Foilball’s Review Roundup #43 – Wildstorm Trumps Secret Invasion?

Crossed #0 (***1/2)

Hmm, zombies by Ennis? Couldn’t be worse than Black Gas by Ellis, right? For the money, it’s worth checking out if you’re an Ennis fan. If you’re not, I still wouldn’t bother with this book since you probably won’t like it. It is very much you’re standard Ennis book.

Gravel #3 (****)

How much of this is Wolfer and how much of this is Ellis? I tell you what, there are parts of this that don’t read like Ellis at all, and I have to admit, those are my favorite parts. Kudos to you Mile Wolfer. You took the Combat Magician concept and raised the bar. The art by Oscar Jimenez is brilliant, especially for an Avatar book. Mystery and Magic– I’m on for the ride.

Number of the Beast #8 (****1/2)

This series is the first of the big summer minis to conclude and it completely exceeded my expectations. AND! It ended on a decidedly high note, although the Wildstorm Universe has probably never been so messed up. It wasn’t as enjoyable as Wildstorm Revelations, but it was enjoyable enough. AND! It was also consistently more entertaining than Secret Invasion. AND! I’m uber excited about World’s End, and more than that, I’m excited about Wildstorm again! AND! The High tossing Eidolon into what I hope is space was pretty fricking awesome as far as final pages go. LOOK!

Quick Hits:
Black Panther #39 (****1/2): This is not a Black Panther story. This is some editor calling up Aaron and asking him if he has any cool sci-fi alien stories on the back burner and Aaron responding, “Sure do, bro!” It’s really good, and I loved it, but this is better than any Black Panther story has any right to be. Just saying.
Green Lantern Corps #26 (***1/2): A decent end to a messy story. I don’t know if I like the “Thano-fication” of Mongul, but I definitely don’t like what happens to him in the end. It’s almost like the last 10 issues have been a big waste of time.
Justice League of America #23 (***): It wasn’t a particularly bad story, I just didn’t care. I think I’m dropping this book. It’s not interesting anymore and it’s definitely not the flagship title it used to be. Hmm, maybe that’s because the roster currently includes every stainer you could possibly imagine: Red Arrow? Vixen? Red Tornado? Black Lightning? Enough already. I want the Big Seven! This isn’t the fricking Defenders!
Skaar: Son of Hulk #2 (****): This series is going to be EPIC! I expected the fight inside to last two, maybe three pages max. I figured anything more than that and it would get boring. Nope. Wrong on both counts. And then we get a back-up story too?! Greg Pak, you spoil us.
Superman #678 (***1/2): Better, much better than last time, but Superman still feels kind of “off”. I like the Atlas character’s origin story. I’m also looking forward to next issue’s fight. Should be fun, at least.
Trinity #8-9 (*): Someone stole The Joker’s laugh? HUH?!? God, I can’t believe it’s actually gotten dumber.
Ultimate Spider-Man #124 (***): More flashback nonsense. YUCK.
X-Men Legacy #214 (***1/2): The lamest issue in an otherwise solid arc. I don’t know how I feel about “Miss Sinister” yet, but I’m definitely sticking around to find out.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #33 – THE MEDIOCRES!

As promised, The Mediocres. These books weren’t great and they weren’t bad. They were workman like in their execution, filled with substance but lacking the style to put them over the top.

Batman and the Outsiders #8 (***): This issue does a fine job of wrapping up the last 7 issues worth of story without actually introducing anything new or exciting. It’s a good job, but boring.

Birds of Prey #119 (***): And, Tony Bedard is back. Okay, this was not as bad as I expected. And, Scott is still doing the art, so it’s not a total loss. The following series of panels made me laugh, and not in that good way…

Black Panther #37 (**1/2): It’s mostly filler, but the back and forth between Panther and Killmonger is semi-interesting. Next issue promises to be an all-out slugfest, but… I don’t know if I care about the Panther’s solo adventures anymore. Seems to me like Hudlin is finally running out of ideas. When he first relaunched the book, it seemed to hold so much promise. Instead of rising to the level of exciting political intrigue that Captain America has, it’s slowly fallen into petty soap opera drama. It’s just not compelling. I think after the Secret Invasion tie-in issues, I will be dropping this book.

