Summer Reading, pt. 6

by Brandon

This is it. This is the end. I start back to work in two days. Students start back a week thereafter. I would lying if I said I wanted to go back to work. Let me state emphatically that I do not. This summer has been crazy busy and I don't feel like my brain has had enough time to defrag from last school year. Like it or not, though, my days of freedom are dwindling. Luckily, I have been able to read a ton of comics this summer and have been able to catalogue my new comic book experiences here for all to read on the big, bad Internet. In this last edition of summer reading, I review new books from the Batman reboot, a milestone for Savage Dragon, the awesome Unwritten, and several Star Wars books.

Captain America: Reborn #2
I know I reviewed my latest batch of Marvel books last week, but I decided to give Captain America: Reborn another shot. The first issue fell kind of flat for me for two reasons: the same two reasons this issue fell flat for me. What a coincidence? My first major reason is that I am an outsider to this title. I'm one of those people Marvel roped into buying this through the hype. I'm probably a chump for doing so, but impulse buys can sometimes pay off. I'm the type of outside person Marvel is hoping will buy this. Yet, an outsider is all I feel like. I have no real connection to the characters or events outside of the larger context that the event/non-event Dark Reign that is going on and Norman has some kind of mad-on to make sure he gets Cap first. Which brings me to my second problem. This just doesn't feel real to me. This can't really be how Marvel is bring Captain America back? It seems to out there for Brubaker's reputation. This second issue did little to clear up the mechanism of how a magic bullet is able to bring Captain America back by sticking him in time. It's weak for a return that surely have been planned from word one when they decided to kill Steve Rogers off at the end of Civil War.

Batman & Robin #2
Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely are probably the best creative team in comic books working past, present, or future. They just hit the ground running with whatever they do together, a synergy that clicks. The second issue of the new Batman & Robin series has some great character moments with just about everyone in the book. Alfred is comfortable in the mentor role and Damian is too in his role as the would be jerk. The dynamic between the new Batman and Robin is still tense. And while I think it's a bit too early to play the "Robin runs off on his own" card, it just seems to work here. The editorial bigwigs over at DC should pat themselves on the back. The Batman books haven't been this blessed with this caliber of creative talent in a long time, if ever.

Detective Comics #855
Speaking of talent on the Bat books, another one of the titles that is currently blessed is Detective Comics. While Rucka's story here is weaker than the last issue, it still plays off well. A large part of that is due to the gorgeous artwork provided by J.H. Williams III. Batwoman spent a large part of this issue tripping, which works more towards the artist's strength rather than the writer. If Morrison and Quitely are the best team, then Williams is the best stand alone artist. Each page is a joy to look at. The second feature with the Question was still "meh" for me.

Fables #85
Now back on regularly scheduled programing, this issue of Fables stands out as one of the better single-issue stories in the run thus far. That may be in large part due to following up the so-so crossover of the last few months. Mr. Dark is a menacing villain and we get a slight peak here of what he was like and where he came from. Willingham's story almost reaches new heights here, while guest penciller Jim Fern does an outstanding job of providing artwork worthy of any regular issue out of the series. This new, yet darker era for Fables looks like it is going to be fertile for new stories. Some fans wondered if Willingham was going to be able to continue to write great comics for Fables once the Adversary was out of the way. It's issues like these that prove Willingham can actually out do himself.

The Unwritten #3
Holy crap! This is the best new series on the stands now. To use an over-used baseball analogy, Mike Carey and Peter Gross are hitting the ball out of the park with every issue. This title is everything you want out of a Vertigo title. It's literary and edgy, smart and funny, mysterious and fantastical. Carey manages to keep the story of Tom Taylor dealing with his alter ego of Tommy Taylor going strong without really focusing on the fictional Tommy Taylor this issue. Instead, we get an examination of Frankenstein and a solid argument between assembled writers on why horror works. This is such a well-written series that it's hard to find fault with anything Carey and Gross have done thus far. Could this be the best book out now? Possibly, but if you haven't gotten on board yet, what's your excuse?

The Savage Dragon #150
Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon hit a milestone few independent comics ever reach with this 150th issue. It is such an achievement for him and not just in term with numbers. Savage Dragon isn't the best book on the stands. I don't think it ever will be. However, it is one of the most entertaining reading experiences a comic fans can have. The amount of zany ideas per square inch here beat out any comic book being published right now. It's hard to read a Savage Dragon comic and not catch a bit of Larsen's infectious love for this character. The title on the cover states that this issue was the biggest bargain in comic." 100 pages for $5.99? Yeah, that's awesome, especially when many Marvel and DC books cost you just two bucks less for barely 22 pages worth of story. For that, fans get a ton of extras on top of the regular story for this issue. Included here are Savage Dragon #0, Lev Gleason Publishing's Daredevil #18 (not that Daredevil), a Vanguard story, and several small strips just for fun. And I shouldn't forget the always interesting letter column. For fans old and new, this issue is great for someone wanting to scratch their comic book itch. I can promise it's not going to be the next Watchmen, but does every comic need to be? Just have fun reading this one. I did.

Conan the Cimmerian #12
I gushed last month about how awesome Conan has been since the rebooting to Conan the Cimmerian. I don't have that much to add this month in terms of praise because this book is still very entertaining. "Black Colossus" is one of those classic Robert E. Howard stories that is hard to mess up. It has everything you would want from a Conan story: love, war, and lots of kick ass art. Though I'm already familiar with the story, Truman and Giorello inject so much life into this story that is fresh once again.

Star Wars Extravaganza:
I'm going to be dorky and write a review haiku for each of these issues. It's a) something different and b) risk free because no one is reading.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars #7
So pedestrian
Can anyone make this good?
Not even the Jedi

Star Wars: Invasion #1
Based on book series
Why not follow Yoda's lead?
Please do or do not

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #43
John Jackson Miller
Must Zayne always save the day?
Isn't he clumsy?

Star Wars: Legacy #38
Poor Cade Skywalker
Trapped real drunk on Tatooine
Look, bounty hunter


Matt said...

One of the ways I was going to bring Banshee back was that he was hit by a magic airplane that froze him in time! Well there goes one of my ideas down the drain!

Brandon said...

Don't you worry, Matt. Sean Cassidy will probably be showing up in Blackest Night, I mean, Necrosha.