Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 12/13/06

Ooooooh . . .it’s Wednesday the 13th! Spoooooky! Well-known for being a time of awful, horrible comics! And, while I’m sure there were hell-tons of them, I’m not going to review them. So if you see someone review something that came out this week and I didn’t review it, all you need to know is that that comic was bad and if the reviewer disagrees they smell.

I’ll start with the relative weak point in my stack, Fantastic Four: The End. It is, quite simply, a big “ender” superhero story. It doesn’t seem to be making any point other than “this part is cool . . .so is this . . .” etc. But it does this well. Alan Davis . . .he’s very skilled. He’s very good at what he does, but I must say I’m not exactly drawn to it. It’s a little too straight-forward for me, but he certainly doesn’t distract from the story. And this is the sort of thing he was born to draw. Large, epic battles; crazy sci-fi; larger-than-life personage; and, of course, my absolute favorite FF trope: stubbly Reed. Ever since the Kirby days, when the shit really hit the fan, Reed would stop shaving. Someone should collect an image from every artist that’s done this. I love stubbly Reed. It’s so on when he’s stubbly. The story here doesn’t make much sense, but it’s just a nice action flick, a blockbuster for your eyes.

Most comics these days might have one big twist you didn’t see coming. DMZ had two this issue. I don’t think it’s just because I’m functionally retarded, although I am. Christ, I just realized this is only the second part of this arc. Bryan Wood continues to write a compelling, real-feeling main character in an increasingly desperate situation. The parallels to real life are present, strong, but not preachy. And there’s some action thrown in for the teenage boys still out there. Oh, and sex. Burchielli officially went from (after having gone from tolerable to OK) OK to quite good this issue. The looseness of his line allows for an expressionism that doesn’t detract from the reality of the situation. Strong stuff with one hell of a cliffhanger.

How long do you think Vaughan had the idea for this month’s Ex Machina? The title reveal on the last page? Perfect. A great one-off issue exploring the background of Bradbury. Tony Harris can draw people talking and make it interesting. He can represent life without sacrificing an artistic voice. We learn only bits and pieces about the focus of the issue, but it’s more than enough. Just like that he becomes a real person. That’s good stuff.

Gotta say The Escapists was even better, though. It addressed one of the sneaking doubts I had about the book from the beginning. Sure, it was really well done. Sure, the idea was compelling. Sure it was the perfect mix of superhero and indie. But it wasn’t completely new. It was built upon the backs of others. The ending of this book may be a bit cheesy, but it’s so damn right that you don’t care. Screw the corporate comics that simply parasitcally drain the works of great creators. Start making something new. Pefect, perfect, perfect.

Not that it’s impossible to do great work on the back of someone else. Because I may have enjoyed the first issue of The Spirit even more. Cooke’s writing and art is so dang perfect here. He doesn’t try to imitate Eisner, he tries to do what he does as well as Eisner did what he did. The Spirit is charming, affable, fallible, but awesome. The supporting characters (even Ebony!) are spot-on. The plot works, works quickly, and never lets you down. The women are beautiful. The jokes are funny. The action is exciting. The villains are horrible. This, my friends, this is how you continue old superhero books. You don’t worry about years of who-did-what. You make a really great story and you draw it beautifully. Will this sell to the superhero nerds? I hope so, but they seem to run from this kind of quality like I run from leafy vegetables. However long we have it, it’s going to be a pleasure.

A great week for superheroes, folks. A great week for comics, too, actually. Go out and treat yourself. If you normally wouldn’t get one of these books, get the Spirit. And get the Escapists in trade. If you refuse, you’re more retarded than I am. And that’s really retarded.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 12/06/06

Argh, what a bad day at school. Due mostly to three individuals. It's a sad day when people under the age of 13 can completely ruin your day. But good comics can redeem it. And there were some this week.

American Splendor had what might be its strongest issue under DC, at least artistically. 'Beto, Deano, Geary, and Fingerman headlined the issue. Some good, everyday stuff. Pekar's comics are somewhere between comfort food and art comics. They require a bit more thought than Superman hitting a rock, but they also feel so comfortable and real. The way this blog goes, I'm probably speaking to a hole here, but this is good comics.

