The Sunday Pages #80

1st November 2009 | by | No Comments

This week: Capsule reviews of Chew #5, Ghostbusters: Displaced Agression #2, Superman: Secret Origin #2, Ultimate Comics Avengers #3 and X-Factor #5

Review: Chew #5
John Layman ends a highly successful first arc with one heck of a game-changer – the character twist may have been (sadly, given the magnificence of the character in question) possible to see coming (particularly from this issue’s cover), but what surprises is the way it heralds potentially a very different setup for the book – and possibly, although we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out, an entirely different focus. Largely plot-based (and pretty dark), there’s less room for the quirky lightness that has marked out the series – but nevertheless, this is already a very assured and daring series (I’m put in mind of Casanova‘s first few issues), and it’s going to be fascinating to see where it goes from here. [SP]

Review: Ghostbusters : Displaced Aggression #2
Not among this week’s releases, but getting IDW’s licensed stuff on time is tricky here in the UK, and I picked up both issues so far of this mini in my stack last week. And it’s pretty decent, actually – Lobdell’s playing out an interesting story that stretches beyond the usual “Ghosts attack New York” schtick you’d expect from Ghostbusters, although Ray’s part of the story loses something (probably the novelty value) compared to Venkman’s. Still, there’s room to discover that Rachel was clearly too good to be true, and it’s a very nice bit of narrative trickery that betrays it. But the problem that these things always have is that nobody’s ever really effectively recaptured the voices of Murray and Aykroyd on the page, and while the story’s pretty good, it doesn’t necessarily feel all that Ghostbustersy. Good fun, though, and worth a look. [SP]

Review: Superman: Secret Origin #2
See, the problem I have with this is that it just doesn’t feel like an origin tale. Both the plot threads on display here – Lex Luthor’s time in Smallville and Clark going off to the future to muck around with the Legion of Super-Heroes – are things that you’d fill in later, through flashback stories and the like. Neither, though, are integral to Superman’s actual development as a character and hero. Out of six chapters that are supposed to be giving us the definitive (for this generation, anyway) story of Superman’s beginnings, one has thus already been wasted on something of no consequence whatsoever. I’m not saying we should have already reached Metropolis by this point, either – just that Johns seems to be skimming over the stuff that’s actually important (his origins on Krypton, his upbringing and early discoveries) for the sake of telling the sort of fun Superboy and the Legion story he used to read himself. It’s not “Who He Is And How He Came To Be”, it’s “Here Are Some Of The Cool Things That Happened To Happen To Him Along The Way”. And so as technically good as this comic is (although I still don’t think Gary Frank’s version of a young Clark looks like anything other than a weird miniature clone of the adult version), it’s just not what it claims to be on the cover. [SP]

Review: Ultimate Comics Avengers #3
I get the feeling this “New Avengers” (and incidentally, why are they called that when the Ultimate U hasn’t had a team called “Avengers” before?) idea might have been a bit more effective if it weren’t playing out at exactly the same time as Dark Avengers is running over in the main universe. Alright, so this story isn’t without its differences, but it’s hard not to feel like it’s all a bit too familiar. It’s even hard to forget that the “rogue Captain America” on the run is Steve Rogers rather than the MU’s Bucky. Anyway, this is decent enough – and Pacheco’s art remains stellar – but it does feel a little Millar-by-numbers, as much fun as Gregory Stark is. After the pleasing developments granted to Rogers in the first couple of issues, it’d be nice to get back to that thread, as it was really what had driven the book successfully up to this point. [SP]

Review: X-Factor #50
Although Peter David has pulled off the rarest of things – a year-long arc that left you clamouring for the issue almost without fail – the final resolution comes across a little bit stunted and rushed, not to mention inward-looking. Revelations about Layla Miller give the series some fantastic payoff, and although Cortex’s character was only just being built as he was dispatched, it’s hard not to feel that the arc has wrapped up rather neatly. That said, the book had drifted wildly far from its original concept, so the preview for the relaunch two months hence is perhaps the most exciting part of the issue. Re-focussed as a detective-superhero book, X-Factor appears to retain its wit while offering a more accessible premise and visuals. Looking forward to it.  [JHu]