bobquasit: (Grimjack)
Kingdom ComeKingdom Come by Mark Waid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad. Another overly-earnest story of a future Superman. The art's pretty good. It's a bit too worshipful of Superman - what wouldn't I give for a "The Man of Steel is an asshole" story line, does he EVER do something as human as fart? And if so, wouldn't the result be a super-fart that would destroy buildings and gas whole cities? I get the feeling that young authors who get to write Superman stories are either so intimidated or browbeaten that they act as if they're genuflecting before something holy. It gets kind of sickening.

But still, not too bad. The characters aren't abused or forced to act out of character, mostly. I'd read it again.


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bobquasit: (Grimjack)
Kingdom ComeKingdom Come by Mark Waid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad. Another overly-earnest story of a future Superman. The art's pretty good. It's a bit too worshipful of Superman - what wouldn't I give for a "The Man of Steel is an asshole" story line, does he EVER do something as human as fart? And if so, wouldn't the result be a super-fart that would destroy buildings and gas whole cities? I get the feeling that young authors who get to write Superman stories are either so intimidated or browbeaten that they act as if they're genuflecting before something holy. It gets kind of sickening.

But still, not too bad. The characters aren't abused or forced to act out of character, mostly. I'd read it again.


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bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Annihilation: Book TwoAnnihilation: Book Two by Keith Giffen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

One star might be a little brutal, but this book was definitely not "okay". It's muddled, bombastic, and almost unreadable, featuring some of the more uninteresting SF characters from the Marvel pantheon. There are one or two mildly interesting moments, but the art is mediocre at best, the dialog limps and is at times painfully juvenile...all in all, not worth the time or effort to read.


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bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Annihilation: Book TwoAnnihilation: Book Two by Keith Giffen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

One star might be a little brutal, but this book was definitely not "okay". It's muddled, bombastic, and almost unreadable, featuring some of the more uninteresting SF characters from the Marvel pantheon. There are one or two mildly interesting moments, but the art is mediocre at best, the dialog limps and is at times painfully juvenile...all in all, not worth the time or effort to read.


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Green Lantern: Circle of FireGreen Lantern: Circle of Fire by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The new Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) must fight a seemingly unbeatable entity: a malevolent being that seems to be identical to one that he himself created for a comic book as a youngster. The League has been trapped and are helpless. Helpers mysteriously appear, but are they what they seem?

All in all, not bad. A bit earnest and simplistic, but I'll give the writers credit for a good, sincere try. Except that the ending is VERY abrupt and incomplete - so much so that I strongly suspect that the copy I read (from the library) is missing one or more of the final pages. The pages aren't numbered, so I can't be sure.


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Green Lantern: Circle of FireGreen Lantern: Circle of Fire by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The new Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) must fight a seemingly unbeatable entity: a malevolent being that seems to be identical to one that he himself created for a comic book as a youngster. The League has been trapped and are helpless. Helpers mysteriously appear, but are they what they seem?

All in all, not bad. A bit earnest and simplistic, but I'll give the writers credit for a good, sincere try. Except that the ending is VERY abrupt and incomplete - so much so that I strongly suspect that the copy I read (from the library) is missing one or more of the final pages. The pages aren't numbered, so I can't be sure.


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bobquasit: (Omac Destroys!)
Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest (Marvel Premiere Classic)Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest by David Michelinie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Unbelievably putrid. Over and over I sat in stunned amazement, asking myself "Did they really publish stuff this bad back in 1981?"

There are two kinds of stories in comics. One tries to say something meaningful, or at least to present some sort of concept that the reader can be entertained by. The other is the visual equivalent of two three-year-olds trying to one-up each other. "My hero is a million times stronger than yours!" "Oh yeah? Well MY hero is a JILLION times stronger!" Over and over and over. There's no sense to it, and no point.

Which pretty much describes this "book".

Oh, and the authors completely abuse the Arthurian legend. In an incredibly lame "future Arthur" sequence, Merlin is "cool", saying things like - and I am NOT making this up - "Okee doke: One 'Return to Sender' spell, comin' right up!"

Merlin as Jar-Jar Binks. It made me want to beat the author with a club.

So to sum up, the only reason to read this thing is if you want to take a look back to see just how incredibly awful some comic books were, even as recently as 1981 (the art is pretty bad, too). And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do something - anything - to drive the memory of that unbelievably idiotic writing out of my brain.


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bobquasit: (Omac Destroys!)
Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest (Marvel Premiere Classic)Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest by David Michelinie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Unbelievably putrid. Over and over I sat in stunned amazement, asking myself "Did they really publish stuff this bad back in 1981?"

There are two kinds of stories in comics. One tries to say something meaningful, or at least to present some sort of concept that the reader can be entertained by. The other is the visual equivalent of two three-year-olds trying to one-up each other. "My hero is a million times stronger than yours!" "Oh yeah? Well MY hero is a JILLION times stronger!" Over and over and over. There's no sense to it, and no point.

Which pretty much describes this "book".

Oh, and the authors completely abuse the Arthurian legend. In an incredibly lame "future Arthur" sequence, Merlin is "cool", saying things like - and I am NOT making this up - "Okee doke: One 'Return to Sender' spell, comin' right up!"

Merlin as Jar-Jar Binks. It made me want to beat the author with a club.

