Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Book Breakdown

Well since Comic-con has come and gone, I figured I should post my thoughts on the heavy amounts of books flying past me over the last few weeks. Not much else to say but what I think about them...

Joker's Asylum:
This five issue run consists of "origin/important" stories of what could be considered the most famous or favorite villains of Gotham City. Each story is told by the Joker is a Tales from the Crypt-esque manner. Every issue is written by a different writer, and the art is drawn by different artists as well. Overall I enjoyed the Asylum run, even if it was hit or miss between issues. Considering that this was released to coincide and tag along with The Dark Knight, it is odd that the weakest issue is the Joker issue, in which the premise is good, but writing is weak and art is effing terrible. The Poison Ivy and Scarecrow issues were very entertaining, even with some execution misfires. In the end the best issues were the Penguin and Two-Face ones, both of which focused most on the origin of the character. If I was to pick a favorite of the five I would probably lean towards Penguin, but I may be biased as it was written by Jason Aaron, who writes the amazing Scalped, which is one of my favorite current comic runs. Still though, the Two-Face issue was amazing, and included the best use of the Joker as the narrator.

Two-Face: Year One - Part One of Two:
This is a great book, and I'm excited/nervous to see where the second part takes the story. I'm excited because I really enjoyed reading this double issue delving into an origin story of Two-Face that seems to parallel Frank Miller's classic Batman: Year One. I especially enjoyed the mob feel present in both Miller's vision, as well as what was seen in The Dark Knight. It was also great to see Jim Gordon being the great cop he was before he became commissioner of Gotham. Now why I'm nervous...this was a great origin story. I don't see what more could be added to it. Without giving too much away, Harvey Dent is not Two-face for most of the book, but that is part of what I felt was great about it, seeing how well he was developed into this villain. That being said I do have great faith for this artistic team to deliver a great second part, which I imagine will only go hand in hand with what was established in part one.

Scalped - Vol. 1 + 2:
Amazing series. Jason Aaron is a great up and coming writer, as shown with this series, and the Penquin one-shot for Joker's Asylum. The story is about a Native American who returns to his reservation after years of bouncing around by himself. The art is raw and fantastic as well, drawn by R.M. Guera. I've read volumes one and two, and am waiting for volume 3 to launch which will catch up to issue 18, so I can continue on with issues, starting with 19 in stores this month. I'm trying to avoid the story so not to give anything away, but this is one of the best current ongoing series.

Supreme Power vol. 1:
This series came about after a failed Marvel/DC crossover. Marvel wanted the Justice League to exist for a while with the Avengers, but DC backed out. So Marvel did what anyone would do, and COMPLETELY copied the Justice League. Literally the Superman character, Hyperion crash lands to a farm family. But here Marvel took a twist and placed it under there MAX Comics label, who put out only Parental Advisory work. So basically it ends up as an awesome interpretation of JL, in which the characters can act much more violently, as well as access deeper themes and storylines (Racism is a big part of one character, who only involves himself in white on black crimes...). This series started and finished a while ago, and the book was only $7 at Comic-con so I figured I would pick it up, and I'm glad I did. Hopefully I can find the rest of the series(it only ran for a few volumes before moving to a different publisher).

Lex Luthor - Man of Steel:
This is the best story about Lex Luthor that is available. That's all I really need to say. One of the best Superman books I've read (All-Star Superman is a great current series...last issue is next month), and for the first time devotes an entire storyline into why Lex hates Superman. And it's good.

Transmetropolitan - Back to the Streets:
This is volume one of what is considered to be Warren Ellis' best work. I wouldn't know because I've actually not really read much of Ellis' work. The story revolves around a journalist named Spider Jerusalem who is dragged out of his hidden mountain home into the city to put out some books he owes contractually to an editor. Once back in the city, he finds much has changed, and sets out to examine this world he once knew, which involves "transients" or humans in mid-shift to becoming aliens. This first trade paperback was, once again, on sale at Comic-con so for a mere $4 I picked it up. Inside are the first 3 issues. Most Trade Paperbacks(TPB) come with 5-6 issues, but this was only $8 originally, and each issue is very dense. Almost too dense in fact. Currently I have mixed feelings about the book. It is very crude and explicit on one hand, and on the other hand creates a sci-fi world that is very amazing, yet believable at the same time. I enjoyed the read but was turned off by some aspects of it, which may be apart of it being only 3 issues. However, I have heard that volume two builds upon everything set up in this first volume, and it also contains more issues than most(9 issues in vol. 2).

