Joe Rice Media Review 12/20/06

Hey, folks.  I doubt I'll be around the next couple of weeks, because here in the civilized world, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and then the beginning of a new year around this time every year.  But maybe if you cross your fingers I'll have time anyway while my wife bakes or whatever it is she does. 

I've got a copper temporary crown now on one of my back teeth.  I feel like a low-rent rapper.  For a second there I almost decided to write today's reviews in rap style.  But I've got to get done before the old lady gets back from the holiday party and needs to complain about her stupid coworkers, so let's do this quickly.

I got The New Avengers:  Illuminati simply because it was such a small week and it wasn't a bad concept.  I've never really gotten into Bendis' superhero stuff, although New Avengers was almost good for a while there.  But this was a pretty damn fun straight up superhero action book.  The nerd in me likes seeing these guys as a team working together, I must admit.  So the title group go to the Skrull homeworld or homeship or whatever in order to intimidate them from returning to earth.  Everybody gets at least one badass moment, the story ends but has openings for the future . . .it's a good little book.  Hard to believe it was put together so quickly (right?  Isn't that what happened here?) but there you have it.  The art won't affect your soul but it tells the story and looks nice.  Surprise of the week for sure.

The final part of this arc in The Punisher, on the other hand, is in no way surprising.  But it needn't be.  It's about the execution, if you'll pardon the accidental pun.  Ennis, per usual, comes through with strong points, strong storytelling, and a grim, determined almost-beauty that's difficult to deny.  You can't help but cheer for the worst of the worst getting what comes to them.

Another strong issue for Criminal.  Immoral or amoral as the characters may be, you care about them after Brubaker and Phillips get done with you.  It's a crime story, again, there's not many surprises here, there really couldn't be.  But it's in the telling and the telling is as good as it's been since Sleeper.  The dueling cliffhangers are both pretty harrowing in all the right ways, too.

I've never gotten any of the Jingle Belle comics before.  Dini's good girl thing doesn't really appeal to me.  At all.  But Kyle Baker does appeal to me.  A lot.  So The Bakers Meet Paul Dini's Jingle Belle got added to my pile as soon as I saw it.  It's a cute story and, perhaps its a prejudice here, but the stuff with the Bakers I find much more interesting than the Jingle Belle/Santa stuff.  The ending, sappy, worked on me like a happy shot.  This was fun enough for a one-shot but it really just makes me want to read more Bakers.  (Maybe that's the point.)

Have a great holiday season, folks.  Do something to show someone you care about just how much you care.

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