Bob Agamemnon's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics Bulletin Reviews: 32
7.2Avg. Review Rating

10
Astonishing X-Men #6

Nov 7, 2004

So is the Whedon/Cassaday team the one true torch-bearing duo of Grant Morrisons radical overhaul of the X-Men? Not at all, and who cares? The frenetic pace of those now-old New X-Men stories, and the cosmic-scale drama they recounted, have been replaced by a more human-sized approach in which relationships between characters have taken on a powerful and realistic tone. The success of creative visions as diverse as theseand on the same titleis a testament to the greatness and the flexibility of the X-Men. Regardless of how many copies of X-Dudes and X-Etera we have to suffer through, each era seems to produce its own great X-Men stories to tell.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #67

Nov 28, 2004

This issue adds to the growing number of Bendiss Daredevil stories in which we barely glimpse the hero in costume. Here, the DD peaking out from Murdocks half-opened shirt is all we are granted. The only typical superhero action occurs sixty years in the past, and ends with a forgotten costumed crusaders brutal death. Under Bendiss pen, Daredevil has become a kind of meta-superhero exploration. As in a Hitchcock film, the fact that Murdock is Daredevil is simply the McGuffin, the unimportant detail that brings the characters together and creates the impetus for action. Fans of superhero comics may find this insufferable, but with no shortage of straightforward baddie-bashing titles on the horizon, surely we can see the value in a unique examination of a man who also happens to be Daredevil.

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8.0
Daredevil (1998) #73

May 22, 2005

Looking at superheroes from a distance is not new territory to Brian Michael Bendis. He and Michael Avon Oeming broke new ground with their unique approach to Powers, in which much of the superhero action occurs off camera. Before that, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross pioneered the concept of the Marvel Universe as seen through the eyes of a witness in Marvels. But neither of those books took the idea to the extremes seen in Daredevil #73. The cover of the trade paperback of Marvels features Giant-Man s enormous form filling the lens of a camera. He is put in the perspective of a photographer, an ordinary person, not that of another supernatural being, and in this way his enormous size is made real. But it is still Giant-Man, and not the witness, who dominates the image. In Daredevil #73, the superhero is a figure half seen in the distance, barely made out by a character whose point of view the reader truly connects withthe witness.

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10
Ex Machina #6

Nov 21, 2004

Ex Machina #6 is an excellent starting point for those comics fans not already reading this series. The smart writing, meaty characters and authentic situations provide a great balance to normal superhero fare. That Ex Machina manages to make the travails of local government compelling reading for the comics audience, by framing it with a superhero story, is the real success of the series.

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10
Frank Ironwine #1

Dec 3, 2004

In his introduction to Superman: Secret Identity, Kurt Busiek writes that in a series, you can wander around, explore side-alleys, look at the same situation from different angles, indulge in slow development . . .until youve exhausted what you can do with [the characters] or the audience has abandoned you. With Frank Ironwine, Warren Ellis has boldly, if unusually, attempted to set down in one issue a whole series of character and situation explorations, to build a version of the archetypal detective by boiling him down to the essentials and shooting him through with eccentricity. His success is evidenced by the sensation one has on a second reading of this comic that surely, surely this isnt the first issue.

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8.0
Gotham Central #27

Jan 16, 2005

With Michael LarkGotham Centrals regular artist who forged the dark visual style of the bookgone to greener pastures at Marvel, the hunt for a new artist is on. If this two-issue guest spot for Jason Alexander served as an audition, he has passed with flying colors. His work is a departure from Larks more realistic style, but the emotional content of Alexanders panels ratchets up the drama of the series. For a permanent addition to the creative team, Brubaker and Rucka need look no further.

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7.0
Green Lantern: Rebirth #6

May 15, 2005

Occasional groan-inducing prose aside, GLRB #6 augurs an entertaining future for the titles relaunch. This month sees the release of Green Lantern: Secret Files 2005 which teams Geoff Johns with star artist Darwyn Cook (New Frontier) followed by Green Lantern #1. One hopes that the new series will feature the rest of the corps as much as it does Hal Jordan and that the ratio of soap-opera drama to giant pencils and space pigs will favor the latter, giving readers the over-the-top fantasy this sci-fi book calls for.

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8.0
Hellblazer #207

May 2, 2005

That same messy black soils John Constantines trench coat, his blond hair, and every crevice and crack of Hellblazer #207. The well-kempt Constantine of the silver screen, fresh from the dry cleaner and the beauty salon, would be appalled by the sheer stench one imagines fills this comic-book Constantines world. Its not pretty, but then again, pulp never is.

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9.0
Hellblazer #213

Oct 17, 2005

The richness of John Constantine as a character is such that his best writers-and Carey is one of them-can add to his history in a way that feels organic, as if the reader is slowly getting to know him. This story gives the perfect illusion of having been told to Carey, rather than created by him. As Careys tenure on Hellblazer winds down (issue 215 will be his last), a short story like this one has the air of a long, last look at who Constantine is to the writer, and it is Hellblazer fans who benefit, as the portrait of this scoundrel and flawed hero deepens.

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8.0
Hellblazer #214

Nov 21, 2005

Having sent Constantine to hell in a six-part pulp-fest full of hideous demons and lurid magical extravaganzas, Carey winds down his run with a sober accounting of the life of the Hellblazer. However, the next issue, Careys last, promises a bang rather than a whimper as Constantine addresses a black-tie party for Londons magical community. Theyll love [my speech] to bits, he tells his old ally, Map. Will they? Between you and me? No. But theyll remember it.

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4.0
Lucifer #60

Mar 20, 2005

For many fans, the arcana of comic books is most appealing: the sense of slowly collecting knowledge of a character, of a universe, and becoming an adept. But this same complexity also forces the art form into a ghetto inhabited only by the initiated, and prevents talents like Mike Carey and Peter Gross from reaching a larger audience. The industry has struggled with this problem for decades and experimented with a variety of solutions. In the seventies and eighties, characters narrated their own identities and histories in thought bubbles, shattering the realism and cluttering up panels with dense text. Another venerable technique entailed notes from Julie [Schwartz] or Stan [Lee] at the bottom of the page, directing us to the appropriate back issue. Today, issues of Marvel comics all begin with a page identifying the main characters and the story up to that point. In the end, the most eloquent solution is to craft a story that manages to reward the faithful, while also ent

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4.0
Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9

Dec 12, 2004

The dark and the tragic have a long history in comic books, and a call to shed weight is not a call for triviality. Thoughtful lightness can make frivolity seem dull and heavy, writes Italo Calvino. Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9 doesnt fail because of its seriousness, or grittiness, but because it simply never makes it off the ground.

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8.0
New Avengers #2

Jan 9, 2005

The New Avengers is an action comic, not a teen romance (Ultimate Spiderman), workplace drama (The Pulse) or police procedural (Powers). Bendis could easily have turned this run into another platform from which to display his wit and refine his commentary on the superhero genre. Instead, he has adapted his voice to the spirit of The Avengers. Hopefully, as the team line-up stabilizes, and the furor over the reboot subsides, this series will become the kind of flagship title it has the potential to be.

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7.0
New Avengers #4

Mar 26, 2005

The next issue of New Avengers promises the introduction of a character who appeared on issue #1s cover, and who has created perhaps the most turmoil in the tumultuous discourse that has sprung up around this title. Heres hoping he has more to offer than the same old baggage, as this comic is shaping up to be one of Marvels stronger offerings.

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9.0
Punisher Max #24

Aug 19, 2005

Though its not without its own bloodshed, David Laphams current Daredevil Vs. Punisher: Means and Ends feels rather quaint after an issue of Ennis and Fernandezs raw exercise in emotional and physical pain. The bodily trauma that confirms the reality of the Punishers bullets puts the lie to the more comic book violence Lapham depicts. Its possible that Ennis has, for the foreseeable future at least, ruined the Punisher for writers wishing to craft a kinder, gentler Frank Castle. If so, its a small price to pay for the quality of a comic book like The Punisher #24.

