Spiffy Speaks: Reviews for 7/23/08

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Sorry I’m late, I had a quick family reunion in Lake Tahoe this weekend. It was a delight, and so were some of the comics this week, with a huge surprise at #1. Read on for the list of 5 I bought last week. I can’t think of a better primer for next week than to read what you missed out on last week. Or something like that.

Also, from now on, the cover you see above this blurb will be graced by the BEST cover of the week. Not the best issue per se, but the best cover. Let’s reward them with this, the world’s highest achievement. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the honor this week goes to Alex Ross’ painted wraparound cover of Uncanny X-Men #500.

 

5. The New Avengers #43: Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan. Another week, another tie in that fails to entice or grasp the brilliance of the actual Secret Invasion mini series. After a few great one’s to start, New Avengers and especially Mighty Avengers have struggled to tell much more than the obvious or what one can pretty much tell based on the past year or so. In this issue, we get more of the same, with an issue about Captain America, the leader of the heroes that crash landed in the Savage Land weeks ago. With Songbird as the real deal (we’ll see), others have proven skrully. Is Captain America the former or the latter? I’m not telling, but I think the ranking gives an obvious enough answer to that question. Billy Tan’s artwork here is good, but it’s really not as fantastic or consistent as he was in Uncanny X-Men for Brubaker’s Shi’Ar story. This issue certainly isn’t bad, and these Bendis tie-ins usually aren’t, they just offer little in the realm of surprise or excitement.

3. War Heroes #1 (of 6): Mark Millar, Tony Harris. I can tell you right now, this is going to be the lowest ranking this title ever gets, based on this first issue. This is a great opener, replete with awesome pencils by Tony Harris (Ex Machina), and as usual, Millar delivers a highly intriguing and original story that promises to pack some serious punch, and make a comment on today’s world as well. War Heroes’ premise is fairly simple on the outside looking in: the war on terorrism lags for decades, and to get people to join the army, they entice people with pills that give them temporary super powers. Cool? Very. We get the opening of that concept here, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

3. Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3 (of 12): Steve Niles, Kelley Jones. This ranking might have more to do with me needing a big Bats dose after watching the Dark Knight, but I doubt it (although Joker’s appearance in this issue doesn’t hurt either): this was the best issue of the mini series, as Niles delves more into the new villain Midnight who is made chilling by the dark and creepy pencils by Jones (big Jones highlight: provided a stunning panel of Batman’s eyes in the shadows). Jones also infuses some life into Bats rogue mainstay Clayface. Perhaps best of all, we get some great Batman/Gordon/Detective Carlson interlude. The Niles and Jones combo is proving to be good, and I’m glad I checked out this mini series. I hope it keeps this up.

2. Uncanny X-Men #500: Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, Greg Land and Terry Dodson. “Manifest Destiny” begins here, fittingly named for the X-Men’s move West and of course the “destiny” of the mutant change. Brubaker and Fraction, the golden team of Marvel U at the present, provide a very solid starting point for their run on X-Men, and perhaps the promise of a run to compare with Whedon and Morrison’s on Marvel’s most socially awkward team. Interestingly, with the combo of writers, we also get two artists: Land and Dodson. Both strong artists, but with different styles, and both perhaps draw the most beautiful women in comics. Land is a stud and shows it here, and Dodson shows some of the best work I’ve seen him do. He’s cartoony, but he showed he’s more than capable of action scenes in this issue, with the return of two huge X-Men villains. Most importantly Brubaker and Fraction show a solid grasp of the characters here, and continue Cyclops’ development into one of the most dynamic and interesting characters in MU (which I thought I’d never say). People, get onboard with this issue.

1. The Immortal Iron Fist #17: Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman. Ironically, the top spot this week goes to the title that Brubaker and Fraction left, topping the much more high profile Uncanny X-Men title they left for. This is the biggest surprise in awhile, I have to admit. After reading the first two volumes of Iron Fist, which completely revamped the character and was one of the best things I’ve read in awhile, I was all set to ride off in the sunset and leave the character behind on a high note, doubting that anyone could follow it. But, judging by this issue: I was completely, irrevocably wrong. S-whatsit (which Duane will now be called) goes right into it, with a HUGE flash forward that will define the rest of his run. It’s risky, but it was brilliant for this first issue. S-whatsit does a great job of following Fraction and Brubaker’s run, because he retains the same style and also follows up the story of Fraction’s last issue: that only one Iron Fist out of 66 has ever lived past the age of 33, the age that Danny Rand is now. This ties into the flash forward I mentioned, and I didn’t think I’d be this excited for another issue of Iron Fist for awhile, but I am a mere month after the new UXM left it. Only drawback: the art of Travel Foreman. I think he’s good, but I miss David Aja, who was unreal on this title. Travel’s proportions are off and just don’t seem best suited to Iron Fist, but he also shows the ability to do a variety of styles here, and I’ll try and reserve judgment a bit longer.

Fucktastic Writer of the Week: Duane Swierczynski, Iron Fist.

Fucktastic Artists of the Week: Greg Land, Uncanny X-Men. Tony Harris, War Heroes. Kelley Jones, Batman: Gotham After Midnight.

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One Response to “Spiffy Speaks: Reviews for 7/23/08”

  1. davidry214 Says:

    5. I haven’t seen Tan’s work on Uncanny (yet), but I thought he was fairly awesome here. And you mean Mockingbird, not Songbird.

    3. I’m just not all that into war stories from comics. It’ll probably be good, but then again, there’s a lot of good comics I’m not reading. I can live without this genre, which just doesn’t excite me

    3. What is this miniseries about? I’m intrigued by how dark you keep saying it is. I doubt I’ll buy it anyway, to be honest, because I just don’t need two Bat titles in my life considering he guest stars in half the books in the DCU anyway.

    2. You might have liked this more than me, I can’t tell. You at least gushed more about the art, while I had slight reservations about it. But I think we can agree that this is looking like a flagship title once again (and you would know that better than I, having read some trades).

    1. Damn, Iron Fist is dominating your world right now. I guess I might as well give this a shot, since it’s a new team anyway, though I’m sure I won’t appreciate it as much as you without having read the previous run.

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