Monday, September 18, 2006

COMICS REVIEW: Ultimate Virgin!

Some quick thoughts on some books I've been reading lately, from mostly disappointing Ultimate Marvel, to mostly impressive Virgin debuts...

I'd signed up for a couple of the Virgin launch titles that sounded the most interesting, just to check them out. I didn't know what exactly to expect, but was fairly reserved in my expectations. After seeing previews of the material, and the first couple issues of the books I'd picked up, I was even less enthused, and tempted to cut the books off before I'd even read them.

This title for instance, looked very much like something of the failed Crossgen imprint, gods with gaudy golden costumes and burning insignias doing more talking than taking action. Boy am I glad I waited to read the books!

Turns out, upon delving into Devi, Virgin is crafting a first rate comic tale. The book has an impressive first issue, filled with spectacle, mythic story, and artwork and writing, though not to my usual taste, that's of a very high order.

After finishing the first three issues, I absolutely love this book, and can't wait for more. It's totally immersive, and different from most anything else you'll come across. It definitely plays to the strengths of the new companies directive for this particular line, comic book stories based around Indian mythology and by creators from around the globe.

Gaydos, who does the art here is great, but I dislike his taste in female facial tendencies, and with a book like his previous Alias, and now this current outing, where it's completely centered around a single lead female, that's a big problem for me.

Here he renders the lead more attractively than in Alias, and I've given the book a shot, and like Devi, I'm glad I did. Unlike Devi, this one doesn't impress as much, but it's still very good so far. A dark story unfolding at a good pace, leaving one curious to see where things lead.

The latest arc from Kirkman highlights again what isn't working for me on his run, his stories are too straightforward and lacking in pizazz to match the artists that've worked with him so far on the book. I really think if the artwork was of the brighter, lighter, more stylized variety, that's found with Ryan Ottley, his partner on Invincible, it would really help. However, the stories are still lacking, and overall this book is continuing to be very pedestrian and disappointing, since Millar left years ago...

Two arcs in these six issues here, the first, President Thor arc was decent, but the Frightful arc was all kinds of good! Overall I really enjoyed Millar's run on the title, and have been really enjoying the Ultimate FF throughout the shuffling creative teams so far.

Having read 3 out of 4 of the recent Ultimate Marvel annuals, year 2, it's become clear where these rate, and it's time to weigh in...

First off, last year's inaugural batch of annuals were fabulous. Great creators, and extra sized stories that were top notch, all packages that were truly worthy of the format. So, I'd had hopes that Marvel could repeat that again this year. They didn't. I've read all but the Spider-Man annual, and each one is lacking in all the aspects I mentioned above.

The artwork is lackluster, the stories are even worse, and all feel stretched out to fit the formats extended length. The Ultimates annual was particularly, painfully, bad, for too many reasons to delve into. Hopefully the Ultimate Spidey won't disappoint, as Bendis has yet to hit a sour note on that title, but even if it's great, it still can't erase the fact that this year's batch should have never happened. It's just a watered down attempt at recreating last years success.

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