I was less bothered by the coloring on The Other Side this issue. I dunno if it was that improved or I just had that much alcohol. But the Asian folk seemed less 1950s racist superhero comic and more naturalistic. Stewart's art is typically beautiful, and the two stories are aligning interestingly. Some great stuff. This would be a good book to buy your war-movie-fan friend/relative. Too bad there's no trade for Christmas or whatever excuse you use to give people stuff.

Cronin not liking Superman Confidential is almost as dumb as him letting me type on the blog again. It's finally that 40s repartee Lois done well with a side of Superman Byrne only dreamed of showing. The neophyte, unsure Superman done realistically but heroically. His ignorance of his limits isn't played brashly, but hesitantly, as most folks trying to figure out "Well, just how invulnerable am I?" would be. (Thanks to Lisa for the spelling help for boozed-up Joe there.) Nice, cartoonish art that goes a long way to telling the story and the mood. I may become a Sale fan yet, now that he's not working with Liefeld's writer.

I'm glad that Salvador Larroca seems to have gotten over his X-Men/Claremon boob + butt phase. And Ellis seems to be writing a possibly interesting story for newuniversal. But (and, yes, this is not technical) OH MY GOD I DO NOT CARE. You know what's boring and lamely-written? That show "Heroes." You know what's better written but no more interesting? YET ANOTHER COMIC BOOK ABOUT REAL FOLKS GETTING SUPERPOWERS. Christ in Heaven. I know that superbooks sell, but can we put a moratorium on superbooks that aren't frakkin brilliant for a few decades? This might even end up being good, but I'm so tired of this idea that I can't even give it a chance. You want to write about real folks, do it. Screw the superpowers and the twists on archetypes. Write something real. That's not really the point for this, I know. And this is good, for what it is. But screw it. Spend your money on the Huizenga collection or something else that's truly great.

Agents of Atlas dealt with the "evil within" subplot very succintly and originally, I feel. This is still a very good, pulpy book. I know I just yelled about the plethora of crap superbooks out there, but that doesn't mean there aren't worthwhile ones out there. One of the most appealing parts of this book is the fact that it's going to end. It will be a story and not just a marketing device. The characters are interesting and varied, the story is moving somewhere neat, and it's just a kick to read. I dunno what the nerds are doing for this sales-wise, but I'm enjoying it.

And some superhero books are just really good superhero books. Doctor Strange: The Oath is one. The Martin art is frakkin gorgeous. I kissed it a few times, especially when the Dr.'s being all flirty. Some good twists, and an antagonistic organization that seems really evil but also seems natural for the setting. Kung fu Wong is also pretty great. What's up with the great sideline Strange books this past couple of years? Milligan and Vaughn? Meanwhile Spider-man is stuck with PAD and the legions of Civil War tie-ins. Still, good comics are good comics, and this certainly is one.

You know something that makes Chris Sprouse awesome? In Midnighter, he draws a young Hitler and it looks like a young Hitler. I'm sorry, Jeffrey from Project Runway, but that is mad skills. The story takes unexpected twists and remains fun but interesting the whole way. I feel like Ennis found the happy medium between "Important Ennis" and "outlined on bar napkins" Ennis here. It's good fun. Involving killing Hitler.

Can't wait to read the Showcase: Shazam, AKA, the last time DC did a Captain Marvel that at all understood the appeal of the character. Sunny Sparkles is like a Chris Ware character sans irony. I'm going to cut this review bit short so I can dive in.

As for other media, Casino Royale is challenging Goldfinger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service as my favorite Bond film. The direction is crisp, the acting is strong and tight all around, and it seems to actually mean something. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and his wardrobe gives me crazy envy. That short-sleeved linen shirt with the grey suit when he goes to the Bahamas? The fashion nerd in me went NUTS.

"Put Your Quarter Up" is an amazing song. You've got the Molemen, Slug, Aesop Rock, and frakkin MF Doom rapping, mostly about video games. You get a line rhyming Slobodan and Robotron? Yeah. Download that stuff immediately. Thank you, itunes.

And it's time for a confession. I mostly admit to only watching very few TV shows. There's the Office and Battlestar Galactica, the two best-written shows on TV for my money. Cosby and Andy Griffith re-runs. Daily Show and Colbert when I can. And a bunch of awful crap my wife watches. But I now must publically admit I like one of those shows. I like Grey's Anatomy. Mind you, I hate Grey, and I hate every plot she's in. But the rest of the cast is damn TIGHT. It's a soap that I actually got into, and I'm not (as) ashamed anymore. I just wish it was more Karev's Anatomy instead. That's a damn interesting character.

