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Reviews for the Week of 8/29/07

Ratings

Story: How well the issue worked as a story of its own.

Art: How well the art fit the particular story being told. Not necessarily a measure of how “good” the art was.

Fun: An incredibly subjective measure of the number of surprises in any given issue. Bonus points if there’s anything that makes me chuckle or gasp while reading it. Minus points for cliches that the writer and/or artist don’t try to do anything new with.

Continuity: How many other books you have to have read to get everything out of it. With a “1” being a book you can pick up and everything you need to know is between the covers, and a “5” being something that requires flowcharts or a handbook of some kind to fully appreciate.

TEEN TITANS #50

The fiftieth issue of the latest Teen Titans series doubles as both a retrospective for long-time readers and a primer for new ones. In addition to this being new writer Sean McKeever’s first issue, it’s also a showcase for some of the more popular creative teams from the book’s past.

In the present, we get a feel for what the upcoming run might be like. McKeever picks up several of the recent plotlines, and brings back one we haven’t seen in a while. If he’s got a grand plan for shaking things up, he doesn’t show his hand here. But he does display a firm grasp of the characters and their world. Which is important for a book as character-driven as TEEN TITANS.

In the past, the recent wave of tributes to Bart Allen continues. This time from the creators that handled Impulse/Kid Flash in his earlier days. I’m normally against the killing of a character for the sake of one story. But Bart’s passing has seemed to have had real impact so far. He’s the boy who died. The one who was right on the edge of greatness.

All in all, an excellent issue celebrating the team’s history and future. And, at the end, both at the same time.

Story: 3
Art: 4
Fun: 4
Continuity: 3

EX MACHINA MASQUERADE SPECIAL


Brian K. Vaughn is doing some of the most interesting work in comics today. From Y THE LAST MAN to RUNAWAYS. Heck, he even made Dr. Strange work, which no one else seems able to do. But his finest moment is still probably the end of the first issue of EX MACHINA. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go pick up the trade. I’ll wait for you to get back.

Alright, now about the MASQUERADE SPECIAL. Ex-superhero mayor Mitchell Hundred has to deal with the KKK wanting to hold a rally in New York. In between all the political maneuvering, we flash back to Mitch’s earlier days, shortly after the accident that gave him his powers. It’s an origin story of sorts. And a nasty little crime story. With a bit of horror and sci-fi thrown in for good measure.

Story: 4
Art: 3
Fun: 3
Continuity: 2

THE LAST FANTASTIC FOUR STORY


I like Stan Lee the showman, the grand old man of comics, our ever-smiling embassador to the world. Stan Lee the writer, on the other hand, never really did much for me. And this special was vintage Stan Lee. That sentence alone will tell you if you’re going to enjoy it or not.

Set in a time that seems about five minutes after the end of the 60’s Lee/Kirby run, the story finds our heroes considering retirement. At least until Earth is invaded by… well, Galactus, but bigger. The various heroes throw themselves at the threat to no avail, until Reed Richards comes up with an improbable plan that leads to an even more improbable solution.

Yes, the plot is hardly original and the dialogue can be laughably cheesy. But it’s hard to deny that Stan was having fun with this, and it comes through in the final product. And short of Kirby himself, John Romita Jr. was probably the perfect choice for the art.

Story: 1
Art: 5
Fun: 4
Continuity: 1