And it´s a nice change from the all link posts I did lately. I mean I only post links that I think are important but I - and I hope my readers - like it more when I can just talk comics. Yes, it´s another journey to the great and not - so - great comics of Yesteryear.....at least the first part of it :
the ones that are on the chopping block :
MARVEL KNIGHTS 1 - 3
Now this series should have been great. It really takes an effort to make a team up between Punisher, Daredevil, Black Widow, Dagger and Shang Chi boring but somehow Marvel succeeded. The art by Eduardo Barretto seems not up to his usual quality and the story is rather - meh. To top it all of we have seen better fights of normal guys against Ulik in the pages of Thor where Lt. Stone at least had the guts to shove a grenade down his throat.
Keeping all that in mind it´s no wonder that I made my best impression of " exit stage left " after issue three since the other heroes decided to go after the Punisher in issue 4. Good riddance.
SAM AND TWITCH 9 - 21
The first 8 issues had it all : an interesting murder mistery with the UDAKU storyline, good art by Angel Medina and lots of action. So it is a real surprise that it all goes down the toilet starting with issue 9. It´s just too full of what I call " expository Bendis dialogue " that I can really enjoy it. In some old comics there was this thing later generations called expository dialogue which was used to give the reader vital information even if it was not a very realistic way to talk.
Now expository Bendis dialogue is when two or more characters talk for page after page without anything happening and with no information for the reader. It´s all there to let the writer flex his writing muscles and stroke his ego. You know, the kind of " talking head " pages that good writers try to avoid and which has almost killed the DAREDEVIL franchise.
I won´t say that Bendis doesn´t write good dialogue but if I want to see two characters talk and talk and talk for hours then I watch a movie or go to the theatre. Comics are about action. And another thing is that if I buy a Sam and Twitch comic I want to read a Sam and Twitch comic and not a Jinx comic. I really don´t care for bounty hunters as the heroes. The reason I stopped reading the book is - I guess - that I had just enough of watching Twitch become more and more of a selfcentered I - don´t - give - a - crap - about - anything - including - my - partner grade A a$$hole. With bad art I have to add.
JUST A PILGRIM
Okay, I´m not sure if I ever was a fanatic Garth Ennis reader but I guess this book landed on my pull list in the wake of PREACHER. With both titles beginning with a p and sounding a bit religious I was ready to take a chance but there are worlds between Preacher and Pilgrim. Carlos Ezquerra is a spanish artist and even if it´s not an art style I like I really have seen worse. As to the story that´s pure Garth Ennis and that´s the problem.
It has the same gross out moments and tough as nails characters as Preacher but without the great underlying story of Preacher or the wonderful character moments it´s just lacking. There is a good portion of symbolism involved and even a main character that shares traits with the kind of lonesome cowboys Clint Eastwood used to play. But without the positive aspects of Preacher it´s just so full of the grim and gritty that it only can be read as a dark comedy on life. Much too cynical for my taste. There are some nice covers in this series especially in the second miniseries GARDEN OF EDEN but it´s just not worth it.
Like MARVEL KNIGHTS this series should have worked. I mean three scantily clad babes drawn by Kevin Maguire trying to save the world. How can this go wrong ? The problem is that it is kind of the anti - TAROT as it has too much story and not enough cheesecake to be really worthwhile. The characters don´t really come alive and there are several guest artists even if one of them is Jeff Johnson. Hmm, I wonder what ever happened to him. He did a really great WONDER MAN series and had this kung fu series at CrossGen but I think he was one of the few artists Marvel didn´t aquire. In any case I´m missing issue 6 so it´s not even a complete run.
Reading the issues I became aware that there were some interesting books coming out by ACCLAIM with great artists like Velluto on Bloodshot, Scott Eaton and Bart Sears on X - O Manowar but the only other comic I really followed was the brilliant Quantum and Woody. One of THE best superhero comedies right up there with the Giffen League.
But that was all I read apart from two or three X - O Manowar issues by Sean Chen. Acclaim did continue some of the Valiant books but for me they were always Valiant light.
