Sunday, February 28, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 2

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 2

ISBN: 9781600103797
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Mike Vosburg & Geof Isherwood
Writer: Larry Hama & Steven Grant
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #'s 11-20

Rating: 4/5

In this volume of G.I. Joe, we see the introduction of characters such as Destro, Kwinn and the infamous Dr. Venom. We also have the good fortune of being introduced to Major Sebastian Bludd poet and mercenary. In the cartoon series, both Destro and Bludd are portrayed very differently. I don't recall a single occasion in the cartoon where Major Bludd recited a poem. Kwinn and Dr. Venom, who are fairly important characters in this volume, are never used in the series. I think it would have been nice to have more continuity between the cartoon and the comic series. More the cartoon following the comic rather than the other way around.

While on this subject of the cartoon series, I have been slowly watching the DVD's. I can't believe how silly and often times campy it was. I'm thankful that the comic series was there to keep me interested in G.I. Joe. I do appreciate the major cartoon plotlines like the M.A.S.S. Device and the Weather Dominator. They kept me glued to the TV in the afternoons as a child. I never thought how unrealistic the cartoon was. I guess that's a reason why I am trying to complete my collection of the Marvel comic series. I can't believe how much some of the later issues are going for.

Back to this particular trade... It happens to have one of the issues that I have read several dozen times; issue #18 "Destro Returns". This is the issue where both Joe and Cobra are trying to get Scarface before the other. This illustrates Destro using his wrist rockets for the first time. I never thought something like that could be possible, even though the look still looks fairly impossible. It still looks cool.

I really look forward to finding a reasonably price copy of volume 3, not because this volume ends with a cliff hanger, but I really enjoy Hama's writing and the art brings me back to childhood in a good way. It takes me to a time where I collected the action figures and actually played with them rather than collecting them for possible future gains. If I had the kind of money then as I do now... and still have the happiness of otherwise being supported by my parents since I was a kid... I think I may have also collected and not played with some of those same figures along with all the Star Wars figures I had. Man! That would be sweet.

Again, back to the trade. Find it. Buy it. Read it and keep it. Yo Joe!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Final Crisis

Title: Final Crisis

ISBN: 9781401222819
Price: $29.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2009
Artists: J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, Marco Rudy, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy
Writer: Grant Morrison
Collects: Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Final Crisis: Submit #1, Final Crisis: Sketchbook #1

Rating: 2/5

I'll be the first to admit that I have never been a big fan of DC superheroes, but I do enjoy a good storyline. I remember buying the entire Doomsday crossover series leading up to the death of Superman as well as the entire Knightfall series when Bane broke Batman's back and Jean-Paul Valley (aka Azrael) became the new Batman for a while. Good stories that kept me interested for a while until DC decided to bring back both Superman and Batman.

And I really love epic crossover storylines, such as DC's Identity Crisis and Marvel's Civil War. The storyline changes the entire face of the respective universe. The original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars began my love of such storylines, even though back then the stories weren't the best. Those were the days. I think that's why I love collecting graphic novels and trade paperbacks over single title series. It's a lot easier to collect an entire series or crossover storyline when it has been collected for you.

I was really looking forward to reading Final Crisis because I had heard good things about the story. I didn't read Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis or 52 prior to picking up this trade. Maybe it would've helped if I had read all of those before trying to read Final Crisis. As you can probably already tell, I didn't much care for this particular trade.

I have read of works by Grant Morrison and I thought they were alright. This trade was not one of his better pieces of writing. There were so many times where I felt myself being lost and asking too many questions. There was a period of time where I thought that Darkseid was inhabiting Batman's body and that why he was taken prisoner. After seeing Batman being tortured and screaming to "Warn everyone!", I don't remember seeing him again until the moment he comes upon Darkseid. What happened between those times? How did he get free? Where did he get the gun?

With all the various artists in this trade, I was afraid that continuity was going to be a huge issue or that there was going to be glaring differences. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. The art was very uniform and I didn't even think that there were more than a single artist involved. If the writing would have been more like the the art, this would have probably been a better book.

After completing this trade, I figured out that one of the reasons that I never really cared for the DC superheroes was the idea of their multiverse. Too many Supermen, Wonder Women and Green Lantern's for my taste. I like the concept but bringing them all together is just way too much. My recommendation is don't bother picking this trade up unless you're a big fan of DC and are up-to-date on the storylines leading-up to Final Crisis. That might make the difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chasing Dogma

Title: Chasing Dogma

ISBN: 158240206X
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Image, 2001
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Writer: Kevin Smith
Collects: Jay & Silent Bob #1-4 by Oni Press

Rating: 3.5/5

Let me state again that I am a HUGE fan of Kevin Smith's work. I share several of the same interests with Smith, including Star Wars, comic books, DVD's and his movies. When I first laid eyes on Jay and Silent Bob in Mallrats, that was when I fell in love with Smith's work. I had to see all his other movies. At the time, he only had Clerks, the aforementioned Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. I would later use Chasing Amy as background for my budding comic book inking (tracing) interests... but that's a different story.

If you've watch Smith's movies, and are a fan like me, you've probably often wondered "Whatever happened between the events of Chasing Amy and the beginning of Dogma?" This question is similar to the one posed by fans many years ago that helped to develop the Shadows of the Empire storyline for Star Wars to answer the question "What happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?" In this trade lies the answer to your burning question about the former.

In this trade, Smith takes us on a wild ride that includes several elements from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, most notably the diner and dam scene with the orangutan. Jay and Bob even get suckered into working on a porno movie set, with results that definitely lead-up to all the gay jokes at Jay's expense in later movies.