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7.0
Sea of Red #1

Apr 11, 2005

Overall, Sea of Red #1 augurs a light, entertaining series. Oddly, Rick Remender writes a rather defensive letter in the back in which he promises no genres, no heroes, no villains. This comic contains all three; indeed, it depends on them for its entire narrative frame work. And as for declaring, if you are bored of vampires, dont worry, so are we. If you dont know what to think about a book involving pirates, dont worry, were not writing a pirate book, he need not apologize for the vampire-pirate fusion his letter is printed in. The creative team should not start out what promises to be a fun exercise in genre games by striving to shed labels. Instead, Sea of Red should embrace its roots without worrying about being confined by convention. An image from next month features Marco and a young woman whose hairstyle and eyewear suggest she belongs closer to our time than issue #1s dateline of 1533. If Remender and company plan on adding modern-day horror la John Carpen

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5.0
Sea of Red #4

Sep 19, 2005

There is certainly talent involved in Sea of Red. The recombinant DNA spliced together from disparate pop-cultural species shows a postmodern ingenuity for which the comics medium is perfectly suited. And Salgood Sam is a distinctive voice whose compositions-particularly the gorgeous moonlit night scene on page ten-virtually ooze soul. However, issue four suffers from a poor deployment of resources and heaviness of dialogue that mar its virtues. Perhaps the arrival in the next issue of artist Paul Harmon (creator of the exquisitely drawn Mora) will provide Sea of Red with an injection of new blood.

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8.0
Secret Skull #3

Nov 15, 2004

For those fans of superhero comics who are wary of the horror genre, Secret Skull represents a perfect point of entry. With Steve Niles slated to make a foray into DC territory with 2005s Batman: Gotham County Line, Secret Skull is an encouraging sign that he has something fresh to offer the archetypal costumed crime fighter.

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10
Seven Soldiers of Victory #0

Feb 27, 2005

There is a moment in Seven Soldiers #0 in which Grant Morrison puts what amounts to a personal aesthetic statement into the mouth of his protagonist. As the team rides into its first battle, Shelly describes the feeling as this dreamy piling up of weirdness and the impossible. Morrison has made a career of taking the most counter-intuitive notions and realizing them, and there is certainly no shortage of weirdness and the impossible here (super-villains on high tech pogo sticks, and something called the time-sewing machine qualify), but what pushes this beyond the typical psychedelic physics of a Morrison story is the ambitious project it announces: no less than the radical revision of the super-team concept.

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10
Seven Soldiers of Victory: Shining Knight #1

Mar 13, 2005

As he often does, Grant Morrison has placed an apt motto for this issue in the mouth of one of his characters: I took her on a little spin to the upside-down world, the topsy-turvy place. This reviewer cant wait to go again.

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6.0
Singularity 7 #4

Nov 2, 2004

This is not to say that the series has not been well worth buying. Regardless of certain weaknesses in story telling, the tale spun by the art alone is quite stirring. The rendering of the singularly hideous Singularity is something this reviewer will likely see in his nightmares for some time. Templesmith has said in interviews that he wishes to be complete creator on more of his projects. Having more space to stretch out and develop compelling characters, as David Mack has done with Kabuki, would benefit this endeavor. Hopefully we can look forward to watching Ben Templesmith develop as both a great artist and a great writer.

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2.0
Spider-Man: India #1

Nov 21, 2004

In terms of execution, Jeevan J. Kang is a capable artist and a concise story-tellera welcome sight in the land of the six-part story arc. The low bullet score is certainly not a condemnation of his skills. But Spider-Man: India #1, for American audiences, is at best a retelling of a familiar story with little real insight, and at worst a piece of exotica condescending to the culture it represents. Marvel would do better to develop a more honest approach to bringing global culture to its domestic readership.

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1.0
Superman #213

Feb 6, 2005

Ten issues into For Tomorrow, readers can be forgiven for feeling as if they have been duped. Brian Azzarello has taken them down a long road, and it is becoming increasingly clear that he has no pay-off in store.

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5.0
Testament #1

Dec 26, 2005

Comics creators have been dealing with the ideas in Testament #1, whether overtly or not, throughout the mediums history. Most recently, writers like Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and Warren Ellis have played virtuoso games with strands of narrative, be they variations on archetypal tales or recombinations of their own making. Currently, Mike Carey builds his epic Lucifer (also from Vertigo) out of the Biblical sources that so interest Rushkoff. Perhaps he should begin as these writers clearly do: with character and story first, letting the more abstract notions find their way out along with the artistic expression, rather than in lieu of it.

