The Siege Continues..

Not much activity on the Blackest Night front this week, so I just swinged (swung?) in on the other company’s major event – Siege… again. With issue 2, we are officially halfway through this event… *celebratory cheers for short events*

Being such a short event, things have to move fast.In this issue, we see the fall out of the Take Down of Thor. Captain A.. I mean Steve Rogers rallied the troops (All versions of Avengers, except “Dark”, for obvious reasons, along with Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors) and they prepare to deliver the Mother of all Ass Whoppings on Norman Osbourne.

With all the space in this issue used up for the rallying and the ass kicking, who has space for pansy stuff such as character development? Siege #2 is just a candyfloss issue of big fight scenes, violent explosions, bone crunching takedowns and Mortal Kombat worthy fatalities (ok.. fatality). Yup.. “Fatality”. Marvel wasn’t kidding when the publicity material of this issue reads “An Avenger dies”.

While the “Branded”-ness of said Avenger is debatable, it does pave the way for something big later on in this event. I know Marvel is trying to establish this death as “significant” but I think someone in the bullpen probably missed the irony when they effectively *spoiler alert* reinstated Steve Rogers as Captain America in this issue.

The death of Steve Rogers and the establishment of the Winter Soldier as Captain America was THE Significant fallout from their “Civil War” only 2 years back. They’ve easily wipe away any impact of THAT event with this move… (along with the re-masking of Peter Parker, of course)

Dubious though the death was, it was definitely one of the bloodiest death scene I’ve seen in comics. Pretty damn awesome. Say what you will about “Siege”, the art work is really something you’ll want to write home about.

What I am more personally invested in, for this issue is the involvement of the New Warriors… I’ve been a big fan for the longest time and it was really quite a trip to watch these “Warriors” grow… The last few pages of Siege were dedicated to a “conversation” between Nick Fury and his New Warriors just prior to Cap’s rally. It is just text but the dialogue is sharp and, along with the Death of The Avenger, and a plot development in Siege #2, Bendis seemed to be setting things up for a major plot line for at least one of the New Warriors…

I am suddenly reminded of this scene waaaaay back in New Warriors #2.

I am excited to see if any of these comes to pass in the pages of Siege.

And the final word that I have for this entry?

“Incoming”

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Let’s talk Mega Events

I am sensing a conspiracy…. or very brilliant marketing people.

Marvel kickstarted their new mega event on the rare week when there is not much activity from DC’s Blackest Night.

Siege, like all Mega events promised to have far and long reaching consequences in the Marvel Universe, much like the Skrull (I mean Secret) Invasion last year, World War Hulk the year before that, Civil War the year before and the House of M nonsense the year before that. The list goes on…

The series will (presumably) chart Norman Osborne’s descent into madness (again) and possible fall from grace. Much as I want to see the series crash (I am very fatigued by these Mega Events, especially when this seems to be an extension of Secret Invasion), it is actually off to a good start. The main books for Siege is promised to be limited to only 4 books, so the actions come fast and furious.

Just check out them apples.

All this within the first issue!! Good break from the trend of Mega Events building up for 2 to 3 issues before the action starts flying. Naysayers might say that the whole Dark Reign of last year was ALREADY the buildup to this event, but I say Nay. I mean you’ve got to love Brian Michael Bendis. He seems to write action sequences as well as he does Tarentino-esque dialogue sequences.

The sad fact is, good though Siege might be, I sense that it would continue to live in the shadows of Blackest Night. Pun fully intended, baby.

I have to admit, the spin off series from Blackest Night are starting to… lose their novelty and charm. It reached a point where they are mainly issues in and issues out of  DC heroes getting shocked at their closest friends and family members coming back from the dead, they get mocked, they get taunted, they get into a fight, DC heroes win. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The main series and the 2 core Green Lantern titles however, are going VERY strong, and… I didn’t think this was possible, picking up the pace and growing deeper than I could possibly fathom at the start of the event. I am genuinely excited to see what comes next after each and every issue. Geoff Johns has this ability to sweep the rug from under my feet with every twist that he introduce.

Case in point… *SPOILER ALERT*…

That has got to be one of the biggest “HOLY CRAP” moment I’ve had in a long time. Simply awesome.

