Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review # 178: "Age of Apocalypse Prelude"

I feel pretty comfortable calling "Age of Apocalypse" the best comic book crossover of the 90's, for whatever that's worth. For my money it is the only "X-Men" story arc from the Nicieza-Harras-Lobdell trinity that stacks up with anything that came before or has come since. It was a project birthed from wild ambition, sequenced perfectly and executed soundly. All to examine what the world of the X-Men would be like if Charles Xavier had not been around to form them.

Ah, but in the lead-in lies a flaw.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review # 177: "The Trial of Captain America Omnibus"

Nearly every great comic book creative run has its low points. They may not necessarily be bad, but for every peak there must be a valley.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review # 176: "New Avengers Omnibus - Vol. 1"

After a mediocre run by Geoff Johns, the usual crap from Chuck Austen, and Mark Millar's "The Ultimates" showing off how cool the Avengers could be, it was time for a change. Cue Brian Michael Bendis, who had been kicking ass on "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Daredevil" and "Alias." But could he handle a team book?

The answer - at the time - was an emphatic "yes."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review # 175: "Avengers - 'Red Zone' and 'The Search For She-Hulk'"

Goeff Johns didn't get off to the greatest start during his time on "Avengers," with a bland, slightly confused title with no confidence in its direction. That changed during the second half.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review # 174: "The Ultimates"

With over a decade behind it, you have to make the argument that "The Ultimates" by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch is the most culturally significant comic book story so far this century. It reads like a movie blueprint, and - while its eventual adaptation for the big screen was not note-for-note - many of the Marvel heroes we see on the big screen today are influenced more by the incarnations seen here than the ones who had been around for decades previous.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review # 173: "Avengers Assemble by Kurt Busiek Vol. 5"

"The Kang Dynasty" may be the most refreshing Kang story out there. After decades of complicated schemes where he tries to trap the Avengers in android bodies or marry Mantis or kill his counterparts from other universes, the Conquerer finally says "F*** it," blows up the United Nations building because he can, and sets all these armies he's always talking about on Earth in a global war.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review # 172: "X-Men - 'Muertas' and 'Bloodline'"

Sometimes ideas that shouldn't miss end up doing just that. Brian Wood's all-female X-Men team is one of these examples. Maybe in a different world where Wood wrote more than just 17 issues, things would have turned out better. The work is good, only it's disappointing. "X-Men" comes off as a truncated, wasted opportunity.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review # 171: "Wolverine Epic Collection Vol. 1 - Madripoor Nights"

Great writers fuel great characters, and Wolverine has had quite a few. Larry Hama, Joss Whedon and Jason Aaron are among the many who have given Logan a great voice, but there is no one better than the man who gave Wolverine a great mind, Chris Claremont.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review # 170: "Elektra Lives Again"

And here I was thinking I had every Frank Miller "Daredevil" story. "Elektra Lives Again" is an overlooked piece, taking years to move from concept to print. While details are scarce, it's believed that it was put together before the 1987 publishing of Miller's best story "Born Again." Daredevil's housing depiction seems to point in that direction. However, the story was not released until 1990.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Giant Size Review # 5: X-Men by Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis' X-Men run is starting to show promise on the other side of "Battle of the Atom." Moving the All-New X-Men to the Cyclops camp allows the time-displaced original team to confront some of its issues without ongoing distractions, while Scott's newly-discovered charges are beginning to come into their own as characters. But there are still some bumps in the road, including one of the most befuddling crossovers in recent memory.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review # 169: "X-Factor Visionaries by Peter David"

You could make a case for Peter David's original time on "X-Factor" as the best X-family creative run of the entire 1990s. Its peaks likely weren't as high as the best the main "X-Men" line had to offer at points, but it makes up for it by being of consistent good quality.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review # 168: "X-Men - Inferno Prologue"

Interesting technique being employed by Marvel with this omnibus, as "X-Men: Inferno Prologue" collects all material from "Uncanny X-Men," "New Mutants" and "X-Factor" between the crossovers "Fall of the Mutants" and "Inferno." If this is their model going forward - collecting the "big three" of the 80s in single collections - then I am all for it. Better to keep all of the setpieces in one place, even if it does create some unevenness in terms of quality.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review # 167: "Magneto - 'Infamous' and 'Reversals'"

