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Sunday, September 30, 2007/9:00 AM

What...you want a REVIEW?
Ok, ok!

So I have been off doing research lately and reading until my eyeballs decided to drip from their sockets (it's not a pleasant experience and it requires like 3 or 4 naps to put things right again).

But i have finally returned to do a REVIEW! So, lets cut the crap and get going here, right?

So many things fell into my lap this month, the amount of comics i bought and/or read astounds me and yet out of that giant pile only 3 really keep calling back to me. The first of which being a DC title (what you say, but, but you're a marvel zombie, Ielle!) Yes its true, i do prefer the world of marvel, BUT i enjoy certain members of the DC family (my first comic was a '78 trilogy of Wonder Woman losing her title). Plus as a writer you have to be open to everything and anything out there if you want to work. I am currently enjoying the green lantern corps stuff, the green arrow/black canary wedding special (which is a blast), teen titans (had to follow my man McKeever over) and i was reading the Brave and Bold, but now that the storyline i was following ended, I'll probably take that out of my pull list. So you know me reading DC isn't THAT shocking. What is shocking, is that i actually enjoyed a Superman title recently.

Ok so I'm not the man of steel's biggest fan. He's too boyscout for me (ielle likes her men flawed folks... bring on the wolverine! lol). BUT i do LOVE Josh Middleton. His art always makes me want to cry. I donno what it's about, but something about the eyes. His art just looks so... touching? I want to cry with the characters when they are sad, simply because of the expression on their faces and the watering in their eyes (oh man I'm a softy for people when their eyes tear up. Thank god i can put that aside for students when they crack over grades and remain firm).

So when i saw that Middleton had done Superman/Shazam First Thunder written by Judd Winick i went... "What! Oh this is sooo MINE!" I was digging through a quarter bin and found 2 issues of the 4 part mini (happily Jared, my comic dealer had the other 2). Talk about a story! So well written, so well drawn. I nearly wept... wait i might have actually cried on this one. Last night i finished up the final issue and put it down with a tear in my eye, that's for sure.

Superman actually seemed real and truly caring (as opposed to just being the nice guy because that's his job). Poor Billy Batson, Shazam's alter ego, was so sympathetic. The story made me want to look up more Shazam titles. Sadly i since have and i hate to say it, but I'm not as impressed. Other issues with other writers have made Shazam TOO hokey. I realize he's suppose to be a bit of a joke, but come on. Talking tigers, mystery twin sisters... SNNNNORE. The story of a homeless boy who has had these powers bestowed on him and quickly finds out that being a superhero isn't just about brawn or even brains. It's about choices and being an adult -- THAT story is great. Sadly it's lost elsewhere.

Art wise, this is a masterpiece (but in my opinion everything Middleton does is a masterpiece). The colors are just right, not too dull and dark. yet they're not the usual bright blow your eyes out primary color you associate with Superman or Shazam. Some how this subtle hue gives the entire mini a very subdued feeling.

Dialogue wise, you can't get much better. The comic medium as a whole often has very stilting dialogue. We only have so much room to fit so much information. Between witty banter, and exposition to keep the plot racing along, you find yourself at wit's end trying to make it all sound natural. In this case, they succeed. Each character has their own voice (yet another tricky thing to do). There are a few writers out there who have mastered it (Whedon, Vaughn, Bendis, Simone, Ellis). I will certainly have too hunt down more of Winick's work to see if his great dialogue continues. This was my first experience with him, but i have heard good things. If his dialogue and storylines are as great as this mini, I'll certainly be chasing his work too.

One last bit on this mini. I just wanted to share the pivotal "win me over" moment which came for me in the last issue (granted i had been mostly won over during issue 1, but this sealed the deal) when Supes finds Shazam alone and very much acting like young Billie. I won't ruin it for you, but I've scanned the exchange that affected me the most. I won't tell you how Shazam got this way or what Supes does to rectify the situation. What i will say is that it was touching and I wish more stuff got to me as this comic did.


Well played DC... You may be pulling me more your direction after all!!

Now onward to a current series: X-men First Class.

