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Author Topic: Jared's quasi-centennial comics review extravaganza!  (Read 747 times)

Jared Katooie

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Jared's quasi-centennial comics review extravaganza!
« on: 24 August, 2006, 06:24:42 AM »
Hello there chaps.

Recently I've been getting large payments of money for messing about in a library. Thanks Mr. government! Sadly, I no longer get my free money but I'll always have the memories. That and the mile-high stack of comics I've squandered my dough on. So join me as I throw spelling and punctuation out the window and personally review each of my purchases and (using my patented "out of ten system") guide you towards the good stuff and away from the not-so good!





1) Essential Fantastic Four vol. 1-5

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the height of their powers, delivering one great issue after another. The plot switches effortlessly between action, melodrama and comedy (even self-parody). It was nice to have a break from all the grim and gritty stuff in modern comics and just reading something more fun. Volumes 1, 2 and 5 are probably the best but 3 and 4 are very good as well but do suffer from having too much of the inhumans. Nobody likes the inhumans.

Even for 5 volumes the price is ridiculously low for these and you get almost 10 years worth of continuity, which is nothing to be sniffed at. Even if you don't consider yourself a FF fan (I didn't) it's well worth checking these out.

Volume 1
RATING: 7/10

Volume 2
Rating: 6/10

Volume 3
Rating: 5/10

Volume 4
Rating: 5/10

Volume 5
Rating: 6/10




2) Essential Wolverine vol. 1-4

I've been a hardcore fan of the old canucklehead for some time now and buying these was a matter of course. I got vol. 2 years ago and loved it so I had high hopes for the other volumes. Vol. 1 was very different to 2 in terms of tone but it was still a cracking good read from start to finish. This was long before Marvel (and Garth bloody Ennis) managed to turn Wolverine into a flat one-dimensional hairball with a temper. The early tales were witty with a nice dark edge. So, good stuff all round. As I said, I'd read Vol. 2 before and loved it. Some bizarre stories but always readable.

That brings us to Vol. 3. This started good but got a bit dull towards the end. Some of the stories are seriously bad and an initially promising foray into Wolverines mysterious past becomes a confusing, ridiculous load of baloney. Vol.4 takes us surprisingly up to date. It's easily the worst volume with stories that dredge up old characters and do nothing with them. As with vol. 3 the pages are scanned from the original colour versions, which makes things look muddy and grey. All in all, I was pretty seriously disappointed with vol. 4. Despite my disappointment I still feel I should recommend the first two volumes which are well worth a read. Volume 3... not so good but still worth a look see.

Volume 1
RATING: 7/10

Volume 2
RATING: 7/10

Volume 3
RATING: 4/10

Volume 4
RATING: 3/10




3) The Incredible Hulk vol. 1-4

Unable to resist the urge to throw my money away I inevitably wandered off my usual beaten track into strange unfamiliar territory. Based on little more than the conclusion that it didn't look totally crap I decided to buy me some Hulk. After all, how can you go wrong with a big green man smashing things?
This particular Hulk story arc was written by one Bruce Jones. Brucie is apparently some horror writer guy and - judging by the lavish praise heaped on him on the back cover of the book - he's pretty popular. In my opinion however this guy didn't have a clue what he was doing. I mean, I'm all in favour of "deepening" the character and exploring new directions but I also need to see the Hulk smashing some things to keep me interested. Even ignoring the lack of smashing these stories weren't great. I've never been a big fan of plots that twist and turn all over the place and this one certainly does that.

After a decent enough start, the problems soon set in and by vol. 3 things are pretty bad. To sum up - I should have known better than to buy The Incredible Hulk. Also, the covers were really cool. Please don?t ask me why I got 4 volumes of a comic I didn't even like. I have problems.

Volume 1
RATING: 6/10

Volume 2
RATING: 5/10

Volume 3
RATING: 3/10

Volume 4
RATING: 2/10




4) Daredevil vol. 1-3

I picked up some Daredevil around the same time as the Hulk. I'd heard that Brian Michael Bendis had done some good stuff with the character and wanted to investigate him further. The first volume was written by famed director Kevin Smith which immediately set off huge, giant alarm bells ringing in my head. Against my better judgement I bought it anyway. Wow. Wow-wee. Never before or since have I read a comic so unimaginably awful as this one. The plot is so childish and inane it makes the scribblings of a 12-year-old child seem like Shakespeare by comparison. The book was like a tribute to everything that is wrong with modern comics. To top it all off, it even had a foreword by Ben Affleck.

