Your Home for Toy News and Action Figure Discussion!

From the Hoss’ Mouth 11/08/06

Republicans.  Democrats.  I’ve got you’re Midterm results right here.  Find out the real winners and losers this week as I dish out reviews for Annihilation, Bullet Points, Teen Titans, Firestorm, G. I. Joe, and a score of others.

Oh yeah, as an added bonus this column is touch screen free for the pointing impaired.

Full Reviews:

Annihilation #4
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Andrea Divito

Without a single solitary doubt this is the standout book of the week so I’ll just jump right into it.  This issue has all sorts of great moments.  First and foremost, Nova, Starlord, and Phyla Vell decide to confront Annihilus head on. Second, Drax survives the events of last issue and goes on a one man mission of destruction to do what only he can …destroy the mad Titan Thanos.  Finally, both Annihilus’ and Thanos’ ulterior motives are revealed as well as their plan for Galactus.  Whew, that’s quite a lot but it really only scratches the surface of this issue.

The book’s broken into the aforementioned three parts as each group gears up for the finale.  Nova and Peter (Starlord) have a nice solitary moment that addresses just what kind of dire mission they face.  During this time, Giffen also manages to sneak in that other “event” for those of you that were curious.  We learn that Civil War is occurring on Earth simultaneously to the Annihilation event.  We also learn that the paths of these two events won’t be crossing any time soon.  What’s extra special about this section, though briefly addressed, is that Giffen manages to make Civil War seem insignificant compared to the events our cosmic heroes now face.  A petty battle of egos on a single lone planet versus the destruction of countless worlds at the hands of an armada of other-dimensional death; when put in to this perspective it’s easy to see just how ambitious Annihilation is as both a story and an event in the Marvel Universe. 

Drax’s section continues from last issue’s hero ditching as he sets off in search of Thanos.  Along the way he’ll encounter masses of Annihilus’ minions and although it may look bad I never doubted his abilities for a second.  His path eventually merges with Thanos.  Thanos has been serving as Annihilus’ engineer of destruction.  In this section we finally get the answers we’ve been waiting for as both Thanos and Annihilus’ plans are revealed for the first time.  What those plans are I won’t say here, but rest assured they are huge and awe inspiring.  Ultimately, Drax confronts Thanos and the outcome of this battle is shocking to say the least.  

So that’s that.  The scope of this single issue is huge.  If there’s one drawback it’s that the amount of plot Giffen manages to shove in here may have been too much for the amount of allotted pages…though it’s always nice when the only complaint I can muster is that I got too much bang for my buck.  This has been the best cosmic event I’ve ever read and unlike some other recent events, Giffen actually understands his characters.  No one acts irregularly, the dialogue makes sense, and I’ve yet to find a single continuity problem.  All in all the architecture of this story has been well designed and it really shows.

On art we get the excellent Divito whose work just gets better with each issue.  His layouts, angles, and perspectives are all perfect and he never manages to lose the tone of the story or jumble it in any way.  I’d also like to take a moment to point out the cover (just click on the thumbnail above).  This cover is my favorite of the entire series, it just screams badass, and when you actually get to the end of the story you’ll love it even more.  I had to stop myself from gazing at it too long as the sheer awesomeness of it almost made me pee myself.

I actually had a very tough time reviewing this book without just outright spoiling it.  It’s like when your watching a really good movie and something spectacular happens and you feel obligated to lean over to the person next to you and ask, “Did you just see that?” knowing full well of course that they just witnessed the same moment you did.  Yet you still feel compelled to double check just to make sure you weren’t the only one who saw the unfolding awesomeness.  That’s the feeling I get with this book and I can rest easily knowing that a recommendation for this title will hopefully give you the same feeling.

Verdict: This one should already be at the top of your pull list but just in case it isn’t I hope you’ll reconsider and move it there where it rightfully belongs.

Quick Reviews:

Bullet Points #1: A glorified “What If?” tale centering on the premise that Dr. Eksine, the creator of the super soldier serum, is gunned down, along with Ben Parker, 24 hours prior to the events that transpire in the current 616 continuity.  The opening is nice albeit a bit presumptuous and the story unfolds by following the path of Steve Rogers who is still destined for greatness by becoming Iron Man.  The paths of these wayward bullets don’t merely affect Steve though as both Bucky and Peter Parker become intermingled in the alternate timeline with the latter being a bit ridiculous.  I had my own issues with the story, in particular how does it affect Isaiah Bradley and Tony Stark but it seems these issues will go unaddressed for now.  Overall a pretty good read with some really nice art.

Verdict: I wouldn’t make room on my pull list for it, but if you’ve got some extra cash and time I think most of you will enjoy it.

