Foilball’s Review Roundup #32 – THE GROANERS!

“Ah, I’m so lazy this week.” – Billy Zonos

Instead of doing the usual coverage of my twice-monthly DCBS shipment, I thought I’d split my remaining reviews into separate Roundups divided by overall quality: The Groaners, The Mediocres and The Gooders. This, obviously, is The Groaners. For those that have read the following books, yes, I feel your pain. For those that have not, yes, you dodged a bullet and your wallet thanks you.

Anna Mercury #2 (**): OH MY GOD. This one is awful. Forget every nice thing I said about the first issue. This series reads likes it’s based on an idea that’s 10 years old. You got me, Ellis. Oh, you bastard.

Dreamwar #3 (**1/2): Things are not looking up. Finally, we get some kind of explanation… well, no. We get Superman crying after Batman is killed, “Hal… Ollie’s dead. Why didn’t it matter to us? What are we doing?” Yeah, I’d love the answer to that one too. Please? Thanks. Oh, wait… Zealot killed Batman:

Justice League of America #22 (*): One. I hate the Amazo story from the opening arc. Two. I still hate it. Three. Why does every woman that Benes draws look like a total whore? Four. Black Canary serves it up fresh. Wait, that was awesome! Five. Red Tornado… don’t care!!!

The Programme #12 (-): To be honest, I skimmed it and then read the end. Of what I read, I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about and I don’t really care to ever know.

Runaways #30 (*1/2): It could have been worse. If you skip the first 15 or 16 pages, the wrap-up is kind of nice. My favorite/best part of this travesty? Finding out just how fucked up Nico has become.

Amazing Spider-Man #563 (**1/2): Note to Bob Gale – Stop telling cheesy jokes. This has been a message from your readership.

Superman #677 (*): Um, is this supposed to be in continuity? Superman talks like a fucking idiot! Misogyny? Check. Naiveté? Check. I mean, shit. The guy talks about his dog like a 7-year old would. How lame is this? I thought Robinson was this huge talent? And who the heck is this lame-ass Atlas character? GAH! I didn’t think it could get worse than the Busiek Superman run, but this one has shown me the error of my ways.

Superman/Batman #49 (**1/2): I’m surprised how bad this was as compared to the other 5 parts of this story. The end just didn’t work for me. I don’t buy Lana Lang trying to poison the earth with Kryptonite in order to force Supes to leave, never mind the fact that she has been behind this plot the whole time. This is just ludicrous to me. This story is definitely out of continuity. I don’t see Johns or Robinson paying much attention to this particular change in the Clark/Lana dynamic. Oh, but I did like that final page (with Batman inside that vault filled with all types of Kryptonite): Yep, Bats is a douchebag.

Trinity #3-4 (**): This book is boring. And ugly. Bagley doing DC characters just doesn’t look right. As much as I hate doing it, I’m dropping this book. Maybe if the plot picks up later, I’ll jump back in. For now, I’m just gonna ignore it. Sit it out like my pal, Superman.

The Ultimates #4 (*): I don’t know what bugs me more? The awful plot or the “ripped straight from cheesy movie” dialogue? “Come with me if you want to live.” Really? REALLY?!?!

Uncanny X-Men #499 (**1/2): I loved the first 4 parts… this was a jumbled mess. The A and B plot did not sync up well, every cutaway was painful, and the revelation that the mysterious hippie woman was Mastermind’s daughter was actually a non-event. Meanwhile, back in Russia… their faces: priceless.

Wolverine #66 (*): MOST OVER-RATED BOOK OF THE YEAR. Everyone is literally jacking off into each other’s mouths over this one… I just don’t see it. This book is atrocious. So atrocious, someone needs to give it a red power ring. DING. I mean, BIG DEAL, Millar is adapting “Unforgiven” and using Wolverine to play the role of William Muny. I don’t care! Why!?!? Why is this a good idea? (And I like westerns…)

X-Men: Legacy #213 (**): Are we ready for some super-retcons? So, let me break this one down: Mr. Sinister has a machine that in the event of his death will transfer his essence into the body of Professor X? 

And on that note… I’ll post The Mediocres tomorrow, maybe. Hey, it’s the Fourth of July, I may be busy. Like, drinking and stuff.

