Other reviewers have already pointed out that this story essentially asks what would happen if James Bond got killed, and it turned out that Miss Mone...moreOther reviewers have already pointed out that this story essentially asks what would happen if James Bond got killed, and it turned out that Miss Moneypenny was more of a bad-ass than he ever was? So in an effort to come up with a new way of describing this I’ll ask what if Sterling Archer got killed, and Cheryl/Carol was more of a bad-ass than he ever was?
In 1973 Velvet Templeton is the secretary to the director of super-secret spy agency ARC-7. After their best agent is ambushed and killed Velvet is implicated as the mole who set him up, but it turns out that she knows a lot more than just how to take shorthand. Velvet was actually a great field agent in the ‘50s before events forced her into accepting a desk job. To clear her name Velvet has to get back in the spy game to track down who actually betrayed their agent.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the lack of diversity in comics as well as the movies adapted from them, and it’s very refreshing to have the lead of this promising series be a forty-something female in an era where women were either the secretary to the good guys or the honey trap working for the bad guys. And Velvet is an intriguing character with all the skills of Marvel’s Black Widow with the looks of real life hard-boiled crime writer Christa Faust minus the tattoos.
Brubaker again delivers a version of yet another fantastic genre tale with a unique twist to it. Epting’s excellent art is realistic enough to be storyboards for a movie but still stylized to provide the atmosphere of a Bond movie from the Sean Connery era. Maybe its best trick is the way that the story blends the old school comic book style spy action with the darker John le Carre tone of exploring the toll that working in covert espionage takes on someone.
Overall it’s a terrific comic that I can’t wait to read more of. (less)
Being a genius billionaire superhero isn’t all fun and games apparently. Sometimes there are people who want to question your ethics just because you’...moreBeing a genius billionaire superhero isn’t all fun and games apparently. Sometimes there are people who want to question your ethics just because you’ve got a past as an arms manufacturer, and then there’s always the chance you’ll get the ever loving crap kicked out of you when some bad guys get their hands on a new bio-weapon.
This is one of the best Iron Man stories I’ve read. It came out a few years before the first movie, and the films would use several of it’s ideas and overall tone. The third movie in particular uses the basic story elements. It also brilliantly set up a phase of Tony Stark in the comics for Civil War and its aftermath through Matt Fraction’s great run on Invincible Iron Man. (less)
The main character of this book, Donald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, is a routinely careless man who left his wife and had almost nothing to do with raising his...moreThe main character of this book, Donald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, is a routinely careless man who left his wife and had almost nothing to do with raising his son. He’s had an affair with a married woman for twenty years, and he’s lusting after yet another man’s wife. Sully also drinks and gambles on a near daily basis. At one point in this book he pimp slaps a woman, and there's another part in which he engages in an act that probably meets the legal definition of animal cruelty.
Sounds like a real bastard, doesn’t he?
Actually, Sully is one of the most likable fiction characters I’ve read in some time, and most of the damage he inadvertently does to others is trumped by the amount he does to himself.
In the blue collar town of North Bath in upstate New York, Sully is a 60 year old laborer with a bum knee that he injured on a job, but rather than follow the advice of his lawyer and everyone else he knows, Sully insists on returning to work rather than follow the legal course of trying to get full disability. Why? Even Sully couldn’t tell you, but his insistence on doing things his way rather than the smart way is a lifelong habit with him. The fact that this attitude has him perpetually broke with only a broken down pick-up truck to his name does nothing to hinder Sully’s commitment to turning left whenever someone tells him to go right.
If he’s low on money then Sully is rich in friends. Or at least he has no shortage of people to bullshit and argue with as he makes his daily rounds of the coffee shop, OTB and the local bar. As Sully tries to get back to work while coping with his wrecked knee, he bumps into his estranged son Peter and his family who are back in town for Thanksgiving. Events eventually force Sully to face that even though he’s spent a lifetime trying to avoid even the mildest form of personal responsibility that there are some times when it can’t be dodged any longer.
I saw the movie version of this with Paul Newman several times over the years and liked it so much that I always meant to pick up the book but never got around to it. After checking out Russo’s Empire Falls and now this, I’m wishing I’d been reading him for a lot longer. Stories about small communities fallen on hard times are something he does exceedingly well in both, and while there are a lot of similarities between his fictional towns, he creates large vivid casts of characters with their individual histories and motivations that feel unique to each book. There’s also more than enough humor to keep the whole thing from becoming a boring slog about how hard life can be.
