Monday, April 4, 2011

Mustached Monday Reviews: Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1, Deadpool Team-Up #883, and X-23 #8

Another three reviews for you, my darling readers!  I'm also working on changing up the style of my reviews a little bit.  Going to focus a bit less on plot spoilers and little bit more on analysis.  I'm hoping that the overall effect is one of slightly shorter, but meatier reviews.  I'm also hoping it'll let me churn them out with a bit more regularity than what I've got going on now.  That being said, I'm still going to have some spoilers within my posts, so I will continue with the regularly scheduled spoiler warnings.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 Writers: Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh  Artist: Phil Hester

All too often I don't get around to reviewing any of my weekly recommendations.  Well, I'm going to put a stopgap in that flaw today and take you through the wonderful world of MONSTER SMASH as brought to you by The Goon's Eric Powell, newcomer (I think) Tracy Marsh and Firebreather's Phil Hester.  Going into this issue I had no idea what to expect.  The solicit merely heralded the return of everyone's favorite monstrosity with no mention of foes or allies or what.  I went in here open-minded to just about anything that didn't follow the format of that awful cartoon from some years back.  Keep annoying kid sidekicks out of my monster comics I say!  So what does this issue do?  It's kind of a soft reboot of the Godzilla franchise.  The story starts out with the typical Godzilla schtick.  Massive monster comes out of nowhere to trash an island before moving on to destroy Tokyo.  Powell and Marsh do put one slight twist on the mythos though.  While Godzilla does first appear as a giant unstoppable lizard of doom, he is missing his trademark fire blast.  Not to worry, as Godzilla gains that power about midway through the book as the Japanese military drops a nuke on the creature.  Yes, the story is very tongue-in-cheek, but it works for a franchise so layered in camp.  Admittedly, I would have liked to have seen a serious take on the monster for a change, but what we have here is pretty darn entertaining.  So, we have a good script where Godzilla runs roughshod over the Japanese military, but where does that leave the art?  While it's not without some flaws, Hester's art more than rises to the challenge.  He nails the sense of scale wonderfully and while some of his full page splashes lack some of the necessary sense of depth meant to convey the action, it's some of the best art I've seen out of him.  He's still a great expressionist and his pseudo-cartoony style works well with the script.  Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 is a solid debut issue and provided they tighten up the narrative a little bit and keep the MONSTER SMASH coming, I'll keep reading and enjoying every minute of it.  This issue gets an...

Yes, even Obama gets in on the action.

Deadpool Team-Up #883 Writer: Skottie Young  Artist: Ramon Perez
Young does provide a
most excellent cover
Skottie Young is a creator most easily associated with his very distinctive art.  As far as I know, this is his first foray into credited writing.  So, it was with cautious optimism that I decided to give this book a try and I'm glad I did.  The great thing about Deadpool Team-Up is that it allows for these sort of kooky creative teams to come along and do all sorts of weird one-and-dones with Deadpool and whoever the heck the writer wants.  The book started out with a bunch of misses, but as it's gone on, the level of quality has steadily risen to the point where most issues are worth a buy in their own right.  As for this particular issue, Young teams Wade with the infamous world-eater Galactus by having the big G hire him to be his herald.  Yes dear readers, it is now canon that Deadpool has wielded the Power Cosmic.  The story isn't a terribly complicated one, basically Deadpool runs out of money, hires himself out as a herald, abuses his newfound power in hilarious ways, and is then put in his proper place by the Silver Surfer.  What I love about this issue is that it's a simple, enjoyable tale that doesn't take itself too seriously.  While complexity, when implemented properly, can do wonders for a story and make it infinitely re-readable, there's something refreshing about a nice breezy read like this that puts a smile on your face and brightens your mood.  Deadpool takes on a slightly more maniacal persona that is a showcase for Young's trademark sense of humor (evidenced in his wonderful Bernard sketchbook).  It's silly, cute, and has a bit of a mean streak without ever being dumb or offensive.  From Deadpool cold-calling everyone from Doom to Mephisto looking for mercenary work to abusing his newfound cosmic abilities to dooming a race of cute yellow bear aliens to the fact that you realize multiple civilizations have been wiped out over the course of the issue, Young keeps the chuckles coming.  A lot of the credit for the strength of this issue also goes to artist Ramon Perez.  His style reminds me of a less angular Dan Panosian and he he has some very impressive splash pages while putting his exaggerated style to work for the script instead of struggling with the script to fit his sensibilities, something all too many new (I think Perez is new to the comics scene.  At least, he is to me and that's all that matters in my tunnel vision view of the world.) artists do.  In fact, when Young takes the fight between Surfer and Deadpool to Dragonball Z levels of crazy, Perez gives one of the more impressive splash pages in recent memory, effectively conveying the incredible scale of their battle.  He also gets the expressions down just right.  Take any of Perez' faces out of context and you still know exactly what a character's body language is saying (Surfer's look of "HOLY @%^#" during the DBZ-esque battle is priceless).  All in all, this was probably my favorite book of the week.  It's not going to win any awards, but damn if I didn't thoroughly enjoy the madcap madness this issue provided.  Deadpool Team-Up #883 gets a...
Doom renders judgment on this comic

X-23 #8  Writer: Marjorie Liu  Artist: Ryan Stegman

X-23 has been a bit of a frustrating series for me.  The book started off very strong and was one of my more anticipated titles each month.  However, somewhere around issue #5, both the story and art lost much of its consistency and the book lost a lot of its luster at an alarming pace.  So, I picked up this issue of X-23 thinking I was being generous at giving the series one last shot, but boy am I glad I read this.  First off, this issue gets some much needed artistic consistency as the criminally underrated Ryan Stegman (a large reason I gave this issue a chance) hops on art duties for this issue.  I wouldn't have previously pegged Stegman as one for visceral, intense action sequences, but he really pulls it off well.  A big kudos to colorist John Rauch who gives the proceedings impeccable mood-lighting and a general feel of the grunge that permeates Madripoor.  Second, I'm surprised I liked a book with Daken in it as much as I did with this.  I don't really know why, but  I've never been able to click with the character almost to the point where I'd go out of my way to avoid stories I'd have otherwise read if he was involved.  However, his portrayal here as a slimy, manipulating strategist is much more palatable and enjoyable than the general dick that he came across as in some of his earlier appearances.  The story basically follows Laura and Gambit as they try to find out who is attempting to restart the Weapon X program ( a bit of a dead horse with Wolverine family of titles by now) and find that the trail leads to Daken.  It's a fairly straightforward plot, but Liu keeps the pace going at a nice clip by balancing some needed exposition with some very well-scripted action.  The fights in this issue are intense, intimate, and supremely gratifying to read.  Usually, as I'm probably an elitist at heart, I like to think that I'd look forward to a comic due to a complex and rewarding plot or well handled characterization or some thought-provoking satire.  However, I've come to realize that sometimes I like to read comics as they can feature two characters absolutely clawing the @!*# out of each other.  Stegman really defied my expectations of his art and I couldn't be happier that he proved me wrong.  In fact, the only real weakness in his art here is that occasionally a face will look a bit weird, but that pales in comparison to the glory that is the fight scenes contained within this issue.  Have I mentioned that I LOVED the action here?  Oh yeah, Tyger Tyger shows up and does the "I'm the sheriff in trouble that needs your help" routine, but in the end,  it just kinda felt like a gratuitous cameo. Well, I'm getting way too repetitious here, but X-23 #8 gets an... 
She means serious business here.

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