Green Lantern #32 (***): Compared with the rest of the issues in the arc, which I loved, I was very disappointed in this issue. Not much happened. Sinestro was cool, and that Yoda shit he did with Hal’s plane was very cool, but it felt… mediocre, especially for a Johns book. I’m sure this will be the exception and next issue will see the return of the level of quality we as GL fans are used to. Oh, one more thing. This entire arc is making me so sad for Hal. Like, Carol Ferris is so awesome! A part of me has to believe that another reason for this trip down “Origin Lane” is to reintroduce the Hal/Carol love story… for future reference, of course. Maybe we’ll see more of this after “Blackest Night”? I hope so.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2 (***): Great cover. And that’s about it. Everything else is middle of the road. Vance Astro? GAWD, I’ve always hated him. They should just cap his ass and take the shield. I like the modern reintroduction of the Universal Church of Truth, but I don’t like the characterizations of the leads. Warlock doesn’t feel like Warlock, Drax doesn’t feel like Drax, etc… just about the only character that even acts/sounds like they did in Annihilation is the fricking Raccoon. It hasn’t been outright terrible, so I’ll stick with it for now and see how I feel in a couple of months.

No Hero #0 (***): Too early to tell… this could be great, but there is also the possibility that it’s just a retread of Black Summer or The Order or even Kick-Ass. When he’s on, Ellis is the man. When he’s off? You get weird shit like Anna Mercury and Strange Kiss. Oh, but I do like all the backmatter in this one. Thanks! Oh, and the art is still amazing!

Number of the Beast #6 (***): All the cards have finally been flipped (well, all the cards we know about)! Tons of exposition in this one… no wonder it read so slow. This is the nature of the beast so I can’t fault the writer too much. He’d asked so many questions in the preceding five issues that it was inevitable that he’d have to slow down and catch us all up. Like Green Lantern, I’m sure the next issue will pick right back up.

Ultimate Spider-Man #123 (***1/2): There were parts of this I really liked. I loved how Bendis kept changing “listeners” on us. “Oh, what happened to that nice old man?” Um, Venom ate him, dummy. SWEET! The problem I have with this book is that the way Bendis chose to frame this story actually robs it of any suspense. Because it’s told in flashback, we know Venom gets away safely from Silver Sable and her Wildpack. Everything else still works on a technical level, and what he tried to do was a nice experiment in storytelling, but I’m just not that excited to read the next issue. So, fail?

Ultimate X-Men #95 (**1/2): Whoa… shit just got TOO weird. Cyclops flying? WHA! Rogue knows Vindicator? Like, KNOWS knows? It’s gotta be Gambit, right? Because of the purple energy blasts… but, man, that would be stupid. Northstar dead? Colossus gonna go all roid-ragin’ now? I really liked the new direction that the last issue set up, but I feel like we’re moving too fast and heading in too many different directions. Slow down, man. You’re no Grant Morrison.

I’ll be back Tuesday with The Gooders. Monday, hopefully we’ll have our Series Review of Planetary #9 up, and if we don’t then, sorry.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #30 – EXTRA Long Edition!

The Boys #19 (****)

Finally! Answers! I, like many others, was beginning to wonder if Ennis had completely bamboozled us. Maybe The Boys wasn’t really about anything? Maybe it’s just about normal folks getting juiced up and beating on super folks, like in some twisted revenge fantasy? No, no, no… oh ye of little faith. Ennis, that bastard, had a plan all along; he just took his sweet old time getting to it. Like most of his books, this one is really about the corrupt military-industrial complex and their abuse of power. But, unlike in most of his books (of any of his books?), Ennis fucking spells out the entire scheme in this issue. No, not just the plot. He’s talking about the real world. He’s talking about America. He’s talking about us. This entire issue reads like a post on some “Aliens Killed JFK” blog. And I loved it (mostly because I agree with everything being said). Politics and spandex! I want more. Besides those bits, which take up the majority of this issue, we’re also treated to a scene where The Homelander and Butcher have a quiet little chat. The Homelander… what an asshole. Okay, so for all the haters… come back. This book is worth it.