Sully is a particularly great creation as a good natured slob with a self-destructive streak that he acknowledges even as he feels no particular urge to change. He’s smart enough to win most of the arguments he gets into, but still usually too stubborn to lose a battle to win a war. While he may bitch about how he’s spent his life working like a dog and yet doesn’t have to pot to piss in, there’s also a feeling of general contentment about Sully. As long as his truck starts and he can afford to bet his daily horse race and get a few beers at the bar, he really doesn’t feel like he needs much more.
It’s a bit long and there are a few too many sub-plots for my taste. (The scaled down plot of the movie actually works better as a story.) It’s still a terrific book with a lead character that you can’t help but like even as you wish that he’d wise up just a little bit. (less)
Treasure of the Rubbermaids 22 : You Call This A Crossover?
The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid conta...moreTreasure of the Rubbermaids 22 : You Call This A Crossover?
The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths.
I’ve recently been engaged in a project to catalog all the comics I bought in my youth as well as putting them in new bags with fresh boards.* Going through this has brought to light many forgotten items, and it’s also reminded me of several trends like back in the ‘90s Marvel loved to put the Punisher in different comic books. This takes that concept to the extreme.
Archie Comics and Marvel teamed up to have everyone’s favorite murderous vigilante meet everyone’s favorite perpetual high school student. The Punisher is tracking a criminal named Red who fled to Riverdale, and he bears a striking resemblance to Archie. Hilarity ensues. Sort of. I guess. If you think Archie comics are funny.
The key thing here is that this is The Punisher Meets Archie, not The Punisher KILLS Archie although I guess Archie recently met his end. It’s pretty obvious that the terms of the deal for Archie Comics must have stressed that nobody could actually die in this book because Frank Castle is working for the government with a promise that he’ll bring in Red alive. (view spoiler)[Although, I guess that’s a little unclear at the end. Did the government send helicopters to retrieve Red as the Punisher said they would? (hide spoiler)] So overall the Punisher is just a big mean guy who waves guns around and scares everybody.
Since there’s no teeth to him, the joke is all about the Punisher being the fish out of water in Riverdale although a modest attempt is made to introduce a little angst with Castle getting misty eyed over the small town innocence of everyone and thinking of what might have been if only his family hadn’t been massacred by those dastardly gangsters. But we’re pretty much operating by the Archie standard here so there’s nothing done with the idea that delivering a typical Punisher amount of ultra-violence to Riverdale could be funny if done right. So the whole book is leaning on the notion that putting Archie and the Punisher together is inherently funny. It’s not.
Pretty disappointing overall. If you want to see a really interesting dark version of Archie than try the Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent which does a lot more with the whole concept even if they couldn’t call the characters by name.
This review is dedicated to Jeff who added this to his to-read list shortly after I came across it and inspired me to crack it open.
* I had heard that you are supposed to rebag your comics periodically but thought it was a sinister conspiracy started to sell more bags and boards. However, going through these that have been in plastic since the early ‘90s has shown me that it’s a pretty good idea. Many of the bags had yellowed and a lot of the boards were showing imprints from the back cover. I assume this can’t be good for the comics. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fun free comic that DC threw together for Batman’s 75th anniversary. It reprints the first Batman story from Detective Comics, and then does a modern...moreFun free comic that DC threw together for Batman’s 75th anniversary. It reprints the first Batman story from Detective Comics, and then does a modern re-telling of the same tale. It also includes a short bit from Scott Syder that’s a great look at what the future of Batman could be. It’s worth a look for Bat-fans.(less)
Infinity is an apt name for this Marvel event since it seemingly goes on forever.
Seriously, I know when it comes to these big crossover events that ‘b...moreInfinity is an apt name for this Marvel event since it seemingly goes on forever.
Seriously, I know when it comes to these big crossover events that ‘big’ is the key word, but this collection contains the 6 issues of Infinity itself as well as about 18 issues ofAvengers and New Avengers. That’s not even including the roughly 30 other tie-in books that are part of it, too. How many comic books must I read to get one story?!?
