Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Year In Review - Part 4

I think the biggest difference in my buying habits this year was I'm not as inclined to stick with books that are just "meh". Where I don't love them, but I don't hate them. Or there are parts I really enjoy, but other aspects I don't. The increased prices helps there, but I think I've finally realized after awhile, I have to accept what the book is, and it won't magically become what I want it to be if I wait long enough. And there's so much other stuff out there, so why waste my time and money? Go try something else.

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1-5: The second mini-series of the three, with Michael Moreci and Kyle Charles writing and drawing it this time around. They jumped forward several decades to a research expedition sent back to the colony. Once there, the members of the party find out they've been sent under several false pretenses, and that they're woefully unprepared for the threats. They do at least manage to learn what the beings from the other side of the Anomaly are after, but I don't think it's going to make much of a difference, since nobody went back to Earth to tell anyone.

High point: I thought there was some really nice work done on the colors by Matt Battaglia, effectively creating an unnerving, eerie atmosphere. If I'm being charitable, the presence of the forest which brings out what people desire was at least effective in conveying how strange these creatures are, if they can somehow create that, aided by the fact the humans seem to have no more of a clue how it works than I do. If it's supposed to be them stepping into something they don't understand, that would be appropriate.

Low point: Starting with a completely new cast of characters from the previous mini was an interesting choice, but I don't think they took enough time to flesh out most of them. You could argue they were all pretty much going to die, so why bother, but in theory I ought to care that they're dying. But in some cases I wasn't even sure which one it was that got killed. Also, the art shifted in quality a lot, even within the same issue.

Rocketeer at War #1: The first issue of this came out last month, by Dave Bullock and Marc Guggenheim. There are parts of it I'm intrigued by, but other parts less so, and my opinion of Bullock's art kept changing over the course of the issue. It's currently uncertain if I'll get issue 2.

Rocket Raccoon #7-11: Skottie Young was only writing and drawing the covers by this point, with Filipe Andrade drawing two issues of Rocket trying to save Groot's life on an ice planet, and then Jake Parker taking over for one story about Rocket stopping Groot from destroying Earth in a virtual reality, and then the two of them learning not only that Rocket isn't alone, but the truth of his origins. Which Rocket rejects as cuckoo bananas.

High point: Parker's art doesn't have Young's manic energy to it, but his Rocket also doesn't look quite as rabid, and he had some good designs for alien vehicles. Jeff Eckleberry's lettering on the sound effects was very nice. Rocket kicking Iron Man's rear end in that virtual world was pretty good. Reporting on Marvels and Legends is still pro-"Beat Tony Stark's head in".

Low point: I'm just not that big a fan of Andrade's art, and the "search for the Book of Halfworld" plot wrapped up so quickly it felt really unsatisfying. Even if Young was always going to have Rocket react the way he did, I'd have preferred they really make the search a challenge. Go nuts with the perils and threats they'd face. Probably not an option with Secret Wars looming. Man that thing is a pain in the ass.

Rocket Raccoon and Groot #1: Young and Andrade again. This wasn't supposed to be out until 2016, but some unscrupulous store went ahead and put it on the shelves a week early (because Diamond sent it out a week early for some reason), so I bought it. Rocket's evil, possibly amnesiac, Groot's trying to reach him, I wasn't really into it. Maybe I'll come back if Parker starts drawing it again? The tone of the stories he illustrates seems fairly different.

Secret Six #2: I gave up on Gail Simone's new version of the Six after this issue. I wasn't enjoying Ken Lashley's art, then there was a 5-month gap between issues, and I realized I didn't miss the book, so why keep buying it? I've heard it had improved some with Dale Eaglesham drawing it, but I won't know unless I get around to buying it in back issues.

Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas #1: The last Secret Wars related thing I bought last year. I wasn't sure about buying something with the Agents of Atlas not written by Jeff Parker, but Tom Taylor (with Steve Pugh as artist), did a good job. Positioning Atlas as good guys called outlaws because they live in a section of Battleworld run by Zemo was a good call. The fates of both Zemos were pretty great.