After this truly abominable beginning you may think that I would steer clear of Daredevil but I soldiered bravely on. Fortunately vol. 2 was much better than its predecessor. The story was pretty silly but the overall tone was light-hearted enough to get away with it. It was no masterpiece but it was well written and drawn and that was good enough for me.

Vol. 3 marked the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis' term on Daredevil. It was critically acclaimed and pretty much beloved by fans of the character so naturally I didn't like it. The art was totally crazy with its constant style changes and weird colouring but I didn't really mind that as it was pretty nice to look at. The script was sort of a detective story but I managed to figure out early on what was going on so I didn't really enjoy it much. The plot was pretty cliched which probably explains why the worlds worst detective (clue: me) was able to figure it out.

Volume 1
RATING: 2/10

Volume 2
RATING: 5/10

Volume 3
RATING: 4/10




5) Lucifer vol. 1

After a disappointing experience with Daredevil and the Hulk I was keen on picking up something that was different but also good. Accordingly I went for Lucifer, a title I'd normally never pick up. Amazingly it wasn't totally awful OR completely impenetrable. Some fantastic art really helped but I have to say, it was mostly down to Mike Carey. I always liked his stuff when he was working for 2000AD, and Lucifer (judging by this volume anyway) is great as well. Makes me wonder why I haven't bought any more volumes... Oh right. Money.

Volume 1
RATING: 7/10




6) Powers vol. 1

I heard good things about Powers so I bought it. I didn't like it. IT WASN'T ANY GOOD.

Volume 1
RATING: 3/10




7) The Ultimates vol. 1-3

Mark Millar + superheroes = good. This isn't always true but it certainly is the case with The Ultimates. The only time Millar isn't ruthlessly mocking Marvels most beloved heroes is when he's putting them in some gigantic action sequence. This has about as much brains as a film like Conan the barbarian but it's just as enjoyable. For the most part it's as subtle as a sledgehammer but just enough effort has gone into plot and characterisation to let Millar get away with it. Mad but great.

I should point out however that vol. 4 is taking an extremely long time for Millar to write. I mean VERY long. So you may want to... buy the other volumes slowly... or something.

Volume 1
RATING: 8/10

Volume 2
RATING: 6/10

Volume 3
RATING: 7/10




8) The Punisher vol. 1-5

Speaking of extreme: MAX comics' The Punisher is one of the most violent and explicit comics on the shelves at the moment. It's also pretty damn good and could be worth picking up - provided you're not offended by curse words. There's certainly quite a few of them and although it's appropriate given the darkness of the characters, your head can sometimes be left swimming with all the effin' and blindin' going on. Regardless of this, there can be no doubt that Ennis has taken a character that was practically a parody of himself and turned him into a truly sinister villain, a ruthless killing machine with no mercy or emotion. A pretty unusual protagonist for a comic book. I haven't always loved everything Ennis has written but his work here is definitely worth checking out.

Volume 1
RATING: 7/10

Volume 2
RATING: 6/10

Volume 3
RATING: 7/10

Volume 4
RATING: 6/10

Volume 5
RATING: 6/10




9) Astonishing X-Men vol. 1-2

After seeing Kevin Smith "write" Daredevil it wasn't too much of a surprise to see Joss Whedon writing X-Men. It seems anyone can be a comic-book writer nowadays... To be fair, Whedon does a much, much better than Kevin Smith and I have to say I preferred his work to that of Grant Morrison's, which had it's own kind of weird appeal but didn't entirely make sense. These volumes had some good art and Vol. 1 had a very good script too. Vol. 2 was not so good script-wise but it's still worth buying. I plan to buy vol. 3 when it comes out but unfortunately Whedon, like Millar, is taking his sweet time. By the time they both finish writing their respective volumes I'll be paying for them with my pension money.

