Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buy Pile Report

It's that time on Wednesday night, time for my reviews.

Review #1: "Fletch Lives" is just as good as the original "Fletch."

Wait... you wanted comic books? Well it just so happens Chevy Chase is my superhero, so deal with it. Oh well, there's always Flash: Rebirth #1. Did it live up to the expectations? Ehh.

For as unbiased as us newspaper types are supposed to be, I do think of myself as a DC fan. More than that, I am a Geoff Johns fan. Still, this first issue of the new era in scarlet speeding had an incredibly mixed tone. On the one hand, yes, I am intrigued by the mystery set up in this first issue dealing with Barry Allen's return and the speed force. On the other hand, I felt like Johns spent the bulk of this issue defending his desire to bring Allen back from the dead. We listen to countless heroes wax poetic about what Allen meant to them. We listen to Hal Jordan give us a speech on why Wally West and Bart Allen are both ill-equipped to be the Flash at the time being. We even got Kid Flash (of all people) serving as the voice of the dissenting younger generation who grew up with Wally. The whole thing just felt forced.

And for as badly as Johns wants to convince us all that Barry Allen is, in fact, the Bee's Knees, he's not very likable here! Don't get me wrong, I know the character, I can see Barry Allen acting like this, and I don't doubt Johns' ability to write him perfectly -- but you're going to convince an era who grew up with wise-cracking Wally and bad-news Bart to get behind a brooding vanilla hero? Hopefully the fans come back for issue number two, but given how quick kids are to judge nowadays, I wouldn't be surprised if Allen's characterization here was enough to turn people off.

Oh, and what was with the overly-dramatic look back at Barry's Dad? I'm praying Johns doesn't try to cram that into Allen's story somehow. As far as I'm concerned, it would come off feeling very forced. Like, just as forced as this whole issue. Oh well, at least Ethan Van Sciver's work here -- his layouts especially -- are worth the price of admission on its own. I say stick with this book for the whole six-issue run before judging. For now, though, I did expect better from this first issue.

The book that surpassed all of my expectations this week was Cable #13, the second part of "Messiah War," crossing over with "X-Force." Remember back when Marvel was hyping "Messiah Complex," it was dubbed as a return to the good 'ole 1990's X-Men events? And remember how disappointing "Messiah Complex" was? Well the first two issues of "Messiah War" indicate the event is shaping up to be that return to glory we've been waiting for. There's nothing to dislike in this issue. From Deadpool's flashbacks tying together the previous issues of "Cable," to Hope Summers' confusion and X-23's subsequent caring, to the villainous plot-twist, this issue has the perfect balance of humor, exposition and heart. And frankly, as a fan of the character, I am very interested to see how X-23's relationship with Hope develops. Clearly here, she feels a kinship with a fellow mutant that was also set on a powerful path without a choice. And while I'm not so nuts about the concept that Stryfe and Bishop alone could take down Apocalypse, I am willing to ignore it given the quality this crossover has delivered so far.

I was similarly pleased by War of Kings #2. Yesterday, I predicted a scaled-back issue allowing for exposition and relief after the bombastic opening issue. Well, I got it half right. We do get to take that step back for about 2/3rds of the issue, and along with way get a great scene with Crystal appeasing the Kree people, a scene which gets Crystal's characterization right for the first time in a long while. However, we do also get to watch the Empire Strike Back. ... OK, I would probably call the Shi'ar the Empire, so I guess that metaphor doesn't apply here. The point is, the Inhumans, powered by Maximus' inventions, kick some serious tail here. This issue is worth purchasing if only to see the Chous Sentries. Think a mix between Sentinals and Unicron -- you know, the planet-eater from "Transformers: The Movie" -- each with the power of Black Bolt's voice. Needless to say, Vulcan is once again pissed, leading us to next month's issue #3.

Finally, Justice Society of America #25 wraps up the Black Adam arc in typically-spectacular fashion. Once again, we get much more of the JSA's guest stars than the JSA in this one, but I can forgive it given the strength of this story, featuring a major shift in the Marvel family status quo. Major Spoilers coming, by the way...

Major Spoilers still coming. Don't say I didn't warn you...

You sure you want to read this?

OK, here goes: The Wizard Shazam is freed, Billy and Mary are stripped of their powers, Black Adam and Isis are encased in stone, and SOME STRANGE EVIL FIGURE shot out of the sky to provide a little intrigue for, presumably, whenever co-writer Jerry Ordway's Marvel Family book gets off the ground.

I also particularly liked Johns' and Ordway's choice of narrators for this issue, Atom Smasher, if only because after he's acquired such a bad wrap in the DCU, it was good to show him from such a human angle. After all, as this ending showed, he's going to be around for the foreseeable future.

Overall, it was a great day if I do say so myself. Now go away so I can go watch "Fletch" again.

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