Couple that with the fact that the mainstream media is piling on the coverage and upping the profile of Green Lantern (prob as a build up to the movie) (Did I mention they seemed to have very good marketing people?), GL seems poised to be the next Dark Knight.

For one thing, I want to have a limited edition Green Lantern lantern (LEGLL), like Sheldon does.

While Big Bang Theory has always been full of comic references, they went all out this week. Sheldon actually managed to SCORE a not bad looking girl with this LEGLL.

Awesome.

Comic of the Week – Week of 17 Sep

Before I go on any further, I must make a disclaimer..

I Trade wait.

And I suppose this is the only reason why Fables and Ex Machina had not made their appearances on this list yet. I try very hard not to get any spoilers, so yes, I don’t read the individual issues.

Having said that, brilliant though Fables and Ex Machina might be, I’m wondering if they would be good enough to unseat the best books the awesome Blackest Night and the sometimes brilliant Dark Reign had been serving up so far.

Blackest Night has yet to hit a false note (discounting Blackest Night: Teen Titans, but Teen Titans had not been a heavyweight contender for a very long time), serving up suspense, horror, mystery and superb story telling in fell swoop.

Dark Reign, no matter what critics had been saying, managed to massively shake up the status quo in the Mar-verse. The sheer volume of work and the number of characters shaken up by the mega event is truly mind blowing.

True, some of the not so good (ok, horrible) issues of this mega cross over stinks strongly of geek-xploitation, but even the staunchest critics have to admit that the best issues of Dark Reign features some of the best story telling and intriguing character development in the medium for a very long time.

Which brings us to the 2 contenders for the Comic of the week for the week of 17 Sep.

First up, we have Dark Avengers #9. Nick Fury and his “Caterpillars” seems to be everywhere this month.And in Dark Avengers #9, they had a confrontation with Phobos’ Dad, Ares, the @#$% God of War with his “No @#$%” Axe given by Zeus.

Dark Avengers

By all accounts, it is an inevitable face off. I mean, Nick Fury all but kidnapped his @#$% kid and pitted him against the Dad. What would’ve turned out to be a mindless slugfest in lesser hands became a real character exploration of the various (ok, Ares and Phobos) characters featured in the issue.

Quite a lot of people had been complaining about how the Dark Avengers series had been missing one crucial ingredient, namely…. The Dark Avengers. The Dark Avengers rarely feature in their own monthly, preferring to pop up in other Dark Reign Titles – to the extend of seeming to have the ability to be at multiple places at the same time ( I am looking at you, Dakan). But I prefer to think of each issue so far as Bendis adding layers to each of the Dark Avengers individually.

Dark Avengers #9 certainly shows Ares to be more than a mindless war mongering piece of meat at Norman Orsbornes’ beck and call.

Dark Avengers

Contender 2 for this week, is of course, Blackest Night #3. Besides continuing the slug fest between the Black Lanterns with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, (adding the Ray and Firestorm to the lineup for good measures), this issue shows the first movement of the mysterious Indigo Lanterns.

Below is the cover for Blackest Night #3.

Blackest Night #3 Cover

With this, I declare Blackest Night #3 the winner of the Comic of the Week for the week of 17 Sep.

No, you did not miss any paragraphs.

The cover is that Awesome.

Out.

Comic of the Week – Week of 3 Sep

Again, another week without any real Blackest Night installments… hell, there aren’t even any Amazing Spidermans

Good news from last week is that my Secret Warriors finally came in. The great news is that it looks like it is all leading up to a throwdown with the THUNDERBOLTS! Boo yeah!

The bad news is that Bendis is no longer doing the writing for #7. And the most gawd awful news is that the art duties has been taken over by a new guy who seems to be having problems with rendering body proportions and yet, in a seeming attempt to flaunt this deficiency, uses a pornographic amount of extreme perspective angles in the book.

Enough of last week. Let’s catch up to the present with this week’s runaway winner.

Chew #3 by John Layman and Rob Guillory.

Chew is a comic that I have been watching for some time. (I know, it’s only at #3, but one day I’ll like to be able to say, HA I was there since the beginning)

The concept of a CIBOPATH, someone who is able to get psychic imprints from the food that they eat is one of those quirky little “I should have thought of it myself” ideas. I started reading #1 out of curiosity to see how far this little idea can be played out and was seriously grossed out and supremely impressed by what I saw.