Doktor Sleepless #7 (****)

I finally understand what this book is about: “Where’s my jetpack?” It really is that simple, and really that brilliant. Special thanks to this issue’s back matter. Without it, fumbling around on my own in the dark, I don’t think I would have ever discovered it. I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last three years researching new technologies and “futurism” that I became blinded by the obvious. Which is not to say AT ALL that I am a futurist, I just enjoy its study. Anyway, for months I couldn’t fathom what the hell it was Ellis was talking about, but not because I didn’t understand the technologies he was using in this book. I mean, usually the ideas he uses are so far ahead of the curve a reader literally assumes they’re pure science fiction. That is, unless… unless that reader has been doing the same kind of research. I had thought Ellis had lost his touch. I read about nanotech clouds and thought to myself, “Jeez, Ellis, this stuff isn’t bleeding edge anymore… you getting lazy?” But that’s the point. It’s not bleeding edge anymore. It’s not part of some far away future with beings barely recognizable as humans. It’s here. The future is here and we don’t even know it. We are the bleeding edge. “Where’s my jetpack?” could be summed up as the complaint of our generation, but it also serves to display our collective ignorance, or… is that arrogance? Where’s your fucking jetpack? It’s been on your back this whole time!

Number of the Beast #5 (****1/2)

I am really enjoying this book. This may be my guilty favorite of the three “WWII heroes frozen in time” events running right now. I love that it plays with dozens of strands of Wildstorm continuity and yet still manages to be daring enough to create a whole new world of characters and subplots that could stand on their own for readers that haven’t a clue about the almost 15 year history of the Wildstorm universe. And I love The High. I love that he’s feeling betrayed by his own people. Superman is one bad day away from being The High. You know what? Forget comparing this to Project Superpowers or The Twelve, this mini-series event is as good as or better than Secret Invasion or Final Crisis. I sincerely recommend this book. It’s 8 issues long and runs bi-weekly so it is quite an investment. But, the bi-weekly schedule means you don’t have to wait as long for your next fix. Maybe that’s why I find it so satisfying?

Young Liars #4 (*****)

The plot is so insane, it literally changes from issue to issue, that I have no clue where Lapham will take us next. Bravo, sir. So much shit happened in this issue:

Danny takes off his shirt.
Big C finds out the truth about her friendship with Sadie.
• Danny and Sadie have lots and lots of sex. And blood.
Sadie takes over a cruise liner at gunpoint… in the nude.
Lapham tops it all off with the best cliffhanger yet!

This is quickly becoming my favorite Vertigo title. Better even than Jack of Fables? Hmm…

Quick Hits:
Amazing Spider-Man #551 (*****): A million stars! Please, when this whole “brain trust” idea inevitably falls apart… please, please, PLEASE give Dan Slott his own Spidey title to work on.
Amazing Spider-Man #552 (****): This is closer to three stars, but the glow of the last issue has colored me biased. Oh, wells!
Angel: After the Fall #8 (***): These, I like these. Why didn’t they start with these? Also, Lynch isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s the artist that sucks. Why do they continue to employ this guy? His pencils are some of the worst I’ve ever seen.
Brit #6 (***1/2): There was a really fun issue in this first arc, and now the book has kind of leveled off. This last one was good enough to grant the stay of execution.
Cable #4 (**): Slowing dooooowwwwwnnnnn… inject plot developments ASAP!!!
Criminal 2 #3 (****): What a depressing story… my favorite kind!
Green Arrow/Black Canary #9 (***): It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just forgettable. Like the entire run.
Green Lantern Corps #25 (**): Tomasi’s writing is wearing thin. The issue wasn’t terrible, but then it took a turn for the cheesy once the Mother Mercy creature started spinning her life story. Lame. More Mongul, please? Oh, good. He’s back next issue.
The Invincible Iron Man #2 (****): Despite how annoyed I am at the forced movie continuity, Matt Fraction is writing a pretty decent Sci-Fi book. Now that I’ve read Casanova, it reminds me of that book. I’ll stick with it for now.
• Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #3 (****): Much better than the last issue. I like the giant interdimensional eye on the last page… so fruity!
• The Last Defenders #4 (***1/2): The reason I like this book: it appears to be the only Marvel book that is actually dealing with the political ramifications of the Superhero Registration Act and the Initiative. That’s cool.
Moon Knight #19 (*): Whatever. I’m canceling this shit.
New Universal: Shockfront #2 (***): This book is really, really slow. It feels like a relaunch and not the next chapter.
Nightwing # 145 (**): Enough with the stupid glider! It looks stupid! It’s a stupid idea! I don’t want to see it anymore! Stupid!
Punisher War Journal #20 (*): Can’t wait for Remender to take over solo.
Robin/Spoiler #1 (*): Huge, huge, HUGE disappointment. Nothing happened that I wanted to happen. Definitely a fumble. Second and inches turned into fourth and punt. UGH.
Spawn #179 (*****): I know hardly anyone is still reading this comic, and once McFarlane comes back actual anyone won’t be reading it, but David Hine is doing a superb job of fleshing out the Spawn mythology. This issue is really, really good. I thought about putting it in the spotlight, but what good would it do? Everyone has their preconceived notions about Spawn. Bah.
Titans #3 (-): Last issue for me. Thank God. I read a review where the reviewer said they really liked this book. They are a liar.
Trinity #1 (**): Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman sitting around in public talking about superhero stuffs… WTF? What worked as an epilogue for Kingdom Come does not work here. Not at all. And what the hell is Wonder Woman wearing? White on white on white? I’m blind! Yes, this is a setup issue, but what happens when the setup sucks? Also, the backup was terrible.
Trinity #2 (***): More of the same terrible from the first issue, with a slight improvement… the villain here is the lamest looking character since Busiek’s failed Power Company book. I give you two months Trinity… two months then I’m out.
• The Twelve #6 (*****): The plot is thickening quite a bit now, almost ready to serve. I feel like this is what Rising Stars should have been. We all know Thor is great, but The Twelve has single-handedly restored my faith in JMS.
Ultimate Origins #1 (***): Not the best idea ever, but I’ll go with it. Of course, I’m speaking of the “Wolverine is mutant zero” idea. I’m interested, that should be enough for now.
Wonder Woman #21 (***): I’m so confused. I feel like a missed an issue. This arc is just not doing it for me, I suppose.
Young X-Men #3 (*): I gave this book three issues and in three issues Guggenheim proved that he can’t write an X-Men book. So, I’m done.

