Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comics Roundup for 6/29/11

Not much this week, but I really liked what I got.

Batman Incorporated #7 - This issue featured the Native American "Man of Bats", which sounds pretty cheesy now that I wrote it out, but it was actually a really good story with a likeable character. I didn't think that Grant Morrison would be tackling the problems of life on the Reservations in this comic, but it's kind of cool to see him doing it while still being true to the conceit of this series. I'm wondering how this series is going to end before the big relaunch. It's not slated as one of the 52 new first issues that will be coming out, but supposedly it's going to be coming back eventually. I sure hope so because this is easily one of my favorite titles right now.

Detective Comics #878 - Speaking of favorites, Scott Snyder continues a remarkable run and tops off this story arc with a pretty great cliffhanger. I'm glad that Snyder will be continuing to write Batman in the eponymous Bat-title when the DC relaunch happens. Hopefully he can do just as interesting of a job with Bruce Wayne as he has with Dick Grayson.

The Amazing Spider-Man #664 - There wasn't anything too special going on here, but it was a solid issue. I'm not entirely sold on Anti-Venom, but Dan Slott made him interesting enough for this particular story. Also, I'm glad to see that they didn't resurrect a character that they seemed to be resurrecting. Oh, and it's nice to see the Hobgoblin subplot being continued.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Comics Roundup for 6/22/11

Uncle Scrooge: The Mysterious Stone Ray and Cash Flow - Even though with all the upcoming reprints from Kaboom! and Fantagraphics I'll probably wind up with these two stories, I thought I'd pick this book up anyway to get myself a quick Disney fix. The first story is a Carl Barks tale, and the second is one by Don Rosa, which follows up on some plot threads from the previous tale. I really wish that these were more popular in this country, as this is the kind of stuff that parents need to be giving their children. It has great characters, well-written plots, and a lot of words that will build a kid's vocabulary. Most importantly, it's a fun read with all sorts of goofy ideas like an inventor who devotes his life to trying to remove the smell from boiled cabbage and a ray that eradicates the conservation of momentum. Seriously, if you're a parent and you're not giving this to your kid, you hate them. (And if you're a fan of comics, you'll pick it up for yourself.)

Rocketeer Adventures - I'm picking up this series on an issue-by-issue basis, and when I saw that this issue featured the talents of Mark Waid, Darwyn Cooke, and Gene Ha (all on different stories) I had to pick it up. It is a shame that there aren't more Rocketeer stories from his creator, Dave Stevens, but this isn't such a bad substitute.

Wolverine #11 - We get some more motivations from the villains and just like any well-told episode of serialized entertainment, the stakes get raised yet again when Dakken, Wolverine's son, gets involved in this mess. This continues to be one of my favorite series.

Captain America #619 - Maybe I need to sit down and read a bunch of issues in a row again, but I found myself underwhelmed by the end of this issue. Basically, this is the last issue with Bucky, as it takes place right before he gets a big hole blasted through his chest in Fear Itself. I guess I just feel pretty invested in this character, and it would have been great to see him do at least one more awesome thing as Captain America before he gets replaced by the original Cap. I'm hoping that there's more to all of this before we get back to a Steve Rogers-led Captain America title.

Carnage - This story suffers from what a lot of story arcs do. It started off really cool and filled with promise, but it just kind of fizzled out at the end here. Looks like Cletus Cassidy is officially back, and there are some more characters that can be used in the Spider-Man universe. Also, it's setting things up for a new Carnage series, but I'm not so sure that I'll be picking that one up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tempted to Troll

Some time ago, there was a Youtube video of a girl who was praising Jesus because of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan not too long ago. There was quite the backlash about it, and everyone from atheists to Christians reacted and posted all kinds of angry rebukes. It got so bad that she eventually posted a new video where she admitted that she was just trolling.

Here's the thing - she had me fooled, and a whole lot of other people. Now, this blog isn't an explanation of Poe's Law, which states: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing." However, her blog did get me to thinking about trying my hand at trolling myself, just as an exercise to see if I could pull it off.

Of course, I could easily pose as a convincing extremist. All I'd have to do is regurgitate Pascal's wager and the creationist propaganda from Answers in Genesis. There's no challenge in that. But could I successfully pose as a more mainstream Christian - even one who is thoughtful about his beliefs? Could I fool not only the nonbelievers but the believers as well?

To what end? Well, part of it comes with my frustration with debating Christians where they can never seem to even articulate what my point of view is. Not only that, but many of them wind up writing long screeds where they essentially sum up Christianity 101, as if I hadn't heard all of those arguments before. I always feel like I have no problem getting what they're saying, but they are utterly clueless as to what I'm saying - either because they're too dense in some cases or because if they completely acknowledged my point, they'd have to confront the weaknesses in their own.

