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Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #4 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Rev. Paul Acerios
Asst Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Publisher: Marvel Comcis

Though not what I’d typical consider my usual fare for comics…there’s something about the over-the-top situation and visuals the character winds up in that just makes this a fun read. Though the story takes place pretty much in context of a current Marvel Universe, it sits on an edge just slightly off from most of the other books.

Whether it’s something outrageous like a zombie Tyrannosaur, to the cheesecake Dr. Betty, to the wisecracking Deadpool himself, this story takes established characters and concepts (AIM, Hydra, etc.) and sets them just on the other side of “fantastic” from “comic book realistic.”

The cover scheme for this book has also been fun–rather than just another logo or standard cover design, the title’s been presented in different fonts, as the covers have been “Deadpool-ization” of other classic images in our popular culture (much the same way Suydam’s original Marvel Zombies covers were “zombified” takes on classic Marvel covers. Even the intro/recap page for this title has been fun, changing things up a bit.

We continue following Deadpool, Dr. Betty, and zombie-Deadpool’s head as AIM and Hydra vie for the “bioweapon” the head represents by way of the zombie virus. One needn’t even be all that familiar with these fictional organizations…just that both involve loads of generic footsoldiers, goofy costumes, and all that…with the smarter folks at the head of the organization. Deadpool deals with the zombified Tyrannosaur, and has what I consider a classic slapstick sorta response in one panel that put me immediately in mind of old cartoons I used to watch as a kid. It was predictable, I totally saw it coming…and while predictable isn’t always good, it felt just right as it was used here.

The issue’s art has a nice balance wherein it’s not terribly realistic (too much realism would totally spoil the feel of the story) and yet it avoids feeling too “cartooney.” The art seems a great fit for the story…and the way Deadpool saw the Tyrannosaur was quite amusing.

The cover is labeled with a “parental advisory,” for good reason. The violence and gore, and PG-13 clothing on Dr. Betty, and a bit of coarse language certainly make this something to avoid providing to the younger crowd.

I have near-zero interest in any of the rest of the Marvel Universe these days…but this little “family” of titles focusing on Deadpool have been reminding me that it’s not the characters or the universe that disinterests me as much as a lack of genuinely enjoyable and amusing stories.

While the main Deadpool title has been very good, this just carries a different level of fun and adventure that makes it my favorite of the two titles…at least for now. (And it remains to be seen how Deadpool Team-Up will hold against the main title and this one).

You don’t need to be reading any other titles to follow what’s going on here–you don’t even have to be following the main Deadpool title. That has its story rooted within current Marvel Event Continuity, while this title has its own self-contained story set in the Marvel Universe but not hampered by the ongoing Event Continuity.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Blackest Night: Superman #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Change is in the air

“It’s part of growing up, I suppose…you always have to leave something behind you.” ~ Edwin (Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Season of Mists)

For several months, I’ve been noticing my trips to the comic store have been getting more and more expensive, with my per-week cost climbing significantly. A lot of that is due to jumping on new Batman titles with the post-Battle for the Cowl launch; the Blackest Night event with its core mini and ancillary minis; and a friend recently turning me on to the Deadpool books.

The last several weeks I’ve had times where I’ve had to leave a comic on the shelf because what I can budget for that week for comics hits its upper limit. On the plus side (better or worse), I haven’t really missed several of these. Others I’m going to miss, but it comes down to what I’m most enjoying reading, and what I find myself most looking forward to in a given month or week. I can’t afford to buy comics that slip to the bottom of the weekly pile or even go unread entirely for weeks on end because I’m not actually excited to read that issue.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been keeping up with several series specifically to be able to review them. I can’t afford to keep that up right now.

Unfortunately, that means that what’s left does give me a certain bias in reviews: I can ONLY review the books that I’m actually buying (until/unless anyone provides me with review copies of anything), and I can only buy what I can justify…and said justification comes with a pre-conceived expectation of actually enjoying a book.

