Funnybook Babylon

September 20, 2007

Trading for the Wait – September 19, 2007

Filed under: Reviews — Jonathan Bernhardt @ 11:20 pm

Not too long ago, the preferred way to reading any comic series was hitting the store every Wednesday to pick it up sequentially. The store had stacks of floppies and if you wanted to catch up to a series, you’ll have to dig into the back issue bin, hopefully finding the issues you needed. However, more and more stuff is getting reprinted in trades to the point that you can wait til a story arc is done to read it. To give you an idea of what’s out there, we present, Trading for the Wait, a weekly round table of reviews on trade paperbacks that you may have missed on your weekly visits. This inaugural version features Funnybook Babylon’s newest addition, Jonathan Bernhardt and reviews for Captain America Omnibus, Justice Society of America, Doctor Thirteen, Silent War and 52 Volume Three.

Captain America Omnibus Vol 1 HC
720 Pages is enough to kill most men with.

JON: Probably the best sustained Captain America story ever written, though that’s a heavy backhanded compliment. Ed Brubaker shows his chops as a superhero writer by making Cap relevant again, and certainly updates the franchise very well, but the work still falls victim to plodding internal monologues and the mediocre yet tediously prominent supporting characters Sin and Crossbones. Definitely worth a read; $75 is too rich for my taste, but Amazon is offering it for just over $47 before shipping, and that’s pretty much the price I’d buy it at. I’m sure it has extras and whatnot, but that’s Pedro’s department.

MATT: Ship me my damn Omnibus Amazon, I’ve had it preordered since June!

PEDRO: I’m pretty bias since I’m a huge Cap fan and I love what Marvel’s doing with the OverSized Omnibuses. It’s a lot to ask someone to spend $45+ on a book site unseen. For those who enjoy Brubaker’s work on any of the other titles at Marvel, Vertigo, Wildstorm, or DC, I have to say that two dollars and fifty cents an issue is a small price to pay for books you will more likely love due to a compelling story and fantastic art. This will probably win an Eisner for best reprinted volume.

Dr. Thirteen Architecture and Morality TP
Dr. Thirteen rounds up a group of the world’s magical beings to prevent strange forces from tearing asunder the very fabric of the past, present, and future!
Reprints: TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #1-8,. Creative Team : w. Brian Azzarello | a. Cliff Chiang

JON: This I liked, which is notable, because I didn’t think Brian Azzarello could pull this kind of thing off. These are the backups from the Tales of the Unknown mini that DC put out awhile back with a David Lapham Spectre story as the lead. Pick that up as well. This offering has great art from Cliff Chiang, who obviously needs more work at DC, and is Azz’s most prominent (perhaps first?) attempt at superhero metafiction. It goes alright on that front. There’s some unnecessary Marvel bashing, but it wouldn’t be non-Morrison DC metafiction without unnecessary Marvel bashing. Considered narrowly for the story it tells, it’s a bunch of fun with great pictures. It’s $15, which is a good price. It’s probably worth about $12. You can find it discounted somewhere, I’m sure.

52 Vol 3 TP
52: A year without Superman; a year without Batman; a year without Wonder Woman…but not a year without heroes.
Reprints: 52 #26-38,. Creative Team : w. Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid| a. Keith Giffen / various

JON: I think I’ve read up through this. I didn’t read 52 when it came out because I’m a stubborn jackass and I felt horrifically burned out on Infinite Crisis, and now I’m reading it in spurts through scattered back issues. Either way, it’s not my job to summarize plot points, so I won’t. 52 is acceptable art and good, fast-paced writing with moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout. If I had been reading it at the time, Geoff Johns would have gotten good will from me to promptly squander on Teen Titans and his Lantern work. Greg Rucka puts in a good showing, though I’m generally less keen on his work than a lot of people. Waid, Morrison, and Giffen are all themselves, and therefore range from great to amazing. This short review applies to both of the preceding trades and most likely every 52 trade after it. Good show. Pay the $20 this book costs.

PEDRO: I was down on this series at the beginning and it has won me over. There is so much great stuff going on top of the already great story and for the most better than average art. The commentaries really add to the experience that I’m even tempted that people who own the singles go out and get the trades. Even if David disagrees with me, this is the definitive way to read this series. Worth more than the $20.

