Thursday, July 07, 2005

Comics Reviews For July 7, 2005

Incredible Hulk 83 – “Terra Incognita, Part 1”
By Peter David and Jorge Lucas

Well, I certainly don’t envy this crew the task of having to work around this summer’s big ol’ “House of M” crossover. Still, David takes an interesting tac by giving Bruce Banner something he’s never had before: inner peace and a measure of control over the Hulk. However, this is something that, like most of the House of M stuff, that will have greater impact once the crossover is done than it does now. Still, I’m interested in that aspect.
The conflict between AIM (here yet another human resistance group) and Exodus’s Australian government is slightly less interesting. The Hulk getting caught in someone else’s fight is nothing new, and while I liked the interplay between Exodus and Pyro, few of these characters are very interesting to me. I include the new Scorpion in this statement. There are some good moments, though, such as Hulk using Unus as a soccer ball and the “Who attacked my people?” line.
Lucas’ art is passable, and I love his Tribal Hulk design, but he needs a separate inker; his stuff’s too rough. He also botched the battle between AIM and the government troops; I wasn’t even clear that two groups were present until Banner confronted Unus.
Overall, it’s a passable arc, and I hope the crossover doesn’t get too much in the way of the themes and characters being explored.
Grade: B+

Exiles 66 – “Destroy All Monsters, Part 1”
By Tony Bedard and Jim Calafiore

This issue is largely setup for both the arc and the new direction, but I like what I see. The conflict about what to do now that the Exiles don’t *have* to go around fixing realities anymore is interesting, and I like the way the arguments from all the sides are presented. We also get some great character moments from Morph, showing once again why he’s the heart of the team.
I like the conceit for the alternate reality for this arc: Dr. Curt Conners leading a team of adventurers against giant monsters. This arc: Krakoa.
Calafiore’s been the fill-in guy for this book for five years and counting, and he has yet to disappoint. He doesn’t get much chance to stretch his muscles with this script, but I like his redesign for Krakoa. Hell, I just like Krakoa. The Island That Walks Like A Man. He also gets a great Morph gag in on the last page.
This may just be a placeholder arc before “World Tour” starts, but I’m happy with it, and Bedard shows that even placeholders can be fun.
Grade: B

WildGuard: Fool’s Gold 1
By Todd Nauck
“Where Are They Now: American Icon” by Todd Nauck and Jeremy Dale

I am so glad to see this book back, even for just two issues. And I’m not just saying that because they printed my letter and put my old CBR handle in the background in the cave scene.
This issue has more plot (or perhaps I should use Danny Fingeroth’s term “density of incident”) than most comics these days, and that’s a good thing. New readers will quickly be brought up to speed on the concept and characters before being launched into a story that they probably haven’t seen before, even if they’re longtime superhero readers.
One thing I like about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, or overeffusively mock itself (which is just another way of taking itself too seriously, by saying, “Look at me! I recognize how ridiculous this is! That means I’m mature!”). Instead, concepts like superpowers, teamups, secret identity hassles, and mystic relics are handled as simply tropes, devices to be put together in interesting ways and help the story.
I continue to love how we see more and more of these characters with each story. Even Lily Hammer and Freezerburn have layers, as it turns out, and they’re my least favorite characters. Good on Todd for that, and for the ending, which I totally did not see coming. Man, next issue is going to rock. (It’s out in two weeks, btw, so reserve your copy now!)
The art holds up to Nauck’s usual standards. As good as his work on Young Justice was, he’s breaking into whole new levels here, especially in terms of facial expressions.
Lastly, I was quite impressed with the American Icon backup. The way Todd’s script expanded the character brought a whole new light to his presentation in Casting Call, and the twist on the concept, as well as the shock ending that actually shocked me, showed how much work he put into everyone in the series.
Wildguard is one of the top new series of the decade, and I’m proud to be reading and supporting it. Now, how’s about an Invincible crossover?Grade: A-

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