Sunday, January 30, 2011

G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 2

Title: G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 2

ISBN: 9781600107580
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: Special Missions #8-14

Rating: 3.5/5

In the continuing epic that was my childhood, IDW has continued to publish G.I. Joe. We are again transported to the Cold War era and reminded of our past. The beauty of the Special Missions series is that Larry Hama didn't have to placate the folks at Hasbro with these stories. These are for the true and tested, die hard fan of G.I. Joe.

The only problem with this series is that there's no continuing storyline that ties it all together. The only thing that keeps this book interesting is the writing and the characters. Each issue (or trade) can be read as a standalone, which is nice for some. Right now, I think it would be great if there was a title developed that had a specific set of G.I. Joe personnel that worked the Black Ops side of the team. It could be that I play too much Call of Duty and it's bleeding into my reading interests. Either way, I think it would be better.

The art for this series is good, but very dated. You can tell that it was published in the 80's, and not just by the Cold War stories. I think this may have been one of the main reasons why I only read the first 12 to 15 issues on first release. It didn't really grab me as a teen, but I do appreciate this trade and series as an adult. There may not be an ongoing story to keep the entire series together, but Hama's masterful writing keeps you enthralled. There's not always a Cobra presence in this series, which was another turn-off when I was younger.

As a fan of G.I. Joe, I urge you to add this trade to your collection. It's a good read, and will help to compliment your collection. If you're not much of a fan of G.I. Joe, then move on to greener pastures.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

X-Men: Messiah Complex

Title: X-Men: Messiah Complex

ISBN: 9780785123200
Price: $29.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2008
Artist: Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Scott Eaton, Humberto Ramos, Chris Bachalo
Writer: Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Mike Carey
Collects: X-Men: Messiah CompleX one-shot, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, New X-Men #44-46, X-Factor #25-27

Rating: 3.5/5

I sometimes wonder what the world would be like if Stan Lee hadn't created the X-Men. Would the term "mutant" still have been defined or even used? Would Hugh Jackman had made it big in the United States? Nothing Earth shattering, but the world would be a different place.

I was an avid X-Men follower through the early to mid 90's, up until the Age of Apocalypse crossover. After that, my interest for all the storylines fell to the wayside. I enjoyed the idea of the X-Men, but I didn't feel I needed to read each and every single issue and story... especially when Marvel had between 5-8 individual series going at any one time. Having a monthly subscription to cover all these titles would have put me into the poor house. Luckily, there were trade paperback's that would collect the major storylines and print them in a (usually) single volume for easy reading. Any more, it's hard to get all the trades and then read them in the correct order.

With this trade, there are events that I should have read about prior to diving in. The good thing about the way this trade is written is that you can pick-up some of previous story. There was a horrible event that put all of mutantkind in danger of extinction, and in this trade we learn of Hope. And what X-Men story would be complete without a bit of time-traveling?

The writing keeps me interested and the art keeps my attention. I've always love Marc Silverstri's art, and the rest of the artist's do a good job of keeping the feel of an X-Men book. I would highly recommend that this trade not be your first foray into the X-Men universe, as it might not make too much sense. After reading this trade, I think the next in line is X-Force/Cable: Messiah War. For all you X-Men fans, go ahead and include this in your collection.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Preacher: Dixie Fried

Title: Preacher: Dixie Fried

ISBN: 9781563894282
Price: $14.95
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 1998
Artist: Steve Dillon
Writer: Garth Ennis
Collects: Preacher Special: Cassidy - Blood & Whiskey, Preacher #27-33

Rating: 4/5

After a brief vacation from the storyline in volume 4, we come back to the the quest to find God. To start, we have an history lesson about Cassidy and his days in New Orleans, and we are introduced to Les Enfants Du Sang. I've met some fairly serious goth's in my life, but Les Enfants take the cake above and beyond. They take goth to a whole new level of EMO.

And then, we have the inevitable reunion of Jesse and Tulip. In volume 3, you'll remember that Jesse left her in France to take on the Grail and save Cassidy by himself. You've heard the saying "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", right? You would think that Tulip would be seriously pissed about being left in France. At first glance, it looks as thought all is forgiven. At first glance.

With Cassidy's help, Jesse finds a way of getting in touch with Genesis through voodoo. Talk about an odd mixture. When Cassidy helps you out, you know nothing bad could go wrong. If you belief that, there's a bring somewhere with your name on it. Of course, Cassidy's past comes to haunt the entire gang. I think that by the end of this trade, Cassidy would have learned to make amends for his past.

In the middle of this trade, we have our favorite minor character: Arseface. He's out for blood for what happened to his father by Jesse using The Word on him. Of all places, they meet up in New Orleans. Without using The Word, Jesse convinces Arseface to forgive him and he and Cassidy show him a good time. First off, they pay for him to get laid. That goes over well. Then they take him on the town and he ends up getting a recording contract.

I really love the fact that you never truly know where the story is going to go. Garth Ennis is a masterful storyteller, and Steve Dillon works his artistic magic to make the words come to life. Vertigo found a great team, but I wish the story didn't have to end. Comics like these were not intended for children, and I'm glad I was able to find them when I did. Sometimes you want to read something that takes you back to childhood, but other times you want to read something like this that reminds you that you're an adult... with a sick sense of humor. Enjoy and continue down this path for more goodness.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 7

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 7

ISBN: 9781600105982
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Marshall Rogers, William Johnson, Arvell Jones, Ron Wagner, Tony Salmons
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #61-70

Rating: 4/5

Here we are again in the way-back machine with another volume of G.I. Joe. We have an international incident, the "return" of Cobra Commander, a space adventure and the reveal of the sinister plot behind Cobra's Terror Dromes. These pages are full of Hasbro goodness that's simply jumping off the page. So many new things to promote for the toy line. We also have the first glimpses of Destro's Iron Grenadiers.

You can really feel the Cold War influence in these stories. They take me back to the 80's with Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush. Back before I knew that comics and action figures could ever be worth something; they were simply toys and things to read. My, how the times have changed. Anymore the comics that I purchase from my LCS are brought home in bags & boards, cataloged using Comic Collector Live, bags taped shut and then the issues are added to the growing collection in their respective comic boxes. What a difference a few decades make.

In this trade we also continue the intertwined story that links Storm Shadow with G.I. Joe. I guess that taking a few shots from the Baroness, then used for his DNA to create Serpentor, and almost having his sword ripped-off by the Dreadnoks has soured him on his alliance with Cobra. I guess I'd feel a little pissed if that happened to me and I was left for dead.

The inker for several issues in this trade, Randy Emberlin, is one of the best inkers from the 80's and early 90's. I've had several opportunities to meet and speak with him, and I've found he's a great guy as well as a talented artist. I make this a special point because Randy is who inspired me to try my hand at inking, and he was the first autograph I ever entered into my personal collection. Most people don't give credit to inkers, but back before the advent of digital inking, inking was an art form.

Add this to your collection and continue to read the series. Can't wait for the next volume.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Preacher: Ancient History

Title: Preacher: Ancient History

ISBN: 9781563894053
Price: $14.95
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 1998
Artist: Steve Pugh, Carlos Ezquerra, Richard Chase
Writer: Garth Ennis
Collects: Preacher Special: Saint of Killers #1-4, Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who, Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys

Rating: 4/5

In this volume of the Preacher series, we have a brief interlude from the story of Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip and focus on some of the other players in the series. Here we have 3 stories of character we've all met and either loved or hated. I remember the first time I read through this trade and feeling a better connection to the series after reading this volume. I hope you feel the same way.

The first of our trio of stories is based on the history of our cover character for this trade: the Saint of Killers. You wouldn't think that he could have been as cold and blood thirst as he is before he became the saint, but you'd be wrong. Here we find that he's been blood thirsty since his time with the confederate army. The surprise love of a woman found after a massacre help to provide a small ember of feeling in his cold, dead heart. The birth of his daughter seems to fan the flames to warm his heart for a few years.

The switch is flipped back when he's traveling to get medicine for his wife and child and he becomes stuck by a blizzard in the backwater town of Ratwater. He slips in without much care, but while trying to eat his meal, he's accosted by a group of bandits that have decided to stay in Ratwater. Unfortunately, this takes away just enough time to allow his daughter and wife to die. Thus begins his rage. When he seeks vengeance and comes up short, he finds himself on the long road to Hell. It's here where he finally becomes the Saint. Hell of a story.

The next part of this trade is the story of you-know-who; otherwise known as Arseface. We've always wondered how he became so disfigured, and here's the tale that we've wanted to read. How much of an effect did Curt Cobain have when he killed himself? This well written piece makes the entire trade worth buying. Arseface is probably my favorite character in the entire Preacher series... save the 3 main characters, of course. The art isn't the best, but Garth Ennis' writing makes up for it.

Last buy not least we have a tale of the good old boys; Jody and T.C. You thought that we'd never hear from them again since Angelville, but this trade is about ancient history. It's not a pretty tale, but it is pretty funny once the smoke has cleared. The art and writing in this final tale are what we've come to expect from this series. You may not like these guys, but you'll enjoy this story.

Add this to your collection and keep it growing. We're now over halfway through the series. Don't quit yet. It's just getting interesting.

Saturday, January 1, 2011