The Safest Place:
I'm actually only partway through this so I'll be brief on it. This book revolves around a photojournalist who over time has become somewhat of a go to man for getting stuff done. This is because he doesn't feel pain when it is inflicted upon him. This is somewhat of a blessing and a curse as he almost dies continuously, but never realized his danger. I picked this book up because the writers Victor Riches and Steve Grant were signing it at Comic-con, and the Punisher style story was intriguing to me, and so far my choice has paid off. Plus the guys were really nice to talk to, and I love Image Comics who published it.

American Virgin Vol. 1:
Ahhhh American Virgin. I had heard good things about you. Now I've read you. You are a dirty comic. I imagine most people I know would probably be somewhat or deeply offended by this comic and find it sacrilegious. However, by the end of this volume I was in love with it, and want to read the entire run of it (it ran for only 23 issues, so there are only four volumes for the series). The story follows Adam Chamberlain who is a 21-year-old youth pastor who is famous in a TBN sort of way for writing and promoting abstinence. He is known globally for his book as well as his out spoken promise that he will not have sex with his girlfriend, who is the only one for him, until they are married. Then his girlfriend is beheaded by terrorists while on a missions trip, at which point Adam seeks to find out more about what happened, and is continuously pounded by temptation of all sorts (women, revenge, etc). Now as much as the book seems to make fun of Adam's practice, at the same time is makes fun of how messed up the world is because most people aren't like Adam, and I respect the writer for that. This once again was a book that I had heard about, and picked it up on a whim at Comic-con for $5. But I love it.

So that's it for TPBs from recent. Still, here are books I have read for a while in monthly issues that I still recommend:

-Invincible: Currently the best superhero book out in my opinion. Lots of fun after 50 issues, and 51st brought a great reboot after the 50th issues intense changes.

-The Walking Dead: This is my favorite ongoing series, and is a black-and-white story about those left after a zombie apocalypse. However it is taken very seriously, and is a very intense book in which no character is safe from being killed off. From the same writer of Invincible, Robert Kirkman, who is a champion for Image comics, and my favorite writer. However, Robert...please get issues out on time...2 months between issues recently is too long to wait.

-Marvel's 1985: This short series is halfway through it's six-issue run and is about a real world kid from a broken home with an intense imagination that suddenly becomes alive as his town is invaded by Marvel villains and protected by Marvel heroes. This story pretty much sums up what every kid dreamed about. Written by Mark Millar (The Ultimates 1+2, Wanted).

-War Heroes: New series about soldiers fighting in the middle east who are given boosted abilites by the government. First issue came out only last week, but was a great start. Also written by Mark Millar, but for Image Comics.

-Secret Invasion(One-shots, Main Story, Frontline, Fantastic Four):
Not much to say about this except it is a ton of fun so far, although hard to keep track of who is a skrull and who isn't. Thank goodness for the internet. Really enjoying it though, and will finish the Fantastic Four run of this mini-series in a few days. Main story is written by Bendis, who is a heavyhitter for Marvel.

-Hellboy - The Crooked Man: This is a 3 issue story about Hellboy in the 50s in a small town. Art is really good, especially considering writer Mike Mignola is not drawing the book like he normally does. Story is complex for the first issue, and I hope it carries out through the last two.

-Kick-Ass: Another Mark Millar book, this time drawn by Jon Romita Jr. It is only three issues in, but could easily overtake The Walking Dead as my favorite current book if it keeps it up. It is a heck of a lot of fun, and truly outrageously violent for no reason, hence the title. Last issue took quite a spin at the end, so I am stoked for issue #4. Also, there is already a movie in pre-production. Interestingly enough, this is published by Icon Comics, which means Millar is currently writing for 3 different publishers. Most writers get locked in by one company during a run of their comic, so it is obvious that Millar is one of the best writers out there if he can pull this off...or maybe it's that the Wanted film cost relatively little to make, and made a lot more than that.

Now its time to go finish The Safest Place, then finish up with a real book I started, Speaker for the Dead, which is book #2 in the Ender's series by Orson Scott Card.

No comments: