Sunday, March 19, 2006

New Comic Reviews:
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man,
X-Factor, Bulleteer, Infinite Crisis

There are lots of good things going on in comics right now, and while they don't all necessarily revolve around Peter David and Grant Morrison, this round-up certainly does.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5

Freed at last from the story confinements of the ultimately useless "The Other" arc, Peter David and Mike Weiringo shake the cobwebs off and have a little fun (get it? spiders, cobwebs...sorry) with a one-shot issue about a woman who is convinced that Spider-Man is stalking her.
Weiringo and David make a great team, especially on lighter issues like this. David may not be the best writer in comics, but he certainly seems to be having the most fun. One thing I dig so much about a PAD issue is that they're so densely written (and his plots well constructed). Compare to a typical Bendis or Whedon comic which, with the splash pages and silent reaction panels, can be read in two to three minutes.
Weiringo's style continues to impress me. In an era of hyper realism and exaggerated musculature, it's nice to see his almost Saturday morning feel. Which doesn't mean that he can't draw a mean fight. In fact, his loose style is perfect for a fluid character like Spidey.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5: A

X-Factor #4

X-Factor is all about secrets. Jamie is reluctant to unleash his doubles anymore, after one almost killed Rictor in #1. But he doesn't explain this to the rest of the team. Layla Miller joined the group specifically to keep them from finding out what happened in the Decimation. Of course, the only person she told this to was the hitman that met his messy end at her hands (kind of) last issue. Monet keeps this from Jamie, not so much as a secret, but in keeping with her self absorbed ignorance:
Issue 4 is good, if a bit spare at times. The problem lies in the art, which is split between the brilliant Ryan Sook and the, well, not so brilliant Denis Calero.

Really: what is this? That face is hideous.
But at least in this issue, unlike the first 3, the inking on both artists helps seal the gap between the two styles. It's not quite as jarring a shift as before, especially on the pages that face one another. But Calero's sense of composition leaves a lot to be desired. There are some bright moments for him, though: Monet's manipulation of Vaughn is well handled.
And the brutal beating at the end of the book is nicely done, again by Calero.
Still, the promise of a monthly book by David and Sook was what drew me to this book. I'll be sticking around for PAD's writing:

Rictor: ...I figure the best thing to do is get drunk.
Syrin: That's no way to handle it.
Rictor: How do you know?
Syrin: 'Cause I'm a drunk.
Rictor: Oh, yeah. So how do you handle it?
Syrin: I eat.

If Marvel wants to keep up with DC from a quality standpoint, they're going to have to give their artists more time and support than they gave Sook. But since Marvel's sales are consistently higher than DC's, I guess they have no real reason to do that.

X Factor #4: B

Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #4

Bang, indeed. Holy shit, Dr. Wertham was right!
The final issue of the Bulleteer mini is given over to Alix's brand new arch-rival, Sally Sonic's origin. We follow her into the underground world of super-heroine porn, where she becomes an instant sensation for her permanently sixteen-year-old body. In her rage and confusion (and with a little help from Dr. Hyde's Evil Serum), she strikes out at the one person she blames for stealing the life she so desperately wanted.It's genuinely tragic, you really feel sorry for her. You...uh, what's that Alix?
Right: lest we forget whose book this is, or that we have an incoming invasion to think about: Alix proceeds to drop a fucking engine block on little Miss Sonic, whereupon the Ghost of Greg Saunders shows up to tell her that she is indeed "the spear that was never thrown" (which we pretty much knew), and that only she can stop the Sheeda invasion (but that's what he says to all the girls; oh, those wacky Cowboy Werewolves.); to which she replies:
So now, almost at Seven Soldiers #1, we have: Shining Knight charging after Glorianna, Jake Jordan ready to "take it to the streets" of Manhattan, Klarion on his way to the same streets to be a "a soldier", Zatanna summoned by Misty, Mister Miracle back in New York, but with no knowledge of the impending doom (besides cryptic hints dropped by Oracle and Metron), and The Bulleteer denying her destiny in disgust. Only Frankenstein #4 remains before the big showdown, and he knows the Sheeda well.
Leave it to Grant to play apart from our expectations by focusing on Alix's internal struggles and doubt in lieu of a Sheeda-showdown in issue 4. This series has been about Alix growing past her husband's mind games and sick betrayal. At the end, even though she's denying her larger role, she's at least standing tall. She'll be ready.

Bulleteer #4: B+

Infinite Crisis #5

DC's big to-do has been a pretty mixed bag. The first two issues left me cold, but I really enjoyed issue 3 and absolutely loved Superboy Prime's Teen Titan thrashin' freak out in number 4.
Number 5 feels like a place-holder issue, nothing of any real import happens here, at all. But there are some nice moments, like Blue Devil's skin burning inside the church ("Danny's a good Catholic boy. Unfortunately, he's also a human-turned-demon."); and the pretty snazzy Superman fight:(Check out the Action Comics #1 reference.)
But once Wonder Woman lassoes Earth-2 Supes, he just spouts the exact same lines echoing throughout Crisis and every inter-related title: Wonder Woman killed a guy, the JLA fucked with Dr. Light's memory, and so on.
Nothing new there, or in the appearance of golden-age Wonder Woman. In fact, that was just plain confusing (if the DC editors can keep this shit in order, could they maybe get started on Einstein's elusive Unified Theory?).
So we get a new Blue Beetle, in uniform. Here's what he looks like.And here, in case we've forgotten, is what happened to his predecesor:

Jamie Reyes might want to rethink that career move.
We again get the notion that Dick Grayson is going to be very important to the way this all turns out, but that story is just barely advanced. Instead, we get more of the hideous Photoshopped multiple Earths, and the return of Superboy Prime in what is without a doubt the ugliest panel yet in the othewise well-drawn Crisis.Where exactly did he find that armor, hidden away in the Speed Zone, fighting four generations of Flashes? And the pose is awkward, he should be zooming straight into camera, red eyes blazin', going after Alex Luthor's double-crossing ass.
Oh, but for fans of more successful cross-overs:
Tell me that's not our man Frankenstein on that bus in NYC.

Infinite Crisis #5: C+

1 comment:

uncle fucker said...

RE: Bulleteer -- even though we're told several times that Sally Sonic's physical development is arrested in her teens, she's drawn to look much closer to Bulleteer's age (which is established in her first issue as 27). At first I thought this was the artist's error...then looking again at that first panel you reproduced it's plain that Sally's character design was a necessary compromise (like the casting in Kubrick's Lolita).

"He was amphibious!"