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Iron Man #50

Written by Mike Grell and illustrated by Michael Ryan (P) Sean Parsons (I)

Published by Marvel Comics

Reviewed by HDSchellnack

There's a very obvious trend of Marvel trying to make their heroes seem less "comic" and more grown-up and mature. It's not just something palpable in the MAX adult imprint or the Marvel Knight stuff, but it also seems to permeate to the more mainstream titles. Iron Man seems to become an example of this trend, if this issue is any indication. Of course, Mike Grell isn't known for writing meek happy-go-lucky kid stuff… and thus his Iron Man is as far away from the what, say, Kurt Busiek did during his tenure on the title, as you can get. Starting with the explosion of a fighter jet that leaves Tony Stark smack in the middle of a war-torn country (clearly based on Bosnia), without his armor… and thus in danger to die of heart failure within 24 hours. After that high-octane opening, Grell switches gears, flashes back to the exposition of the plot, and offers a revised origin of IM. Well, at least it seems revised from the version I know… but with Stark's origin, I admit, I lost counts in respect to all the little rewrites. Still, Grell's version is basically in touch with thee Stan Lee origin, expands and updates it a bit. He also makes nice use of a battle armor that Stark developed for the army before he became Iron Man. IM thus isn't a deus ex machina but the result of research Stark did beforehand. Seems more logical, and the early armor version also figures prominently later on in the story.

Mike Grell plunges Stark deep into the horror of the Serbian ethnic cleansings but sadly falls in the trap to offer us a) an innocent child b) a not-so-innocent but beautiful woman for Tony to fall in love with and c) a group of "good people" in this whole conflict. And, lo and behold, Tony gets his shining armor back and races to the rescue… but Grell neatly manages to end the story without Stark being the all-American hero, opting for a more poignant and serious end.

The writing is basic high-octane action flick writing, a bit predictable, but infused with a new urgency and dedication that at least makes you want to check out the next issue of IM. The downside is that the story could as well have been done with Captain America or several other characters and doesn't feel like a very "Iron Man" kind of story. It's more or less Mike Grell writing what he does best - Macho action with a human twist - and this time he does it with Tony Stark instead of Jon Sable or Ollie Queen. That is about the only gripe I have, though.

Mike Ryan offers clean and detailed art, with a slight nod to Jim Lee and maybe the whole Manga look. Perhaps it is a bit too much mainstream for the kind of story told here. I like clear storytelling and am not the biggest fan of the whole scratchy stuff, but maybe Alex Maleev and Mike Ryan should switch books ;-). The hyper-detailed Iron Man armor, though, is a treat.

Let's see where Grell takes IM in the next issues… # 50 sure enough is a solid start in a new direction. Marvel won't win any new young readers with this book, and should keep an eye on not making all books too mature, but in this case, I am quite happy to see Grell tackle a more real world Tony Stark. Should be good stuff for the grown-up readers who want widescreen-action and emotional impact.

Overall: 7.5/10

Mr. Majestic TPB

Written by Joe Casey with Brian Holguin / Alan Moore

Illustrated by Ed McGuinness / Carlos D'Anda

Published by DC/Wildstorm

Reviewed by Chaos McKenzie

I don't like Superman, no sir I don't like him. I hate reading comics about overly powerful people doing typically mundane things, to me it's redundant and boring. I could care less about Superman's struggles to mingle among humans, I mean Smallville bores me to tears for that very reason.

But that's why this collect kicked ass.

I don't even remember there being a Mr. Majestic comic book, I'm not sure if I was in a slow period in my comic book buying at the time, or if maybe I was just in one of those only read things with an "X" in the title kind of moods. Either way I have no recollection of this book when it was on the shelves, which makes me even happier that they collected it. I mean this collection is incredible, a super powered person with powers above and beyond imagination doing things that are above and beyond imagination.

This is a fun collection, it isn't heart wrenching or layered with deep reflections of society and social commentaries. It's just a dude who can do impossible things, doing impossible things. I mean how fun is that?

Overall: 9/10

The Monarchy: Bullets Over Babylon TPB

Written by Doselle Young and illustrated by John McCrea

Published by DC/Wildstorm

Reviewed by Chaos McKenzie

Anyone who is a regular reader of my half-crazed rambles of incoherent praise for comics, will know how big a fan I am of stories that seem dreamed of in opium colored acid hazes. I love stories that forget words like rules and formats, and just do what they want to do to tell a story.

The Monarchy is a beautiful example of this.

In the last two days I've read this TPB three times, and the only reason I'm able to understand half of it is because I've spent the better part of my life reading about parallel dimensions, and intergalactic menaces. I mean this collection is simply beautiful and you never really know what's going on, but it's so beautifully woven that you just don't seem to care. Or, rather, you cling to a vague sense that there must be some purpose and even if you never learn it, you find yourself loving the journey.

I was never a fan of the Authority. I enjoy the concept and all, but after the first story arch it just seemed to be biting itself in the ass, going in circles recycling one theme over and over until stale (no wonder Ellis left it early on, God forbid he ever be blamed with creating something without everlasting vision). What Young and McCrea have done though is taken a rather limited idea and given it more vision and more focus, The Monarchy gives The Authority more credibility in my eyes, it does what good spin-offs should do, it gives you something to compare to and grow from.

The writing in this collection is nice mix of Bendis style dialogue with Moore style expositions, blended nicely with an artist who doesn't look at apples and see red fruits (sorry I can't elaborate on that one, it's my mother's expression ask her…).

A friend told me that the series was going to be ending, and I assume it has something to do with sales and all that other dribble. But I sincerely hope the whole series sees collected format in the long run, because I'm sure in time it will be one of those sought after classics on people's shelves beside The Prisoner and Moonshadow, and other things like that.

