I am a sucker for trades. A couple of months ago I purchased some trades with some birthday money and I have noticed a trend my wife absolutely hates. Usually when I buy a batch of trades it leads to more trades. And sure enough, I splurged and bought a whole bunch more. With this batch, I reviewed Weapon Omega, Green Lantern: No Fear, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, Annihilation Book 2, Kinetic and the highly anticipated (by yours truly) Captain Britain Omnibus.
I warned you before and I am going to warn you again, I am not the best reviewer. I struggle at describing what I think of a book in words, my fingers and mind are not always in sync. I will also try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. If you are looking for an in-depth review about a trade, this is probably not for you. At best you will get an honest review from someone who absolutely loves comics. As a reminder, I will use the Official Bad Genious Rating System(tm).
A = Astonishing, Truly Bad Genious
B = Brainy, Brilliant
C = Commonplace
D = Dunce, Dumb, Don't Buy
F = Freakin' Crap in a Hat
Are you like me? Do you buy trades and never read them for a very long time? I do this all the time. I will buy a trade and it will sit on my shelf for months before I pull it out and give it a read. So some of these trades were not recent purchases but from splurges past. If you click on the title, it will take you directly to its listing on Amazon where you can check out prices and more reviews.
Annihilation Book 2
I bought this book on the strength of the first Annihilation book, hoping that it would continue to raise the bar on Marvel Cosmic stories. It doesn't quite reach the bar set by the first volume but it was pretty close and still enjoyable to read. This volume covers the Silver Surfer, Super Skrull and Ronan characters and how they were affected by the Annihilation Wave. I am not a huge fan of any of these characters and I was surprised that the writers made me care about these characters that I normally don't give a flying fig for. The issues covering Ronan was the best part of the book. Simon Furman made Ronan and the choices he made very real and now I understand this character and I have gained more of an appreciation for him. The Silver Surfer issues were also great, I admit I didn't see where the Surfer was going in this and the decision he made was bittersweet. Griffin understood that this is what the Surfer needed to do. The Super Skrull issues were enjoyable but I felt was the weakest out of the bunch. Part of the problem was I am Skrulled-out with all the exposure the Skrulls have received lately and I felt that the art just didn't match up with the other two series. It is not that the art is bad per say, it just didn't match the feel that the other two had. It just seemed too cartoony.
Final Word and Grade: Probably the weakest of the 3 Annihilation books, but a very solid read. If you want to get to the heart of the Annihilation storyline, you could probably skip this volume and go right from the first to the third and final book. But if you want a lot of dressing with your turkey, I would recommend getting this. C+
I bought this trade awhile ago and it is one of those stories that has stayed with me since. I dig it out every so often and just glance through the pages but I end up reading it from cover to cover anyway. This is a story about this young man in high school who is extremely sick and is very unhappy. Then he gets powers that change all of it. What I really like about this book is that this was a very realistic look at what would really happen. The powers are an afterthought, it is how it changes him and his relationships, and this is what this trade is about. The writing is well done, the pacing just leaves the reader wanting more, the dialogue rings true and the art just exemplifies how Tom (the young man) is feeling. The art and coloring may put off some people but I thought for the most part it enhanced the story. The dull gray coloring choice for Tom and his mother is a perfect example of how Tom sees themselves. Dull and boring and dark. There are moments in this book that made me a little uncomfortable but I think that is why I like it so much.
Final Word and Grade: If you are looking for a different take on superheroes and powers, this is for you. If you enjoy teenage angst, this is for you as well. And for ten bucks you get the whole series! B+
Weapon Omega TPB
Now this was a lot of fun. Originally this was published in the short-lived Marvel Comics Presents and I skipped them because I had no interest in the other stories and was happy when Marvel was publishing all the Weapon Omega stories in one trade. As a lifelong Alpha Flight fan I was not very happy with the useless slaughter of the old Alpha Flight team, in particular the passing away of Guardian. Guardian was more about the power suit and one of the best looking costumes around than him being James Hudson. I hated the character of Michael Pointer when he first appeared and I hated the fact that a non-Canadian got to wear that costume. I was pleasantly surprised by this story though. The writer managed to change my mind about the character of Michael, I still am not a fan of how he came to be but I really liked what has been done to him in this book. He is a tragic character, he does not want these powers and he feels inadequate and is filled with guilt. By the end, he is more comfortable with his role of being Guardian. There were some nice twists and some great character moments with Michael and his other Omega teammates. The only thing that I didn't like was that the art was not completely drawn by Andrea Di Vito. Di Vito is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists and his rendition of Guardian was perfect. His soft pencils reflected how insecure Guardian was. Checchetto finished the last four parts of the book and his a pretty good artist in his own right but doesn't compare with Di Vito.