An alien race called the Builders that were supposedly the architects of the universe itself show up and start tearing through various star systems on their way to Earth. Captain America leads most of the Avengers into space to fight beside an alliance made up of friends and former enemies like the Skrulls and the Brood. Unfortunately, with most of the Avengers off planet Thanos sees an opportunity to carry out a personal vendetta on Earth, and he unleashes a full scale planetary invasion that Tony Stark and the other members of the Illuminati try to lead the defense against.
There’s a lot good sci-fi concepts here as well as some epic action with art that conveys the scale of the events. Overall Hickman’s story does a pretty nice job of shifting around to the different areas which allows him to get lots of characters doing lots of things. I also like this idea that’s spread across the Marvel books during this period of time that Earth is increasingly seen as a danger by the rest of the universe.
But the problem with these crossover events are that they seem to be built with the idea that they are for the fans reading every issue of the books involved as they come out. I have not been reading any of the recent Avengers books, but I’d pretty much caught up on Guardians of the Galaxy when I hit their part of the crossover so I thought I knew enough to check it out. Wrong. Even though I read about umpteen million pages of this story, I still had to go to the Marvel Wiki page to get the context of what happened.
When you’ve got more and more fans increasingly waiting to buy the collections or, like me, reading later via digital comics, it’s crazy when these things sprawl to the point where you can read over 600 pages that supposedly contain the core story, and it’s still not enough. If they could have boiled this down to one big 10 or 12 issue mini-series that felt like a complete storyline I would have been a lot more satisfied with it.(less)
I’m giving this two stars even though I loved parts of it because it’s a prime example of the kind of nonsense that often makes Marvel and DC comics s...moreI’m giving this two stars even though I loved parts of it because it’s a prime example of the kind of nonsense that often makes Marvel and DC comics such a frustrating mess.
I can live with making moves for marketing purposes. Hell, I can admire something slick done for marketing purposes like launching a new Guardians of the Galaxy comic with one of your most popular writers as part of the lead up to the movie version of it. That makes sense. Even though I'm a comic book geek I knew little about this team, but I’m excited about the film so I want to read something that clues me in. Putting that line-up in a book with a writer like Bendis who has a glib style similar to what the movie seems like it might be was a good idea.
Even sticking in a popular character like Iron Man for a while to spark interest is OK if it’s done well, and I was actually enjoying Tony Stark having a space adventure and interacting with characters like Rocket and Gamora.
What isn’t a good idea is taking this fledgling book where you should ideally be trying to establish the tone and bringing in another character that makes no sense solely as a marketing stunt. And unlike the inclusion of Iron Man which was at least an understandable marketing stunt, bringing in Angela does nothing but introduce a confusing element that no one cared about. Comic nerds know that Neal Gaiman finally won his legal battle to get the rights to Angela back and good for him. But what does she have to do with this comic? Was anyone really clamoring to see Angela? Does it have anything to do with the story of the Guardians or even have an angle that you could at least see as maybe a cynical but logical promotional play for the movie? Nope. So why is she here?
Adding insult to injury is that after just a half-dozen issues when little has been done other than reintroducing the team with their new buddy Tony Stark, any story momentum is sacrificed for several issues to do a tie-in to Marvel’s big Infinity crossover.
So while there were individual scenes and moments I liked quite a bit in this, it all adds up to far less than the sum of its parts because Marvel was far more concerned with flipping the bird to Todd MacFarlane and milking its latest massive storyline. Which is nothing new. But I still don’t understand why they couldn’t just give us some stories about the Guardians of the Galaxy when they’ve got a pretty big reason to do just that. (less)
This collects four digital comics Marvel did as part of re-launching Guardians of the Galaxy with Drax, Gamora, Rocket and Groot all getting short sol...moreThis collects four digital comics Marvel did as part of re-launching Guardians of the Galaxy with Drax, Gamora, Rocket and Groot all getting short solo adventure before the team is reformed. There are decent enough, but nothing groundbreaking. Since the movie trailers have given me a growing admiration for gun-toting talking raccoons it’s no surprise that my favorite story was Rocket’s.
I read these on the Marvel app, and the digital design elements were cool. Rather than just showing static panels, they would often show one frame and then add in smaller panels and dialogue to it as the plot moved forward. I don’t think I’d want all my comics to be like this but it is something that shows promise in certain situations. (less)
See, I’m trying to read up on Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie comes out so I started in on Bendis era,...moreI really wanted not to like this book.
