Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rapid Reviews Round One

In order to allow me to cover a lot of things I've read in the past few months in a few short posts, I've initiated a Round of Rapid Reviews. I won't go into a lot of detail but will give highlights, (dis) honourable mentions, and the usual details of who's to blame for what, and how much money to spend. Without further ado, let's discuss...

The Death of Jean DeWolff
Should be titled "Exploits of the Sin Eater"

This was one I grabbed while in Melbourne earlier this year. Amazon will ask about $18.5 USD for this 168 page book. It's written by Peter David (a good sign), and pencilled by Rich Buckler and Sal Buscema. Briefly put, Jean DeWolff (Spider-man's female cop buddy) has been killed, and Pete wants to catch the killer. Turns out the killer is an old geezer friend of Aunt May's. Peter near cripples the guy, and then has to deal with his guilt causing him to hold back in a fight with Electro. The art is good (not spectacular), and easy to read. Thankfully it hasn't been recoloured, s I doubt it'd look as nice.
The story is very much of the time, with Spider-man needing to deal with how his all consuming responsibilities as a hero clash with his underlying humanity. I'd like to say it's done better than most, but really the story is nothing overly special. How Eddie Brock could ever be plausibly retconned into being involved in (let alone caring about) these events is beyond me.

Recommendation: Spider-fans (be they casual or committed) will enjoy it. Everyone else will probably pass, as there's not much here that's not been done better elsewhere.

The Complete Ben Reilly Epic Book 1

I'd call it a turd-burger, but really you
wouldn't consider serving this to anyone.
Seriously awful. Amazon want to charge you $27 USD for this 120 page waste of time and space. The culprits for this train-wreck are Tom Defalco, Mike Lackey, Howard Mackie, Todd Dezago, Glenn Herdling, Evan Skolnick, Dan Jurgens, Mark Bagley, Sal Buscema, Gil Kane, Paris Karounos, Scott McDaniel, Tom Morgan, John Romita JR, Tod Smith, Joe St. Pierre, and Patrick Zircher.

If you must know what it's about, this is the sixth instalment of that "wonderful" period in the 1990s when Peter Parker was revealed to be a clone (not the real Spider-man) and Ben Reilly was revealed as the true Spider-man. If you'd read the fifth and figured that as the low point of the saga, think again. By the time this volume starts, Peter knows he's the clone, and has agreed to stop being Spider-man so he and a pregnant MJ can go and have a family life sans excitement. Thing is, from that point it takes until the last issue of the book for Ben to start out as Spider-man. There is not one single story in here that makes it worth my time to discuss the details of. The plots, logic, and dialog are terrible.
The art (excusing Mark Bagley and Sal Buscema) is full of woeful representations of human anatomy, and (in at least the case of an issue of Green Goblin) somehow makes it harder to read the stories (as if you'd want to). Every time I read something mildly objectionable in this era of spider-man, I think back to this Life of Reilly series of articles (now a blog) and wonder just how far they got it wrong.

Recommendation: If you happen upon this in a store, burn it. Otherwise, avoid all interaction with this book. Even if you want to read the Ben Reilly as Spider-man saga, this book doesn't advance the plot except for the last issue, and you'd pick up the plot advancement by reading the next volume.

The Walking Dead Volume Seven
You know what it's about. You know.

It's The Walking Dead. Zombies. Bleak. People Dying. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard deliver another 304 pages of the most wrist slitting cmic book entertainment known to man, all for about $22 USD from Amazon. Reading this volume a couple thing struck me:
1. This series seriously needs a recap at the start of each volume; and
2. It's become so excessively repetitive that it's really only something to continue reading if you're committed to the series.

While there's not anything really wrong with the book per se (the art's good as ever, the characterisation , plot and dialog are all good), I think it's fair to say that the series as a whole is starting to lack clear direction. I get that it's the ongoing story of what would happen in a zombocalypse, but I'm tired of seeing the same repetition of "Rick's group find some place vaguely inhabitable, and begin to settle down. Human nature and zombies combine to screw things up, and lots of people die. Rinse, repeat." It's time to either focus on a different group of survivors (no reason they can't eventually team up with Rick's group), or wrap the series up with what I see as the inevitable conclusion: Rick and Carl are both dead.

Recommendation: If you've read this far, you probably need to decide if you're interested in more of the same. If so, keep going, else drop it like it's hot. If you aren't already reading, there's six volumes before this one that you need to read to be properly informed at each step along the way.

Well, that's a wrap for Rapid Review Round One. Next week, I'll be back with Round Two.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these Westy. The Jean DeWolff story is one I've always thought I should read, and being a Peter David fan I'll pick it up now. The Ben Reilly stuff is something I've always stayed away from.

    I'm reading Walking Dead digitally now. The two most recent issues have been a bit more promising in terms of some sort of way forward, but I agree, it's pretty nihilistic stuff.