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Old 04-28-2005, 10:19 AM   #1
wktf
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Comic Book Reviews 4/27/05

Wktf’s Reviews

My wallet suffered mightily this week, about $130 of damage what with the HCs and TPBs that came out on Wednesday. And I bought only four comics! On to the reviews…

New Avengers # 5
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: David Finch

Our new assemblers have crash landed in the Savage Land in search of Karl Lykos, also known as Sauron, the pterodactyl shaped psychic vampire from both X-Men and Spider-Man fame. Supposedly, when Electro was paid to orchestrate the massive prison break from issue #1, the one that set eighty-seven super criminals free from the Raft, Sauron was Electros’ primary target.

Missing from our team are Sentry, who apparently is back in prison for murdering his wife (more on that later, we’re promised by the fan sites), and Wolverine, who made a cameo appearance at the end of last issue. Well, one of the lessons from this issue, as emphasized by how impressed both Cage and Iron Man are, is that no one (not even Wolverine) should sneak up on Jessica Drew. She deals some swift and righteous justice on the feral mutant for his aggressive stance against her that’s both surprising and impressive. I don’t recall her being this big of a bad a@@ from her earlier books. About as impressive as Iron Man’s nearly blowing the head off a T-Rex from inside the creature’s mouth. There’s some wonderfully rendered action, courtesy of Finch, a humorous scene of our heroes in the buff, and fun team dynamics (Wolverine: “So…are you guys a team now?” or the quick exchange between Cap and Luke where Luke unconditionally accepts Cap’s leadership), plus a new mystery regarding S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Reagan-like “arms-for-hostages” role (sorry, no political statement, here) that may get the spy agency and the New Avengers in hot water with the Black Panther down the road.

At the end of this book, with a respite seemingly handed to them, the New Avengers are once again in mortal danger. I tell you, this book just keeps impressing and getting better. What a great story, great art, and an overall great read!

Daredevil #72
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Alex Maleev

This issue marks Part II of “Decalogue,” an arc based on the Ten Commandments. This issue’s Commandment is “Honor Your Mother And Father.” Interestingly, Daredevil does not appear once in this issue and Matt Murdock, himself, appears only for two panels in a flashback scene. I remember back in the 1970s when a Tomb of Dracula cover advertised that Dracula did not appear once in the issue and that I thought this concept was pretty cool after reading the story. I must say, it works pretty well here as well.

I did not like the first installment of this arc. It was plodding and seemed extraneous, considering it’s one big flash back to a year ago when DD had become the new kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. This story, though, gives us some interesting tension in the church basement support group, gathered to discuss Daredevil’s new role in the Kitchen, and a lone story of one man’s struggle to win his imprisoned father’s love and acceptance, his role as a husband and father, and his desire to do the right thing. In addition, it also gives us a few Frank Miller reference in the form of Josie’s Bar, the implication of Elektra’s ninja justice, and some insight into a critical event from the spectacular “Born Again” story (Did anyone here not read Sam’s and my reviews last week of this seminal work? If not, shame on you, and go directly to http://www.statueforum.com/showthread.php?t=8969).

I enjoyed this issue, unlike the prior one. Bendis’ plotting and dialogue moves the story along perfectly and Maleev’s semi-photo realistic art works really well. And the cover, with a silhouetted Daredevil, head bowed and seemingly cradling a grave stone with this issue’s Commandment on it, is powerful and haunting.

Captain America #5
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Michael Lark

This issue is my pick of the week. The stellar Gotham Central creative team of Brubaker and Lark comes to Captain America to work the magic they worked at DC. And do they ever! In the first issue, the Red Skull was murdered and a damaged and powerless Cosmic Cube was lifted from his corpse. Aleksander Lukin, a rogue Soviet general, is responsible for this and the abduction of a WMD designed to charge the Cube. Cap, in the midst of his efforts to solve the mystery of his arch foe’s death, has started suffering unfamiliar WWII flashbacks and hallucinations some of which distract him to the point of nearly having his head handed to him by Crossbones who tips him off that a Russian is responsible for his troubles.

