5 Stars: WARNING: May Cause Head Explosion.
4 Stars: A first read!
3 Stars: Read it when you can.
2 Stars: Give it away when you’re done.
1 Star: BURN IT!
Gravel #1 (***1/2)
Gravel is the story of William Gravel, Combat Magician. His previous exploits can be found in the various Strange Kiss/Killings trades by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer. The basic premise of the character and the ongoing series is this: There are 7 Major Magicians in England and there are 7 Minor Magician Detectives. Gravel is one of the Minor ones. Believing Gravel to be dead, a new magician was promoted to the Minor 7. Now, a rogue element within this fraternity is causing all kinds of havoc and conjuring up some nasty shit, like this. Is that a lizard penis? Anyway, I wanted to do a full review of this issue, but it’s basically just a lot of set-up and new reader stuff. This is fine. I’ve always loved the Gravel character, but hated what Ellis has done with him previously. Hated is a strong word, I guess I was disappointed that he hasn’t come up with anything more interesting than zombies and deep throat alien women. Okay, the body orchard idea was pretty cool. Anyway again, I’m super excited that we’re finally getting an ongoing Gravel book and Mike Wolfer isn’t doing the art (apologies to Wolfer). The first issue holds a ton of promise and I love the new artist. If you like SAS badasses mixed with magic, or you’re just an Ellis whore like me, Gravel may be right up your alley.
Iron Man #26 (****)
The great thing about the Knaufs current run on the book is that they have the good sense to treat the character like the hero he is. Iron Man is getting shit on all across the Marvel Universe; it’s nice that there still exists a place for the “heroic” Tony Stark. The book reads much like a Tom Clancy novel. It’s also reminiscent of the tone of the current Captain America series, both in art and plotting. The current storyline finally came to a head in the last issue, it’s been building slowly since issue 13 or 14 I believe (maybe earlier), with IM confronting the Mandarin in his lair. Most of the book is just straight up beatdowns between the rivals, De La Torre is impressive here as always, then ends with a BOOM and a cliffhanger that although involves IM heavily, is surprisingly more about the moral decision that one of the minor characters makes. And at its core, that’s what this book has in spades. Character development. Dum Dum has never before been this three-dimensional. Take this scene with Dugan and Maria Hill… simultaneously paying off multiple subplots: Stark’s perceived irrational behavior, Hill’s inability to cope with being second in command and Dugan’s unwavering loyalty, not to the man, but to the job. I like these guys because they don’t condescend to the lowly comic reader. They treat us with respect and turn out high quality stuff every month.
Kick-Ass #1 (***1/2)
I wanted to hate this comic. The amount of “back-patting” by Millar and Co. has been sickening. And stamping the cover with “THE GREATEST SUPERHERO BOOK OF ALL TIME IS FINALLY HERE!” was like a punch in the face… no pun intended. So then I read it. First few pages are wall to wall narration. But, it’s entertaining narration. The kind you would find in a movie. The comic reads like a film. Cool, I love movies. Moving on, we see the kid go through the process of deciding and then becoming a real life superhero. So far, so okay. Not great yet. Then, right toward the end we get this page right after our hero is stabbed in the ribs when he tries to stop a gang of graffiti ruffians. It was the first caption that reached out and grabbed me by the Johnson. “Others”? Okay, maybe Millar really does have something cool up his sleeve? Could this be… not only is this a commentary on comics and the real life desire for stardom, but it might also be working on a lower level, establishing an entire new universe of superheroes, delving unself-consciously into the genre it’s aping? And if that’s so, then this isn’t just another pessimistic deconstruction of the superhero, maybe it’s something more… reflecting on comics and then re-reflecting on itself, a double post-modern interpretation but in a positive light? I have no idea if anything I just wrote is comprehensible, but I’m excited as all hell for issue 2!
Wildstorm Revelations #4 (*****)
This entire series has been excellent so far. The banter alone is worth the 6 bucks a month. It makes me wish this was an ongoing series and not just a filler mini till the next BIG EVENT book comes out. I love these characters. This is the book Birds of Prey wishes it was. Seriously, if you guys aren’t reading this, you’re missing out. Sure it’s filled to the brim with continuity, but the characters are so endearing and funny, you don’t even need to pay attention to the plot (which is also great) to enjoy this book. And I love that Nemesis, the book’s main bad girl, doesn’t have to run around naked all the time to be awesome. These two panels crack me up. Gage and Beatty’s ability to find the mundane humor in the fantastic truly excels in this book filled with sarcastic anti-heroes. Highly recommended.
Wolverine Origins #22 (****)
I have a love hate relationship with this book. Sometimes I feel that Dillon is the wrong guy for the job here. Other times, I can’t imagine anyone else drawing shit like this. This and the last arc have been truly a breath of fresh air. I hated all that Wolverine’s son bullshit from earlier. This book gets 4 stars just for the way Daniel Way writes Deadpool. There are a number, and I mean a NUMBER, of great comedic setups in this and the last issue, I don’t want to spoil them, so pick them up. You won’t be disappointed. My only complaint? The Bianchi cover, while artistically excellent, doesn’t fit the tone of this arc at all. Meh, minor nitpick.
- Authority Prime #5 (****): Christos Gage proves again how immense his talent is. It’s almost better than when Ellis was writing it.
- Batman #674 (**): I’ve liked almost everything Morrison has done on Batman, but this issue is just too weird. Replacement Batmen? WTG?
- Batman and the Outsiders #4 (***): Another solid issue from Dixon, but not mind-popping like the first three. Oh, and what the hell was this?
- Daredevil #105 (****): Great end to a meaningful chapter in Matt Murdock’s life. I hope this doesn’t mean Brubaker’s tossing Mila into continuity hell.
- House of M: Avengers (*****): A great message wrapped inside a great story: Standing up for what you believe, even if that means going up against the powers that be. The message that Mark Millar bungled in Civil War, Gage gets right.
- Invincible #48 (**): I guess I’m just losing my patience with all things Kirkman, because absolutely nothing of significance happened in this issue. Sure a bad guy attacked, but what about some sub-plot movement? Hell, what about some main plot movement?
- Justice Society of America #13 (****): The cover alone gets this one a good review. Superman talking to Superman. And a giant head.
- Ultimate X-Men #91 (***): Wow, if Kirkman wrote more like this one, maybe they wouldn’t cancel all his books!
Tomorrow or later today, I’ll throw up a review for The Incredible Hercules. Stay tuned.