This Week in Comics (8-7-09)

Hello one and all, Matt Dunford here with my first ever review for Fanboygaming.com. Each and every week I will be reviewing the comics that hit the shelf, giving my opinion of the overall plot without giving away too many spoilers and then assigning them a grade on a numerical scale. So without further ado lets begin the reviews. (I’m aware that the dates are a little late, I will try to be on schedule next time)

The Invincible Iron Man #16

Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
Inks by Frank D’Armata

300px-Invincible_Iron_Man_Vol_1_16_Textless

The now Eisner Award winning series continues the tale of Tony Stark on his run from the Norman Osborn. Worlds Most Wanted Part 9, geez talk about dragging things out… Tony Stark and Pepper Potts have finally been found by Madam Masque and this issue really gives you a good look at how screwed up she has become due her obsessive love for Tony Stark. There is a good amount of action and but more intriguing here is the amount of character development of Maria Hill. Former director of S.H.I.E.L.D Maria Hill begins having flashbacks to her time under the control of the Controller. Usually the Controller was only the guy, who turns people to mindless slaves, but this approach really has potentially and I am hoping that they toy around with this a little more. As for the art, I’m beginning to grow tired of Salvador Larroca’s art. The environments that he draws are very nice, however the characters need a bit of work. Larroca’s drawings of Norman Osborn make him looks like he is in his 20s and need to be polished up a bit so that he looks like he is 55 again, and his depiction of Madam Masque’s with and without the Masque are inconsistent, there is even one scene where she is putting her mask back on and an eyeball is showing through her mask where her forehead is. At the Eisner Awards two weeks ago I congratulated Matt Fraction on winning for best new series because he has been a good a guy to me through the years, however I did it through gritted teeth. I really don’t think this book is worthy of an Eisner Award. I think it may have just been a slow year for new ongoing titles. My problem with The Invincible Iron Man is that every issue is always B grade material, and this issue is no different. It is consistently good, but I don’t feel that it is good enough to merit an award.

8/10

Marvel Zombies 4 (Part 4 of 4)

Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Kev Walker
Colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu

87_MARVEL_ZOMBIES_4_4A few years ago I fell in love with a book called Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman. I have never been one for liking zombie stuff, but Kirkman’s Living Dead comic series was a huge hit and then he turned marvel’s super heroes into zombies. The first series was good, very funny and it had some depth to it. Then they followed up with a prequel where the marvel zombies fought Ash from Army of Darkness another hilarious story, and then we had marvel zombies 2 which was good but lacked the strength of the first two books but was still good. Then we had Marvel Zombies 3, which sucked very bad and I won’t talk about. Now Marvel Zombies 4 is reaching its conclusion. I just want to say that Marvel Zombies 4 is a big step up from that hideous atrocity that was Marvel Zombies 3, however it still isn’t that good. This issue in particular is clogged with so many different subplots that you really have no clue what the hell is going on. You have vampires fighting zombies, then you have the devil fighting vampires, then you have zombies fighting the man thing, all while trying to stop the zombie virus from spreading to the rest of the world. It takes a very delicate process to make stories involving magic and the macabre to work, but this story clearly does not balance them right. I will say this; Zombie Deadpool head is the redeeming factor of this book. ZDPH really provided a lot of comedic effect for this book. However for those of you interested in Zombies I recommend not buying this book, go read Marvel Zombies 1 and 2, or World War Z, or Walking Dead. Like most movies, once they go past number 3 they really take a dive.

5/10

The Red Circle: The Hangman

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz

12453_400x600At long last, my favorite writer J. Michael Straczynski is free of Marvel’s exclusive contract and is free to do other stuff, and his first project is The Hangman, don’t worry I haven’t head of him either. The Hangman was a character owned by Archie comics back when westerns were the popular trend in comic books, and later on DC purchased the character. JMS has really given this forgotten character a fresh new start and I enjoyed the story very much and I am looking forward to more. The origin of the Hangman is summarized quite well, and then it moves forward to the modern day. Straczynski’s writing is flawless as usual with a minor error in medical terminology see here for details http://www.politedissent.com/archives/3113. The art from Tom Derenick is good, I am not too familiar with his work but it maintains a good atmosphere for a western book. However I was a little let down by Bill Sienkiewicz’s art, because it just seemed very plain and simple and not the deeper Picasso-like drawing I am so used to seeing by him. I really think the demonic scenes could have benefited from Sienkiewicz’s full potential. This book was quite good; it is the first of 4 books by Straczynski that will resurrect forgotten comic book characters for the Red Circle series. I highly recommend this book.