Overall: 9.5/10

New X-Men #122

Written by Grant Morrison and Illustrated by Frank Quietly

Published by Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Chaos McKenzie

I can't help but reflect back to some of my creative writing courses from High School while reading the latest chapter in what's quickly becoming an epic run by Morrison on something resembling the X-Men. "Don't tell us, show us" ever heard that one? It basically refers to the writer revealing things to us through actions, rather than explanations. I bring this up now because I think Morrison has come to a point where there is currently soooo much going on with New X-Men, so many ideas and directions happening at one time that he has lost sight of this directive. I mean this latest issue is completely packed cover to cover with things of all kinds, but a lot of the action of the issue is lost to quick summaries and dispositions. I love watching Morrison craft a complex web of story telling, but I'm starting to think that maybe Morrison should have been allowed to start with something new altogether rather than play with characters who have lived to a certain set of standards since the beginning of time. Now let's pause a moment, before someone accuses me of writing a ridiculously negative review. I have to say that what Morrison is doing on New X-Men is f-ing brilliant, only it just doesn't feel like X-Men anymore, and instead is so radical and changed that it feels removed from the sandbox altogether. Perhaps that was his intent all along, but as a reader I find myself buried in continuities that even as a long time X-Men reader are unfamiliar to me.

This latest issue begins the Imperial story arch, which I assume involves a conflict between the X-Men and the intergalactic space threat of the Shiar Empire (I wouldn't have enough room to explain it here if I tried…) and despite the large amounts of disposition and a surprising lack of any real action, this issue is perhaps the most loaded of New X-Men so far. I can already feel the soap opera tone that Morrison has been referring to, sneaking into the way the story unfolds and like all great soap story lines I'm finding myself incredibly hooked to the emotional level of the story, more so than the details of the story itself.

My favorite part of this issue was actually the artwork. I'm not sure what it is, but Quietly's artwork of the X-men revamp seems to be the only art that really moves me. His inability to maintain a regular schedule really hurts this book, as with this issue we really see how Quietly's spirit shaped the new designs. Some of the layouts in this issue are simply breathtaking.

7.5 / 10

Powers 17

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Mike Avon Oeming

Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by HDSchellnack

No doubt - Brian Michael Bendis is probably the busiest writer in the comic biz these days, being part of the New Kids on the Block posse at Marvel. It's a cliché, and sometimes those are true, that with a massive output of work, quantity sooner or later messes with quality, and to a certain degree that is also true with BMB. Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, Elektra, Daredevil and Powers all share certain tricks of writing, certain techniques and stylistic tools that over a longer period of time become tiring.

Now Bendis is a marvelous writer, and there are guys out there only writing ONE title a book that aren't even fractionally as good as this guy is on half a dozen, yet the ping-pong dialogue, the "cinematic" structuring of the narrative and the panels as well as the painful snail-pace of the story telling can become painful after a while. His Spider-Man is a most wonderful book, with breathtaking nonverbal interaction and great character bit, yet it feels like the book is on slow motion. And "Powers" is no different. Closest to USM in superficial terms of structuring, the book very much feels like the same stuff is going on month after month. And the "same stuff" pretty much means nothing at all - the development is so slow you don't even notice it. It's like on a sitcom -- somehow something is always going on, but nothing really seems to change from month to month.

Maybe it's just me, maybe it feels different in a trade paperback format, but in monthly doses you just sometimes wish for some 60s comic feeling of 22 pages crammed FULL of concepts, ideas, notions, action, dialogue… so much in so little space that it makes your head explode. Powers, however, is almost hypnotic, with repetitious panel structures, dialogue straight out of Waiting for Godot (in the sense that certain phrases are echoed and re echoed and that redundancy of speech is used as a stylistic means), and Peter Pantazis' most glorious, perfectly subdued and moody muted color scheme. It's a book, for better or worse, that completely denies us the popburstthrill of many regular comic books - and this style obviously has been so successful that it has been recycled and re-used again and again by now (see the first four ishs of Catwoman, Detective comics… you get the idea). And just, just when you think "Well, it's become a formula, he can't pull it off anymore", Bendis does a complete 180° turn and wows you - like in this issue with a three-page "action" sequence that builds up to a wonderful golden-colored full-page cliffhanger that really makes you hope Brian finally gets his greatest weakness out of the system (problems with solid denouement) and delivers a kick-ass end to this particular storyline.

Oeming has become a star unto his own right by now, and that's only fair. His visuals are clean and powerful, despite their abstract simplicity there is a very strong feeling of "grit" there, of real life, of cynicism, of real intense emotions. And he still evolves, tries things, even in the very rigid structure of Powers you can feel him flex different muscles, try new things, giving us subtle changes. Very nice. As with many good artists you have the clear feeling that any abstraction is absolutely deliberate, that it ain't simple because he couldn't do it any different, but because this is the best means of storytelling and if push came to shove, he'd give you realism and rendering until you crawled back home. I loved that feeling with Hergé, and I love it here. Oeming's style, sadly, is as much aped as that of Jim Lee or Todd McFarlane some years back, but a) it's a style that's easier on the eyes, even if ripped off, and b) issues like 17 introduce new elements that prove Oeming as one step ahead of any competitor. I already mentioned the congenial colors that prove that in post-photoshop-shock comic book coloring doing LESS is the way to go. Subtle perfection wherever you look here…

Powers is the best Bendis-written book, and if you enjoy any of his Marvel-books, this is the place to go. The lettercol alone is worth the three dollars the book will cost you… it makes the Dave Sim letter column in Cerebus look like a mentally sane place, believe me.

