Foilball’s Review Roundup #54 – The Final Bits… of AWESOME!

Billy Batson and The Magic of Shazam! #2 (****1/2)

This is one of my favorite new books and I don’t care that I’m just about 20 years past the target demographic. This comic rocks. It’s better than 90% of the “adult” super heroes comics being published today and here’s why: 1) It’s super fun. 2) The art is Amazo-ing. I love the whole “unfinished sketch/storyboard/panels within panels thing Mike Kunkel has going on. It’s brilliant! 3) It’s fricking cheap! $2.25! Who cares if the paper isn’t glossy!?! It’s $2.25! 4) OH! And every issue has a section in the back that’s in code and you have to use “The Monster Society Code” to break it! FUN!!! 5) And for those interested in continuity, this book is a direct sequel to last year’s Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil mini series by Jeff Smith. I loved that book, but I have to admit, Mike Kunkel’s Shazam is miles better. No lie. Apparently, Kunkel used to do a little book called Hero Bear that I’d heard of but never read and consequently missed the boat on. Totally feel like an idiot. So, if you like fun and great art, give this book a try. If you don’t like it, then you, sir, have no taste.

Fables #75 (****)

Ah, this really hit the spot. Finally. This is the type of Fables war story I’ve been waiting for. Huge epic battles combined with intimate character moments. It took him 75 issues, but Willingham finally forced me to care about Prince Charming! And the art was also superb. Mark Buckingham grinds out another fabulous issue. What an underrated talent that guy is, right? This isn’t the final issue of the series, but it could easily have been so. My only complaint is that I kind of wish Boy Blue and Bigby had died. Boy Blue’s charm has been running thin as of late and I’m sick and tired of the “all-powerful” Bigby wolf. Like, the guy isn’t God, or Jesus, or Moses even. Get over yourself, you hairy monster.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (****)

Sometimes, and I may get blasted for this, but sometimes I can’t take George Perez pencils. They just… bother me. His layouts are busy and a lot of his faces start repeating. BLAH. What I’m trying to say is that this time I enjoyed his art. It was still uber-busy, of course, but somehow Geoff Johns expert dialoguing mitigated the groan factor. As far as this being a Final Crisis tie-in, I don’t know. How does this story fit exactly? Isn’t Superman zooming through the Multiverse at this point in the FC plot? And what does the Legion have to do with anything? This mini, unlike Revelations, feels like it could’ve been just as well served without the FC banner. Could I be missing the obvious link to FC? Maybe. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Green Lantern Corps #28 (***1/2)

I really want to love this issue, and this arc in general, but the art is just SOOOOO pedestrian. Boring. It feels like fill-in art on some crappy mid-90’s Marvel book. I really like this Sixth Sense character though. I bet Johns and Tomasi are gonna get a ton of mileage out of him once “Blackest Night” starts.

Spawn #182 (****)

Again, WHY? Why are they changing directions? YET! AGAIN! When the story has been so good lately! ARRGH! Admittedly, this issue was a bit of a dip in quality, mostly due to the extraneous amounts of exposition… but… it was still better than 90% of the first 100 issues. At what point do I finally cut my losses and break up with Spawn? Is it time? Yes, I think it is.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #40 – Saturday Post Catch-Up!

Billy Batson and The Magic of Shazam #1 (****)

Magic of Shazam is the new kids book, published under the Johnny DC imprint, that springs directly out of last year’s Monster Society of Evil mini by Jeff Smith. I know it got mixed reviews, but I read it in trade and loved it. Naturally I was very excited to get my hands on this new ongoing series starring the young Billy Batson and his sister Mary. First, the art is AMAZING. It’s this highly stylized/half-finished storyboard-ish thing that’s just really fun to look at. I know this is a kids book, but I seriously doubt the average kid reading this could truly appreciate the art. It’s pretty sophisticated stuff for kids. Shit, I doubt most people would be into this kind of style even in the main line. Moving on to the story… this is a first issue, so the writer/artist, Mike Kunkel, takes his time to properly setup the status quo for Billy and his sister and the introduction of a new villain, Theo Adam, a teenage malcontent bent on discovering Billy’s magic word for personal gain. Hmm, why does that name sound so familiar? There are quite a few call backs to the Jeff Smith mini, but not enough to mess with the flow of the story or to distract the reader with unnecessary continuity. I’ve been reading a lot of these “all ages” books lately, from both Marvel and DC, and I’m always surprised at how well-written and smartly conceived they are. Magic of Shazam is no exception.

Dan Dare #7 (*****)

DOUBLE-SIZED FINALE!!! This book delivers. FUCKING DELIVERS! Dan Dare by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine is my pick for “Sleeper Book of the Year”. I’m way late to the party for this review (for some reason I had neglected to order this issue from DCBS), so I won’t go into plot details as you’ve no doubt heard all about it from better reviewers than I, like the boys on The Pull List. What I will do is demand that you BUY THE HARDCOVER!! The ad in the back says it hits stores some time in September. Mark it down, people. Also, Virgin is promising the next Dan Dare saga this fall. By Ennis and Erskine, I hope? Count me in!

Quick Hits:
Birds of Prey #120 (*): UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH!!! That’s it! I’m out!
Fables #74 (**): Lately, Fables continues to disappoint me. Month after month, this book feels like a total phone-in. It must be nearing the end (I hope!), so I guess I can stick it out for a few more months.
Green Arrow and Black Canary #10 (**): I stopped ordering this sucker. I think I finally just had enough. Everything about this book rubs me the wrong way.
Liberty Comics (****): Support the CBLDF and all that…
• Nightwing #146 (***): Well, the first arc is finally over and I must say that I am very pleased at that. Not because it was good, but because OMG this arc was way too long! Tomasi is a solid writer, but he’s still trying to hard to legitimize the adventures of Dick Grayson. The final two pages with Superman read like a lame PSA from the 80’s. Please, Mr. Tomasi, please stop overwriting this book. I know you can do it! The Black Adam mini was wonderful. Please, quit trying so darn hard!
Savage Dragon #136 (**1/2): This book is awful when compared to what it was, but it comes out so rarely that I don’t mind supporting it. I just wish it was more… fun?
Spawn #180 (***1/2): Spawn has seriously never been better, too bad it’s probably gonna suck more than ever once McFarlane returns to the book.
Trinity #6-7 (**): Wow. How can this book be so terrible and boring? Still happy I’m dropping it.
Wonder Woman #22 (***1/2): The last couple of issue have been Grant Morrison style confusing, but the final page cliffhanger has me giddy to read the next issue. Good job, Gail… I guess?