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From the Hoss’ Mouth 01/24/07

A pretty weak Wednesday as comics go.  Fortunately for you I cut through the crap and deliver the goods or what’s left of them.  This week finds reviews for Silent War, Robin, Checkmate, perennial favorite X-Factor, The Return, The Flash, and many many more!

Full Reviews:

Silent War #1
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Frazer Irving

Silent War begins almost immediately after “Son of M” and thankfully it doesn’t bog itself down in the mired continuity of Civil War.  I loved the previous mini and thought it to be the only good thing to come out of the “Decimation” event so I was eagerly awaiting this title.  I’m glad to see my patience was rewarded. 

For a little bit of back-story, Quicksilver in his lust to return to his former glory stole and defiled the Terrigen mists.  Ultimately he was unable to hide forever and in the ensuing struggle the US government (on the ruins of Genosha mind you) took the crystals from the Inhumans and Black Bolt declared war. 

This issue begins with that war, or what is essentially the opening strike.  Gorgon and a small strike team fire the opening salvo at many of America’s powerful and influential elite.  Things go awry as a psychotic and inexperienced member of the Inhumans kills the aforementioned VIP’s.  The Fantastic Four show up and your classic superhero misunderstanding ensues.  That’s not why I loved this title though.  For the most part the opening is standard fare.  An overzealous soldier goes too far and the situation spirals out of control.  Been there, done that.  Instead the beauty of this book lies with the Inhuman council after they learn of Gorgon’s mishap.  It’s a brief and simple scene but one that grabbed my attention immediately.  The rest of the Inhumans are left with a tough choice, in fact it’s a choice that’s so difficult that even Blackbolt is unable to decide.  Furthermore Medusa mistakes his wishes and that later leads to an endearing scene between Blackbolt and Medusa.  This part of the book is all too brief, but I was simply enamored with it.  Watching the Inhuman council debate as well as seeing an indecisive Black Bolt and a tease of the inner relationship workings between him and Medusa was very nice, it just made them seem so human.  The rest of the book is a standard villain setup, which in case you can’t guess will be the US government.  At any rate the book’s worth the cover price alone just for the unique Inhuman interactions. 

The pacing is fast, even in the predictable parts, and although you might be able to guess what’s coming you won’t mind because it goes by quick enough to not bore you.  Art for this mini is handled by Frazer Irving instead of Roy Allen Martinez.  As a whole and maybe it’s just because I’ve got a whole six issues to compare it with but I distinctly remember enjoying Martinez’s art more.  Irving’s unique like Martinez but here I kept thinking I was experiencing Klarion the Witch-Boy meets the Marvel Universe.  It also didn’t help that Frazer did the art for Klarion’s guest-star in Robin this very same week.  Basically the color scheme is dark and very…well…Klarion for lack of a better term.  It works fine for Roanoke but in the Marvel Universe and specifically on Attilan, it just doesn’t fit.  Not a bad artist by any means, but I just think he’s on the wrong book.  Last but not least this book carries one very sweet cover!

Verdict: There’s not enough Inhuman stories period, and especially not enough of this caliber.  In a week of lackluster Marvel books, Silent War is an obvious winner.

Quick Reviews:

Robin #158:  Speaking of Klarion and Frazer, everyone’s favorite Seventh Soldier (Frankenstein….pfftttt) has a guest spot.  A fun yet unusual team-up that still manages to work despite its eccentricities and gives Robin’s title a little magic to spice it up.  There’s an odd sequence with a reporter being mobbed in the middle that disconnects things, and being to lazy to bust out last issue’s Robin I can’t remember nor do I really care if it even has a connection.  I am sure though that its placement was not the best idea.  Meanwhile, the rest of the story has Klarion and Robin working together to stop another of Roanoke’s more adventurous children before he completes the construction of his very own judgement beast.  Fans of the recently completed Seven Soldiers epic will delight in this title as Klarion ends up upstaging Robin as he leads him on a wild chase to subdue his devilish counterpart before he’s able to complete his spell.  Frazer returns to lend his pencils to the second and final issue of this story and it’s a credit to see him drawing Klarion again for what hopefully won’t be the last time as he simply excels at work with this character.

Verdict: Robin’s already been a great series, and this 2 part arc shows why.

X-Factor #15:  Jamie Madrox superstar!  In PAD’s capable hands Multiple Man is now and has been for quite some time my very most favoritest X-whatever.  He slices, he dices, he even makes julienne french fries.  Since we’ve all been reading this book we already know that Jamie’s on a mission to reunite himself.  Having failed miserably to reabsorb Jamie Madrox Agent of Shield; the prime Jamie is mistakenly abducted by Hydra who have big plans for our Multiple Man.  Brainwashing and hilariously disturbing suffocation ensues.  On the factor front, only Siryn and Monet make appearances as they attempt to let bygones by bygones in Paris.  Unfortunately prejudice is a universal phenomenon and there’s a tussle or four.  Great book, fantastic storytelling, and truly compelling characters.  PAD’s got a magic touch with this book and has yet to write anything even close to resembling a letdown in the entire run of 15 issues.  Still relatively new regular artist Pablo Raimondi dazzles us with his pencils.  IMO the only thing that was holding this book back was the lack of a decent regular artist after Sook left.  Now after 3 or so issues, I think it’s safe to say that Raimondi is a perfect fit.

