Monday, August 07, 2006

The Shortbox 8/7/06

Daily Bugle: Civil War Newspaper
various writers and artists
Marvel Comics, released 7-19-06
I almost didn't pick this little guy up after my disappointment with "The Pulse" newspaper that came out during House of M last summer. Not that that one was horrible; it just didn't completely win me over. This Civil War issue, however, is a completely different story. I think Marvel learned a lot from last year's experiment and improved remarkably upon this concept. For those not in the know, this is a mock issue of the "Daily Bugle," complete with articles and editorials regarding the current state of the Marvel Universe -- the issue is an actual newspaper, right down to the paper it's printed on. There's an article giving us a quick synopsis of each Civil War-related book in the Marvel U, clearly a marketing ploy, but it also allows someone like me who is not getting every
tie-in issue to have a better understanding of what the other titles are up to. Some highlights from the many articles inside include Wolverine's hunt for Nitro, a debate over whether heroes are to blame for teens begin inspired to put on costumes and then getting themselves killed, and a very entertaining Fifth Page, much of which is dedicated to lambasting Mary Jane. Perhaps the best article, however, is an editorial "written" by J. Jonah Jameson vilifying Peter Parker for misrepresenting himself to the "Bugle" for so many years, creating doubt around the paper's legitimacy, ala the Jayson Blair incident with the "New York Times" a few years back.
special issue has a lot going for it. It'll be interesting to see if Marvel can put out one similar to this without having a huge event to fall back on like House of M or Civil War.
7 out of 10

Wasteland #1
Antony Johnston
artist: Christopher Mitten
Oni Press, released
This new series from Oni Press is very intriguing. After a yet-to-be-explained apocalyptic event, the entire known world is left as a big 'ol desert. Our hero is a wandering soul; quick with a gun and light on the dialogue. He also happens to have a mysterious understanding of a cryptic, ancient language. Anyway, he arrives at a town, meeting the other main character and future love interest, Abi, who in addition to being the town cutie pie just happens to be the sheriff -- a hottie who can tussle with the big boys. The town inevitably comes under attack before the stranger can leave, and a pretty-damn-cool battle ensues. Wasteland is mixing elements reminiscent of spaghetti westerns, The Road Warrior, Dune, The Gunslinger, the Tatooine scenes of Star
Wars, and Waterworld (minus the water, of course) together for something entirely it's own, which is no small feat. While there are more questions than answers at this point, I gather that's the way it's supposed to be.
8 out of 10

X-Men #189
writer: Mike Carey
artist: Chris Bachalo
Marvel Comics, released 7-26-06
I've heard a lot about Mike Carey being one of the top writers in the industry, so when this new X-book run started up, I decided to hop on the bandwagon. While I can't say this issue and the first part of the Carey run, #188, are bad, I am saying I'm thoroughly confused at this point. This is due in part to my relative ignorance of the X-Men in general. I know the main group from the movies and cartoons of the 90s, but outside of the characters featured in those mediums, I'm mostly at a loss. I know Rogue and Iceman. I know Mystique's role in the Marvel U has been expanded greatly since Singer infused her into his two X-movies; although exactly what that role is, I'm not entirely sure. As far as Cable and C
annonball go, I essentially have no idea who they are -- I don't think I even had heard of Cannonball before. And then there's Sabertooth. I think he's the lynchpin to success on this first arc of Carey's. If whatever Creed is up to makes sense and is worthwhile, you'll see me raving about this title. If not -- well, I'm never against saving myself $2.99 a month. That said, Rogue seems to be a good change-of-pace choice as leader of the group, so I am holding out hope that her growth into that role is one of the stronger points of the run. The rating is based on the merit of this issue alone, but the series is a long way from being foregone.
5 out of 10

Jack of Fables #1
writers: Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges
artist: Tony Akins
Vertigo/DC Comics, released
Spinning out of Fables is the new on-going Jack of Fables from the mind of Bill Willingham. I'm still behind on the monthly installments of Fables because I've been reading it in trade, but Jack's story here picks up exactly where I left him a few weeks ago (in my time, not the release of the original issues). About half of this issue was dedicated to establishing just who Jack is for new readers and a brief explanation of what a fable is in Willingham's world. Once that stuff is out of the way, the story does begin to come together. Probably my favorite panel in the book was a classic character in the background toward the end of the of the issue -- you'll know it when you see it. It sure will be exciting to see Jack interacting with new fables.
I was never totally enamored with Jack in Fables as many others were, but he is an enjoyable rebel. He's the obvious choice for a spin-off to be based upon, even though I personally would like to see more background on Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, respectfully. I hope this series will be
one that I look forward to each month, but based on this initial issue, I'm not convinced. Other than introducing additional fables, I don't see what the big adventure for Jack is yet.
6 out of 10

Runaways #18
writer: Brian K. Vaughan
artist: Adrian Alphona
Marvel Comics, released
A Runaway dies in this issue. While that character was probably the one I least wanted to go (well, one of three -- who am I kidding, they're all awesome and I didn't want any of them to die), I still can't be disappointed in the way events turned out, especially when I think about how this affects one character in particular. This is just more outstanding work from Vaughan and Alphona, as I expect out of them each month. I suppose I should start catching on to
Vaughan's penchant for killing off his most dynamic characters, however.
9 out of 10

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