I don't feel like carrying on some extensive, protracted act of duplicity. I just want to see if I can get a few blog posts out there and see if I can convincingly make the case for the Christian viewpoint. Obviously, I won't ever be able to write something where every Christian agrees, but can I do something where no Christian questions my sincerity or whether I understand the basic philosophy?

It's an interesting idea, and as of right now it's only that - an idea. I haven't been blogging much lately, but perhaps this will inspire me to write some more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comics Roundup for 6/15/11

Not too much this week. Here's what I got:

Kirby Genesis #1 - This had an interesting enough of a start, and the protagonist is likeable enough. However, by the end we get all kinds of characters being jammed into the story and it's not entirely clear who is who. If there isn't some kind of explanation as to who they are with the second issue, that will be the end for me.

Avengers #14 - I kind of wish they'd just steer away from the Fear Itself crossovers, as this isn't really adding anything new to the story. It all feels a bit like filler. Sure, there were some entertaining bits, and the Red Hulk is trying to redeem himself, which is usually an interesting arc to take a character. Still, the story felt too constrained by trying to fit into the larger story of Fear Itself.

The Walking Dead: Volume 14 - "No Way Out" - Man, if you only know this story through the TV show, you'd be pretty shocked as to where everything is by now. The characters continue to grow and there's a real sense of resolution by the end of this particular volume. I was thinking that this whole story where our protagonists settle down again would feel too much like other story arcs that we've seen already. Well, I'm glad to say that's not the case with this one. Instead of running away and giving up, Rick and the gang have decided to be a bit more proactive about their predicament. That has me eager to see how the next arc will turn out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The DC Relaunch

Considering that this blog is 90% comics related nowadays (hopefully that will be changing a bit for the summer) I thought I'd take some time to give my thoughts on the big DC Comics relaunch. Basically, they're canceling all their titles and launching 52 new first issues in August. The idea is to create a jumping-on point for new readers. Of course, like every decision made in comics, you have your fair share of detractors. Some readers are calling the end of the various existing titles as a good "jumping off" point. Personally, I don't really get that. I mean, I suppose that I'd stop reading all of DC's books if all of the new first issues were done by creative teams I didn't like and absolutely all of the pre-existing continuity was wiped out. However, that doesn't seem to be the case. So, here's what I'll be picking up and why:

Justice League - Well, this is kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? Geoff Johns and Jim Lee? And the correct lineup of heroes (with Cyborg replacing the Martian Manhunter)? That's right, there is a correct lineup for the JLA. You need Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Personally, I'd prefer it if the Martian Manhunter was in there, but so long as you have the most recognizable characters, that's the line-up that's required to make the book really work. Sure, you can toss in The Atom or Green Arrow for a few missions, but the series started with the big guns and that's what it's all about. Besides, I haven't read the title on a regular basis since Grant Morrison's JLA, and he understood that you need the major heroes for this book.

Wonder Woman - I have only a small handful of Wonder Woman comics, but I've always liked the idea of the character. Plus, Brian Azarello is writing? That's what has me curious enough to at least pick up the first issue. I also have to say that her new costume is growing on me.

Aquaman - Last time I read an Aquaman book was back when Peter David was writing it. That was some good stuff, and even though the character is often the butt of jokes, he's pretty cool when done right. With one of my favorite writers and favorite artists on the title, I have to at least give this one a chance.

The Flash - I'm getting this one for the artist, Francis Manapul, who drew the just-cancelled Flash series. He's writing this one now as well, and while I don't know how good of a writer he is, I like his art enough (especially on this character) to at least give him a chance.

Green Lantern - As far as I can tell, one of my favorite series is basically just starting over with a new first issue. The writer's the same; the artist is the same. All that's different is the numbering. Why not pick this up?

Batman - They've moved Scott Snyder from Detective Comics over to this one. Considering how much I liked his writing there, I have no problem following him over to this one. The only thing I'll miss is how he wrote Dick Grayson as Batman, as it looks like Bruce Wayne is going to be back under the cowl in this series.

Batman and Robin - As I've mentioned before on this blog, I liked Peter Tomasi's short-lived run on the original series. I'm going to give this new one a chance as it seems as though he's going to be the regular writer on the title. It'll be interesting to see a new dynamic with Bruce and Damien instead of Dick and Damien.

Batman: The Dark Knight - This relaunch seems the silliest to me, as we're only a few issues into the original series. Oh well, I liked those issues, so I'll keep getting it. From what I can tell, David Finch can tell a story, so here's hoping he can keep it up (and get the book out on time with him still doing the art).

Batwoman - I just couldn't get into the first series as much as I liked the art of JH Williams III. I guess I just can't ever seem to get into anything that's written by Greg Rucka. Anyway, Rucka's gone and Williams is going to be doing the writing. I'll give it another chance.

Action Comics - All Star Superman featured some of the best Superman stories ever. Considering that the man behind that is now writing a regular Superman book, you can count me in for this series. I think it's the one I'm most excited about.

