Category: reviews

The Doomino Effect for March 20, 2019

I didn’t buy anything last week, but there was a good haul this week!

Speaking of hauling things, that leads me to Avengers #17, where Shadow Colonel has been carrying a junior version of Man-Thing on his back (and I just noticed it this issue).

I have been enjoying—but souring—on this arc as the weeks have gone by, but I am going to change my attitude. I have been feeling nostalgic for the comics arcs of my youth, when not everything was leading to or participating in some company-wide crossover. I was reminiscing just this morning actually about the Avengers stories back in the 300s or so, which are mostly forgettable and inconsequential, and really seem to only be existing for the sake of existing, and finding that incredibly charming.

Here I was, getting tired of this silly vampire story with this silly vampire characters, appearing to not really lead anywhere except for putting a new Avenger on the team, when right before my eyes, there was exactly the type of story I’d been nostalgic for!

Remember when it was such a huge deal when a cover would be teasing a new member of the team? That was such a great gimmick! I’ve been appreciating Jason Aaron’s run so far as a fun, mostly lightweight throwback—and boy is he ever hitting the bullseye. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for March 6, 2019

Let’s kick this off with Uncanny X-Men #13.

I mentioned last issue that the tone here was reminding me of the Australia era, and here we find out that the X-Men are squatting in the back of a bar! This totally is the return of the Australia era!

Except they almost literally brought back the Jim Lee era, when Wolverine digs up some old uniforms from the basement that align with the Savage Land / Shadow King / X-Men #1 period. I’m not sure if this is intended to just be fun fan service or something more significant, but it felt a little cheap to me.

Other things that made me roll my eyes a bit:
Yet another discovery of a Madrox clone.
Yet another psychic shield.
Dark Beast.

There was also a misalignment in the dialogue that left me confused. Early in the issue, Cyclops presents a list of threats to identify what will be left if the X-Men cease to exist. Wolverine says “it’s a kill list,” to which Cyclops says “No, it’s not. We aren’t solving things that way. Not anymore”—a clear distancing from who he was before he died.

Then later in the issue, Cyclops and Havok are talking about what to do with their Dark Beast prisoner. Alex says “We can’t be taking prisoners anymore,” and follows up with “the way you were [referring to Cyclops], what you made the X-Men at the end. We can’t go back to that. I won’t let you.”

So I’m a little bit confused, but not like “Where is this story going?” but more like “Is there a writing or editing mistake?” (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 27, 2019

It was a pretty small pile this week, but at least enough to call for some segues.

Speaking of things flowing into each other, that leads me to Heroes in Crisis #6, where the blood from all the murdered heroes created a big ol’ mess.

When I was a kid, my dad would get claustrophobic on airplanes, so we took nearly every family vacation by car. I visited all 48 contiguous states by car by my early teens. And I tell you, when you’re driving around 20 hours or so en route to Disney World, it doesn’t matter how much fun Disney World is going to be; those hours in the middle are really boring.

And so I have no doubt that the ending to Heroes in Crisis will be delightful, but I’m getting really tired of these middle issues where nothing happens. I don’t dispute their purpose—we’re getting a lot more character moments that are filling in some of the gaps. But this issue, we get a poetic monologue from a caveman. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 20, 2019

Now it may seem as if the streak ended, and technically it did, but I only bought one comic the week before this last one, and considering the entire gimmick of this review column is the ragged segue from one issue to another, you can’t exactly have a segue when there’s only one thing to talk about. So I saved last week’s issue for this week.

So we’ll start with last week’s lone issue, The Batman Who Laughs #3, the mini-series spin-off from Dark Knights: Metal. I have two things I really like about this series and one thing I don’t.

Good thing 1: This series is essentially Batman vs. Batman, and even though there have been a number of iterations of that over the years, I don’t really get tired of them—provided the premise is around the challenge of catching up with someone who is always one (or more) steps ahead, simply by virtue of being the same guy with all the same strengths and usually freed from some of the constraints that our Bruce imposes upon himself.

Good thing 2: Scott Snyder’s skills with setting the horror mood are perfectly suited to a story like this. Nice Batman can’t keep up, can’t keep from falling further behind, and now can’t stop himself from slipping further into the Joker’s seemingly inescapable trap. That’s bad! Scott Snyder is made for that stuff.

But the thing I don’t care for is how Snyder has turned the Joker into this weird invincible metahuman. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 6, 2019

Let’s kick off this week’s reviews with Avengers #14, which resumes the vampire storyline that was randomly dropped in favor of the Iron Fist origin story last issue.

