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Dr.Finger
12-25-2006, 08:13 AM
Welcome to week Fifty-Two of Evil Avatar’s Weekly Comic Book Reviews.

BCBComics (http://www.bcbcomics.com/) is offering a ongoing code of “EVERLOST” to be used give an extra 10% off to Evil Avatar readers. In addition a special page (https://www.bcbcomics.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=350) has been set up by BCBComics to save money on various comics, TPBs, games and toys related to the comics that are reviewed each week.

Remember, these are NOT spoiler-free reviews.

Week Fifty-Two
Evil Avatar's Weekly Comic Book Reviews - Year 2 - Week 52

Marvel Two-In-One!

Iron Man/Captain America - Casualties of War
Reviewed By: Michael Chauvet (Doctor Finger)
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciller: Jeremy Haun
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Morry Hollowell
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Andy Schmidt
$2.99

http://aycu17.webshots.com/image/7856/2003635590172518624_rs.jpg

"Rubicon"

Iron Man #14
Reviewed By: Michael Chauvet (Doctor Finger)
Writer: Daniel & Charles Knauf
Penciller: Partick Zircher
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Guru eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
$2.99

http://aycu19.webshots.com/image/9178/2003612062500345292_rs.jpg

After many moons of fighting Captain America and Iron Man finally sit down and (try) to talk things out in not one but two different books this week. In Casualties of War Cap and Tony meet in the ruins of Avenger's Mansion, mostly to discuss how to end the war, but also to reminisce about the (bad) old days. Gage does a great job of recapping the two men's history, which considering that they've been teammates forever contains a lot of fights. The long history Cap and Tony have together does a lot to frame the conflict they're in now and how much each of them have invested in it. Tony tells Cap that he's seen the plans and without the Registration Act horrors like Project: Wideawake would flood the skies with Sentinels and lead to the mass slaughter of all superhumans. Cap doesn't care, believing that if the heroes stood united against the Act they could have quashed it. This discussion of the whys of Civil War made me very happy. From the start Millar & Co. seemed to be going out of their way to make Tony, Reed Richards and the other Pro-Reg forces into total asses, while Cap and his side come off as oppressed angels. But in the past month or so the various writers seem to have been trying very hard to portray both sides in a more even-handed light. Bringing up Project: Wideawake and the various dystopian futures the X-Men have seen is a powerful reason to back the Pro-Reg side, while never detracting from Captain America's reasoning either. In the end neither side can come to a meeting of the minds and after the obligatory fistfight they go their separate ways...for now

Meanwhile, in Iron Man Tony meets with Cap in a military-style parley at a deserted Yankee Stadium to make sure that neither Cap nor his forces are responsible the beating Happy Hogan took. Happy is in a coma, and his wife Pepper is told he likely will never come out of it. Tony reveals that thanks to the Extremis running through his system he's in constant communication with Happy's life support equipment and Pepper tells Tony of a dinner they had once at Cauliflower Alley, a club for former boxers and wrestlers (the name refers to Cauliflower ears, a condition common to those two professions). One of the boxers is now basically a drooling, dependant mess, and Happy tells Pepper he never wants to end up like him. She asks Tony to use Extremis to shut off Happy's life support so he doesn't have to live as a vegetable. All of this weighs on Tony as he meets with Cap. Cap tells Tony he'd never do something like that, and he'd personally hand over any member of his command that did. Of course the meeting goes badly, as members of Cap's team teleport in and attack Iron Man as they spirit Cap away. Iron Man manages to take out Cage, Ultra-Girl and even Spiderman with ease, but since this was a parley he doesn't arrest them. Unlike the meeting in Casualties of War this one doesn't really add that much to the overall Civil War tapestry. In the end, after The Invisible Woman confronts Tony and accuses him of breaking up her marriage, Tony reluctantly shuts down Happy's respirator. After a lot of work to make Tony more human and sympathetic the 'mercy killing' of his best friend seems to be a big step backwards in that regard.

Bottom Line (Casualties of War):
A great recap of Cap and Iron Man's history that adds only a little to Civil War

Rating: Decent, but leaf through it before buying it. (3 out of 5 EvilEyes)
http://www.evilavatar.com/images/icons/e3.jpg

Bottom Line (Iron Man):
Doesn't add much to Civil War, but adds a lot to Tony's character.

