Sunday, August 26, 2012

A review of Mark Millar's "The Ultimates"

Mark Millar's The Ultimates is an alternate retelling of the origin of Marvel Comics' Avengers team. The main concept behind it and other "Ultimate" Marvel titles, was that newbie comic readers could get into Marvel, and not have to worry about not knowing all of the details of a certain title's mythos. It was similar to   a previous series, Heroes Reborn, but was actually successful, and not an epic failure like that earlier venture. This series, like I said before, was supposed to retell the origin of the Avengers, and update it for a modern audience. It was pretty good, but was annoyingly snarky and meanspirited at points, and much of the hip, 2000's-y stuff that was added seemed cheesy and forced.

The characters of Giant Man, The Wasp, Nick Fury, Captain America, and the Hulk were fleshed out and realistic, but a lot of the bits with Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, and Thor skirted the edges of self parody.The dialogue was often too hip for its own good, but had its moments. Millar's very good at handling action packed events, and this was no exception, with the plot moving along at a brisk clip. It was refreshing, after reading a lot of talky DC comics events, where the fights scenes and action sequences weren't as emphasized as the plot exposition, to read the well written battles that fill this book. Bryan Hitch's art for this series reminded me vaguely of J.G. Jones, which is a good thing, and carried the weaker sections of the book.

Overall, I thought it was great fun, and a good jumping on point for the Avengers mythos in general, and if you liked the Avengers movie, chances are you'll like The Ultimates.

Grade: B

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Year of the Beasts

Year of the Beasts

I read this book during the summer and I peeked through it. I even read the flap. It seemed interesting. So I checked it out. I read the book and I was utterly confused. The book is manga styled drawings. However, the drawings didn't match with the story. And the plot didn't seem well together. I mean, it's about a girl who looses out to the guy she loves by her little sister and wants to find love. That's it. But the drawing doesn't match with the story. Overall, I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dead To You By Lisa McMann

Abducted as a young boy, Ethan finally is reunited with his family. He returns to his small town with a warm welcome from his family and friends.  Ethan tries to go back to the life that he cannot remember. Cami, his old best friend that was heartbroken when he left. Gracie, the "replacement" child, that his parents has when he left.  Blake, the four-year old brother that he left behind, now thirteen, is angry because when Ethan left he left behind a broken family. Can Ethan remember and sew everything together without making everything fall apart in the process?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bat-Quest CONCLUSION: "Batman Incorporated: Volume 1"

Well, it looks like I've reached the end of my wild, weird, and wonderful journey through Grant Morrison's gonzo take on Batman, but I can't start celebrating yet! Is still have one more book to review. Batman Inc. is the final in print volume of the Bat-Quest, and boy was it crazy. In this one, Batman sets up an organization of global Bat-Agents who are sworn to fight crime in their respective areas. Unfortunately, a mysterious villain had the same idea, and had set up its own organization of mind controlled assassins called Leviathan. This book was more of a traditional adventure than its predecessor, but turned from a story of global Bat-Antics, to a wacky international spy mystery.

While Leviathan's plots didn't make sense half the time, I realized that they weren't supposed to, because their main master planner, a sort of elderly Blofeld called Dr. Dedalus was suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease. This had potential to be an interesting concept, but wasn't explained enough to be interesting, but the crazy global villains including the Japanese mass murderer Lord Death Man were morbidly wacky, and made up for how incomprehensible Dedalus' plots were. I liked how Morrison brought back Batwoman as a supporting character, though, and the 1980's British superteam Morrison creates is cool, but unexplored. Although, the stuff with Leviathan's agents were gory and frightening, and I still don't understand what SPYRAL was.

There were so many zany concepts introduced in this volume that it provided for entertaining reading throughout, though, but the cliffhanger ending was cheap. Yanick Paquette's art was the best of the collection, and the worst was the art in the arc that takes place in the internet. Look out for Bat-Quest Conclusion to the Conclusion, though, that will review Batman Inc: Volume 2 and finally end this epic saga. Overall,  an incomplete, but rousing conclusion to a great run.

Grade: A

Bat-Quest Part 9: "Batman and Robin Must Die!"

In this penultimate volume of the Bat-Quest, Dr. Hurt (dunh-dunh-DUNH!) from Batman R.I.P. returns and does his usual "I am the Devil you will die" schtick, and the Joker and Batman team up and kick his behind into next week. In this volume, it was basically a re-run of  R.I.P., but isn't done as well. Dr. Hurt cackles and plots like usual, but he wears out his welcome because the demonic air of mystery around him that was created in R.I.P. has all but dissipated. The horrifying Professor Pyg from Reborn returns, and is even scarier than before. He's a cautionary tale about the dangers of psychotropic drugs.

The scenes with a half-insane Commissioner Gordon (don't ask) are genuinely unsettling, but none of the scenes with the Joker are, ironically. The way Dr. Hurt gets his tush handed to him is spectacularly campy, but isn't as cathartic as how he was defeated the first time. The Joker comes back, but isn't really funny enough to be fun to read, but not crazy enough to be scary. The last issue in the volume is a prelude to the Batman Inc. plot, so it's really just setup. Remember how I said I liked Frazer Irving in my last Batman review? 

Well I still do, but only in small amounts. A large chunk of the first arc is drawn by him, so his art loses its appeal. Overall, a spooky, but fun rollercoaster ride.  

Grade: B

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A review of "Planesrunner" by Ian McDonald

Taking a small break from my Batman odyssey, I read Ian McDonald's Planesrunner. It's about a nerdy Londoner named Everett Singh who comes into possession of a computer program that allows him to travel between parallel earths. He ends up getting stranded on one of these earths, and comedic hi-jinks and action scenes involving  large airships ensue.  I was genuinely impressed by the cosmic creativity of this work, but was also astounded by how down to earth the author kept it. Everett keeps it grounded the entire time, providing his own what-the-heck-is-going-on, fish out of water perspective on the event.

Everett's experiences in the story and his perspective on them is a little like if Marcus, from Little Brother was dropped into a Phillip Reeve novel, which is quite entertaining to read. The beginning is slow, though and the dialogue is clunky at times. Some things, like his possession of Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle-esque "god sight" that allows him to weave together a map of the parallel earths seems a little contrived, and the editor could have done a better job localizing the exclusively British references.The flashes of brilliance in this book  are stunning, though, and they occur more often than not. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes Doctor Who, or well characterized science fiction.

Grade: B+