For instance while the Valiant series of X - O Manowar was about a barbarian warrior named Aric who had battled against ancient Rome and who landed in our time with a high tech alien armor in the Acclaim X - O Manowar it was a science wizard wearing a high tech armor. In the Valiant version we had Conan the barbarian wearing an armor more advanced than Iron Man and like Captain America he was a man out of his time. But while it were only a few decades with Captain America Aric came from a few centuries back.
That was one hell of a concept and one hell of a series that even had superstar Bart Sears in the final issues. Now the Acclaim version was basically Iron Man with the Iron Man armor. Not really innovative. Which I think just shows why Accalim folded.
the ones that have escaped the chopping block :
After re - reading the issues I have realized that they are not as bad as I thought on first reading. Maybe it´s the fact that the issues mesh better if you read them in one sitting or I expected too much because of the rave reviews the series was getting when I first read it. This time around it was a pretty decent read.
But I was also reminded why I didn´t like the series in the first place. The writing is just lazy and undecided. The author tries too many different things instead of deciding on one direction to go. The motivation of the characters is just to unexplained and there´s no real development to get a feeling for them. And we have all read better teen angst in NEW MUTANTS. The main characters bicker and fight amongst themselves but it always seems they´re talking AT each other not WITH each other. As for the happenings of the zero issue it all just turns the team members into idiots who can´t follow the simplest safety rules.
The story in itself is too short but that may be because it was ended before it´s time. As for the art I have to say that there must have been a time when I really liked ChrissCross but that time seems to have passed and there are just too many fill - in issues in the series. As it is the sad part is that both Prodigy and Ricochet have their best moments in LONERS and AVENGERS : THE INITIATIVE. I think the last one may be the real reason why I´m keeping SLINGERS because it´s kind of a prequel for Prodigy. The only problem is that now that I have decided to keep them I have to check out the number ones since it seems that there is a different number one for each team member as I have gotten the Hornet issue.
For those who don´t know the story : Once upon a time Spider - Man had some legal problems ( which is not really narrowing it down ) and while trying to clear his name he adopted four different superhero identities : Ricochet, Hornet, Prodigy and Husk. Yes, I thought the same : what a brilliant way to simplify his life. Instead of the problems of ONE costumed identity Peter now has FOUR TIMES as much. But hey, it sounds good for Marvel so what the hey ! He pretty soon ditched them anyway.
Anyway, the story was so memorable that I have absolutely no idea what it was about. I wouldn´t even have remembered the first thing about it if I hadn´t re - read SLINGERS. Now at Marvel somebody must have realized that they had just thrown away the potential for four new superheroes by making them new alternative identities for Spider - Man. And so the idea for SLINGERS was born. In the book a former superhero who wants to regain his glory gives the four costumed identities to four teenagers and so the team of the Slingers is born.
On the first night out a terrible accident ( as if ) happens and hijinks ensure....It´s not as bad as I make it sound but again there are some big plot holes and it´s hard to identify with such a selfcentered and unsympathetic bunch. Well, at least sometimes they are. Aw, they´re good kids just not too bright.
IRON MAN Vol 3 issues 1 - 21 and 26 to 49
I was pretty sure that I wanted to keep issues 26 to 30 because THE MASK IN THE IRON MAN is the best story of the run if not one of THE best Iron Man stories ever. If you only read one Iron Man story in your life there are a few to choose from and THE MASK IN THE IRON MAN is my personal favorite. The art by Sean Chen that is always solid really shines in these issues even if there is one done by later regular artist Alita Martinez.
What really blows you away is the story by Joe Quesada, Mr. Marvel himself that reveals a real insight into the character of Tony Stark. But the best is the first page of every issue. If you are a comic writer or comic artist or any kind of comic professional you have to read the story. Because Joe Quesada uses the same words in every first page but through using different pictures and the context of what has happened before it´s always different. This is really comic writing 101.
Normally I would put up an amazon link but they don´t have it on stock and you should be able to find the trade in good comic stores.