Overall: 9/10

Private Beach #4

Written and illustrated by David Hahn

Published by Slave Labor Graphics

Reviewed by Paul Weissburg

When the first issue of "Private Beach" came out, not so very long ago, I compared it to "Love and Rockets." As David Hahn's story has continued, however, the comparison has become much less apt. "Private Beach" is a black and white independent comic that kicks serious butt, as is "Love and Rockets," but that's about it for similarities.

"Private Beach" tells the story of a young woman, Trudy, who seems to be mixed up in an awful lot of weirdness. Just how much of this weirdness is supernatural and how much is simply the usual bizarre reality remains unclear. David Hahn understands the value of understatement and subtlety; he's not out to present us with one-sentence-synopsis kind of series. While the story itself is very straightforward (as is the art) it is the subtext that remains obscure.

The story thus far: Trudy, while hanging out with her friends on the beach, observed two "men-in-black" watching her. When she turned around to look again, they were gone. Later these same two men approached Trudy directly and offered her a job in a club. At first, the whole thing seemed rather sketchy, but curiosity (and the need for a steady income) got the best of her, and Trudy went in for an interview.

The club itself, Heaven's Rift, at first glance appears to be a hip new dance club, but there's something very peculiar about the place and in this issue, Trudy begins to uncover what lies beneath the surface. It's nothing that you'd expect, which is precisely the nature of this book. David Hahn never goes the predictable route. Instead, for every answer you receive, a new layer is revealed. That is the beauty of this book. Although it is never clear just where, exactly, this series is taking us, the ride is quite pleasant, the company is good, and I have faith in the driver.

Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about David Hahn's "Private Beach" is his use of humor. Issue #1 had a classic scene on the beach with a seal that was being returned to the ocean. It was one of the funniest and most horrifying things I've ever seen in a comic. The latest issue has a scene at Trudy's day job that perfectly captures the aggravation and sheer banality of office work and the inane conversations people have while watching papers get lost into the cruel abyss of the copy-machine. David Hahn's use of humor and his strong sense of dialogue are reminiscent of Kyle Baker and Jaime Hernandez (two names you don't normally hear together, I'll grant you).

Four issues into the story, "Private Beach" remains a complete pleasure. And it actually seems to be coming out on schedule (bi-monthly), which is something that I very much appreciate. Pick up this latest issue and I guarantee you'll be hooked!

Overall 9/10

Queen and Country #6

Written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Brian Hurtt and Christine Norrie

Published by Oni Press

Reviewed by Paul Weissburg

If you are a fan of John LeCarre novels, there is no good reason in this world for you to not be reading Queen and Country. For that matter, if you have any interest at all in tales of espionage, strong female characters, solid writing, or good storytelling in general, you might seriously want to consider checking this series out.

Queen and Country is a bi-monthly black-and-white comic about a spy named Tara Chace. She's not a James Bond kind of spy; she's a has-to-deal-with-bureaucracy, drinks-too-much-coffee kind of spy. She is a flawed human, as all the most interesting characters are. She drinks sometimes and she smokes way too much. She has serious doubts about the morality of some of the things she's had to do for her job. Tara Chace is sort of the Jessica Jones (free plug for Marvel's "Alias") of Oni Press.

The current storyline is particularly interesting as it's about the Taleban in Afghanistan, but it was written before September 11th. Greg Rucka, in the first part of this story, wrote an explanation in the back of the comic about why he wrote it at that time and why he and his publishers decided to go ahead and publish it despite current events.

The basic story thus far is that a reporter, who was working for the same intelligence organization as Tara Chace, has been captured and killed by the Taleban, but not before hiding a list of contacts. It is urgent that this list be found by the British government before the Taleban find it. Tara Chace, however, is unable to join her colleagues on this mission because it's in Afghanistan and she is - duh! - a woman. So, she's stuck back in England while the action is taking place far, far away. And this is driving her nuts.

Greg Rucka is a fine writer and Queen and Country is possibly his best comic-book work yet. The series suffers slightly from sub-par artwork, and this latest issue is no exception. I long for the day that they find someone really, really good to draw these stories. In the meantime, however, I'm willing to overlook this flaw because the writing is so damn solid. Queen and Country is one of the best new series out there and I strongly encourage you to go out and give it a try.

It's yummy, yummy stuff!

Overall 8/10

Savage Dragon # 92

Written and illustrated by Erik Larsen

Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by HDSchellnack

I won't fool you - I like Erik. He's the ONE image founder who never went for the big money deals and turned into a slime bucket, he seems like a person of integrity, doing his own book in his own way. (A way he couldn't do on a work-for-hire-basis, truthfully.) He's still trying and evolving as an artist and despite the fact that many such experiments suck like hell, it's fun to watch the man HAVE fun. There's no other book quite like this, not a single one, and he's been doing all of it for 92 consecutive issues almost every month. If that kind of dedication is not enough to make you want to check out the book.. well, I got more arguments.

The strange thing is that despite the fact that I don't like Erik as a writer on other books or as a penciller elsewhere, his Savage Dragon is a book I enjoy any given month. The combination of his writing and artistic skill makes it well worth reading. Whatever his shortcomings in either department may be, the way he simply does whatever he wants to on this book makes it a ride you won't forget too soon. If people die, they stay dead (well… mostly), and if Larsen wants to, even main characters get the axe. The sheer recklessness of the plot development is a treat. Here, anything can happen. That said I am among those who didn't think his idea to change the course of the book and make SD a new-reader-friendly-70s-Kamandi-inspired-title by completely tossing out the old reality in favor of a new post-apocalyptic version was too good. The new format, the new storytelling techniques… it all was pretty awful and boring compared to the zany madness we had before that. Seeing Dragon fight generic big monsters and Kirby-rip-off-creatures really wasn't what I was looking for with SD, no matter how much I LOVE alternate realities per se.

