

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

I'm not sure what "a lot" is - it seems I've reviewed at least one DC comic per week for the last couple months.

That said, I don't really see the connection. I've never made any bones of the fact that I don't write the column from the perspective of a fan.