ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
quick, and not all that spoilery opinion, just cut to be safe )

Unrelated, I just have to gripe about the weather a bit. Admittedly it is far, far better than a heat wave, because even moderate heat will make me truly miserable, but I would not mind if the highs weren't quite *this* low. Seriously, 14°C with rain? Couldn't it be a sunny 22°C? *grump*
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I post about Daredevil so rarely because I tend to wait for a couple of storylines to accumulate before reading, even though I collect the monthly issues.

Now I've read DD #107-110: cruel & unusual, #111-115: Lady Bullseye, #116-120 (500): Return of the King )
ratcreature: Procrastination is a Lifestyle. RatCreature in a hammock doing nothing. (procrastination)
Well, since I won't get my copy of DH until tomorrow morning, and it's not like I could randomly surf to pass time lest I ruin my unspoilt state this late, I've been reading another comic:

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1-4 (written and drawn by Jeff Smith)

This is the first Captain Marvel comic I've read. I've come across the character a couple of times in ensemble stories (like in the Justice limited series), but in general I'm not that much into the magic DC characters. However I really like Jeff Smith's work (in case you couldn't tell from my pseud *g*), so I got the series because of that.

Since I had no clue about the character beyond that he says "Shazam!" and then transforms, it was fortunate that this mini-series retells the origin story (or maybe retcons it? I've no idea whether this is in continuity or not). So I can't tell how this story would come across for long time fans of the character, but I found it was quite a lot of fun, in an entertaining, angst-free adventure story way.

I mean, it's not heavy on any mythology for the character, so after reading it I still don't know why there's some wizard bestowing powers from gods to a boy, or what kind of entity this Captain Marvel is. Before reading this I had always thought that Captain Marvel was Billy, just with added powers, but apparently he is something else and just uses Billy as a host. Kind of like a Tok'ra maybe. I also still don't know why Billy and Mary were split up or any kind of background. But I didn't really care. The comic worked much like a children's book that way, that is there isn't any attempt to reconcile it with more realist constraints.

Basically I liked the art, the transformed monsters where fun, there was a talking tiger, and the Dr. Sivana guy was hilarious.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've read both six issue series falling under this umbrella, i.e. Batman & The Monster Men and Batman & The Mad Monk. From what I've heard these are supposed to take place after Year One, but before that new Joker origin story that I haven't read (yet), but as I've said before, it is kind of tricky to make the overcrowded timeline of Batman's early career work, so I found it best not to worry too much.

Batman & The Monster Men (by Matt Wagner)

I liked this one. The combination of the mafia story with the creepiness of Hugo Strange worked well for me, and Strange made a good foil for Batman. I liked Bruce's girlfriend, Julie Madison too, and how she gets frustrated and suspicious with him.

Also, I just <3 the younger Jim Gordon, because among other things his expression when he says to Batman: "Giant mutant cannibals... you... you're serious?" was priceless. The poor guy will get used to a lot through his association with Batman over the years.

Alfred's dry humor is great here, e.g.: "And so, in keeping with conventional wisdom, you've chosen to secretly drug your girlfriend."

And not that I'm complaining exactly, but-- wow, this was rather more bloody than a usual Batman comic. So you should probably avoid it if you have problems with gore, but otherwise it's a good read.

Batman & The Mad Monk (by Matt Wagner)

This is also a mix of Batman vs. mafia and an encounter with the "new kind" of creepier villain. I liked that Batman worries whether he inspires or encourages the costumed villains. True, that angst is somewhat of a classic theme, but it works for me.

I also enjoyed the tension that comes from Gordon still working within a widely corrupt police force, and that Batman was shown doing detective work. To get some nod to the pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent was pretty cool as well.

I found Norman Madison's fear of Batman quite believable. However the (fake?) vampire cult didn't work as well for me as Hugo Strange did in the first series. While it was plenty gruesome, it just didn't build up as much terror somehow as I would have expected with the threat to Julie and the whole bunch of injuries Bruce suffers while fighting them. Still the plot overall was engaging enough, and some of the scenes in the castle were bizarre yet worked.

Anyway, I enjoyed both series but liked the first better.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Year One: Batman/Scarecrow #1-2 (written by Bruce Jones, art by Sean Murphy)

This was pretty good. I really liked the art, and I actually recognized several panels from icons I've seen around, so I guess I'm not alone in my fondness for Murphy's art.

I'm a bit tired of yet another psychopath getting a cliched backstory with an evil mother (or rather grandmother in this case) figure warping him, aided by the ubiquitous bullies, at but least the specifics of his case with the birds were rather cool and creepy, and I liked the Scarecrow overall.

In particular I liked the visual parallels between the young proto-Scarecrow's defining scene with the birds swooping down on him through a broken skylight, and the typical iconic panels in Batman's origin stories of bats coming down on young Bruce and such. That nicely sets up the following scenes where Bruce angsts about his similarities to costumed villains dressing up as something scary.