Enjoy your week.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Big Fat Rocketship Party

So the Big Fat Little Lit party was at Rocketship last night. It was a really good time. The guests were all pleasant, talkative, and, of course, fun. And the book itself I recommend quite highly to anyone from 5 to 105 (except for people that are 76, they won't like it). Anyway, you want to see photos.

The backyard is slowly being turned into a gallery. Ms. Kelly, AWOL, and AWOLette strike a suitable gallery pose.

Sitting with the girls, pre-party.

Folks started to arrive early, despite TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS.

Mr. David Mazzucchelli.

Funibashis and my tongue.

Children frolicked.

Grown-ass men frolicked.

Ms. Francoise Mouly (w/ T'challa)

From r-l: Ms. Kelly, Ms. Li'l Sis, and Boy Reeling in Pain

Li'l sister! That's not me!

Mr. Art Spiegelman signing for a student of mine's Christmas present.

Li'l Sister decided there weren't enough pictures with her in it last time. Here she is with Mary.

Mini-comic for mini-person.

Examining the work.

Mr. Dean Haspiel talks with Mr. Spiegelman.

Mary after eating a big bowl of sassafrass.

I was sad to go, but Dino consoled me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 11/29/06

I bet you wish you had a job that you could start and then the very next time you're supposed to do it, you don't. It was Thanksgiving, man. My wife and her sister were running around the kitchen for, like two days straight. Though I knew I was useless until mashed-potatoes-making-time, sitting in a room typing about comic books could very easily have lead to pain for me. So you people had to wait a week. Stop crying. Now you get two weeks' worth of comics reviews. I even picked up a couple of things I normally wouldn't just to give you MORE. I think of you.

One of those things was Immortal Iron Fist. I'm a sucker for good kung-fu movies, but has anyone done really good kung fu comics outside of Kagan? Shang Hi doesn't count, it was a straight action thing with kung fu for flavor. I have to say I liked the prelude art better than the Aja art . . .which was nice, but just not AS good. The kung fu action didn't work here. The intrigue didn't really intrigue me. Oddly, afterward subplot about the early 20th century Iron Fist was also more interesting. Basically, the focus of the book and modern time stuff just didn't work for me. It's not bad by any means, really. I'd just rather either watch a good kung fu flick or read a better comic.

Jesus, Garth Ennis! I know that The Punisher is often unpredictable, but there wasn't much at all that went like I thought it would in this issue. Fine, fine pulp writing with some actual emotional content and some larger meaning as well. Punisher comics are still very good.

Unless they're not written by Garth Ennis. Punisher War Journal? I couldn't get through it. The art was stiff and weird (I thought I remembered liking Olivetti at some time in the past, but maybe not). I'm not opposed completly to the idea of this book, I just think the execution is pretty horribly lacking. I don't believe it at all. Bad action movie quips, silly bits, I dunno. I'm sure this will please the dorks that whine that Ennis' Punisher isn't about superheroes. This was the worst book I read this week. I regret the time spent trying to finish it.

Not that Garth Ennis can do no wrong. 7 Brothers went from being "possibly interesting premise" to "OK, I'm done with this." I guess it might make a good b movie but it's just not worth its space on a comic shelf. Too much stuff out there's better.

Someone said Grant Morrison wrote this issue of 52 by himself. This is like the third time I convinced myself to buy the damn thing. There were two good pages in the entire thing. The Ten-Eyed Men stuff was amazing and practically a blink of the comic. Jesus, what a dull, plodding thing 52 is. Why the hell are we supposed to care about any of it? Are we? Or are "we" just collecting it?

Darwyn Cooke? Yay! Jeph Loeb? Uhhhh . . .tough one. Well, Batman/The Spirit is no Cooke masterpiece, but it's pretty and it's fun. I'm sure Cooke's solo Spirit work will be better, but this was a fun little adventure. I especially like Cooke's Joker for some reason.

Wow, so far one good and one OK comic and some losers. The things I read for you people. You should pay me reparations for my eyes having to look at Punisher War Journal. Did you know I was at the dentist today? Getting a root canal started? This is dedication.

