DCU: Brave New World (DC): 80 pages for $1. I didn't like all of the pieces, but I really felt like this was an awesome read, dense stories that felt "real" and not like fluff or filler. I felt like I really got a good deal here. Story #1: Martian Manhunter. Yeah, didn't care. Story #2: OMAC. Really engaging script from Bruce Jones, I surprisingly started to care about these characters and was pulled right into the well-paced action. Renato Guedes' art is amazing! Very, very sweet. Looked like a blend of Tony Harris' expressive art and the smooth, soft lines of the Luna Brothers. Story #3: Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters. Nice art, though it did seem to be inked and colored much too dark. Gray & Palmiotti have the makings of an interesting story here, with an aggressive Authority-style take on policing the world. Daniel Acuna's art was a treat as well, takes some of the photorealism of say, Alex Ross, and merges that with a masterful use of shadows and perspective that really make it pop with depth and clarity. Wonderul stuff. Story #4: The Creeper. Borrrrrrrrr-ing. Generic vigilante stuff. You could easily substitute Bruce Wayne or any Marvel street-level hero in this role and not skip a beat, nothing original. And Justiniano's art wavers between a manic Vertigo-style and something from the 90's Image house style. It lacks proportion and grace. Story #5: The Atom. Well, you can definitely feel Grant Morrison's influence on Gail Simone's script here with all of the techno-babble. I liked the quotes linking the real and fictitious scientists with Atom's superficial foibles. Neat. This was really reminiscent of the 1960's Atom & Hawkman team-up stories that put them in some ridiculous circumstances, but overall there is a likable ease to it and it comes off just like good ol' fashioned adventure comics, something the industry needs more of. John Byrne's art seems to have less of the cheery, affable, happiness to it that I used to hate. His style has settled into a nice detailed offering, with fully realized backgrounds, and nice energy to the panel transitions that's perfectly matched for these types of stories. Nice Twilight Zone feel to the ending. Story #5: Trials of Shazam. Didn't really care for Winick's mystical, magical hoo-ha. Just don't know why I'm supposed to care. Art was interesting, I could not have told you that was Howard Porter unless I checked the credits. I thought his new style was neat, but a bit off in parts. Dr. Fate, Shade, and Zatanna looked kinda' cool in action, but when did Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel become Asian? Mary Marvel looked cute as a petite Asian girl, I just didn't know she was supposed to look Asian, haha! And, the Monitor(s)? Really? Geez, can't we just let the universe be? Can't we just let all the stories play out without someone trying to manipulate the multiverse already? Have we learned nothing from Crisis, and Zero Hour, and the weird congolomeration of all these reboots and retcons? Just. Tell. Good. Stories. Overall, this book was great! I really felt like I read 6 distinct comics for just a buck. It took me a nice span of time to chug through them all and I really enjoyed myself and the feel that DC had something(s) to offer. I will definitely be buying Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters and The Atom (2 titles I would probably have passed on if it weren't for this book). OMAC is kind of borderline. And I'll pass on Shazam, Creeper, and Martian Manhunter. But, this was a solid, solid project. Nice job, DC. Grade A.
New Avengers #21 (Marvel): This Civil War tie-in is interesting, if for no other reason than the Howard Chaykin art. It was really a treat to see him bring his blocky angular style to the Avengers. It looks almost as if someone took a magnifying glass to Richard Corben's art. Bendis still seems to use some dialogue for Cap that is out of character, being a bit too casual sounding. And his dialogue for the Falcon is pretty stereotypical, almost uncomfortably so. Not much else here except some interesting back story on how Cap and Falcon first formed the resistance movement to the Superhuman Registration Act. Mostly for the art, Grade B.
Virgin Comics #0 (Virgin Comics): Okay. It's kind of sad that even though this sampler comic was free, I feel like I want my money back. I feel like I got the bad end of the bargain here. So we get to sample two stories, Devi and Ramayan something or other. Ramayan Reborn was it? Doesn't matter. So the art has sort of a dark Humanoids, kind of European style to it, which is a bit of a mismatch with the story material. Basically they relied too much on prose. They tried to tap into this native mythology of India. They tried too hard to hit this cultural feeling and missed a very simple fact. The simple fact is that when you try to make good comic books, you should first and foremost, you know, make a good engaging comic book. This was so boring and dense. It just wasn't interesting at all, nothing popped. They took some CrossGen style mysticism and blended that with some Eastern settings and references and called it a day. Not at all unique. On top of that, the whole line of books seems so overly planned. The "Shakti," (power) line is about indigenous tales retold in some fashion. The "Director's Cut" line is stories from filmmakers from what I can tell, they seem to gladly reference John Woo. And finally, the "Voices" line is supposedly about all of those wonderful creators we would "kill to work with," yet there is no mention of any of them. It's like going to a restaurant and being told, "the food is really good here... What's that you say? Menus? Oh no, we don't have menus, just trust us!" You'd think industrial mogul Sir Richard Branson would have done a little more research into the foibles of CrossGen and some other "planned" lines before commissioning this endeavor. We've got to all learn that you can't "plan" good art, it's got to happen a little more organically. Only because it was free, Grade D-.
X-Factor #8 (Marvel): Another Civil War tie-in that reads pretty much like the last couple of issues of X-Factor. Meaning there were some things I liked and some things that were quite distracting. I liked Siryn's monologue about the "erosion of freedom." Hey, Marvel Editors! Yeah, you! Over here! So is it officially the Superhuman Registration Act or the Superhero Registration Act? Most Civil War books I've read seem pretty consistent with Superhuman, but X-Factor and a few others seem to mistakenly keep calling it the Superhero Act. Get it straight, please. Denis Calero, dude, your art is killing me. Why does Rahne look like a 12 year old boy? Shouldn't a hot tempered Irish female with feline powers be kinda'... I don't know, *sexy* or something? Why do Guido's red glasses go from non-existent, to sort of floating mysteriously around his chin in one panel, to magically back on his face a few panels later? Do these tie in books happen before or after the main Civil War books? Some of the actions in this book would seem to pre-date the main books (the conversation with Spider-Man and the generic villain) while others seem to come after (Spidey's conversation with Siryn). Peter David basically comes right out and says in his letters column that Marvel Editorial ain't the best and is not terribly coordinated when it comes to continuity from title to title. Oh, Banshee died in another X-Book? Gee, I guess we ought to have his daughter Siryn grieve in X-Factor, huh? Nice catch. The art is still horribly inconsistent and this felt like a bit of a stretch, as most tie-in event comics do. The only thing keeping me around is PAD's writing ability, my fondness for the characters, and the promise of an X-Factor #87 style psychiatry scene in issue #13. Grade B-.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #6 (Marvel): This is still kooky, kooky, fun action! A deranged Dirk Anger has a nice meltdown and rants about his wife even as his ship is going down in flames. Tabitha, Elsa, Machine-Man, and the gang are kinda' even starting to gel as a team and are pretty capable when they stop bickering and taking shots at eachother. One-liners abound as former member of X-Force Tabitha repeatedly says "farting," references to "lizard squeezes" ensue, and Dirk's precious lines are delivered: "They eat girls, Monica! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! They eat girls!" Immonen's pencils make it look so easy. There is a grace and ease to his linework that look so natural. Aaron wearing the bra and posing proudly made me go "tee-hee-hee" out loud. My thoughts on this book mirror Elsa's comments to Aaron: "It's just ****ing disturbing, darling." Grade A-.