8/10

Secret Warriors #6

Written by Brian Michal Bendis and Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Stephano Caselli

SecretWarriors_06_CoverIt is so nice to have Nick Fury in a his own series again, he’s been denied a book for so many years he was able to shine, well then again he’s spent the past few years underground hiding from the law. Now Fury and his new team of super heroes are striking back at Hydra after finding out that they were in control of S.H.I.E.L.D the whole time. This issue pops right into the action and gets the ball rolling featuring a huge fight with Hydra vs. the S.H.I.E.L.D remnant. This book is the action we have been waiting for, the previous issues have been the lead up, and now we get to the fighting. I adore this book, not just for Hickman’s suspenseful writing, but Stephano’s art compliments the book very well. I know it’s a little early but I am calling out Secret Warriors for best new ongoing series of 2009.

9/10

Dark Reign: The Hood (Part 3 of 5)

Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Kyle Hotz

hood3Once again, we return to the Marvel universe’s newest hotshot super villain. The art by Kyle Hotz is spectacular, and still stays as one of my favorite artists with his twisted and dark style that freaked me out as a kid. This book was merely ok; it goes by as a passable book, and lack the A grade material that Brian K. Vaughn provided us back in 2002. Not too much going on right now, but the next two issues should have a little more momentum. I think the high point of this book is the art by Kyle Hotz.

7/10

Captain America: Reborn (Part 2 of 5)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Bryan Hitch

yZChWGr3kpl32lahzlOKpPRFo1_400Now that’s a little more like it. A year ago Ed Brubaker was the best writer in comics, producing only A grade material whenever he wrote. However more recently Brubaker took a dive down to B grade, then 2 months Captain America 600 came out and we were all hoping that Brubaker would get his act together, but sadly that book was C grade at best. Then we received the news that Captain America would be coming back from the dead, and I can tell you I was not thrilled to hear the news. The most iconic comic death in history and they want to undo it? I gave the first issue a chance and um lets see here. “Magic bullet that freezes you in the time stream and kills you at the same time”, umm yeah. I mean they couldn’t have done normal time travel or clones or something like that, I have to say that the opening issue was pretty weak. However this issue was extremely good, the art by Hitch works very well, and the story is coming together. I don’t agree with the resurrection of Captain America, but if they can justify it I won’t complain. There is a good deal of complexity beginning to show up here, and the healthy doses of action are helpful as well. The book still maintains the noir-like atmosphere that we have come to love from Brubaker’s writing. Overall I think this is a great issue, and I hope that the next three issues stay maintain the same quality of writing.

8/10

The Marvel’s Project (Part 1 of 8 )

Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve Epting

107_THE_MARVELS_PROJECT_1_mediumAt long last the Marvel’s project by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, the team behind Captain America is back with a new mini series. Basically this is Brubaker doing what he does best, putting the past into modern books. This book starts off in the 1930s with an elderly man in his final days, telling his doctor of a wonderful future filled with people with incredible powers. The old man passes away during the night and leaves a box for his doctor, which reveals his identity as the Two-Gun Kid, a character from the days of western comics. This book is just taking its baby steps but is off to a good start. Brubaker has caught my interest with his mysterious writing style, and I have to say that it’s nice to have Steve Epting drawing again; he is too good to not be in business. Stories like this one are user friendly and don’t need any knowledge of back stories, so anyone can be fine starting off here. Pick up this book if you don’t you will be missing out on something very good.

9/10

That concludes my reviews for the week, so indulge in the books I recommend and just ignore the ones I didn’t like. I’ll be back next week.

– Matt Dunford (Your comic book guy)

Matt_Dunford

My name is Matt D, I’m like no other. I’m a 6″ half black, half white brother. And when I say white, I don’t mean pink, I’m about as white as white out ink.