I love the Mignola-verse, but "Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever" left me underwhelmed. The premise behind this volume is that our VI love the Mignola-verse, but "Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever" left me underwhelmed. The premise behind this volume is that our Victorian-era foe of the supernatural heads to the Wild West to track down a missing (and possibly evil) British Lord. There Gray gets into some saloon showdowns and deals with Native American spiritualism before coming to a new, uneasy peace with magic.
The problem is that Gray is basically a sidekick in his own story. A grizzled old cowpoke named Morgan Kaler (aka, Sam Elliott) rescues our nominal hero from one jam after another, fending off the undead and helpfully pinpointing the source of the evil.
Unfortunately, Kaler is a cowboy stereotype that's not too interesting in his own right, and Gray ends up looking a little silly for being overshadowed all the time by his All-American counterpart. The end of the story is a bit of a dodge too, and the whole thing never seems to quite settle on the right balance between spoof and seriousness.
The art by John Severin is fine but wasn't fully to my taste. The basic line felt a little wobbly, and there aren't many spreads or action sequences that stay lodged in the mind. Maybe volume three will be more to my liking....more
I enjoyed the first volume of Sam Humphries' X-Force run, but this installment fell apart for me. It started with a three-issue arc where Psylocke heaI enjoyed the first volume of Sam Humphries' X-Force run, but this installment fell apart for me. It started with a three-issue arc where Psylocke heads to Madripoor to settle some unfinished business with the Fantomexes. (Fantomex is her former lover, who has now been split into three separate cloned bodies, each with different elements of its personality, leaving her unsure who she really loves. It's confusing, but hey, X-men.)
This arc starts with a little humor at least, with a nice self-referential note on how Psylocke's image has changed over the years, from nice, British Betsy Braddock in a pink bathrobe to a leggy, Japanese ninja in a bathing suit. But the love triangle that develops is pretty silly, and it only gets shakier as the issues proceed. It ends up offering a bit of closure that I never needed in the first place.
After that we go back to the main storyline from the first volume: Bishop has returned from the future infected by some psychic demon ghost. It's now spreading through L.A., and it even overwhelms our heroes, unleashing their revenants (the evil alter egos that lurk in all of us) onto the world. Again, there are some nice gag lines here, notably with Puck, but a pretty dire situation is handled too easily, without much dramatic interest or sense of risk. The volume even ends on a cliffhanger, after a final issue that seems rushed and overcompressed.
I like some of the dialogue here, but the plotting seems unfocused and the ultimate threat ends up being something we've seen before. I wish it had gone in a different direction, showing more confidence in exploring its own ideas.
A spooky tale of possession and murder from writer and artist Terry Moore. There's a lot to like in "Rachel Rising": his black-and-white art is beautiA spooky tale of possession and murder from writer and artist Terry Moore. There's a lot to like in "Rachel Rising": his black-and-white art is beautiful, as always, and he shows a nice touch for dialogue and dark humor. The friendships here are really well captured, and I liked spending time in our leads' snappy presence.
But the plotting just didn't do it for me. It seems like our characters are resurrecting some mystical feud sparked by a Crucible-era witches' graveyard. A lot of the plotting here has ordinary characters taken over by mystical powers that force them to do horrible things. From my standpoint, that removes any sense of agency or motivation from their actions and makes them far less interesting, horrific as they are.
The haunted setting is pretty familiar and something that B.P.R.D. does far better, in my opinion. ("Revival" has tread this ground too, for ok effect.) Moore can be pretty blatant in dropping his bad guys into the plot too: check out one foster dad who reveals himself as Chester the Molester within seconds of meeting his latest charge.
This is the third Moore series I've read, and with each I've been impressed with his skill but underwhelmed with his storytelling. There's a like to admire in his approach, but I have to admit it's just not for me....more
Some good story elements: I like the Legion's "Super MBA. But the threat never seems consistent and one character's heel turn is telegraphed way too sSome good story elements: I like the Legion's "Super MBA. But the threat never seems consistent and one character's heel turn is telegraphed way too strongly. Shooter's revival is oversexed too, in a manner that feels distracting instead of natural. Read in original issues....more
Been a while since I read the series, but this installment felt pretty slight, even for a teen-centric read. The main conflict here is that Spidey finBeen a while since I read the series, but this installment felt pretty slight, even for a teen-centric read. The main conflict here is that Spidey finds a superpowered peer the next high school over, Geldoff, although this guy isn't doing anything more than blowing cars up for kicks at parties.
Spidey confronts him, and they talk after fleeing the cops together. It becomes clear that Geldoff doesn't associate any responsibility with his powers, much less "great ones," and he eventually threatens Peter with explosion himself. At this point the X-men's female members show up to gather what they think is a mutant. Unfortunately, Geldoff shows off his power in their airplane, resulting in a long fall for all involved.
The whole story rides a weird tone between serious and a big joke. It seems like writer Brian Michael Bendis wants to contrast Peter's responsible nature with a more typical teen, but adding in a Latverian origin and Eastern European accent for Geldoff makes it all seem more like a schtick than a story.