Still…expectation does not necessarily mean actuality. And of course, for those of you actually reading these reviews…you’ll still be getting my honest thoughts regarding a given issue–that will definitely not change.  As far as this blog, I plan to continue reviewing what I can; sharing my thoughts/opinions on the occasions I choose to post the random thoughts, and of course, sharing other content as I come up with it–like my series of photos last month.

Ultimately, there’s something to the old saying…”the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Adventure Comics #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Superboy:
Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5

Legion of Super-Heroes:
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Booster Gold #25 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Booster Gold:
Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5

Blue Beetle:
Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Deadpool #900 [Review]

Issue Credits

Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For $4.99, this issue would have to do quite a bit in order to justify its cost. Thankfully, it more than delivered. While I was really hoping it would be all-original content, my only real frustration at there being a reprint in the back (Deadpool Team-Up featuring Deadpool and Widdle Wade) is that that was one of about a half-dozen Deadpool comics that I already own from the 90s–and which I’d spent several hours just last weekend digging through 18 longboxes to find.

As-is, this is far from the “typical” Deadpool comic–nothing here seems to be in-continuity in the sense of advancing either of the main plots for the first two Deadpool ongoings. However, this faux-anniversary issue is a great “primer” for new fans, and presumably quite a treat for old fans. There may not be any real throughline in the book, but we get seven short stories starring Deadpool, but different creative teams new and old that give the character a chance to shine.

And the number is a nice play on the recent re-numbering Marvel has done with its various titles (I do wonder if Deadpool himself might have appeared in 900 comics through the years, which would me nicely appropriate).  It definite fits the character to play with the numbering–and I surprisingly don’t mind for this one character, as it seems an obvious riff on things rather than a serious numbering bit.

I really enjoyed Liefeld’s art on the Joe Kelly story–there was just something to it, perhaps simply the knowledge that the art’s by the guy that created the character. My favorite story of the bunch was Swierczynski’s riff on a certain tv show about crime scene investigators. Having enjoyed these shorts as I did…if Marvel ever decides to move the Deadpool books to the $3.99 price point, I would hope they’d consider having new original content such as these included after a full-length “main” story.

As these stories are not part of any of the ongoing stuff, if you simply enjoy the Deadpool character or are curious, this is a fantastic single issue to pick up. The original content alone is really worth the cover price (particularly compared against Marvel’s standard-sized $3.99 books!), and you get a reprint of an issue from the 90s that you’d be lucky to find by itself for the price of this issue, these days.

Long-time fan, new fan, or just curious about who the heck Deadpool is…I highly recommend this issue!

Close Encounters of the @*#$ed-Up Kind
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Chris Staggs
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Gracia

This story sees Deadpool beamed onto an alien spacecraft, where he is subjected to the aliens’ probing. However…Deadpool being Deadpool, the tables are quickly turned with a chewed-off arm (his own) and turning the aliens’ machinery against them. Rather than simply delivering a carload of dead guys where he was headed…he delivers a bunch of dead guys and a ship of dead aliens.

This is definitely an over-the-top sorta Deadpool story–the bit with the arm I’m beginning to sense may be a running gag with the character. The art’s not my favorite depiction by any means, but definitely gets stuff across quite well in an indie-comics cartooney sort of way.

Silent But Deadly
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic

This story opens with a bang…or rather, if we get technical, a “Boom” as Deadpool’s caught in an explosion. Though his eardrums’re blown out by the explosion, it doesn’t take away from his ability to kick butt, facing 3…well, I actually thought of The Joker’s minions, but that’s a whole other sort of thing. They seem to have some sort of invulnerability, at least to Deadpool’s swords. Once he switches to guns…the fight’s basically over. The “punchline” of the story was rather amusing, and seems typical of the character as well.

The art’s not bad, but not what I typically associate with the character. Still, no complaint with it, really–in a quasi-“anthology” such as this issue, I don’t really expect a consistent visual style nor for every visual interpretation of a character to be my personal ideal.

Deadpool: Shrunken Master
Writer: Mike Benson
Artist: Damion Scott
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

With a couple of “light” stories out of the way, this one goes down a much darker path. Here we see Deadpool at a psychiatrist, having an apparently typical-for-Deadpool session. We see the smart-aleckiness of the character, and it’s actually quite interesting seeing him interacting with someone like this, being analyzed and even doing some self-analyzing. However, there’s a twist toward the end as we see that Deadpool’s motive is not to seek counciling, but rather see some justice done.