I also liked that this story, despite being set earlier, already includes Robin, though it would have been nice if Alfred had been present as well. Also it seemed that for information gathering purposes this particular early version of Batman could have used Oracle's talents with the way their investigation progresses. But I didn't mind that much, overall the plot was okay, and the art and atmosphere made the comic as a whole really enjoyable for me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as zombie. (zombie)
First, the whole Harry Potter thing is making me jittery. I haven't sought out the leaked copy because I'm not about to slog through hundreds of pages as crappy photographs, that's just unpleasant for reading. Not to mention that I don't really reread the HP books, so I'd rather read it the one time as proper book. But it is hard to keep away, knowing other fans have already read the book and are talking about it, even though my f-list is good with not spoiling me so far. (*insert the obligatory dire threats here*).

I will only get my copy on Saturday and I'm not the fastest reader, so at the earliest I'm going to talk about Deathly Hollows on Sunday if at all, and then I will of course use cut-tags and be very careful not to mess them up accidentally.

But until then I definitely need to distract myself with fandoms besides HP-- those still exist after all, even if half of my f-list apparently decided to avoid LJ and sometimes the internet entirely to be on the safe side. Anyway, thus I'm going to talk some more about Batman comics, in particular:

Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul #1-2 (written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti)

One of my main reasons to buy these (besides being a general sucker for all Batman comics DC publishes) was actually that I found the three color covers (black, white, and red) really attractive. I like the interior art okay too, but not as much as the covers (take a look at cover #1 and cover #2). If only the story had lived up to the packaging...

For the sake of my sanity I didn't even try to figure out why this is published as "Year One". I don't think this is supposed to fit in Batman's "Year One" or even just his early career, but rather after Batman: Death and the Maidens? But I don't have Ra's al Ghul's backstory that present. Maybe it is because of some flashbacks in the comic, and those could be made to work somehow in his first year.

First, while the basic idea that the Lazarus Pits affect death and life's balance in general was neat (even if what exactly their connection is was never really explained in any remotely consistent or logical way), the plot built around this was too thin for 96 pages. On the bright side, it had zombies, which is always a plus, but I can't say I enjoyed much else.

And even the zombies weren't particularly great specimens. Okay, so destroying the Lazarus Pits somehow stopped and even reversed death, thus the zombie problem, but I didn't really get why that particular horde of disgruntled undead was after Batman.

The action sequences were plain confusing sometimes, like when Batman was running from the zombies I had no idea how he suddenly got into the Batmobile again after, or if that even was still the vehicle he started out in earlier that night, which was definitely a car not some sort of glider. Yet later his vehicle could suddenly fly. Traditionally the car can't, right? So maybe what he used then wasn't the car, but some magically appearing Bat-Glider or whatever that was supposed to be, that we don't even see him remote call as far as I could tell. Maybe the Batmobile car transformed into a glider.

I also didn't understand what happened to the zombies he lured into that supermarket, did he lock them up there somehow? I couldn't tell, later it seemed he did lock them up, leaving them to rampage there, but why didn't they smash the glass?

Other times the action was just boring. You can tell that a comic has too little plot if it shows a frelling snowmobile chase over eight(!!) pages. Eight. I like certain kinds of action in comics, but snowmobile chases just don't come across that well in this medium. Certainly not if they last eight of the 48 pages in an issue and that on top of other chase scenes. And in a fairly pointless flashback at that.

Anyway while we get zombies, we don't really get to see Batman fight them for plain zombie fun, he flies flies around the globe interspersed with boring Ra's al Ghul flashbacks about some magical peach, and then Batman happens to find a monk chanting the Lazarus Pit formula, yet Ra's al Ghul followers were too stupid to figure that out... The whole thing made no sense to me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I actually read this a few days ago, but didn't get around to take notes right away, so this is lacking detail. (me = sloth)

Batman: Journey Into Knight (written by Andrew Helfer, art by Tan Eng Huat)

Overall I enjoyed reading this limited series quite a lot. There were some elements that bugged me (like that hypnotist was cringe-worthy), but in the end those didn't overshadow my enjoyment.

The first major problem of this series is of course that Bruce Wayne's early career as Batman is already kind of "overcrowded" so it is hard to fit yet another thing into the continuity, especially if it covers things that were addressed previously (like Bruce getting involved in Wayne Enterprises) and presents them differently. But if you read with a relaxed attitude and don't view it as a canon puzzle this story is quite cool.

I liked that Bruce wasn't yet fully competent and equipped to deal with the criminals he encounters, especially the crazy ones, because he expected to fight "normal" crime. He still makes mistakes and still learns. In some instances he made mistakes that I couldn't quite believe Bruce would make, even this early, and thought he should be more competent, but overall I liked this view. I also liked that he just acted plain younger. I also liked Alfred and Bruce's relationship with Gordon. I could have done without the Joker though.

Still, I think it's worth picking up.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Two-Face flipping a coin. (twoface)
Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1-6 (written by Paul Jenkins, art by Jae Lee)

I didn't like the art much, the inking in particular. The black areas--and there were many of them--seemed more randomly dumped than being placed deliberately for either consistent composition, drama or lightening reasons, so there was a lot of black scattered around making the page look flat and dark, and the shapes harder to see for the lack of a clear line, and the many smallish black areas didn't help guide the eyes through the panels and pages either. All of which made the reading slower and more tedious than it needed to be, with no equal gain on the "dark and gloomy" mood scale.