There’s apparently a vampire civil war going on, with a bunch of anti-Dracula vampires attacking Dracula’s castle, and Blade is in the middle of it trying to stop the anti-Dracula vampires, led by a guy called Shadow Colonel. In a scene that is basically just the “Joker gets arrested on purpose” scene from The Dark Knight, the Shadow Colonel is deliberately taken into custody by the Avengers so that he and his evil buddies can be on the inside and start causing problems with folks like Blade and Ghost Rider.

“He’s far too confident,” Black Panther says. “It would appear the Shadow Colonel wanted to be here.”

There’s something really kind of stupid about all of this, yet I find myself being uncharacteristically patient. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 30, 2019

Starting off this week’s reviews is Heroes in Crisis #5, and we are now at the section of the mystery where you slosh through the dull middle-part, hoping something is going to happen soon. I for one was getting tired of the formula of “See-saw between Crazy Booster and Crazy Harley with testimonials from now-dead heroes littered throughout.”

While I enjoyed this issue more than I didn’t, there were a number of characterization choices that kind of caught me off-guard.

I don’t find Harley Quinn sexy, because she is a cartoon character and I’m not someone who turns to drawings of tightly clad women in comic books to satisfy my adolescent lust, and so prurient splash pages designed to show off the shape of her hips and breasts just feels beneath the level of storytelling that Tom King appears to be going for. There’s nothing wrong with sexuality in comics, of course, but this just feels like “Hey thirteen year old, need a little time to yourself?”

That said, this is the second issue in a row to go down this odd path, so maybe it’s not really “out of character” anymore. I don’t find Harley Quinn charming, because I don’t think “Kooky homicidal person” is any more interesting than it was in the 90s when those characters were a dime-a-dozen. Same reason I find Sanity to be probably the worst act in professional wrestling. And I honestly never realized that Batgirl spoke in nonsense like Harley does. So I really don’t find the Harley half of this plot at all engaging.

On the flipside, I used to enjoy Booster Gold, and I loved the Blue Beetle. But I find their arc in this story incredibly off-putting. Ted was such a conscientious character; I feel like they’re halfway there with his loyalty to Booster, but his nonchalance in the gravity of this situation just feels misaligned to what made the character endearing in the first place.

I mean look at this opening spread — it’s beautifully rendered (and I admit I didn’t see the “Heroes In Crisis” letters until zooming out to this degree) but a bunch of heroes have just been brutally murdered and the casual nature of this just feels jarring.

And the real tire-screecher in this issue was Superman’s speech. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 23, 2019

It just occurred to me how much more frequently comics are coming out these days. I’m only back to doing this blog for a month, and I’ve hit several of these series twice (or more) already. I wonder how long it would’ve taken me to figure this out if I weren’t writing about these things.

Speaking of things that take a long time to learn, let’s start with Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Longtime readers of this blog will know that Doom DeLuise and I were massive fans of the Abnett y Lanning relaunch of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Back then, it would’ve been ridiculous to imagine that these characters would become household names. Once those characters did become household names, Marvel seemed ironically confused as to what made the characters so interesting in the first place, and the comics evolved into Brian Michael Bendis trying to compete with James Gunn on the page, and it all fell quite flat. They inexplicably brought in some Spawn character, made Iron Man a member, and I don’t even remember how long ago that was but I can tell you I stopped caring about one of my favorite teams completely.

I decided in recent months to start following the Infinity Wars series, including that miniseries that led up to it, Countdown to Infinity Wars or whatever it was, and the series quite endearingly felt like it was existing under the radar of Marvel’s Hot Properties. The story was delightfully weird in an uncontrived way, and it reminded me of what made the 00s series so lovable. It seemed to almost delight in the fact that not many people were buying it, and that was liberating!

So anyway, the Infinity Wars thing happened, people died, and now there are pieces needing to be picked up, including but not limited to Thanos’ body, the team formerly known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, hammers and shards of Groot.

As you might predict, from such clues as this being the launch of a new series and other clues like Marvel’s solicitations, this issue is the story of how the new team comes together. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 16, 2019

In week 3 of the Return of the Doomino Effect, I will set the stage by telling you that we’re going to experience some high highs and some low lows, my friend.

Speaking of high-high, I’ll lead with The Batman Who Laughs #2, because “high-high” is kind of like “ha-ha,” and also because you have to start somewhere.

I have to tell you, I was largely disappointed by the Metal miniseries, in spite of how much I loved Scott Snyder’s run on Batman, and how much I generally appreciate stories with long-term builds. There’s just something about “ooh, scary versions of the good guys we know!” that always falls pretty flat with me. Snyder’s horror feels so intimate and personal, so the widescreen monster attack just didn’t grab me in the way I’d hoped.