I wasn´t so sure of the other issues though. I think one of the main problems I had with this volume is that although Sean Chen is a capable artist he needs a re really powerful story to bring his a game and although Kurt Busiek writes a good story it seems we have seen it all before. Tony comes back from the dead, regains his fortune and starts another company with Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts as employees.
There is the underlying mystery of who wants to kill Tony Stark and a new love interest with Rumiko Fujikawa as well as the unavoidable confrontation with the Mandarin but it feels like just another day at the office. Also I lost interest about the time of the crossover with THE EIGHT DAY so I missed the big payoff as to who the mystery villain was.
Despite this I think I will keep the issues to number 21 because it is a solid run with good art and even some issues done by Mark Bagley, Tom Grummet and Paul Ryan ( of whom I really would like to see a regular series again ). And I wouldn´t get that much money for them anyway. I have kept all the other Iron Man issues so I´m keeping them as well.
As for the post issue 30 floppies : the SONS OF YINSEN story is not that interesting even if it has repercussions to the last issue around 48 but the two stories after it are more interesting like the story that introduces MGH to the Marvel universe and has guest art by Paul Ryan. REMOTE CONTROL on the other hand is the typical greek drama about friendship, lies, deceit, betrayal, love, revenge and murder. The art is not my favorite ( it´s the artist who was did the fill - in issue in MASK IN THE IRON MAN ) but the story won me over.
As usual I was reading the issues before deciding which ones to keep ( which is the reason why I still haven´t read more than one comic from the last haul from the comic shoppe ) and after I had read the first three issues I had to read the rest before going to bed. Now the only problem I have is that I don´t know what happened to Rumiko. The only negative point is that if you read it now you know the rule that whenever some old friend of the main character that nobody has heard about appears he´s the new villain. We know this since HUSH but I think this was pre - hush so even if it is a cliche if you read it now Quesada did it first.
The writing is so effective that even while the reader suspects the villain all along it tries to turn our suspicions in other directions. Now looking at which issues I got and when I stopped reading the book I guess that I returned to Iron Man after MASK IN THE IRON MAN ( which I had heard good things about and bought at Erlangen ) and stayed because I heard that Keron Grant is going to take over the penciling. Now Keron Grant is one of the artists I like and my brother hates.
Because he draws too mangaesque and he doesn´t do elbows. I always like the pure energy and the action his art transports to the reader. So that´s another reason to keep the run and not break it up into three or four short batches. It is just easier to look for the issues 22 to 25 than to decide which issues to keep and which to sell. Before ending the subject of Iron Man I have to say that one of the things I like in this volume is that Tony Stark the inventor takes centerstage. One of the reasons why I have always followed Iron Man is that as an inventor he does have a creative side much like an artist.
Of course he also is kind of crazy since he always seems to turn every invention into a weapon but that´s another story. As always Tony goes through a few armors during the book even ending up in one of his first ones. There have been a few stories where he uses his old armors and it always has the same effect on him - he´s reminded of how he liked the feeling of the old armor. I guess it must be like driving an old car. It may not be as fast and padded as the new fancy cars but it is such a good feeling to feel the vibration of the engine and being pressed into the seat when it pours on the full velocity. There´s a certain nostalgia to the smell of sweat, motor oil and old battles against such pesky guys like the Blizzard, Whiplash or even....Captain America ? Whom he fought a lot.
Anyway, before Tony Stark became the most hated guy in the Marvel universe - and now thanks to DARK REIGN the biggest loser - he was a really cool guy even if he sometimes was a bit weird. The part in the Keron Grant run where he tries to live like a normal guy without his fortune is full of comedy relief. The realistic part is that living this experience once is enough for him.
Once again that´s all for today and I hope this wasn´t too boring. Next up : a few more links with some patented commentary from me.
Corrections : the main character of X - O Manowar was named Aric not Alaric, my bad. Although now that I think of it Alaric does sound much better. I have to remember to use the name in a comic sometime.
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As you may have noticed I have disabled the comment function for this post. Not because I don´t like to read your comments ( so keep them coming ) but because someone is constantly posting spam. Now on one side it´s kind of flattering that someone thinks I have enough traffic that he can get something from this. And for a few eeks I was glad to just delete it but enough is enough.