The art in this trade isn't the best I've ever seen, but fits well for the prime subjects. This is not your parent's comic book nor is it a superhero title. This is Jay and Silent Bob at one of their finer... un-filmed... moments. The art helps to capture the essence of both Jay and Bob, especially in the first few pages where you see the room that they've crashed-out in. From video games, silly string and beer to a used blow-up doll, this room screams Jay & Bob were here. (More Jay, I think, than Bob.)

If you're a fan of Kevin Smith's movies or writing, you'll enjoy this trade. This is definitely not for the younger generation, much like Smith's movies. There's a reason why all of his movies are R-rated. This trade is a toned-down version, but still is fairly graphic with sex and let's not forget Jay's affinity for using whatever foul words may be on the tip of his tongue at the moment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Siege Prelude

Title: Siege Prelude

ISBN: 9780785143109
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artists: Daniel Acuna. Olivier Copiel, Mike Deodato, Marko Djurdjevic, Max Fiumara, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Adi Granov, Mike Mayhew, John Romita, John Buscema, Joe Sinnott, Tonci Zonjic
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Jonathan Hickman, Karl Kesel, Peter Milligan, Rick Remender, J. Michael Straczynski, Stan Lee, Len Wein
Collects: Dark Avengers #1, Dark Reign: The Cabal, Thor #600, Dark Reign: The List - Avengers, New Avengers Annual #3, Dark Reign: The Goblin Legacy & Marvel Spotlight (1971) #30.

Rating: 2.5/5

After reading Dark Avengers, Vol. 1: Assemble, I was really looking forward to reading more about this new Avengers team. The trade had me excited for the continuing storyline of where Norman Osborn was going to take this odd-ball group of "heroes". I've always loved Venom, but since I don't regularly read any Spider-Man titles, I didn't realize that this Venom was a different person. Even better, he was the former Scorpion! Bullseye as the new Hawkeye and Wolverine's son as the new Wolverine. How messed-up, but what a heck of a team. I have since began learning what I've been missing.

I truly think that everything that Brian Michael Bendis is gold, and have yet to see him write something I didn't like. With that being said, I wish that he would've written for all the issues that spawned this trade. The Cabal was hard to understand. It looked like Doom and Namor killed Osborne at the end of "...And I'll Get the Land." If that's true, how is it he's in the other issues? "How I Survived Apocalyptic Fire" was alright, but I've always liked Emma frost. "Family Trust" was predictable but a good story with good art. "The Judgment of Namor" didn't make much sense either, and I couldn't stand the art. There's not much I can really say about "Dinner with Doom". It did help tie the events of Thor into everything else.

I hate to say anything bad about where these characters all came from, but I also found it a very hard read to get through all the Green Goblin material by Stan Lee and the reprint of Marvel Spotlight #30 by Len Wein. The only endearing quality of the reprints are John Romita's pencils. If I grew-up when Stan was actively writing, I may not have been such an avid collector. Sorry Stan. I realize that in those days dry writing was the norm. I'm grateful for the modern writers that give their writing as much life to the story as the illustrations do.

I am still intending on reading the rest of the Siege trades once they are released, simply because I am very curious how it will all end for Osborne and the rest of the Avengers. This trade didn't seem like it was necessary to read, so I wouldn't recommend picking this up unless you really want to waste your hard earned money, or are a completionist* like myself.

(*Completionist: A person who has a preference for completing anything they set their mind to. Collecting, being my vice of choice. Comic, TPB's, action figures, RPG's and a multitude of other things.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America

Title: Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America

ISBN: 9780785127994
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2007
Artist: Steve Epting, Leinil Francis Yu, Ed McGuiness, John Romita Jr., David Finch, John Cassaday
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Collects: Fallen Son: Wolverine, Fallen Son: Avengers, Fallen Son: Captain America, Fallen Son: Spider-Man and Fallen Son: Iron Man.

Rating: 4/5

I walked into my LCS a few months ago to find something new to read that may not be on the shelves of Borders. I found a few boxes full of trades that were marked "Buy One, Get One Free." I couldn't resist that offer. I first saw The Death of Captain America, and then I found Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America. Having not been a fan of Captain America, I asked the man behind the counter what the difference was between the 2 books. He (Tony, of Tony's Kingdom of Comics) informed me that Fallen Son was kind of the aftermath from other perspectives. I decided to pick it up along with it's predecessor.

I've already written my review of The Death of Captain America. I enjoyed it. But I was fairly skeptical about its free brother I had received. Again, let me stress that before reading these trades, I was NOT a Captain America fan. I was afraid that after enjoying The Death of Captain America that I would feel let down that the continuity and the writing would drop off. Thankfully, I was not let down.

Jeph Loeb kept me interested in Captain America and what the other superheroes of the Marvel Universe were going through after his death. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. I knew that Loeb had his hands in NBC's Heroes, but it wasn't until after I was done with this trade that I Googled Loeb to find out his other writing credits; such as Commando and Teen Wolf. I enjoyed both, so I shouldn't have been worried.

With so many artists in play for this trade, I felt fearful that too many cooks may spoil the soup... so to speak. Not so. The several different art styles didn't detract from the story one bit. I already knew that I liked the art of John Cassaday and John Romita Jr., I just was unsure about David Finch, Ed McGuinness and (most of all) Leinil Francis Yu.

Allow me to clarify. I have seen Yu's artwork all over the pages of Wizard over the years, so I wasn't sure it would mesh cleanly with everyone's art. You can definitely tell the difference from the rest, but it works very well for Wolverine. Not my favorite style, but you really feel that you're in Wolverine's world.

In a nutshell, this is well worth the read. Pick this book up if you like Captain America or not, but I highly suggest that you read The Death of Captain America first. If you happen to go to Tony's Kingdom of Comics in Keizer, Oregon, tell Tony that you read a review on Zanziber's Point Of View.