So I honestly didn’t really expect to read The Batman Who Laughs, because that Joker Batman was probably my least favorite of the new spooky Batman versions from that storyline. It just felt too easy, almost. Fortunately for DC’s bank account, it came out on a week when I was otherwise light, so I picked it up to fill out the stack.

And man, I’m so glad I did; so far this series is everything I loved about Snyder’s Batman run. Rather than something exploitatively shocking and dark (and it does have its shocking and dark moments, mind you) this is at its core a psychological horror mystery. And having just recently re-read the “Court of Owls” storyline (more to come in a future blog post), that’s something I think Snyder does as well as anyone in the superhero comics world.

Snyder can write a Batman who’s on top of anything—but then villains who are even a few steps ahead of that—in a way that never manages to feel contrived. He can retcon Gotham history and plant convenient plot devices in ways that might elicit eyerolls from lesser writers.

I do think it’s his horror touch that allows him to pull it off. By creating an atmosphere so off-kilter and uncertain, these plot devices he employs feel symptomatic of a chaotic experience, giving them the cover they need to land emotionally rather than just feeling like part of a formula. Like at one point it’s literally raining aged Bruce Wayne corpses. Can you imagine how stupid that would be if Tony Daniel were trying to write that? (You can tell I’ve been out of this game for a while when I’m still picking on Tony Daniel as a Batman writer.) (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 9, 2019

Hey Doomies, it’s two weeks in a row for the first time in almost 10 years. Look at us go!

First up is Avengers #12. I have always been kind of biased against Jason Aaron ever since he stole Van Jensen’s Wolverine story idea and then tried to make his case by denying what his story was about. Then I didn’t really care for him because he wrote the terrible Original Sin event.

His writing has always felt to be the voice of the insecure—never quite confident to stand on its own, so it’s protected by the emotional safety net of knowing winks and chuckles.

So I don’t know if he’s matured or if I’ve just softened, but I’ve overall enjoyed his run on Avengers. While talented people like Jonathan Hickman are capable of retconning beautiful elaborate histories, Aaron’s training-wheels kiddie version in this series has been earnestly endearing, with these ancient versions of modern avatars casting an interesting shadow over the relaunch of the series, no matter how unreasonable.

The last few issues have been a little scattered, what with the rise of Angry Namor (I missed how he grew his head back after he lost it during the incursions a few years ago) and the cameos of Squadron Supreme (I haven’t paid attention to what they’ve been up to since they beheaded Namor a few years ago). It’s all led to some general Avengers distrust toward the U.S. government. In this issue, we find Black Panther assembling a ground team to be his eyes and ears around the world.

Part of what has been so charming in Aaron’s run is that he seems to be reaching for and normalizing some of the most fantastic and even silly parts of the Marvel Universe, but embracing what makes them ridiculous. For example, the Avengers live inside the corpse of a Celestial; their head of security is now a talking gorilla.

It sure helps that Ed McGuinness is illustrating the thing (for the most part); he is one of the few artists who can execute a cartoonish style without compromising the gravity of a story, and his style is perfect for a story that reaches for and bear-hugs comics’ sometimes “wouldn’t it be cool if..?” ambitions. Unfortunately Ed wasn’t able to deliver this whole issue, and a backup crew of lesser artists supported him.

The tough part of Aaron’s act here is that it’s difficult to stay on the good side of the line he’s walking, and the ending was a laugh-out-loud attempted “cool” moment that made me immediately think of the Dwayne McDuffie classic (In)Justice League #13. (Seriously, read that for one of my favorite rants ever.)

Surprise! (more…)



Doom & Doomer: Aquaman

aquaman movie posterDOOM DELUISE: Hello, and welcome to the latest installment of Doom & Doomer, where Jim Doom and I sit down for a back-and-forth conversation about the latest superhero movie releases of the day.

Today, we’re here to discuss the latest of the surprisingly successful Justice League spin-offs: Aquaman!

Overall, big picture, what did you think?

JIM DOOM: I loved it!

And I really only went to see it so we could review it. I thought it looked comically bad (no pun intended) since the very first trailer. I hated Aquaman in Justice League. I hate Roman Reigns. So I was going into this trying to have an open mind, but fully expecting to hate it.

And for a while, I felt pretty justified in thinking I was going to hate it.

But then it won me over, somewhere in the first act.

DOOM DELUISE: Do you remember the specific moment where you were won over? Or was it more gradual?

JIM DOOM: There was one pivotal moment in the movie that set me on a course of enjoying it.

DOOM DELUISE: Was it the octopus playing the drums?

Because that ALMOST got me on board. (more…)