She-Hulk #12: The end of Charles Soule and Javier Pulido's stint with the character. We learned what was up with the Blue File, and why Nightwatch did what he did. And the Shocker even got a chance to to help! Jen and Patsy were narrowly able to convince Angie not to depart, a decision Patsy may have ended up regretting since it was probably paying for Angie's salary that meant Jen had to fire Patsy. Oops.

Starfire #1-6: One last series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with Emanuela Lupacchino as artist. They had Kori settle down in Key West, where she rapidly made friends with the Sheriff and her brother, as well as the sheriff's favorite waitress, who turned out to be Power Girl's old friend, Atlee. And they dealt with subterranean monsters, crazy people, hurricanes, alien bounty hunters (at least it wasn't Lobo)

High point: I can't fault Conner and Palmiotti for trying real hard to give Kori a large supporting cast of non-superhero characters. And I think there's a good chance they're going to avoid the old antagonistic relationship between her and her sister, whenever they actually meet. Some of the comedy bits work well, mostly involving Stella's exasperation from dealing with Kori. The fight with the bounty hunter in issue 6 was a nice chance to show off how tough Starfire can be when necessary.

Low point: They overplay her lack of familiarity with Earth too much, to the extent there are a lot of things she finds strange that I find hard to believe she hasn't encountered from other cultures. Like police forces, or private property. I also didn't have much feeling that the supporting cast have their own lives that continue when they aren't on the page with Kori.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-8: So Erica Henderson and Ryan North sent Doreen to college as a Computer Science Major, where she made friends with her roommate Nancy and her cat, Mew. She fended off Galactus, helped Kraven the Hunter find a new career goal, stopped an ancient trickster god squirrel, and I'm going to assume fixed Secret Wars off-panel.

High point: The super-villain trading cards, especially the grumpy-looking one for Hippo the Hippo. Doreen being consistently horrible at maintaining her secret identity, or her briefly contemplating defeating Kraven by simply constantly tossing him into the air for the rest of her life. Loki becoming Cat Thor at Nancy's request, because it annoys his brother. Odinson and Thor trying to defuse the age old argument of waffles versus pancakes, only to be thwarted by those damn French toast advocates. Galactus appearing in his regular outfit, but as a giant squirrel to Tippy.

Low point: Nothing comes to mind.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-3: *Sigh* Goddamn it Marvel. Yes, this book was also rebooted, the same year it came out. At least they acknowledged this with their "Only our second first issue of the year!" blurb on the cover. So far, Doreen and several other computer science majors were sent into the 1960s somehow, and Nancy recruited a Dr. Doom from the 1990s to help save them, except Doom decided to just conquer that era, since there were no heroes around to stop him, save Squirrel Girl, who couldn't call upon the squirrels of that time to help, lest she alter the timeline.

High point: Nancy having to keep various current Marvel heroes from picking a fight with '90s Doom until she can trick him into helping. The fact Doom then tricked her with wordplay loopholes, because NO ONE SNEAKS ONE PAST DOOM! Some of the outfits Doreen's sported during her time in the '60s. Not all of them, but some of them looked pretty cool. Doreen saving people from a burning building by having them grab her tail while she jumps out of said building.

Low point: The completely pointless reboot, which is not the fault of the creative team, but was annoying. And I don't feel like they made as much use of the time jump as say, Deadpool or Ms. Marvel. Granted, they had a perfectly good status quo, but if you have to do the thing, might as well go all the way. Yeah, I'm reaching, whatever. The random appearance of Vampire Jubilee. Could we not have gotten rid of that in the reboot (Jubilee being a vampire, not Jubilee in general)?

I'm dying up here. How about that airline food? Tomorrow, the listing of stuff post to wrap things up! Yeah, whoo, get excited!

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