Monthly Archives: December 2010

Quick Critiques – Dec. 20, 2010

Avengers Academy #7 (Marvel Comics)
by Christos Gage, tom Raney, Dave Meikis & Scott Hanna

Whoops! Someone forgot to tell the production artist/editor who assembled the page one recap/credits page that Tom Raney was filling in as the penciller for this issue (Mike McKone, the regular penciller on the series, is credited instead), though it’s listed right on the cover. Raney’s a talented super-hero genre penciller, and he does well with these characters and especially with the larger scope of the plot. He handles the cosmic elements, from the theoretical form of the original Wasp to the trick Giant-Man pulls to defeat the villain. I especially enjoyed the bright colors. Though there’s a melancholy tone in several scenes, colorists Jeromy Cox and Andrew Crossley keep things feeling fun and light.

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The Cat Came Back

Variant coverBlack Panther: The Man Without Fear
“Urban Jungle”
Writer: David Liss
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Simone Bianchi & Simone Peruzzi/Francesco Francavilla (variant)
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I wasn’t planning on picking up this title. Daredevil and Black Panther are such disparate characters, I couldn’t see how this creative team could continue with the same plotlines, themes or general atmosphere of Daredevil, even if this title maintains the same setting and numbering. The manager of my local comic shop had put this in my pull file, since I had DD on my list. I was about to put it back, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to have a look. I can’t say I was disappointed. Novelist David Liss does something a bit different with the title character, and he focuses his story on the varying experiences of immigrants in America. I enjoyed the art as well, as the dark visuals suit the tone for which the writer strives. Still, in the end, too many elements seemed overly familiar. Liss has dressed up a typical street-vigilante story in some new clothes, but they can’t hide its predictability.

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Guitar Pick

Twenty Seven #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Renzo Podesta
Letters: Shawn DePasquale
Cover artist: W. Scott Forbes
Editor: Kristen Simon
Publisher: Image Comics/Shadowline imprint
Price: $3.99 US

Image Comics has been doing a great job of introducing new talent and new ideas into the comic-book industry, and this new comic, presented in Image’s oversized, magazine-style format (dubbed its Golden Age format), is the latest example of that trend. I hadn’t heard about this book until Bleeding Cool ran a piece about its rising value and speculator interest in it. The potential to own a valuable collectible isn’t what caught my attention though (I’m a reader, not an investor). What drove me to buy this comic book was the premise that the afore-mentioned website included in its brief coverage. The development of a mystery and an air of conspiracy around the fact that a number of talented rockers have died at the age of 27 appealed to me. Now, the plot in this first issue wasn’t what I expected — it’s supernatural and gothic in tone, whereas I pictured something else — but it was solidly entertaining and deliciously dark. It looks as though I’ve got to add another title to my regular pull list at the local comic shop.

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His Name Is Simon, and the Things He Thinks Come True

Variant coverSuperboy #2
“Smallville Attacks! Part Two”
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Pier Gallo
Colors: Jamie Grant
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover artists: Phil Noto/Guillem March (variant)
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 us

While I enjoyed the first issue of this series (and thoroughly enjoyed the Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul stories in Adventure Comics that led up to this new title), I wasn’t sure I’d be following the book on a monthly basis. Like many other comics readers, I’m trying to rein in my weekly spending on comics, and comics that are merely “good” aren’t making the cut anymore. Well, this second issue cemented Superboy on my pull list for a while to come. Lemire’s take on small-town super-heroics is a lot of fun, but more importantly, he’s doing some excellent work in developing the character of Simon Valentine, the title character’s new friend and sidekick who has the potential to become his arch-nemesis a la Lex Luthor. Simon’s character is so much fun, I’m reminded of earlier appearances of Marvel’s Amadeus Cho, another boy genius who’s been fostered into a fan favorite in another shared super-hero universe.

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Koslowski’s Lament

3 Geeks, copyright Rich KoslowskiAn independent comics creator in the United States who won a copyright-infringement judgment against a Canadian businessman last year says the court order has proven to be worthless because the man who used his art without permission — and continues to do so — simply chooses to ignore it.

Eye on Comics reported last year about the case of 3 Geeks creator Rich Koslowski, who brought a successful court action against Hogan Scott Courrier, the owner and operator of Geeks Galore Computer Center in Marmora, Ont. Koslowski’s lawyer proved that the Geeks Galore business used a 3 Geeks image created by Koslowski on websites, business cards and other business-related material without authorization.

In a Sept. 9, 2009, decision, Judge Michael Kelen wrote in a summary-judgment decision: “The Defendant has offered no explanation or response to Plaintiff’s allegations except the outright denials of any wrongdoing in the statement of defence … Based on the evidence, the Court is satisfied that the Defendant has reproduced the Plaintiff’s copyrighted images, ‘THE3GEEKS,’ and that there is no genuine issue for trial.”

In a court order, Kelen barred Courrier from further copying 3 Geeks images and ordered him to turn over all materials with the infringing image on them to Koslowski or to destroy them. The judge also ordered Courrier to pay damages and court costs.

But none of that has happened, and Koslowski is fuming.

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Economics Comic

The Adventures of Unemployed Man original graphic novella
Writers: Erich Origen & Gan Golan
Pencils: Ramona Fradon, Rick Veitch & Michael Netzer
Inks: Terry Beatty & Joe Rubenstein
Additional artists: Benton Jew, Thomas Yeates & Shawn Martinbrough
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Thomas Mauer, Clem Robins & Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Price: $14.99 US/$16.99 CAN

This super-hero fable about corruption in politics and commerce and about a country immersed in a recession is a surprisingly effective review of recent American history and economics, though clearly left-leaning in its perspective. The writers manage to maintain a simpler, Silver Age quality in the storytelling but at the same time they avoid dumbing down the complexity of a tenuous socio-economic situation. The book is also succinct in its approach, which is a wise choice, as the blend of super-heroes and social commentary in the form of gag characters has the potential to wear thin in a hurry. Fortunately, it never got to that point. But what I really enjoyed the most about this book was the artwork. I was impressed with the array of experienced comic-book industry talent that’s associated with this book. Honestly, I was expecting an awkward, clunky combination of super-hero cliches and ham-fisted social commentaries, but instead, I found an effective and amusing graphic novella that’s already garnered more mainstream media attention than probably any other comic book this year.

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Master Plan

Taskmaster #4
Writer: Fred van Lente
Artist: Jefte Palo
Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover artist: Greg Tocchini
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Price: $3.99 US

With this limited series, writer Fred van Lente has really been telling two disparate stories that happened to be connected by the characters he’s chosen to use. On the one side, he offers up a wonderfully entertaining send-up of the secret agents and henchmen in the Marvel Universe, reminiscent of the kind of zany storytelling that Warren Ellis delivered in the memorable series Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.. On the other hand, van Lente also tells the story of an exceptional man who’s been driven to do awful things and who’s seeking redemption. These two stories require completely different tones — one silly, the other reflective and melancholy — so they shouldn’t work together. But they do, and that’s thanks in part to the extreme, over-the-top nature of the super-hero genre. What’s unfortunate about the story is that due to the nature of the title character, the shared super-hero continuity in which it’s set and the format in which it’s presented, it’s completely inconsequential. The ending is constructed so that the story can be ignored by others in the future and by other uses and interpretations of the title character. It’s a foreseeable development but disappointing all the same.

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