Ever get behind on your comic book reading? I'm not just talking a handful of issues gathering dust on your nightstand. This type of "behind" would be largely the size of, oh, maybe a long box and a half. That's the situation I currently have before me. The stresses of work, planning a wedding, and just every day life have plagued my ability to catch up on my reading. Add to the mix some very large runs that I've been able to buy on the cheap lately and you have a massive problem. But have no fear, Spring Break 2009 is finally here! While most of my students are probably off having wild, teenager-style adventures involving fumbling sexual antics and wine coolers in exotic tropical locales, their teacher has voluntarily sat this Spring Break out to catch up on reading comic books. I'm taking one for the team and catching up on a load of reading. Fasten your seat belts! This is going to be a long ride Here are some pellet reviews of the books that have crossed my path thus far during Spring Break 2009.
Dark Tower: Treachery #'s 1-6
When I finished the book series, I was pretty bummed about the lackluster ending. I had my own feelings of trepidation when the comic books were announced. However, I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed these minis thus far. Treachery helps shed some light on a few important events in Roland's youth as a young gunslinger. In this volume, we readers get to see how his mother's infidelities are dealt with in full. I won't spoil the plot, but Peter David and Robin Firth have successfully translated the world of the Dark Tower to comic books. I hope they will continue this series beyond these origin tales. Maybe that will make up for the crappy ending to the book series.
Uncanny X-Men #'s 506-507
Of late, I've heard the X-Men creative intelligentsia frequently say that the X-books don't require teams anymore because... because... um... well... because... We've moved past that point in history. ... Did I get that right, X-creators? Anyway, the focus of the X-Books is pretty much anything goes. That must mean quality too because ever since Manifest Destiny started, Uncanny X-Men has been uncannily boring. The art is pretty. The writing is decent. The total package is just dull, dull, dull, dull. Perhaps having a more cohesive team and roster for the book would help give it some focus. Oh, and get the X-Men out of San Francisco. It just isn't working. Sorry guys.
X-Men Legacy #'s 221-222
On the other hand, the X-men Legacy title has been killer. Two of my favorite X-Men are taking center stage for this arc, Gambit and Rogue. Both characters seem to have found a writer that can actually make them interesting without hamming each character up. Gosh, those accents just beg for it, I know, but Mike Carey makes these characters work so well. It's sad to think the Professor X story is ending since it has been a welcome return of the character's relevance to the pages of the X-books. For the first time in at least two decades, Xavier is an interesting character who isn't just a figurehead or out-and-out bastard. Kudos to Carey and teh rest of the Legacy team for making this one of the best X-books in years!
Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #4
Eh. This was the best thing I've read thus far from the Manifest Destiny titles. That's not a ringing endorsement though. This is a fairly forgettable Wolverine story. There are tons of those out there too. This story just happens to be inoffensive enough to be forgettable.
Ghost Rider #33
On one side of the coin, this issue was awesome just because of the sheer number of Ghost Riders it covers and shows. It sets up a fascinating backdrop for future exploration. On the flip side of the coin, this issue was pretty much a throwaway story that has no real meat to it. I'm glad the new Caretaker has decided to keep the fight going. Good job, Caretaker. But, um, was there any doubt that this would be the case? It's like having Superman handed his ass to him by some bit bad guy. Of course Superman is going to go whip his ass for that. Duh. Do we need to have a whole issue history lesson and pep talk to rev us up for that from a largely uninteresting character?
Squadron Supreme #'s 8-9
The first part of this series started off as a dud, but the last couple of issues have been great. Why? The Squadron is actually here instead of these new losers that Chaykin rolled out in the first arc. So the series has significantly improved with the return of Hyperion et al. Therefore, Marvel has to cancel this series. Oh well. Maybe this universe won't be totally forgotten, but I have a small voice inside that tells me it's done.
Daredevil #'s 116-117
This is an example of the "been there, done that" school of comic books, but it's so damn well written you almost want to forgive Brubaker & Co. for bringing back Kingpin. Almost. The first part to "Return of the King" actually works really well, but the second part feels like a retread of Kingpin/Daredevil truces of the past. At first, I was a bit sad that this creative team was moving on, but now I think maybe it's time. Note to future Daredevil writers; when you start wanting to bring back Kingpin, it's time to move on. Maybe there's an X-book you could write?
The Invincible Iron Man #'s 11-12
I have to admit that Invincible Iron Man is the first monthly Iron Man title I have ever read, but I'm really enjoying the hell out of it. Tony Stark is on the run and doing a nice tour of the Marvel Universe to boot. I didn't read Secret Invasion and am trying to avoid any Dark Reign stuff outside of the titles I usually read, but fans get a large dose of "Osborn won, get over it" here in this title. The art is absolutely gorgeous. It's hard to believe that this is the Salvador Larroca that drew some other, fairly ho-hum titles in the past.
Already three issues into the new title and Remender is already doing a better job at it than Fraction did with War Journal. I already wrote about this a bit in my last Panelology article, but this is a quality title. However, I think Remender and other Marvel creators are wrong when they say Punisher doesn't have to be taking out these big fish he's gunning after. Um, that's what the Punisher does. He kills bad guys. End of discussion. If he's not doing that, then what's the point? That's why many people are attracted to the character. If you want an antihero that shows mercy, read Batman., If you want people killed like chumps, read Punisher. Next.
Here's a little math to start off this review; Gory + shocking ≠ a good comic book. This series is almost a mockery of the Ultimate concept. Here's Marvels thinking; let's bastardize the core concept that this isn't the Marvel Universe by just killing off all this characters. It will be frickin' great! And shocking too! The only problem here is that it isn't good and it's tying the hands of future Ultimate stories. Oops, that characters dead. Screw it. Marvel is killing more than their Ultimate stable of characters. They are killing my interest. If enough fans are like me, that could be the most damaging death in this whole Ultimatum mess.
Ultimate Spider-Man #131
Despite the whole Ultimatum fiasco being just ridiculous, Ultimate Spider-Man still manages to make lemonade out of lemons. This isn't a great story by comparison to others that have appeared in this title, but it's still entertaining. The Hulk scenes were fun. But why didn't they kill Aunt May? Marvel's killing everyone else. Her ass has got to go in some Universe. Why not here?
Ultimate Fantastic Four #60 & Ultimate X-Men #100
I'm lumping these two titles together because Ultimatum has become a mercy killing for both of these titles. It seems that ever since Marvel decided to go with this Ultimatum mess, the creators of both of these titles have been farting around just waiting for the axe to fall. And it shows. The quality of both of these titles is poor, and that's being kind. Maybe they will come back in some form, but let's hope they can find some A-list creators to write solid stories, not just stories that will occupy space on the comic shelf monthly.
Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3
Late? Yes. Worth the wait? Probably not. Decent? Yeah, I guess. While an entertaining read, I breezed through this issue like the Flash on cocaine. This is what we waited so long for? Lindelof had problems writing this? Really? Entertaining, but hardly worth the wait.
That's it for now. Check back tomorrow for the Dark Horse and Wildstorm reviews!