Fortunately Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. was pure pleasure. A fun and funny Marvel superhero comic with Paul Pope, Dan Clowes, and Mike Mignola pastiches? Really, really good ones? (By the way, what was the Captain Universe one? Can't figure it out.) Hot damn. Those bits made me giggle with happiness. The Captain Marvel one is better than any Captain Marvel comic book that Marvel has ever put out. (Or DC since the seventies.) And the action/straight bits? Frakkin exciting. This is fun comics.

Runaways, too. How often can you say that you really, really don't know what's going to happen next? I actually don't know if Chase is going to do it! Good to have Alphona back. What a development over the course of this book. Oh, a 6th grade girl at my school has gotten obsessed with the manga-sized collections. She comes up to me and talks about how Lucy in the Sky is her favorite, and (she's on book 2) how shocked she was that Alex was so mad about the vampire boy when he pushed her away, etc. So cute. Great book, and it that's just a testament to that.

Now to the meat of my comics-buying this week. These three were what really excited me today, and I, of course, left then until last. First off, Angry Youth Comix. I love you Johnny Ryan. I love you and your holocaust juice and your breast cancer odd couple and your Ku Klux Klan corpse jet. I'd love to see his creative process. Is it spur-of-the-moment vulgarity or is it crafted? Either way it's pure awful hilarity. I kiss it now.

It's been a while since the last Big Questions so it took me a second to remember what was going on exactly, but once I did the love washed over me again. The deceptively simple illustrations and script create a comfortable, homey next for your brain to wander around in. This simultaneously makes the disturbing bits palatable and more disturbing. Simple conversations mean much more. Anders Nilson is really making something here and it's awesome to see it happen.

YAY! New Acme Novelty Library! Comics' current great formalist continues his new epic. I could go on and on about his formal work and how frickin AMAZING it is here, but Ware here actually exposes more emotion than he'd have you believe. In Chalky White and his sister we may have his first completely sympathetic characters. Of course, Rusty himself is just a magnificent train wreck filled with pains so familiar you can't help but appreciate it. It's not fair to call this the comic of the week, as it's just working on a higher level than anything else. Brad, I love you to death, but to say that Casanova is a comic you must read or you hate comics is like saying rubbing your own tummy is the king of orgasms. I'm sure Casanova's fine for what it is, but this, this this . . .I lose words. It's the sort of comic I almost have to get a little buzz on before I can really wax about its pleasures. That looseness of tongue, the breaking down of the barriers of communication. It's too big for me to talk about otherwise. Anyway, buy it, you saps. It's worth the sacrifice of six stupid Moon Knights or whatever. Do it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 11/15/06

Hey. Weird to be back. I bought some comic books. Most of them were good. In the next paragraphs I will attempt to describe why they were or were not good. I will also attempt to do so better than the other lame-asses at this blog. I mean, seriously, Cronin. What were you thinking? I know the loss of me, Alex, Teel, and the Grammar Police was tough on you. But, really? These guys? It's like Mayberry RFD, or, more topically, the Detroit League. Here's hoping I can class this place up a bit again.

Ultimate Fantastic Four is, for once, good. Instead of issues dedicated to extrapolations of one panel of Lee and Kirby's work, we get actual OK LET'S GO FULL FORCE storytelling. The Ferry art helps. I think I missed an issue somehow . . .in fact I'm rather certain of it. But this is good writing so it doesn't matter (other than a pang of regret for missing what was most likely another good issue). Carey comes out and admits that Thanos is nothing but a crappy Darkseid rip, but, in doing so, frees him to be an INTERESTING Darkseid rip. It's really tough doing Kirby work. Kirby was a creator, not a revamper. So revisiting his work usually seems false. That isn't what he'd do, after all. You've got books out there like Godland that just make you wish that the real Kirby was doing something more interesting. But this story and Morrison's Seven Soldiers finally seem to be taking the torch from the King and doing more than a measly tribute. Good stuff.

A Paul Pope cover is enough to get me to buy most things, including, Joe Rice Is Stupid And Ugly (forthcoming from Peter David and Ethan Van Scriver). But on a great comics like The Escapists? With a Wolfmother allusion? DING DING DING! Vaughn's story continues to really interestingly straddle the divide between indie comics, superhero comics, and even romance comics, taking the best from each and somehow making the bizarre hybrid work. And work really well. Comics-within-comics usually suck even more than most comics do. But the damnedest thing I realized reading this: I not only care about the actual characters of this book, but I care about the fictional characters they're writing and drawing. Outstanding. That last page? Ugh! It hurts! Good stuff.

