Thursday, September 30, 2004

Spider-Man & X-Factor: Shadowgames

Marvel put out a lot of unneccesary crap in the 90's and this 3 issue mini-series is a prime example of some of that crap. There really is no reason for this series to exist, but I picked it up anyhow because it was written by Kurt Busiek. Yeah, the same Kurt Busiek that's known for NOT writing crap.

The premise of this series is treading on "already done this a thousand times over" territory. A clandestine government organization is trying to make superheroes. To do this, however, they need to kidnap superheroes to sample their DNA (but they can't do it to mutants because their powers are natural). So who do they go for? Spider-Man, of course. They send a group of throwaway mind-controlled prisoners with temporary superpowers after him.

Eventually Spider-Man gets captured, but X-Factor tracks him down and saves him. One of the supervillains, however, decided he should go kill Flash Thompson so Spider-Man runs off after him while X-Factor fights the baddies. There's a bunch of fighting and bad one-liners, but eventually the baddies are knocked out and everything is good again.

The only decent part of this series was the occasional splash page with some decent art by Pat Broderick. Other than these splash pages, however, this titled looked like the majority of Marvel's titles from the 90's.

Art: 2
Story: 2
Overall: 2

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

X-Men: Lost Tales

I got this little two issue series from 1997 in an ebay lot of an assortment of X-Men issues. I figured that since it was a small two-issue miniseries that there wouldn't be a ton of continuity and whatnot that I'd have to know to read it so I picked them out of my back issue "to read" box and dived in.

It turns out that these two issues collect 8 of the back up stories that were in early issues of the series Classic X-Men (you know, the X-Men series that reprinted older X-Men tales for the next generation to read). Most of these little tales are throwaway short tales, much like what are in the current X-Men Unlimited series. There were a few gems, but there were also a few that didn't work out so well.

The main reason that some of the tales didn't work? Chris Claremont. He wrote all of these little stories and a couple happened to be steeped in the continuity of the stories that were being told in the Classic X-Men issue that it was originally printed in. One such tale deals with the ramifications of Thunderbird's death and another deals with Nightcrawler saving some girl I'd never heard of before, but obviously meant something to him.

There are a few tales that actually are fun, however, one of them being a little ditty about Mesmero using the power of the Phoenix (via Jean Grey) to control the X-Men. He then has the X-Men fight Wolverine, but no one kills each other so Mesmero gets bored and decides to just let them go back to being uncontrolled...... but first, however, he makes them acts in a circus. I really enjoyed that.

There are actually two tales that involve Colossus. In one he falls in love until his love finds out he is a mutant. Nothing new here as Claremont has used this plot over and over again. The second tale, which is somewhat related to the first, is much more interesting. In this one, Colossus is still moping around because his love left him, but in the middle of his moping he saves some women from a tyranasaurus rex (oh yeah, this is taking place in the Savage Land). One of them dies, however, and to celebrate her passing on two of the other women in the tribe want to get pregnant, to start new life after their loss of life. Let's just say that it's pretty obvious from the implications at the end of the story that Colossus has a threesome with two Savage Land chicks. That a boy!

All in all, I was entertained by about half the stories and the other half were retreads of previous plotlines or were just kind of boring. It might be worth it to find these, however, just to read the two tales I described above.

Art: 2.5
Story: 3.5
Overall: 3

Monday, September 27, 2004

Firearm 12-18

This set of seven issues consist of the final arc of the Firearm series. These final seven issues are also one long story arc (which actually spans into some issues of Prime, Freex, and Nightman as well) as opposed to most of the rest of the series which were usually "done in one" or low issue count stories.

Simply put, this arc has been one of the better arcs I've read in quite a while. It hasn't been since, well, the last group of Firearm issues that I've been so impressed. In this arc, Alec Swan (Firearm) is hired to find the killer of a rich woman's son. It turns out that this child was an ultra. Along with this child, many other ultras have recently been killed. They have been killed by a man named Rafferty. Spanning these seven issues, you'll see the story presented not only from Alec's usual first person perspective, but you'll also have one complete issue along with sections of other issues being told from Rafferty's perspective. This leads to a very engrossing storyline.

This entire arc reminded me very strongly of the anime Cowboy Bebop's final couple of episodes where it was strictly antagonist vs. protagonist and there was nothing gray about it. Rafferty is an evil ultra killer and Alec is the man who has set out to stop him. The climactic showdown between the two, taking place in a church, has a very epic feel to it in that these two characters have developed so much story between them in the preceding issues and it was all coming to a head. Amazing stuff.

The only real drawback is that it crossed over into issues of other Malibu series so you had to fill in a few of the blanks yourself if you didn't read those issues. Other than that, you simply can't go wrong by picking up this story arc.

Art: 3.5
Story: 4.5
Overall: 4.25

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Lobo: Infanticide

This is my first experience with Lobo. I've been a little gun shy to read anything involving him since I remember many people hated anything with him in it back in the 90's. For some reason, I thought he would be like DC version of Wolverine simply by catching a few snippets of how he talked in various promo stuff I had seen with him in it. I might not have been that far off considering Lobo has his choice phrase (instead of "bub" it's permutations on the word "frag"), he likes to be violent, he's basically indestructable, and for a while it seemed like he was in every comic out there.