Man, that’s a ton of Quick Hits. I’m in Ohio this week so I didn’t have time to split this up into separate posts. Sorry for the long read, and any and all spelling or grammatical errors.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #24: The Independent Edition!

Atomic Robo: Free Comic Book Day Edition (***1/2)

I was really surprised how much I liked this book. Why? The first few pages didn’t really hook me. It reminded me too much of Hellboy or the early issues of Savage Dragon, you know, before Erik Larsen completely lost his shit and just started aping the Lee/Kirby style down to the chromosomal pairs. Anyway, once I got to the part where Robo fights the Soviet robots, the editor’s note gag hooked me. And then I just loved the full page with the evil scientist guy delivering all the expository goodness. Also, I don’t comment on this nearly enough (save for when it’s terrible), but the art was really good. Overall, I like Mr. Robo a lot, but I don’t know if I like him enough to pick up the first trade and subscribe to the monthly. Question: was this a brand new story or a reprint? Hmm, the more I reflect on this book, the more interested I am in picking up the first trade. Has anyone read it? Is it worth the trouble?

Black Summer #6 (****)

The plot picked back up in this issue, which was nice since the action didn’t let up either. Super looking forward to the end of this re-imagining of that old JLA one-shot, Superpower. Heh, anyone else remember that one?

Dan Dare #6 (*****)

Dan Dare is the action hero we didn’t know we were missing. He’s the kind of guy we used to look up to. The guy we used to want to be, when it was okay for guys to be macho, manly and pompous. Before women’s lib and emasculation of the rougher sex in the late 90’s and the 21st century. There’s nothing emo about him. Nothing feminine. Dan Dare tells you like it is, simplifies the issues and then takes action. Dan Dare also never lies. He is a man of his word, but also a man of action. A man of honor. I know I keep saying it, but that’s not going to stop me from saying it again. I love this book. Why aren’t you reading it? This week’s pull list had this book marked as #6 (of 7)… when did this become a mini-series? Man, this makes The Bill a very sad panda.