That said, I quite liked the mini-series otherwise. Okay, so there didn't really need to be yet another origin story for Two-Face making his history even more complicated, and the mad scientist running creepy gothic labs in Gotham (in cooperation with Two-Face no less) isn't the most original thing either, but the basic set-up of the drug plot worked for me.

And while I don't have all the details of the various Two-Face background stories very present, this expansion still goes with the general stuff I recalled from the others, so it's probably not a retcon or intended to be outside of continuity. It made about as much sense as these attempts at supervillain psychology ever do, and is IMO actually one of the better examples for this kind of plot. (I'm kind of ambivalent about the trend to somehow rationalize supervillain behavior through some cobbled together (pseudo-)psychology because it almost never works well.)

And it was nice to see Batman working with Gordon, and there was plenty of Alfred too, so overall I think this was a solid mini-series.

Also, I made a Two-Face!RatCreature icon, because I don't have any Batman villain icons yet.

pencils and larger inked version )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
I spent much of last night catching up with 30 issues of Y: The Last Man.

First, I didn't notice this as much in monthly reading, but I really like the series' structure that alternates between single shot stories giving more background on the characters or focus on minor characters elsewhere, and the multi-issue stories.

Y: The Last Man #27-57 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Pia Guerra and Goran Sudžuka, inks by Jose Marzan, Jr.)

my reactions while reading, cut for length and spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
When I asked what next to read from my waiting comic pile, Y: The Last Man topped the list, followed by All Star Superman and Fables. Since of these three All Star Superman didn't involve me remembering the place where I stopped and previous plots, I decided to go with that firstt.

All Star Superman #1-8 (written by Grant Morrison, pencils by Frank Quietly, inks by Jamie Grant)

I am less enamored with this than I thought I'd be. It is a lot of fun, but I think it is a bit too whimsical for my taste. Or rather... it's not that I mind the absurd, but I think I miss the underlying angst that I appreciate in mainstream superhero comics, which is strangely absent, and that despite the overarching plot being Superman facing his death from Lex Luthor's cunning plan to overload his system with solar radiation, and subplots like flashbacks to when Jonathan Kent died. Also, the art is okay, but not outstanding, that is, I can't really find anything wrong with it, but it didn't grab me on a visceral level or really connected with me.

That said, the series is definitely entertaining to read, and there's a lot of humor, both in the dialog and in visual jokes. From the start we get hilarious lines, like Luthor's exploding monster telling Superman "The purpose of my existence is to explode! You have no right to limit my ambitions, fascist! No right at all to stand in the way of my self-realization!" or the visual jokes, like when Clark, without disguise, saves people by being clumsy, e.g. when he saves someone from a dropping part of a flying vehicle by stumbling into him, without anyone even realizing it. Or the punchline with the key to his fortress being regularly sized (for being more secure) but actually turning out to be superdense and thus even heavier, and impossible to lift by anyone but him etc. The series is packed with funny details.

And I enjoyed the wacky hijinks in the plots, like the dinosaurs at earth's center, the Frankenstein scientist in a rainbow coat, who is actually kind of creepy if you stop to think about what he does, Jimmy Olsen crossdressing, the Bizarros zombiefying lots of people... and while I wasn't too impressed with the art, it does very well with illustrating all the quirky and bizarre stuff, like that Chronovore rampaging through Smallville.

Anyway, if you like wacky and funny superhero comics, and don't need baseline angst in the genre, this series is perfect.
ratcreature: RatCreature as demon victim, Supernatural-style, i.e. eviscerated, pinned to the ceiling and burning alive. (supernatural)
Not exactly a reprieve from the comic posts, but it's about the Supernatural comics, so no people wearing their bright underwear on the outside! :D

Supernatural: Origins #1-3 (written by Peter Johnson, art by Matthew Dow Smith)

First, I like that the art doesn't try for photographic likeness, because that is really hard to pull off well in tv tie-in comics, i.e. far too often the likeness is mangled and/or the drawings look stiff. So I'm fine with the art being stylized. One major problem is though that the artist doesn't seem to be able to draw small children. Baby!Sam in particular just looks really, really odd. Also the coloring doesn't always work for me.

As for the story, cut for spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Cyclops (cyclops)
Astonishing X-Men #1-21 (written by Joss Whedon, art by John Cassaday)

I wonder whether I shouldn't have waited for the final issues to come out before reading. Now that I'm faced with a cliffhanger again, I remembered how irregularly this came out for a while. Still it was entertaining so far, and I like the mix of an overarching plot that's coming to a conclusion in the final issues, i.e. that alien world that is convinced by some prophecy that an earth mutant will destroy it, which makes for a nice mystery keeping you hooked, and the subplots threaded into that.

