A few comics reviews, A bunch of pictures

The last three weeks have been really heavy as far as Comics I Want. Here's what I've read most recently. Click images to embiggen.

The Un-Men #1 - Vertigo (2007)
This is actually a review of Un-Men #1 and #2 because this thing is on a release schedule to rival 52! #3 is in my house now but I haven't read it yet. The fact that I bought the third issue should tell you that I like the series. 'Cause, y'know, I do.

There are so many ways this story could have gone wrong and John Whalen avoided all of them. Revamps of old, weird comic characters are always hit-or-miss propositions but this one brings the right stuff together in the proper way. Getting Mike Hawthorne to draw the thing doesn't hurt, either.

The premise is that Anton Arcane's original Un-Men are at the center of an entire town of freaks. It's like that episode of the X-Files times the Jim Rose Show plus the cast of Deliverance. The characters are interesting and (no pun intended) well fleshed out. There's a murder mystery along with a few freak-related subplots and an albino DOE agent who is becoming my favorite new DC character. Whalen even managed to work reality shows into the plot in way that doesn't suck! Now, that's writing.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #1 - DC (2007)
From the first time I encountered Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters I have hated the characters. It's an irrational hatred but it's seeds are in the way Uncle Sam talks. I know it's supposed to be folksy or something but I can't stand the bastard. The Freedom Fighters have always seemed to be a square peg that DC keeps trying to pound into a round hole.

When I read that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were writing a miniseries about them, my hatred flagged a bit. Palmiotti and Gray are in my top ten list of comics writers and they are putting out some excellent stuff, lately. Well, they can't all be gold. Even without characters I loathe, this is not a very good story. It's disjointed and seems to be going in too many directions for a mere eight issues to cover.

The big event in this issue is that there's a split among the members of the team who are willing to become leg-breakers for the government and the ones who aren't. It's like some kind of Civil War! Not even Palmiotti and Gray can make me interested in this kind of tale. Also, the ones who stay get press agents. I am well past the point where I think superheroes as real-world-type celebrities are interesting. Needless to say, I won't pick up issue #2.

Action Comics #856 - DC (2007)
Do you like Bizarro? Buy this issue and #855 and you won't be disappointed. Do you like Eric Powell's art? See above. I always enjoy seeing Powell's cover work but I really like it when he does an entire book. See also: The Goon.

This storyline is tailor-made for Powell's style. This is a dark, creepy Bizarro story which is only made darker and creepier by all of the weird-ass stuff that happens on Bizarro world. Powell is the go-to guy for creepy, dark, and silly. Also, Geoff Johns and Richard Donner are writing it so it's in good hands. Bizarro has kidnapped Pa Kent and trapped him on Bizarro world. Wacky hijinks ensue but there is this terrible sense of danger and impending violent death throught out the story. I'll stick with Action as long as this storyline continues and I may keep up with it after that.

Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1 - Marvel (2007)
First I need to make it clear that Immortal Iron Fist #9 is awesome. The series still kicks ass and you should go out and buy all of the issues.

You should also buy the Annual. It's too bad that you can't just buy half of it, though, because some of the art is awful. I hate to say that because Howard Chaykin is one of my favorite artists but his work on this issue is terrible. Not only does it not fit with the tone of the issue, it's just bad.

Now, on to the positive stuff which is everything else. The story begins a few minutes after issue #9 and leads directly into #10. Iron Fist takes a break from the Tournament of Awesomeness in order to research stuff about his predecessor so he can level up and learn how to shoot flaming skulls out of his hands. This means that the issue is really about Orson Randall and his adventures during the early twentieth century. There's tons of pulpy goodness and the art in those sections by Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic is spot on! Everybody looks like they jumped off the cover of a lurid pulp novel. There's nothing essential to enjoying the main series but there are some very entertaining bits with Randall and his fellow Confederates of the Curious.

See below for examples of the jarring differences in artistic styles. The first one is Chaykin's work, followed by Djurdjevic's. Click to enlarge.

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