So I am really happy to see that the narrative, plot and general feel of the book is pretty much coming back to the "old" feeling, albeit with a different twist, these last months. As of # 92, Dragon still fights for undoing any time-paradox-damage he might have caused in the Savage World, but by now we have some the old supporting cast back. The way Larsen tells his story doesn't feel like Kamandi Redux anymore and all in all we're pretty much back to what made this book feel so good during the first 70 issues. The art is still very unpredictable, changing from month to month, depending on how much Erik has to do, and how he feels in terms of trying new stuff (which sometimes works and sometimes, of course, sucks like hell)… and I wouldn't want it any other way. So in # 92 we get a very Frank Milleresque visual style, and another fast moving story that combines a high-octane fight sequence, some new pieces to the puzzle of the Savage World and the beginning of Dragons uneasy alliance with the underworld freaks against Khan. Seems like we're in for all-out war these next issues. From what I hear, another major status quo shake-up is coming by # 100, probably with Dragon's return to the real world. Larsen sure does anything to not get bored with his book.

All that, plus amazingly comical bonus strips, the longest and most typo-ridden lettercol in the business and Erik innovatively ridiculing his assistant for about 90 months now… Savage Dragon isn't as fresh as he was during the first 40 issues, but it still is a book no one should miss.

If you like high-impact action and are bored with the lackluster never-changing "illusion of change" status quo of other superhero magazines, this is the book to buy.

Overall: 9/10

Spider-Man's Tangled Web TPB

Written and illustrated by Various

Published by Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Chaos McKenzie

One of the things that annoy me the most about comic characters like Batman and Spider-Man, is that I absolutely despise the characters themselves but am hooked like a heroine addict to their huge and diverse cast of rogues and supporting characters. I don't think I've ever picked up a Spider-Man comic book to find out what's happening to poor Mr. Parker, his clones, or his old Aunt May, but I have a huge collection of Black Cat appearances and I was glued to the epic like saga of the Goblins. I bought a copy of Spider-Man's Tangled Web for two reasons; one I love anthologies to no end, and two, what could be more appealing than a collection of stories revolving around the people in Spider-Man's sandbox.

This collection offers three different story arcs, and to be fair I'll say that I wasn't thrilled with all of them, but there were enough hidden gems within the entire collection to make it worthy of a sit down and quiet read.

One story, by Greg Rucka and artist Eduardo Risso called "Severance Package" (I'm sure you've heard about it, I mean this one was getting all the hype over at Marvel a few months back), tells the chilling tale of one man failing the Kingpin due to a quick cameo with the wall crawler. The story is amazing, it's incredibly well paced and I'd be shocked to learn anyone didn't feel bad for the poor sap, or curse Spider-Man's meddling like a wacked out villain have reading it.

The best part of this collection though, is a sweet two-part story focusing on the Rhino and the struggles of intellectual evolution. Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo are my favorite comic book collaborators since the beautifully woven Enigma, and this short but poignant tale was an incredible treat to me. Fegredo's illustrations have an emotion and excitement about them that make you get a little excited as you watch them rush the page, and Milligan will forever be the most biting writer around, to me Milligan is like the Jonothan Swift of the comic book world.

Overall this is a fun read, but perhaps more of a "can I borrow" than "I need to buy" type of book.

Overall: 7.5/10

Spy Boy TPB Vol. 4: Undercover, Underwear!

Written by Peter David and Illustrated by Pop Mahn with Sunny Lee

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Reviewed by Chaos McKenzie

Spy Boy is another one of those stories that totally escaped me when it was on the shelves. In fact the small three issues trades almost slipped past me too if it wasn't for an accidental blind grab of books from the store shelf in the rush of new comic day. I remember I read the first collection cover to cover while standing in line to buy my books, and I've been relishing the release of new volumes ever since.

Peter David has a way of having fun without worrying about any of the consequences. He writes things that are maybe a little offensive, maybe a little sexist, but in the end he does it all in such good humor that you as the reader are able to get all past stigma and enjoy a fun story.

Spy Boy is another wacked out teenage super hero story, with a spy theme twist and all the tangled plot lines you could ever ask for. What sets this series apart from other isolated teenagers who discover they have special skills and then go to save the world tales is that David writes it with the personality and energy of a real teenager. The characters in this book react to things that teenagers would react to, and it's an incredible vice for the stories to unfold under.

The artwork in this volume is slightly inconsistent with regular artist Pop Mahn getting an assist from Sunny Lee. Both artists have some incredible strengths, but the style of each differs enough that the switch is a little jarring.

Spy Boy is a lot of fun, and this volume gives us Spy Girl who looks even cooler. It is a fun little romp, with a satirical edge that takes jabs at the comic book industry without you even noticing.

Go out, read, and enjoy...


We'll check back in with even more reviews during this weekend's AICN COMICS column!! Check back then!!

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 21, 2002, 9:28 a.m. CST

    We only print a review if it gets 7.5 or higher...

    by Squashua lah dee dah. Review some SHITE please.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 9:42 a.m. CST

    What about the new TMNT series?