Cap believes someone is messing with his mind and goes to Fury for assistance. During their meeting they pinpoint a possible source for their problems and this leads to a wonderful story about an Invaders’ WWII mission in Russia. There’s a killer Nazi super weapon, the Red Skull (drawn with respect paid to Kirby’s Tales of Suspense days), and the super powered Master Man who, along with Baron Blood, is one of my favorite Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins creation from the original mid-1970s Invaders book. But more, there’s more depth and breadth created for Bucky in this issue than ever before. You can’t help but respect the boy soldier after this story. Also, you get some hints at the persecution complex the Russians have from centuries of invasions and, during the war, their own lack of resources compared to the Nazis and Allies, as well as why Alek Lukin may have good reason to hate Cap. Plus, as with New Avengers, there’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. related mystery that’s dropped on the last page. This arc threatens to wrap up next issue and I, for one, will be in line when it comes out!

Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko HC
Marvel Comics
Written by: Stan Lee and others
Drawn by: Steve Ditko (of course!)

This book came out last week and is the third installment in Marvel’s “Visionaries” HC books lionizing the creative pillars of Marvel’s earliest days. Their first tribute book was to Jack “King” Kirby and, to me, was a disappointment. The Cap and Thor stories simply weren’t his best. The second to Stan “The Man” Lee was brilliant (see my review on this site), and this one, while not as stirring as Stan’s, is a wonderful read.

Some of Ditko’s best and most well remember works are here. Examples include the legendary Amazing Spider-Man #’s 31-33 with the famous scene of Spidey pressing untold tons of building debris and machinery to free himself in order to bring life saving medication to Aunt May. Also in this book is the ASM Annual #1 with the origin of the Sinister Six and those classic full page shots of Spidey battling each arch villain. Dr. Strange’ first story, as well as his origin story, and first multi-part encounter with Dormammu are present, and it’s a real treat to relive the seemingly drug-induced mystic realm landscapes that Ditko dreams up for Strange. You’ll also find an early Hulk tale and the story of Iron Man’s unveiling of his first red and gold armor.

But the biggest treats, for me, were the pre-Spider-Man Twilight Zone-like stories where you see Ditko developing his chops. There are characters with unmistakable resemblances to Peter Parker, Liz Allen, Norman Osborn, and Flash Gordon. There’s even a story in which two of the characters are named, I kid you not, Uncle Ben and Aunt May! The works from his later Marvel years include Dr. Strange, Hulk and Iron Man stories, and are not nearly as remarkable. But then there’s the Speedball origin story where Ditko seems to have rediscovered the wild kinetic energy that made is early Spidey and Doc Strange stories so memorable.

These HCs are pricey but worth it, I think. I’m happy Marvel’s doing them and have my fingers crossed for John Buscema’s turn, next!

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

What up y’all.

Like people have been saying, it was a rough week at the LCS. I coughed up $75 myself. Ultimate Secret, New Avengers (and the variant cover), 2 Howard Chaykin books, Superman/Batman and the Black Widow TPB were just a few of the things I picked up. My pick of the week this week is The Losers (duh), and with that being said, on to the reviews.

The Punisher #20
Marvel MAX
Written By: Garth Ennis
Drawn By: Leandro Fernandez

Garth Ennis wrote one of the most influential and epic comic series of the nineties, “Preacher”, which is one of my favorite comic epics, ever. At some point I’m going to do a review of “Preacher”, but that is neither here nor there. After Preacher many of Garth’s fans were wondering what the hell he would do to top it. His “War Stories” were cool, “Hitman” was entertaining, but then the crazy happened. I was blown away when Garth signed up with Marvel to do the Punisher. Here is a guy whose had several iconic DC series under his belt, Hellblazer, Preacher, the Demon, Hitman, and now he’s gone to Marvel to do his ultraviolet, explicit, yet intelligent writing style with the biggest a$# kicker in the marvel universe? WOOHOOOO! Well, initially anyway.

