Waited for the Trade: A Batch of Shorties

by Dan

With the craziness of my job the last several weeks (thanks stock markets!), I've been completely MIA from most things Internet. Yet, the comics and trades kept on coming. So, here's some shorty reviews of sixteen trades and graphic novels from nine different publishers. From the excellent Black Summer and Immortal Iron Fist to the complete opposite of excellent Black Diamond and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed plus plenty in between.

Army @ Love Vol. 2: Generation Pwned – More often than not, I love Rick Veitch’s writer/artist work. But after giving up on the critically acclaimed Can’t Get No, I was worried going into Army @ Love. Thankfully, this has been an awesome satire book with plenty of sex, drugs and war. A wonderfully crafted series that ended all too soon (there is a second “season” out now, but I’ve read that it goes in a very different, yet interesting, direction). B+

Authority: Prime – Authority fights StormWatch and it’s all Bendis’ fault. I always knew that guy was up to something! Wait, Bendix, not Bendis. Eh. Much less interesting now. An okay check in with the WildStorm universe, but after the excellent Authority Revolution it’s a clear step down in quality. C+

Black Diamond – For a story about a cross-country, raised superhighway they spend WAY too much time on anything but the cross-country, raised superhighway. Overall, this was really disappointing. The art at the beginning was just not my thing, but when it became more iconic and more graphic designer-y at the end, I really enjoyed it. D-

Black Summer – This was just an awesome Warren Ellis series. Mostly, I saw it to be Ellis' final word on The Authority and what a terrible path they would eventually have taken. Gory and violent with lots of commentary about the U.S. government. Great stuff. A

Classic Battlestar Galactica – I don’t know why, but I still dig the original Battlestar stuff more than the new. Granted, I lost track of the new show after the first season and Dynamite flooding the market with “New” Battlestar books has been too overwhelming to follow. Thankfully, Rick Remender (a fave writer thanks to Dark Horse’s Fear Agent) was let loose on the old characters and creates a fun episode of the classic show. B

Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby – I was regretting this purchase before I read it, as I couldn't really remember how I felt about the first two collections I read years ago (apparently there's been two more that I missed). That said, I completely dug this four-issue story. Niles has a lot of Ellis in his lead character, Cal McDonald. Lots of dark humor fun and I may have to figure out what the other two books are and grab those. B

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven – I’ve never been an Iron Fist or Heroes for Hire or Kung Fu fan. Ever. And yet, I completely and thoroughly enjoy this title and all its Iron Fist-tastic history. I did get a little confused with who was who, including the reveal at the end that references the annual included earlier in the collection. So, sometimes there is too much history and too many characters to keep straight, but that just makes me want to sit down and read Brubaker and Faction’s entire run once volume three comes out. Great art from Aja too. This is quality comics. A-

Maintenance Vols. 1 & 2 – This Oni series just makes me giggle. Thanks to Customer Appreciation Day (aka Free Comic Book Day) for finding this one. Reading these on the can is fun, but got surreal when our trusty janitors took an adventure into the can. B+

Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors – Turns out I've read a bunch of these shorts featuring the Bullpen Bits characters and, in all honesty, it's just not that funny the second time around. Some of the later stories that riff on Marvel events like Civil War and World War Hulk are amusing, but overall this just doesn't hold up to multiple reads. B-

New York Four – Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly do it again. Although I was frustrated by the fact that there could be a lot more story told and, more than likely, it won't happen. B+

Power Pack: Day One – A fun revamp of the kids' origin story. I've never read the original version, but I'm sure this has been updated to be, ya know, entertaining. Anyone that's been reading this series of mini-series will enjoy this about as much as the others. I'm really looking forward to the Skrulls digest though. B-

Star Trek: The Return of the Worthy – The last reprint Titan did of the old DC version of the original Trek. The main story about The Worthy was a completely predictable, 100% Trek message type of story. Not bad, but nothing new either. C+

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – When I preordered this, I was already dropping the last of the Dark Horse titles, Legacy, from my pull list. I figured this was a last shot at Dark Horse’s current Star Wars universe (although I am checking out the current Clone Wars mini). Even more concerning was the fact that this book was based on the video game of the same name and was serving as a way to fill in some of the back-story. Unfortunately, the book reads like a video game with all the paces and boss challenges included. This is definitely not for anyone but fans of the game, and even then I’m not sure it’s good on any level. D

Too Cool to be Forgotten – Very cool story that gets somewhat sidetracked/rushed at the end in order to wrap up the main ideas about father/son even though 90% of the book was just about the son. I get what Robinson was going for, and he succeeds for that 90%, but I wish the end had been drawn out or built up to better. A-

Wolverine: Death of Wolverine – This collection starts off interesting enough with Jason Aaron and Howard Chaykin’s “Man in the Pit” issue. Wolverine has been captured and put in a pit where he’s shot a few hundred times every 15 minutes to keep him subdued. The rest of the collection is Marc Guggenheim and Chaykin’s Logan Dies story, which rewrites Wolverine’s healing powers as a literal fight with Death every time he’s extremely injured. A bit odd, but, like the first story interesting. Unfortunately Chaykin’s art is incredibly distracting – sketchy and blocky with odd close ups. B-

Wolverine: Get Mystique – Hey, a Wolverine story that actually ties in to current continuity! Wolverine is chasing down Mystique after her betrayal during Messiah CompleX. Cool enough of an idea. Unfortunately, it gets a bit convoluted due to writer Jason Aaron throwing them into the middle of Iraq and Afghanistan for no real reason other than those are topically locations. C

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