I was totally prepared to hate this 4 issue mini, but instead I actually really enjoyed it! All you need to know about this series is that 200 of Lobo's bastard children (I guess he's also kind of a man-slut... an ugly one at that) are out to kill their dad. Spread this out over four issues while including tons of over-the-top gore and violence, lots of dark humor, and Kieth Giffen's unique art and you have a winning combination. If it wasn't for Giffen's art, however, I really don't think this series would have appealed to me as much as it did.

I didn't really like how the word 'frag' was used over and over again, but that's probably my only complaint. I'm sure they were trying to avoid using the real 'F' word for some reason, but I don't really know why, considering how much blood and guts and gritty violence was contained in this series. It was definitely for mature readers. Oh well. In the end, though, I really liked this series and may just seek out some more Lobo to read through.

Art: 4.5
Story: 3.25
Overall: 3.75

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


I think there is a reason that if you take two letters in 'nameless' and switch them around you get 'lameness', because that's exactly what this black & white 5 issue mini from Image is. Written by Joe Pruett and illustrated by Phillip Hester, this series felt like a really bad B-movie made into a comic.

This series also serves as a perfect example of really poorly done decompressed storytelling. Many of the pages in the series consist solely of a panel with no dialogue, then a panel where one character says something, then a panel showing another part of the scene, and then a panel with the other character saying something.

When I think about it, all five issues could have been put into one prestige sized issue--and that would leave plenty of room to stretch the story out! Since I'm talking about the story, I might as well tell you that it's pretty bad. Basically some guy who you aren't told anything about protects kids from a cop, who is also the leader of some Aztec cult. The cop/cult leader calls down some Aztec god who killed the "nameless" (see how the title plays into the story!) main character 500 years ago, but also let him continue to live (no that's not a typo on my part, just one of the lame plot elements of the story).

During the series run, there are some fights in which no one can die because they're dead already... or something like that, I'm not sure. In the last issue, though, the Aztec god is sworded by a chick and dies, which makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe the sword was some magical sword that could kill Aztec living undead dead people. Once the evil Aztec god is killed, everything is suddenly all happy. The kids are now ok. The nameless dude ends up with some chick he met during the story. Oh yeah, and then almost as an afterthought, you find out that the main character's name is Diego. Whoop de frickin' doo. I stopped caring about anything in this series after the first issue, but finished simply because I spent money buying the damn series!

Story: 1
Art: 2
Overall: 1

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Firearm 7 - 11

In the heydays of the 90's every company seemed to be making a grab for the big time. In wanting to start their own universe to compete with Marvel, DC, Image, and Valiant, Malibu created the Ultraverse where all people with super powers were referred to as "ultras".

Oddly enough, with this series, the main character is not an ultra. No, instead this title is more of an action/adventure/secret agent style of comic. The lead character, Alec Swan, is a private eye that takes on whatever cases he can. In the process, however, he usually ends up throwing down with ultras.

In this span of five issues, we see mostly self-contained, one issue stories of Swan's different cases. One case he is tracking down a shapeshifter and wolfman. Another he is encountering a couple of bigfoot-ish creatures and a telepath. Yet another he's drugged and thrown into a virtual Glasgow to track down a rogue agent.

You may think that these stories sound ludicrous, but I found each one to be very, very enjoyable. The thing that does it is Swan's character and first person narration. I was drawn into his world and his way of thinking. With the near extinction of thought balloons in today's comics, it was very refreshing to see a story commented on by its main character.

The art in these issues is passable. There's nothing too spectacular (except the painted cover of #8), but the art isn't bad either. It's very serviceable for this style of storytelling. If you're a fan of The Losers or Mystique, I'm sure you'll love some of the stories that Firearm has to tell. I highly suggest checking this span of issues out.

Story: 4.25
Art: 3
Overall: 4

Monday, September 20, 2004

Since I felt it was needed

While cruising around the comic blogosphere, I often read tons and tons of people reviews and opinions on new releases. It seems like everyone has a say on each and every new issue that comes out. What I have yet to find is a blog that looks at back issue comics. Some people, such as myself, are interested in actually buying some of those comics you see sitting in those nice, long, white boxes that populate the back rooms of today's comic shops. They're not there just for the hell of it, no, they're there so that people like me can buy some series that we may have previously missed out on.

There's also the comic lover's dream--the bargain bins. They might be $.25 cent boxes, $.50 cent boxes, 3 for a buck, or something like that, but any way you look at it, there is sometimes some interesting stuff to be found in those boxes. Even for that little amount of money, how do you know what you're getting is actually worth a purchase? Other than reading the "It Came From the Quarter Bin" column on Newsarama, I can't seem to find any good reviews of comics that might have came out before the comics blogosphere caught on.

This is where this blog comes into play. I've bought tons and tons of quarter bin comics, and tons of back issues period (thanks to the devil that is known as ebay). A lot of them have not been worth the paper they are printed on, while others were unbelievably good. I want to point out some of the good and the bad of the back issues that I've read so I decided to start this blog. Hopefully there are a few other people just like me who will get some good use out of this site. I'll start tomorrow with a fun Ultraverse title--Firearm.