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From the Hoss’ Mouth 10/11/06

An ok week to be a comic book fan.  Some titles managed to turn themselves around while others just completely fell apart.  Who wins? Who loses? It’s a deathmatch, nerd style, as 2 books enter….1 book leaves.  Prepare yourselves for comic review armageddon!!!!

But enough hype, this week I review Civil War: Frontline, Tales of the Unexpected, Thunderbolts, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and Worldstorm.

Full Reviews:

Civil War Frontline #7
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Ramon Bachs, Steve Lieber, Lee Weeks, & Eduardo Barreto

What a notable turn around this book has had this week.  The three main arcs all managed to squeeze in tons of good story and dialogue.  It only took 7 issues to accomplish it too.  That being said, I highly enjoyed Frontline this week.  I feel that they’ve finally got their footing and with this issue have put forth the most effort towards the “man on the street” perspective that was supposed to be prevalent all along.  Also oddly enough, this book has somehow managed to gain a sense of fairness about it.  Though not blatantly correcting the wrongs laid upon the pro-registration side the issue does manage to no longer directly vilify them either; all the while providing a very intriguing mysterious “third component” that I just know some of you have been waiting for.

“Embedded” is all dialogue.  A telephone conversation between Robbie Roberston and Ben Urich is one third the story while Sally Floyd’s interrogation continues in the second act.  Ben’s plot just so happens to be occurring during Speedball’s march to Congress which provides a nice link between both last issues’s “Accused” plot as well as this current issue’s.  What’s special here is the interplay between Ben and Robbie as Ben’s Goblin story drops and all hell breaks loose, well except for Jonah he’s noticeably absent.  Sally’s story goes the farthest towards providing a human face for the Pro-Reg side in the form of Congressman Sykes.  Though he doesn’t make any progress towards making the Registration Act seem sane, he does go a long way towards showing that not everyone involved with the act has lost their sense of morality or values.  The final segment I won’t discuss here but I think most will find it to be the most intriguing of all. Art chores are average, backgrounds are bland as well as characters and I don’t think you’ll find anyone who can draw a worse She-Hulk.

“The Accused” makes up the second section of the book and it’s great.  It’s almost entirely a Speedball monologue that traces his thoughts as he lay dying.  A lot of varied topics are briefly discussed such as his family, the New Warriors, his powers, and Stamford all the while keeping the frenetic rushed pace going as the ambulance desperately races to the hospital.  There’s also not one but two eyebrow raising twists towards the end, one of which is entirely predictable and the other one….well we’ll just have to wait until next issue to really find out what Jenkins is getting at.  Lieber is one notch above Bachs in art.

“Sleeper Cell” caught me completely off guard.  This story went in an entirely different direction than I would have imagined and ties right back into “Embedded” providing a nice sense of continuity in the book.  This story is where the action is, its brief just like the other two but it’s also the story that will garner most of your attention.  It also possesses the best art in the whole book.

Overall I’m quite pleased with Jenkins latest effort here.  He’s managed to make all three main components interesting, link them, and then tease away with a bevy of new details that I’m sure will all become very important to the overall CW story.  Lastly, he’s also managed to clean up the one-sided leanings of the book, it’s not perfect but it’s much improved.  The last section remains entirely passable.

Verdict: Highly recommended.  The book has finally found its stride and become worth the investment in previous issues.

Quick Reviews:

Tales of the Unexpected: Featuring the Spectre #1: I was immediately drawn to this book with its awesome Mike Mignola cover.  The story itself is an overall continuation of the new Spectre, Crispus Allen’s story as DC strives to find a place for him in their “Brave New World”.  The setting is a slum nest of an apartment complex where the slum lord has just been murdered.  The whole building’s full of suspects as said slum lord wasn’t a very nice man.  Crispus struggles to contain the Spirit of Vengeance and get to the bottom of all the devious workings of the tenants but as he finds out, God’s wrath is not anything that can be easily contained.  The backup story with Dr. 13 lacks the appeal of the Spectre fest but it’s still fun, particularly the self-serving prologue.  Lapham’s pencils for the Spectre are awesome and fit the grungy gritty feel of the story very well.  Chiang’s work on the Dr. 13 story is good too, but I find the sharp contrast in art as well as story styles to be a bit jarring.

