Mini Reviews: Make Mine…not…Marvel…?

Yes, I actually got some books that aren’t from the House of Ideas. And here they are.

Comic Book Comics #2 (*****)

Fred Van Lente is a guy you’ve probably heard of by now. Cowriter of The Incredible Hercules, upcoming writer of Marvel Zombies 3, Mr. Marvel Adventures. He’s all over the place. But Evil Twin Comics is where he puts out his best work. Comic Book Comics is another book that is chock full of edutainment in the same way the first issue and Action Philosophers were. This issue covers the war years of comics, hashing out the way superheroes died out to be replaced by Romance and Western comics, as well as the rise of EC’s slate of horror and science fiction books. Van Lente’s writing remains informative without becoming stale, which is always a tough thing to do when there is this much text that I guess could technically be considered “exposition.” And considering that there is no “host” character to lead us through, it’s all on Van Lente’s ability to walk the tightrope of being informative, funny, and generally not boring. Ryan Dunlavey’s art helps make the job easier with his breezy and cartoony style that effectively enhances the text without becoming intrusive or overtly flashy. I mean this is, for all intents and purposes, a kind of mini textbook. The stylization really helps note the differing ways folks were making comics back then while still allowing for the visual jokes to come through, like the Human Torch vs. Namor comics of the 1940’s being depicted as a jug of water and a lit match squaring off in a boxing ring, or the recurring theme of two unsupervised kids having a conversation while it is plain to see their parents having sex through a window right above them (“There are strange moans and creaking noises coming from mom and dad’s room!” “Must be S.S. code! We better warn Cap!”). The book takes us right up to the beginnings of The Seduction of the Innocent and Frederick Wertham’s attack on the comics industry, which is something I’m very much looking forward to reading from the point of view of these two crazy cats. This is a great read, and October couldn’t come sooner.

Ambush Bug: Year None #1(***1/2)

It’s not necessarily what I expected from this series going in. The only Ambush Bug I’ve actually read is his brief appearance in 52, so I think I was expecting a much more over the top and slapsticky sort of fourth wall breaking lunacy. Which is not to say that what I got was bad, but it was certainly different. The conceit is basically to parody the plot and tone of Identity Crisis, and I did love the way that Giffen poked fun at Meltzer’s repetition style in the caption boxes. I don’t know how much there is to say, really. I enjoyed it, got some laughs out of it, dug the art, looking forward to seeing it continue. It was a solid first issue. Nothing was blow away brilliant, nothing sucked. A bit middle of the road, but nothing that I regretted buying or reading.

Green Lantern Corps #26 (****)

I really enjoyed the Black Mercy/Ring Quest storyline. I like Mongul about as much as one can like a copy of a copy (by way of Thanos by way of Darkseid), and the Mother Mercy concept and how she viewed the purpose of the Black Mercy was certainly not the angle I expected them to take, and I think it worked in the favor of Peter Tomasi. And while it could be seen as cheesy to some, I did get a kick out of both rings picking the same successor (makes you wonder how fast both of those things would search out Batman if someone from Earth’s sector bit it), and while I think the decision was handled a bit too neatly, it still worked. Bzzt dies a hero, things are set to continue moving forward, and I still have my tiny thread of Green Lanterny goodness to hold onto until Geoff Johns returns to the here and now.

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