Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bullet Points 3: Season of the Witch.

SERENITY: FLOAT OUT One-Shot: Comics based on licensed properties are always a caveat emptor scenario, but I have to say this one was a pleasant surprise. Going into it my mind was put at ease by the knowledge that writer Patton Oswalt (easily one of my favorite comedians) was a long-time fan of the show and had pitched the idea to Firefly/Serenity creator Joss Whedon and met with his approval. The book's story is that of an Irish wake held by some of Wash's friends from before his days running with Malcom Reynolds and company, and helps fill us in on that period before he became a leaf on the wind. It's fun to hear these stories, though sadly this is not the 'Oh-hey-Wash-is-actually-alive-'twas-only-a-flesh-wound' story that we all secretly yearn for. Still and all, the last page had me grinning from ear to ear. It's a tribute from a fan to a character near and dear to the hearts of browncoats everywhere, and well worth a look. The bonus material is pretty fun too, but I won't dare spoil it.

HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1: I've been a bit leery of the promises of the Big Two with their Shiny Happy 'brightest days' and 'heroic ages', promising a return to the stately days of yore when in fact it seems to be just a new coat of lacquer that doesn't do a thing to conceal the latest round of shock tactics and gore porn. However, I have to admit this book surprised me as it actually manages to live up to the shiny THE HEROIC AGE banner atop the issue's cover. It's a fun read reintroducing the eponymous heroes, Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse, a couple whose long and storied past has recently been settled and a fresh start has them out and ready to kick butt and take names. Hawkeye is one of my favorite Marvel heroes, and to see him back in the purple and blue slinging arrows and wisecracks while Mockingbird kicks butt and looks damned good doing it. . .it was like coming home. Of course, it's not all smiles and sunshine, as there's threats from old enemies, new foes, and surprising twists from within the crimefighting partnership that promise to make for an entertaining first story arc. Haven't encountered Jim McCann's writing before but I have to say he has the character's voices down pat, and he handles the intrigue and action with aplomb. David Lopez's art is a nice mix of classic and contemporary, and I have to say I hope this team sticks around. H&M is a book I'd recommend to those looking for a comic that's actually fun. A good start Marvel, keep at it.

ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN & WOLVERINE #1: Yeah, I never thought I'd ever read a book with Spider-Man again, particularly in the wake of the character's stupidest story of all time, and if you'd asked me if I'd read a book starring GrrrSnktBub without the benefit of being held at gunpoint I'd have told you those recreational pharmaceuticals you were on must be choice. But at the recommendation of a friend I decided to gird my loins, grit my teeth, and read a book featuring two characters that hold about as much appeal for me lately as a trip to the dentist for a root canal or two. And. . .and it. . .and it didn. . .aggggh. . .the words keep catching in my throat, let me take a sip of tea first. Ahhh. Much better. Ahem. It didn't suck. I know, I'm shocked too. By rights I should revile this book for it's crass attempt to pair two media-friendly Marvel heroes together to get Marvel a little of that Superman/Batman money, but the fact of the matter is this book was a well put together and entertaining read. Jason Aaron provides us with versions of the two leads that each bring their own distinctive voices to the narration, and while I may dislike the wider versions of the characters at large, within this book it feels like a classic Marvel Team-Up or Marvel Two-In-One of old. Adam Kubert's art doesn't hurt either, and while sometimes I his style to be a bit too gritty, here it's bright and crisp and serves to make the book feel. . .well, like a superhero comic. Another breath of fresh air from Marvel. This is getting spooky.

THE GREAT TEN #7: I will state this as simply and plainly as I can: if you're not reading The Great Ten, you're missing out on one of the most original and enjoyable superhero titles on the market. It's a ten(grrr. . .nine) part series, self-contained and starring the superhuman champions of China, heroes with names like The Accomplished Perfect Physician, Thundermind, The August General in Iron, and the Shaolin Robot. This series finds China under assault by what seems to be their ancient gods. Can the Great Ten stop the assault and unravel the mystery behind the gods' return? Each issue has been a spotlight piece for a member of the team, and herein we encounter the Seven Deadly Brothers, a warrior cursed with complete mastery of all the forms of Kung-Fu. . .and living seven lives simultaneously whether he's whole or split into his component selves. Writer Tony Bedard has been knocking his work out of the park on books like TGT and R.E.B.E.L.S. (another book you should be reading or you're missing out), and the art by Scott MacDaniel actually works with the stylized and fantastic setting where I've found it a bit of a poor fit in other comics. If you want a self-contained, enjoyable read with a lot of crazy action and crazier concepts, you'd do well to give this series a look. Get it now while you can; only three(grrr. . .two really thanks to executive meddling) issues remain in the series limited run and I'd be very, very surprised to see it collected in trade.

SIF #1: The Lady Sif, warrior maiden of Norse Mythology, has had a rough time of it lately over in Marvel Comics. A plot by Loki had him usurping her body and placing her mind in the body of a cancer patient. Thor discovered the ruse and restored her to her true form, but the outright theft of your own body isn't something you just get over. Writer Kelly Sue Deconnick explores the consequences of some of J. Michael Stracynski's writings on Thor's title, and deals with a warrior woman seeking to recover her confidence and personal power in the wake of so potent and personal a violation. Of course, at the same time she's also fighting aliens possessed by a parasite that've taken over an alien space-horse's sentient starship, so it's not a complete gloomfest. Ryan Stegman's pencils really mix the world of contemporary Broxton, Oklahoma with the outer space shenanigan with style and aplomb, and the story left me entertained enough to want to see this team revisit Sif as she finds her place on Earth and Asgard alike. An entertaining enough one-shot comic, though the cover does the character a bit of a disservice by placing her in the shortest short-shorts I've ever seen. But if that's the most I can quibble about, we're doing all right.

That's all I've got for now. More as I work to slay the beast that is my To-Read pile.