Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wednesday Attack Stack! 5/18/2011

The Wednesday Attack Stack Begins!


EXPLANATION

Since I've been getting swamped with writing, the podcast, and the possibility of being part of a seriously exciting production company, I've been a little lacking on the reviews. The big problem is that I've started getting big stacks of comics with little or no time to review them. Or, when I do, they overwhelm me by how many there are.

So I've devised a solution!

When I get a huge stack, most likely on Wednesdays because that's when comics are released, I'm going to review the whole stack at the same time. I'll just have the "Wednesday Attack Stack" instead of a ton of updates in one day. That way I can review more TV shows and movies too.

Here goes nothing!

Soldier Zero #8

Soldier Zero AKA James Trautmann is losing control of his parasite armor and is being hunted by government agents whose sole purpose is to kill creatures and weapons like Soldier Zero on sight. In the process they've kidnapped an entire hospital full of civilians, putting their lives in danger over the mission they've been given. Trautmann's friends App and Kelsey attempt to help him escape from the clutches of his heavily armed pursuers. Can Trautmann regain control of Soldier Zero and avoid the armor from swallowing his mind and body? Or will innocents die for the sake of the greater good?

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, drawn by Javier Pina, and published by BOOM! Studios, this issue of Soldier Zero was the end of an arc I hadn't started. I missed a few issues in the middle, but it was well written to the point where I understood exactly what was going on as soon as I got a few pages in. If there's one thing that's great about titles like Soldier Zero on BOOM! Studio's roster, it's that they have great creative teams behind them that make the characters that are new to the world of comics friendly to new readers.

James Trautmann's character is really progressing nicely, and the fact that he's a wounded soldier who is getting his second chance at doing something wonderful with his life plays well with the burden of the symbiotic armor. The only downfall to this new title is something that isn't even it's fault -- MARVEL is trying to do the same thing with Venom. Soldier Zero started long before the new take on Spider-Man's dark counterpart, but since both characters were birthed somewhat through Stan Lee, it can be forgiven.

I still feel that characters like James Trautmann are going to have a high place in post-modern mythology someday, through their strong story lines and complex characters.

Definitely a title to start reading if you love science fiction/military stories.

DMZ: FREE STATES RISING #65

The U.S. Military has taken back nearly 75% of Manhattan, the Free States are looking like they might be all but defeated, and the scapegoat for the United States is all set to be put to death for the world to see America end it's second Civil War. But Matthew Roth has the only piece of evidence that would reveal the truth about a nuclear device detonated on American soil. A nuke that was blamed on the Free States and political figure Parco Delgado. But in reality, was set off by the U.S. government. Roth has to decide as a photojournalist if it's more ethical to end the war, or give the American people the truth about the war that's been fought on their soil for nearly a decade.

Written by Brian Wood, drawn by Riccardo Burchielli, and published by VERTIGO, this issue of DMZ was a gripping struggle with truth and war when it comes to the press. Roth is a man who wants to fight for Manhattan and nothing else. He wants to see the city go back to the majesty it once was, and both sides of the opposition seem to want to keep that from happening for their own personal agendas. The moral choice of ending the war to save lives and telling the truth about what's been going on under everyone's noses is something heavy to bare when a nuclear explosion is the cause of the debate.

Wood has been crafting a realistic and hauntingly powerful series about what it would be like if America went to war with itself again, and it's something that really moves me as a reader. More people should put out comics like this, or at least take a big lesson from someone who has something to say on the genre and the current state of our country and the horrible paths it could take. A+ all around.

The Amazing Spider-Man #661

When The Avengers Academy needs a substitute teacher, Spider-Man is considered the best man for the job. The group of super-powered youths who had once been corrupted by Norman Osborne desperately need guidance, and Peter Parker is a hero who has seen the good and bad sides of every superhero situation. The only problem is that he didn't count on his class getting ransacked by Psycho-Man, who quickly plots to influence the Avengers Academy into brutally killing their teacher and each other.

Written by Christos Gage and drawn by Reilly Brown, this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man takes a look at how the conventions of the superhero have changed over the years and that the secret identity and being attacked during dates phase of comic books is on its way out. Spider-Man is a classic hero and has progressed with the times, but he still represents all of the old methods of superhuman literature. These young kids are all in the public eye, and many of them don't have secret identities or the worry of enemies finding out who their loved ones are. With The Avengers money and power behind them, they can live as metahumans in any way the see fit.

It's the juxtaposition of these new age heroes with a classic hard-hitter like Spider-Man that makes the superhero genre still worth reading today. I'm glad that Gage was willing to explore the new social rules of being a costumed crime fighter, and how, in the information age, it's harder to live under a blanket of secrecy.

This issue does feel more like a one shot story than part of an ongoing series, but I'm glad they explored these themes in one of MARVEL's biggest titles.

The Unwritten #25

Tom Taylor has just escaped the jaws of The Leviathan, a creature made of the literary subconcious of the world, when his pals Hexam and Richie locate precious journals that belonged to his father, Wislon Taylor. These journals, which are up for auction in New York City, could hold more information about the dark and magical forces that are trying to destroy Tom Taylor and mold the world for evil purposes. With Tom's past catching up with him and a new webpage to try and gain more power through the people who loved his father and the Tommy Taylor books, his only hope is to break in and steal the journals before they go on auction and are put into dangerous hands.

Written by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross, this issue of The Unwritten is a great addition to the ongoing story. The pacing is fluid, the artwork is bright, vivid, and striking, and the characters really come through in their actions and voices. The thought of making literature the prime plot instigator in an ongoing comic book title sounds cheesy, but this series is proof that it can be used to craft an incredible epic that can combine any work of fiction throughout history.

Whenever I recommend comic book titles that stray away from the superhero genre, The Unwritten is always one of the first titles that I suggest. It's a breath of fresh air in an over-saturated market, and every issue makes me want to rush out and get another one. Fans of fiction, fantasy, and comics can rejoice in the fact that VERTIGO has given them another ongoing title that pushes the boundaries of conventional comic book storytelling.

Fables #99

Maddy spies on Mister Dark as his plans to erect a sinister tower and build a legion of Withers (zombified people who have had some strange connection with the Fables) continues. The North Wind arrives to plead with Mister Dark to stop what he's doing or face a duel with a powerful witch that could end in mass catastrophe. What is the importance of these dead people who have encountered Fables in their past lives? What sinister plan does the building and army of Withers hold? And can Mister Dark really be defeated in an all out duel?

Written by Bill Willingham, drawn by Inaki Miranda, and published by VERTIGO, this issue of Fables felt a little out of place for me. I admit, it was the first one I had ever read, but it has captivated my attention. I'm avidly awaiting an ordered copy of the first trade paperback, and I'm trying to learn as much about the series as possible. The artwork, tone, and pace of the story felt like a huge event as I read it. It was almost like watching a cinematic masterpiece on a paneled page.

I realize that this isn't the latest issue of Fables, but it was the only issue my local comic book store had on the rack. I'm eager to catch up and immerse myself in a series that people have been talking about for years.

Back to this issue of the series, which was strong enough to make me want to invest my time and money into the entire ongoing title. Willingham obviously has a deep love of comics and popular fables, and blends the two together so well you would have sworn they were originally comic book characters.

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