This was another story that to me comes across as what I can only really describe as “indie”–it’s not typical/mainstream super-hero fare…or at least, none that I’m used to associating with such. Yet, it really carries the mood quite well, and does exactly what it should. Again, not my favorite depiction, but for very well-suited to this particular story.

Pinky Swear
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Rob Liefeld

This was the story I was most looking forward to for this issue, after having read the Marvel Spotlight: Deadpool issue last week. We find Deadpool in the midst of a battle, with a pretty woman hanging on for dear life. We have some…questionable (but fitting) inner dialogue from Deadpool’s voices. Before long, Deadpool is reminded of a date he’s gotta keep–with an old friend from his school days. The boys had a bet over whether his friend would marry someone in particular by a certain time, and mid-battle (with the battle following him) Deadpool finds the guy, and the bet is settled.

I normally don’t care all that much for Liefeld’s art, but it worked quite well here–likely for nostalgia, knowing this is Deadpool as visualized by the character’s creator. The story itself seems to really fit the character–that even in the middle of a gun battle and with an attractive woman at his side trying to stay alive, Deadpool would keep some childhood promise where other ‘dates’ may not be kept. The bet itself really makes it work, as it seems so trivial, and yet Deadpool makes it into this huge thing.

What Happens in Vegas…
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Shawn Crystal
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

This story quickly becomes a rather obvious riff on the tv show CSI. Deadpool’s very much aware here of the “real world,” and the formula of the tv show. The fact that anyone would pronounce him dead and yet he’s cognitive–both of his surroundings and of where the reader might be looking–is an interesting use of narrative further illustrating the character’s nature. As it turns out, the story itself is Deadpool trying to get a particular reaction from one of the investigators–inserting himself into the “mythology” of the show, given the typical, cheesey one-liners. And of course, not getting the intended reaction, Deadpool reacts violently, before explaining to the reader what he was going for.

Not all that thrilled with the art on this one, but it fits the story. The investigator characters are pretty much recognizeable, knowing who they’re supposed to be…without being actual likenesses of the tv actors/actres. As said earlier, this was my favorite story in this issue…it took me by surprise, but the fact that I’m aware of the show and the bit Deadpool’s going for…I just really enjoyed it. All the more because of the pun Deadpool’s going for being right up my own alley humour-wise (though of course I do not condone the violence!).

Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Sanford Greene
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Dave McCaig

This was a rather amusing short. Basically, Deadpool’s on vacation on a cruise ship, and his typical, violent nature is most assuredly NOT compatible with the typical vacationer. Unfortunately for Deadpool…Dr. Octopus is also present, and does not take kindly to the mercenary’s presence. Deadpool suggests some “vacation code” (typical that he’d have something like that in mind, whether or not anyone else even KNOWS of it or recognizes it). The ending’s darkly amusing, playing with scene transition in a way that works very well in this medium.

The art is very cartooney, but that works well for this story. This actually may be one of the least-violent Deadpool stories I’ve read, and it looks entirely possible that–while severely inconvenienced–no one in the story actually dies. Really just an entertaining story.

One Down
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Kyle Baker

This story has a bit of typical Deadpool as the character ultimately continues to break the “fourth wall” since he’s fully aware that he is a comic character. It also serves as some strong commentary on the current/contemporary nature of comic characters, especially from Marvel and DC. There’s also a hint of Jay & Silent Bob here at the story’s ending…or at least, I thought of that film with the way it ended compared to this.

We see Deadpool conversing with the voices in his head as he gets up and around for the day, going through all the stuff he needs to in order to reach a particular target. The identity of the target is what brings the whole story together. Once again, a rather dark place for the story to go…quite morbid, actually. And yet, it puts a certain depth and seriousness to Deadpool that I think I’d actually be very interested in seeing explored.