Justice Society of America Vol 1 The Next Age HC
Holy Shit! There are alot of characters on this cover but this isn’t even the whole team!
Reprints: Justice Society of America #1-4. Creative Team : w. Geoff Johns | a. Dale Eaglesham / Art Thibert

DAVID: With this rather slim volume (only four issues — although the first is rather extra-sized), Geoff Johns reinvigorates comics’ first
super-team and takes over from, um, himself to rejunvenate, uh, him own ideas. But somehow, it works — despite there being zero writer
change, the book gets across very effectively that it is a new beginning for the team, and for the readers. It’s a good thing, too,
because Johns smartly positions a continuity-heavy title towards newer readers in a way that draws them in rather than repelling them (at least, this is from second-hand accounts – I’m an old hand with DC continuity so I can’t review the book from that angle). It’s not an overly ambitious book, but it does what it does extremely, extremely, extremely well.

JON: I preferred this when it was just called JSA, and really, the decision to make the full name “official” parallels what I found wrong with this. There’s too much. Too much monologue, too many team members, too many alternate realities, too much self-indulgence by Johns. I’ve almost given up on him ever turning the corner and becoming a writer I consistently enjoy. So far, excepting the Lightning Saga monstrosity (which was Meltzer’s fault, not Johns’), he’s steadfastly refused to do anything besides bloat the Society’s roster. This trade contains only four of the offending issues, introducing: a new Red Tornado legacy, a new Liberty Belle, a new Starman, and a new Wildcat. The new Wildcat is on the same team as the old Wildcat. They are both named Wildcat. It is tedious. Dave Eaglesham’s art is pretty, though. The price point, $20, isn’t. That’s because it’s a hardcover. A four-issue hardcover. Even if it is “good” Geoff Johns, as opposed to his evil, goateed, action-figure-fighting twin, this isn’t worth it.

MATT: The first short Justice Society of America arc serves as an introduction to the team’s new role in the DC Universe, that of mentor to younger, legacy heroes. JSA in its modern incarnations has always had the idea of superheroic legacies as a theme, but this post-52 incarnation of the team is the first to have that brought completely to the forefront.

The story itself is a simple case of villains attempting to kill off the bloodlines of various legacy heroes, in order to prevent them from becoming important heroes in the future. It’s a standard JSA plot that Johns has written minor variations on throughout his runs on the book. Nothing particularly compelling, although it does feature the standard Johns foreshadowing that promises big things to come in the future.

It’s unfortunate that DC had to stop this collection at the fourth issue; the tendency to write stories as six issue arcs makes this collection feel skimpy by comparison, but with the Lightning Saga beginning to take over JSA at issue five, DC didn’t really have any choice in the matter. At MSRP, you’re paying 5 dollars an issue to have a hardcover collection, so this is only recommended if you can find it for a substantial discount.

Silent War TP
ON OF M told how Quicksilver stole the precious Terrigen Mists from the Inhumans and how Black Bolt retaliated by declaring war on humanity. Now that war is about to break loose as Gorgon leads a terrorist attack on New York. Old friends become deadly enemies when the Fantastic Four are forced to defend their city against the Inhumans.
Reprints: Silent War #1-6. Creative Team : w. David Hine | a. Frazer Irving

JAMAAL: Silent War, a mini-series released this week in trade format by Marvel, re-imagines the Inhumans in the context of the post Civil War world. Written by David Hine, it draws parallels between the changes in our government’s relationship with the world and the belligerent stance that the 616 government takes with the Inhumans. Hine litters the story with post-9/11 catchphrases like “weapon of mass destruction” and “enemy combatant”, and even has an American Marine act as a suicide bomber. This is not exactly a subtle metaphor. It’s also not particularly insightful. If Hine wanted Silent War to be an allegory of the post-9/11 world, he should have made some effort to honestly portray the two sides.
One bright point of the book is the art. Frazer Irving portrays a dark and foreboding world, while using a natural color palette that complements the tone of the mini. Unfortunately, it is wasted on a story that is facile when it could have been compelling. The art is strong enough to justify a purchase if you can get a decent discount.

Thunderbolts By Warren Ellis Vol 1 Faith in Monsters HC

Venom, lethal protector! The enigmatic Moonstone! Bullseye, the man who never misses! Songbird, mistress of sound! Chen Lu, the Radioactive Man! Swordsman, master of the blade! The mystery man called Penance! And Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin! They’re America’s newest celebrities, ready to take to the skies at a moment’s notice in pursuit of those secret, unregistered superhumans hiding among us! They’re the All-New, All-Deadly Thunderbolts — making the world a safer place for ordinary people one would-be costumed hero at a time!
Reprints: Thunderbolts 110-115 and DESPERATE MEASURES, and T-Bolts stories from CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE and CHOOSING SIDES. Creative Team : w. Warren Ellis | a. Mike Deodato

JON:Buying this trade will strike you blind, senile, and impotent. It will piss in your coffee and ramble on for five hours about how Jesus was the Clint fucking Eastwood of ancient Mesopotamia. It will send you ten e-mails a day, and it will never stop. And when parts of those e-mails appear in different, future stories, verbatim, you will wonder why the hell mankind was so unlucky to have Warren Ellis’s writerly vice be the internet, instead of something harmless, like masturbation, or cocaine. As for the content of this trade, the characters are either pure evil, smug assholes, or hilariously terrible misadventures in character conception, design, and execution. Actually, there’s really only one of that last here, but he’s pretty obvious. It’s workmanlike Ellis, and it’s entirely forgettable. It’s also an overpriced hardcover.

