Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catching up. . .

Rapid Fire Reviews Written Right Now

First off, let me apologize for being such a pathetic fill in here at the Clever Name Pop Culture Blog. I'd let you in on all the details, but that would sound like whining and I'm not going down that road. Suffice it to say, the last week or two have included a dead grandma, a trip to Minnesota and my job turning into a Bizzaro-job. It's enough to make a guy's head spin. So with that being said, let's get on to the reviews. (I will be reviewing the most current books first and working my way to the older books.)

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 of 4

Black Widow is one of the most popular female characters in the Marvel Universe. In many ways, she's like the female Wolverine, but better. For starters, I don't think Logan would look good in that skin tight black outfit with a plunging neckline. But I digress.

Deadly Origin is Marvel's attempt to make sense of the complex and often confusing Black Widow history. When Marvel's own Official Updates can't tell you her history, you know it's time for a story to sort everything out. Writer Paul Cornell seems to be up to the task. Jumping back and forth between the past and the present, Cornell takes us on a wild adventure that forces Natasha Romanov to come to grips with her associations of the past. I don't know what "The Icepick Protocol" is yet, but damn I want to find out.

Interestingly, the flashbacks are illustrated in an entirely different style, giving the book a visual and contextual break. At first it seems out of place and jarring, but after a few pages, it begins to grow on you. I think this mini-series has tremendous potential to be great and I can't wait for the next issue.

X-Babies #2 of 4

The strength and the weakness of Marvel's "X" titles is that they are so interwoven, so complex, so confusing, that a simple explanation is impossible. But I'm going to try. So follow me if you can. Mojo, a other-dimension TV exec, had placed cameras in Pyslocke's eyes so he could broadcast her adventures with the X-Men. The X-Men "died" in Dallas during the Fall of the Mutants, severing his connection and leaving him without a show. To compensate, his lackeys created "baby" versions of the X-Men, who think and act like the X-Men (including having their same powers). We're pretty sure they aren't clones, or robots - maybe they're highly advanced LMD's, who knows. The long and the short of it is that they look cute and act like the X-Men.

Artist Jacob Chabot (who did an excellent job on Marvel's "The Wizard of Oz") does a fantastic job giving the X-Babies a stylized look that makes them look cute, but captures the essence of the characters. This mini-series find the X-Babies finding out someone else is pulling the strings in the Mojo-verse, so they escape the "TV studio" and heading out on an adventure. I'm not entirely sure what is going on in this book, but it is fun to read and fun to look at.

And best of all, it's probably the least complicated X title book out there right now.

The Incredibles #2

Those that have read this blog know that I pimped The Incredible mini-series a while back. If you went out and picked up the issues or TPB, you probably weren't disappointed. Luckily for Boom comics (at least for the time being), they have made The Incredibles an ongoing series.

What is nice about this title is that Mark Waid has continued his near perfect balance of silliness and adventure to make this title an all ages book. The Confederacy of Crime has kidnapped baby Jack-Jack in order to figure out how to replicate his powers so they can sell "powers" on the black market. The book's pacing is fast and light - the action looks great on the page, and I actually found myself smiling while reading this book. (Again.)

And on a side note, you've got to love the criminals in this book. There's the robotic T-Rex called Tronasaurus, the ring leader Mr. Pixel, who's face is digitally blurred to look pixelated, and an unnamed villain who has a giant penny for a head. I mean, you've got to love silly bad guys, right?

Psylocke #1 of 4

After the X-Men went through the Siege Perilous, Brittish, purple haired, Besty Braddock came out the other side as a hot asian assassin with purple hair. Why? Probably because Jim Lee wanted to draw a scantily clad asian ninja on the X-Men. And who was I to argue at the time? I was a young man and the new Psylocke was HOT!

I suggest you wikipedia Psylocke if you even want to understand what happened to her, because if you don't, this mini-series will leave you guessing. A concise description of what happened to Psylocke would have made this first issue made more sense. I haven't read an X-Men comic in years, so I was lost with regards to some of the characters. This story has some glaring plot and logic holes that took me out of the story. A weak first issue of a mini-series. I'm going to give it one more issue before I render a verdict, with this one exception: Psylocke is still hot.

Captain America: Reborn #4 of 5

When Ed Brubaker killed Captain America, it was the biggest gamble Marvel had done in a while. Under his skilled hand, Ed managed to keep Captain America one of the best written books on the shelf.

Marvel put the book on hiatus so it could produce Reborn as a mini-series and renumber all of the Captain America comics (don't get me started on this topic). It is here that we get to see the fruits of Ed Brubaker's labors. Here's where we finally get to see what the Red Skull and Doctor Doom were working on. Doctor Doom and the Red Skull were busy trying to separate Steve Rogers from the timeline so they could - (like I know what their nefarious plan is). From the last panel, it looks like they want to put Red Skull's brain in Cap's body, but I can't be sure.

The real strength of this mini-series is that it stands alone as a series. Anything you need to know is given to you if you are coming to this with no knowledge of what's been happening to Cap. But it also rewards readers who have been following this story by touching on plot points that were touched on but never came back to. You should read this mini-series. It's Ed Brubaker showing he's the master of his craft.

Ultimate Avengers #3


War Machine a transformer? It changes from a car to War Machine? Seriously? Mark Millar, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Green Lantern #47

Blackest Night continues unabated. We're beginning to see the foundation of an alliance between the various lanterns as they realize they need to work together do defeat the Black Lanterns.

They should have called this issue the "hard core" issue as it showed some of the characters all doing hard core things. First, Atrocitus gets his heart ripped out of his chest (a theme in Blackest Night it seems), but in stead of keeling over, the Red Lantern ring beats for his heart. Wow. I never would have seen that coming.

Secondly, Sinestro kills (or is it re-kills?) his former love and sister to Abin Sur. But amazingly, you actually feel for Sinestro. No one should have to do what he did. Geoff Johns has made Sinestro one of the most compelling characters to date. Sure he's a prick, but you can understand WHY he's a prick.

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