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Flashback: Review of Silver Surfer 36 (April 1990) October 7, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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When I saw that this was the randomly chosen issue for this week, I laughed. This is one of the rare instances where I actually have read the issue, and while it is certainly far from the ordinary, this is what makes it memorable. It has a seemingly normal opening; the Surfer is being watched by a mysterious figure as he travels to Earth to meet with the Avengers. While there, he discusses with Captain America the story of the being called Thanos. We learn of his past goals of ultimate destruction, and how near he came to attaining it. Surfer explains that Thanos has returned once more, and is plotting again, and Captain America advises him to go to Titan to discover more information.

While starting on a somber tone, the issue quickly “lightens up” as Norrin, en route to Titan, discovers his mysterious watcher: the Impossible Man. This issue was my first introduction to the Impossible Man (I’ve since read his first appearance in FF), but I found impossible not to like this zany character. Much of the issue is simply him trying to get Norrin to appreciate a sense of humor. And while his attempts seem futile, Impossible Man finally gets Norrin to at the very least see the value of humor, even if he doesn’t actually use it. (Or does he? The last two lines made me laugh the most.)

Of course, it helps that Ron Lim’s art really fits the tone of the book. He is able to both capture the nobility of the Surfer, and the crazy antics of Impossible Man. Somehow, he manages to allow the overall look to be both serious and cartoony. While this issue was undoubtedly a filler at its time of publication, it managed to be something rare: a filler that was thoroughly entertaining in its own right. I definitely recommend reading this if you ever get the chance.

Next week: Avengers 324

-LOTRKing

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Casual Saturdays: Why You Should Read the Ender’s Game Comic Book October 4, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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First off, the details: Ender’s Game is one of the most beloved science-fiction novels of our time. Written by Orson Scott Card and first published as a novel in 1985, Ender’s Game tells the story of a future in which we have been attacked by an alien race known as the Formics (often called “Buggers” for their insect-like appearance). While we defeated the first wave of their ships, the leaders of Earth knew that they would return in decades with a full attack force. So, they have begun to take the brightest children on Earth, and train them in a Battle School. Ender is one of these children, and perhaps the brightest of them all, but can he find a way to stop the Buggers, when no one else has? Ender’s Game: Battle School will be a comic book mini-series from Marvel Comics. Issue #1 goes on sale on Wednesday October 8th. Sellouts may occur, so you may want to pick up your copy soon. To find a comic book store need you, call 1-888-COMICBOOK

For those who’ve read the novel, but don’t normally read comics: If you’ve read the novel, I’m assuming you’ve liked it. (And if you didn’t, there’s something wrong with you.) Surely you’ve heard that an Ender’s Game movie is in the works, but currently, not too much is occurring, because filmmakers are having a hard time transitioning it from book to movie. Since comics are essentially half-way in between books and movies, a successful comic book could show Hollywood that Ender’s Game can indeed be translated to the visual medium. So, if nothing else, reading the comic may be supporting the development of the movie.

Of course, that is not the only nor the best reason to read the comic book. The primary reason, is simply that it will be an adaptation of one of sci-fi’s best novels. If you would go to see the Ender’s Game movie, why wouldn’t you read the comic book? Like a movie, the comic will help bring the novel to life by adding visuals and “sound effects.” Of course, you may also be persuaded to read it from the praise that Orson Scott Card (who is not writing the comic) has given it here.

For those who read comics, but haven’t read the novel: first off, shame on you! You consider yourself a sci-fi fan, and you haven’t read Ender’s Game? Well, here’s your chance to find out why this book is so highly regarded. If you’re like me when it comes to comics, and usually enjoy traditional superhero tales best, you’ll be glad to learn that there is much to appreciate in the story of Ender’s Game. No, there aren’t any characters in capes and tights running around trying to stop a super-villain from destroying the city, but many similar elements can be found.

Ender is an outcast amongst his peers, and doesn’t really want to participate in “saving the world,” he just wants to grow up like a normal kid. He lives in a future where the Earth was devastated by Formic attacks, and all the world has been united in preparing to defeat the Formics when they return. In Battle School, he overcomes great odds to quickly rise as one of the best students. And for those who enjoy a little “secret identity” intrigue, there is the Earth-side story (assuming they keep this plot thread in the comic) of “Locke and Demosthenes” and how they use their “abilities” to help change the world.