I was drawn in by the portrayal of a near-apocalyptic future where chicken is banned (and hence a premium black market item) for fear of Bird Flu and a “Big Brother”-ish FDA that stakes out illegal chicken selling outlets.

Tony Chu (Chu – Chew… geddit?), the protagonist, a “by the book and to the letter” paper pusher is not exactly my idea of a “hero”.

But in the first issue, Layman managed to throw enough of a candlelight on Chu’s personality quirks and possible complex family background through the smoke and mirrors to keep me intrigued. The last few pages of the first issue were particularly chilling and it shows how far someone who follows the book would be willing to go for what they deem as “justice”.

Fast forward to #3. Possibly due to the developments in #2, Chu is now quite a badass of an FDA officer himself.

Chew 003

Let’s just suspend our disbelief on the speed of Chu’s personality change from a pencil pusher to a bona fide foul mouthed gun slinger, I personally think it is a jump in the right direction. Now this is a protagonist I can root for.

#3 finally introduced the reader to Amanda Mintz, the lady that’s been prancing around the frames of the earlier issues and quite possibly the love of Tony’s life.

The introduction of the Saboscrivner proves that Layman and Guillory has more than a one trick pony on their hands. The possibility of other pseudo personality disorders and, well… for lack of a better word, Powers reminds me of the moment when I first discovered the X-Men… only, possibly… better.

Chew amanda mintz saboscrivner

And the one thing that possibly makes Chew better than the X-Men?

The humour. The Cartoon Network-ish artwork by Guillory suits the feel of the book to a T. The book mixes equal parts of gore, gross out moments and laugh out loud humor to produce a high energy recipe rarely seen in other books today.

I mean, the book is… FUN!! Something a lot of the “darker” offerings from the Big 2 are sorely lacking in these days.

Chew in love chu amanda mintz projectile vomit

That is why Chew #3  is my Comic of the week for 3 Sep 09.

Comic of the Week – Week of 27 Aug 09

No, I’ve not slacked off for the past 3 weeks. I was away for work.

I’ve been catching up on the previous few weeks of comics and not surprisingly, Blackest Night continues to be brilliant.

Even the side series such as Blackest Night: Superman and Blackest Night: Batman impressed, which is much more than what can be said for the side series of other Mega Crossover events these days.

The inclusion of the crap talking Deadman to the  uneasy alliance between the new Batman and Robin is simply… awesome. I was going to complain that too many of the classic Batman Rogue Gallery seemed to be dead, maimed or rendered lame these days, then along came this little ditty…

Blackest Night Batman, rogue gallery, ventriloquist, batman rogue gallery

Brrrr…. what is it? Chills running down my spines is what it is.

Blackest Night: Superman took a very different direction from the other Blackest Night books so far. At the core of it all, Blackest Night is a book about zombies, and conventional wisdom dictates that zombies are commonly associated with… slasher flicks. And what would be a better place to base a slasher flick than the small American cornfield town of Smallville?

blackest night, Superman, it's a bird

Also, it’s the first time I’ve seen an individual running so many colors on the emotional spectrum as seen by Black Lantern Kal L.

Blackest Night Superman, color spectrum, superman

As for this week’s entry… to be honest, I am still waiting for my Secret Warriors to come in. I was very sure that THAT or Green Lantern #45 (being a Blackest Night book. Did I mention I adore the series right now) would be the books to top the charts this week. So before, I procrastinate any longer with this week’s entry, I decided that we should just move on.

Green Lantern #45, while good, focused too much on the War of the Lights in space. While it fleshes out Sinestro even more (if you can believe it. The guy has a Corp named after him) as a character, not much happened on Earth, which I felt was where the real fun is.

My problem with the War of the Lights is that there is too much baggage. Too many characters running around that is simply over the head for casual (really) fans like myself. There is too much history to catch up on that I simply cannot be bothered for the moment.

Ditto for Batman and Superman. I just know that the new Batman *spoiler alert?* is Dick Grayson and the new Robin, Damien Wayne. Superman’s New Krypton is a story line that I have not even begin to wrap my brain around.

Don’t even get me started on the X family of books. I cannot get who’s dead and who’s not anymore.

That is the reason why those books have not been on the Comic of the Week list so far. Though to be fair, Detective Comics this week is kind of  brilliant. Like the continuation of the Dark Prophecy for Batwoman.

