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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1 Reviews

War of Kings #2
Writing: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Pencils: Paul Pelletir
Inks: Rick Magyar
Coloring: Wil Quintana
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Cover: Brandon Peterson
Editing: Michael Horwitz, Bill Rosemann


Credit this issue for not forcing itself to have a big action scene. It gives the story a chance to establish itself. To reveal insights into the dynamics of what's going on. To texturize.

This issue is all about building momentum. What's coming next, and why, and why it matters. They're really telling this story, getting into all the real details. It's rich and rewarding. Very much a drama. Annihilation was primarily an action peice that happened to also have heart. Conquest was like a big dumb blockbuster - huge on effects and style but thin on substance. War of Kings is the heavy sci-fi space opera drama. There's far more attention being paid to character than in Conquest, and it's a much better series as a result.

So far, War of Kings is a rousing success and highly enjoyable.

Invincible Iron Man #12
Writing: Matt Fraction
Pencils, Inks: Salvador Larroca
Color: Frank D'Armata
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Editing: Alejandro Arbona, Warren Simons


Fraction's run on this book continues to be an enjoyable one, and this installment was one of the better ones yet. He really plays his game well here - everything people are thinking, doing, and saying is agile and full of insightful creative smarts. There's a high level of energy. Many captions. Lots of on-edge claustrophobic thinking. The narrative moves quickly between Tony & Namor, Maria Hill & The Controller, Pepper and her adventures in her new suit, and Osborn up to his typical tricks.

It's getting closer to the type of experience that characterizes his independent work. Sometimes in his Marvel output, Fraction's lines can be fun, but feel like he sat around and came up with something because he was supposed to. Here, like when he's really on, it feels like these are the comments and statements that he really wanted to make. His big contract work is slowly starting to catch up to his creator-owned stuff in quality and charisma.

Aside from being an energetic read, there's some really good stuff happening in this series. Fraction has a strong bead on Tony and Pepper's relationship. Her suit being strictly a peacekeeping design speaks loudly toward Pepper's personality and Tony's understanding of it. There's something beautiful and important about Tony being able to create for Pepper that which he was never able to for himself. That he's enabled her to be what he was never able to. It's insightful writing on Fraction's part, and it'll be exciting to see his pulp crime background have no choice but to shatter it all to pieces.

Osborn is very well written here. Fraction's take on him is great. It's also particularly exciting to see him running with Parker Robbins, aka The Hood. He is a character that, more than most new additions to the Marvel U., seems to have some real staying power.

This is a strong superhero series that is only getting better and that may, in time, be something truly remarkable.

Cable #13
Writing: Duane Swierczynski
Pencils, Inks, Colors: Ariel Olivetti
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Production: Joe Sabino
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Editing: Sebastian Girner, Axel Alonso


Messiah War continues here. And while it's not anything unusually spectacular or special, it certainly has its shining bits. This issue is somewhat Deadpool-centric, and so it's a particular joy that Olivetti makes him look so incredibly nasty spilling out from under his old tattered suit. It very definitely has an effect. Czysnki is pretty good with the character. There's some genuine funny, and he doesn't try to do too much. Combined with the grotesqueness that Olivetti brings all issue, his humor and personality come across as cynical, detached and a bit sociopathical. It's better than the juvenile style he's often written with. Czynski does have him break the 4th wall several times, which is sort of a cheap laugh that skirts close to being innappropriate for the context.

The story is still coming together. We're still in setup mode here, piling on the backstory. Deadpool, Cable and Wolverine get lots of face time while Bishop and Stryfe get some moments as well. It's entertaining and fun but definitely isn't asking much of itself yet. So far it's taking a story that's supposedly about the fate of all mutantkind and trimming it down to a vendetta between two or three characters. It's all well written and flows, but it doesn't feel as drastic or important as it should. So far most the characters outside the key three or four all find themselves as empty vessels. There's no real lingering reminder of what's on the line.

Olivetti's work is hit and miss. Some of his close ups and facial work are very good, and his work with Deadpool is, again, great. At times though, his style is a bit too hazy. Edges and details go really soft and blurry. It's not at all crisp, and feels like someone needs to turn the contrast knob. At times characters are presented in this style laid over bled-out photos for background. It feels cheap and isn't at all immersive. You can't help but notice the craft, not the story, and not in a forigveable type way.