See, I’m trying to read up on Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie comes out so I started in on Bendis era, but it felt like I missed something. The last I knew the Guardians had disbanded following The Thanos Imperative, but then they were back together again with no explanation at the beginning of the new title. So after checking around I found that they had appeared in the first storyline of Avengers Assemble which is the book put together to capitalize on that movie’s popularity with the same line-up.
Thankfully I have a Marvel Ultimate subscription so it was fairly easy to jump over to this one. However, it rubbed me the wrong way that I had to go read a whole other title to try and get the full story of how the Guardians got back together. Guess what? It’s not addressed here either. The Guardians just show up to help after Thanos is on Earth causing a ruckus.
Why have them in the story at all in the early phase of launching a new Avengers title? Yeah, I know. The movies. They make billions of dollars, and you can't fault Marvel's marketing of them so far. I love ‘em too, but why does it have to be such a goddamn hassle to figure out which comics you have to find to get the whole story these days? I just want to read about a heavily armed talking space raccoon and his friends. Is that too much to ask?
So I was grumpy starting this and kinda hoping I’d dislike it so I could really rip it on a review. However, I gotta admit that it won me over. I like the line-up they used in the movie so recreating it here makes for a good team that actually seem like Avengers unlike some members these days. *cough* Wolverine *cough*
And I liked the team-up with the Guardians as well as the big cosmic threat that Thanos poses. It’s not the best thing I’ve read by Bendis, but it was fast and pretty fun. And I gotta give credit to any title that features dialogue like this from Jarvis the butler after the Guardians show up:
“How am I supposed to feed such a motley lot on such short notice? The raccoon asked if I would order a pizza from Ray’s Famous Pizza. But only the one on 52nd. He said the other Ray’s Pizza was, and I quote the raccoon, ‘Ass.’” (less)
The cosmic heavyweight team of Quasar, Gladiator, Ronan, Ikon and Beta Ray Bill are having just an average day at the office breaking up an interstell...moreThe cosmic heavyweight team of Quasar, Gladiator, Ronan, Ikon and Beta Ray Bill are having just an average day at the office breaking up an interstellar war between various factions of the Church of Universal Truth when they learn that there’s something on Earth that’s a threat to the entire universe. Their arrival trips the alarm that summons the Avengers. Gee, I sure hope that there won’t be any kind of misunderstandings that could cause a fight between two super-hero teams….
Seriously, it’s standard operating procedure in comic books to have the good guys initially fight in some kind of team-up issue, but this one is pretty ridiculous because the conversation goes something like this:
Avengers: Hey, Annihilators! What are you doing on Earth?
Annihilators: There’s no time to explain!
Avengers: Well, you’re tearing up this town of what seems to be ordinary people so we’re getting a little concerned here.
Annihilators: I told you already that there’s no time to explain!
Avengers: How about a quick summary? Ten words or less?
Annihilators: There’s no time to explain!
Avengers: Well, shit. I guess we gotta fight then.
Annihilators: Wait! A lot of us are friends who have been allies before so there's no reason you shouldn't trust us. We don’t have time to explain why it seems like we’re attacking innocent civilians, but we’re here on a matter of utmost urgency about saving the universe so could you please just give us five minutes?
Avengers: Seems like you could have explained it a little in the time it took you to say all that.
Annihilators: Perhaps, but that time has passed. Now there is no more time to explain.
Avengers: Now you’re just messing with us.
Annihilators: Why won’t you realize that there is no time to explain?
Avengers: Screw it. We’re fighting.
Annihilators: Dude, I told you we need five minutes to save the universe. What's the hurry?
Avengers: Wolverine’s getting impatient. He’s got like seven other teams to go fight on today so he wants to get on with this.
Annihilators: Very well. Let us fight then. But rest assured even when we have long conversations during the various battles there still won’t be any time to explain.
Oh, and the Rocket & Groot bonus story is kinda fun, but I still think the art and tone of doing a kind of wacky cartoon adventure doesn’t really jibe with the funny talking raccoon threatening to blow someone’s head off with an enormous gun. (less)
Marvel decided to re-launch a book that ties into their latest movie offering and it just so happens to guest-star their most popular film character?...moreMarvel decided to re-launch a book that ties into their latest movie offering and it just so happens to guest-star their most popular film character?