Verdict: Got a thing for ironic punishment or the struggle between justice and vengeance.  Then this is a great book for you.  Actually you don’t have to really enjoy either of those things to like this story.  It’s just all around good.

Thunderbolts #107: Time to jump in while the jumping’s good and there’s no better time than now.  This story has it all: action, betrayal, drama, more betrayal, epic struggles, and finally betrayal. Ha! Seriously the twists and turns in this one will have you shaking your head.  There’s a whole lot of plot here and even with all the musings of allegiances and motives you’ll find every action to be portrayed very clearly even the ones where you have no idea what’s going on.  Also this book is a villain smorgasbord as the new recruits are put to use in stopping the worldwide struggle.  The only flaw I had with the book is that I think that throwing such an ambitious arc headfirst into Civil War may be a bit too much, especially with all the continuity repercussions, but I give Nicieza credit for trying as he does succeed in writing a great story.  Pencil works are neat, clean, exciting, and all around great.  Grummet handles action very well and the large scale battle scenes are very good.

Verdict: A fantastic book with enough of everything to please everyone.  Get on now before the team changes.

Green Arrow #67: I normally dislike Ollie, but for some reason I enjoyed this book.  I also normally dislike Winnick but again for some reason I enjoyed this book.  That reason’s name is Natas.  The newest assassin/teacher on the scene is one cool and creepy guy.  He encompasses exactly everything you’d want in this type of character.  He’s cold, merciless, spiteful, and above all interesting.  The other supporting characters, Mia and Connor provide the narration.  Now for some of you who read this book, I’m sure the age old question will continue to come up “does Winnick have some sort of agenda?”. Perhaps, perhaps not, it’s neither here nor there and the part where one could make that claim is brief although forced.  Either way Winnick’s still managed to impress me with this issue.  I also really enjoyed the art.  McDaniel has…oh I guess I’d call it a sort of block style with strong straight lines.  It doesn’t stand out but I do find that it fits the story very well.

Verdict: Not overly important but still a very fun read if for nothing other than to watch Ollie struggle to keep up with Natas.

This week’s loser(s):

Martian Manhunter #3: Well this issue proves it.  DC will be ruining J’onn’s character.  They’ve managed to strip away everything that set him apart from every other hero in the DCU.  The Manhunter was a character who wasn’t blessed with his gifts, he was his gifts.  Having powers wasn’t anything special where he came from they were a way of life, part of the rich tapestry of the Martian society.  J’onn understood his powers and the consequential responsibility better than any other hero in the DCU.  He was a sane, rational being who naturally possessed the ability to always pick the right path and to see any difficulty for what it really was without being broken down.  At the same time this superior foresight kept him apart from the other heroes; and what made him special, namely his lack of most of humanity’s flaws, is now being ripped away.  They’ve made him just like everyone else.  J’onn was an anchor not just for the JLA but for all the DCU.  Now he’s just a green skin spinached-chin Superman.

Verdict: I once thought that if Superheroes were real, the Manhunter would be the only one I’d want watching over me.  Now I’ve got to find a new hero.

World Storm #1: I was duped!  Duped I say!  When examining this issue in the store I quickly breezed through the first couple of pages.  It looked to be a decent intro story for Stormwatch.  When I got home though I realized it’s just a mini story as is the end story for Tranquility.  The rest of the book is just advertisements for upcoming Wildstorm titles.  So that means I just paid $2.99 to be advertised to. Gah?!?. The mini stories themselves are ok, but for a preview book I’m thinking the price should be more along the lines of a $1.00.

Verdict: Pick book up, read the 2 sentence blurb about any WS books that may interest you.  Put book back on shelf. BAM! I just saved you $2.99.

There’re only so many slogans that involve the words House or Horse:

There were some really great titles this week.  I highly enjoyed Uncanny (I Love Warpath), 52 (It’s a Black Adam super issue), Gen 13 (Nice first issue, another Simone winner), Annihilation (better than CW? I think so), and New X-Men (Does Nimrod really have to announce every action he takes?).  Firestorm, Legends of the Dark Knight, and Green Lantern Corps all proved mediocre.  Wolverine Origins had an ok story, but the art continues to kill me.


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