Thursday, August 14, 2008

Buy Pile Report

This was perhaps the most dense week of comic book reading I can remember in a long time, and I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll just do this in a completely random order, so hold on to your hats.

"Batman R.I.P" rumbled on in Batman #679, and the story continues to confuse -- in more ways than one. The story itself is still a jumbled mess of a mystery, and Grant Morrison has yet to show his hand in the least: Is Black Glove who he says he is here (which would be SCREWED UP)? Is Batman who he thinks he is here (which would be insanely sane)? But the story is not the most confusing part. The confusing part is, despite the fact that I can't make heads or tails of what's going on, I am still enthralled in this story and am sure that what I am reading now will rock the foundation of the Batman Universe in an even more severe way than how Morrison rocked the X-Men's bedrock at the end of "New X-Men."

I'm a bit torn on Action Comics #868. On the one hand, Geoff Johns delivers some of the best singular moments you're going to see in a comic book, both humerous and poetic, and firmly establishes a sense of dread Metropolis' future. On the other hand, Brainiac himself is finally revealed here, and he's depicted very much like a generic smart strong guy. I'll give Johns the benefit of the doubt that he's more than that, but the fact remains the creepy-factor Brainy had going for him in the last few issues is all gone. Still a great read.

Astonishing X-Men #26 was the first Marvel book I picked up today, as it was formerly the book I most longed for under the tardy creative team of Joss Whedon and John Cassady (not to mention Laura Martin, how I miss you). Well, in just two issues (really, in just one issue but this month was the second), Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi have stamped this book a definite "Eh."

On the writing side, Ellis established a great idea in this island which serves as a junkyard for spaceships -- but he doesn't use the idea in the least. The whole story (what little of it there is) takes place on a ship, with VERY generic dialog. Bye bye snappy Whedon banter. And don't get me started on the art. For every instance where Bianchi delivers with pretty background art, there are three instances of poor faces and awkward choreography.

Oh, and another thing, Bianchi -- FIX CYCLOPS' VISOR!

Over time, I've come to this opinion of Brian Bendis: He has fantastic ideas and can never fully realize them. I've also decided that Marvel editorial does not do a very good job of helping to develop ideas. In Secret Invasion #5, Bendis had me hook-line-and-sinker buying into the frightening threat the Skrulls pose. Then, he pulled out the big guns... literally, and that's not a good thing. Out comes Reed Richards onto the scene with -- you guessed it -- a big gun. And I won't say what the gun does, but you might as well label it 'Deus ex Machina,' because he might as well win the war for Earth by taking the gun out.

Along the way, though, there are some fun moments in this book, and surprisingly the women shine more than any. Agent Brand is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe (the galactic Nick Fury plays a major role here) and Maria Hill was surprisingly competent. The only problem with the book, though, is I fear I'm going to have to heap this Marvel event into a pile with many others under the category of "What could have been..."

Speaking of the Skrulls, though, check out Secret Invasion Inhumans #1. It doesn't seem the story will impact the main war much at all, but it seems like this four-part mini-series is going to stage its own mini Secret Invasion on the Inhuman side, as well as finally resolve exactly when Black Bolt was taken and how he might come back. If all that doesn't grab you, this might: The Skrulls want to use 'ole Bolty as a weapon. DUN-DUN DUN!

OK, back to DC and Final Crisis: Revelations #1. I loved this book. However, you will NOT love this book unless you fit into a couple of these categories: 1) You like the idea of the Spectre. 2) You enjoy reading the Question. 3) You're up to date on who the new Spectre is. 4) You have a base knowledge of the Crime Bible. This book is painful on new readers, so be warned.

That said, Libra and the Spectre FACE OFF in this first issue, and the result was intriguing. This mini really looks important if you want to learn more about Libra in the grand scheme of "Final Crisis." However, other than that, it likely won't tie-in too much.

Finally, Green Lantern Corps #27 just keeps on proving that Peter Tomasi has made this book, bereft of star power, into an important read leading on into the big "Blackest Night" event next year. In addition to just a fun story here involving the opening of Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner's new bar, we're introduced to Saarek, the Green Lantern who can talk to the dead. And, aside from the character kicking off the next storyline hunting for an assailant we're introduced to near the end of the book, Saarek speaks one of the greatest lines ever written in a comic book: After talking with the dead, he tells someone else he was just told something he's never heard in all his previous post-humanous conversations -- "The Dead are Cold."

I say again -- DUN-DUN DUN!!!!!

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