Friday, September 29, 2006

The Shortbox 9/29/06

Squadron Supreme #6
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artist: Juan Barranco
Marvel Comics, released 8-9-06
Six issues into this title, and I'm still waiting for things to get started. Typically after only six issues, a story with this much depth failing to explain everything wouldn't bother me. However, in this case, it's pace flat out irks me because Squadron Supreme is really at issue #24, being an extension of the fantastic, 18-issue Supreme Power series from 2003-05. The white elephant in the room for me is the amount of characters. Because there are 11 members in the group right now (not to mention the supporting cast), the development of both the characters and the plot is being spread too thin in order to cover all of them.
That said, Nighthawk finally makes an appearance in this issue. His most entertaining scene is one that would send Bobby de Niro's character from Taxi Driver into fits of violent jealousy. Though he may be nothing more than an African-American Batman, he's still the most interesting of the bunch to me. More Nighthawk can only be a good thing. Keep that in mind, J. Mike.
6 out of 10

Hellblazer #223
writer: Denise Mina
artist: Cristiano Cucina
Vertigo/DC Comics, released 8-16-06
I'm suggesting this as a jumping on point for all of those of you currently not reading the adventures of John Constantine because this issue was where I've begun reading as well. In this one-shot, Mina displays a fantastic ability to depict the insane with the villain here. I have a suspicion that we've not seen the last of him either. She's also reinvigorated Map in this issue, a minor character that I'm told had not been greatly utilized in recent runs by other writers. He appears to be placed on a path of great importance after the events at the close of the issue. That said, because I'm incredibly new to the title, I could be way off base. Either way, I dug the issue and can't wait to wrap my head around this world a bit more.
8 out of 10

New Avengers #23
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Oliver Coipel
Marvel Comics, released 8-23-06
If this issue is any indication as to what Bendis' proposed Spider-Woman series will be like, all I can say is, "Yes, sir! May I have another?" New Avengers #23 rocked my shit (that's a good thing, I think), and that's saying something considering how much I've enjoyed the Civil War-related N.A. issues already. Following the excellently scripted #21 and #22 about Captain America and Luke Cage, Bendis continues to focus on a single Avenger per issue. This round revolves around Jessica Drew and how the life of a triple agent is further complicated by the Registration Act. Although the Spider-Woman: Origin mini was seemingly unspectacular when I read it a few months ago, I now realize how important Jessica's past is to her relationship with the Avengers. I hope if you haven't read SW:O you enjoy this issue, but I can't see how -- you're missing out on so much without her backstory. She is on the verge of insanity by dividing herself between the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the folks over at Hydra. Hopefully she can simplify her life by choosing the side of Civil War that she does. I just don't see that happening though.
10 out of 10

The Boys #2
writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Darick Robertson
WildStorm/DC Comics, released 8-30-06
I haven't read any of Preacher yet, but when I read that Ennis had proclaimed this book would "out-Preacher Preacher" I had to give it a look. Without delving into what that statement actually means, what I know about Preacher, besides it being one of the best reads of the 90s, is that it was considered insanely violent both in subject matter and the methods in which that violence was depicted in. Don't know about you, but I can usually go for a nice dose of insane violence every month, so I slapped this baby on my pull list. The second issue introduces us to the rest of the Boys who weren't shown to us in #1. A lot of what is going to happen in this book is totally out of my range of prediction, at least as of right now. That said, it's a great setup for a series after the first two issues. Although there's plenty of subjects here that Ennis isn't the first guy to tackle, mainly critiquing of the Superhero in a modern landscape, there's also plenty to like. The Boys is certainly not for young boys and girls; in fact, it's really not for mature readers either. This is the perfect book for people over the age of 18 that still like a good dirty joke or a display of unabashed brutality.
8 out of 10

Heroes for Hire #1
writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
artists: Billy Tucci & Tom Palmer
Marvel Comics, released 8-23-06
The idea behind this new ongoing really intrigued me -- bounty hunters collecting on villains because the big heroes of the Marvel U are too busy fighting with each other to do the dirty work -- and toss in the fact it would be a direct descendent of the very enjoyable Daughters of the Dragon mini from earlier this year, I made sure I put it on my pull list. Colleen Wing and Misty Knight are the new front women, taking over for Iron Fist and Power Man/Luke Cage (who were busy being pushed into A-list status to bother picking up their old mantle). Joining them are an interesting bunch -- Black Cat (as I've mentioned in previous columns, an inexplicable favorite of mine), Shang Chi (no idea), Paladin (ditto) and the new Tarantula (I've never even heard of the old one, but whatever), as well as favs of mine from the DotD -- Humbug, Orka and, of course, Otis. It's a solid introduction issue and you definitely do not need to hunt down the mini to figure out what's going on. It is bogged down some in seriousness as opposed to the pure fun of the mini due to the landscape of Civil War, but I think more humor will eventually slip in. I am calling for an Otis spin-off in the near future, however. I love me some Otis.
7 out of 10

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