I’m not all that familiar with Baker’s art, though he’s one of the view names I recognize amongst the artists for this issue. The style works very well for the story. The visual and written aspects work very well in a way that really wouldn’t work in anything BUT a comic, even while this piece itself comments on comics.

This one wasn’t as “fun” as the CSI riff…but next to that, I think this was my other favorite of the issue.

Deadpool and Widdle Wade

Well…actually, this is a whole separate issue, deserving of its own review. Its inclusion here obviously beefs up Deadpool #900, especially as it was already a special by itself.

Blackest Night: Batman #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Green Lantern Corps #41 [Review]

Hungry Heart

Story & Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman, Keith Champagne & Tom Nguyen
Colorists: Randy Mayor, Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Adam Schlagman
Cover: Gleason and Buchman (variant by Greg Horn)
Publisher: DC Comics

As with a number of Blackest Night issues, this issue deals with a number of different ongoing scenes, with a couple dominating the book. While we see Soranik and crew dealing with the Black Ring/Lantern assault on wounded GLs, we also see Arisia facing her uncle, father, and mother who were GLs before her and who had died in service to the GL Corps. We also see Kilowog cut loose against the Black Lantern version of his old mentor and trainer from his own days as a rookie GL. And as the cover shows, we see a bunch of children of the GLs raised by the black rings…and “backup” arrives, ready to kick butt.

All in all, a swiftly moving issue. Tomasi–as with his other Blackest Night chapter this week in the Batman tie-in–shows that he’s got a great handle on the characters involved and things that make them tick–such that the manipulations of the Black Lanterns have something to grab hold of to try to move these characters to particular emotions in preparation for harvesting their hearts. While it’s easy to give Johns much of the credit for Blackest Night, Tomasi‘s getting a lot of moments to shine…and even this issue seems like it may have a huge event in it that isn’t explicitly followed up on.

Gleason‘s art fits the usual expectation for this title, keeping a good handle on what’s going on from place to place/scene to scene. While I (as usual) care little for this style on a number of characters, the artist’s style works well for me in terms of the Black Lanterns. Something seemed really “off” when it came to the visuals of Kilowog, though, and that really pulled me out of the story.

We’re not even halfway through Blackest Night as a whole…there are still 5 issues of the main series, a couple more issues to the first round of minis, a bunch of tie-ins in other titles in november, another round of minis, plus a month of one-shots, plus the requisite GLC and GL issues and probably some wrap up stuff that’ll technically be part of the event.

It’s a lot of elements that make this what it is…while I’ve not been overly ENJOYING this title’s chapters due to the art style, on the whole I’m finding a lot to enjoy with the event…so it’s quite cool that unlike the first round of minis, we’re not ALREADY hitting some conclusion.

I’ve said it before and expect I’ll continue to reiterate it in the coming months: this truly feels like what Infinite Crisis and/or Final Crisis combined SHOULD have been. Length, scope…sheer depth for the characters.

This issue is hardly the point to jump in cold…but for readers following Blackest Night, this is well worth getting and reading–we even see where at least a couple of the shorts from this summer’s Tales of the Corps come into play–they provided context that otherwise would’ve left two key scenes in this book to fall flat.

Story: 8/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 7/10

“Packaging” is important, too!

It’s certainly not a new topic by any means. But it re-occurred to me today as I was leaving Borders just how much the “packaging” of a product (specifically book or comic/collected-volume) matters.

I went in planning to purchase The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks with my 40%-off coupon of the weekend. The volume, however, seemed both too skinny for its retail price, and too small in dimensions overall–larger than, say, the Zombie Survival guide itself, but smaller than a standard (Marvel or DC) graphic novel. For $17 and flipping through and seeing it more flash than substance (more art than words) I actually decided I’ll hold off on it for now. Sure, it’s still on my want-list, but it can definitely wait.

