Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Shortbox 5/29/08

The Immortal Iron Fist #14
writers: Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker

artists: Tonci Zonjic, Clay Mann, Stefano Gaudiano, Kano and Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel Comics, released 4-30-08

Wow. That is how you relaunch a character, boys and girls.
Three years ago, I had no clue who Iron Fist was. Now, he's become one of my favorite characters and is very close to joining the elite company, comprised of Daredevil and Hellboy, of characters whose books I will probably never stop buying. And to have done this in only 14 issues? Once again, I am amazed by Ed Brubaker and wholeheartedly impressed by Matt Fraction. Combining them just isn't fair to my wallet.
For those not reading this book, in this most recent story arc kung-fu billionaire Danny Rand initially was immersed in a martial arts tournament of six of the craziest kung-fu masters ever conceived battling for each of their representative "Capital City of Heaven" to have access to Earth for a day every 10 years, as opposed to every 50. Added to that was a civil uprising in K'un-Lun (Iron Fist's city), the personal vendettas of the Steel Serpent, and an litany of HYDRA agents holding Danny's business manager, Jeryn, as well as friends Colleen Wing, Misty Knight and Luke Cage hostage. And that's the short version.
Sounds fucking awesome, right?
Well, it is.
It feels too soon for Fraction and Brubaker to let go of Iron Fist, but they are leaving it in novelist and comic newcomer Duane Swierczynski's capable hands (his new Cable series is quite extraordinary thus far -- I will review it eventually). And judging from where this issue ends, there is a limitless array of possibilities for Swierczynski to take Danny Rand and pals in. Can't wait for issue 15.
10 out of 10

The Order #10
writer: Matt Fraction
artists: Javier Saltares with Barry Kitson
Comics, released 4-30-08
I'll continue the praise of Matt Fraction in the following entry with the final issue of The Order. This book got off to a bit of a slow start, and really hadn't gripped me completely until three issues or so ago. It's a shame because Marvel had announced that #10 would conclude the series as soon as I got hooked into it hardcore.
The mostly new group of characters (Pepper Potts and Tony Stark being the only two with significant roles here that were around beforehand) never had actual powers, but would be given them for a year's time, then be replaced by other new characters, all while protecting California as part of the 50-State Initiative. It was an intriguing premise and the new characters had some great back-stories. Toss them up against Zeke Stane, Obadiah's son, as the villain, and you had a fantastic mess of problems for the team to deal with. But Zeke wasn't known to be behind everything until recently, and the book was taking it's time a bit too much before that revelation.
Sadly, The Order found it's stride too late to save it, but fortunately what was begun here will be continued by Fraction in his new Invincible Iron Man title, while the new characters created in the this book will be folded into Dan Slott and Christos Gage's Avengers: The Initiative book. If you like what happens in those books in the months to come, it might be worth your time to check out the trades from this one.
8 out of 10

Hellboy: Free Comic Book Day (2008)
"The Mole"
writer: Mike Mignola
artist: Duncan Fegredo
"Out of Reach"
writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
artist: Guy Davis
"Bishop Olek's Devil"
writers: Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart
artist: Paul Azaceta
Dark Horse Comics, released 5-3-08
This is probably the best thing I've ever picked up on Free Comic Book Day and certainly my favorite read from this year. It is comprised of three canonical stories from the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe, all tying into three recent storylines. I've assumed that these were moments that just couldn't fit in the normal books for whatever reason, and if not for this comic, they would have been left on the cutting room floor. I love Free Comic Book Day.
The first story taps into one of Hellboy's own nightmares. It is pure magic. I don't know what else to say about this short tale. If you are a Hellboy fan, you'll love this. The only possible gripe is that Mignola didn't do the art, but I don't know that we'll ever get art from him any longer.
The second story is an epilogue to a B.P.R.D. arc that ended recently. However, what's really exciting in this one is that it's a bit of a prequel to the upcoming storyline and we see that Johan will be very much involved in it. Love Johan. Can't wait.
The final story also is a companion to a B.P.R.D. story, the recent 1946 arc. It's not a direct continuation, but rather another story featuring Prof. Bruttenholm during his youth. I'm so happy that Mignola is finally fleshing out Bruttenholm in the comics. He's been such a marvelous character in the first movie and the live-action films. I've always been disappointed of his death in the early pages of the Seed of Destruction, so to see him in action is superb.
If you're not a Hellboy nut like me, then you may not care for this book at all -- all it's stories on the vague side and seemingly very simple. But for those fellow disciples, a free Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics is one of the coolest things in the world.
It's FREE Hellboy!!!

The Overman #5 (of 5)
writer: Scott Reed
artist: Shane White
Image Comics, released 4-2-08
So, I promised a few months back that I would check back in with this sci-fi mini series when all was said and done. I'm very sorry that I did that. This was a horrible, nonsensical story. I really can't express my distaste for this book enough. Every once in a while you take a flyer on an indie book, and results such as these really make you think twice before wasting your money again. That's a shame because there are so many overlooked books from small publishers.
Anyway, don't buy this one. Give something else a try.
2 out of 10

No comments: