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message 1: by Derrick (last edited Feb 22, 2012 01:12PM) (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) I want to play! I'll start with some I have read recently. . .

Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1
5 stars

I meant to stretch this one over time, but I couldn't help myself. Amongst recent Marvel stuff, I just might have to put this one above Captain America By Ed Brubaker Omnibus Vol. 1. Like the Brubaker book, Fraction has given us a story that's not your usual superhero fare. It's as much about espionage, business, and relationships as it is about blowing **** up, though you will get plenty of moments of fistpump awesome.

This book follows Ezekiel Stane and then Norman Osborne's efforts to crush Tony Stark down to nothing. One of the best bits is seeing past armors being pulled out of storage -- for a reason I don't want to give away for fear of spoilage. And I was pleased to see development of Maria Hill, a character who has always been pretty one-note. Kudos to Fraction for that effort! (and I wish she'd always wear her hair messy -- too bad it doesn't fit her character, because it's really a good look)

The artwork by Larocca is stunning, especially on the oversized pages. This is one of the best mainstream superhero books I have read in a long time.

message 2: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Conan Volume 1 The Frost Giant's Daughter And Other Stories  by Kurt Busiek
5 stars

Been meaning to read this Dark Horse Conan run for years, and now I am finally starting to dig into it. The first half of this book adapts "The Frost Giant's Daughter", and it's well worth the price of admission. Conan is tough and grumpy, but he makes friends easily when he finds men of strength and honor. The Daughter herself is rendered with such ethereal beauty that I wish this story could be reprinted in an oversized hardcover.

The second story follows Conan and his new friends into Hyperborea, where all is not exactly the milk and honey he had been promised by his grandmother. There's plenty of blood and violence, and Cary Nord draws another stunning woman in Iasmini.

Busiek's writing here is very strong, evoking the period without bogging down in too much exposition. But it's really all about Cary Nord's watercolor-esque artwork. Hard to describe it, really, but I have not read anything else in comics that feels like it. It's strange jumping between this one and the Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1's also-lovely photorealistic pages.

message 3: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Invincible Iron Man Volume 2
5 stars

What can I say about this one that's different than Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1?

One of the things I have really loved about reading Fraction's run on Iron Man is how much attention we're getting for the ladies. We got a little Natasha Romanova and lots of great Maria Hill. But Pepper Potts gets the lion's share of screentime. She has really come into her own as a strong, smart woman -- literally, as she now has an Iron Man (Maiden? Mistress?) of her own. She's complicated and real, especially as she struggles with learning to stand up for herself when Tony comes calling.

Lots more business in this one, and I like the Detroit Steel character because I don't think he's truly a villain -- he's just been misled by his bosses. Hopefully it will change.

Seriously, comics fans should be reading this stuff. It's brilliant.

message 4: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Old Man Logan

Old Man Logan (Wolverine) by Mark Millar

4 stars

I quite enjoyed this story. I like dystopian future stories, and this one is full of dark images. Great character work with Hawkeye. I did not see the twist coming in why Wolverine decided to become a pacifist. Good stuff. That was a disturbing scene, in the best of ways.

I don't know that I buy people like Doom, Sinister, or Magneto agreeing to be the big bad's lieutenants. I think 50 years was probably too long, too. 30 would have worked and fit everyone's ages better (esp Barton's). And the final showdown was more shock value than good. So it's not quite a 5 star book. But it's a terrific read.

message 5: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World
iZombie, Vol. 1 Dead to the World by Chris Roberson

4 stars

Not a lot of substance, but it's a fun and fluffy read that hints at darker and more intense storylines in upcoming volumes. Gwen is a zombie who has to eat human brains at least once a month to avoid becoming the mindless, Romero-type of undead. Her best friends include a ghost and an unusual kind of lycanthrope. We also have vampires and a mummy and a pair of bumbling and yet dangerous monster-hunters. It's all written with humor and wit -- with the scarier bits to come -- and there's a great explanation for how the various undead beings exist in a world where everyone has two souls.

Allred's something of a genius -- as usual -- drawing cute and yet slightly strange people in a style that fits perfectly in this world. He also has a real knack for composition, mixing up the usual reading orders and page layouts without getting too confusing.