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5.0
The Intimates #2

Dec 10, 2004

Perhaps Casey has something up his sleeve for the next issue, but one suspects that the final-page reveal, featuring Punchy and Duke fast asleep, is more than just an iconoclastic stab at cliffhanger conventions. Hopefully, he will wake them up for issue #3.

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8.0
The Walking Dead #13

Nov 26, 2004

All of its virtues and, alas, the one flaw of the series are evident in The Walking Dead #13. This issue brings the characters to a vital point in their struggle for some sense of normalcy, and the creative team behind the book does an exceptional job in portraying their plight. However, this reviewer found himself constantly searching the issue to find the names of the eleven characters who inhabit it. The fault for this may lie with Kirkmans characterizations, or with Adlards renderings, but the solution to the problem is simple: A preface page akin those used by Marvel (or even by Image itself in the incredibly dense Rex Mundi). Perhaps we will see one in issue #14.

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8.0
Ultimate Secret #1

Apr 3, 2005

Ultimate Secret #1 is a good comic. It contains interesting characters and ideas that create situations straddling the line between the possible and the utterly fantastic in the way that great science fiction always does. Both the writer and the art team handle their material expertly, managing the readers experience panel by panel. Yet despite this success, something about the story feels off. Perhaps it is the many rules and limitations Grant Morrison spoke of at an appearance this weekend when asked about his run on New X-Men. Maybe it is the sense that Ellis is play[ing] with someone elses toys, as Matt Fraction put it when describing his first experience writing for a Marvel title. Or perhaps it is simply this reviewers knowledge that the writer is telling someone elses story. Whatever the case may be, Oceans outer space tale is free of any such inhibitions, thus suggesting that Marvel might better use Warren Ellis to create new comics instead of versioning old o

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8.0
Ultimate Spider-Man #67

Oct 25, 2004

The issues title, Jump The Shark, is a phrase indicating the moment at which a great television series finally runs out of steam and resorts to a preposterous stunt in order to reinvigorate itself (the shark in question was jumped by the Fonz in a late episode of Happy Days). Bendis and Bagley need not worry that they have passed their prime by Ultimate Spider-Man #67. In fact, this story bodes quite well for Bendis upcoming humorous What If book, WHA... HUH?, which promises to ask the questions that no one really cares about.

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4.0
Ultimates 2 #3

Feb 13, 2005

In the end, The Trial of the Hulk is dutifully reported, but it is a tale lacking any resonance, a forgettable episode, a missed opportunity.

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10
Winter Men #1

Sep 5, 2005

On its surface, The Winter Men #1 is a political thriller with suggestions of superhero context. But more than that, the series promises to explore contemporary Russia (and the contemporary Russian psyche) to an extent seldom seen in comics. The Winter Men #2 promises to feature Kalenov in New York City, definitely one of the springs of evil, money, power, greed, partiality that Soviet slogans proclaimed could never reach the hammer of the revolution. Hopefully, Lewis and Leon will paint a picture of the Russians of Brooklyn as incisively as they have those of Moscow.

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8.0
Wolverine (2003) #25

Feb 20, 2005

In carrying out a rather shamelessly exploitative assignment, Millar and Romita may have stumbled upon the ideal Wolverine comic: Beset by danger on all sides, devoid of any goal other than self-preservation, Logans claws, cunning, and will to survive combine in a whirlwind of amoral violence. And in the end, he emerges as neither hero nor villain, but rather, in the words of Nick Fury at this issues close, our little killing machine.

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7.0
Y: The Last Man #29

Dec 5, 2004

New readers looking for a point of entry into Y: The Last Man would do better to pick up Safeword, the latest collection, for a fuller introduction to the title. The qualities that make Vaughans writing so successful - his capacious imagination and the sense that his characters, like the actors on Amy Sherman-Palladinos Gilmore Girls, must have taken elocution lessons to deliver such an endless stream of wit - are evident in issue #29, but as a stand-alone, it doesnt quite capture the pleasure to be had from the book.

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