    by crackerfarmboy

    Where's the review for # 1and 2 for the new TMNT series? I tell ya the boys in green get no damn respect. Issue 1 sold out, and still no respect.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 9:43 a.m. CST

    more crap reviews

    by Lannister

    what's the deal here? again every comic is nearly perfect! yeah right. Get some new reviewers cause these guys cant see shit when its smeared all over their faces and covered with flies. The only review that was remotely interesting was the take on New X-Men. Which why not do some digging and find out why Igor Kurdey is filling in for Frank Quietly and ruining the emotional depth that Quitely is bringing to the book. Is it a simple matter that Quitely cant keep a schedule? And yes I agree it Quitley's art that moves us. You guys suck, but I have to read it just like I have to watch bad movies and train wrecks. Damnit.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Gotta defend Morrison & Quitely's New X-Men

    by Gamma Ray Gil

    Glad to see that AICN is covering comics, but the reviews are so fan-boy! I've been into comics since the early days of American Flagg! & Miller's first Daredevil run but stopped buying them regularly for several years until Marvel recently started coming out with such terrific work. Alias, X-Force & New X-Men are my favorites & the new issue of the latter is among the strongest yet. But, comments like "lack of real action" & "doesn't feel like X-Men anymore" are the type of criticism I can do without (do comics still need to have a fight scene in every issue?). As for the complaint to its excessive use of "disposition" (methinks "exposition"?), it's only fair that this issue is heavy in it so that Jean Grey can explain what she & Emma Frost discovered from the (silent) "psychic rescue" of the previous ish. And the revelation of a villain that thinks that the universe is nothing but an imaginary, ego-centric fabrication of her twin brother's, Professor Xavier, & thus subject to her destructive whims is chilling no matter how it's delivered. No, Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely are not exactly recreating the X-Men your father & grand-father used to read, but instead are injecting some much-needed freshness & vitality into a franchise that's nearly 40 years old. And that, my friends, is easily worth my $2.25 to witness every month.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 10:07 a.m. CST

    how the hell...

    by omarthesnake

    can any of us be expected to give a flying rat's ass about reviews from a comic book reviewer who starts out by saying that he hates Superman??? Jeez Louise.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 12:58 p.m. CST

    wizard writes more objective reviews

    by a.wannabe

    i want some negative reviews. i know they are harder to write (b/c you have to use imagination as opposed to fanboy gushing) but please, enough w/ the summary and 10's. i want snide remarks about how judd winnick has made green lantern one of the worst comics on the rack. i want to read about how terrible the new deadman series is. i want 3's and 5's. i want more train wrecks. if i want to read how great every single comic put out is, i'll read wizard.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Savage Dragon isn't as fresh as he was during the first 40 i

    by clemwriter

    In other words: 'It's not as good as it used to be but DO NOT MISS AN ISSUE lest you miss the continued slide!!!' Was this a paid advertisement for ERIK LARSEN? You sound more like Wilford Brimley hawking Diabetes testing gadgets than a critic. Go out on a limb fanboy. Larsen will still chat with you in the autograph line at the next convention if you dog him. Heck, he might even respect you more for it.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 1:13 p.m. CST

    It's official:Quitely has quit new xmen

    by Patch

    That's right. The last vestige of that book that is to perfect, that you gotta have as soon as possible just to see what the f -k they are gonna do this month, is over. According to the latest wizard's "who's in, who's out" which covers changes in creative teams, Quitely is out and Igor Kordely is in. Does this suck. COMPLETELY! Quesada, Jemas rule as far as I'm concerned. They are doing the right things for marvel. They must know, though, that people are gonna be pissed about him leaving and that they better have more to say about it then "Weat replacement and he really captures the spirit of the new xmen blah, blah blah......"

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 1:35 p.m. CST



    7.5/10 for x men? probably the best book out from marvel, the only one with balls. and the only one i buy.which really says something.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 1:54 p.m. CST

    It's NOT OFFICIAL: Quietly Still ON NEW X-MEN

    by SushiX

    Patch, Just to let you know, Frank Quietly is still drawing New X-Men. The whole Igor Kordey thing goes like this: Frank has a problem with deadlines. Marvel, seeing how great his art is and not wanting to lose him, decided to hire Igor, who alos does nice work, to back up Quietly. So Frank's art schedule is now something like this: He will pencil as many consecutive issues as he can(preferably, multipe issue arcs) and Igor will fill in for Frank on the next arc will Frank's batteries recharge. And for those who think that I'm full of shit, is where I get all my info. As much as I love Wizard, it is not the be all, end all of comic info. The web is here for a reason, fellow fanboys. You have all been warned, don't make me tell you again. Siddown. I am SushiX.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Really why do you want to read negative reviews?

    by ItsOver

    I'd rather be told what's great out there. Honestly, a negative review will just about never make me not buy a book I plan to already but great reviews/buzz have pointed me to books I might not already notice (off the top of my head: Whiteout and Authority) I do admit though that Gray's scale is a bit off and it's hard to tell what's good and what's fan-fucking-tastic. ***** I'm not accusing the talk-backer I'm replying to of this but personally I'm sick to death of negative reviews from nitpicky, bitter-because-no-one-liked-my-watchmen meets voyager-fan-fiction, know it all Internet nerds. Of course I think I keep saying this every comic-related talk back.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Bug on Comics - The other side of the coin

