Friday, May 2, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

4/23/14 Books

Avengers Undercover #3

Avengers Undercover #3: The Bad News: This book has absolutely nothing to do with the Avengers. Marvel, in a desperate attempt to appease shareholders, just slaps the word “Avengers” on 95% of their books, regardless of the subject matter, and hope they sell a few extra copies and no one notices. The Good News: Avengers Undercover is a very good comic.

Still reeling from the events in Avengers: Arena (see above paragraph about any actual relation that book had to the Avengers), the superpowered teenagers kidnapped by arch-villain Arcade and forced to fight in an Arena go looking for some revenge. Looks like they found it. Writer Dennis Hopeless is no stranger to controversy or good writing. He portrays the PTSD the kids are going through as both poignant and believable. They track Arcade to a very underground club he owns and join the festivities until the smug slug appears. The kids finally get some much-deserved payback for their mistreatment at Arcade’s hands, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Hopeless handles the writing so well, with real trauma and emotion coming from these poor kids put into an impossible situation. If the ending is real, it will mean a major life change for everyone involved. Hopeless has carved a nice niche for himself in this Avenger-less Avengers universe. I don’t care what they call it; I’m in.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Powers Bureau #9

Powers: Bureau #9: Writer Brian Michael Bendis runs hot and cold for me. His plots tend to be creative with some true out-of-the-box thinking. But his dialog is repetitive and it’s hard to tell one character from another by their speech patterns. Everyone is a snarky smart-alec. In Powers Bureau, his creator-owned book for older audiences, everyone is a snarky smart-alec who says the F-word a lot. Cops Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim investigate superpowered crime, whether the supers are the perpetrators or the victims. Christian is a long-lived hero who has gone through several identities, Pilgrim is the most annoying character in the history of comics. She really is. Always whining, always screaming, she can use the F-word as a noun, verb and adjective all in one sentence. There have been several volumes of Powers, the partners were originally police detectives and now work for the FBI. I was fervently wishing Deena would be violently killed during each iteration of the book, but no luck so far.

In the present storyline, the teenaged superhero team The Circle has been murdered after fighting off an alien invasion. Walker and Pilgrim are interrogating a person of interest, a famous hero named Extreme. When introducing herself to him, Pilgrim remarks, “I’m Deena Pilgrim. Huge fan. Unless you murdered those teen superheroes. Then you can go to hell choking on my ****.” Classy, Bendis. Mr. Bendis should hang around more adults to learn how real professionals talk. Anyway, they do get information from Extreme, who promptly escapes by flying through the ceiling, then comes back slowly and in pieces, killed by another unknown perpetrator.

Despite my snark, I generally enjoy Powers. The book has been published in one form or another for 10 years now. I wonder if Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming are losing some of their passion? It may be time to let Powers rest for a while, so they can enjoy other pursuits.

Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Shotgun Wedding #4
Shotgun Wedding #4: This four-issue miniseries comes to a perfect close. This is one of the most pleasurable books of the year so far. Creators Harms and Pun have crafted a tight, action packed story of betrayal and revenge. Chloe has kidnapped Denise, her former fiancé Mike’s new bride-to-be. Holding her in a high-rise building under construction, she lies in wait with her team of mercenaries and Denise tied to a chair in her wedding dress. But Mike isn’t out of cards. He tries some unexpected strategies with friends of his own and ends up turning a few tables on Chloe and her team. But will it be enough? The wrap up to the tale is explosive and satisfying. I’ll eagerly be following both creators to whatever they do next.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Conan the Avenger #1
Conan the Avenger #1: (Also having nothing to do with the Avengers) Dark Horse has done their typical great job on their various Conan series. I will sincerely miss the Tim Truman/Tomas Giorello creative team on the regular Conan comic. They were as good as the all-time Conan team of Roy Thomas and John Buscema. This book starts a new story by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Brian Ching, who both turn in professional work. Their task is made a bit easier by adapting Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s original stories, but they still put their own welcome spin on the material.

Conan, still devastated by grief from the death of his pirate queen Belit, passes out drunk in a skeevy tavern. He wakes up naked in a garbage dump, filthy and penniless. Not to mention the hangover. Livid and lusting for revenge, the barbarian climbs his way out of the dump and tracks down the thieves. If you’ve ever read a Conan story you can guess what happens next. Probably if you’ve never read a Conan story you can guess what happens next; violence ensues. These stories are like comfort food for felons. In the end Conan finds a village full of possible new enemies and shows signs of coming out of his grief-induced funk. Onward to reaving and slaying!

Rating: *** stars out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment