• Reviews 

    WINCBD! – Matt’s Stack (9-29-10)

    By | September 30th, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    I’ve gotten rather comfortable with my previous openings for these posts, so here: have a cat video.

    0: Uwe Boll will direct the adaptation of this comic
    0.1 – 1: Burn upon touching
    1- 1.9: Abysmal
    2.0 – 2.9: Art. Writing. Editing. All bad.
    3.0 – 3.9: You’d be a masochist to pick this up.
    4.0 – 4.9: “I’ll give it another month…but that was not good.”
    5.0 – 5.9: “Really? The Watcher? In the face? I guess it was fun.”
    6.0 – 6.9: “Hmm. That was decent.”
    7.0 – 7.9: Well made but a few problems
    8.0 – 8.9: Nearly flawless
    9.0 – 9.9: Outstanding
    10: Perfection. Issue of the year contender

    This week my reviews include Atlas #5, Crossed: Family Values #4, Valkyrie, and . A different mix this week, with some new titles I love and some not so new titles I’ve been rather hard on.

    Check out all the reviews after the jump.
    Atlas #5
    Going into this issue, I honestly had no idea the book was canceled after this point. I seriously didn’t. To me, I was simply just reading the last issue of an arc. I suppose then to find out that the book wouldn’t be continuing after this point helped foster even more of a love for this title, because in all honesty this was probably the best issue yet.

    As the story died down, Atlas was put into a position in which they had to solve a never-ending cycle of war between worlds. With the group in a somewhat vulnerable position from the last issue, they had to regroup, travel to an alternate reality, and figure out just how to save the world yet again. This was done through a series of impressive exposition, unique storytelling, and unequivocal wrapping up – all in the veil of a rather impressive science fiction story. In fact, this was one of the more science fiction-y issues of the book, spending a good deal of time trying to explain the physics of how things worked rather than simply have our heroes punch out the bad guys, which is an all too easy solution.

    Simply put, this last issue of Atlas really gave bang for it’s buck. I understand that the reason the book ended was due to sales, and this is a recurring trend for the title unfortunately, but in reading this last issue I’m really quite astonished that it never really picked up, especially in my own sci-fi fan eyes. Parker, Hardman, and Breitweiser really step up the notch with their storytelling here, allowing characters to literally travel through memories in unique age layouts that really allow you to travel along the page with them. On top of that, Parker lets his storytelling capabilities out as we’re given a metaphysical “out of body” experience for the characters told simply through prose. As the characters become disembodied from reality, Parker changes the story from imagery to just words, allowing just himself to attempt to convey the portion of the story to the reader – and it works like dynamite.

    I’m a big fan of science fiction, and this issue really excelled in that category. Atlas has always been a book that’s kind of been hard for me to place, genre wise, but with it’s finale you really can see it take a nice form. This was an incredibly solid story from start to finish, and it was obviously the start of something bigger. It’s just a shame that it didn’t get the chance to go beyond this. Had it been allowed to do so, I would’ve loved to see Parker and friends really explore their storytelling techniques, because in this last issue the bar was really pushed. The comic didn’t allow itself to be constrained by being a comic anymore, in the same way that Hickman has totally revived Fantastic Four. Atlas may never be Marvel’s First Family, but they are one of the first teams continuity wise, and there really was serious place for this to grow, especially with those last few pages (which felt like a tribute to all the trials Atlas the book has gone through) in staying afloat.

    Continued below

    Then again, with his work on Thunderbolts being universally praised and fans finally starting to pick up Rulk’s storyline now that Loeb’s gone away, I think it’s fair to say that Atlas will in fact return. Again. For the .. fourth time? We’ll see.

    Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy

    Crossed: Family Values #4
    The past few issues of this book alone have made it one of the most disgusting titles on the market. Crossed was always a sick book, but David Lapham successfully made it a sick book. With this issue, he actually tones it down. Surprising, I know! But the only real gross moment comes from an infected deciding to take a dump on the first page and getting kicked in the face.

    But hey, when a book starts out like that, you know you’re onto something, right?

    The last issue of Crossed had rape, incest, and demon babies. With this, we’re a tad more relaxed. Our heros are now on the offense, running across the wild and hunting before being confronted by a rogue band of humans out looking for a good time. With these type of not-zombie zombie stories, we often get a lot of subtextual commentary on the nature of human beings that is usually portrayed by a group of rednecks showing up to prove that humanity is just as much a monster as the mindless creatures that ruined the planet are. Lapham’s Crossed has been rather perverse so far, but this is the first issue that felt rather stereotypical for the storyline. I mean, the first few issues were really something, but this just kind of fit the horror mold.

    That’s not to say the issue was bad. Lapham has a good handle on the story here, and is pushing it in the right direction as our characters head for a promised land that will assumedly be ruined before the story is out. The issue is still a nightmare for our heroes despite being toned down, and it’s a mix of being the hunters and being the hunted. In a lot of ways, the issue feels like a “quiet before the storm” type situation, even when our heroes are shooting guns at different foes every page.

    It’s Barreno that I really don’t care for in this title. For much of the story, the art seems awkward, with peculiar faces and uneven bodies. It’s hard to match up to Jacen Burrows over at Avatar, because he is the man when it comes to the sick and depraved artistic world. Barreno is an ok follow-up, but he often leaves a lot to be desired, especially in some of the face-centric panels early on in the issue.

    Crossed is a very dirty, dirty book, and I often feel dirty for reading it. You don’t often get stories quite as depraved as you do in this title. At least, not without trying. This issue was a bit slower and dry in comparison though, especially with how this arc started out. With a returned character and a moment of redemption at the end, I can only assume that with the next issue David Lapham will have all the characters raped and left in a ditch – because that’s just what happens in the world of Crossed.

    Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy

    Valkyrie #1
    I’ve been a rather outspoken fan of Bryan JL Glass’ work with Mice Templar, so when it was announced that he would be handling a mythical one-shot bridging the gap between Ragnarok and Secret Avengers for Valkyrie, I was pretty excited to say the least. If anyone works as a mythological writer, it would be Glass. Of course, the canon story of Valkyrie is a rather difficult one, mixed in both actual mythology and Marvel mythology, so can Glass really handle all those past lives as well as fix her new one?

    Not entirely. Val begins her story by being thrown out of a hotel, which allows her to be “woken up” to her true heritage. Thus we’re given a tale of her traveling through the Marvel universe searching for identity, visiting the Wasp (Janet, not Hank) and tracking down her murderer. Of course, this ties in with her origin story as fate is repeated and she’s put into a series of events that reunite her with none other than the hero Siegmund in his modern incarnation, and Brunhilde is left with the question of her modern identity and how to fit into the new world.

    Continued below

    When JMS brought everyone back in his Thor run, he did it in a rather different way. Thor was revived through magic, and he was able to find everyone and put them back to their original life. Val’s absence from that seemed to make sense due to her banishing, but her return has played out rather convoluted as she attempts to regain identity. This isn’t Glass’ fault – Brunhilde has a very complex history, comprised of multiple host bodies. Having to piece her back together outside of JMS’ “fix everything” scenario is kind of a daunting task.

    The issue ultimately fails to really captivate. Valkyrie sort of fit back into the timeline before, and it kind of went without saying how she had returned. Creating this timeline for her makes sense, but it also weirds things up for the second Valkyrie that was part of the Initiative. Having Brunhilde back is cool, and knowing why does resolve some “issues,” but I feel like this might have worked better in a “line of dialogue” scenario in Secret Avengers. Drawing the story out like this just feels kind of odd, especially the Janet sequence, which almost feels forced to be relevant (would a grown adult Avenger really say “omg?”).

    Again, I like Glass, but I found the issue to be a disappointment overall. A lot of the one-shots of this variety have been hit or miss with me, and I think I enjoy them better when the heroine goes off to have a separate adventure. If Valkyrie had instead been given a new adventure to embark on, leaving the new “origin” story alone, this probably would have succeeded more. As it stands, it’s basically a convoluted retcon – and that’s unfortunate.

    Final Verdict: 6.3 – Browse

    First Wave #4
    It’s been so long since the third issue came out (July 28th) that I actually had no idea what was going on for the first couple pages of this book. Whenever that happens, it’s not a good sign. And unfortunately, despite the pedigree of this book and my love of this kind of story, I am pretty much done with First Wave mania.

    When First Wave first began, I was actually a rather big fan. I thought that revitalizing older characters in a new way for new fans was a fantastic idea, and putting Azzarello on the book was a brilliant move. However, the story does not hold up. Perhaps it’s the gap in time between release, but for the most part this book feels like a disjointed mess. Character’s just appear in places, and more than anything else it feels like things are just happening for set-up purposes alone. Doc Savage is captured, the Spirit is basically irrelevant, and Batman flies. Revitalizing is one thing, but now it just feels abusive.

    I’m not quite sure what has caused the delays on the title, but it has most certainly killed it’s momentum and in turn killed my interest. Compare this book to other DC “revitalizing past” moments like New Frontier or even DC Legacies and you’re given a nice look at the history of the DCU. This feels like a jumbled Elseworlds, and doesn’t really bring respect to the characters it attempts to work with. The Spirit is spat upon here as much as he was in Frank Miller’s flick, and Doc Savage makes for a rather uncharismatic star. Batman feels incredibly out of place as well. The Black Hawks are the only characters that somewhat fit in, but even then it feels a tad ridiculous (chop chop).

    I expect better out of both Azzarello and Morales. Azzarello is a crime/conspiracy genius, as he was the man behind the scripts for 100 Bullets – a series I adore. How he can create such a fantastic mystery thriller in 100 issues and a dozen arcs, but can’t create an intriguing one for just six issues doesn’t make sense to me. None of this story is really interesting. And Morales’ art here feels more rushed than it did. When the story began, it was smooth and even, but here character designs begin to blur together and at times distort, making the read an odd one to follow.

    Continued below

    The pedigree of this book is incredibly high, but the execution is incredibly low. Chalk it up to poor release timing or chalk it up to just bad storytelling in general, but First Wave went from a book that I was incredibly excited to read to a book that has quite unfortunately lost my interest entirely.

    Final Verdict: 3.4 – Pass

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."