Review: Unity #1

November 14, 2013

Valiant’s first superteam gets a worthy debut issue as Unity tackles a tough prospect with admirable intelligence.

Unity #1 Review

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a read/RANT update

June 7, 2013

readrantYes, read/RANT is still around.  If you are curious about the absence of posts, and possible upcoming things (like maybe free comics), well read on!

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Review: Justice League #1

August 31, 2011

Spoiler Warning!

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Review: Flashpoint #5 *spoilers*

August 31, 2011

Spoiler Warning!

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Final Thoughts on the DC Relaunch

August 30, 2011

It’s finally here… almost.  Just one more day until Flashpoint #5 brings the current DCU to an end and Justice League #1 launches the new DC Universe.  Before that happens, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what is sure to be a landmark event.

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Why this relaunch could have been done without

August 25, 2011

We should all know by now that the DC Relaunch is about to take place. In most regards at least, I think this relaunch could and should have been done without. Some of the things could even I will address things in no real order, and maybe add in a few other complaints.

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DC Relaunch: Batman and Robin #1

July 3, 2011

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DC Relaunch: Detective Comics #1

June 30, 2011

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DC Relaunch Rant (not really)

June 7, 2011

How crazy is the DC relaunch?  I mean seriously, who saw that coming?  And yet, in retrospect, it all makes perfect sense.

I know a lot of fans have been wringing their hands and predicting failure.  And failure is definitely a possibility.  The stakes on this gamble are freaking huge!  But that’s why I love it.  This is the ballsiest move in comics.  And I hope to hell DC hits the jackpot.

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SeventhSoldier Presents: War

December 23, 2008

War, huh? What is it good for? Some pretty good comics, that’s what.

Wonder Woman #26

wonder-woman

The beginning of Simone’s Rise of the Olympian arc, Wonder Woman’s big shake-up for this year, it also serves as the introduction of her brand new villain – Genocide.  And, to get this out of the way right smack-dab in the beginning of the review, it’s a solid opening issue, if not a stellar one.

Genocide is, to my surprise, a terrible villain.  Thankfully, Simone smartly avoids the issue, because while Genocide, like most one-note characters, is not a particularly compelling personality, she is an excellent monster – and I feel that her costume and dialogue accurately reflect this.

The story is brief – I could sum up everything that happens in about two sentences.  That said, as in every issue, the characterization was spot-on, there was wit, danger, some great action, and even Tresser had a pretty awesome moment.

A good opening, it makes me hopeful for the remainder of the arc, but it doesn’t quite grab me the way I think it should.  Lopresti’s art is magnificent – woo! no cheesecake! – and while he handles everything the issue demands of him with grace and style, a fight as apparently brutal as this one needs an artist willing to get significantly dirtier than Lopresti looks able to get.  The panelling is brilliant, the coloring is great, everything is well handled… but the action of the issue just doesn’t quite feel particularly urgent.  Normally, I don’t mind that in Simone’s WW comics, as we get a series of great character moments and dramatic scenes, but this issue is a fightin’ issue, and as that, it fails to be all it can be.

Grade: B

Unknown Soldier #1

unknown

Unknown Soldier is one of the newest Vertigo books, an action-heavy comic taking place in Uganda just a couple years back.  It’s pretty violent, and while its decent set-up, I’ve never been a fan of the device in which a character ‘just knows stuff’, and the issue relies pretty heavily on that.  A promising beginning, but nothing special, lacking both heart and urgency.

Grade: C+

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns

rage

A poorly executed thirty-page long ad for another event, clumsily shoe-horned into Final Crisis continuity.  As much as I love the concept of the War of Light, all desire to read it has been killed.  So, to that one guy who absolutely hates me for not loving Geoff Johns, congratulations – I won’t be reviewing very many of his books from here on out.

Grade: D+


Review/Rant: Secret Invasion 8 (*Spoilers*)

December 4, 2008

si-8

A few disclaimers first.  One, I’m an unabashed DC fanboy.  I read the Marvel titles that interest me, but that doesn’t amount to much these days.  Two, I hate the skrulls.  I always have.  They bore the living crap out of me.  So, I approached Secret Invasion with trepidation from the start.  Three, I was at best a casual reader of Secret Invasion.  I read the main series and that was it (although I accidentally read a couple of tie-ins that I didn’t realize were tie-ins until after I bought them).

I wanted to get that out of the way because my perspective on Secret Invasion 8 is probably very different from the majority of comic book readers who followed at least a few of the many, many tie-ins.  Aside from a couple of issues of Deadpool, I am reacting solely to the contents of the main series.  Did it hold up on its own merit?

My answer is “no”.  Naturally, I’ll explain my reasoning.  But I figured I’d give you the verdict up front.  No reason to try to create a false sense of suspense…  (We’ve been subjected to enough of that in Secret Invasion and its many, many, many tie-ins.

