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From the Hoss’ Mouth 04/25/07

Things are back to normal this week so don’t expect any big surprises.  I hit up Blue Beetle, Firestorm, Fallen Son: Avengers, Amazons Attack, Wolverine, plus the usual roundup of everything else that came out.

Full Review:

Blue Beetle #14
Writer – John Rogers
Artist – Rafeal Alburquerque

I went in to this series not really knowing what to expect.  I like Keith Giffen so that’s what drew me to this book originally.  Now that he’s gone and co-writer John Rogers has taken full control I find that I still really enjoy this book, in fact I like it a whole lot more than I thought I ever would.

The new Blue Beetle series shares a lot in common with Ultimate Spider-Man.  It’s a very light hearted series about teenage hero Jamie Reyes who is struggling to keep up with the many menaces super heroes commonly fight.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I feel that the series will probably appeal to kids just as much as adults.  Jaime has a large supporting cast consisting of his family and friends who all know that Jaime is the Blue Beetle.  That little difference in itself is a rather large departure from most superheroes as Jaime relies heavily on support from his family and friends as opposed to most superheroes who strive to maintain two separate lives.

In this particular issue Blue Beetle teams up with Guy Gardner, under much better circumstances than their last meeting, to seek out the truth behind the Reach.  A large part of the series is establishing the Blue Beetle as a legacy character.  A key point of DC’s universe is that heroic legacies are not limited to one specific individual.  In fact costumes and even powers have been passed down to new heroes quite frequently.  The JSA actually revolves around this whole ideal.  In establishing Jaime as the successor to the Blue Beetle identity, he’s already paid a visit to Dan Garret’s daughter.  In this issue Guy pays a visit and passes on a bit of Ted Kord to Jaime.  It’s a very touching scene that I feel pays a nice tribute to Ted.  I mean it’s not very often when you hear someone pay a compliment to Ted’s memory in the way Guy does in this issue.

It’s not all sentimentalities though.  There’s also a nice fight scene between Blue Beetle, Green Lantern, and the Ultra Humanite (lots of great banter here and digs at the Ultra Humanite’s species and gender bending history).  There’s also a brief confrontation that Guy and Jaime have with a Reach representative (the creators of the Scarab and rivals of the Green Lantern’s Guardians) as the mystery and treachery behind the Scarab’s origin continues to deepen.  This issue is more of the same goodness I’ve come to love this series for: family focused super heroic antics with a great mix of fun and action.

Albuquerque does a fair enough job with the art.  His pacing and layouts are on target and he never bogs down the reader or loses them in his panels.  I enjoyed previous artist Cully Hamner a lot more as his style was little cleaner and more detailed which fits my personal tastes a little better.  Cully still turns out a great cover for this issue though.

Verdict: A fun, simple book that most will probably overlook but that doesn’t mean you should too.  Give it a try or better yet go grab the first trade as this issue is not a good jumping on point.

Quick Reviews:

Firestorm #35 – Speaking of legacy heroes, this issue marks the demise of one’s series. Jason Rusch’s attempt at holding his own solo series as Firestorm is now over.  I have to say I’m not pleased.  Dwayne McDuffie did a decent job overall with this book. It wasn’t near as bad as Aquaman, Supergirl, or Hawkgirl and it doesn’t deserve cancellation.  Even in its bad times it still had potential which is a lot more than I can say for those other titles.  This particular issue sees the end of the New Gods arc.  Kalibak, Orion, and the Shilo Norman Mister Miracle are all here as Parademons rain down on the city.  Kalibak puts up quite a struggle in his attempts to get Professor Stein out of Firestorm plus Firehawk and Jason’s new girlfriend Gehenna add their own bits to the fight.  On the bright side this one doesn’t wrap everything up nicely, but instead leaves the adventures wide open to continue elsewhere in the DCU… whenever someone gets around to it I suppose.

Verdict: Being the last issue, this one is strictly for the fans.

Fallen Son: Avengers – I know this issue’s going to have a lot of detractors but I really enjoyed it overall.  This issue is a continuation of the Fallen Son: Wolverine story and features both the New and Mighty Avengers teams.  On the New side, Ben Grimm stops by Starbucks Sanctorum to play poker and take a load off while a couple of the members try to deal with the looming elephant in the room.  On the Mighty front, Ms. Marvel leads her Avengers in stopping an attack on a nuclear missile silo by Tiger Shark who possesses the Horn of Gabriel and a whole host of big sea monsters.  The book’s a juxtaposition of sobering grief and superhero action.  Ed McGuiness handles the art chores and draws both sides very well.  He’s able to tone down his usual over the top style on the New side while keeping the big action shots of his usual style for the Mighty side. 

Verdict: In a continuity sense it’s probably passable, but for Marvel fans looking for great character moments in the face of the Marvel U’s biggest tragedy I will highly recommend this one.

Amazons Attack #1 – For those interested, this book should be read after this week’s Wonder Woman #8.  I went into this series expecting great things.  Unlike the other two members of the big three, Wonder Woman doesn’t have multiple books to run around in. So when DC completely screwed her own series I leapt at the announcement of Amazons Attack as I figured this was DC’s big chance to redeem themselves.  I really think this series might upset more Wonder Woman fans instead of pacifying them.  The biggest drawback this book has is that everything seems very forced.  There’s no setup at all.  Circe magically reanimates Hippolyta and then we’re off to war.  The Amazons I remember were all about peace and understanding.  These Amazons are not, they waste no time in killing innocents and wrecking Washington for no real reason.  The Amazons mindlessly follow their possessed leader in their vengeful bloodlust, but the book is merely shock for the sake of shock. On the plus side, the art’s pretty.

Verdict: Someone need’s to make up some explanations quick or else they risk even further ostracizing WW’s fanbase.

The Loser of the Week:

Wolverine #53 – Jeph Loeb’s second book out this week doesn’t fare as well as his first.  Lifting elements of Earth X, Loeb attempts to retcon Wolverine’s origin in a ridiculously stupid, overcomplicated, and completely unnecessary way.  In fact he does such a great job of further confounding and at the same time ruining the mystery of a great character’s origin that he even outdoes Wolverine’s other book Wolverine Origins.  Which is a feat no sane writer should ever try to accomplish.  Someone in the Marvel editorial office needs to come their senses quick because the beating Wolverine is taking in his two monthly books is far worse then anything Sabretooth could ever dish out.

Verdict: Even as a colossally stupid train wreck it’s still not worth reading.

Trade Off:
By – Simmo

UNCANNY X-MEN – THE NEW AGE (Vol 1): END OF HISTORY

PLOT: The X-men, re-loaded. Which they tried a few years before, with Re-volution. But they didn’t have much option after Morrison left, and ideas were thinner on the ground than healthy lungs at a tobacco farm. There are two arcs in the trade. The first, reflecting an attempt to return to the glory days of the book, begins with one of the favourite recurring moments of the series, an X-Men baseball game (it used to be softball, but the X-Mena are harder now). From there, thanks to some judicious plot devices, a small group of X-Men come up against the undefeatable Fury. From there, in the second 2 issue arc, a member of Wolverine’s family (heh) attacks, and Murderworld is back…or is it?

BACKGROUND: As I said above, this trade marks the start of the post-Morrison direction of the X-Men, reprinting Uncanny X-Men #444-449. And Chris Claremont returns, again, to the title he once made famous. Alan Davis and Mark Farmer provide the art for the first arc, and, as is to be expected, it’s gorgeous. Frank D’Armata’s colouring also deserves high praise. It’s so refreching to sleek art that tells a story well, and is matched by some bright vibrant colouring. Everything a super-hero book should look like. Olivier Coipel’s art on the second arc is good, but would always struggle following so closely on from Davis. The story itself is pretty stock-standard, which is not to be unexpected given the big ideas of Morrison which dwarfed the rest of the line. It works because it is an effective reaction to the un-sentimentality Morrison had for the mutants.

PROS: Alan Davis. One of the absolute masters of the business.
The baseball game. So many X-men interacting, enjoying each others company and getting on each others nerves. Some beautiful little character moments.
A simple story well told. To a degree. For hardcore X-fans who loved Morrison’s run, it would be a disappointment, but as a new beginning, or "reload" it works to draw readers in.

CONS: Claremont’s writing tics. It’s not a major issue, but, personally, line likes "How can anything move so fast?" is more annoying than "This Ends Now".
The second arc. It’s good, but being only 2 issues long, compared to the first arc of 4, it falls a little flat. It could have been held over for the following trade collection.
The Trade Title. It’s long and unwieldy, and doesn’t help anyone trying to work out where the story fits in.

Definite B+ on this trade from Simmo. A good genre book.

Roundup:

The Great:
52 – Love, love, love weekly series and the payoff for this one just keeps coming.
Catwoman – A really fun Catwoman issue, lost of great twists and turns.
Silent War – The war is on and I’m ready.
Fantastic Four – The universe gets a new protector and it’s awesome.
Daredevil – The Gladiator arc continues to impress as the mystery deepens
Justice Society of America – Best book this week? Easily.

The Average:
Wonder Woman – Nemesis and Dodson keep this one above Amazon Attacks, though my disappointment with that series taints any enjoyment I get out of this one.
Heroes for Hire – Let it be known henceforth, if Humbug dies I will probably drop this book.
New Excalibur – Still running in circles
Wetworks – Thea Mater was fun, let’s go back!
Action Comics – Challenge of faith issue. I expected a little more from Nicieza but it’s still not a bad book.

The Filler:
Exiles – God I hate Slaymaster, I hate his banter, I hate his mustache, I hate hate hate him.  What used to be near the top of my reading order has now fallen near the bottom.
Outsiders Annual – McDaniel’s art just killed this book for me.  It just seemed so very rushed and lifeless that I couldn’t even pay attention to the story.
The Walking Dead – Too many characters interacting without enough distinction on who’s who makes this one muddled and all around boring.


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