Sometimes I think to myself, Hey, extremely handsome, charming guy, remember how great Jack Staff was? And then I'll reply, Yeah, it was pretty awesome--just like your ass. Then I'll go on, Maybe the new color version isn't as good . . .sometimes I put off reading it. And just as I'm about to agree with myself the comic comes out and is all, "Shut up, you nitwit! I frakkin ROCK!" And it's right. Where else do you see Alan Moore eating a demon and getting high off it? Where else do Nazi superheroes get bittersweet respect? Where else is Paul damn Grist working these days? Remember how great it was in the black and white days? It's just as good--maybe better.

For some reason, I got White Tiger. I guess I wondered what this supposed great children's author would do. Well, she's not Lemony Snicket, so I'm not exactly familiar with her work. But if it's anything like this, I won't be reading it to any of my students. Jesus Christ, what a lame comic. OK, you've got this Latina former FBI agent who inherits her uncles magic kung fu medallions. She's fighting a Cobra dude, some Yakuza and Russian mafia. And she's got a pretty good costume. This should be easy. It isn't. We get forced jokes, a photo-realistic tribute to one of Manhattan's crappier diners, uninteresting flashbacks, and I'm really left wondering who this book is written for. It isn't for Pierce's audience or for "fresh female readers" as its too drenched in nerd puzzle pieces. It isn't for superhero nerds (other than completists) because it's doing nothing that a hundred other crappy superhero books haven't done. It's a nice David Mack cover, yeah . . .but everything else from the hum-drum beginning to the weird appearance of Spider-man just reeks with "second-rate hackery." That three dollars could have fed some homeless dude, or at least helped him buy some hooch.

I also got the first Popeye trade from Fantagraphics. God, it's beautiful. When corporate comics are dominated by utter hack artists (check out crossovers and 52s and miniseries and just about anything not drawn by Frank Quitely for examples), it's almost painful to look at how EASY it can be to be great. Segar frakking KILLED. Can't wait to get into this.

I'd like to conclude this re-introductory edition of the Joe Rice Media Review with a letter.

Dear Absolute New Frontier,

Baby, have I told you how beautiful you are? I mean, I know I have. I know a lot of people have. But I want to say it again. You're beautiful. God, you really are. When I hold you in my arms, I know parts of me that are asleep without you. You make me forget the troubles of my day . . .or, even better, enjoy them. You remind me what life is really about. I love you baby. I love you so much. Tonight, I'm going to cover the bed with rose petals--I know you like rose petals. I'm going to rub some oil on your beautiful casing. I'll rub it in deep, baby. Maybe I'll nibble at your corners. I know you like that. I do, too. We'll lay there together, exploring each other as only two in love can. I'll kiss you. I'll make gentle, caring love to you. You'll tweak my anus a bit. Just a bit. It will be beautiful, baby. But not as beautiful as you are. I love you. Come to me.


Joe Rice

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cookies, Ice Cream, Girls and Comics

Who says kids, women, and any combination thereof don't read comics? I'll tell you who: liars and fools. Don't be either one! Check out the latest Rocketship Party with Raina Telgemeier and Abby Denson!


Just TRY and deal with this cuteness.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 11/9/06

Couple weeks' worth of comics, and some damn fine stuff in there. Gotta meet the old lady in a bit and I feel like I'm coming down with something. So forgive me if I'm brief. Or if I ramble. We'll see what the Emergen-C/Airborne combo cocktail does to me.

I think I missed an issue of Apocalypse Nerd. Not much made sense this issue, and that doesn't feel like Bagge. Dunno if that was the reason, but I didn't enjoy it at all. I'd much rather have more Hate.

I swear to almighty Kirby and Shulz, if you're not doing everything you can do to get your hands on Mouse Guard immediately, then you hate comics and should go read the backs of baseball cards or something. The penultimate issue frakkin ROCKED. Full of action and adventure, and the old-style book-thing in the middle was awesome. These are the baddest mice ever. You folks ARE reading this, right? It's not even indie snob stuff for you to hate. It's frakkin beauty.

Local had a nice one-off story. It's about Megan's younger male cousin in Arizona. You learn a lot about him with very little said . . .it's pretty impressive character work. Especially as he's hardly a cardboard cutout. Three dimensions in one issue. Makes it all look easy. Even though I'd be annoyed by the kid in real life, the book made me feel for him. That's even more impressive, as I hate all children.