PEDRO: I been avoiding a good proportion of Uncle Warren’s work since I pretty much gotten burned out of his evil smug assholes or the bigger bastards fighting for the greater good. It’s the reason we can’t discuss Transmetropolitian on the podcasts. That’s why I am so blown away that I like this series. It’s everything I don’t enjoy about Warren Ellis placed against the fascist parts of the Civil War Initiative and it just works here. Maybe its because the villains have motivations for their dastardly actions or that Mike Dedato has finally found a book that works to his style, but I enjoy reading this book month to month. I would pass on this hardcover and wait for a cheaper version. He’s only six issues into a twelve issue arc, so you can just jump on the singles until the trade drops in price.


  1. Jon, I’m not usually a Warren Ellis fanboy, so excuse me if this sounds fanboyish, but you may want to read the trade you’re reviewing before you post a review of it. Your Thunderbolts review is high on the snark and low on the substantive review. I mean, if you don’t like the book, by all means tear it apart, but at least read it first instead of basing your impressions on what you think the book is about.

    As for Speedball/ Penance, I may be alone here, but up until Joe Q started pimping Speedball’s demise I figured I was alone anyway as the only Speedball fan on the planet, but I *like* Penance. Speedball was an empty cypher, just a boring character that bordered on the self-parody of his creator, Steve Ditko. As Penance, at least he has a story and a background now. At least the character is finally going somewhere.

    Anyway, good job on the other reviews. As for me, I’m Counting Down for the Wait! (Oh, I’m so witty! But seriously, we need Downcounting!!!)

    Comment by Kenny — September 24, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  2. Jon did read the issues that he reviewed. We do ask that much of all our contributors. It’s high in the snark but he does say why he does not like the books.

    I agree with some of your opinions on Speedball but he’s rarely featured at all in Thunderbolts. It seems Warren doesn’t know what to do with him at all and avoids using him at all. This is why I imagine he is getting a mini. I like the idea but no one out of Paul Jenkins knows what to do with him at all.

    I run hot and cold on Uncle Ellis, so its easier for me to see why someone can get sick of him and his reoccurring themes.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — September 25, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  3. Not really sure why you think I didn’t read it. Though, to be fair, checking the actual trade contents, there’s a Paul Jenkins-written special in there, Desperate Measures, that I didn’t pick up because I haven’t particularly enjoyed anything Jenkins has done since his run on Sensational Spider-man ended. So that’s not really reflected above, I suppose. Really, most of the time I just can’t stand sustained, concentrated doses of Ellis’s tone and voice. I had been meaning to give Thunderbolts a chance once a new writer came on, and so I did, and it didn’t work. The premise was slightly ridiculous but salvageable, and the execution was mostly grating. Penance made me laugh, Norman Osborne made me roll my eyes, and Bullseye — well, the end of the story arc fixed everything I thought was wrong about him, so there’s that. I’ll grant that it did get stronger towards the end, but it’s still not a book I’d recommend or will follow in the future.

    I do, however, think that it’s good to see more and more stuff happening outside New York with the post-Civil War focus on the entire country.

    Comment by Jon — September 25, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  4. Jon, sorry if I came off at all as a prick. I didn’t think you read Thunderbolts because your review only covers the concept, not any of the actual execution of the book. Like, you never say what about the story itself you didn’t like. As for the snark or your desire to not continue reading it, I say power to you. You have every right.

    Pedro – I think a common problem with Jenkins created characters is their voices are so specific to him, that he ends up being the only guy who can properly tell their stories. Like, I agree with you that Ellis seems to not know what to do with Penance and I think Bendis runs into the same problem with Sentry. I keep hoping Marvel will snatch Jenkins with a meaty exclusive contract because I think he’s the best voice they have.

    Comment by Kenny — September 25, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  5. I found more here if anyone’s interested

    Comment by Jenny — December 23, 2008 @ 6:34 am

  6. Great article. I found some more information here

    Comment by Jenny — December 23, 2008 @ 6:35 am

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