Wednesday, 23 August 2017

I won't review: August Edition

Welcome to "I won't review" A short series of paragraphs where I give an overview of books I don't wish to review in depth. Mostly because they're rubbish. It's a new idea that probably won't last into next month.
Amazing Spider-Man 2014- the whole run by Dan Slott
There once was a hero named Spidey,
Who said "my best days are behind me.
My marriage is gone,
puberty is prolonged,
and that's why nobody will buy me"
One out of five limericks.
Waste of a perfectly good Venom

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3: Guardians Disassembled by Brian Michael Bendis
Okay Brian, here's something to consider. If a month from after reading your book somebody says "Hey, what's Guardians Disassembled about? I need something to fill in the time between sticking my tongue in the toaster and gouging my vitals organs out with a spoon." and I can't tell them what happened, you haven't written a great book. I'm not even sorry.
Two out of five vital organs.
Nyawww... look at the widdle Thanos!

Guaridans of the Galaxy vol. 4: Original Sin by Brian Michael Bendis
I was going to say that my experience reading Guardians thus far has been like an alcoholic swearing he'd never drink again after a rager only to find himself puking all over his hallway the week after. I've got a better one now, though; it's an embodiment of the old idiom "beating the dead horse". Well, except Marvel have not only killed the horse, they've brought it back to life, killed it again have beaten it, brought it back to life again, killed it again and are now trying to figure out new and exciting ways to keep beating it.
Two and a half out five horses.
Gee, it would be great to have more Fantastic
Four books, wouldn't it, MARVEL!?!?

Civil War: Fantastic Four by J Miacheal Straczynski
Remember how I said I wasn't reviewing these books mostly because they're rubbish? Well this is the exception: a book that takes actual time and effort in between mindless jokes an dumb action to deliver actual character development and depth. In case the title wasn't clear enough let me drop you a hint: It's a Civil War tie in. And by that I mean the good Civil War. No, not the one where Captain Marvel stole the treatment for Minority Report, that's the bad one. No, not the movie that final answers the "will they,  won't they" question Tumblr's been assuming to know the answer to for years now, that's also the bad one. I mean the one written by Mark Millar and actually dared to suggest that things were actually happening in the Marvel universe that wasn't going to be retconned  by the following Tuesday. The entire FF deal with the fallout of what is basically Sue and Reed's divorce and it goes about a smoothly as you would imagine. That is to say as smoothly as the end to this not-review.
Four out of five "will they; won't they" questions.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Old Man Logan (Marvel) Review

This doesn't come close to the amount
of blood in this book.
Old Man Logan
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNiven
So is this an argument to get rid of the X-Men or to keep them?

Either Old Man Logan shows what awesome stories can be told when all of the X-Men are killed off, or it’s a testament to the awesome stories that can come out of what is, ostensibly, an X-Men book. Either way, I’m surprised that I’m actually writing a review, because if you haven’t read this WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?

It’s sometime in the future and everything has gone to hell. The villains have taken over the world, the world is a post-apocalyptic nightmare and every hero in the Marvel universe is either dead or broken.

Wolverine is broken; he hasn’t popped his claws in years, preferring life on a family homestead with the name Logan. When his family find themselves in trouble with the Hulk’s redneck kids (yep, you read that right), Logan puts his hopes on a smuggling run across the US with a blind Hawkeye.

Okay, let’s get the one criticism out of the way: this doesn’t really need to be a Wolverine book. I could picture a Captain America or even a Hulk book being done to this plot without too many major changes. Nobody that is particularly important to Wolverine’s history makes an appearance here (aside from Hulk). We get only a passing reference to other mutants. Jubilee has, what, three lines in the whole book? The supporting cast for the story are otherwise almost entirely new characters save Hawkeye, who, again, could have worked with anyone and nobody would tell the difference.

It gets THIS bloody...
Luckily, Logan isn’t really the star of this book; the world that he inhabits is. It’s a little bit Mad Max, a little bit The Magnificent Seven, a little bit 1984. Villainous America (which, for once, isn’t a new name for the Trump administration… well… not explicitly…) is a bleak and barren landscape. I’ve only ever spent a short amount of time in the USA, but from what I saw, today’s America is geographically diverse and has just as many green places as desert. Not so for this future. Both the east and west coasts are almost indistinguishable from the Nevada. It makes you wonder what on earth these villains did to make the world the way it is. Trying to interpret old Westerns into the modern age doesn’t quite work the way that writer Mark Millar wants it to; everyone but Logan and his family end up coming off as more redneck than homesteader; but the sense of tension throughout in perfectly indicative of a gunfight in a dusty, one-street town. The whole world becomes the most enjoyable part of this book and I’m livid that the All-New-All-Different Old Man Logan ongoing has left that world behind.

... and THIS bloody
That’s not to say that Logan and other characters aren’t well developed. Millar really runs with the idea that the Marvel heroes are completely and utterly defeated. Logan’s reasons for not popping his claws are highly believable. Just as interesting is Hawkeye’s character. He suffers from survivor’s guilt after the supervillains ignore him completely (because, y’know… Hawkeye). In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Hawkeye’s life affects the story of Old Man Logan to a greater extent than Logan’s.

The art here is done by Steve McNiven who also worked on Civil War. McNiven has a way of drawing action scenes that somehow make you feel every punch to the gut. Every stab, slash and puncture comes across with painful kinetic impact. Being the bloody, violent book that Old Man Logan is, this makes the whole story’s emotional impact stronger, honestly, than any other artist would be capable of.

Overall, though, Old Man Logan is an absolute classic. Not to bang out a cliché, but if you only ever read one Wolverine story, make it this one. Nothing else starring the character comes close to this story that gets four and a half out of five redneck Hulk children.

Batman Eternal Vol 2 (The New 52) review

Batman Eternal Volume 2 (The New 52)

Escaping from Hush's giant face!
Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seely, Kyle Higgins
Artists: R.M. Guera, Fernando Pasarin, Jason Fabok, Jorge Lucas, Dustin Nguyen, Andy Clarke, Javier Garron, Meghan Hetrick, Simon Coleby, Alvaro Martinez, Derek Fridolfs, Matt Ryan, Paul Fernandez, Juan Ferreyra

Background Information:

Thanks to a pursuit-gone-wrong, Commissioner Jim Gordon is now in jail. Without him, Batman and the Bat-Family (minus Nightwing because Geoff Johns) began running wild around Gotham chasing different disasters. Central to this, was a gang-war between crews own by the Penguin and Falcone. to the side, Batgirl found out that Commissioner Gordon wasn't responsible for the events that got him arrested at all, Red Robin joined up with Harper Row to investigate a mysterious sickness and Batwing joined the Spectre chasing down a paranormal threat in Arkham Asylum.


I  mentioned this in my review of Volume 1, but there are a few things you can say in the review of any weekly series, so I'll get them out of the way now.

There are a LOT of issues in Volume 2 that seem like filler more than actual story progression. There are too many moving parts to make it easy to follow. Many moments feel like they lead nowhere and nothing gets resolved in a satisfying way. Out of the way? Good.

Yeah, get back you dodgy-looking welcome sign!
Eternal Vol 2's main focus, as much as a weekly series can have a main focus at this stage, is Hush. His story is no different from the character's introduction; he rallies different Gotham villains against Batman in an attempt to become Bruce Wayne. We've heard this before and, honestly, Jeph Loeb did it better. That said, the worst story featuring Hush is still better than the best story featuring Bane, so I guess we're even.

What makes the story memorable, however, even what sets it apart from the previous volume, is Catwoman's story arc. Her transition from common their to lord of the criminal underworld allowed her to be more than the usual pandering to boys who have just figured out that girls are not as yucky as they once thought. It's honestly rediculous that this is the volume's B story because this is where the character development happens.

And I mean that. Harper Row and Red Robin's story takes break here; or, more accurately, so little of consequence happens during it that I didn't realize if it was actually happening at all. Batwing's story plods along at the breakneck pace of a slug who's ingested all of his grandmother's supply of medical cannabis. There's a weird and honestly creepy hint at a romance between Batgirl and Red Hood that makes me wonder if maybe the writers didn't get on to some of that cannabis too and Nightwing isn't allowed to exist because Geoff Johns was in a bad mood when writing Forever Evil.

Again, all of this is commonplace for big weekly titles- you get a tight publishing schedule, so writers tend to go with whatever first pops into their heads. That gets worse when books like these necessitate multiple writers. It's not really the book's fault, but that doesn't make the story any better.

Well well well, SOMEONE'S been watching a lot of HBO!
I understand multiple writers making a book seem messy, but what really hit me over the head was the inconsistent art. If this was a Marvel book, I wouldn't be surprised, but DC, especially during the New 52, had a "house style" when it came to art. With so many artists that seemed intent on imitating Jim Lee, the  selection DC has made for this book is, frankly, bizzare. One moment, Red Hood has a mouth, next issue, the mask is totally solid. One issue, Batman sports five o'clock shadow, the next sees him clean-shaven. It's distracting at best and plain annoying at worst.

But that's the way weekly books go, I guess and Batman Eternal is the weekly bookiest weekly book to ever weekly a book. It gets 3 out of 5 of Grandma's cannabis pills.