Definitely a series I will continue.

message 6: by Dana * (new)

Dana * (queenofegypt) | 56 comments Derrick wrote: "iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World
iZombie, Vol. 1 Dead to the World by Chris Roberson

4 stars

Not a lot of substance, but it's a fun and fluffy read that hints at darker and mo..."

I read the first issue, and I have the first Volume but have not started it. It looked like fun. Hoping to get back to it now.

message 7: by Derrick (last edited Mar 22, 2012 11:17AM) (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) I just read Dark Knight: Golden Dawn.

What a convoluted mess that was. Finch's artwork is stunning, as usual. But you have various villains, black masses/human sacrifice, drugs, intrigue at GCPD, a random teen girl who steals the Batmobile, Etrigan and friends. . .

Jesus, Finch, couldn't you have crammed anything else into the first issues before you went on vacation and had to write the non-conclusion later?

message 8: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) X-Force, Volume 1: Angels And Demons

These days, I am burned out on the whole anti-Mutant Hysteria theme. I have been reading it in Marvel books since the 80's, and there's not much new to say. But X-Force has managed to take a different approach to those tired old questions. What if the X-Men actually fought back, willing to even kill?

It's a bloody, bloody book filled with black humor and outrageous situations. Wolverine, X-23, and James Proudstar form a black ops team. They are joined -- sometimes reluctantly, sometimes not -- by Rahne, Angel, Elixir, and the definitely reluctant Vanisher. My favorite arc is Rahne Sinclair's. She's always fascinated me. Raised in a strictly religious home and told that her werewolf form proved her to be a child of the devil, she has managed to stay faithful and optimistic while struggling to overcome that childhood programming. Here she faces her demons, and it's not pretty -- this girl's going to have serious long-term emotional scars from the events of this book. I love when Wolverine tells X-23 that people like Rahne are why they fight.

The second arc has artwork by Mike Choi. I am a big fan of his work, but it's a little jarring here. I think he might have been the wrong choice for this book. But we also get Domino in the second story, and that's never a bad thing. She gets all the best lines. More fun from her in X-Force: Sex and Violence.

All in all a satisfying read. Deducting one star because Choi's art is a bad fit -- though pretty. Also, it's not always easy to tell who the narrator is, since it changes around.

message 9: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Chase

Cameron Chase is a former private eye turned field agent for the DEO, a shadowy government organization tasked with managing the metahuman threat. This short-lived series from the late 1990's joins Starman and Resurrection Man in bringing a fresh look at the DC Comics superhero genre at a time when over the top silliness reigned.

Cam is a tough detective in the vein of Renee Montoya. (And let's face it, we need more smart, tough chicks in comics.) She has the usual tragic childhood story, but it's given a fascinating twist. In fact, I thought the flashback telling about her past was my favorite story in the book. It felt like Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City mixed with a bit of Watchmen. We get the usual hero cameos, primarily from the Batman family. (and I love a story that makes me go, "Dang, Batman is such a badass!") Also, look for a really nice issue featuring Alan Scott.

Sadly, the story ended just as we were beginning to know Cam and her interesting supporting cast. The series only went 9 issues (plus a 1,000,000 issue). JH Williams, who would go on to draw Promethea, Vol. 1 and Batwoman: Elegy to such great acclaim, is not yet in his prime here. He's experimental, and he improves throughout the series. But I think his faces, in particular, needed work.

I deduct one star because the backup stories included from Secret Origins are really quite awful. They're choppy and confusing. I did appreciate the Joker story, and Wally West makes an entertaining appearance. But otherwise, I could have done without all the extras and just focused on Batman 550, Chase 1-9, and Chase One Million. That's five star material right there.

Glad to see Chase running around in the Nu52 Batwoman book.

message 10: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Superman: Red Son

3 stars

Beautiful art and a fascinating premise. I love the twists at the end, and Batman is a great character here. Plus, I am not sure I have ever seen a more tragic Bizarro, and he only gets a few pages.