The interaction with the X-men is strange as well; the ladies show up in awful, exploitative costumes (leg slits?), and then Spidey effectively shrugs his shoulders after some initial alarm at the potentially exploitative plans Professor X has for the new teen.
On the personal side, there's a bit of tenderness as Peter gets back with his girlfriend, but their "will they, won't they" dynamic seems to have undergone one too many shifts already. We do get a nice final issue where Aunt May visits a psychiatrist to voice her anxieties. This is adult and engaging, serving as a nice contrast to what came before.
Mark Bagley's art here is a little off for me--the characters seem to feature big heads and inflexible poses, like dolls. I prefer a more naturalistic take, personally. I suppose that applies to the story here as well!...more
Si Spurrier wraps up his X-men Legacy run in a way that feels a bit more like a sermon than a story. The vocabulary gets a bit thick in this last voluSi Spurrier wraps up his X-men Legacy run in a way that feels a bit more like a sermon than a story. The vocabulary gets a bit thick in this last volume, with lots of high-density narration in the "psi-scape" to pad out the plot.
As we start, a rogue piece of David Heller's multiple personalities, possessed by a murderer, has escaped into the world at large, where he's using psychic powers to inspire hate around the world. (Sort of like those old Hate-Monger storylines I used to read about in my Official Handbooks when I was a kid.) After a "scared straight" session in space, David yet again gains control over his powers thanks to a renewed focus and goes after the monster.
In conquering it, though, he becomes a monster himself, one that may doom all mankind, as prophesied. Our protagonist ends up consuming mutant spirits and devastating the countryside, sparking the long-foreshadowed showdown with his psychic girlfriend, junior X-men member Blindfold (aka Ruth).
The problem, though, is that the plot developments pile up to the point where they feel meaningless. David's powers make something happen, and then something else happens, and before too long the events in the story are detached from any kind of relevant causal chain. It might as well be magic. Ruth and David's relationship is also a focus, but that's not very satisfying either, as it doesn't feel like the connection between the two is ever fully earned.
Spurrier wraps things up well, with a neat bit of cleverness, but the story leading up to that point seems like a massive build-up for a little payoff. The art, shared by Tan Eng Huat and Khoi Pham, is decent enough, although the figures can be a little blocky for my tastes. But it wasn't long into the trade that I was reading for the finish, which is never a good sign.
Three volumes in, I have to conclude that while I've enjoyed other stories by Peter David, his Hulk run isn't for me. Part of the problem is the charaThree volumes in, I have to conclude that while I've enjoyed other stories by Peter David, his Hulk run isn't for me. Part of the problem is the character. The Hulk here isn't the mindless beast he's generally represented as; instead, he's a nasty, amoral strongarm man. But while other characters, notably his girlfriend, talk up his supposed redeeming qualities, nothing on the page makes him pleasant to spend time with.
Beyond that, the stories are pretty weak. We kick off with a team of robot mercenaries--pretty much the most generic 80s villains imaginable--rampaging their way through Las Vegas in a game of murder tag. The Hulk gets into a fight with Spider-Man here for no good reason, following that up with a team-up with Dr. Doom (?!) to head to New York and trade punches with the Thing.
Both storylines seem silly, embodying the childishness at the heart of generic superhero comics. Why are the Hulk and the Thing destroying New York City for no reason? Worse, why does the Hulk come off so much like a phony tough guy?
From there, the story takes a quick trip into another universe before wrapping up with a mob fight in Las Vegas that's at least a compelling idea. But the boring old Banner-Hulk split surfaces again, and I just didn't see much imagination or credibility in the set-up. The Hulk as a ritzy Vegas strong-arm guy? I can get behind that. But the series seems bored by that premise before it can even get into it, and the distorted Jeff Purves art doesn't help things either.
I thought volume 3 of "Lobster Johnson" was a bit of a step back compared to previous installments. The previous trade, "The Burning Hand," offered aI thought volume 3 of "Lobster Johnson" was a bit of a step back compared to previous installments. The previous trade, "The Burning Hand," offered a great gangland tale blending mystic forces and gritty, street-level revenge. It offered the pulp hero and his crew mysteries to solve, setbacks to overcome and a sense of loss blended into the finale.
"Satan Smells a Rat" tells several anthology-style stories, and most of them are limited to Lobster discovering a threat and going in guns blazing. He takes out Nazi terrorists, mad scientists, elder gods and mummies in a series of single-issue tales. The action and the plots are all pretty straightforward, though, and it's hard to get excited about the Lobster's triumphs when there aren't really any obstacles in his way.
One exception is the book's longer story, "A Scent of Lotus," which has Lobster facing down a mystical Japanese spy who's come to the United States to stop the flow of funds to freedom fighters in occupied Japan. The extra space lets the story stretch out some, providing an actual mystery. Our heroes have to figure things out, deal with some hassle from the cops and solve the problem in a way that doesn't just involve shooting it. This story feels like a throwback to the strengths of the previous volume, and it offers a connection to a later B.P.R.D. story, which is nice.