Two sets of Reviews

Some spoilers here for Secret Invasion and Kick-Ass

New Avengers #41

So we’re getting more info on the Savage Land, both in terms of the past and the present. Bendis continues to fill in the gaps from previous events in Skrully lore, this time concerning the machinations of the SHIELD agents (read: Skrulls) that were drilling the Savage Land for vibranium back in that first New Avengers arc so very long ago. The paranoia continues to rear its head, as the Marvel heroes are having serious trouble believing anyone is anything they say they are. This is predominantly a story about Shana, Ka-Zar and Zabu discovering the truth behind the intrusion into the Savage Land. It’s pretty average, and at times skirts the edge of mediocre, but it still gives us information that furthers the background of exactly what the Skrulls have been pulling off and for how long. It’s not great, but it’s certainly not bad. And most importantly, it serves a purpose. C+

The Incredible Hercules #117

Now this, on the other hand, is great. We’ve got our boy Herc being tricked by Athena, the Eternals and some other Gods of various religions and cultures and ending up leading a group of their champions off this mortal plane in an attempt to kill the gods of the Skrull pantheon and thus crush their morale and hopefully put a stop to the Invasion through different means. This is the perfect kind of crossover. It’s heavily tied into the mythos of Secret Invasion, but I don’t expect to see this plot thread show up in the main title. All the same, it sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a complete throwaway based on the strength of both this first issue and the overall concept of the arc. Sacred Invasion, indeed. Awesome, awesome stuff here. Pak and Van Lente continue to bring that great sense of buddy cop whimsy without sacrificing tension and seriousness, and the art continues to impress no matter who’s drawing it. I was giddy while I read this book. And that last page? Hoo boy! This gon’ be good. Best tie in we’ve seen yet, and there’s some pretty strong competition. A

Mighty Avengers #14

Yup, it’s about the Sentry. And I guess it kinda officially confirms that the Vision that got off the ship in the Savage Land was indeed a Skrull. The book makes perfect sense from the logical perspective of the Skrulls needing a plan to take out the Sentry, and that seems to pay off well. Yes, the whole idea of the Sentry is pretty tired right now (you want to read a good Sentry-centric issue? Silent War #5 is one of the better portrayals of Mr. Reynolds as someone that is capable of actual thought), and the idea of all the Skrull infiltrators meeting in a darkened warehouse while staying shapeshifted in their new identities is a little silly, but just like New Avengers, there is purpose here. And that’s all I really ask for. It adds to the mythos surrounding Secret Invasion, and continues the trend that the Skrulls have finally gotten their shit together and are going about things right this time. That ending was pretty crazy though. I know a lot of Sentry detractors probably groaned, but I still think the Void dichotomy can work if handled in the correct way. Let’s see if Bendis can pull it off. B-

Ms. Marvel #27

There is one thing that is seriously hurting this book. It’s still in the Infiltration stages of Secret Invasion (and hence still has the Infiltration banner instead of the standard one), and since we’re getting the third issue of the actual series in stores tomorrow, the momentum definitely isn’t there. You just want things to speed up and get to the full on Invasion at this point. It’s hard to give this one a fair shake due to this send of redundancy, which isn’t automatically the fault of Brian Reed or anyone else for that matter, but this arc seems to be lost in the shuffle, and I can’t pull myself away and look at it objectively. C

Trinity #1

I wasn’t planning on picking up this book. I hadn’t preordered it. No issues with the creators, mind you. I’ve loved Busiek ever since I picked up Marvels in trade, and I really dug Bagley’s work on the first six trades of Ultimate Spider-Man. This third weekly really seems set up to be a cash grab more than anything. 52 and Countdown each had a point. 52 bridged Infinite Crisis to One Year Later (or, at least it tried to). Countdown led us into Final Crisis (or, at least it tried to). But here we’ve just got another story about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman that just happens to be a weekly for no truly adequate reason. That just presupposes cash grab. But I still picked up the first issue at the shop yesterday because I was intrigued. And you know what? It was pretty darned good. The hook is that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman each share a dream (which is excellently viewed through the lens of each character’s individual experience) about some cosmic evil thingie and come together to fingure out just what’s going on. Busiek throws in a nice little interlude involving the Flash and his family taking down Clayface. Can’t really figure out the point of that, but it was a fun scene. Of course, the whole point of this weekly, and the fact that allows for Busiek and Bagley to write and draw the whole thing themselves, is the way it is split into the main story and a length backup written by Favian Nicieza and drawn by various folks. The first installment of the backup seems to work pretty well in acting like a mirror to the main title, where we see the creation of a trinity of villains that hope to counteract the work of their much better known heroic counterparts. We’ll have to see exactly how this is going to work, because the art suffers a bit, but it’s written well and also carries along the intriguing premise of the first half of the book in a surprising and interesting way. There is a lot of potential for this series. I worry a little that Busiek won’t be able to write 52 issues in a compressed period of time without getting a little loopy, I won’t be buying the singles due to cash restraints, but I look forward to reading the trades some day. B

Secret Invasion #3

Seems like we’re finally starting to leave the set up stages, which means we probably have a lot of fighting to look forward to in issue four. Especially with that big ass gun Nick Fury was carrying in the final panel. I mean, sometimes a gun is just a gun, but Mr. Fury’s looking pretty virile there…Ok moving on. Bendis comes back to some of the threads dangling from the first issue, including Jarvis fucking with Maria Hill’s head, Norman Osborne fucking with Captain Marvel’s head, and Spider-Woman fucking with Tony Stark’s head, Yellowjacket fucking with the Initiative’s collective heads, and the Super Skrulls fucking with Vision’s head (by, you know, blowing it up). This issue felt longer than the first, despite being a little less wordy, and I think the disparate threads being reexamined allows for the grand design to further establish itself. Sure, we’ll probably see 90% of the Captain Marvel story in the Thunderbolts issues, but this is a crossover, is it not? What else is there to expect? I’m still definitely along for the ride, and I’m really hooked by the Spider-Woman/Tony Stark scene. I mean, it’s good to see Bendis make everything clear, that Spider-Woman is in fact a Skrull and was indeed replaced by the Skrull Empress, and that dialogue with Tony is just diabolical. Taking a man at his weakest point in the middle of being attacked by a technovirus that has infiltrated his entire body and stringing him along like that could completely unhinge someone. And it’s great because there are two possible outcomes here, both of which make logical sense. Either Tony is indeed a deep cover Skrull, or Spider-Woman is doing her best to make sure Tony’s a non factor in the continuation of the invasion by instilling that fear and doubt in himself that could cause him to hesitate for just long enough. I don’t really know what to expect from this series in the long term. I doubt we’ll see the end of the Superhero Registration Act or the Initiative. Everyone assumes Fury would come back to head SHIELD again, but I don’t know. What I do know is this is pure breezy fun with that little undercurrent of real artistry. A-

Kick-Ass #3

DAMN! Mark Millar wasn’t holding back much on this one. It makes you wonder what the lead time was for his writing and JRJR’s art work, because this is the perfect issue to come in on after a bit of lateness in a title. Did he know it wouldn’t ship monthly? Regardless, this issue sees the explosion outward of this little world. Suddenly, we know that there are others out there like our young protagonist, one of which happens to love eviscerating and partially decapitating people with his sword. Which is arguably fine if not for the fact that he’s basically an eight year old kid. Shit’s fucked up. But beyond all the blood (and you can tell JRJR is exorcising some demons with those last couple of pages), you’ve still got the continuation of this wonderful universe. Sure, Kick-Ass is practically Spider-Man for all intents and purposes, and he has to deal with the whole idea of becoming a viral video star and not being able to take care of it, to being mistaken for gay by the love of his life. It’s not easy for this kid, and he keeps going. This is by far the best issue of Kick-Ass we’ve seen, and it shows so much potential for the future. Pure, unadulterated fun. A

1985 #1

It’s more Mark Millar working in the “real world” here, with the beginning of this six issue mini. This is a trope we’ve seen in many versions, with the fictional characters moving into real life. In this case it’s the villains of the Marvel Universe. Now, the biggest deal about this book is the Tommy Lee Edwards pencils. Now, I’m not at all familiar with Tommy Lee Edwards. To be honest, I don’t know what else he’s done. I do know that this stuff is pretty awesome. Doom, Red Skull and Hulk all have that little extra tinge of reality that makes them look so otherworldly. I mean, I know a big guy in a green cape covered head to toe in armor is going to look a little strange (I mean, just look at the Fantastic Four movies), and Edwards makes sure to not draw him in a fashion that would make him blend in to an environment where he shouldn’t blend in. We’ve got a solid base for this book, and I’m excited to see if this could turn out to basically be Marvels from a child’s perspective. And that’s an angle I appreciate. B