Though the subplots didn't all work equally well for me. The one with the mutant cure was pretty cool, but I didn't really get into the sentient danger room thing as much, though it wasn't bad. I have to admit that the Hellfire Club stuff left me mostly confused, as I had no idea who all these people and their history with the X-Men were (though I have come across some in fanfic), and I didn't know anything about this Cassandra Nova character and her history with Emma Frost. Eventually I read with a couple of reference and overview websites open and skimmed those to get the gist, but I still felt lost. How did anyone manage to follow superhero comics at all before reference websites?? Anyway, I suspect readers familiar with the background may get more out of this (or hate it for messing with something, I guess that's always a possibility).

Still, even with my confusion the basic suspense worked for me, or I wouldn't have bothered looking up all these Hellfire Club people and their history and powers in the first place. Also I'm inclined to like this X team because it has Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast who are among my favorite X-Men characters.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11-19 (written by Peter David, pencils by Todd Nauck and Scott Eton, inks by Robert Campanella, Rodney Ramos, and John Dell)

I enjoyed those three stories. While they aren't outstanding all are solid and entertaining action-adventures with Spidey and some of his classic villains. All are set during Civil War and the direct aftermath, but not closely connected to any Civil War plots, except for Peter's identity being known. In the first several Mysterios appear at the school, mayhem ensues, and Flash deals with Peter as Spider-Man, the second, is set after Peter changed sides to oppose registration, and the government employs the Vulture to fight and capture him, but it's mostly irrelevant why the Vulture is attacking Peter just then. In the third The Sandman seeks Peter's help to exonerate his father from the murder of the alternate Ben Parker, so that also brings the future Spider-Man story to a close. Actually I liked the last least, probably because I wasn't too fond of that earlier plot in the first place. There's also a strange school nurse with a spider affinity and spikes like Peter's new poison stingers, so I assume she's the spider-creature from Spider-Man: The Other.

I've read somewhere that Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is going to be canceled soon in favor of ASM coming out more frequently, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I like ASM better, and having it come out more often with more room for a single, consistent Spider-Man plot arc isn't bad, on the other hand FNSM seem to have hit its stride and provides decent adventures with the classic Spidey villains, and it's kind of nice to have a slightly less angsty break from ASM.

Amazing Spider-Man #539-541 -- Back in Black (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Bill Reinhold)

I kind of hate it that I'm now caught up so that I have to wait for the next issue again, especially with cliffhangers. But I like the story so far. Peter is hunting down those responsible for shooting Aunt May, and it's fast paced and tense. Peter being pushed to his limits, not just from the assassin shooting Aunt May, but also from Captain America's death and from being hunted himself, comes across as very believable here. I also like how he keeps in contact with MJ. And I'm curious what will happen during the fight with Fisk. I mean, Fisk isn't going to die, especially not since this seems to be set before the whole FBI deal in Dardevil ended, so he obviously survived, and I don't see Peter dying yet again either, but still.

One random quibble though-- what is it with comic rats having canines?? I've complained about this before, but let me say again: rats are rodents. Their incisors are plenty sharp, but they just don't have canine teeth, nor are any of their teeth pointed. Giving them canines doesn't make them look more scary, it just looks ridiculous.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Okay, figuring out the reading order was a bit of a pain in places, especially between ASM and the main Civil War series since I just couldn't get a real grip how the events sort out into a single timeline for Spider-Man. (A bit more on that below.) Also I haven't bought all the tie-ins, so I'm missing chunks, and I think I've rad the specials (War Crimes and The Return out of order).

Anyway, the Civil War issues I read were:
Road to Civil War: The New Avengers Illuminati
Amazing Spider-Man #529-538
Civil War #1-7
Civil War: Front Line #1-11
Civil War: The Return
Civil War: War Crimes
Civil War: The Confession
Civil War: The Initiative
New Avengers #21-25

Overall I quite enjoyed Civil War. cut for lengthy rambling )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Well, all that Spider-Man reading has some nice side-effects: I had a neat Spider-Man/Superman crossover dream last night. Sadly no slashy content or anything, just a wacky action-adventure, and I mostly forgot the details soon after waking up. Still, nicer than lots of other dreams.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5-7 (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel)
These issues were kind of forgettable, except for the brain-hurting part where they somehow compressed or relocated the timeline to make weblogs a common thing when Peter attended high school, but it is best not to notice these details. Also, I'm really not interested in wrestling, much less into mythical wrestling gods or whatever that villain was, so it didn't do anything for me, and some angsting by Peter about the origin of his powers (i.e. are they (comic-book) scientific or from magical totems?) didn't make up for my lack of interest in the rest.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #8-10 -- Jumping the Tracks (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel and Mike Manley)
And this story was just-- it just didn't work for me. It's not even the timetraveling future Spider-Man whose daughter is the future Hobgoblin as such. I mean, yes, that's weird, but this is comics and you deal. But the whole setup was lame. First, some crazy torturing Peter with his guilt over dead relatives and friends yet again gets old, and really there is no need to bring back Uncle Ben (again? maybe they don't count the ghost thing). Also, to me it made no sense that a future Spider-Man ends up as the boss of the time police, and that they don't even prevent that stereotypical apocalypse that apparently happened. And the whole thing with the alternate Uncle Ben just got more boring with him seemingly shooting that Spider-Man. Obviously the "real" Uncle Ben, or a reasonable equivalent from another universe as the one in the Spider-Man as pro-wrestler AU flashbacks seemed to be, wouldn't just turn into a homicidal lunatic, even when he's depressed, so the shooter isn't that Ben, no matter what the artificial tension is supposed to be. So he's either some evil!Ben brought from yet another universe (but that crazy timetravelling Green Goblin said she only brought one) or some shapeshifter bad guy who will then try to trick Peter (*yawn*), only I was confused by the clothing issue. The guy who confronted alternate!Ben first appeared to wear a woolly hat, and then later the dead!Ben (whom I assume is alternate!Ben) wears a baseball cap, so where did that come from? Alternate!Ben didn't wear any hat. Other random annoyances: as far as self-referential meta jokes go the "retcon bombs" were on the really clumsy side and not that amusing.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Spider-Man: The Other--Evolve or Die (in Amazing Spider-Man #525-#528, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-#4, and Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19-#22, written by J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Reginald Hudlin, pencils by Mike Wieringo, Pat Lee, and Mike Deodato, and inks by Karl Kesel, and Joe Pimentel. )