"Satan Smells a Rat" calls on a roster of artists to illustrate Mike Mignola and John Arcudi's stories. They all do nice work, capturing the shadows and pulp-era setting that Lobster calls home....more
Great art, but too much of the plotting is like watching a kid play with action figures. Gory, desperate stuff with little life. None of the characterGreat art, but too much of the plotting is like watching a kid play with action figures. Gory, desperate stuff with little life. None of the characters reward much investment from the reader....more
This new Ms. Marvel series has been getting a rhapsodic reception, but the first trade didn't really do it for me. The change in the lead role is inteThis new Ms. Marvel series has been getting a rhapsodic reception, but the first trade didn't really do it for me. The change in the lead role is interesting: blue-eyed, blonde bombshell Carol Danvers is replaced with Kamala Khan, a New Jersey girl with a conservative (by U.S. standards, at least) Muslim Pakistani family. Dosed with magic gas, she gains shape-shifting powers and has to balance superheroics with high-school woes and her family giving her a hard time for not living up to their "good girl" standard.
There are a lot of nice aspects to the story. G. Willow Wilson does a good job conjuring a gentle, nerdy teen voice and solid family dynamic. There are lots of little word and sight gags sprinkled throughout, offering bonus laughs for the observant reader. The art by Adrian Alphona is enjoyable too, although the background details can be a little stick-figurey for me.
The main issue I had with the story falls to personal taste, and it's that I simply don't have much interest in Kamala's struggles to keep her conservative parents happy. It's done well enough, but it's not a conflict I'm invested in--I'm far enough away from high school now that I just want Kamala to tell her mom to buzz off. It doesn't help that this aspect of the story is pretty familiar. Apart from the family/cultural elements, which are unique, the story isn't too different from Marvel's "new teen hope" efforts with Darkhawk of Sleepwalker 20 years ago.
That brings me to the other issue I have with the story: the superhero aspects aren't too compelling. There's a villain here, but "bungling" seems a fair description, and the stakes feel pretty low. Heck, the person who poses the biggest threat--someone who actually (view spoiler)[shoots Kamala (hide spoiler)]is waved off as a goofy mistake, which seems inconsistent. It's certainly appropriate for Kamala to take on opponents at her level; no one expects her to be flying to Latveria to throw down with Dr. Doom. But I wasn't satisfied with the opposition here.
Finally, while I appreciate the series introducing a new cultural perspective to the Marvel Universe, I found it pretty didactic in how it represented Kamala's cultural struggle. Her woes all seemed a little on the nose; I was surprised, for instance, that even the "nice" girl in class was making a "smells like curry" joke. But that may reflect my own blind spots, and if people enjoy the story, more power to them. I'm glad Marvel has created it, even if it's not to my personal taste.
Superheroics not great either. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A dutiful follow-up on the implications of the War of Kings. This volumes looks in on the Inhumans, currently ruling the Kree Empire, the Sh'iar ImperA dutiful follow-up on the implications of the War of Kings. This volumes looks in on the Inhumans, currently ruling the Kree Empire, the Sh'iar Imperial Guard, and a son of the Hulk I'd never heard of who visits the Microverse, which I've only experienced in a couple mostly forgotten fifty-cent-bin issues.
The Hulk story was frankly baffling; it didn't have any connection with the cosmic saga Marvel had been offering since the original Annihilation series. Maybe it works for Hulk fans, but I didn't find any characters to care for in that one.
The Kree and Inhumans storylines were inventive enough spin-offs. The former has Medusa, in full Machiavelli mode, (view spoiler)[ instigating crises to win over the faith of the people she now rules. (hide spoiler)] I haven't liked her character development in the series as a whole--her patrician ruthlessness seems forced and counterproductive. The relationship that's developed between Crystal and Ronan the Accuser feels more natural, surprisingly, and I would enjoy seeing their future developments.
The Sh'iar storyline has Gladiator struggling with the transition from man of action to ruler. After putting down an insurrection, he has to send the rest of the Imperial Guard on a possible suicide mission into the new "rift" that's opened. They encounter the "life run amuck" armies of the cancerverse, which makes for a good threat, although the new Darkhawk mythos Abnett and Lanning introduced is tossed in here as well, where I think the story would do better without it.
All in all, the stories illuminate some cosmic characters that don't always get a space in the spotlight. It's good enough, but pales compared to the stories Abnett and Lanning were telling in their Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy runs at the same time. I wish those were still going.
Read digital versions["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
As part of their Secret Invasion, the Skrulls have kidnapped Black Bolt and are trying to harness him as a living weapon, even as their troops attackAs part of their Secret Invasion, the Skrulls have kidnapped Black Bolt and are trying to harness him as a living weapon, even as their troops attack Attilan. This leads the Inhumans royal family to search space to find him, a task that's resolved pretty easily in a few short setpieces.
The concept isn't bad, but the plotting and characterization feels pretty stiff, and there aren't enough surprises to make the story essential. Medusa seems out of character as a Machiavellian royal willing to do whatever it takes to protect her people. Ultimately, it seems like a four-issue change of direction to get the Inhumans more involved in Marvel's cosmic comics. Not really required reading on its own.