Teen Titans #40: Oh Miss Martian, I do believe I’m in love you sweet little ass kicker you.  This is my pick for fun book of the week.  It’s a bit cheesy but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  The traitor is finally revealed and it’s not too great but it is surprising, a dead Titan returns; Rose, Wendy, and Marvin make themselves useful, and Kid Devil goes Fwooosh.  Also it appears that the new Titans Team has finally all come together and personally I’m quite pleased with all the additions.  Artistic effort is another great selling point as this book knocks ‘em dead.  Note: The thumbnailed cover is just a preview cover.  The actual cover contains background images of Superboy, Raven, Terra, and Jericho as well as the Titans logo in addition to Miss Martian.

Verdict: I highly recommend this issue as not only is it a great read but things have finally started to come together for this new team and things are looking good.

Firestorm #31:  It’s the clone saga all over again.  Mixing the new school with the old, Stuart Moore has managed to craft a nice little read.  It’s a tad confusing but a subsequent reading managed to clear up all the little bits and pieces I’d mangled together the first time.  Not my favorite book this week nor my favorite series, but Firestorm fans aren’t going to be disappointed with this new iteration as he seems to be in capable hands under the helm of Moore.

Verdict: Definitely recommended for those with at least a passing interest in the character.  Otherwise I’d play the wait and see game to find out if things get good enough for everyone else.

Bonus Quickie Review:

G.I.Joe America’s Elite #17: I picked this book up solely because of the cover.  You could say I have thing for the Baroness and her prominent action pose immediately caught my eye as I wandered about the stacks.  What I found inside the book though is a great story.  In fact I was pleasantly surprised as for some reason I really thought this book was going to be bad.  Quite the opposite actually: Cobra has managed to infiltrate some positions of power within the US Government.  They then manage to abuse this power by bringing down the Joes using their very own disguised Cobra Commandos.  Having just jumped on with this very issue I can tell you that you won’t be lost and that you needn’t have an indexed history of the Joe’s to enjoy this story.  Art’s really nice as well and I didn’t even mind that Baroness’ role is very brief.

Verdict: It seems I’ve found a winner and I hope you will too.  Definitely give this one a shot.

This week’s loser:
I’m skipping this section this week as I really don’t feel like writing a couple of paragraphs about how Dillon’s art makes me cringe or why Gen13 gives me a creepy pedophilic feeling.  Instead this week’s bad books can be found in the filler section of “The Rundown”.

The Rundown:

The Great:

52 Week 27:  The sole great book this week and the best 52 story we’ve gotten since the start of Week 20.  Apparently I missed an important book somewhere though as I seem to recall Crispus Allen being the host for the Spectre as seen in Infinite Crisis.  Anyone care to fill me in on this.

The Good:

New X-Men #32: Wither returns and he’s been up to no good.  This kid just can’t win.  I guess that’s what you get when God decides to hand out death touch powers…well that and a pity party.

Young Avengers & Runaways #4: About as CW related as the X-Men mini, yet a lot more interesting.  Everything gets wrapped up in a nice little package including Noh-Varr who is now squarely entrenched in the 616 ethos.

Batman #658: Speaking of wrapping things up in a nice little package.  Morrison manages to do just that but with this story it just seemed a bit too easy.  Still a great beginning arc, I just wish more thought would have been put into the conclusion.

Superman #657: Now here’s a fun future tale that is horribly broken up in the middle by a useless cut to the present complete with “waste of time” dialogue and distracting plot devices.  This book would have made the “great list” if not for that annoying interlude.

Martian Manhunter #4: J’onn shows signs of returning to his old self which managed to brighten my day.  Now if only they could get out of this mini without doing any more damage to his character.

Green Lantern #14: Just a step above filler.  The gulag dialogue and fight scenes are the shining moments but the “shock” ending just didn’t do it for me.

Green Arrow #68: Ollie manages to kick major ass, in fact if the whole book was this way I would have given it a more thorough review.  As it stands this is a solid action packed book showing just how powerful a normal man come become when he prepares himself (insert Batman joke here).

Tales of the Unexpected #2:  I’m not sure where they’re going with this and I really don’t care because grotesque and ironic punishments are right up my alley.  Too bad this issue’s judgments fall a bit on the uncreative side.  Still a solid book.

The Filler:

Wolverine Origins #8: The sooner Dillon gets pulled off this book the sooner I can remove it from this section.

Gen 13 #2: Last issue I noticed a sort of creepy pedophilic undertone but ignored it because I didn’t think Miss Simone would make it a focal point.  Seems I was wrong.  Oh well, if this book does poorly as I know foresee it to do then that just leaves more time for Gail to plot out a new Secret Six story.