Friday, March 19, 2010

The Shortbox: The Brutal and the Abysmal

Criminal: The Sinners (part 5 of 5)
writer: Ed Brubaker
artist: Sean Phillips
Marvel/Icon Comics, released 3-10-10
I love Ed Brubaker. I love Sean Phillips. And thus, as I've professed time after time on the site, I love Criminal. The Sinners, the latest miniseries from the pair, wrapped up two Wednesdays ago in predictably brilliant style.
The Sinners is another Tracy Lawless story, my favorite of the principal characters we've been introduced to thus far for a bevy of reasons, but most likely because of his similarities to Richard Stark's mastermind thief Parker from that series of novels. This time we join Tracy as he's still working off his debt to syndicate boss Mr. Hyde. This is going unsuccessfully, so Hyde taps him to figure out who is knocking off all the kingpins in the city, fearing he's next.
There's all the usual noir hallmarks -- dirty cops, dames, double-crosses, druglords and deadbeats -- but as Bru just about always does, he'll mix and match everything so you're full of genuine surprise as he pulls the rug out from under you again and again.
It's another stunning winner from this dynamic duo, and continues to be a must-read.
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 22: Ultimatum 
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Stuwert Immonen
Marvel Comics, released 1-13-10
And then there is the worst comic I've read in -- well, I'm not really sure, but it's been a while.
Much as I unabashedly love Brubaker and Phillips, I love Ultimate Spider-Man. It is such a consistently fun and wonderful read. Or it was until it's swan-song edition.
The fault in volume 22 is that it's an addendum to the grand* event Ultimatum. It doesn't wrap up the series and barely has a discernible plot of it's own.
To be fair, this is Jeph Loeb's fault. I tracked down Ultimatum after finishing this collection because I had assumed some pieces in the puzzle would be put in place, and they were. Problem was, only some of them were, and not nearly enough.
Hey, look, here's some characters you love. Watch me destroy them for no rational or explained reason.
In other words, this was Loeb writing big, but without anything substantive behind it to there were yet more parts of the Ultimatum pie strewn around in the other Ultimate titles, but I'm not going to bother to read those. Ever.
Okay, so this isn't really very short for The Shortbox anymore, so I'll stop ranting and rambling.
Magus, who is an expert on all things in the Ultimate line, has assured me that USM has returned to form now that Bendis isn't beholden to Loeb's event plotline, and the other Ultimate titles are, ahem, ultimately better because of that shithole of an event. A red pill/blue pill situation if I ever heard one.
My advice is, don't read volume 22 of Ultimate Spider-Man. It makes me so sad to write that because almost all of the other 21 volumes are fantastic.
*[giant eye-roll]

**Note on The Shortbox: I'm not interested in giving ratings on comics any more (or any other media, for that matter), so any future entries will not have a rating included. I think you'll be better served by reading my opinion within the entirety of the review instead.

1 comment:

Magus said...

I think a great way for a reader of USM to approach the title post-Ultimatum is to not read Ultimatum and try to piece together a more awesome story in their minds than what was produced. USM continues to be an amazing read and has done great things in the aftermath of a terrible event book.