Number of the Beast #3 (***1/2)

Slow to start, but boy is it picking up steam. To me, this book feels like COIE for the Wildstorm Universe. Everything I’ve been hoping for in regards to The High paid off in this issue. Is Beatty going to reference the “Change or Die” arc from the Ellis run on Stormwatch? Yes. Oh, hell yes. And now it’s all got me thinking, is The High’s escape from the “simulated world” that all the Golden Age heroes are stuck in the catalyst for Armageddon? If yes, then awesome! The pacing, in my eyes, has totally redeemed itself. Hopefully, it’s the kind of trick Morrison can pull off with Final Crisis. I’d say the same for Bendis on Secret Invasion, but I don’t hold the man’s writing ability in as high regard as Morrison’s. I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that by the end of the year, this sleeper summer event will outdo both Final Crisis and Secret Invasion in terms of storytelling. And really, I’m okay with that.

Quick Hits:
Conan #50 (**1/2): Great series that ended on a very low note. Series really should have ended when Busiek left the book. Sad face.
Midnighter #19 (**): I don’t know what happened, but I’m no longer enjoying this book.
Project Superpowers #3 (*): Issue 3 was nigh on unreadable. I feel like the story isn’t really going to start until Kruger and Ross introduce the entire cast of characters… a cast that grows by about 3-6 new superheroes per issue, all from the Golden Age and all randoms that I’ve never heard of before. At this rate, I don’t think 12 issues is gonna be enough. UGH.
Young Liars #3 (*****): WOW. Seriously, WOW. This fucker gets better and better every month! What a fucking reveal! Holy shit! I was all set to like Danny and now… FUCK!!!

Review: Dreamwar #1 & Number of the Beast #1

With all the Annihilating Conquests, Final Crises, Secret Invasions and Counting Down, it appears that a couple of summer events have gotten lost in the shuffle. Namely, DC/Wildstorm Dreamwar and Number of the Beast. So, I thought I’d shine a little light on the Wildstorm universe and its summer spectaculars.

First, Dreamwar. Confession: I had literally no idea what this thing was about when I ordered it. I saw Keith Giffen’s name and I was in. He is the man responsible for Annihilation and the revitalization of Marvel’s cosmic heroes… why not go in blind? But after reading the first issue, I still have no idea what the hell is going on! We get very little in the way of explanation. All we do know for sure is that the DCU heroes from the Silver Age (I think) have invaded the Wildstorm Universe. All the major Wildstorm U characters and teams are present: The Authority, Stormwatch, Mr. Majestic, The Wildcats, Gen 13… even the old fogies from Tranquility make an appearance. But still, no idea what the heck a “Dreamwar” is. Usually this would send me packing, but it’s Giffen so I’ll stick it out. I trust the man. I can’t really recommend this yet, but I can definitely give it a “wait and see.”

The next chapter in the biggest Wildstorm event since forever takes place over in Number of the Beast. The story continues from the “TBZ-Approved” Wildstorm Revelations mini, and before that, the Gage penned Armageddon one-shots. Armageddon and Revelations, especially Revelations, were good enough to get me to order this 8-part bi-weekly epic, so this mother-effer better deliver. I don’t really have an opinion on Scott Beatty’s writing one way or the other, but I love Chris Sprouse. It’s so nice to see him penciling again. Just like with Dreamwar, I’m a bit confused by the first issue. I think I’ve figured out that the characters in this book are forgotten heroes from the Golden Age, but I’m not sure how this relates to the current Wildstorm U. Are these character trapped inside some kind of “bubble world”, like the Weapon Plus facility from Morrison’s X-Men run? I don’t know. Is this an apocalypse for Wildstorm? I JUST DON’T KNOW… I could read up on it, hit the forums, but I kind of want to be surprised this time. Like, we already know so much about Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, it kind of spoils them. It’s like when a movie trailer shows you all the cool or funny parts and then you see the movie and you realize you just wasted 10 bucks because everything cool or funny was in the trailer, and trailers are free. But even with the confusion I liked it all the same. And as far as this “forgotten Golden Age heroes” fad goes, this book is tons better than Project Superpowers and almost as cool as The Twelve. I just really like these characters. And The High is back? AWESOME. I’m definitely sticking it out and look forward to the next bi-weekly installment. And as soon as I figure it out, I’ll clue ya’ll in. Promise.

We got ourselves two summer events from Wildstorm which makes three total from DC. If you’re sick of all the hype surrounding Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, you may want to give one of these events a shot. Especially Number of the Beast… it appears to have the most potential for awesome. And pick up Wildstorm Revelations when it trades, it’s definitely worth a look.