Rating: Decent, but leaf through it before buying it. (3 out of 5 EvilEyes)
http://www.evilavatar.com/images/icons/e3.jpg


Maintenance #1
Reviewed By: Michael Chauvet (Doctor Finger)
Writer: Jim Massey
Illustrator: Robbi Rodriguez
Toner: Jared M. Jones
Letterer: Douglas R. Sherwood
Editor: James Lucas Jones
$3.50

http://aycu16.webshots.com/image/6535/2003688406392011081_rs.jpg

Every now and then you see a concept so neat, so elegant, so interesting that you wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?" Maintenance is just such a concept. Doug and Manny are janitors at a supervillain lab, cleaning up after the messes of the various evil geniuses. Just like any other place of business there are simmering office romances and petty politics. Unlike any other place of business the "Mt. Harmony Bunny and Orphan Faun preserve" also has trans-dimensional goo and zombified cats stuck in the vending machine. Populating the lab are genius scientists, supervillains, aliens and the occasional Manshark. All of this is viewed through the been-there-seen-that eyes of Manny & Doug. The mixing of a basic, menial job like janitorial with something as absurd as super-science is genius. Eventually the Manshark convinces the guys to take him out on the town for the three hours he can spend out of water. Unfortunately the Manshark, who names himself Cobra McPunch, has a little too much to drink and ends up biting the head off another patron, literally. All of this is shown with a pleasantly cartoony, black and white style.

Bottom Line:
A great core concept, backed up with a really fun supporting cast

Rating: Worth the money and time. (4 out of 5 EvilEyes)
http://www.evilavatar.com/images/icons/e4.jpg

Alias Omnibus
Reviewed By: Philip Kollar (Kefkataran)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley, Michael Gaydos, David Mack, Rick Mays, Rodney Ramos, Bill Sienkiwicz, Art Thibert, and Al Vey
Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth and Dean White
Letters: Wes Abbott, Oscar Gongora, Jason Levine, Cory Petit, and Richard Starkings
Covers by: David Mack
Editors: Tom Brevoort, C.B. Cebulski, Stuart Moore, Joe Quesada, and Andy Schmidt
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $69.99

http://aycu20.webshots.com/image/5779/2003633739379639328_rs.jpg

Fuck.

First off, don't let the large list of artists worry you. The vast majority of the work in this omnibus (collecting all 28 single issues of Alias and the one-shot What if... Jessica Jones Joined the Avengers) is done by the impressive Michael Gaydos. His dirty, ungrounded style is the perfect fit for the noir-tinged detective stories Bendis is telling here. The flashbacks are all handled by Ultimate Spider-Man alum Mark Bagley, who is equally perfect at the more traditional bombastic superhero style of these sequences. Also, I don't usually take note of the covers in these reviews - hell, some trades don't even include them! But in the case of Alias, the covers are an absolutely essential piece of what holds it all together. Mack's stunning design is put to use over and over again to create 28 stunning images, plus the unused covers featured as bonus material that are also amazing, demolishing most covers that are on the stands these days.

Alias begins as just another Bendis crime comic. This isn't a bad thing, as Bendis obviously loves crime fiction and does it damned well, but Alias ends up being much more. Private investigator Jessica Jones is one of those Marvel universe rarities - a superpowered woman who has rejected the superhero life and, indeed, use of her powers at all. Instead she opts to deal with the seedier side of life as a detective for hire. Despite her wishes, Jones's cases continue tying her in to the superhero world.

Whether it's discovering that the woman she's been paid to spy on is sleeping with Captain America or being hired to look for ex-Avenger and friend of the Hulk, Rick Jones, Jessica can't seem to avoid confrontation with that she hates most. This leads, as classic comic book storytelling would dictate it must, to the slow, painful revelation of her secret origin and her reason for hiding her superpowers. It would have been so easy to disappoint with this, but after 20 plus issues of build-up, Bendis actually reveals a back story that makes sense, emotionally and otherwise.

Alias was also one of the first comics in Marvel's "MAX" line. This means there's a lot of adult content - swearing, sex, and generally non-kid-friendly stuff. At times it feels like Bendis might just be showing off, dropping f-bombs and nude scenes just because he can, but for the most part this freedom is put to good use. It's hard to imagine Alias in non-18+ form, and that's part of what makes moving on to sequel series The Pulse a little bit scary.

What's most obvious after 29 issues and two months spent with this massive tome is that Bendis's goal with Alias was to create a character who is more than just a comic book superhero. So many comic characters, even when written at their best and most interesting, can be summed up in a couple of lines - their motivations are weak, their characterizations weaker. Jones, though, pulls herself out of the prison of being a comic book character and becomes real. She is beautiful. She is ugly. She is complex. Sometimes she does things that are just plain stupid, and sometimes she does things that are amazing and wonderful. Just like you or I. And more than the intriguing storylines or the dark mysteries, that's why this book is a complete success.

