Friday, January 26, 2007

The Shortbox 1/26/07

Powers #21
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Icon/Marvel Comics, released 11-29-06
Because this book has been erratic with it's publishing schedule since moving to Marvel's Icon line, when I opened up the first page, I had no idea what was going on anymore or who was lying dead on the floor before Deena and Christian. Unfortunately, Powers has not been the same since bolting from Image to allow Bendis to sign his exclusive deal with Marvel. While I jumped on the series with the beginning of volume two, I've since gone back and read all of the Image issues. Those 37 issues are absolutely amazing -- filled with fantastic action, huge plot twists, hilarious and poignant dialogue, and the great talent of both Bendis and Oeming at the top of their games. You should all log onto eBay and buy them when finished with this article. Sadly, the pace has dropped considerably since the move to Icon and the jump in time in the Powers universe. Well, until issue #21. This one was full with as many visual twists as there were plot divergences, most perfectly timed with the turn of the page. I'm dying to detail them all, but won't. Let's just say the dead "power" on the floor on page one isn't the last by book's end. I hope this is a sign of more crazy goodness in Powers. It's been too long.
10 out of 10

Winter Soldier: Winter Kills #1 (one shot)
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Lee Weeks, Stefano Gaudiano, & Rick Hoberg
Marvel Comics, released 12-27-06
Since his reintroduction to Marvel continuity, Bucky Barnes has been shrouded in mystery. Appearing almost exclusively in the pages of Brubaker's Captain America thus far, we have only gotten a few extended glimpses into Bucky's life. Now known as the Winter Soldier, he's tapped by Nick Fury to take down a suspected Hydra cell on his own -- on Christmas Eve no less, his one night off on the year. Throw in a trio of Young Avengers out on Civil War business, and there's a nice mix witty banter, furious combat, and insight into Bucky's state of mind. This issue is a great byproduct of the Civil War delay, because it probably would not have been written without it. As much as a part of me would love to see a Winter Soldier series, I hope Marvel resists that temptation and hands us the occasional one-shot focusing on him or a well-placed guest spot in another book from time to time. Revealing too much of a character such as this too quickly will only kill the intrigue that has built up.
9 out of 10

Union Jack #4 (of 4)
writer: Christos N. Gage
artist: Mike Perkins
Marvel Comics, released 12-20-06
This mini-series spinning out of the pages of Brubaker's afore mentioned Captain America series has proven to be a fine gem each month in my stack. (It also began strongly. See here.) Gage has been easing into the realm of comics, as he's well established in Hollywood for his work on shows such as Numb3rs and Law & Order: SUV. After reading this series, I now have my eye on him. With Union Jack, Gage explores one of the less-popular Marvel heroes in a politically charged story full of classic comic-book goodness, and it doesn't come off as dated or contrived in the slightest. Joining the title character are a nice trio of D-list characters, all of whom were interesting choices to form a team with given their interactions with each other, even though I had never heard of a single one of them beforehand. Added to a very good story is artwork by Mike Perkins that explodes off of the page in nearly every panel.
I have a feeling this title got lost in the shuffle with all the Civil War brouhaha, which is unfortunate because it deserved more attention. I'd also like to see another mini with this cast of characters. I'm pretty sure both Gage and Perkins have another story with this crew up their sleeves. In the meantime, I hope this story will be collected in trade. If you see it, definitely pick it up.
8 out 10

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