For those who’ve read the novel and read comics: If you aren’t already planning on reading this, you need to take a moment right now and ask yourself why.

-LOTRKing

Review of Fantastic Four 560 (4 stars) October 3, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

With this issue, we get a rather interesting twist. It turns out that the New Defenders are actually from the future. While this plot device has been used countless times, their reason for coming back in time isn’t one you see too often: they haven’t come back to change the past and “save the future,” nor have they come to conquer primitive beings to recreate a world under their rule. Instead, with the Earth dying, the New Defenders are simply refugees trying to build a time machine big enough to bring people from the future back. But for an as yet unexplained reason, they need Johnny, Doom, and Galactus to power the machine.

Hitch delivers more of his great artwork, and some of the best scenes are that of the future. Between the views of utter devastation, and the massive spread of the heroes of the future, the opening pages are a treat for the eyes. One could look at the “heroes page” for minutes, simply to discover who in the future has been influenced by past heroes, and also figuring who future heroes were influenced by.

The second half of the issue focuses on an attack on the Baxter Building (and the rest of the FF) by none other than … the nanny, Tabitha Denevue! (Never trust the nanny.) She disables the FF quickly, and we learn two things about her: one, she is the leader of the New Defenders, and two, she is Susan Richards from 500 years in the future. … Don’t ask me to explain how Sue lived to be 500 years old, I’m sure (I hope) that Millar has an adequate explanation. But at least I may have finally figured out what will be the cause of the “death of the Invisible Woman.” Earlier in the issue, Doom swears to kill whoever it was who plotted his capture. When he discovers that it is a future version of Sue, he may simply kill the “current Sue” to prevent it from happening. Or I could be completely wrong, at least we’ll see next issue. (And hopefully Millar will do something to surprise us. I mean, why give away the ending of an arc by making it the title? Hopefully, Sue’s death will not be the biggest event to occur.)

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 502 (2.5 stars) October 2, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

More near-mediocrity from Fraction and Brubaker, and more crap from Land is the best way to describe this issue. Let’s start with the true crap first, namely, Land’s art. Now, I know I’ve linked to this before, but Land’s tracing and recycling isn’t the only thing that makes him a bad artist. There’re also occurrences such as these:

Big, beefy, muscular men are part of the genre, and I’ve come to accept that. But what the crap is up with Logan’s arm? It’s already muscular-looking enough, why did Land have to include what looks like a tumor growing out of where his elbow bends? Seriously, that doesn’t make any sense anatomically at all. That big bulge spreads over where his elbow bends? How does he even bend it? Here is another “weird body incidence:”

Likewise, I’ve also come to accept that well-endowed, impossibly skinny women are part of the genre, but her torso being thicker than her hips? That’s not even the “perfect hourglass figure,” that’s an upside-down pear figure! (I’m not even going to comment on her annoying info box and dialogue in this panel.) Add to these the crazy looking smiles that almost everyone wears and the fact that the “Red Queen” is probably the most ridiculous looking villainess I’ve seen, and you’ve got some grade-A Land-crap.

Luckily the story isn’t horrible. We make some more discoveries about the Hellfire cult, we get a decent fight, and the majority of the character interactions are amusing. (I’m glad that Fraction and Brubaker have decided to include the camaraderie and humor that they have, it’s truly what is keeping this title afloat at the moment.) The only part that I dislike is pretty much any scene featuring Pixie. She’s annoyed me ever since the Free Comic Book Day issue starring her, and now, she seems to star in Uncanny as well. This book would be so much better if she just left the team. (Well, maybe.)

Mehh, I realize this may sound a bit harsh as a review. This issue really wasn’t that bad. But everyone once in a while, you’ve gotta vent, and this was the opportunity I chose. If you aren’t already reading Uncanny, I can’t honestly recommend picking it up, but for those of us who are, at least there’s worse things we could be reading, and besides, we only have to endure Land for another issue or two.

-LOTRKing