Monday, February 2, 2009

The Weekly Chain Reaction: January 28

Speaking of reviews, a lively discussion on the dos and don’ts of review copies went off at Heidi MacDonald’s place on Friday; and here’s a follow-up post by Johanna Draper Carlson. There’s a lot of skylarking and sideswiping going on, as usual in these things, but Heidi raises some good questions.

And besides, whenever comics reviewers, critics and journalists get together to discuss procedural and ethical issues, that’s something to be applauded, because in a lot of cases, it suggests that they’ve been thinking about them.

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Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #2, by Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, Chris Bachalo, Paolo Rivera, et al. The first of the book’s two stories is a well-executed, pretty-looking painting-by-numbers piece by Dan Slott and Chris Bachalo. In the second, much more interesting one, Spider-Man and Wolverine go to the pub. Zeb Wells doesn’t really seem to have a very good grasp on the characters—his Wolverine is too chatty, his Spider-Man too uptight; I mean, Spider-Man doesn’t lie? Come on, he lies all the time—but if you can get over that, it’s a fun little story. Wolverine downs a bottle of whiskey, gets his head blown off with a shotgun … you know, the sort of stuff that happens to him in bars. Adding Spider-Man to that is a tremendously good idea. In fact, there should be a series called Wolverine Goes to the Pub, with alternating guest-stars. There’s some very good art by Paolo Rivera, too.

(Marvel Comics, 40 pages, $ 3.99)

Grade: C

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Captain America #46, by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, et al. The current storyline is most feeble in the thrills department—it seems a bit filler, really. The characters are sleepwalking their way through the plot, and the key moments that are meant to drive things fail to connect. Seeing Captain America and Namor socialize (or what passes for it in their circles) and lay waste to a bunch of goons together is enough to pacify me for the moment, but I hope this picks up and returns to more inspired territory soon.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C+

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Daredevil #115, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, et al. In which the “Lady Bullseye” storyline reaches its pulse-pounding conclusion. There’s a big fight, and the villain wins—because she’s Lady Bullseye, and she hits the bloody bullseye. That part works, at least. Daredevil’s role in the climax is disappointing, however, and the story just basically snaps back into the status quo, without any discernible change for the protagonist—he’s still moping, and he still doesn’t own up to anything, just like four issues ago. It hasn’t really been a banner year for Ed Brubaker comics so far.

(Marvel Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: C+

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Fantastic Four #563, by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, et al. If I knew anything about Ben Grimm’s fiancée besides her name, which I don’t remember right now, then Sue Richards’ attempt to make her realize what being engaged to the Thing actually means might have been a great, intriguing little scene on several levels. But Mr. Millar evades all the interesting stuff and brushes past the moment so fast that it makes you wonder why he bothered to come up with it in the first place. The rest of the comic doesn’t even have that potential. It’s an incongruent mess of pointless splash pages and boring posturing, none of which is built up sufficiently to carry any weight whatsoever. It seems we’re back to default Mark Millar, where everything’s exploding all the time. Disappointing; I quite liked last issue.

(Marvel Comics, 25 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: D

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The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3 (of 6), by Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, et al. The great thing about superhero comics is that they give you a limitless supply of weird, unexpected shit that can happen. The great thing about The Umbrella Academy, as opposed to 99% of the other superhero comics, is that it’s aware of this potential. There’s nothing revolutionary here—just the kind of stuff that a smart writer can produce when they’re not constantly asleep at the wheel: unexpected, interesting things that keep the story off the beaten path, like when god shows up and it’s James Garner on horseback. I realize that everybody probably can’t do this as well as Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, but you know, you could at least try, this being your job and all.

(Dark Horse Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99)

Grade: B+

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Still perusable: my full-length review of Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler’s Mysterius #1. Coming soon-ish: my full-length review of Final Crisis #7. Coming not-so-soon-ish: my whopper-length review of Final Crisis, period.

2 comments:

Mark Clapham said...

I thought that God in the Umbrella Academy was a recent Bob Dylan, but that might just be me...

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

Mark,

You're right -- Dylan's a good fit, as well, looking at his face. I don't know if there's a cowboy connection, but it's certainly fun imagining Dylan deliver the Big Sheriff's lines.