I have a gripe about Other Side. If you're (Dave McCraig in specific) going to go for a semi-realistic, washed color scheme, then why can't we have Vietnamese people that don't look (coloring-wise) like the damn Yellow Claw in a 50s book? It was honestly distracting from the beautiful Cameron Stewart art. Anyway, always a sucker for a good war story, and this one's got more to say than most. And that art! Woo. Just fix the coloring guys.

The excitement of a good heist movie is pretty tricky to pull off. Most heist movies blow. And translating it to another medium is even harder. The pacing, the beats, they have to work just so. But Ed Brubaker is doing it in Criminal. This might be his tightest work since Sleeper. It's always a pleasure to see a creator work on something that's very clearly "his." Good character moments, and the unsurprising double-cross was handled surprisingly, which is nice. Good comics.

I never want to know how much X-Men outsells American Splendor. It is the number of stupid. One book with Pekar writing and illustrated by Dean, Ty the Guy, Rick Geary and more. Goddam is it good reading, too. Satisfying shorts, interesting thoughts, good commentary, and, yes, as the cover blurb from Publisher's Weekly says, Pekar finding "exceptional in the everyday" in a very mature way. Are any of you internet folks buying this? Sigh.

Alex put Stan Lee Meets Doctor Strange with my books and it was cute, I guess.

I wasn't expecting much out of Fantastic Four: The End. None of the End books have been very interesting outside of The Punisher. And although there's no doubt Davis is an amazing artist, I've just never cared about his work all that much. See, it's good even though I don't like it. But this was interesting. It's way-out sci-fi FF, which is how they work best. With this and the Godwar stuff in Ultimate FF (have I missed an issue of that?) it's a good FF time.

January's employer in Ex Machina shouldn't have been as surprising to me as it was. But it worked very well. The pot threads and the firefighter threads come together nicely in a book full of people, rather than the types that fill most rags with superpowers. And, boy, does Tony Harris keep getting better. Wow.

Agents of Atlas is a fun book. I think we've solidly established that. This issue was a bit less so, but still a great adventure book. Servicable, clear art and a fast-paced story full of fun and ideas. The craft of comic making is taken seriously, even when the subjects aren't so much. I like.

I've never been a Tim Sale admirer. Er, of his work, I mean. But I do love me some Darwyn Cooke. I dunno if it was this pairing or what, but I really enjoyed Superman Confidential. And who cares about continuity when you get a good story? Danger, nice character work, new ideas, and a thankfully unByrned Clark Kent. It hits all the bases and makes me want more. Now there's two good Superman books.

Where's Chris Sprouse been? I loved him on the Bierbaums Legionaires. He was amazing on Tom Strong. And he's been poofed for a while. But lo and behold, we get him AND Ennis on a kickass Midnighter book. It hits some beats you expect it to, and then some more you don't. It's super-violent, but it feels right. And that last page is a helluva twist. (Clearly, sensitive nerds, Ennis doesn't hate superheroes, he just hates terrible writing.)

Tales Designed to Thrizzle is a masterpiece on every page. If you don't agree you're stupid. Sorry. Next time don't be retarded.

whew gasp gasp that was last week gasp gasp moving on gasp gasp

I got Bullet Points. Mostly for the Edwards art. The old nerd in me likes what-if stories like this. It's kinda cool. The art isn't as good as Edwards' Question. Not yet, at least. Fun to see Parker as a delinquint. I dunno. It's OK.

DMZ took more turns I didn't expect. God bless you Brian Wood. Every time I think I have this book figured out, I don't. Matt goes undercover working for a company, Trustwell, contracted to rebuild parts of Manhattan. Terrorists, corruption, and even some boobies for the dopes among us. Good stuff. Getting used to Burchielli's work slowly but surely.

Speaking of unexpected twists, Eternals had a few. And I liked them. Romita's art is beautiful, of course, and Gaiman's having good fun here. Honestly, I can enjoy this more than a lot of his Sandman, even though the latter is clearly better. Some twists on the mythology here and I'm excited for the end. Got no idea how it's going to go and who exactly is in the right here.

Wonderful art, witty writing, a cracking story . . .Vaughn's Dr. Strange is top notch. Everyone gets great moments. Everyone gets to be a person (again, Vaughn's good at that). There's no reason anyone can give me that they're not buying this book. Is there?

