Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rambling Reviews for 1/10/08

This Week In Review - Our heroes fail to beat up Nazis in the Past, Different Concentration Camp Operators in the Future, Symbiotes in the Present, a Blonde Guy in A Blue Suit and, most heinously, Someone Who Thinks That Reality Television is an Art Form.

No! Not The Spoilers! NOT THE SPOILERS! AIIIGH, They're In My eyes!

The Twelve #1 - J. Michael Straczynski & Chris Weston - B+

Wow. That's a grand opener.

For those of you who haven't heard of this comic, it's the story of 12 Marvel WWII superheroes, both meta and non, who get put into suspended animation by skeevy Nazi scientists. The Nazis are killed by Commies before they can enact their evil plans, leaving these Marvel Golden Age sorts frozen. They're found and woken up 60 years later in 2008, without our friend Captain America around to help them with culture shock. A depressed General not only offers them all the money they want but asks them to be superheroes again in a world that's gone messy and ugly. A flashforward in the last two pages suggests this naive plan will not go so well. It's a trifle Watchmen-esque but that's by no means a bad thing.

The art is lovely and full of little details. Nazi Supervilains in portrait form, details on coins and ears, and oh, the differences in people's eyebrows. It's a sad sign that I'm so easy to please but I dug the attention to detail a lot.

The comic loses some points for having just one female character, Black Widow (no, not that one. Or the other one), who subsequently gets groped by skeevy Commander Nazi Scientist while she's out cold. On the other hand, her power, her look and her origin do seem rather bad-ass. This original Black Widow gained the power to kill evil men with just a touch by making a pact with THE DEVIL. \m/
. . . Which maybe just goes to show people that I find a 90's style origin in 40's style clothes to be strangely cool. Maybe I'm lame. *hangs head in shame*

X-Factor 27 - Peter David & Scott Eaton - C-

I am very displeased by this crossover nonsense. It's like shoehorning 2/3'ds of the Lord of the Rings movies into Double Indemnity.

Let me start by saying that I usually love X-Factor. Film noir is one of my favorite genres. I can relate to Jamie Madrox's internal struggles and self-doubt. The characters are all messy, complicated and secretive. They're the outcasts who live in the real world while the Mansion Mutants have their high soap operas. Until recently, the word 'superheroes' hasn't even really applied to these characters, which I kind of love.

And then there's Layla. Layla Miller is one of the most compulsively interesting characters created in recent memory. Put aside her intriguing power and ability to creep out people way more powerful than her - she's a non-sexualized teen girl who's often more self-sufficient than the adults around her. Christ, she's like the Anti-Supergirl.

If I had kids, I like to think they'd turn out like her - self-sufficient, smart, unique and funny. Of course, if they were my kids, they'd also end up annoying the crap out of people and being smart-asses. So again, I totally love Layla Miller.

. . . In this issue, she just blew herself and Jamie up with a grenade while in an alternate future that may or may not exist, leaving her dead at worst or stranded at best. Jamie wakes up and this means another of my favorite characters is left with a stupid facial tattoo which marks him as the victim of an idiotic crossover. The solicitation copy for future issues of X-Factor implies that Layla may come back but I'm not holding my breath. Bastards.

Really, the only reason this issue gets more than a D- is because Wolverine stabs that Lady Mastermind girl - who's so horribly disproportionate it makes my eyes bleed - right through the torso, just underneath where she's using double-sided tape to keep her ridiculous implants in place. Plus, it looks like Mystique's killed Mr. Sinister, so at least there's one less villain in the world I can fail to take seriously because of their name. Hooray!

The Mighty Avengers #7
- Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley - B-

Look, Bendis my friend - I like decompression done right. I do. I like superheroes talking to one another when they're not hitting people. Really, I do. I know you probably tired yourself out with all that awesome punching of robots and shrinking of Greek Gods and kick-ass what-not in the last arc. You could and should take a breather. It even makes sense story-wise.

But really, man - if you show me a promo of Wolverine getting possessed by a Venom symbiote three months ago? Then give me a cover where Symbiotes are eating the Avengers? Don't give me a comic beyond that cover wherein Tony Stark and your imaginary girlfriend Spider-Girl play the "who's a Skrull, where's a Skrull" game for 11 pages of my 22 page comic . . . with just 4 measly pages of symbiotes.

The baby symbiote was awesome, though, I give you that. Plus, points for Wonder Man going back to the "W" uniform instead of the red leisure suit and Wasp being snitty about it. That was fun. If you will please stop writing Ares like the guy that girls warn each other about in High School, all will be forgiven by next issue.

The Boys #14 - Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson - A-

I've been so wordy in my other reviews that I feel the need to break this down for you in speed form. Here's a short form version of things that happen inside, so you can decide if this is the comic for you:

- An overweight, hairy Russian Superhero cannot run fast due to his erection in constricting spandex pants.
- A man who looks like Simon Pegg from Sean of the Dead makes a man cry at his feet in fear.
- Heads attached to garishly clad would-be supervillains explode en masse.
- An evil blonde guy in a blue suit fails to get punched in the face.
- And a plane is destroyed with an exploding vibrator.

Yes, yes, this is my guilty pleasure comic. Darick Robertson's one of my favorite artists, OKAY?

I'm sorry.
Sort of.
Okay, not really.

Gen 13 #16 - Simon Oliver & Sunny Lee - A

Who is Simon Oliver and how did he get so good?

Back when I was in High School, I loved the goofy adventures of Gen 13 and so did all my friends. Hell, I still want a stuffed Queelocke. But the one adjective I never thought I'd apply to Gen 13 back then was "cerebral". Adam Warren, Gail Simone and now Simon Oliver have proved me wrong. Crazy, stupid, it's-not-even-funny wrong.

Caitlin Fairchild has always fascinated me as a character because of what's so often left unsaid by her. With the exception of Simone and to a lesser degree, Warren, nobody's touched on how her unwilling transformation from plain nerd to over exaggerated caricature affected/relates to her self-esteem or self-image. In every book with a good writer, she's been written as aggressively intelligent and naive but that's been the upward limit of her personality.

In the course of this story and the recent reboot in general, the Gen 13 teens are made aware that they were preprogrammed, manufactured genetic products, created by a lunatic. Every one of their cells was designed for a purpose by someone else, which is something that seriously fucks with their heads.

Of course, when they arrive in New York, each character runs away to embrace the new people they meet as an escape from this inescapable truth, unaware that their movements and friendships are being recorded by IO as part of a scam. The reality TV loving asshat I mentioned way, way above in the title of this post is the maestro and happy as a clam . . . except for the problem presented by Caitlin. Fairchild can't help but overthink everything, which is both her saving grace and her downfall. She's the polar opposite of this version of Grunge (whom I love as being as smart as Caitlin, if not smarter in this iteration - just of a totally different philosophy).

Caitlin figures out men are secretly filming her - for reasons other than the obvious one of her being a ginormously endowed redhead in a spandex top. While I assume she hasn't bought normal clothes like the others because of her justifiable paranoia, this was the one glaringly false note in the issue. Alas, nobody will listen to her and later on, in another twist I didn't see coming, we get to realize that DV8 may be sneaking into the story as well. DV8 was my introduction to Warren Ellis and therefore has a warm spot in my dark, cold heart. So, as you can guess, this pleases me greatly.

This is also a comic where one person uses a chainsaw and another quotes a poem by Shelley. Pure rockage, folks.

Seriously, pick this series up from the beginning while you still have a chance to find the trades or cheap back issues.

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