Verdict: It’s X-Factor, it’s PAD, it sells itself.

Checkmate #10:  Sasha and co. are still desperately trying to get their pawn into deep cover with Kobra.  The only problem is that Kobra uses ingeniously devious magic to determine who’s loyal and who’s a spy and any organization with such strong trust issues isn’t something any normal spy can infiltrate.  Good thing Shadowpact guest stars.  Who needs normal when you’ve got the paranormal (Oh that was so lame! Forgive me).  In all honestly this isn’t some haphazard guest star to boost sales.  Shadowpact, just like last issue, is put to good use providing perhaps the most ingenious method of underground infiltration ever performed in a comic.  Unfortunately the lack of any plot devoted to Mr. Terrific or Amanda Waller (my two favorite characters) keeps this book from being perfect but as is, it’s a great and exciting read.  Art’s the usual goodness with no drastic changes to note and it remains consistently good.

Verdict: A comic book that’s different.  It’s got spies, backstabbing, and espionage.  It’s also damn entertaining.

The Loser(s) of the Week:

The Return:  I had the following problems (and then some) with this book:

1:  What a convenient place for space/time tear to show up.  I mean of all the things in the negative zone it happens to pop up right next to wear Captain Marvel was sitting. 
2.  Which begs the question, why on earth would a man with the dimension hopping experience of Captain Marvel touch said anomaly, God knows where or when you’d end up.
3. Unless of course, you’re Paul Jenkins, who I normally respect, because then you’d end up (again oh so conveniently) right next to the Sentry in his Watchtower.
4.  Where Reed Richards (a man so smart he just finished devising a math formula that not only predicts the necessity of a Civil War but that his side is right) proceeds to just let any obviously foreseeable time paradoxes slide and Marvel’s able to find out all about his future demise.
5.  Despite learning all this Marvel eagerly signs up to be the negative zone prison warden instead of oh I dunno making an appointment with Sloan-Kettering while he’s in New York.

Why am I numbering things?  Well I wanted to show how sequences work.  You start with one event and follow logically to the next consequential one.  In this case everything from the beginning to the end of this story is so ridiculous that each of the following scenes gets more convoluted and just downright dumber than the last.  So far Marvel is 0 for 2 on revivals with Civil War and I feel real sorry for the poor guy who lands the Captain Marvel book.  With this as a lead-in, I wouldn’t count on a solid audience showing up to read the opener. 

There’s also a backup Sentry vs. Absorbing Man story that’s a complete waste of time.  I really like the idea of a Marvel Superman, but unfortunately no one at Marvel has any clue on how to handle the Superman archetype.  Also, I must have missed an issue, but when did Creel get the ability to “Rogue” people’s powers?  Please tell me I’m behind and that this isn’t some glaring editorial mistake.  Worst CW tie-in?  It’s definitely got a shot!

Verdict: Don’t! I know you want to but this one really sucks.  Stay away!

Flash #8:  A.K.A how to alienate your audience in 8 simple issues.  This one’s made past loser appearances and as the last issue in the TV duo’s run I just couldn’t let it slide.  Bilson and Demeo managed to stink it up for a good deal of those eight issues.  Luckily this will hopefully be the last appearance of the Flash in the loser column as new writer Marc Guggenheim takes over with number 9.

Verdict: Dropped it already?  Good, you’re not missing anything.  However next month I suggest you pick it up for what is hopefully a great new start.
The Rundown:

Notable Notables a.k.a. the “Must Buys” for this week:

None.  Every book had some noticeable flaw or just simply wasn’t good enough.  However there’s plenty of…

The Good:

52 Week 38: The Horsemen look a bit cheesy, but watching Magnus stealthily gather mercury thermometers was great as well as all the science island stuff.  Steel and Nat’s story is now grabbing my full attention.  The Question saga is getting sort of awkwardly tragic.

Ibis the Invincible: The continuation of the Helmet of Fate saga.  A simple one-shot introduction of a new character that has some funny moments here and there; recommended for those with an interest in Dr. Fate.

Moon Knight: The Casualties of War headline is a bit misleading as Mooney flounders around the entire issue without actually doing anything CW related.  Still I find the crazy Knoshu hallucinations to be entertaining.

Punisher War Journal: Suffers a bit too much with the Vietnam flashback being used to reinforce the Punisher’s present day “no punching Cap” stance and honestly the plots an easy throwaway but on the bright side the Olivetti art’s just damn impressive.  The Rhino’s never looked this good!

Wetworks: The origin of the renegade vamp Vascar is revealed.  It’s brutal and violent.  A nice flashback story in what is my favorite Wildstorm book.  The only problem…that great flashback sequence takes up almost the entire issue leaving all our present characters including the entire team right out of the issue.

Hellblazer: The Empathy Engine storyline is wrapped up nicely.  A great ending to what has been a long and rewarding arc.  Unfortunately I can’t help but notice that I probably would have enjoyed the end twist a lot more if I was a European Football fan.

The Filler:

Woverine:  It’s been done a million times, hell I think even the animated X-Men show had a “Sabretooth taken in by the X-Men – Wolverine throw down” episode.  The backup story isn’t any better.

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