    by Ambush Bug

    I know that Grayhaven's rule of only positive reviews is a noble one. I, too, am sick of negative reviews that only comment on the state of suck-ness of the comic at hand. People posting one liners and I'm firsties is an inevitable outcome of this open forum we have all chosen to participate in. Having said this, I believe that there are things one can say about a comic that might not come off as a positive review and I don't think a negative review of comics is at all a bad thing. The guys creating these comics are professionals, they can take a little negative criticism. I know I appreciate negative criticism of my creative writing more than positive ass kissing ones any day. I also believe that some of the above views encapsulate the way I feel at times and even encourage me to pick up an issue or two if I have the spare pennies that week. So keep up the policy of only posting happy fluffy reviews up there, GH. Meanwhile, I will throw out my two cents on Iron Man and New X-Men, and they may be those negative crusty kind of cents that look like they may have spent the night in a damp train station. Iron Man...I was estatic to hear that Mike Grell would be taking over this book and, for the most part, I agree with the above review. This was a fine, well crafted story and I give high praise to MArvel for taking a chance and putting such a talented writer on one of their most prominent characters. I also agree that this is definately not your typical Iron Man story. Tony handling political intrigue and (in the recent issue) social issues may fit in stories starring the Emerald Archer or Captain America, but seem out of place in Stark's high tech, high money world. This may be a running theme in Grell's run, having Tony try to make up for his lavish lifestyle and often selfish past mistakes, (or maybe he is planning on having Tony run for President and paving the way with good deeds, if Lex can do it TOny can). I will definately stick with the title to see where it is going. So far Grell has created some good reads, just not good Iron Man reads. Plus the use of Tony's canstant lack of power was used again in issue #51, one issue after he almost lost his life due to the low level of power in his aritficial. Tony had better start strapping a Die Hard to his ass soon or find some alternative power source or this plot device is going to get very boring, very fast. Meanwhile, at Stately X-Manor, we have Michael Bay-er-I mean Grant Morrison's take on X-Men. Stop, my head is spinning. We've got ethnic cleansers beating down the front gate, Shi'ar space fleets heading for the mansion, and the Beast using the litter box. I appreciate the evolution of the Beast, although we already saw this story back in Mutant X. It is good to have the Beast have an actual subplot rather than using him as the blue furry guy tipping the test tube in the background. This is the star in Morrison's crown for this run. WHat I don't like is pretty much everything else. Character development screeched to halt since Morrison arrived. Scott, Jean, Emma, and even Logan robotically walk from scene to scene without emotion or character. This may be due to Quitley's art (I am not one of those who believe he is the bee's knees with the pencils), but without the scenes and stories to convey emotion, Morrison is at fault too. The main problem is that every X-Team in the past had that chemistry of characters that gave the sense of a family. This current mix-up of characters does not convey that. Since the heart of the team was killed off; Colossus, and playful and younger characters have been shuffled off to other titles; Nightcrawler, Iceman, Kitty, even Gambit (not one of my favorites, but he does add a little flavor to the mix), the current line up consists of straight laced Scott, the ever controlling Emma, and Jean, who has been dealing with the Phoenix shit for years now (is she going to get the power or not, this teasing here and there has got to go). Even Wolverine, the most marketable character, is lowered to posing and posturing in the corner somewhere spouting "inpired" lines like, "I'll be in the garage tuning my bike if you need me." My problem with Morrison's X-Men is the same problem I had with Morrison's JLA, no characterization. Aside from the Beast, Morrison has been moving his characters through one set of big budget disastrous events after another. For years, people bought X-Men, not only for the size and scope of the stories, but because the stories had some of the most fleshed out characters in comics. Morrison's X-Men are not those X-Men.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 4:26 p.m. CST

    another vote of confidence for new x-men

    by arkhan77

    i've been following grant morrison everywhere he goes for a fair number of years (i mean his writing, not in a stalking way) and evolution has always been one of his favorite subject. from doom patrol to the invisibles to even jla, human evolution was always in the background and forefront. now, he gets to write characters that ARE human evolution. so here, the first and second degree storytelling are perfectly complementing each other. and anyone who didn't catch even one bit of all the characterization mister morrisson threw into jla is nothing short of blind.

  • Feb. 21, 2002, 9:40 p.m. CST

    The carbon unit known as GrantMorrison

    by TheBorg

    is actually the new Locutus. Fear him.

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 12:18 a.m. CST

    No Negative Reviews

    by GrayHaven

    I saw the question being asked why we're giving such 'high' scores so I figured it was time to chime in and explain again. It's our policy to not do reviews of books we don't like. There are too many quality comics being ignored for us to waste time venting about how bad a book like, oh, Codename: Knockout is. If a reviewer reads a book that they don't enjoy, they don't write about it, which is why the reviews featured are a 6.5 or higher. I realize not everyone agrees with the policy, but I hope it clarifies the situation for some who think we like everything. We just don't give space to the ones we despise.

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Hey, Cracker-boy! I got ya TMNT right *here*!

