Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dreamer's Syndrome Hits the Shelves

Dreamer's Syndrome, written by me and published by White Rocket Books can be ordered directly from WRB. Available soon everywhere else.

To get your copy or check out the website, head on over to the Dreamer's page at WRB.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Captain America & Deadpool Save the World

Cable & Deadpool 45: "Band of (Oh) Brothers" (Nicieza & Brown).

This book deserves a more fitting end than it's getting.

Cable & Deadpool is going to be canceled. Cable is already dead. Cable is going to get his own ongoing series. Deadpool, on the other hand, is very much alive. Deadpool will not be getting his own series.

Instead, Deadpool has to finish out the string on the current Cable & Deadpool series.

Which is a shame, because this is one of the ten best books Marvel is pumping out these days

In C&D 45, our irascible non-hero gets accidentally shot back in
time alongside Bob the Hydra agent and end up fighting alongside Captain America and Bucky in World War II in a single-issue romp that has Cap and Bucky trying to stop Arnim Zola and Wade and Bob trying to get to Zola to see if he can send them back to the present.

The gags are amusing enough, but what makes the issue is Nicieza's decision to have Bob narrate the story. Bob's moral quandry is deciding which side to be on since he finds himself dropped down in time next to Captain America, the bane of Hydra's existence. He informs us that he's an American first and a Hydra agent second, but it's not an easy choice.

Except that it is because his real choice is to run and hide, which he can't do because Deadpool wants to help - or at least tag along with Cap and Bucky in order to get to Zola. And that's what makes the book worth reading. Humor books can get old and directionless rather fast, but character bits like Bob's desire to run and hide or his pondering about whether staying in the past would be all that terrible provide a solid backbone to keep things moving.

Seems wrong that Deadpool is apparently going to be in limbowhile Cable gets yet another shot at solo-book success.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thor 2 & 3: KRA-KA-WHISPER

Thor 2 & 3 (JMS & Coipel).

JMS' Thor is allegedly slow moving.

I hear this complaint all over the place in regards to the title but I don't buy it. Could the stories move faster? Sure, but to claim (as some have) that "nothing happens" seems a bit absurd to me. In the first issue, Thor returns. In the second issue, Thor brings Asgard to Oklahoma. In the third issue, Tony Stark arrives and there's "finally" some action as Thor and Iron Man have a bit of a throwdown.

Could all of this have been accomplished in the first issue? Yeah, sure, but JMS' take seems to be that the return is as much the story as whatever it is that comes next. I'm finding it a solid strategy that plays to JMS' writing strengths and I'm just flat-out enjoying each issue. The art by Coipel, Morales, and Martin makes this one of the most gorgeous looking books on the shelves and provide a perfect visual component to JMS' stories.

JMS' approach in the first three issues is to take the signature story moment (the return, Asgard coming to Oklahoma, Stark) and build a single-issue story around it. In doing this JMS is keeping the book new-reader friendly and developing long-term sub-plots for the long-term readers. In issue 2, for instance, the signature moment is Asgard's arrival in Oklahoma. JMS' Thor is solemn and serious, so he builds in the response of the locals to provide some levity and contextualization. JMS is taking a comic-realist approach to Thor, having the local population react to the arrival of Asgard into their midst - the cops don't like it, the population doesn't quite know what to make of it, and the owner of the land wants to be compensated. We see the "real" commenting on the "fantastic."

Issue 3 inverts this idea, where the "fantastic" comments on the "real." Thor's quest to find the missing Asgardians - whose souls have been trapped in the souls of mortals - begins in New Orleans and allows JMS to use Thor to comment on the real-world devastation of the city, first by Hurricane Katrina and secondly by the United States government's (and by extension the superhero community's) failure to provide help for the people of New Orleans. A mortal man (who turns out to have Heimdall's soul trapped inside of him) rips on Thor for not helping during the storm or in the repairs, accusing him of bringing a false hope to the people of the city. It's a powerful moment when the man tells Thor he won't allow him to use the city as a "some kinda movie set," but it's not a bombastic moment.

That comes next as Iron Man arrives to have a chat with Thor. Whatever one thinks of Tony Stark's behavior from the beginning of the Registration Act, through the Civil War, and into the Director of SHIELD present, I don't think any writer has been harder on Stark than JMS. Where Bendis attempts to give a more well-rounded view of Stark, and the Knaufs deal with the burden being placed on him, JMS treats Stark as an outright bad guy. In Thor 3, JMS doesn't give us a Stark that's controlling everything, but one that is a government lackey. The dialogue is filled with accusations of Tony being a stooge for the political leaders behind the Registration Act.

What's discouraging is that JMS puts these accusations not just in Thor's mouth but in Tony's. It's one thing to have Thor drop phrases to Tony like, "As for your masters," but another to have Tony plead with Thor for a resolution by arguing for a compromise between the government and Thor by saying, "An approach along those lines would make sure my superiors don't lose face." It makes Stark seem weak and sniveling, not as a guy looking to do the right (albeit misguided) thing. For a book that's so smart, it's a childish shot by JMS and it makes him come off as a guy who just wants to take shots at Civil War and not as someone interested in doing anything with it. His decision to have Thor simply check out of the conflict is a better development because it's built not only on Thor's sense of god-driven superiority but on his mission to return all his fellow Asgardians to life.

You would think, however, that JMS has to have Thor address Captain America's death at some point. That Thor doesn't even acknowledge Cap's death to Stark sits like a gap in the story and feels like an unresolved issue until it is addressed.

