COMICS: John’s Wednesday Winners for 5/20/09

This week boasts an interestingly mixed bag: New titles, old standbys, good licensed books, bad licensed books, and a flashback to one of the first comics I ever read.  Let’s begin!

Angel #21

Angel #21

At the top of the order, we have Angel #21. It’s an issue that succeeds in wrapping up a few dangling plot threads, but fails spectacularly in its dialogue.  Why is it that every edgy-yet-humorous writer thinks they can write like Joss Whedon, but nobody actually can?  A barrage of  quips so short that they rarely can be considered complete thoughts seems to be the style of choice for Kelley Armstrong, and it really grates on my nerves.  Joss, please teach a clinic to all those Whedonite writers out there.  Please.

Caped #2

Caped #2

I picked up the first two issues of Josh Lobis, Darin Moiselle and Yair herrera’s Caped this week (published by Boom! Studios), based solely on the premise: It chronicles the life of a superhero’s personal assistant.  While its concept puts it in the company of books like Damage Control, Maintenance, Metadocs and Super Human Resources, the tone of the book reminded me much more of Kevin Rubio’s Abyss. In fact, I think they make the same joke about superheroes driving Priuses!  While Issue #1 suffered from typical set-up syndrome, #2 actually provided more than a few humorous and entertaining moments, as well as some fun action beats.  If this series continues its upward trend, it should make for one heckuva trade paperback.

Jim Butchers Dresden Files: Storm Front #1

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Storm Front #4

I have a bone to pick with Dabel Brothers regarding The Dresden Files: Storm Front #4: The back cover bled black ink all over my hand when I was bringing my comics up to the shop counter!  I know you’re facing bankruptcy, guys, but could you at least put a thicker coating on your covers?

That aside, this was a fun issue, especially for fans of the original novel.  One of the most exciting scenes in Storm Front is the battle between the demon and Harry in his apartment, and here it is rendered fabulously by Adrian Syaf.  It’s a shame that it’s pretty much the only thing that happens in this issue, but it almost works in its favor as a stand-alone exercise in graphic storytelling.  I’ve heard that Dabel Brothers is collecting this series in two volumes, which seems silly to me since you can buy the original story in paperback for less than half the cost of one of the comic collections.

Gigantic #4

Gigantic #4

Rick Remender and Eric Nguyen’s Gigantic#4 (and, really, the entire series) should come with a seat-belt warning, because it’s the most thrilling and exciting ride in comics today. Gripping and captivating from panel one, this series turns conventions (both plot-related and thematic) of giant monster stories upside down.  This issue brings the first arc closer to its climax, and showcases a big reveal designed to make you question everything you’ve seen so far.  Is Kane the hero we thought he was?  Only issue #5 will tell.  Be there!

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #11

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #11

In many ways the opposite of Angel with respect to licensed comics (which makes me even more confused as to how they can both be published by IDW,) Transformers: All Hail Megatron brings more sophistication and style to its storytelling than its source material ever did.  This issue is the big action payoff that Autobot fans have been waiting for, and consequently is rather light on dialogue, sometimes going multiple pages with nary a word balloon or caption box.  The action is bigger than anything seen in the series so far, and really makes the best possible use of double-page splashes to show just how massive a scale these battles are fought on. McCarthy’s Megatron is as evil and calculating as ever, and apparently has Batman’s gift for anticipating and preparing for every possible situation.  I’d be sad that the series is set to end with next month’s issue, but IDW has shown some sense and announced an extension dealing with the aftermath of the main story.  All hail Megatron!

Wolverine: Noir #2

Wolverine: Noir #2

I think Marvel is starting to take advantage of my alternate reality-loving nature with Wolverine Noir #2.  While the other entries in the Marvel Noir series have been whole-heartedly enjoyable (each in its own unique way,) both the writing and art in this one feel completely by-the-numbers and, frankly, boring.  Unless things really shift into gear with the next issue, I’ll be dropping this title.

X-Men Forever Alpha

X-Men Forever Alpha

X-Men Forever Alpha: Ah, ’90s “adjectiveless” X-Men.  Beloved by many, hated by just as many (if not more!) these issues (X-Men 1-3) by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee exemplify more than a few of ’90s comic cliches:  5 variant covers, proportions that would seem exaggerated in a muscle magazine, and more cross-hatches than you can shake a stick at.  Yet despite it all I have a fondness for these issues, likely cultivated by my nostalgia for the old X-Men animated series that used Lee’s art as a style guide.  It could also be that this was the first X-Men comic I ever picked up (and, come to think of it, my first comic not based on an existing license like NOW’s Ghostbusters or Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures) at the tender age of seven.  Back then, these stories completely blew my mind.  All those years later, the series still holds up as an entertaining read.  It certainly doesn’t have the sophisticated and progressive ideas of Morrison’s run, nor the incredible dialogue and characterization of Whedon’s run, but it fits the era incredibly well and still provides a classic X-Men story with a slightly more grown-up feel than previous outings.

For those who don’t know, this bundle of issues from the ’90s was re-released as a primer for Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett’s x-Men Forever, a series that picks up right where Claremont left off after he quit the title in 1991.  I applaud Marvel for this maneuver, and I can only hope that it is the first of many chances for writers to revisit their lines where they left off and tell the stories they wanted to tell, free (more or less) from editorial interference.  With this door open, who knows what we could see?  JMS could come back to Spider-Man!  Grant Morrison could revisit New X-Men!  Heck, maybe John Byrne would be willing to come back to The West Coast Avengers!  Ok, now I’m just dreaming…

That’s it for this week, folks.  See you next time!

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