Still, the story kind of drags in the middle third. This is the first Superman story I have read in a long time where I understand the criticism that he's so invincible that he's boring.

message 11: by Derrick (last edited Apr 22, 2012 04:52PM) (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Neil Young's Greendale

Neil Young's Greendale by Josh Dysart

3 stars

Cliff Chiang's stunning artwork could probably command at least 4 stars all on its own. The story feels disjointed, though. Greendale is the story of Sun Green, a Northern California high school girl who comes from a family of earth goddesses (for lack of a better term). The women in her family seem to have some bizarre connection to the planet, and they are all stalked by Randall Flagg some weird devil guy who controls events using his harmonica. Come to think of it, he does look a little like Neil Young.

Sun has visions and dreams, experiences over the top tragedy in a very short amount of time, and eventually starts a nationwide movement against the Iraq War and drilling in Alaska. The hippy themes, while not offensive to me, do come off a very thick paintbrush. You'll even see a stack of books about protesting and the 1960's; at least twice these books get a panel to themselves.

It's not always easy to know what's happening, despite Chiang's clear pencils. It's a beautiful book. The art is colored in lovely pastel shades, and the two-tone hardcover was designed with real taste. (I wish more Vertigo books had this kind of cover.) The story has some good messages about fighting for what you believe in and being close to your family.

But it's not entirely successful as a graphic novel. Maybe on a second reading. . .

message 12: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Madame Xanadu, Vol. 1: Disenchanted was brilliant. 5 stars.

Madame Xanadu, Vol. 2: Exodus Noir

Volume Two is a single 5-issue story. Nimue receives a client in 1940 New York whose father appears to have spontaneously combusted. As she investigates, X flashes back to Spain 1493 and the days of the Inquisition. I don't want to give too much away, although it's not really about the plot as much as just the atmosphere. Noir and Magic mix perfectly in the 1940 story, and -- as expected -- look for an appearance by Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont.

Amy Reeder is not on this arc. Instead, we get the artist who first drew Madame Xanadu back in the 1970s (Michael William Kaluta). His style fits the tone of the story better than Reeder's prettier pencils would have done.

Top Marks all around! I think that Wagner laid on the politics of the 15th century a bit thick -- We get it! The Inquisition was frakking evil, especially if you happened to be a Jew, lesbian, or just a particularly clever woman. But I don't really cut it for that because the whole atmosphere is one of fear and tension, even when Nimue is having her good days of love and flowers.

Just started Madame Xanadu, Vol. 3: Broken House of Cards -- Reeder is back, and the first issue is a cracker! 1950's NYC housewife starts turning into someone else and vomiting bugs. Twilight Zone, right there. Good beginning to the new volume.

Madame Xanadu, Vol. 1 Disenchanted by Matt Wagner Madame Xanadu, Vol. 2 Exodus Noir by Matt Wagner Madame Xanadu, Vol. 3 Broken House of Cards by Matt Wagner

message 13: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent

This IS Archie, set in their dark future. All the characters are there under different names: Archie, Betty, Veronica, Moose, Jughead, Mr. Lodge, Archie's parents, Weatherbee, Grundy, Reggie, Valerie.

It's an absolutely brilliant deconstruction of the idyllic world of Riverdale. What was really going on back then, and what happens when Archie's future doesn't turn out as he planned?

Stunning artwork by Sean Phillips. He switches from the gritty modern crime style of the other Criminal books to an Archie Comics homage for the flashback scenes.

You must read this now, if you like comics at all. If you know and love Archie, as we do, then I dare you to go there.

You'll never think of LIFE WITH ARCHIE as "adult" again.

Criminal, Vol. 6 The Last of the Innocent by Ed Brubaker

message 14: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (noetichatter) Madame Xanadu, Vol. 3: Broken House of Cards

I deduct one star because this volume doesn't quite live up to the creepy beginning, and it's not as engaging as the previous two books. But it's still Amy Reeder's gorgeous work, and Matt Wagner is still as good or better than anyone out there.

In this volume, we see Nimue called in to investigate a bored socialite housewife who seems to be turning into someone else -- and vomiting bugs. The mystery takes into Nimue's past, mixes up with the Mob and some wannabe satanists, and brings us J'Onn J'onzz, The Martian Manhunter. (just once, I wish he had turned green and pointy-headed)

Madame Xanadu, Vol. 3 Broken House of Cards by Matt Wagner

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