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From the Hoss’ Mouth 10/18/06

Another day another dollar…wait a second…I don’t get paid for this.  Well well it looks like my loss is your gain.  Let the free comic reviews rain down upon you and wash away the tripe of mediocrity.  So sayeth the Hoss.

This week’s racks show promise and some choice selections are available.  X-Factor, Runaways, Birds of Prey, Ghost Rider, and the new Wildcats all find some space in this column.

Full Reviews:

X-Factor #12
Writer: Peter David
Art: Renato Arlem

Best book of the week….again!  Everything about this book is of the highest quality, even the recap page.  There’s no better example of David’s fine tuned ability to mix humor, drama, and action than this book.  What’s remarkable about this series is that PAD’s managed to go 12 solid issues so far with no filler stories.  A lot of writers will tend to just phone in stories between arcs or even sometimes do it right in the middle.  Fortunately for us, X-Factor takes the high ground and avoids this trap.

Like every issue before it this one begins right at the forefront of last issue’s unique twist, and yes there’s always a very solid twist in this series.  Madrox and crew are confronted by the very future their current actions will bring forth and it’s definitely not the brightest of outlooks.  At the same time the nature of the mysterious Mr. Tryp is exposed and the “fly in the ointment” dupe makes his triumphant return.

David twists and turns his way throughout the story and at no point are you able to catch up.  That’s not a bad thing though as all the added mystery and action just serves to heighten your interest.  Another solid aspect is that PAD has managed to hold the voice and tone of each and every one of his characters.  No one’s dialogue bleeds into another’s and at no point does anyone ever act outside of the range of behavior that we’d expect them to.  One last point I wish to discuss is that of Layla Miller.  Miss Deus has become entrenched as a favorite character of mine, and once I think back to my disgust over her role in House of M I have to admit that this must be some sort of miracle work on David’s part to make her not only a wonderful character but an endearing one as well.  Overall this book is simply a superbly crafted story and a wonderfully thought out arc. 

Arlem’s art on the other hand has lost my benefit of the doubt.  At this point I’d simply characterize it as abrasive.  I appreciate the novel aspects of it, but I simply can’t shake the yearning I have to see Ryan Sook and his more fleshed out designs return. 

Verdict:  A shining example of what can be accomplished outside Xavier’s mansion.  Well worth your time and investment.

Quick Reviews:

Runaways #21: Not the best issue I’ve ever read, but the unique position we find Chase in affords this book a mention.  Chase, Chase, Chase….what to make of Chase.  Well I can’t go into it without spoiling it but take my word for it, if you’ve been keeping up you’ll find this issue worth your time.  The rest of the team manages to prove their merit and in a rather sneaky fashion.  I rather enjoy the developing team dynamics as the group learns to work together; it’s been half the fun of the whole series.  Pencils are fine, nothing great but nothing bad either.

Verdict: Another nice issue in a series that for the most part has been pretty good so far.

Birds of Prey #99: The beginning of the end…or perhaps just a new beginning.  This is the issue that will shoehorn in a new member or two.  Will BoP continue to have the same dynamic…doubtful, yet nonetheless I’m excited about the new blood.  This issue brings us a sort of Huntress “coming of age” subplot, the mystery of the new “Batgirl” is tied up without any sort of real revelation though it doesn’t really matter, and one of the Birds leaves…perhaps forever.  The end’s fairly touching but doesn’t really go for any huge tear jerk moments which is nice as those who usually attempt such feats often make the dialogue a bit too sappy.  Don’t let the shoddy cover fool you; the interior art is much nicer.

Verdict: The last chance to get on before big changeups.  Also a great time to say goodbye.

Ghost Rider #4: Four issue’s in and we finally get some clarity.  Blaze’s mission is made clear and it’s huge, so big that I’m genuinely anxious.  It seems this book has a modus operandi now and as such it can get moving.  The old questions still aren’t answered yet but at least now there’s a direction.   Now if only Way can stay on track without devolving the story into mindless space-filling subplots and useless “guest star of the week” cameos.  No one draws the Rider like Texeira, a shining example of an artist born to define a character.

Verdict: Skip the first 3 and go right for this one.  It sets the stage for hopefully what’s to come.

This week’s loser:

Wildcats #1: I was hesitant to place this book here.  My own experience with Wildcats was brief and consisted mainly of the Moore work.  I didn’t bother to go dig out those handful of back issues because like fellow relaunches Wetworks and Gen13, I thought I wouldn’t have to.  I though I’d get at least some sort of refresher or a new start.  Nope.  Grant hits the ground running and I was lost from page 1.  Shame because there’s a lot going on too, though I can’t even remember what’s what anymore.  Lee’s art is nice and vivid, though I can’t help shake the feeling that it actually dates the book more than it moves it forward.

Verdict: I’m sure hardcore Wildcats fans will love it, but I’m jumping off after the first arc unless Grant decides to do a play by play for the newbies.

That hamburger you just ate…it wasn’t beef:
There wasn’t a whole lot of bad this week. On the other hand there was a whole lot of mediocre.  I highly enjoyed 52, Shadowpact, Catwoman, Cable/Deadpool, and X-Men: First Class.  The rest, though some like Checkmate and Wolverine had some fine moments, didn’t do a whole lot for me except to keep up the status quo.

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