Garth’s first dozen or so issues on the Punisher were pretty good, but then he went down hill quick. Things went stale, and the Punisher became a comic caricature of himself. It was like Garth didn’t care what he was putting on paper anymore and was just collecting a paycheck. Then the Punisher jumped ship from the slightly more mature Knights line to the adults only MAX imprint. I was pretty sure I was going to get what I wanted, Garth Ennis unleashed on the Punisher.

Now I don’t give a crap about continuity (well kinda, but I try not to get to caught up in it) or anything like that. The first dozen or so issues of Punisher MAX were good. Ennis style hyper violence, decent story telling, the Punisher doing what he does best. Then issue 19 hits, a new arc where some mafia mook Nicky Cavella decides he’s going to call out the Punisher and whack him. Issue 20 is Nicky’s story.

Let me just say I could give a crap about Nicky. I could give a crap about fourth tier nothing characters in general. Why a whole issue has to be devoted to this guy, I don’t know. He’ll never be heard from after this arc. The Punisher doesn’t show up at all in the issue. It’s his comic, he’s on the cover, and you don’t see him. Not until the last panel. Well, that wouldn’t be so bad if there was some interesting exposition and sharp dialog to tide us over, but we get neither. Ennis seems like he’s channeling Scorsese (think Goodfellas but told from a good Irish Catholic Belfast lad rather than an East Coast Italian American), and channeling him through a cut-rate gypsy named Madam Zelda. Oh yeah, and back to Nicky Cavella. We get to see why he’s such a bastard among Mafioso; apparently his aunt sexually abused him after she manipulated him into killing his immediate family. Yeah, I make redneck jokes like everyone else (Billy Bob slept with his sister) ha ha very funny, but Ennis and Fernandez graphically depict and recount Cavella’s molestation as a child at the hands of his aunt. Okay, yeah, I’m being a prude, whatever, but molestation, rape, especially of children, really makes me sick. Maybe it’s the ex-cop in me, I don’t know. It was totally unnecessary; the same thing could have been shown “off camera”. So I’m done with Punisher for now. I’ll wait out four more issues, and start picking it up again with the next arc, but if its more of the same, I’m done with this book for good and will go back to Ennis once he’s doing creator owned work again.

Batgirl #63
DC Comics
Written by: Andersen Gabrych
Drawn by: Ale` Garza

Batgirl, a product of “No Man’s Land”, the infamous Bat-crossover that had Gotham city ravenged by an earthquake. Batgirl is Cassandra, the daughter of Cain, the world’s greatest assassin (or something like that). From birth, Cain raised her with movement only, and soon she became the world’s greatest hand-to-hand combatant, but couldn’t speak a word. She rejected Cain and somehow made her way into Batman’s fold, there Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl took her under her wing, taught her how to speak, and helped her acclimate to society. Cassandra proved her fighting prowess time and time again, even defeating the legendary Lady Shiva. Fast forward to the present, the really crappy “gang war” crossover has ended in all the Bat-titles, and capes are no longer welcome in Gotham. Batman instructs Robin and Batgirl to skip town and set-up in the subtly titled Bludhaven, Nightwing’s former crime ridden base of operations.

Batgirl starts things off in Bludhaven with a bang. She makes a wreck of the Penguin’s organized crime dealings (he’s relocated to Bludhaven as well), sets up a new home, makes friends with the cutesy coffee shop proprietor across the street, and helps some neighbor’s fight gentrification (look it up, I don’t feel like explaining “gentrification” right this second). So the Cutesy coffee shop proprietor, Brenda, invites Cassandra to a party. Everything seems to be going fine, our little Bat-caterpillar has become a Bat-butterfly and is trying new things, meeting new people, etc. etc., and then the Penguin up and decides to put a contract out on Batgirl’s life. Oh yeah, and we find out Deathstroke, the Terminator picks up the hit.

I like Batgirl. She is an interesting character. Even though she speaks now, she is still the same introvert. Everything with her is still a new experience, and even though the series has changed writers a couple of times, her character stays consistent. Garza’s art is very kinetic and flows well, and Gabrych tells a fine story. If this is a character you never gave a second thought to, give it a shot now. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

(For the rest of Sam Wilson's reviews, please go to http://www.statueforum.com/showthread.php?t=9315)
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Next? Will we ever see Werewolf by Night?!