Final Word and Grade: I am sure this was overlooked by many Marvel fans but this should be picked up. If you like B-list characters and the Omega Flight series you will like this book. I went into it with no expectations and came out very satisfied. Great superhero stuff. B
Mouse Guard Volume 2: Winter 1152
Very rarely do I find a sequel that works better than the original but this is one that does. I thought that the first Mouse Guard was charming. This isn't one of those books where the creator has an idea and just goes with it. This is a book that is extremely detailed and obviously planned way ahead. You can easily feel and see the passion that Petersen has for his concept, which definitely makes up for any small inadequacies. This volume continues the adventures of the mice from the first volume and moves the story of the Black Axe even further. There are some very nice moments in here, the battle with the owl, the journey through the ice and snow and my favorite, the Weasel labyrinth and the bats. Well-written and the art is almost flawless. Exquisite paints and colors really bring this world alive. And the conclusion left me wanting more.
Final Word and Grade: The first volume of Mouse Guard was fun and I was happy about the sequel when they announced it but this takes it up a notch. Now at the conclusion of this volume I am impatiently awaiting the next installment. The only drawback is that it is a fairly quick read. If you like Castle Waiting or Bone, I highly recommend getting this. A-
Green Lantern: No Fear
Green Lantern: Rebirth caught me by surprise as a fun read so I decided to try out more of GL's adventures. I was not disappointed by it but nothing really stood out either. There are a few things that I really liked, the rebuilding of Coast City, the small hints foreshadowing the Blackest Night but in particular I was impressed by the prelude by Darwyn Cooke. His story of Hal taking Kyle Rayner out for a ride in a jet while in flashback we see Hal's dad doing the same thing with Hal was a nice, quiet moment that showed readers what type of person Hal is. I originally thought Hal was a cocky jerk but this story showed me Hal's good side and it comes off more confident than cocky. The rest of the trade was good but nothing spectacular. The story at times did lose me a little because I have absolutely no familiarity with Green Lantern at all but that doesn't bug me as much as it might with some other readers who are trying this for the first time. I don't mind not knowing everything about the characters, if it intrigues me, I'll investigate it further. The change in art chores did seem to take some flow out, especially since the artists were not similar at all. All are good artists but it just seemed out of place. I will say that I think this was Simone Bianchi's best work.
Final Word and Grade: A little bit of a let down from the GL: Rebirth series and I expected a little more of a bang out of the gates. That is not to say that this was bad, it just wasn't strong. Still, it was enjoyable enough to get the next trade. C
Captain Britain Omnibus
I saved the best for last. Gosh, I could go on and on and gush about this book but I will try to control myself. This was on the top of my wish list for Marvel’s line of Omnibus and this didn't disappoint at all. Captain Britain is one of my favorite characters and this reprints some of his best appearances. This huge volume reprints a ton of his early stuff starting with Alan Moore's fantastic run. Alan's Mad Jim Jasper storyline is one of my favorite runs of all time with some great moments. Alan understands that Brian Braddock is not a perfect person and is weighed down by the heavy responsibility of being Captain Britain. He is flawed and says and does things that are not always in the right. I will never forget his second battle with the Fury (he dies in the first one!) and he and some other heroes barely escape with their lives. He asks what they should do with Captain UK (who had come from another dimension) and Saturnyne replies that she needs a place to stay and some clean clothes. Cap replies, "Why should she get special treatment? Everybody's wet." Saturnyne replies coldly, "Not wet like her. She's wet because she was very frightened. Grow up Captain." And did you know that Miracle Man was killed during this run?
The volume continues into Jamie Delano's run which I prefer over Alan Moore's run. This introduces Meggan and shows his memorable battles against Slaymaster and the evil Kaptain Britain, who tries to have his way with his sister Betsy. Betsy later becomes the new Captain Britain and fails and Brian is forced to come back and take the mantle once again. Delano's run is much underrated compared to Moore's run and is not even an afterthought but I see Delano's run as just as good, if not better. This volume also reprints New Mutants Annual #2 (Psylocke's first American appearance) and one of my favorite comics of all time, Uncanny X-Men Annual #11. The X-Men Annual is what introduced me to Alan Davis and to Captain Britain and I have been a huge fan ever since. Also reprinted is Captain America #305-306 which does not compare to the rest but is still fun to read. Even though Captain Britain seems like a wimp in these issues.
There is also a ton of bonus material. All the covers are reprinted, early sketches of Alan Davis designing the new Cap costume, a Short History of Britain, written By Alan Moore from the 70's, promo posters, bios, pin ups, never-before-reprinted short strips that accompanied the main story and ALL the bonus material from the earlier published trades and X-Men Archives, including those covers as well. Whew! That is a load of bonus stuff!
Final Word and Grade: Very biased grade here but this has to be my all-time favorite book. Anyone who enjoys Alan Davis or Captain Britain needs to pick up this book. Just as a warning, this does contain Alan Davis's earliest work and is not as polished as his art is today. It can be pretty rough at times but you might not notice as much as you will be enthralled by the story. A+
I still have loads of trades to read. Hopefully sometime soon I will be reviewing Annihilation Book 3, Batman/Grendel, Punisher Max Vol 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1, BOOM's Irredeemable and Guardians of the Galaxy: Earth Shall Overcome and The Power of Starhawk Hardcovers.