Volume 1
RATING: 8/10

Volume 2
RATING: 5/10




10) Wolverine vol. 1

Millar again, this time writing one of those "Wolverine is being mind-controlled!" stories that crop up every few months. Great art by John Romita Jr. and lots of mindless action help elevate this over a pretty basic script.

Volume 1
RATING: 6/10




11) Forge vol. 1-8

Now THIS was an interesting find. I was in a Euro store and happened upon a few volumes of this. They were dirt-cheap and I really enjoyed them. Basically Forge is an anthology of various comics that were published by Crossgen comics. With an average of 200 pages per volume and five stories per volume there was plenty of reading and the stories were all fairly original and engaging. The art was something else altogether, with some truly fantastic images and double page spreads. I'm not going to do separate score for each volume because the stories are all carried over into the next volume. Also I couldn't be bothered to mark every single one individually. If you ignore all of my other recommendations don't ignore this one. Forge is cheap and cheerful, give it a try.

Volume 1
RATING: 7/10




Whew! Well I certainly hope that those of you that have read through all this (yes, all three of you) will find my reviews useful or at least that you didn't find them patronising or offensive. Apologies for poor spelling and punctuation but I cant type.g Ood . Me gramar bad also.

If you've read anything good yourselves lately or just want to give me some money to buy more Hulk comics then let me know!

Jared.

Bico

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #1 on: 24 August, 2006, 06:50:52 AM »
I thought you were dead.  Not 'hoped', just thought...

Haven't read everything on that list, but there are a few things I'd disagree with - mainly the 'Enemy of the State' Wolverine tpb by Millar and Romita (jr) - complete toss from start to finish, ripping off the first Wolverine arc by Erik Larson when he took over the book for a year or two (Wolverine mind-controlled and forced to fight c-list Marvel losers no-one gives a flying jizz-dollop about), except Larson didn't pad out three issues with every major Marvel character sitting around saying how bad-ass Wolverine is, shortly before the final splash-page where the main character is about to punch someone.  It's basically a perfect parody of Millar's fan-fiction excesses, except it's written by Millar himself.
And here comes Joss 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Whedon's take on the X-Men - the Danger Room malfunctions, one of the X-Men is a bit untrustworthy, an X-Man everyone thought was dead returns to the land of the living and the team face off against an opponant that's more powerful than they are.  Groundbreaking stuff.

Have you checked out Essential Tomb of Dracula or Essential Silver Surfer yet?  Good stuff.

Byron Virgo

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #2 on: 24 August, 2006, 07:38:02 AM »
Ah, Tomb of Dracula...

"You're DOOMED, Dracula! We brought you BACK TO LIFE --

--only so we  could KILL YOU AGAIN!"

The Ultimates is a bit rubbish though - I couldn't even bring myself to finish reading it, I was that apathetic.

Art

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #3 on: 24 August, 2006, 09:43:28 AM »
The crime is not giving Punisgher 10/10 for everything. The sentence is vigilante uzi death!

Floyd-the-k

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #4 on: 24 August, 2006, 07:46:27 PM »
Punisher loses points for bringing back the Russian
for mine, down to 9.8/10

Jared Katooie

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #5 on: 25 August, 2006, 05:30:13 AM »
6/10 is above average so I consider that a pretty good score.

As for the Millar stuff, it's good because it's so over the top and extreme. I can only take so much of the modern "whiny" superhero before I want Millar's Captain America to swoop in and beat him to death. With an adamantium toilet.

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #6 on: 25 August, 2006, 08:52:01 AM »
agree with you on Millars Ultimates, its by far the most entertaining Super Hero book out there and suits Millar to a T, you gotta like a book where all the hero's are basicly assholes and you can cheer weather they're getting their butts kicked or doing the kicking and Hitches Art would be worth it even if there wasn't any words in the thing.
I liked Ennis's Marvel KNights Punisher and I guess the Maxx versions is in a similar vein just more extreme so might have to chase that up me self.

CU Radbacker

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Re: Jared's quasi-centennial comic...
« Reply #7 on: 25 August, 2006, 09:41:48 AM »
Do you reckon Bruce Jones should ( if he hasn't already) have a crack at Swamp Thing?