That is why I’ve decided to cheat a bit and put a Trade Paperback as my Comic of the Week.

Presenting Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Walking dead, Vol 10, kirkman, rick, zombies, what we become

Yes, it’s another zombie book but an uber brilliant one. It is not so much the brain eating brain-dead-guys or the hack-slash gore (I hate gore) that are cool, as the interactions between the various survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Kirkman just uses the scenario his exploration into the (sometimes dark, somewhat hopeful, always… human?) human psyche in this ongoing soap opera series.

The TPB is at its 10th volume right now, and I think we have just began to comprehend how far this rabbit hole really goes.  By this volume, the main protagonist, Rick is not so much an anti hero anymore. He is just a Survivor like everyone in the book. Nothing more. Nothing less. As the world continues to trudge around knee deep in zombies, we began to see, through Rick’s interactions with new found Survivors and his current crew, what being a Survivor truly entails. It is not a pretty sight. But one you cannot stop starring at.

Highly recommended for… well… EVERYONE. Even those that don’t normally like zombies. Trust me, it’s worth it.

And yes, I trade wait for this series. For one thing, I cannot justify the money output for a black and white series every month. For another, I am pretty sure the anticipation from the month to month cliff hangers will kill me.

Speaking of zombies, apparently Marvel decided to hop onto the bandwagon with this as well.

X men, Dead will rise

Apparently Dead Mutants will rise.

Wish we could say the same about originality…

Comic of the Week – Week of 29 Jul

With no real Blackest Night installment this week, I was pretty convinced that this would finally be the week for Wednesday Comics (WC). WC is a new anthology that comes out every Wednesday (REALLY), or in sunny home town, Thursday featuring many one page stories of (relatively) popular DC heroes… much like the 1 page comic strip serials seen in the newspapers( think Prince Valiant, Dick Tracy, etc…)

The cool thing about WC is that they have a truly hardcore stable of creators which translates to some (wet) dream pairing up of writers and artists working on hugely established characters.

Exhibit A: Post 100 bullets (something I should definitely blog about) Azzarello and Risso working on a noir-ish Batman murder mystery. Hot dames, check. Wittily punny (or is it punnily witty?) dialogue, check. Hard talking, smooth dealing men, check. Batman? Check! Check! and check!

Exhibit B: Neil Gaiman (yup, HIM again) and Michael Allred in an almost trippy Metamorpho adventure. Neil Gaiman, check! Michael Allred, check!

Wednesday Comics 3 Cover

The whole comic is consistent in keeping with the tone of  the newspaper strip. The dialogue is accessible (meaning comic nerd will not be the only ones who will understand the speech) and a lot of this is because, like all Sunday comic strips, the stories does not carry the baggage of continuity. EVERYONE can just hop on and be entertained.  We have Agatha-ish mysteries, Last boy on Earth fantasy adventures, War stories and of course, Super hero tales. There really is something for everybody.

And did I mention the art? The deliberate news paper-ish lettering and adding of color half tones to the images to make the strips more vintage looking really brought on a wave of nostalgia… in a VERY good way

Halftones, barry allen, iris west, flash, wednesday comics

Sample art. Un Photoshopped

The reasons why WC is not top of the pops this week?

1. It’s an anthology. For every cool Busiek Green Lantern story, there is one lousy and confusing Wonder Woman one. Having a book with something for everybody means everybody has something not to like in the book. Though the average quality of the book is good to rock your heart out superb, there are still some jarring tales that just does not sit very well with you (I’m looking at you Wonder Woman)

2.  Three words. Brian Michael Bendis with his Secret Warriors.

The Group that Fury built during Secret Invasion finally come of age. With the addition of a new kick ass member and the return of the Howling Commandos, the Secret Warriors are slowly shaping up to be the prickly thorn in Osborn’s backside. It’s like watching the growing of the Rebel movements in Star Wars.

Nick Fury, secret warriors, brian michael bendis

Finally. Reason number 3.

And the top reason why Wednesday Comics is not the king of the hill THIS week.

thunderbolts

Post Secret Invasion, we’ve seen this team take a beating week after week after week. We bemoan the lost of the darkly humored Thunderbolts and silently, we think that this incarnation of Thunderbolt is just gonna be the forgotten step sister to the Dark Avengers.