Overall I really enjoyed this crossover. I think the changes to Peter's powers have cool potential, and it was really creepy in parts. Some of the subplots didn't quite come together for me though, and I thought the first half was a bit weaker than the second.

For example I liked Tracer okay as a villain, but he vanished rather abruptly and didn't seem much connected to the main Morlun and spiderpowers plot thread. Also I was disappointed that we never found out what caused Peter's cell degeneration illness in the first place. Was it random? A long term after effect of the initial bite? of Peter not accepting the spider fully? or a side effect of that radiation thing he did to defeat Morlun the first time? Also I was a bit confused why Morlun wasn't always visible to others besides Peter.

I thought the part where he travels to see all these other scientist-type heroes was somewhat boring. I mean, I guess it makes sense that he had to ask around, but it just didn't do anything for me. MJ an Aunt May helping him to play with cool gadgets at Dr Doom's place was fun though.

Another random thing I liked in the first half was MJ beating up that creep with her pool cue. Granted, the creepy stalker fan cliche was trite, but MJ was cool. Peter imagining this plan to make money in Vegas was cute too, though I think a better bet for financial security for his family would be patenting his web fluid or something.

Anyway, IMO the story really picked up once the main fight with Morlun started. Things got much more tense and creepy. Morlun gouging out Peter's eye was really gross, and I actually found it almost OTT for a Spider-Man comic because it wasn't as necessary for the story as the later grossness when Peter transformed. That transformation Peter went through afterwards almost shocked me. I mean, he mutated before, like in stories where he grows extra arms, and that iirc fairly recent change (I forgot when it happened exactly) that brought the comic powers in line with the movie version so that he produces his own web fluid, but the teeth? weird poisonous spikes? and most importantly that then Peter ate Morlun?? It's creepy and unexpected when a hero goes for cannibalism. Not bad though. I actually kind of liked it in this story's context. And it even escalated further when he somehow pupated or something, shed his skin and then regenerated in that cocoon. Somehow cocoons have an inherent creepiness.

I've been a bit dubious when JMS first introduced these spiritual spider connections earlier in ASM, but here Peter's dream of embracing his inner spider or whatever that was, worked for me, and I'm intrigued about Peter's new powers and his control (or lack thereof) over them. I mean, he reacts now faster and on instinct just to being touched in a friendly way, and has suddenly possibly poisonous spikes at his disposal during a fight, that opens a lot of potential way for him to hurt others without meaning to. Especially considering that he already ate one guy, even if it was a villain.

I'm less fond of the upcoming costume change, I like Spidey's classic costume and and gold just isn't as nice, also kind of ominous in that those are Iron Man's colors (and it's not like I want to slash these two) and it's bad enough that apparently Tony Stark listens in on Peter and MJ making out like a stalker. Though I guess it's related to the whole Civil War event.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #519-#524 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

I liked this Hydra storyline better than the previous arc. While terrorism plots aren't exactly my favorite, it was a solid action-adventure, and how it mixed with the personal B-plot in the aftermath of their places burning down worked for me. And the sinister foreshadowing of Peter's worsening symptoms, first subtle then more and more serious, has left me actually curious now about their cause.

While the story didn't seem to rely much on being familiar with non-Spider-Man comics, I think it was still a stumbling block for me that I don't know much about the Avengers. Like, I don't really know Tony Stark, but he comes across as kind of smarmy here when he offers Peter help, and I wondered whether he's always like that. Also reading this I wondered whether I shouldn't have read a bunch of the New Avengers comics that are apparently overlapping with ASM first to better follow what's going on here with Peter, his family and how he became part the Avengers now. I'm also quite lost with all this Hydra stuff, their world domination scheme and how they cloned? duplicated? the Avengers.

Also, maybe I just don't know enough about the Avengers operation, but how was Aunt May and M.J. moving in with them supposed to work while Peter still has a (at least somewhat) secret identity anyway? I mean, Aunt May has neighbors, Peter teaches at a high school, and M.J. has a job with people needing to know their address too, right? How do they intended to explain staying with the Avengers? (I can't imagine that Tony Stark blackmailing reporters into silence was the first choice of plan.) It wasn't even discussed between Stark, Peter, M.J. and Aunt May when they moved, though in a later issue it seemed to be implied (by that reporter confronting M.J.) that it wasn't public knowledge that this was the Avengers' headquarters, just that it belongs to Stark, and apparently they didn't even think of a good cover story. Though I thought that the Avenger place was known. Then again maybe that was one of the previous places. Wasn't some mansion destroyed not too long ago?