Several decades of the highs and lows of being a comic fan have given me a thick enough skin to try and look past the stunt murders and #1 issues and shoehorning popular characters into stories they got no business in to see if anyone bothered doing something worth reading. It is, and it’s a book I’d be interested in seeing more of even if I wasn’t ridiculously excited to see a movie featuring a talking raccoon shoot aliens. You can’t put a dollar value on entertainment like that!
This is a little odd because it deliberately doesn’t show how the Guardians reformed following The Thanos Imperative, but I've heard that explanation is still forthcoming. Anyhow, they’re back and the line-up is exactly the same one as the upcoming film. (Again, I'm shocked.)
Earth has been declared off-limits to further alien interaction by a galactic council because they’ve decided that all of the previous extraterrestrial meddling has created an unstable mix of primitive power that could be a danger to the universe. Peter Quill (a/k/a Star-Lord) doesn’t like this since he’s half-human, and his alien father, the king of his race, delivers a stern warning that even he is no longer allowed on Earth. Peter thinks this has put a giant target on his old home planet since it prevents its cosmic allies from protecting it so he leads the Guardians to find out what’s going on. On the way they bump into Iron Man because Tony Stark's idea of a vacation is building a new suit of armor he can use to jet off into deep space to get away from it all, but he runs into trouble with the evil race of the Badoons.
Overall this was an enjoyable story, and even the inclusion of Iron Man is handled pretty well. I particularly enjoyed Rocket mocking Stark as being from a backwoods planet because there’s something inherently funny about a space raccoon talking shit to a genius billionaire superhero.
While it’s still a sci-fi space opera it doesn’t have the cosmic epic feel of the timey-wimey adventures of the previous version of the title, and I hope that future issues will give us more of those kinds of things. (less)
Empire Falls, Maine is a town that’s best days are long behind it. The mill and factory that used to be the main employers have been closed for years,...moreEmpire Falls, Maine is a town that’s best days are long behind it. The mill and factory that used to be the main employers have been closed for years, and the only person around with two dimes to rub together is the very rich Francine Whiting who essentially owns and controls everything worth having in the area. Miles Robey was on the verge of earning his college degree and escaping Empire Falls forever when he returned home to care for his dying mother and ended up working for Mrs. Whiting as the manager of the Empire Grill.
Two decades later and Miles is a middle aged punching bag still slinging burgers who probably bursts into tears every time he hears Pearl Jam’s Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. His selfish wife Janine is divorcing Miles to marry health club owner Walt Comeau who likes to stop by the Empire Grill every afternoon to rub it in. Miles’ father Max is the town neer-do-well who is impervious to guilt and is constantly trying to get money out of him. Town cop Jimmy Minty starts approaching Miles under the guise of friendship but has some long simmering grudge against him. Worst of all is that Miles has to report the slender profits to Mrs. Whiting even as she refuses to pay for any improvements to the increasingly shabby diner. The one bright spot in life for Miles is his teen-aged daughter Tick who he loves dearly and has a close relationship with.
This is the first book I’ve read by Russo (Although I’ve seen the movie version of Nobody’s Fool.), and I absolutely loved it. At least until the ending, but we’ll get to that shortly. The depiction of a small blue collar town slowly going under was done incredibly well from the opening that describes how Empire Falls has been ruled by the Whitings for generations and how heir C.B. went from his dream of wanting to be a poet and artist in Mexico to running the family business and marrying Francine.
The characters are another big selling point because there’s a lot more than I described in the brief summary above, and all of them seem rich and fully developed. It’s to Russo’s credit that he was able to make a cast that includes some absolutely infuriating and unpleasant people and make you at least understand all of them. There were times where I wished that Miles would push his father out of a moving car or toss a pan full of hot grease into the face of Walt, but there was also a certain obnoxious charm to them most of the time.