JMS might take his sweet time in putting everything back the way it was (whatever that means) but I, for one, am enjoying the heck out of the ride.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Avengers 34: Skrulls Need Not Apply

New Avengers 34: "Trust, Part Three" (Bendis & Yu).

There is a Skrull story coming, right? The "Trust" storyline is based on the concept of (wait for it ...) trust, stemming from the revelation that Elektra was a Skrull and the New Avengers don't really know each other all that well, so no one knows who they can trust and who they can't and ... and ...

Well, two issues ago there was this whole matter of a plane crashing and Spider-Woman maybe or maybe-not being a Skrull and ... and ...

And since then the Skrull plot got hijacked by the arrival of the Hood plot last issue and that led into this issue's Wolverine v. Hood throwdown and ... and ...

And now the Hood plot has been hijacked by the Symbiote plot.



I understand what Bendis is getting at - that life is so busy that you can't always deal with whatever issue you want to deal with in a given moment. The Hood is going to send Deathlok against the Mighty Avengers so you head to Avengers Tower to protect the people who want to arrest you and ... and ...

And there's a whole mess of symbiotes running around and causing confusion. Which makes sense, because over in Mighty Avengers, that team is fighting ... um ... isn't the Ultron story still going on? Did I completely miss the end of that story or has it not come out yet?

I guess I don't really mind all the new stories getting in the way of old stories since that's been a consistent theme throughout New Avengers and Bendis has announced that all of this will come to a head in the 8-issue Secret Invasion mini-series coming out in April 2008 that Bendis promises will put:

"the exclamation point on this Skrull story. The miniseries in and of itself has a beginning, middle and end like Civil War, but if you’ve been following what’s been going on – it’s a huge payoff, but if you’re just reading Secret Invasion, you’ll get a full, large-scale Marvel Universe story. The conspiratorial aspects of the story pour through both Avengers titles, and then comes to a head in Secret Invasion. Whoever is a Skrull is revealed right away, their plan is revealed and executed and things are left changed. Once you find out who’s a Skrull and who’s not, you’ll see that it’s impossible to put things back the way they were. And like I said – that’s a part of the story. The one thing that identifies this storyline and why I’m so excited to do it, because I’m one of the people responsible for all of the divisions within the Marvel Universe – this story certainly has the ability to be the uniter, uniting things for the first time in literally three years, or even more. There’s nothing like having someone else’s ass to kick to pull all the sides together. But the pieces will definitely be in place to see something that we haven’t seen in a long time."

Great, but does that mean we have to wait until January 2009 to see the Hood story continue?

Don't get me wrong - Secret Invasion sounds awesome and with Bendis and Yu working together I'm sure it'll be great. But what about now?

Now we've still got the New Avengers working through trust issues and Doc Strange has to cast another spell to try and convince everyone they are who they say they are. This time around it's a spell that reveals a "visual projection of the true nature of the individual," which would have some suspense if you didn't see the cover.

NA 34 is a weird reading experience - there's both lots of things happening and lots of nothing happening. It's like being in a car that's spinning its wheels incredibly fast - fast enough to get the car to slide around a bit but not really move forward. Then when it does it lurches and you end up someplace other than where you thought you'd be. When Bendis is writing dialogue like he does here I could read him all day, yet eventually I'd like to see some conflicts resolved. I want to see what happened with Spider-Woman. I want to know what's going on with Skrull Elektra's body. I want to see Deathlok kicking some ass. I want to see a conflict between Avengers New and Mighty ...

But I wouldn't be surprised at all if we all tuned in next issue and instead of battling symbiotes the New Avengers ended up having a picnic with Woodgod.

Which would be cool, but I'd like to see the book move forward instead of continually moving sideways.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Black Adam: The Joys of Sacrifice & Cannibalism

Black Adam: The Dark Age 1 (of 6) (Tomasi & Mahnke).

Black Adam was the most interesting of all the characters in 52, so it's a shame to see what's become of him.

In 52 we saw the transformative power of romantic love, as Teth-Adam's relationship with Isis brought him to new heights of personal joy. More importantly, the political part of the story was crafted to give Adam some standing with the audience - he wasn't the good guy, necessarily, but he had some level of justification for his actions. Combined with the redemptive power of Isis' love Adam's story had a real strength to it - a strength that DC lost when Isis died and Adam went beserk with grief.

It's only gotten worse for Adam. After a brief dip into Countdown to play creepy-guy-in-the-shadows with Mary Marvel, Adam gets his own LS in which he is so determined to get Isis back that he has his followers beat his face to an unrecognizable pulp so he can get back across the Kahdaq border without ID, then has some of his followers sacrifice themselves to assassin's bullets so he can escape, and then eats his final follower's body for strength to climb to the Lazarus Pit where he brings Isis back to life.

Yeah, what part of any of that makes Adam appealing?

I give Tomasi and Mahnke (whose art is as strong as ever) credit for making the story appealing when Adam isn't. I can't root for Adam to succeed because he's crossed too many lines and seeks no redemption, but I can get interested in reading about his exploits, and The Dark Age is a mildly interesting book. The first issue is solid without ever totally pulling me into the story. It clings too much to the surface when the story cries out for depth.

The second issue is supposed to come out tomorrow and I'll give it a look but if that book doesn't improve things I won't be sticking around for the back 2/3 of the series.