Another Waited for Trade column? I cannot believe it either but I managed to crank out another batch of trades. In this column I will be reviewing IDW's new G.I. Joe trade, Boom's Irredeemable, Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns, Annihilation Book 3 and Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis Volume 1.
Once again I have to warn you. I do feel like I am getting better at writing reviews but I still feel like I struggle at describing events and putting down in words what my brain is saying. I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible but I offer no promises. 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. And of course 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
Gosh, another splurge. I have a problem folks. I cannot stop buying trades! If you click on the title of the trade, it will take you directly to its listing on Amazon where you can check out prices and more reviews.
Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis Vol. 1
It is no secret that I love Alan Davis's work. Excalibur was my favorite comic when it came out and I was so sad when both he and Claremont left the book. Thankfully, Marvel got him to come back and not only draw, but write the book as well. This was the first major work that Alan wrote and it didn't disappoint and I didn't miss Claremont at all. This trade reprints Excalibur #42-50 and Alan solved a ton of old storylines. He gave Phoenix an official origin, explained the Captain Britain Corps and finished all of the lingering plots that Claremont left behind. He also brought in new characters such as Micromax, Cerise and Kylun and reformatted Widget. If you liked Claremont's run on the book, you HAVE to have this run. The sad thing about this run (and most of the rest of Alan's run) is that most of the origins given here have been ignored. This book is fun, Alan throws everything at you. The unique humor that Claremont established continues here, there is excellent characterization and the art is strong. There is also a feel of finality too, the whole trade is one large story that has a nice payoff at the end.
Final Word and Grade: While the stories are old and some of the plots here have been ignored, this trade is still worth getting, especially if you read and liked Claremont's run. I am also pleased to report that Marvel is publishing another volume. A
Annihilation Book 3
I finally finished the first Annihilation saga and they saved the best for last. This is not your typical Marvel cosmic story, this is war. The cosmic stuff is merely the backdrop, the war is at the forefront and we get front row tickets. I knew I was in for a treat after seeing the full splash page of Galactus battling Tenebrous and then losing! And it didn't let up from there. Griffen writes a terrific story in bringing all the major players together and giving them their own moment to shine. Ronan stands out as the breakout star of this event, we see how driven he is to uphold the Kree culture and how unwavering he is. I don't want to spoil anything major here but he has a couple of very cool moments that solidify him as a major player in the Marvel Universe. The solid art for the main Annihilation series is done by Andrea Di Vito, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists. Unfortunately, the Heralds of Galactus issues that follow the main Annihilation series are not as strong and more than likely it is because the main series was that great.
Final Word and Grade: Excellent stuff. You don't have to have knowledge of the cosmic Marvel stuff to really enjoy it. It is a war story at heart, the cosmic stuff is mostly put in the background. B
Irredeemable: Volume 1
Mark Waid is Evil! At least that is what this book tells us. I have heard excellent word-of-mouth about this book and for $9.99 how could I resist? And I am so glad that I am a sucker for cheap trades! It only took me three pages to grab me and boy it grabbed me by the throat! The story is about the Plutonian, a super hero basically like Superman or Marvelman that has become jaded and has gone bad. Now this isn't a new idea and has been done to death before, but what makes this intriguing is how former teammates, enemies and the rest of the world deals with it. Waid can pull out all the stops with this character and does an excellent job at showing how brutal a character like Superman can be if he did go bad. The art is adequate and I am sure Krause will improve as the comic continues. I am also sure Waid has some neat tricks up his sleeve and I am looking forward to the ride.
Final Word and Grade: While it doesn't tread on new ground or bring anything new to the table of a good guy going bad, it is certainly well written and the best part is that you can see the potential. And I cannot wait to see what happens next. A-
Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns
I almost purchased something else but I thought I would give Green Lantern another try. I was surprisingly impressed with Rebirth but the last trade, No Fear was disappointing. It was okay but I expected more. I am glad that I gave Green Lantern another chance because this was really good, probably the best so far of the new series. What I like about Geoff Johns is I think he does a real good job at handling heavy continuity and giving readers just enough to understand what is going on. He also gives me enough that I want to check out the old stories too. Another one of John's strengths is that he handles small moments and makes them big. And this trade was loaded with them. From funny stuff like GL's ring has the ability to block communication from other GL's ring (much to Guy's chagrin) to serious stuff, like when he had Batman put on the ring. That moment when Bruce confronts his fears with the ring is perhaps the moment I loved most. The latter half of the trade was fantastic. Hal finds that the new GL Corp are not fans of Hal even though his name has been cleared, there is some clear resentment by the newer GL Corp members that plays off well. Hal then discovers that some of his closest GL friends that he battled when he became Parallax are found to still be alive and he goes against orders to rescue them. While it does bug me that things are being returned to status quo, at least Johns provides a creative way to bring them back and that satisfies this reader. And like the trades before, I am enjoying how the seeds of the Sinestro Wars and the Blackest Night are being foreshadowed.
Final Word and Grade: This has to be the strongest of the three GL trades so far. Lots of neat moments, nothing that made my jaw drop but was a solid superhero read from cover to cover. And that is good enough for me. C+
G.I. Joe Volume 1
I am a sucker for G.I.Joe, pure and simple. I was a fan of the old Marvel series and I rejoiced when Image revived it. But it has not been the same to me. I tried the Reborn series and the other Devil's Due series but I found it lacking. It just wasn't the same. And when I heard Chuck Dixon was rebooting the Joe franchise at IDW, I was curious but decided to wait for trade because the last few reboots were not as fun. This was probably the best out of the bunch and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next. This trade introduced the smaller Joe team with some minor changes to the original characters. Cobra is not even a force yet, it is merely a ghost organization. We hear whispers of this terrorist organization but we don't know who or what they are. This makes them even more mysterious and much more dangerous. Only a few Cobras are introduced, but sadly no Storm Shadow, Zartan and even Cobra Commander do not appear. And this adds to the intrigue. The Joe team seems still too bland but Dixon does give them some life. And the subplot of Snake Eyes being AWOL is one that does interest me. While the book doesn't offer anything really new or mind-blowing, it does scratch my Joe itch and I will get the next trades and try out IDW's other Joe books.
Final Word and Grade: This is the best and strongest Joe book in years and I am looking forward to seeing my old favorite characters slowly get introduced. If you like G.I Joe, you should get a kick out of this. If you like Dixon's writing, you will like this too. It is more serious than the Marvel run but looks like it will still have some of the more unbelievable aspects of that same run. C+
Next time will be all about one of my favorite properties, the Guardians of the Galaxy. I will review Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1, Guardians of the Galaxy: Earth Shall Overcome and The Power of Starhawk Hardcovers. In addition I will look back at Jim Valentino's run on the book in the '90s.