This is definitely still a fun read that sets up well the story so far, and certainly is worth your time. It definitely gives life and purpose to this particular title. The event, overall though, is still running on potential and possibility, not the merits of anything it's done yet.

Astounding Wolf-Man #14
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils, Inks: Jason Howard
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Rus Wooton
Editing: Aubrey Sitterson


This one keeps moving forward, but this issue didn't really connect. Everything feels a little contrived. In Walking Dead and Invincible, you can't help but fall for the characters, and really feel for them. You very much buy in and invest yourself in those titles. This one, for some reason, is less that way. There's a level of indifference. So whether it's fun or not depends a lot on the surface level enjoyability of what's going on in a particular issue, and in this one, goings on aren't particularly exciting.

Oppressed good guy superhero in jail is a story we've read before, recently, and it's not being done with any new tricks here. This whole issue attempts to explore character elements that are only going to work if the cast has endeared itself to its readers, which it has yet to do.

Wolf-Man still has some good cards in play, this issue just didn't capitalize on them as well as future ones hopefully will.

Secret Warriors #3
Writing: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils, Inks: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Daniele Rudoni
Lettering: Dave Lanphear
Cover: Jim Cheung, Justin Ponsor
Production: Tony Dial
Editing: Jeanine Schaefer, Tom Brevoort


A fantastic read. Fury's portions of the book are great. His personality and aura are fully on stage, but so are his demons and failures. The psychological dissection of this old grissled most secret of all spys is a real treat. Fury's the John Wayne of the Marvel stable. He's your grandad or tough-as-nails father. This book is about what it's like to see that type of man take a loss, to know they're not invincible, to be beaten, but still be intimidating and demand respect and authority despite the fact.

The rest of the team are also getting chances to grow as personalities, some more than others. They're the frontline action element, a bit group, rowdy. They contrast well with the isolation and loneliness that always surrounds Fury. Gives the title that lil' kick and enhances the effectiveness of what Hickman's doing with Fury.

The dialogue is easily the best part of the package. There's lots of it, and it's all very tight and crisp. It's a very intelligent title, very well written. One of Marvel's best books at the moment and some of the most interesting portions of the Dark Reign playing field. The art is great as well.

And yes, Nick Fury: Agent of Nothing very very much should have been the series' title. There's no doubt the editors at Marvel know this, as is evident in it now appearing as a subtitle of sorts on the cover.

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1
Writing: Grant Morrison
Pencils, Inks: Cameron Stewart
Colors: Dave Stewart
Lettering: Todd Klein
Editing: Pornsak Pichetshote


Dinosaur skeletons fused with rusted machine parts. Peacocks coughing up time pieces. Totally conscious, thought processing, conversational parrots being stomped to death. Characters named She-Beard that are exactly what they suggest.

This is Grant Morrison. It's zany, full of energy, has some social commentary, and feels a bit like it should have come out ten years ago. This is Grant Morrison.

Seaguy is a character growing toward maturity. He's been bored, complacent, and naive. In this issue he beings to have his eyes opened to the realities of the world around him - and it's a weird one. Often the characters seem to be voicing some of Morrison's feelings about his craft, the professional experience, and the overall state of things.

There's no real 'hook' here, but there's some good times to be found for sure.

The Flash: Rebirth #1
Writing: Geoff Johns
Pencils, Inks: Ethan VanSciver
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Lettering: Rob Leigh
Editing: Chris Conroy, Joey Cavalieri


Despite some legitimately funny moments, there's really not a great deal to be offered here. It's all about the fact that Barry Allen is back. Page after page after page of various characters all telling us what a big deal this is. Which is all well and good, but only if it actually is a big deal. And so far, we've been given no reason to care - we've just been told that we should. There's lots and lots of people rambling on about his return and lots of emphasis on his being old school and out of touch. This is decently good for uninitiated readers, but after a while it can't help but be said, 'Ok, he was important, but why is he important now?'.

The art has some inspired panels, and the cover is great, but most the issue doesn't really distinguish itself in any way.

It's excited that Johns has a new Flash book. This starting point though, has nothing to sink your teeth into.

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