    by Dave_F

    Seriously, I reviewed the first issue for GrayHaven waaaay the hell back in December when it premiered. I won't make ya go back and look for it, though. I'll simply present it as a Cormorant Classic, using the ugly formula of asterisks where there were paragraph breaks (sidebar: Harry, give us some damn way to do paragraph breaks, man! We've got men dying out here!) On with the Classic... [[[[Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 ***** Written by Peter Laird and illustrated by Jim Lawson with toning by Peter Laird ***** Published by Mirage Publishing ***** Man, has the 80's nostalgia craze been hitting the comics world or what? We've got a new G.I.Joe comic, a new Transformers comic on the horizon, and now, a return to the comic that spawned a million parodies and launched one of the biggest marketing machines of its era: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. ***** If you remember the characters only as the Power Rangers or Pokemon of their era, you're probably cringing right now, but I'm willing to bet that more than a few people recall how the original black-and-white small press comic was actually quite entertaining and imaginative. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were so obviously having fun doing whatever they wanted with that funky little hybrid of funny-animals and Frank Miller's ninja stuff on Daredevil, that it was hard to not get caught up in their enthusiasm. ***** This new series is definitely a throwback to that era. It's not what ya call sophisticated entertainment, but it's far closer to the original TMNT concept than the ultra-kiddie stuff that was filtered through the toys, cereals, and Saturday morning cartoons. It even *looks* old-school. The artist is Jim Lawson, who recently turned out some great Art Adams-style work on the unsung dinosaur comic, Paleo, but it's Peter Laird's gritty halftone work that'll really take fans back. At a glance, this looks like vintage Eastman and Laird work, circa the mid-80's. ***** The story itself is a mixed-bag. It's really just a reintroduction of the main characters and some of their allies, with a good old-fashioned street brawl thrown in to keep things jumpin', but the scattershot nature of it all disappointed me. Like the recent G.I.Joe relaunch, it presumes that it'll score easy points based on reader familiarity with the characters. And it does on some counts. The total geek in me was happy to see April O'Neil and Casey Jones, apparently happily married -- but "neat" moments like that do not a story make. Smacks a little too much of "remember when?", when they should really be trying to introduce these characters as if for the first time. If the series is gonna have legs, it can't rely on nostalgia for very long. ***** Interestingly, a throwaway line from one of the turtles ("Is it just me.or was this a lot easier fifteen years ago?") suggests that their lives have played out in real time since their creation in the mid-80's. Does that mean they should be the Twenty-Something Mutant Ninja Turtles by now? They wouldn't even have to change their TMNT acronym. The story doesn't indicate that the turtles have lost their fighting ability, but they do seem to have a little more trouble than usual dealing with common gang members. Of course, the gang-bangers are riding around on.snowmobiles!.and we all know how snowmobiles can give the enemy a vital edge in combat, heh-heh. It's funny because when I was reading the comic in the 80's, it seemed kind of gritty and rough, and now I'm enjoying the innocence of it all. ***** Other highlights include a sub-plot with one of the T.C.R.I. aliens from the old series (still housed in those cool Terminator-like exoskeletons), an appearance by the venerable rat-sensei, Splinter, and acres of the corny fighting dialogue that, again, has a certain innocent appeal ("S-Stand still, you alien freak!"). Brief scenes with characters I knew nothing about fell flat, but overall there was a definite feeling of hanging out with old friends, and that alone was worth my $2.95. ***** Will it ultimately make the grade or is it just another case of nostalgic self-indulgence? I'll need another issue or two to really judge it, but the little kid in me really hopes the series finds a focus and an audience. I want to see Triceratons again, dammit. ***** Score: 6 out of 10 (maybe 7 out of 10 if you're a former-fan)]]]] And so ends another heartwarming Cormorant Classic! Superninja told me that she read it and it sucked, but she's a girl and doesn't understand the eternal coolness of anthropomorphic turtles whuppin' ass and spouting bad dialogue ;) Having read the second issue of the series, I'm pleased to report that it really is coming along quite nicely. It's definitely one for old-time fans and not new readers, but I for one felt like I'd been transported back to the 80's and the early days of Mirage Studios. Nice painted cover too, one of the best on the stands this week. I'll provide a more extensive review later.

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Cormorant reviews

    by Dave_F


  • Feb. 22, 2002, 2:37 a.m. CST

    Cormorant reviews

    by Dave_F

    Dang, I finally hit an issue in Bruce Jones new direction that kinda disappointed me. It

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 3:08 a.m. CST

    Cormorant reviews

    by Dave_F

    Back in the 80

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 4:24 a.m. CST


    by Dave_F

    Man, I was really excited to see Grell on IRON MAN too, but I was extremely disappointed. The political intrigue was so ham-fisted that a little voice kept calling out to me: "Less talk, more repulsor rays!" And Grell committed the cardinal sin in an IRON MAN comic of forgetting to make the armor seem *cool*. I don't care how detailed it gets visually (and honestly, the gold-and-red look of the 70's and 80's will NEVER be beat -- put that in your pipe and smoke it you damn manga fiends!), if it ain't being used for cool purposes, it might as well not be there. Kurt Busiek's run on IRON MAN degenerated very quickly (sometime around it's third issue), but at least for a brief time that boy made Iron Man damn cool. I mean DAMN cool. I wanted that armor! Grell's Iron Man felt defeated and blah, just like the drab coloring on the issue. My hopes have been dashed. Gimme a shout if somehow, outta the blue, the series suddenly turns interesting, but I won't stay by the phone waiting... ******* As for Morrison's NEW X-MEN...I tried the series, dropped it, returned later due to the lure of Quitely's art (and some talented guest artists), and now, once again, I'm ready to drop the damned thing. Morrison is writing with all the coherency of the second issue of DK2. I swear he must be writing 60-page scripts that the editors are paring down to 22-pages, because there's scarcely any connectivity from one scene to the next...or even one line of dialogue to the next! Motherfucker needs to consider occasionally writing while he's *not* tripping on acid. Hey, the ideas are flying fast and furious, but where are the likeable characters to make me give a damn about them? Nowhere to be found. I thought the flat characterization worked in his JLA days, because if the action is good enough (and it was), I'm sometimes willing to let the soap opera stuff fall by the wayside. It was a nod to old-school superheroics, an updating of the wild, action-packed days before Stan Lee decided superheroes needed to have characterization and angst. Because the JLA are largely icons, I thought it mostly worked. With the X-Men, on the other hand, you're talking about a team that's been defined by heavy characterization at least since Chris Claremont took over in the 70's, and probably going back to Roy Thomas' work. It ain't geared for going all action and wackiness without characters to draw you in. I'm gonna abandon ship. I gave it a shot -- twice no less -- but it's just too fuckin' weird and misguided. X-FORCE is a nice place for that kinda thing, but the X-Men needs a bit more love of tradition. ***** P.S. For more Grant Morrison insanity, I suggest visiting his website and reading excerpts from his writings about magic. Sample excerpt:

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Thanks Cormorant

    by crackerfarmboy

    Nice response to my TMNT request. Perhaps I dig it a little more than you do, but it's damn good to see them back. I've always loved the combination of the deadly serious arcs like "Return to New York" and the 4th Graphic Novel, but I've also loved the tounge in cheek look at superheros Eastman and Laird sprinkled throughout the comic (Fugitoid, Metalhead, Zippy Lad). I'm digging the story so far, although it seems that they are trying to put a lot of ideas out at once. I'm just waiting for Raph to lose his cool and the craziness to start again. Man it's been a while.

