Summer Reading, pt. 1

by Brandon

Summer. This is the comic book fan's season for catching up and enjoying a good, geeky book while one should be outside instead. Jenn remarked last week while on our honeymoon, "How did comic books end up coming on our honeymoon?" Well, the answer really does boggle the mind; I packed them in a backpack and brought them with us. I made full use of the quiet setting of Sound off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to catch up on some reading. Some of the titles are old, some are new, but they all get a little review from me here.

Grendel War Child #'s 1-10
Though this book takes place chronologically far beyond what I've read to thus far in the Grendel series (chapters 41-50, whereas I just entered the teens in my regular Grendel reading), I decided to give this miniseries a go since I picked it up for a buck a couple of weeks ago. It turned out to be a fairly accessible read, but not just in terms of Wagner's writing, but also the helpful recap pages at the front of the book and two-page review pages in the back of each issue which successfully and succinctly explained the entire history of the printed Grendel up to that point. Grendel Prime, the protagonist of this story, turned out to be a very effective Grendel. What he lacked in Hunter Rose's flamboyance, he made up for in true grit. This was a great miniseries and highly recommended, especially if you can find it on the cheap like I did.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars #6
No real trip would be complete without having read something in the Star Wars realm. Unfortunately, this last issue in the first Clone Wars arc was very disappointing. While the story of stopping intergalactic slavery would be interesting in, say, the 1860s, it just seemed a bit odd for a focus here. I realize Anakin was a slave, but the story's heavy "gee, this is soooooooo wrong" tilt from the beginning was a nonstarter. Of course slavery is wrong. Do we need six issues of action packed preaching to deliver that point home? This first arc was in no way as engaging as the first season of the television show. Maybe it will pick up soon, but if the second arc doesn't grab me, this book will be on the chopping block.

Justice League America #'s 46-50 (Glory Bound)& Annual #4 (JL Antarctica)
I'm almost finished with my rereading of the classic JLI from Giffen and DeMatteis. I have thoroughly enjoyed every issue and arc of JLI up until the Glory Bound arc found in issues 46-50. The first issue involving Guy Gardner going to a comic book convention was good, but the rest of the story fell flat. Much of the fun about the arc I suppose was to be derived from poking fun at the Captain America pastiche General Glory. The only catch was that... it just wasn't funny. Annual #4, however, was an excellent issue of the series that introduced the Antarctica branch of the JLI. The ineffective Injustice League and Gnort get assigned to patrol Antarctica and protect it from flesh-eating penguins. It was zany fun despite the fact that Gnort was featured so heavily. My only complaint really about this latter era of JLI is the fact that Booster Gold was MIA. He and Blue Beetle really made this title great. Despite my small grievances, this title really has rejuvenated my interest in the comic book medium. The JLI books have been fun to read. I feel old saying this, but they just don't make them like that anymore.

Justice League Europe #'s 23-28 & Annual #2
Of the various JLI books, JLE was the one I was most wary about reading, but it has in fact been one of the most enjoyable. The mix of action and Bwah-ha-ha is perfect in this title. Plus, it features some of the more consistently interesting JLI members; Captain Atom, Flash, Elongated Man, Power Girl and her cat, Rocket Red, and Metamorpho. Whereas the JLA title seemed to spend more time goofing around the embassy, JLE seemed to get out more and, you know, handle bad guys. Whether it was fighting huge works controlled by a league of captains of industry (issues 23-25) or fighting off Starro yet again (issues 26-28), this particular incarnation of the league was always fun and effective in their own little way. Any story that can make Starro seem not lame is a good story. Along with the above JLA issues, these issues can be found for ridiculously cheap prices, most likely less than a buck an issue. They are well worth your time to seek out.

Hero Squared #'s 1-3 & Special #1
Speaking of J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen, someone recommended Hero Squared to me a while back. I bought the original miniseries and X-tra Sized special to try it out. While it was funny in many parts, I just don't see how this story could be sustained over a long period of time. It seems pretty finite to me. I'm glad to see that there are only nine issues after these initial four remaining because I just don't see the concept really stretching too far. It was a fun read, but if someone were inclined to want to check this creative team out, they would be much better served by seeking out the JLI titles.

Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine #6
Wow... that was a letdown. We waited for that? Seriously? While the Nick Fury part at the end was solid, the rest was lackluster, and that's being kind. A Wolverine and Hulk miniseries should be cool. It should be grandiose and over the top. This miniseries started off with a bang, but ended on a barely audible thud.

Ultimate Spider-Man #132
Did you read the above review? Kinda sucky. Well, that's pretty much my opinion of this issue too. It's been no secret that I think Ultimatum has been dreadful, but this is just crap. Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the best titles Marvel had going. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it was always consistent. Now that it has been mucked up by all this Ultimatum junk, it has become almost unreadable. Thanks, Marvel.

The Invincible Iron Man #13
Hmmm. Interesting. I have never read a regular, monthly Iron Man comic in my life, but something compelled me to pick this title up last summer and I've been enjoying it ever since. While I think this "Most Wanted" story arc has been going on for too long, I think Fraction is slowly building up to a boiling point that will be amazing. The inevitable confrontation with Norman Osborn should be the most exciting comic Marvel produces in this whole Dark Reign business, but that's up to how well Fraction and the other frame it. If you look at Invincible Iron Man, it looks like it will be explosive. Kudos on both the writing and art here. This is by far one of the best titles Marvel is producing now.

Daredevil #118
I believe it was King George the Third who wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that "nothing much happened today." The same could be said for this issue. Is it just me, or has Daredevil become to whiny lately? It just kind of drones on and on and on. We get to see Daredevil brood for much of the issue, which is highly original. For those who are a poor judge of sarcasm, that was definitely sarcasm. I want to read Daredevil stories that are exciting crime dramas, not emo-like pity sessions where Matt muses about how shitty his life has become. Get over it. That Daredevil story has been written at least eighty times. Let's move on, shall we?


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