Jarvis and Aunt May are cute together though. And on a somewhat random note, am I the only one who thinks it's kind of pathetic of Hydra to produce hoodies with their logo on the back (like the one we see in the closet in #522)? At least I assume it's a hoodie because that piece of clothing didn't look anything like the spandex Hydra uniform Peter puts on later.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #509-#514 - Sins of the Past (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

The story didn't really grab me. I'm not fond of affairs and children who are retconned in years later in the first place, and while I like the basic Gwen Stacy storyline, I don't think it needs to be changed/retold again to get yet another Green Goblin out of it. Also somehow I couldn't really feel for Peter and his angst here. I guess this was supposed to be shocking, the sudden (retconned) "revelation" that Norman Osborn had had sex with Gwen and got her pregnant to make little future Green Goblins or whatever, and I didn't think it was awful or anything, but mostly just felt indifferent.

Amazing Spider-Man #515-#518 - Skin Deep (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato and Mark Brooks, inks by Joe Pimentel and Jaime Mendoza)

Why do the scientist geeks in comics always go completely insane when they mess up with their weird, irresponsible experiments? There's no reason why that Charlie guy had to escalate to hurting the rescue workers and worse. Obviously with the lab blown up, the work there was already lost and the plot device of the chemicals making him insane and irrational was lame, and it's not like he intended to be covered with his armor goo. So any normal person, even a somewhat obsessed mad scientist type, would want to be checked out by some medical professional just then, not murder their rescue workers and go on to become some crazed supervillain/serial killer type. And I'm completely sick of the stock character of the geek who somehow becomes insane or looses any ethical perspective because some bullies hassled him in high school, and never gets over it either. Not to mention that the counterpart, the perpetually mean/evil jock, gets old too. Also if Peter knew that guy had problems he should have known better than not to keep at least an eye on him. I mean, living in the Marvel universe he's seen enough supervillain origin stories to be apprehensive about such setups. Well, at least Peter is somewhat aware that he should have known better, but still. Anyway, this story was made of fail, IMO.
ratcreature: RatCreature begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
Since finally #12 of the Justice maxiseries (written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, art by Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite) has come out I got around to reading the series.

cut for spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature as ninja (ninja)
Um, so I guess I was a little premature when I predicted the end of the Daredevil content.

Anyway, I've now read some of the older Daredevil stories, that is so far the arc starting from when Miller introduced Elektra to when she's resurrected. And well-- on the bright side, ninjas! But wow, Matt makes it really hard to like him sometimes. He acts like a total asshole towards Heather Glenn, and doesn't treat anyone else too great either. It's not that I particularly care about Heather or anything, but it's really hard to like a character who treats his girlfriend and his friends like shit. I mean, Matt is often somewhat of a jerk in his relationships, but not quite this bad. Then again, ninjas make up for a lot for me, and generally I like Miller's art here. Can anyone rec older story arcs to me in which Matt is more sympathetic? I would really rather like the main character of a series.

I've also read a newer Daredevil mini-series, Daredevil: Father #1-6 (by Joe Quesada, inks by Danny Miki). Actually I reread the first part, which came out a while ago (sometime 2004, I think?) but hadn't read the rest when they came out. I had stopped reading the issues because they were delayed so often and published so irregularly, and now read all six issues at once. I didn't really like the story. This one is just depressing. First, I hate that of course the reason that woman became a serial killer was sexual abuse. Also now the blind guy Matt saved is supposed to be a child molester? Just no.

Another Daredevil comic I've read is What If... Karen Page Had Lived? (written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Lark). And I think the Marvel "What If...?" series suffers from the (very strange) assumption that no matter how awful the lives of our heroes are, it could only get worse if things were different. Thus you end up with weird AUs in which Karen Page surviving doesn't lead to a better life for Matt, but against all sense and reason to him being worse off, acting even more self-destructive, and Karen Page dead in the end anyway. WTF Marvel?
ratcreature: Flail! (flail)
I've just finished reading Eternals #1-7 (written by Neil Gaiman, pencils by John Romita Jr., inks by Danny Miki) and-- this was just weird. I'm completely unfamiliar with any previous incarnation of these characters which were presumably created by Kirby judging from the credits, but clearly I've been missing a *lot* of weird mythological set-up of the Marvel universe by mostly just following Daredevil and Spider-Man, if this is the set-up of things in their main universe. Really a lot.

I mean, a sleeping God-robot ("Celestial"), reminiscent of Lovecraft, others of that kind who come visit as a horde to eat Deviants (or I guess more correctly "Changing People" in their own nomenclature) who are somehow a previous monster evolution that subjugated humans. And the Celestials put the one to sleep because he protested the Deviant eating, but the vegetarian God-robot isn't really a good guy either, because he now kind of wants to destroy earth and only waits to judge for a bit after he watched a lot of tv and absorbed the internet or something? Meanwhile strange immortal protector things (machines?), i.e. the Eternals have secret cities in Antarctica that nobody noticed? Also now one of them is a Messiah for the Changing People somehow?