I also noticed a couple of Marvel books in particular where the “Premiere Hardcover” was next to the TPB. With Captain America: The Man With No Face, the paperback is $15.99 while the hardback is $19.99. Now, I know as well as ANYone that $4 can be quite a bit. But these days, for the price of an average Marvel comic, I’ll pay the “upgrade fee” and get the hardcover when there’s so little difference in price! (when available/able, of course). But there’s something discouraging (for lack of better word) about seeing a nice hardcover with a paperback next to it…and realizing they’re practically the same price despite the price differences. (For that…I’d like to see the paperbacks go to a standard digest-size and be about half the price of the hardcovers.)

I happened across a Zombies anthology (different from the Living Dead anthology)…massive paperback. Granted, it’s all prose…but $20. And for page count, it DWARFS the average Marvel/IDW (and even DC) $20 paperbacks. For sheer size, it would certainly beat out a number of other books for the price.

I listened to a Comic Geek Speak podcast today where they talked about the TMNT Collected Volume One; the content’s good, obviously…but the packaging is very minimal…no text/pictures/description on the back, the spine is just text on a background, and the cover is simply a closeup of one of the Turtles’ faces…no logos, even on the cover.

Now, granted, in bookstores or even at home, the spine is probably what’s gonna be seen most…but still…it’s always nice when a book’s entirety just looks good as well as containing good quality content.

As a book person, I also prefer when things look good TOGETHER on the shelf…and for a series to look like a series…that is, a common trade dress and size. I have actually opted AGAINST buying books because they don’t fit with others or otherwise waited til I could get a different edition that WOULD fit. (I also specifically AVOID the extra-tall mass-market paperbacks…I mean, what’s the POINT of these? I suppose that’ll be a topic for another post).

Haunt #1 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo
Publisher: Image Comics

OK, so call me a sucker. This is a first issue, yeah. And I recently missed out on the debut of Chew, which had seemed interesting from an ad or two I’d seen. The Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman co-creation Haunt also seemed like a sorta interesting thing–again, from an ad. I’d pretty much forgotten about it entirely, though, until I received an email yesterday (the day before the comic’s release) about its release. I don’t know what landed me on this particular email list, but at least it was targeted, and did its job very, very well. Take these factors: two big names–creators whose books I’ve enjoyed recently, and a cheap-in-today’s-market cover price (this book’s only $2.99 cover price)–and combine them with “notice” or “attention” and you have a combination sufficient to get me to pick the book up. (Unfortunately, though I should’ve realized, there is the taint of variant covers, which I didn’t even consider…I wasn’t paying attention and am not particularly thrilled with the cover I wound up with).

So…what’s this Haunt thing all about? It’s only the first issue, so there’s plenty to wonder at. We’re introduced to a handful of characters and how they’re related to one another…and find out that one of them is actually dead, apparently a figment of his brother’s imagination. Only, there’s something more to it than “imagination.” When the surviving brother looks in on a woman both brothers had been involved with in the past–he’s got some less than wonderful history with her, it seems–he doesn’t think there’s anything to protect her from, though is soon proven wrong. When a couple of armed individuals enter the scene, a bit of a transformation occurs, and we meet the title character of the series.

I doubt much of it will stick as interesting to me long-term. But for the moment, there’s something interesting about the title character to me–the relationship between the brothers and the transformation that leaves one facing “Haunt.” I was put in mind of the Kevin Green transformation into Prime (for those few of you who remember the character). There’s also the slight twist on a quasi-archetype that I won’t get into as it’d be pretty serious spoiler territory.

The art team’s pretty familiar, and yet brings something new to the table. There’s a difference in visual style from Invincible and Spawn, but also a similarity to both…sorta like it has the grittiness of Spawn softened by the brighter style of Invincible. And honestly…works very well to me.

On the whole–for both the story and the visuals–this feels very much at-home in the same universe as Spawn (it remains to be seen if it is, actually) while not entirely out of place in a universe that has Invincible in it. With or without the comparisons…it’s got a fairly generic premise mixed with an intriguing twist sufficient to hook me and leave me interested in seeing what the next issue brings.

I bought this issue thanks to the initial hype/marketing and the names attached to it.

The package itself–the story, the hook–will bring me back for another look-see.

As something new, to get in at the beginning of what’s likely a major project with either Kirkman or McFarlane, this is well worth checking out…if only for this first issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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