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Some thoughts on the No Negative policy.

    by vroom socko

    First off, as a reviewer I more inclined to talk about what books to buy as opposed to what to avoid. This isn't a paying gig for me, so 90% of the books I review are paid for out of my own pocket. If I don't like a book, I'm not going to buy it. This means, of course, that I won't be reviewing it. As to the idea that it's easier to write positive reviews than negative ones, please. I've written about two dozen reviews for AICN, and the only ones that are any good are my write up of Lone Wolf and Cub, and the 'Nuff Said issue of New X-Men. Writing a solid positive review is exeptionally difficult. Negative is ten times easier. Here, off the top of my head, are some negative comments: New X-Men is a title devoid of both characterization and logic; Mark Millar is the most overrated writer currently in the business; Dark Knight Strikes Again #2 made me want to scrub my eyes out with lye; etc. etc. That sort of shit is easy. I'd rather write about what I like.

  • Feb. 22, 2002, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Bug on Comics II - the latest Hulk

    by Ambush Bug

    Cormorant, I agree Morrison was better suited on JLA since the icons are well known to most of those reading comic. The X-Men, though mainstays in comics, still need some character interaction and development to be interesting. Over to Iron MAn, I may be giving these writers too much credit. I am hoping that Grell has a few issues planned out and that all of this political and social stuff will pay off eventually. So far, you are right. The suit of armor has taken a back seat to Tony's business suit. This ain't Black Tie Affair Man, this is Iron Man. Get him in the suit and send him off ASAP, Grell. Grell's latest issue had a group of talking heads hob nobbing at a social event for about five pages. Yawn. The only repulsor rays working here are repulsing me from reading this book. As for the new ish of the Hulk, I have to disagree. This was my favorite issue so far in Bruce Jones' run. I'm a sucker for Doc Samson. One of the first comics I ever bought was a Hulk comic with Doc Samson and the Rhino on the cover. Peter David handled the character well through his run, but the latest Banner mini series casted him as a psychotic madman bent on destroying the Hulk and then giving him an option of suicide in the end. Not the Samson I grew up with. Anyway, this issue brought Samson back to his roots as the guy who understands more than anyone what Bruce is going through. He really wants to help this guy and get to him before the government, the pair of assassins, and everyone else. The Mickey and MAllory type couple after Bruce was handled pretty well and I am wondering what Bruce JOnes' has up his sleeve when they actually meet the HUlk. A pair of assassins with handguns don't seem like much of a threat for the jade giant, but I'm confident that Jones has something planned. The artwork was top knotch. The scene towards the end where the Hulk makes his present felt while not actually showing himself was well done. JRJR has been one of my favorite artists since his Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil runs from years and years ago and he still has what it takes. One of my favorites from this weeks pile.

  • Feb. 25, 2002, 12:31 a.m. CST

    ORIGIN question for the board...

    by Dave_F

    Okay, I haven't been following ol' Logan's origin miniseries at all, but following the well-crafted ELEKTRA/WOLVERINE miniseries, I've actually got some enthusiasm for the li'l runt. So, now that the early issues are sold out everywhere and I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of tracking them down, tell me, is the series any good? Are y'all digging the non-action approach? The period-piece elements? The twists and turns? The art? SPEAK!

  • Feb. 25, 2002, 1:31 a.m. CST

    Cormorant reviews...TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #2!

    by Dave_F

    The second issue is out and I found it to be far more enjoyable than the first one (which I still dug). It may be nostalgia talkin', but I'm pretty close to being hooked again, and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that this is one of the more exciting comics I'm reading at the moment. Adventure titles like THE FLASH or ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN or JSA are all well and good, but even they get a little serious as compared to the straight-up adventure of old-school superhero titles. TMNT is the antidote to that seriousness, delivering a jolt of pure, unadulterated fun. As the second issue opens, there's a really fun scene of Mike -- who was bounced off the hood of a bus in the previous issue -- awakening in a mysterious hospital for mutants and superbeings. I wasn't familiar with the head of the hospital (apparently a familiar face from the previous TURTLE run), but his entrance and the execution of the hospital scenes continued the good-natured feel of the first issue. That goofy exuberance is one of the series' greatest strengths. There's also an odd feeling of "reality" to the proceedings, in the same way that NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS felt real. It's not that the environment is at all "real world", but the detailed art and consistent tone will have you thinking that the Turtles' world at least exists *somewhere*. Other developments include a sewer investigation that turns up a potential new method of transportation for the turtles, further mysterious machinations by the T.C.R.I. aliens, and a little insight into the girl named Shadow, an appealing character that's new to me but clearly has been around since the old series. Fun dialogue too, notably better than the somewhat generic repartee of the first issue. The art remains very solid, especially with the toning that hearkens back to the original comics, and the painted cover was probably my favorite cover of last week. Dammit, I *like* this comic. It's even fairly all-ages appropriate, which can hardly be said for most Marvel and DC fare these days. With the first issue sold out, I'm definitely picking up "sleeper hit" vibes for the series. It can't possibly make a return to the numbers of the 80's, but I wouldn't be surprised to see sales grow and grow in the comings months, with early issues becoming collector's items in the tradition of the first series. Something else: this little piece of 80's nostalgia looks to have legs, whereas the relaunched G.I.JOE comic is already faltering under its amateurishness, and I expect the same from the upcoming MICRONAUTS comic. The TRANSFORMERS comic that hits in April will at least gain some momentum based on the purty art, but have you guys seen the preview at Lordy, it's got some bad dialogue and staging, and what little I've read of Dreamwave Studios' WARLANDS was pretty painful too. So yes, that's right, I actually expect TMNT to stand out from the 80's nostalgia pack for its...writing. Scary, huh? Anyway, turtle fans should definitely be looking into this new series. It deserves support, and do you really want to wait for a trade like some lame Johnny-Come-Lately chump? Hell no. Score: 4 out of 5 stars (no bullshit, but consider it a 3 out of 5 if you're not a TMNT fan already).