Thursday, June 19, 2008

Issue #20: For the Week of Wednesday, June 18, 2008: Final Secret Crisis Invasion, I Hope!

Well, this is a rare week for me, when no comic book titles on my pull list are published. And like I've done for past issues when either nothing came out on my pull list, or I had to wait until the next week for payday, I'll write about a topic that's on my mind about comic books.
This week I'll share my thoughts, again, about "event" comics, which DC and Marvel have been publishing for several years.
I'm not reading either Secret Invasion or Final Crisis, and I'm not picking up DC's latest weekly title Trinity. To be honest I'm burned out on "event" series, plus they don't fit into my comic book buying budget. The only tie-in series I will be reading will be DC's Legion of 3 Worlds, because I am such a fan of the Legion.
To me, Marvel and DC have burned out the concept of "event" mini-series. What made them so special and exciting in the past was that they were rare. But now it seems that both publishers are trying to squeeze as much as they can out of a smaller market, compared to past decades. They have had mixed results with past events. House of M and Countdown were mediocre, except for the Ray Palmer story in later issues of Countdown. Infinite Crisis, while good, doesn't come up to the level of the classic Crisis of Infinite Earths.
Countdown, which I did not finish collecting the final issues, was not as good a read as 52. The only storyline that interested me was when Ray Palmer was found, and what happened to his world afterward. The title also seemed to obscure other mini event series on some of DC's other titles, especially the acclaimed Sinestro War Corps (which, for budget reasons I did not read).
What I would like for DC and Marvel to do, at least for the next few years, is steer away from the company wide "event" comics, with innumerable tie-in series, and concentrate on big storylines, or "mini-events" with key titles, like DC did with Green Lantern and Marvel did with the Hulk. Do stories that have a grand scope that build up interest in several main characters. Next year, put the focus on other characters in the same way. Build up reader interest in characters that have long and fondly remembered histories for both companies, without squeezing every last dollar out of a readership that is not as big as it was in the past.
Also, use their alternative imprints to expand into other genres that would interest comic book readers who would not read super hero comics if given a million dollars. Expand the market. Right now, Marvel and DC seem very short-term oriented, trying to please the fans they already have, at the expense of growing the industry. Other publishers are filling that need, but it would be nice to see more of it from the big two. Johan Hex is a nice example from DC.
Final Crisis? I hope so.

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Issue #19: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Invincible #50 (Image)
Action Comics #866 (DC)

This was a small week for comic books, but definitely not a disappointing one. The long anticipated issue fifty of Invincible came out, and Action Comics looks like it is continuing its string of excellent storylines.

Invincible #50 (Image) * * * * *
Issue fifty finally came out. Invincible's confrontation with Cecil Steadman, set up at the conclusion of issue 49, takes place. Invincible's career will be very different from now on, as well as Mark's personal life, especially in regards to Eve. In the back are two short stories, At Long Last -- The Secret Origin of Cecil Steadman! and Science Dog. The latter is Mark's favorite comic book super hero. All three stories are great reads. In Cecil's origin story we see how he got the motivation for his actions in defence of the USA. Even though the immediate confrontation between Invincible and Cecil is resolved, I'm sure this is not the last word between the two. And the back cover is the cover to issue 51, drawn by Jim Lee, showing Invincible and his half-brother Oliver. I can't wait until the next issue is published. Creator and writer Robert Kirkman always leaves me wanting more.

Action Comics #866 (DC) * * * * *
This issue is the first part of a story involving Brainiac, hence the title, Brainiac part I. It begins on Krypton, with Zod and Ursa leading the defense of Krypton against an attack by Krypton. Does that sound familiar, silver age Superman readers? The Krypton part of the issue brings aspects of the silver age Brainiac continuity to modern readers with a little updating. It combines elements of the green skinned villain and the "living metal" version. Cat Grant returns to the Daily Planet staff. It's great to see plot elements involving some of the supporting cast. I've thought lately that had been missing in recent years. That was one aspect of Superman comics I enjoyed in the '90's, during the numbered triangle days, when the Superman titles each month advanced threads of a common story. Gary Frank's fantastic art rejoins Geoff Johns excellent writing and characterization. It looks like Superman is facing another threat that will challenge his powers.

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, June 25, 2008:
Fantastic Four #558 (Marvel)
Superman #677 (DC)

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Issue # 18: Comic Books For The Week of Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (Marvel)
Joe Kubert's Tor #2 (of 6) (DC)
Ultimate Origin #1 (Marvel)
Noble Causes #34 (Image)
Justice Society of America #16 (DC)

This week I picked up two issues of titles that I had dropped sometime ago. I had dropped Astonishing X-Men to tighten my comics buying budget, and while Ultimate Origins is just beginning Ihad not picked up Ultimates 3 for the same reason. I was not disappointed. It made for another great week for reading comic books.

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (Marvel) * * * * *
This over-sized issue, hence the title, wraps up Joss Whedon's and John Cassaday's run on the title and the conclusion of their storyline. Even though I had not read it for a while, I could not resist reading the end of the story. Plus, any reason to look at John Cassaday's art is a good reason. The first page was a recap page and made it easy to jump into the story. Also, I had read the early issues of this particular story so it was easy to hop on board. This issue also boasted the entire Marvel cast of super heroes. Seeing John Cassaday's version of the Fantastic Four I couldn't help but think of the similarities between the FF and The Four from Planetary, Cassaday's series with Warren Ellis. Reed certainly looked like Dr. Dowling, being the inspiration to the Planetary villain. Marvel's heroes band together because of the threat to Earth, and the neutralizing of the threat is both exhilarating, and tragic, 'Nuff Said.

Joe Kubert's Tor #2 (of 6) (DC) * * * * *
This issue is even better than the first. If you want a comic book that serves as a textbook on how to draw comics and tell a story this is one of those series to put on your list. After all, Joe Kubert began his career at twelve or thirteen in the late 1930's - early 1940's and has been working ever since. He's forgotten more about how to create comic books than a lot of other crators and fans will ever know. In a flashback sequence we see the origin of his exile that was hinted at in the first issue. This issue also has its share of prehistoric adventure, and the creatures are well drawn and frightening. If the title has Joe Kubert's name at the top I'm grabbing it.

Ultimate Origins #1 (Marvel) * * * * *
Being written by Brian Michael Bendis is one reason this title grabbed my interest. Another reason is that this series explores the dark secrets of the origins of the Ultimate Universe's super-soldier programs. Even though I did not pick up Ultimates 3 I had to pick up this series for that reason. After a beginning scene in modern times we are led to a flashback to WW II, and we even meet a young Nick Fury. This title is definetly going on my pull list.

Noble Causes #34 (Image) * * * * *
This is the third issue for Noble Causes after a short hiatus, and picking up the characters five years later is certainly adding interest to a title that wasn't broken. The Nobles find a unique solution to Frost's plight, the infiltrator continues the intrique in the Noble's camp, and the ending is a shocker. I can't wait until the next issue.

Justice Society of America #16 (DC) * * * *
We learn Gog's origin and see him act like a benevolent god. After the events of Kingdom Come we still have to wonder if he is really like he is acting or are there any ulterior motives to his actions. There are not any super battles but lots of character moments. And a character undergoes a remarkable transformation.

Scheduled comic books for the week of Wednesday, June 11, 2008:
Action Comics #866 (DC)
Invincible #50 (Image) Finally, the long-awaited 50th issue, especially for me. I can't wait to read Robert Kirkman's promised big changes for Invincible. They promise to ba whoppers.



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