Bottom Line:
This is one of the most expensive comic collections I've ever purchased. It was also one of the most worthwhile. With nearly 600 pages of story and a ton of bonus material (including sketches, essays, deleted scenes, scripts, and more), this is going to satisfy whether you're reading it over a long period of time or blasting through the whole thing in one night. The biggest complaint that could be levied against this volume is that it's so damned heavy that it can be hard to read holding in your lap like a normal comic... tables recommended!

Rating: A must have! (5 out of 5 EvilEyes)
http://www.evilavatar.com/images/icons/e5.jpg

thecrazyd
12-25-2006, 08:28 AM
I really dug Maintenance. Creative idea, and beautiful art. I will definitely be following that series.

JazGalaxy
12-25-2006, 10:58 AM
"It can be hard to read holding in your lap like a normal comic"

Who reads comic books out of their lap?

resikel
12-25-2006, 11:58 AM
I love Alias. It's definitely worth the admission price.

Kefkataran
12-25-2006, 07:43 PM
"It can be hard to read holding in your lap like a normal comic"

Who reads comic books out of their lap?

Um, me, I guess? When I'm reading comics, I generally hold them with my hands down sort of by my stomach/legs. Ocassionally, I'll put them on an arm rest or hold them up close to my face, but not usually.

Man, what a fucking stupid thing to pick out of the review to criticize, though.

Spigot
12-25-2006, 07:53 PM
I'm still miffed that I missed Maintenance. I'll take a look for it next week.

Just read last week's (or was it the week before's?) Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman. I loved the Colbert cameo :)

I've still got a huge stack of comics from the last couple weeks to go through. They'll keep me company tonight as I sleep in my big lonely bed *sniff*

And people who hold comics on their laps are freaks of nature.

Kefkataran
12-25-2006, 08:00 PM
Hey, speaking of Colbert, anyone else hear that Oni is doing a Tek Jansen comic next year? Oh yes.

Spigot
12-25-2006, 08:50 PM
Hey, speaking of Colbert, anyone else hear that Oni is doing a Tek Jansen comic next year? Oh yes.
I'm alternately excited and horrified.

Kefkataran
12-25-2006, 08:56 PM
I'd be really worried if it wasn't Oni. But almost everything I've read from them has been really top-notch, quality stuff.

I'm a little surprised they didn't get a deal with DC or (more likely, given Quesada's appearance on the show) Marvel, though.

Spigot
12-25-2006, 08:58 PM
Probably just went wherever it was cheapest.

Sazime
12-25-2006, 09:43 PM
Hey, speaking of Colbert, anyone else hear that Oni is doing a Tek Jansen comic next year? Oh yes.
Wow, that's awesome.

After reading the latest Iron Mans and the newer CW stuff, I have me some theories. Mainly that S.H.E.I.L.D. will become a Super Hero branch of the government. That and it will gain some sort of autonomy so no one other than Tony Stark and Nick Shield know anything about anyone. Registration may die, but I think the superhuman police are here to stay.

And Alias, what a great read. I was happy I got to read it in omnibus form, it just made much more sense in the long run. Still, issue to issue it was great as well. This weekend I read the New X-Men omnibus. Let's just say that I'll be buying omnibuses for many a series if I can. It's the best way to read a run of someone's work.

JazGalaxy
12-25-2006, 10:15 PM
Um, me, I guess? When I'm reading comics, I generally hold them with my hands down sort of by my stomach/legs. Ocassionally, I'll put them on an arm rest or hold them up close to my face, but not usually.

Man, what a fucking stupid thing to pick out of the review to criticize, though.

I'm not criticising it, I just thought it was a weird thing to say. I grew up with two brothers who read comic books avidly, and our main poses are in the bed, on the floor, at a table, etc. I hold graphic novels in my hand just like I hold regular books. Maybe i just have big hands, but it's never posed a problem. If it's a book I want to keep in good condition I don't really hold onto it... just lay it in my hand as a balance.

Kefkataran
12-25-2006, 11:28 PM
And Alias, what a great read. I was happy I got to read it in omnibus form, it just made much more sense in the long run. Still, issue to issue it was great as well. This weekend I read the New X-Men omnibus. Let's just say that I'll be buying omnibuses for many a series if I can. It's the best way to read a run of someone's work.

Yeah, I just put in my order for Frank Miller's Daredevil Omnibus. $50 from DCBS!