I got Stormwatch for the Mahnke art. I won't be getting it again. A cliched "get a team together" issue with a few nice moments, but not enough to drown out the sheer averageness of the rest. A great big "eh" is a horrible sign.

You always know that Ennis' Punisher is going to pull it off in the end, but the beauty is in the telling. That's why I never get the upset-over-spoilers thing. You KNOW what's going to happen. The what is never important. The how is. The craft, the art of the storytelling. That's why I read. Not the silly plot details. Interchangable. It's the telling. And Ennis is telling it well.

Goddam you Grant Morrison. I can't deal with this rollercoaster of your Batman run. I love an issue and "eh" an issue. Back and forth. This was a great one. Maybe it's like Star Trek movies, only the even numbers are good. I read somewhere that the fill-ins start next issue. I'll be gone for those, I believe. But this was a hell of a capper for the first arc. I know more is coming, and I can't wait. (Ooops, just saw that it's a guest artist, not writer. That's extremely welcome.) This still isn't Seven Soldiers good, but it's fun superhero comics. Very fun. SO CONFOUNDING!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Readings of Seven Soldiers #1

I'm gonna use this post as an editable, updatable compilation of links to various readings of Grant Morrison's latest major work. I may even have a thought or two of my own eventually.

An interesting take from Comic Book Resources' forums.

Jog's initial mini-review. UPDATE!!! His more in-depth review.

Patrick's Thoughts on Seven Soldiers.

Marc Singer masters the beast that is Seven Soldiers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 10/26/06

Comics comics comics comics! They are great when they are great. Sometimes they are. Other times they are not. It is a secret mystery how to tell! I will let you know the mystery sometime but not now! Because it is my secret.

I bought five comic books this week. Four of them were in some way good. One of them was not. Which one was not? New Avengers. I stopped buying this one a few issues back because, well, it was better than superhero comics usually are, but it wasn't good enough to spend money on. I bought this one because Ferry was drawing it and he is awesome. So how do they use this incredibly dynamic artist? Well, a short battle, yes, but LOTS OF TALKING! THERE IS A DINNER! PEOPLE SAY THINGS! INTIMATIONS ARE MADE! I don't mind talky-comics when it's called for, really. But using Pascual Ferry for talky comics is like using me for an ugliness model: we're just not good at it.

Daredevil was interesting. And I mean interesting both in that, yes, the story was interesting, but reading it was interesting in another way. You basically have a very pulpy "man searching for woman he barely knows in an unknown land" story but the guy is wearing red tights. It looks silly sometimes, and not in a way that's trying to look silly. It's no fault of the writer or the artist, who both are doing great work. It's just . . .in certain environments, guys in red bodysuits look silly. Tombstone was effective for what I must assume is the first time ever. Good book . . .just kind of standing on the border of how far a tights book can go.

Speaking of tights and borders, let's talk The Boys. It can be frustrating. There are always the kind of moments Ennis-haters use to talk shit in each issue, and even when they're well done (as in the "CHANGE!" scene and its implications) you almost feel like "stop giving them ammo, Garth!" And sometimes they're just not working, like the scene with Butcher and whassername. But there are also great, great, really working scenes in this . . .Homelander's confrontation with A-Train, and Hughie's blow-up at Butcher even moreso. Hughie is the integral part that will make or break the greatness of this book. He'll either be a pseudo-everyman like Kev or a true outsider "What the f*ck?" guy that this story needs. I'm still hoping for the latter and this issue points towards it.

Nextwave was a good issue. The last page, perhaps labored and late, was well-deserved. I'm actually glad this series has a known endpoint. I wish more did. Future minis will be very welcome. Beginnings and endings, what concepts.

Seven Soldiers. I think he did it. I think he pulled it off. It's hard to tell. This deserves re-readings, both just for this book and for the mega-series as a whole. Williams deserves laud and honor. But don't let his technical brilliance overshadow Morrison's, and don't let either's overshadow the goddam great work this was. It works "on multiple levels" as the cliche goes. Honestly I want more of everything. But how could any of this be used by anyone but Morrison? He's got faith in the DCU. But I don't. Klarion's set to appear in Robin. Can that possibly go well? I dunno. Here's hoping Grant's spell works. He's talking to Zor in this issue, but he's also talking to us, and he's also talking to the DCU I think. Many hands, many creators, but remade. Let's make it work this time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 10/18/06

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Didn't have time to write one of these in a while. I am very sorry. DO NOT HATE ME THOUGH! Because I write again now! I didn't get a whole lot of comics today, but by damn were most of them really good. Oh, hey, there's last week's comics. Might as well write them up, too!