Miles is the heart of the book, and I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to like him much in the early going. I’m generally not a fan of passive characters that are so wrapped up in regrets and unearned guilt that they’re essentially just pawns for anyone looking to use them, and Miles fits this description to a T. Being raised Catholic by his selfless mother has convinced him that wanting anything for himself is practically a sin, and he’s almost pathologically incapable of standing up for himself. However, Miles’ brother is constantly calling him out for taking the path of least resistance and urging him to at least try to change his circumstances. That awareness of his nature and the flashes of backbone that Miles shows at times make him sympathetic despite being pretty much a doormat.
As far as the ending (view spoiler)[ I loved that Mrs. Whiting had essentially turned Miles into an indentured servant because of the affair his mother had with her husband. Miles seemed exceptionally slow on the uptake there, but the hardest place to see a trap is from inside it.
However, I was less pleased with other elements. John Voss shooting the people in the high school was the kind of dramatic moment that it would take for Miles to make a big gesture like leaving Empire Falls to protect Tick. So while I wasn’t sold on the idea of this character driven story about small town secrets and regrets turning into a ripped-from-the-headlines tragedy, it made sense in that respect. But I didn’t like how everything got kind of deus ex machina after that. Mrs. Whiting drowns, Jimmy Minty is disgraced, Zach gets shipped off to Seattle, Janine leaves Walt all while David and Bea get the new restaurant going. That all just seemed a little too convenient for Miles. (hide spoiler)]
Despite those complaints this was still an exceptionally well written book with that did a great job establishing and exploring all the tangled relationships in one dying town, and it has enough humor to keep everything from getting overly grim and depressing for the most part. It’s easy to see why it won a Pulitzer. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I noticed the ads for this here on Goodreads and thought the premise sounded interesting, but I wasn’t in any great hurry to check it out. Then it was...moreI noticed the ads for this here on Goodreads and thought the premise sounded interesting, but I wasn’t in any great hurry to check it out. Then it was one of those super cheap deals on my Kindle so I figured I’d give it a shot.
And that’s how they get you. Well played, Amazon. Well played indeed.
This does have a great hook for a story. Seventy-two year old Stanley Peke and his wife Rose have accumulated a house full of valuables and memories over the years, but they want to move to a smaller more manageable place in California so they hire a moving company to transport their stuff across the country. After almost everything they own has been packed, loaded and driven off, the Pekes learn that they’ve been the victim of a clever scheme in which a gang of thieves show up before the real movers and take off with an entire house worth of loot.
Next time just buy your friends some pizza and beer to con them into helping you, Stanley.
Most people would cash their insurance check and grieve for the loss of the mementos that can’t be replaced, but Stanley isn’t your average silver fox. He spent his childhood hiding from Nazis in the woods of Poland and came to America after the war with no family and not a penny to his name. The theft of the things he spent a lifetime acquiring as part of his building a family is something that he refuses to abide and when he sees a chance to track down the thief who led the crew Stanley decides to get it all back without involving the cops. However, the ringleader Nick had his own hard-luck upbringing as an orphaned street kid which has left with a ruthless nature and the firm belief that whatever he steals is now his so the clash between the two strong-willed men become about more than who ends up with the stuff.
This is marketed as a thriller, and there are definitely a lot of those elements and enough action to make it part of that category. But it actually doesn’t read like a thriller for most of the book. A large part of it is spent inside Stanley’s head as he reflects on his past, how it shaped him and the life he’s lived since. Stone was far more concerned with Stanley and Nick as characters than how the plot would be resolved.
That makes the book more ‘literary’ (For lack of a better term.) than what I was expecting, and at first I was pleasantly surprised at the many facets that Stone was exploring with Stanley about being a Jewish survivor of the Nazis who came to America and lived the ultimate immigrant success story.
The problem is that this is all gone over a little too much with clear conclusions drawn and laid out for the reader. Stone wants to make sure we understand every angle and by kicking over every rock he really hasn’t left the reader anything to think about. It’s not a case of full-on anvil dropping (view spoiler)[although the ending with Stanley leaving the woods while shedding a Nazi uniform was pretty on the nose (hide spoiler)], but there’s little sub-text left by the end of it.
So it’s got the pieces of a good crime story with an interesting lead character that was aiming to be a bit more than your average thriller, but it is so concerned with making sure that we got the point that it laid out all it’s themes like a road map which left me feeling like someone who considered me slightly stupid had been slowly explaining himself to me for several hours.
Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Anybody else find it odd that a team of heroes dedicated to saving the universe would be called Annihilators?