Ok so it's yet ANOTHER X-men title. And I as a marvel zombie openly admit that Marvel needs to STOP with the over-saturation of their titles. Do we really need 70 Spidermans (er perhaps in that case it would be considered SpiderMEN). The same goes for X-men. Uncanny X-men, Astonishing X-men, X-Men, New X-men, X-Factor (the last two i do enjoy though). With that said, they need to KEEP X-Men first class. They should dump uncanny, the stories are stiff and stupid. X-Men has been offering a decent storyline lately, but frankly even it's getting old. New X-men on the other hand has remained fresh. Frankly i think what many writers don't realize is that the X-men is about more than just Mutants vs Human (which is important don't misunderstand me) but it's about STUDENTS. Whedon understands this in Astonishing X-men. He at least remembers that the team has a school it's attached to and revisits from time to time (and occasionally will add a new student to the active team). New X-men is completely involved in the school and its students but of course isn't afraid to just start knocking off kids and dealing with tough racial issues (thus what makes it great... btw this past weeks issue of Wolverine saying "F-ing Unicorns" was priceless. You have to see it for yourself)... BUT I DIGRESS... X-men FIRST CLASS is wonderful.

It's a decent story for teens, but entertaining for adults too (i'd avoid letting anyone under 10 have it but hey that's up to your parenting style). My best comparison for this title is Marvel's Spiderman Love Mary Jane. It's serious at times, but lighthearted overall.

The story revolves around the original team (Jean... my god she's ALIVE!!, Scott, Bobby, Warren and Hank). There's no wolverine (for those of you you can't stand that he's on EVERY team, go read First Class and have a Wolvie Reprieve). No Storm, no nobody. This isn't to say we don't see folks. Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Sue Storm and others have already made appearances.

The best part about this comic is that it avoids the heavy handedness that much of the x-world has become. We get fun stories (while occasionally dark) and entertaining heroes. The interaction between the team is that of a true family. We haven't gotten into the whole who slept with whom crap, now i hate you, stabbity, stabbity that the other titles have become. Not to say that those can't be fun too, but sometimes you just need a breather. Give it a chance, you may find that you too are amused.



Finally, I've brought you all a trade (a CHEAP trade) which you may not want to miss... THE PRO.

Ok, so quick disclaimer... this is NOT for kids. This isn't for a few of my friends in fact. Julie don't read this. You'll love Shazam, you'll adore x-men first class, but this is "SO NOT A JULIE MOVIE"...er Comic.

The pro is hilarious, and dark. It's Garth Ennis at his best (er worst?). Ok if you don't know Garth Ennis i'll sum his work up = gore, guts, swearing, shocking, perverted UNCENSORED.

If you can handle that and you like a good poke at your childhood heroes (batman, supe, wonder woman. Well actually the whole damn justice league) then you'll love the pro.

Quick summary, A prostitute gets powers from space aliens (don't we all?) and gets asked to join Ennis's version of the justice league. Showing them what goodie two shoes they all are, she's basically our cynical adult self accosting our inner child with an object that one might find in those "stores" you see along the highways. Its not pretty but damn it was funny. I particularly enjoyed the superman clone, The Saint. I nearly fell off the couch laughing at his dialogue. It's SOOO how i perceive Superman these days. the rest of the team (and their names which are wonderful!) just follows suit. Ennis knew exactly how to mock each one and i tip my hat to him. He too is on my list for great realistic dialogue and if you think you can handle the gore and the sexual (screw innuendo he goes for the full monty) scenarios, then I'd say the Pro is for you.

One last story on the pro, I found a costume webpage on comicspace of Ruby Rocket, a model and seamstress. Apparently she goes to all the comic cons and dresses up (I guess she gets paid to do this, well she's drop dead gorgeous so i can see why they'd pay (i'm not insanely jealous or anything, lol) I mean you have to counteract all the old, overweight, balding men and women who have squeezed themselves in to spandex just for the show somehow). On it she had a pic of herself as the Pro. I thought she made it up, and was shocked when i found the trade at my comic shop. I have to say, she's got the costume dead on. Here's a link for those of you out there that i KNOW will be pestering me for it, if i don't post it now. Enjoy!

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