It's not that I disliked the story, I was even kind of hooked, but also very obviously missing all kinds of context.

ETA: Rereading my entry, I am making much less sense than the comic about what confused me. Well, the story as I understood it is more or less like this:

cut for more concrete spoilers, and where exactly the story lost me )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
Sorry about the deluge of Daredevil posts, but since I'm now caught up with the series that should die down again.

So now I've read The Secret Life of Foggy Nelson (issue #88), The Devil Takes A Ride (issues #89-93), Our Love Story (issue #94) and the first two parts of To The Devil, His Due (issues #95-96). I haven't been to my store recently to get #97 yet, which I think is out already, so please don't spoil me in comments.

Since these are fairly recent, all comments on the story line are spoiler cut. )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I really enjoyed the next story The Murdock Papers (issues #76-81). Lots of cool action and fights, Fisk being a manipulative bastard, sort-of-evil government officials, and plenty of angst and pain for Matt, and poor Ben Urich caught between a rock and a hard place. Also, the story brought home why Foggy teases Matt about the number and occupations of his (ex-)girlfriends. I felt really sorry for Milla, though. I like her quite a bit, but I suspect she's been rethinking whether it was a good idea to return to Matt quite a lot during the events. Things are quite bad when several of Matt's exes, one of them half-naked and armed with knives, barging into their hotel room , is actually the least of your marriage problems.

With the next story, The Devil In Cell Block D (issues #82-87) the writer/artist team changed to Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano. I like their art less than Maleev's though they seem to have tried to keep it in a similar style. But I think he just isn't as good at it, in particular I like the faces less somehow. Still, not bad art or anything, just not quite as awesome as before. As for the plot cut for spoilers. )

On a random note, I till hate the spam email spelling of "ass" as "@$$". It's just bizarre. Either use obscenities or don't, but this half-assed (sorry I couldn't resist the bad pun) way drives me insane.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
Ages ago (well actually late 2004) I stopped reading Daredevil. The trigger was that #66 had so much idiotic babelfish translated "German" dialog that I just couldn't get through it -- I commented on that at the time -- and then I got the next issue, but still couldn't bring myself to read #66, and somehow that state of affairs continued.

Anyway, tonight I found myself in the mood for Daredevil, and soldiered through the awful fake-German even though it felt like being sporked in the brain, repeatedly, (and spelling "ass" as "@$$" in one bit of dialog came close second-- I mean seriously, WTF, Marvel? Is this the text version of breasts without nipples??).

BTW, if you don't speak any German, and don't mind the occasional spam email spelling, there is actually things to like in #66 and the whole Golden Age story (issues #66-70), like the way the different eras are set apart in the coloring style: The 1940s flashback is b/w, the flashback to early in Daredevils career is colored with a slightly exaggerated rastering effect of older comics, and the present day is colored regularly. I found that effect very neat. And while overall neither the "old crime boss seeks revenge" story nor the White Tiger stuff grabbed me, it was okay to read, and there were bits with Matt and Foggy that I liked a lot (like, Foggy: "Sorry I'm cramping your style with your stalkers." *hearts*)

The next story Decalogue (issues #71-75) is at first about people of Hell's Kitchen sharing their Daredevil stories. I really like the stark covers, especially the first in this series (probably not least for its somewhat blasphemous impression). Though I found the idea of some church support group to discuss Daredevil kind of odd. Also, while I usually like outsider POVs of the characters, getting just these glimpses of Daredevil, until the last issue anyway which had plenty of Matt in it, wasn't all that satisfying, even though the creepy guy in the support group definitely worked for me to build suspense. And actually the reveal was pretty cool and surprising cut for serious spoilers. )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
I liked Scott McCloud's Making Comics a lot better than the previous Reinventing Comics. I didn't find it as cool as I did Understanding Comics way back in the mid-90s, though that's probably also because I hadn't read a lot of other comic meta yet, and also the format was really unusual then.

Anyway, I didn't learn anything really great or new about comics, but I did have several of those moments were you find yourself nodding along, and things become a bit clearer while you read something laid out in a certain way. While I don't quite agree with him completely on a number of points, I mostly liked his practical illustrations of certain techniques. Overall he's more of a manga fan than I am, and sees manga influence in Western comics differently, not just the adoption of a really manga-like style, but how for example he credits a number of general narrative techniques (e.g. slow and wordless scene setting by showing details of the surroundings in close-up in favor of an establishing shot) and their proliferation in comics mainly to manga popularity even when the comics in question aren't much like manga in the end, whereas I'm pretty sure I've read a bunch of comics whose artists weren't influenced by Japanese stuff, but for example by movies, and in the end used similar kinds of panel transitions, if not in exactly the same style.