I'm not criticising it, I just thought it was a weird thing to say. I grew up with two brothers who read comic books avidly, and our main poses are in the bed, on the floor, at a table, etc. I hold graphic novels in my hand just like I hold regular books. Maybe i just have big hands, but it's never posed a problem. If it's a book I want to keep in good condition I don't really hold onto it... just lay it in my hand as a balance.

Interesting. I sometimes read on the bed/floor as well, so I know what you mean, and now that I paid more attention while comic reading this afternoon, maybe "in your lap" wasn't quite the right words, as the book isn't actually resting in my lap, but still in my hands above it. Weird.

Curiosity: what were you and your bros fave comics growing up?

JazGalaxy
12-26-2006, 12:25 AM
Yeah, I just put in my order for Frank Miller's Daredevil Omnibus. $50 from DCBS!



Interesting. I sometimes read on the bed/floor as well, so I know what you mean, and now that I paid more attention while comic reading this afternoon, maybe "in your lap" wasn't quite the right words, as the book isn't actually resting in my lap, but still in my hands above it. Weird.

Curiosity: what were you and your bros fave comics growing up?

When we were younger? My oldest brother was a big Xmen fan, while my other brother tended to like whatever had the best art. I was a big fan of Psi Force. When we were older my oldest brother would probaby pick Xmen,still, as his favorites, while my middle brother was attracted to the likes of anything by Joe Quesada, Chris Bachalo, or hardcore Bendis (torso, powers, etc.). I pretty much discovered a writer who coicindentally happened to be writing all the books i liked and follow their career. I started reading Ellis when he was working on the likes of DV8 and Doom 2099, and Peter David on XFactor.

We also all really liked the Milestone books like Static and The Shadow Cabinet.

Paltry
12-26-2006, 12:28 AM
Um, me, I guess? When I'm reading comics, I generally hold them with my hands down sort of by my stomach/legs. Ocassionally, I'll put them on an arm rest or hold them up close to my face, but not usually.

What a stupid thing to have to write 3 sentences to justify...

Ronberk
12-26-2006, 03:35 AM
Alias was good.

The Pulse was horrible, not so much a victim of being mainstream, but I think it kinda got bogged down, derailed, and eventually murdered by Civil War. If only Jess didn't hook up with Luke Cage!

Guess Bendis was having too much fun at having the opportunity to play around with the other Jessica (Drew), who was apparently his first choice for the lead role in Alias.

Kefkataran
12-26-2006, 11:02 AM
Alias was good.

The Pulse was horrible, not so much a victim of being mainstream, but I think it kinda got bogged down, derailed, and eventually murdered by Civil War. If only Jess didn't hook up with Luke Cage!

Guess Bendis was having too much fun at having the opportunity to play around with the other Jessica (Drew), who was apparently his first choice for the lead role in Alias.

The Jessica Drew thing (IIRC) is just a heavily circulated rumor that Bendis has debunked a few times in interviews. Either way, I'm sad to hear the Pulse isn't as good, but I'll check it out. I think Jones hooking up with Cage makes sense and is an alright character development, but I can totally see how it would lead to the rest of Jessica's story being less engaging.

Also, didn't a whole arc of the Pulse tie in to Bendis's Secret War mini that most people strongly disliked?

Ronberk
12-26-2006, 04:56 PM
The Jessica Drew thing (IIRC) is just a heavily circulated rumor that Bendis has debunked a few times in interviews. Either way, I'm sad to hear the Pulse isn't as good, but I'll check it out. I think Jones hooking up with Cage makes sense and is an alright character development, but I can totally see how it would lead to the rest of Jessica's story being less engaging.

Also, didn't a whole arc of the Pulse tie in to Bendis's Secret War mini that most people strongly disliked?
I should reread stuff before I go blasting off my mouth. Yeah, it was Secret War, not Civil War. Secret War wasn't that bad really, except that it got delayed for an unreasonable amount of time iirc. The main problem is that it completely derailed the Pulse (which couldn't decide if the book was to be about newspaper journalism or about Jessica's personal life and kept flip-flopping between the two, they should've taken a direction and stuck with it)

The Jessica Drew thing is such a believable urban legend because like all good urban legends, it offhandedly sounds like it could be true.

I really should go reread before I talk more about it, but the Pulse seems to suffer from the fact that Alias closed off in a very satisfying manner. It felt like Bendis had no real direction to go with the character after that.

Kefkataran
12-26-2006, 05:06 PM
Yeah, Ronberk, I can definitely see that. Reading Alias in the omnibus, it feels like a complete story, and I would be fine not moving on to the Pulse... even though I probably will.