Click here if you want to see the full list. Some others look interesting, but I'll flip through them first before deciding. Considering this list represents more DC monthly titles than I currently get, I'd say that it's a successful idea on the part of DC - at least as far as this one fan goes anyway. Time will tell if it has a long-term impact on the company or not. I suppose that I could also go into their whole plan to make all their comics available digitally on the release date of the physical comics, but I don't really have much to add to that conversation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Comics Roundup for 6/8/11

The New Avengers #13 - With this issue, we finally get something that connects the flashback story from the 1950s to the storyline that's taking place in the present. Also, it looks like they're not killing (or is that re-killing) Mockingbird off so soon, but there definitely will be something interesting happening to her. Anyway, this remains the best Avengers book.

Wolverine #10 - We get to learn more about this secret organization that's hellbent on ruining Logan's life. Considering how long he's been alive, he's definitely had a lot of time to screw people over and get them mad at him. This is definitely a good twist on the typical "and now Wolverine is pissed off because people have been screwing with him" plot, as it just keeps on adding layers.

Batman and Robin #23 - Meh. I was really looking forward to this considering the creative team, but this didn't do all that much for me. I'll check out the relaunched series that Peter Tomasi will write, although I'm going to miss the Dick Grayson/Damien Wayne dynamic that's been the hallmark of this book. (Seems like there will be only one Batman yet again, which is too bad as I could have kept going on with some more Batman stories with Dick behind the cowl.)

Echo #30 - This was a good issue, and a decent ending to a pretty good series. I'm going to have to reread the whole thing though, as it seemed a bit abrupt to me, and there were a couple of characters that I didn't remember. Maybe this is just the ending of this particular series, as Terry Moore certainly seems to be leaving it open to more. I was under the impression that there was much more to these characters that could still be explored.

Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley - I've been looking forward to this collection of strips by Floyd Gottfredson ever since Free Comic Book Day. It's a pretty hefty volume with a lot of text material and historical background that makes it worth the $30 price tag. I'm only a few pages into it so far, but I'm loving it already. This is a whole new side of Mickey that people who only know him from various cartoons and the guy in the suit at Disneyland wouldn't necessarily recognize. I have no idea how many volumes are planned in this series, but I can see myself getting more. This, of course, is only getting me more and more excited for when Fantagraphics (which did this volume) releases the collections with Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Comics Roundup for 6/1/11

Good stuff, good stuff, here's what I got:

Hellboy: The Fury #1 (of 3) - Duncan Fegredo, my favorite of the non-Mignola Hellboy artists, is back, and the story starts to focus on the main arc about Hellboy's destiny. This is some good stuff, and it's got all kinds of interesting bits of various mythologies mixed throughout.

Flashpoint #2 (of 6) - This is a pretty solid read even though I don't think that concept is as fresh and original as some of the other more recent crossovers. I suppose I should make some comment on DC's big plans to reboot the entire line after this series ends. Personally, I think it's kind of lame. However, I care more about good comics than I do lame decisions regarding how to number them. I'm looking forward to some of those new series that they've announced - particularly a Grant Morrison Superman book - but I would have been just as excited if he took over the regular title. Anyway, if it results in more people buying comics, then I guess I will be for it. I'm 37 though, and I've got better things to worry about than whether Action and Detective Comics retain their original numbering.

Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance - In the "Flashpoint" alternate reality, Batman is not Bruce Wayne, but Thomas Wayne, his father. Thomas witnessed his wife and son being slaughtered. Also, he's a hell of a lot more ruthless than his son, and he runs a casino in Gotham in order to keep tabs on the criminal element of the city. I usually don't buy a lot of the crossover tie-in books, but this one was written by Brian Azarello, and more importantly to me, was drawn by his 100 Bullets collaborator, Eduardo Risso. The first issue is pretty good. I'll check out the next one.

The Amazing Spider-Man #663 - Anti-Venom is back and so is...Jean Dewolff? Other than that, there was nothing too special about this issue, but it was a solid read.

Fear Itself #3 (of 7) - SPOILER ALERT! While I still don't quite get what the big catch is to this crossover, it's entertaining enough for me to stick with it. I'm just not sure what "fear" has to do with anything more so than any other big threat to the Earth's existence. Anyway, looks like Bucky/Captain America bites it here, which they've been hinting at for a while now in both the comics and the online community. It's a testament to Ed Brubaker's work on Captain America over the past several years that I genuinely hope that this is not the last we'll see of this character.

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1 - Speaking of Ed to describe this issue? Imagine that Archie wound up marrying Veronica and she cheats on him years later. Oh, and he decides to kill her. Yeah, that sounds pretty lame when you spell it all out, but trust me, it's not lame. The allusions to the Archie comics aren't so heavy-handed as to take you out of the story. Still, this is the most offbeat issue of Criminal yet (suddenly it's like Stan Lee is writing this blog). Highly recommended.