I was not a regular reader of Dorkin its heyday. Eastern Kentucky was crap for carrying any comics without guys in tights hitting each other. So I think the latest issue may be my first. But it's certainly not my last. It's a gag-filled issue with actual humor found. It's got some "adult" content (less than Angry Youth, of course) but it's well worth most folks' three bucks. Very funny.

I got Pirates of Coney Island because I thought it might be a fun local-ish book. Oh, man. This was horrible. If there's anyone still out there that thinks I hate all superhero books and love everything else, let this book be an example. Completely terrible. The art is like, "What if Jaime Hewlett, instead of being awesome, really was awful! And couldn't tell a coherent story!" We have tired punk rock cliches stabbing each other's eyes out, spider-kissing, a scary death car, and BOY DO I NOT CARE. Avoid, folks.

If you want a comic set in a recognizable New York, make it DMZ. Odd that a comic set in a near-future American civil war in which Manhattan is a, well, DMZ, would be so much more recognizable than most comics that pretend to really know what NY is about. It's the feeling of the place and its inhabitants that Wood knows so well. This issue also features art/design by Mr. Wood and it's off the charts. Really, really recommended as the main character's news pieces and notes about Manhattan are displayed. Comments on past issues and perhaps future developments abound.

I knew something bad had to happen in The Escapists. It couldn't just be lollipops and awesome writing. But the "bad thing" feels real, feels legitimately threatening, and makes for some good reading. The characters' relationships also move in real/interesting ways that you wouldn't necessarily predict. Some of the jokes are a little to "in" for me, but I guess they'd kind of have to be. Very good mix of the super and the real in comics.

The Punisher is really good comics.

I almost forgot about 7 Brothers. John Woo's concept, Garth Ennis writing, beautiful cover, nice art inside . . .and it's interesting. Supposedly Chinese explorers secretly traversed the world six hundred years ago or so. I'm guessing the seven men of various racial backgrounds gathered by crazy kung-fu girl are descendents of explorer-bastards. They all seem to have a power, but more in the "7 Chinese Brother" style than Superman and company. It's a great set-up and I'm interested.

I got this week's 52 for the Bulleteer and Ambush Bug bits. They're pretty small. This book is pretty stupid and packed to the gills with poorly-defined characters who do weird things slowly. I guess the Bug was pretty funny. eh.

Runaways. .a great cross between a nice wrap-up and creepy possible forshadowing. God, this is really good young superhero comics. Gonna see if some of the kids at school can get into this. You all know it's good, though, right? That it's the comics that people seem to think Teen Titans or the X-Men were. Finally fully realized, here they are. And they're worth the wait.

I'm glad GI Joe Declassified is over so I can stop buying it and not enjoying it.

This week Grant Morrison's two relaunched Wildstorm titles hit the stands. ("Hit the stands" is a stupid phrase. I hate myself.) Interviews and early talk made them sound uncharacteristic for recent Morrison: Authority as "superheroes in the real world" and Wildcats as "adult superheroes." I was weary. And Jim Lee on the Wildcats art made me a bit wearier. Stupid me. I should have realized that, with Morrison, the phrase to add onto the quoted bits there was "done right." And those ideas aren't subtext, they are the text of the book. Its all there in the Wildcats dialogue: "But all these widescreen battles and public displays of stupidity: it's vulgar and frightening. Adolescent. How would truly adult superheroes behave?" I look forward to this. Yes, there's sex and violence, but they don't read as gratuitous. And they don't class with the villains and the action and the heroics. It's an interesting concept that's been done wrong a million times. How to age the superhero past adolescence. It's a ride I'm interested in.

The Authorty also seems to literally be taking the "superheroes in the real world" idea. The issue is about a government agent looking into a downed sub and, well, SPOILER, finding the Authority's carrier in the ocean. By all accounts, the world is basically our own, not a superhero universe one. The excitement comes from the muted tones and realistic Ha art being soon challenged by this larger-than-life four-color characters. It's the kind of story I'd trust to few writers. Morrison is one of them. Show 'em, Grant. Show those hacks what "adult" and "real world" really mean.