Last edited by wktf; 04-28-2005 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 04-28-2005, 11:30 AM   #2
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Well, my encyclopoedic comic knowledge (as Sam has described it) finally failed me! Sam caught in my Captain America review that I referenced the Brubaker/Lark team as having worked on "Birds of Prey" rather than "Gotham Central," a book I've been reading since the beginning! That's what happens when you're writing while on cold/headache medication! A thousand mae culpas and the error has been corrected.

Nice catch, Sam!
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Old 04-28-2005, 11:51 AM   #3
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Sam - I have not read Punisher 19 or 20 yet. I agree with your comments on the status of the Punisher up to the Max line. I'm going to ask you to reconsider condemning the whole book based on this one issue.

The last two six issue arcs have been vintage Punisher. Issues 7-12 dealt with the Irish Mob in NYC. Issues 13-18 deal with Nick Fury sending him to Russia to bring back a little girl who has been infected with an experimental biological agent. Both arcs are good reads and came at a time when I was close to bailing on this book for the same reasons Sam mentions.

I've read 3 issues of Black Panther so far and the big man has yet to be front and center in his own book. You can get by 1 issue of the Punisher.

I still haven't talked you guys into trying Other World yet, have I. Oh well.
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Old 04-28-2005, 11:59 AM   #4
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WKTF, I'm sorry, but I gotta disagree on New Avengers. The art is awesome. spiderwoman is great. The rest is just average. Bendis does not know how to write wolverine. I'm not disappointed I got this issue, but it was just ok. David finch's art is blowing me away though!
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madjazz
Sam - I have not read Punisher 19 or 20 yet. I agree with your comments on the status of the Punisher up to the Max line. I'm going to ask you to reconsider condemning the whole book based on this one issue.

The last two six issue arcs have been vintage Punisher. Issues 7-12 dealt with the Irish Mob in NYC. Issues 13-18 deal with Nick Fury sending him to Russia to bring back a little girl who has been infected with an experimental biological agent. Both arcs are good reads and came at a time when I was close to bailing on this book for the same reasons Sam mentions.

I still haven't talked you guys into trying Other World yet, have I. Oh well.
mad,

I'm just bailing on this story arc, I'm not condeming the whole book. Like I said in my review, I would've gotten over the Punisher not being in this issue if there was some relevant exposition or sharp dialog, but there was neither. And the insest thing being graphically depicted was totally unecessary. Also in my review I stated I liked all the arcs up to his one as well, and I will pick up the book again after this arc is over, I just don't really care for the current storyline.

Oh yeah, and refresh my memory, what's Other World? Who publishes it?
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bat_collector
WKTF, I'm sorry, but I gotta disagree on New Avengers. The art is awesome. spiderwoman is great. The rest is just average. Bendis does not know how to write wolverine. I'm not disappointed I got this issue, but it was just ok. David finch's art is blowing me away though!
Fair enough. Different opinions make life interesting. Couldn't disagree with you more, though, on the story or the writing of Wolverine, though Logan's explanation of being out of sorts due to the changes in his life felt weird for a guy who's life has been nothing but upheaval. I think this story is taking interesting twists and turns with every issue and the team dynamics are some of the best written in an Avengers book since Englehart/Perez's days.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Wilson
Oh yeah, and refresh my memory, what's Other World? Who publishes it?
I broke down and posted the pertinents for Other World on its own thread yesterday. Not as good as one of your reviews, but the pertinent info is there.
http://66.98.242.87/~admin11/showthread.php?t=9277

No big on the Punisher. I haven't read the last 2 issues yet as they are part of a 6 part story, but it must be pretty bad.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:20 PM   #8
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man, I love this review corner. U guys do a great job.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:27 PM   #9
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We owe it all to you, Furie, my man! It was your suggetion that got this puppy started.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:30 PM   #10
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Nah, I just pointed out what u guys should be doing.
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