Comics Reviews of the Week: 10/7/2009

13 10 2009

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Planetary # 27
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

We thought it’d be funnier if I waited. Sorry.

The best review I’ve seen for this said it was like “an epilogue, part finale, part reunion show” and “one last piece of unfinished business for the fantastic team of Ellis, Cassaday, and Martin to collaborate [in]”. And I have to say, that as a fan, I got to agree.

To an extent.

Never would I have thought this series would have finished before other note-worthy works such as Gutsville, The Pirates of Coney Island, or dare I say All-Star Batman and Robin. And as much as I hate delays, I would greater hate to see those books on the shelves next Wednesday if somebody fill-in artist was gonna step in and try to fill Jim Lee’s shoes.

John Cassaday and Laura Harris deserve just as much praise as Ellis himself.

That’s the good news, the bad is…well, everything else. Maybe it’s me, you know, like this experience was doomed from the start due to the fact that I read the two collections a few years back then switched to monthly’s because I couldn’t wait, but something’s definitely lacking. Honestly, I haven’t been this disappointed in a finale since BSG. (Seriously, I did the math: It took nearly ten years to do nearly thirty issues and I’m pissed at this and I’ve only been reading less than a year.)

But look, I’ve come to praise Planetary not bury it. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad it’s finally here, I really am. I feel like a kid at Christmas…though it feels like I got that bike that I asked for about three year’s too late.

– ART

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Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1
Story by: Jonathan Hickman, Mike Benson, Charlie Huston, Robin Furth
Art by: Kody Chamberlain, Tomm Coker, C. P. Smith, Enrique Romero, Paul Gulacy

After being less than amazed with the majority of comics I read this week, I decided to give Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu a shot. To my pleasant surprise, it was more bad ass than a fatal, flying, guillotine. I’ll go ahead and admit that I knew nothing about Shang Chi going into this. Two small words on the first page were my reason for purchasing: Jonathan Hickman.

If don’t recognize his name, do yourself a favor, stop reading this review, and go pick up a copy of The Nightly News trade paperback. It will blow your mind. If you’ve wondering if Mr. Hickman is capable of writing comedy and you’ve never read “Transhuman”, here’s more proof. Given the task, he could probably make an owner’s manual interesting.

I should mention that this is a 48 page, black and white, anthology comic one-shot that features four short stories… yes, it is a Marvel Comic and yes, that is Deadpool on the cover. Don’t worry, the Merc with a Mouth is quite well utilized in this issue unlike other recent appearances. (Ms. Marvel #40, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) Luckily, Marvel gives you a short summary of Shang Chi’s origin tale on page one. Basically, he’s trained by his father (Fu Manchu) to be the ultimate assassin. He decides to put his abilities to better use, fighting against his father and his evil plans. Two of the tales contained within this issue reference Shang Chi’s origins.

Each story in this one-shot has something wonderful and unique about it. “The annual race to benefit various sundry organizations and also the homeless. Now with beer and hot dogs” is as hilarious and random as the title suggests, complete with characters like the Hitler Twins, Doctor Hemorrhoid, The Minotaur Matadors of the Maze, a pregnant looking waitress on roller skates, and of course Deadpool. To add to the insanity, artist Kody Chamberlin actually drew a playable dice game into the story. Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith’s art in “Once Upon A Time In Wan Chai” is a fantastic example of how gorgeous black and white photorealism can be. Enrique Romero’s art in “The Vaccuum of Memory” is simple, yet highly effective in telling the tale of Shang Chi’s violent encounter with his long lost brother M’ Nai. Finally, Robin Furth (writer of The Dark Tower comics) brings us a prose tale that vividly highlights the struggle and sacrifice that Shang Chi went through to become the ultimate weapon.

If you’re following The Immortal Iron Fist (Marvel’s other kung fu killa’), picking this up should be a no-brainer. If you’re not reading Iron Fist, give this book a chance. If enough people buy this one shot, maybe Marvel will make it an ongoing series. Everyone needs a little Kung Fu in their pull list.

– Freddie

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Criminal: The Sinners #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Val Staples

Tracy knew what he was supposed to do.
He was there to kill this idiot.
But even now he wasn’t sure he was going to pull the trigger.
Mr. Hyde was right…Tracy Lawless was becoming the worst hitman in the world.”

So there’s the guy named Tracy who kills people for a living, but he sucks at it — not the actual life taking, he’s apparently top notch at that — it’s the other stuff. The little things. (it’s always the little things, right?) Like how he’s got his own special code with rules like “no women, no children” and he’ll only kill people who deserve it (seems like old Tracy’s seen Leon a few too many times). But you know as well as I that deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it when it comes to killing, professional or otherwise, so when his boss gets angry at Tracy for his code of conduct, it’s to be expected. So when Hyde makes Tracy a offer to get out of his current deal, of course he jumps at it.

And that concludes the plot description for this issue. Now I left out a couple details and a plot twist or two but that should be enough to entice.

Hey, it’s Criminal. What more could I say that hasn’t been said before; it’s awesome and you should be reading it.

’nuff said.

– ART

Criminal: The Sinners #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Val Staples”Tracy knew what he was supposed to do.
He was there to kill this idiot.
But even now he wasn’t sure he was going to pull the trigger.
Mr. Hyde was right…Tracy Lawless was becoming the worst hitman in the world.”So there’s the guy named Tracy who kills people for a living, but he sucks at it — not the actual life taking, he’s apperently top notch at that — it’s the other stuff. The little things. (it’s always the little things, right?) Like following his own special rules like  no women and he’ll only kill people who deserve it (seems like old Tracy’s seen Leon a few too many times). But you know as well as I that deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it when it comes to killing, professional or otherwise, so when his boss gets angry at Tracy for his code of conduct, it’s to be expected. So when Hyde makes Tracy a offer to get out of his current deal, of course he jumps at it.

And that concludes the plot description for this issue. Now I left out a couple details and a plot twist or two but that should be enough to entice.

What more could I say that hasn’t been said before. Criminal’s awesome and you should be reading it. ’nuff said.

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