Before I start detailing why Secret Invasion failed for me, let me talk about the ways in which it was a success.  First and foremost, Leinil Yu’s artwork was consistently amazing.  The series was worth reading just for the art.  The story, was an utter disappointment.  But the art was top notch from start to finish.

The one thing I will grant Bendis in terms of the story was that it was relatively accessible to a casual Marvel reader like myself.  That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment considering that the story was intended to tie up years of dangling plot threads and conspiracy theories.  For the most part, all of those issues were dealt with outside of the main series.

There’s a downside to this approach.  Frankly, there wasn’t much left to deal with in the main series.  Eight issues have come and gone and I’d be hard pressed to come up with more than three sentences to summarize what happened.  The Skrulls showed up.  They fought with the heroes and villains of earth.  They got their asses handed to them. 

It’s the same Skrull Invasion story we’ve all read 1,000 times before.  But for the one-thousand-and-first telling, Bendis has dragged it out for the better part of a year.  And this is after years and years of build-up.  And more tie-ins than I can count.  Folks, there were a lot of tie-ins.

I know I’m not being 100% fair to Secret Invasion here.  But seriously, without referencing a tie-in, can anyone explain any way in which this story was any different from the generic alien-invasion story that’s been done to death in comics for decades?

Issue 8 in particular is a let-down.  Here’s the thing that really pissed me off.  This is really Dark Reign #1 with a Secret Invasion epilogue at the beginning.  The ending of the years-in-the-making Secret Invasion story arc which has dragged on for hundreds of thousands of issues (I kid!) is wrapped up and shuffled off stage in a few pages.  With that unpleasantness out of the way, we start moving on to the next Big Marvel Event which will no doubt have at least as many tie-in issues as Secret Invasion.

So, let’s make with the spoilers already.  This being a Big Marvel Event, they need to kill of a character who doesn’t really sell comics on their own.  In Civil War, it was Goliath.  For Secret Invasion, we get an upgrade to a third stringer.  Wasp dies.  Did anyone out there really care?  I know, I didn’t.  (Partially because you just know they will bring her back eventually.)

Even though I did not care about Wasp’s demise, the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe cared a lot.  It’s kind of a major plot point.  Wasp’s death is apparently the inspiration the citizens of earth needed to fight back the alien invasion.

I dunno.  This just came across as really bogus to me.  Apparently, all the Avengers and the Fantastic Four really needed to defeat the Skrulls was the Eye of the Tiger?  It was kind of like Rocky III without the mohawks, gold chains and Thunderlips.

All kidding aside, shouldn’t most of these heroes have been pretty damn motivated to defeat the Skrulls several issues ago?  Reed’s family was kidnapped and he was tortured.  Why does he need Wasp’s death to get him off his elastic rear end? 

By this point in the story, the world has been at war.  And the humans all but lost.  Surely there had been casualties up to this point.  Innocent civilians lost.  For all the heroes knew, dozens of their friends and allies had been killed and replaced by Skrulls already.  (This turned out not to be the case, but the characters in the story didn’t know that at the time.) 

Why would Wasp’s death have been any more of a motivational factor than any of the others that came before?  Were the heroes really expecting to repel an alien invasion without casualties?  And wouldn’t most of the villains present have been at least a little relieved that there was one less Avenger in the world?

So, yeah, the one major plot point of the final battle with the Skrulls rang pretty false to this reader.  (Although everything Thor did was 100% awesome!)  The battle ended swiftly and was followed by a few pages of hurried wrap-up.  You could almost see Joe Q standing off to the side telling them to get off stage to make room for the next Big Marvel Event.

Oh, but there was one final cop-out to be had.  During the clean-up, the heroes open up a Skrull warship to find… all of the missing heroes.  Yep, all the characters you thought were killed and replaced by Skrulls were not dead afterall.  That’s a pretty big reset button!  Status quo for everyone!

The last half of the issue is dedicated to establishing the new status quo.  Pretty much the only thing that changed after years of build up and infinite tie-ins is that Norman Osborne is the new big man on Marvel’s campus.  As someone who came to loathe Tony Stark during Civil War, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing karma kick his tin-plated ass.  But couldn’t they have waited until Secret Invasion was over before they started pimping Dark Reign?

Now, I’ll give them credit for this much… the premise of Dark Reign sounds pretty darn cool.  And the last page reveal of the bad guy equivalent of the Illuminati was pretty darn awesome.  Unlike Secret Invasion, I’m not turned off by the very premise of Dark Reign.  I may even pick up some of the ties-ins.  (I expect there will be a few to choose from.)

But Dark Reign aside, Secret Invasion was a real snooze.  After years of build up, an event of this size deserved a more satisfying and less rushed ending.


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