I mean… villains masquerading as good guys that save the world for personal gains. That’s basically the premise of Thunderbolts since its conception. So with the Dark Avengers around, who need the Thunderbolts?

The final page of #134 throws that question right open. The final reveal shows the huge and intricate web of deception that has been built around the readers. We’ve been played for WEEKS. And this normally means 2 things.

1. The old direction for the book is not working and the editors decide to take creative liberties and give a big twist in the tale to bring it in a whole new direction (think soap operas)

or

2. It was planned for all along. (Much like George Lucas planned his Star wars to be part of a nine-0-logy. It’s all bout the money, it’s all bout the dum dum de de de dum) (think soap operas)

Either way, consider me gullibly swindled due to the smoothness in the handling of the twist.

Without giving too much of a spoiler away, I’ll say this image of a future cover of Thunderbolts says it all…

thunderbolts, mach 4, songbird, fixer, black widow

It begs the question… WHO are the Thunderbolts?

And for those not afraid of a spoiler, I would say this lil minx will be getting a LOT of exposure in the coming year.

scarlett johannson black widow iron man 2

Oh, I forgot to include the context…

scarlett, robert downey jr, mickey rourke, iron man 2, iron man, black widow, entertainment magazine

Comic of the Week – Week of 22 Jul

I’m supposed to have sworn off the whole Spiderman comics franchise after the fiasco that was Brand New Day.

But I just can’t help getting this issue. Deep inside, I am still a geek clamoring for these landmark issues.

Landmark, in the sense that the numberings are whole numbers, or “significant numbers” such as #1, #25, #50, #100, #250, #500, #13, #17 or… whatever numbers the Powers That Be deemed fit, apparently.

Amazing Spider Man 600, cover, Spider Man

It’s a bit of a surprise that Amazing #600 top the inaugural comic of the week list, (As a test of dedication and monetary depth, let’s see how long I can keep this going…) given how hyped up I am about “Blackest Night” at the moment.

For the record, I am not a big fan of the art of John Romita, Jr, I have an innate distrust to anyone with “Junior” in their name.  I believe they’ll always have deep psychological issues. Ok, let’s get objective (before some Italian mobster with a Oedipus complex come after my head with a cleaver), Romita’s art is blocky and just does not reasonate with what I percieve as, to use the scientific term, pretty pictures. But somehow, the art works fantastically for the main story of Amazing Spider Man #600.

Slott’s writing channels the work of Stan Lee in his prime. And for nothing else, I love the examination of the long term impact on a super villain (hur hur) who gets pummeled by SUPER heroes week in and week out.

Amazing Spider-Man #600, Doctor Octopus, Spider Man

And like all anniversary/landmark issues, the main stories are filled with guest appearances by Daredevil,  the Fantastic Four, the Original, Secret, Mighty Avengers. Some (Daredevil) turned out much better and relavant than others (Avengers). No matter what, the sharp writing never made the interaction between Spidey and the guest stars awkward, and it was actually fun reading the dynamics between the characters. My favorite guest star HAS to be the one that came out on the last page of the main story and the possible repercussions of her (re)apperance for Spidey. *nudge nudge wink wink*

Spider-Man #600, Daredevil, Spider Man, Blindside

And that is just the main story. The side stories by (among others_ Mark Waid, Mark Guggenheim and Stan “the MAN” Lee were, however, were a mixed bag. While I enjoyed Stan’s over the top recounting of Spiderman’s visit to a psychiatrist and the subtle and not so subtle digs at the various (sometimes ridiculous) plotlines of Spider Man over the years, I cringe at the overly dramatic and soap operaic rendition of Aunt May’s visit to Uncle Ben’s grave.

But the one thing that clinches the side stories for me has to be the return of the Spider Mobile, which I suppose was Marvel’s attempt at creating a Batmobile for Spiderman. Only instead of a cool, sleek, gadget filled grease lightning, the Spider Mobile turned out more along the lines of, and this is a direct quote, “Barbie’s Dune Buggy”.

The final reason why this is the Comic of the Week? It’s 100 PAGES long, baby! Count ’em! A four comic length epic for the price of one (slightly pricier) floppy warms my cockles and sings like a canary in my cheapskate heart.

Also… Toilet Humor Rocks!

Spider-Man #600, hydro man, toiletbowl, spider Man