An ongoing Magneto series was long overdue. It's actually a little mind-boggling that Marvel hadn't pulled the trigger on one for arguably its greatest villain character (though not perhaps its greatest villain) until recent history. Though, I've gotta say... they picked a great time to do it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review # 166: "X-Force/Spider-Man - Sabotage"

The X-Force/Spider-Man crossover "Sabotage" has a special place in my collection. I feel it is my duty to preserve it for future generations so they can see everything that was wrong with comics in the early 90's.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review # 165: "X-Men Vignettes"

Nothing beats finding rare collections at a comic convention. My latest trip from my favourite shelves at Ottawa Comiccon turned up two pieces of pure gold for an X-Men superfan like me: volumes one and two of "X-Men Vignettes."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review # 164: "Alias"

Jessica Jones is going to go down in history as the greatest thing Brian Michael Bendis ever contributed to comics. It's tempting to call her the greatest female character in the history of superhero books.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Giant Size Review # 4: 90s X-Men ("Bishop's Crossing," "X-Cutioner's Song" and more)

I've gone on record before about how I'm not the biggest fan in the world of the writing during the Nicieza-Harras-Lobdell (NHL) era of the X-Men. While they had their flashes of brilliance, most of their work is far too wordy, is shallow (disguised as deep) and compromises a lot of the action on-page.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review # 163: "Avengers Assemble by Kurt Busiek Vol. 4"

Kurt Busiek's Avengers team has tackled a strong share of world crises. Some external, some internal, some mystical, some technological.

Now... it's time to get cosmic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review # 162: "All-New Doop"

When news broke last year that Peter Milligan would be returning to Marvel to pen a miniseries about Doop - the green blob he created in the pages of X-Force/X-Statix - I was thrilled. Unfortunately, I think I set my expectations too high.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review # 161: "X-Men Epic Collection Vol. 1 - 'Children of the Atom'"

Stan Lee is one hell of a creator. But I don't need to tell you that. His mark on popular culture grows by the day as franchises attached to his name have become multimedia phenomena, shattering records worldwide. Lee deserves all the praise he receives.

However, he is not perfect.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review # 160: "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix"

As far as characters go, Cable is pretty ridiculous. Nathan Christopher Summers is this grizzled, battle-hardened half-metal dude with a cybernetic eye who carries ridiculously-sized guns to shoot things. Oh, and he's possibly the most powerful mutant of all-time. Oh, and that's because of genetic engineering by way of fraud. Oh, and he's the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey. Oh, and he's also this messianic figure for a religious cult. Oh, and he's from the future. Oh, and he's not really from the future. Oh, and he has a psychotic clone who was raised by Apocalypse.

Get all that?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review # 159: "X-Men - Dream's End"

The "X-Men" franchise was in a bad way at around the turn of the century. Bloated with content over the course of the 90's, the bottom had fallen out a few years earlier. Alan Davis couldn't save it, not even with the culmination of the Apocalypse "Twelve" story. So Marvel turned to the man who defined the title, Chris Claremont, bringing him back after creative differences drove him away about ten years prior.

And it didn't work.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Giant Size Review # 3: "Civil War" Tie-Ins

I think "Civil War" is a great story on its own, despite a lot of its character motives requiring a level of explanation. Fortunately, some of that exists in its supplemental material. There is some truly great work outside of the main series, be it with added background, added drama or angles you hadn't thought of. Unfortunately, some of the tie-ins are pure rot. You're about to get examples of all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review # 158: "Civil War"

Loved by the casual audience and despised by many long-time readers, Marvel's "Civil War" is as polarizing to fans as the Superhuman Registration Act is to the characters.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Review # 157: "Daredevil - Born Again"

"Born Again" by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli doesn't re-invent the wheel. It doesn't redefine art and pacing like Miller's work on "The Elektra Saga." It doesn't carry the immense popular cultural significance of Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" or Miller and Mazzucchelli's "Year One." What it is, though, is a freaking amazing story. In my opinion, it's the best thing Miller ever wrote.