Following the events of The Thanos Impera...moreAnybody else find it odd that a team of heroes dedicated to saving the universe would be called Annihilators?
Following the events of The Thanos Imperative, Cosmo the telepathic dog (Just go with it.) recruits some serious muscle to stand watch over space-time. The Silver Surfer, Quasar, Beta-Ray Bill, Gladiator and Ronan are brought together just in time to deal with the threat of the Dire Wraiths. There’s also a second story featuring Rocket Raccoon and Groot having their own adventure.
Reading this immediately after Abnett and Lanning’s epic storylines like War of Kings and The Thanos Imperative was probably a bad idea because it seems distinctly small in comparison to those. It definitely feels limited for a story that features several heavy-weight heroes like this, and I found the sub-plot of Quasar’s lack of self-confidence more annoying than anything. Yeah, yeah. You died. Who hasn’t in this universe? Get over it and go punch somebody.
The bonus story with Rocket and Groot was a lot more fun, but it did seem a little too cartoonish. I know it’s a talking raccoon and a walking tree and this is actually touches on several points from the original run of Rocket's mini-series from the mid '80s, but Guardians of the Galaxy always gave these characters some genuine weight. While there are good moments like seeing that Rocket was so badly stunned by the events of Thanos Imperative that he has given up galaxy saving for a job as a mail room clerk, the art style and several goofy elements undercut both him and Groot as serious superheroes who have helped save the universe.(less)
A rift called the Fault caused by all the recent space shenanigans is a doorway to another universe in which Death was killed. You’d think a universe...moreA rift called the Fault caused by all the recent space shenanigans is a doorway to another universe in which Death was killed. You’d think a universe with no death would be a good thing, but this was brought about by letting a bunch of Cthulhu like ancient creatures take charge.
Now this Cancerverse wants to spread out and take over new territory so a cast of cosmic heavy weights including the likes of Galactus and Silver Surfer fight to push back the forces pouring through the Fault including dark versions of well-known Marvel characters. I only wish that they all had goatees to really let us know that these are the evil twins to the superheroes.
Peter Quill leads the Guardians on a desperate mission to bring death’s herald from their universe to the Cancerverse and end the threat. Unfortunately, the herald of death is Thanos who isn’t exactly known as being stable, rational or trustworthy so this plan has more than a few risks attached to it. You know you’re in trouble when you have to depend on an insane supervillain who is in so love with the incarnation of Death that he once wiped out half the life in the universe to get her attention.
This is another big cosmic blow-out story from Abentt and Lanning who have a talent for coming up with epic stories balanced by giving us relatable characters to root for during them. I especially loved the twist of unbridled life being a threat and having to use Thanos as the weapon against it. The ending is especially good and one of the more touching things I’ve seen in a big Marvel crossover. (view spoiler)[The final splash panel with Rocket and Quasar standing in front of the memorial statue of Star-Lord and Nova with Rocket making a heartfelt comment was an especially nice touch. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I need to thank Marvel for the seemingly odd choice to make a movie based on the Guardians of the Galaxy. I have no idea if the film will work (althou...moreI need to thank Marvel for the seemingly odd choice to make a movie based on the Guardians of the Galaxy. I have no idea if the film will work (although the trailers are selling the concept well), but even if it’s a stinker it got me to check out these comics which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It also made me aware that I’ve been wanting to see a talking raccoon fire large guns for my entire life and just never realized it until now.
The Guardians are still reeling from the devastating losses they incurred by stopping the War of Kings, but when protecting the galaxy is your gig then you rarely get a day off. A new rift between universes brings more trouble just as the Guardians are feuding with their landlords, another group of would-be galaxy protectors and the Universal Church of Truth.
The only bad thing is that this was the end of this version of the Guardians comic as written by Abnett and Lanning who showed a real knack for crafting big cosmic crossover stories that while heavy on the sci-fi concepts were also funny and had relatable characters. And since this series only ran for 25 issues it makes Marvel’s decision to use it as the basis for one of its movies seem even weirder, but I guess when Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are making you billions of dollars you can take a chance or two.
Reading Guardians of the Galaxy now has me interested in Marvel’s space stories, and I’ll be checking out more of the related titles and events like Nova and The Thanos Imperative. (less)