Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Catching up

Greetings. I haven't seen a mouse in almost 24 hours and, as a result, I feel relaxed enough to bring you not one, but two week's worth of comic reviews. You lucky people.

Let's start with the worst stuff first: Thor #1. I was looking forward to this a lot. Sadly it was a let down. That's not to say that it was a terrible comic, just that it was OK, and when you're dealing with something as big as the relaunch of Thor, OK isn't good enough.

A comic about a Norse God turned superhero should be big on WOW! and low on pathos. I accept that the scene needs to be set for the new run, but it would've been nice to have a bit more action and a lot less of Donald Blake chatting to the landlady of a desert motel about nothing. I'll probably pick up issue two, but I'll need to see a major increase in hammer wielding shenanigans to stay on board for the long haul.

If you are going to do a superhero comic with a low violence quota, you better make sure it's heavy on ideas. Thor doesn't do that, but All Star Superman does.

Grant Morrison is an ideas man of course, and that makes him the perfect writer for a book which owes a lot to the whacked out world of silver age Supes. His vision is only part of the story though. The book wouldn't succeed half as well as it does were it not for the art.

I'm not just talking about Frank Quitely's drawing either. It's Jamie Grant's colours that really make the book sing. From the blood red skies of Bizarro world to the greeny grey skins of the Bizarros themselves, every panel of this book has been coloured to perfection. It looks like a multi-million dollar cartoon and is truly different to anything else in mainstream comics. Take it from me, this comic is a real pleasure.

As is Green Lantern #21, a book which I mentioned earlier this week because of the fact that it referenced a 1980's Alan Moore story. Stuff like that is automatically going to get me onside, but the truth is I would have enjoyed this even without the 80's fan boy moment.

I'm as tired of event driven crossover comics as the next nerd, but this Sinestro Corps storyline seems to be a big excuse for lots of cool looking aliens to fight each other to the death in space, and if you can't enjoy that then superhero comics really aren't for you.

This issue wasn't as good as the King size Sinestro Corps special which kicked the whole thing off (not enough of Sinestro himself and I miss the Ethan Van Sciver art that made the special look so errr SPECIAL), but there were still enough big moments to get me exited about the next chapter.

I also enjoyed Detective Comics #834, (although not quite as much as the first part of this two-parter which featured a nice little surprise ending), and Outsiders #49 which wraps up the recent crossover with Checkmate.

Checkout (see what they did there?) was an exciting story which I hope will see a few Outsiders readers coming on board Checkmate fulltime.

Best thing about the crossover? The sadistic Doctor Chang, a cyber Humpty Dumpty who feels a bit like a DC version of MODOK.

Look forward to seeing him again. We need more malevolent eggs in comics...


Other than the DC stuff, I've been enjoying Robert Kirkman's work for Image comics this week. The good folk at Amazon were kind enough to ship me out the latest Invincible trade: My Favourite Martian, and I was delighted to see that issue #2 of The Astounding Wolf-Man had also hit the shops.

is as slick and well paced as the previous seven volumes in the series. Still poking gentle fun at the superhero genre and all it's cliches while revelling in the things that make American comics such fun to read when they're done well.

I'm pleased to say that Astounding Wolf-Man looks like it will be similarly enjoyable. There's a nice little twist at the end of the latest issue and a natty little cameo from one of the minor characters from Invincible which was a nice touch.

Given that another of Kirkman's creations Brit also pops up in the Invincible trade, it's becoming clear that he's building his own Universe over at Image. That's just as well, because (with the exception of The Irredeemable Ant-Man) he's more comfortable when he's working outside the confines of the Marvel U.

While Marvel aren't going to let him invent a raft of new characters, I can't help feeling that Kirkman is wasted trotting out Ultimate X-Men and Marvel Team-Up stories which don't allow him the freedom which is so evident in his creator owned Image books. He clearly isn't going to be leaving Marvel anytime soon, but long term I think we'll continue to see his best work in his own comics.

Elsewhere this week I enjoyed Midnighter #9, the last of an impressive series of fill-in issues penned and pencilled by some of the industries top creators before Keith Giffen and Chris Sprouse take over permanently next month.

I thought that maybe Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti didn't quite capture The Midnighter's voice as well as some of their predecessors on the title, but they still managed to produce a decent short story.

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #3 was excellent, Omega Flight #4 is average and The Transformations of Jimmy Olsen trade which I mentioned yesterday is AWESOME. I'm still reading it and I'm sure I'll post something else about it soon.

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