I mean, obviously it's hard to tell where exactly influences are coming from unless you know through artists interviews or whatever, and I don't doubt that manga influences are present in some comics that don't look like manga, but seriously, if you imitate a camera and start in a closeup, roam silently over your location before zooming out you may end up with establishing sequences like that without having ever opened any manga doing the same kind of thing.

Overall the comic was a good read. Even in the chapters where he mostly summarizes from other sources and I was already familiar with those, like in the section on facial expressions that heavily relies on Gary Faigin's book The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression (which I talked about here), I still wasn't bored. I also liked his idea of exercise suggestion at the end of the chapters and I may do some of them, since several seem like they could be fun.

As in the previous books I found the more "philosophical" parts about his views on artists' motivations and comic community rather more boring than the analysis of comics and how to make them, but there was a lot more of the latter than the former, so I didn't mind much.

If you've already read a lot about comics, most will seem familiar to you in one way or another, but I really liked how he played his examples through to show the effects of graphic storytelling choices in a kind of variable by variable way. For example in the section of what he calls "clarity vs. intensity" of graphic choices (with "intensity" being graphic effects like extreme perspectives and depth cues, breaking of panel borders and unusual panel shapes, lots of diagonals in composition, exaggerated poses and facial expressions, etc.) he shows varying degrees of these added dramatic choices for the same page, and how it affects the narrative, its readability, emotional impact and such.

Throughout the book I found several good ideas that I hadn't seen quite like this, like for example to add typical gestures, expression and body language to your model sheets for a character not just different perspectives. I liked his section on character design in general, though again I had several seen several suggestions before, because I've read the books he refers to, like for example Eisner's. I mean, I know from experience how difficult it is to make your characters look recognizable and different from each other, but too often, especially in some superhero comics, artists don't even bother to try and you end up with Oracle looking like Black Canary only with a different hair color and in a wheelchair. It certainly couldn't hurt for example Greg Land any to do some character design and expression/body language exercises. I'm just saying.

I also thought the section on body language was useful. It made me understand stances and how you can vary them a lot better, because it broke aspects down into several variable factors, and again showed the effects. Like similar stances, but one symmetrical one asymmetrical and how that changes things, open and closed stances, distances and gestures etc. and he illustration these principles with an example narration of adding gestures and body language to a conversation.

Other parts were a bit of repetition from what I remember from Understanding Comics, though from a more practical viewpoint. For example in the first chapter Writing with Pictures he revisits his classification of different kinds of panel to panel transitions and in the third chapter The Power of Words his categories of word/picture combinations, but you don't have to have read the former to follow his storytelling examples.

Overall I think it's well worth reading.

ETA: Does anyone else keep loosing icon and tag choices after doing a spellcheck and/or preview in the LJ update editor? This is annoying.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've just read Batman: Death and the Maidens #9 (written by Greg Rucka, art by Klaus Janson) and spoilers... )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
After reading about Huntress, I've now read the 2000 retcon of her origin story myself, Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood (written by Greg Rucka, pencils and inks by Rick Burchett, except in #5 and #6 which have inks by Terry Beatty), and overall I liked the story. I was of course spoiled by reading summaries, but I have to say that from just knowing Huntress from guest appearances in BOP and such, and the Nightwing/Huntress series, I wouldn't have expected her to act like this.

Even having read summaries, the end still had something of a sucker punch effect on me. I mean, she doesn't do it herself, but she arranges for Santo Cassamento, the man who ordered her family to be wiped out and also her biological father, to be killed, because she wants revenge, because "blood cries for blood." She asks her uncle Tomaso Panessa for a favor, and while we don't hear her words then (I guess mostly so that it'll hit you harder as a reader later on), it becomes clear that she asks him to kill Santo, and tells him where he'll be able to find him, or something to that effect. Then she arranges it so that Santo has to be at that drug shipment personally, by beating up on his goons, meets Santo outside, letting him believe that he's still blackmailing her with his knowledge of her identity, calmly takes off her vigilante garb after he went inside, and stands by outside while he is murdered, not swayed in the least by the Question/Vic's pleas to stop it either. She also placed an anonymous tip so that Tomaso will go to jail. And as her final act we see her throwing her crucifix down into the water by the pier (which, as far as I can see doesn't reappear in her guest appearances in Batman and Detective after this series, even though she still wears her old costume, not the current one).

I think what hit me, is how she takes off her costume before standing by his murder, as if she somehow doesn't want her vigilante persona tainted by this revenge killing she arranged. It was a really powerful scene, but it changed my view of her.

Unrelated to the Huntress stuff, what's up with Tim and Barbara in this series? Here Barbara knows Tim's identity, when she didn't in BOP #19 which was published the same month as #2 of this series. It's not so much that I have a problem with her knowing, I mean, in a way it's kind of weird that we were supposed to believe she didn't in BOP #19, despite things like Tim's rescue from NML, which should have made the connection between Robin and Tim quite obvious to Oracle, I think. It just doesn't fit.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
I've read Marvel Knights Spider-Man #2 (written by Mark Millar, pencils by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Dodson) and...
cut for the spoiler phobic, because it's very recent )

September 2017

M T W T F S S
    123
45678910
111213141516 17
181920212223 24
252627282930 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 13:23
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios