Monday, September 05, 2005

Quick insomniac reviews

I can't sleep, and the only things on TV are TNT's 1,000,000,000th showing of The Shawshank Redemption and the Jerry Lewis telethon (which wouldn't be so bad, but the act on stage last time I checked was Norm Crosby - I'll pass, thanks; also, Jerry looks mostly dead now, which is a little creepy and very sad), so let's take a look at this month's Discount Comic Book Service shipment, shall we?

Defenders 2 - So far, I'm really enjoying this, maybe even more than I did I Still Can't Believe It's The Justice League at the same point. Maybe that's just the sheen of the new, though. Either way, Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire really are the perfect creative team for the Defenders - the concept lends itself very well to the humor and snarkiness contained here-in, but at the same time, the action doesn't suffer from be being mixed in with the jokes. It's a tough balance to maintain, but they do it well. I still think I like the Kurt Busiek/Erik Larsen version from a few years ago a little better, but it's still too early to count this one out.

Legion of Super-Heroes 9 - Wizard's book of the month. Take from that whatever you will. A lot of people have been dissatisfied with this book, if the online talk is to be believed, but I still dig it. Of course, I'm still a pretty recent convert to LSH, so I don't have years of pre-conceived notions to compare everything to, either. I will say that it's really weird to read this new series alongside some of the Silver Age stories in the Archive volumes, though; a lot of fun, but weird. Anyway, the fallout from last issue's unpleasantness begins here; the team tries to pull together despite the fact that no one really trusts anybody else, and not surprisingly, they kind of fail. I'm very curious to see how this story is resolved, so in my book, that's some decent writing there. Good job, Mark Waid - have a cookie. Best of all, the greatest letter column in comics today returns to take on the LSH continuity issue. Funny stuff. This is my favorite book on the stands right now, and the only monthly from Marvel or DC I still bother with at the moment.

Rex Libris 1 - In terms of "amount of readable text per price of comic" ratio, this is probably the best value on the stands right now. Sweet Jebus, this book is text heavy (and such tiny print!), but that's to be expected from a comic about a 2000 year old, gun toting, hard boiled librarian who works for the Egyptian god Thoth and spends half the issue fighting a Samurai demon. Fun concept, and anything that increases the number of cool fictional librarians is a-okay in my book, but this did drag for me in places - the sheer hugeness of some of the word balloons and the voluminous text contained there-in grind things to a halt a couple of times. It's the "tell, don't show" approach amped up several notches, like Bendis on an exceptionally talky day, even for him. As such, I wanted to like this more than I did, and I can't guarantee I'll be around for issue 2.

Stupid Comics 3 - I generally like Jim Mahfood's work, and there's a lot to like here, the "Might as Well" and "It Was a Good Day, Part 2" strips that close out the book in particular. Both are classic, fun Mahfood (and the latter makes good use of the Harvey Kurtzman "ever-changing shirt slogan" gag, which I always enjoy). There's also quite a bit of political ranting here, though, and that didn't work so well for me. I agree with Jim that our country is in need of more than a little fixing, but he reiterates the theme so much and with so little variation that it quickly becomes tiring. Rather than sit around complaining about things, why not do something positive in the hopes of affecting some measure of change? I mean, you can only point out that the Emperor has no clothes for so long... eventually, it might not be a bad idea to maybe get him some pants. And if you understand where I'm going with that metaphor, please feel free to explain it to me. I think the insomnia is beginning to go away.

Wha... Huh? and What Were They Thinking? - I lump these together because they have the same problem - on the whole, neither is as funny as the creators seem to think they are. Wha... Huh?, the long delayed What If humor issue tribute, does have some funny gags (like the internet pieces, What If Black Panther Were White? and What If Stan Lee Wrote Ultimate Spider-Man?), but most of it just kind of falls apart due to a whole bunch of "I Guess You Had To Be There" humor and some bizarre editing (Where's the beer Iron Man is obviously supposed to be holding? What happened to the entire last panel of the "What If Hulk Were Bitten By The Radioactive Spider?" story?). What Were They Thinking?, the "remixed" Wally Wood war comic, is simply uneven. The two middle stories about some incredibly stupid commandos were decent, but the end pieces were just bizarre, and kind of uncomfortably homophobic, I thought. Artwork by Wood is always a treat, though, so it has that going for it, anyway. If you need remixed comics in your diet, stick with Last Kiss or Tim O'Neil.
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