So to sum up, the only reason to read this thing is if you want to take a look back to see just how incredibly awful some comic books were, even as recently as 1981 (the art is pretty bad, too). And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do something - anything - to drive the memory of that unbelievably idiotic writing out of my brain.


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big CityAstro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A nice change from the usual ponderous crap that's so often issued by the Big Two. Of course, this isn't from the Big Two, which is probably why it's not crap.

There are a number of thinly-disguised re-takes on classic superhero characters; this has practically become a genre in itself. I almost wonder if DC and Marvel might eventually start publishing their own thinly-disguised re-takes of their big properties, just to get in on the action!*

Anyway, the book consists of a series of mostly-unrelated superhero stories, offering a different and more "realistic" take on the genre. It reminds me very strongly indeed of Common Grounds, but to tell you the truth, I think Common Grounds did it better. In fairness I should note that Common Grounds also came out years after Astro City.

The stories are thought-provoking, but some of them fall a little flat. There's a slight feeling of...I'm not quite sure how to put this. The stories are good, but they're just not as masterfully written as the works of...well, I hate to always be bringing him up, but Alan Moore. They just feel as if they're aimed slightly lower, somehow; they don't dazzle through sheer virtuosity.

But they're fun, and thought-provoking, and the art is good. In a fractional system I'd give Astro City a solid 3.49, and I'm definitely going to look up other books in the series. If I was still subscribing to comic books, I'd doubtless subscribe.

I wish GoodReads would change over to a ten-star or fractional system! Five stars is MUCH too restrictive.

-----------------

* - They probably have - and if they have, I'm sure Steve will tell me.


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bobquasit: (Omac)
Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big CityAstro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A nice change from the usual ponderous crap that's so often issued by the Big Two. Of course, this isn't from the Big Two, which is probably why it's not crap.

There are a number of thinly-disguised re-takes on classic superhero characters; this has practically become a genre in itself. I almost wonder if DC and Marvel might eventually start publishing their own thinly-disguised re-takes of their big properties, just to get in on the action!*

Anyway, the book consists of a series of mostly-unrelated superhero stories, offering a different and more "realistic" take on the genre. It reminds me very strongly indeed of Common Grounds, but to tell you the truth, I think Common Grounds did it better. In fairness I should note that Common Grounds also came out years after Astro City.

The stories are thought-provoking, but some of them fall a little flat. There's a slight feeling of...I'm not quite sure how to put this. The stories are good, but they're just not as masterfully written as the works of...well, I hate to always be bringing him up, but Alan Moore. They just feel as if they're aimed slightly lower, somehow; they don't dazzle through sheer virtuosity.

But they're fun, and thought-provoking, and the art is good. In a fractional system I'd give Astro City a solid 3.49, and I'm definitely going to look up other books in the series. If I was still subscribing to comic books, I'd doubtless subscribe.

I wish GoodReads would change over to a ten-star or fractional system! Five stars is MUCH too restrictive.

-----------------

* - They probably have - and if they have, I'm sure Steve will tell me.


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bobquasit: (Laszlo Late)
Thor: Ages of ThunderThor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Want my one-word review? Here it is:

"Meh."

This really doesn't deserve two stars. But it's just not quite dreadful enough to rate only one. It almost was, but there was a slightly interesting section towards the end where they did some mildly amusing playing around with different art styles.

But in a fractional system, this one would get 1.51 stars at best. Ponderous, annoying, stupid characters and plots...it really felt like a throwback to the old days, when most comic books were being written for an audience of slightly dim-witted young teens. With a bit of extra confusion thrown in for pseudo "depth".

Meh.

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bobquasit: (Laszlo Late)
Thor: Ages of ThunderThor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Want my one-word review? Here it is:

"Meh."

This really doesn't deserve two stars. But it's just not quite dreadful enough to rate only one. It almost was, but there was a slightly interesting section towards the end where they did some mildly amusing playing around with different art styles.

But in a fractional system, this one would get 1.51 stars at best. Ponderous, annoying, stupid characters and plots...it really felt like a throwback to the old days, when most comic books were being written for an audience of slightly dim-witted young teens. With a bit of extra confusion thrown in for pseudo "depth".

Meh.

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Marvel 1602 TPB (Quill Award Edition) Marvel 1602 TPB by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman ventures into Alan Moore territory for Marvel. Oddly, it's not a very exciting expedition.

Gaiman may be the victim of expectations. I was a huge fan of Sandman and The Books of Magic. Frankly, nothing he's done since has impressed me half as much.

In 1602, he takes a clever idea - what if all the Marvel superheroes were alive in the time of Queen Elizabeth? - and does less with it than I would have expected.

But I'll admit that in part, that's because Alan Moore has done so much remarkable work with historical comics and heroes that Gaiman suffers by comparison. I'm used to incredibly dense, clever, brilliant stories - books that make you think, references to other works and historical events that are so complex and interwoven that it takes another book (probably by Jess Nevins) to annotate them all.

Gaiman has approached that level of cleverness in the past, with Shakespeare in Sandman. That's universally agreed to be a classic of the genre. But 1602...was just a comic book.

Oh, it's not a bad comic book. It was just surprisingly unimaginative. And oddly enough Gaiman's strongest suit, his sense of mystery and atmosphere, wasn't particularly notable here.

At one point I had to wonder if some editor at Marvel had interfered with the book! Because to my surprise the mystery of the book was killed dead with a somewhat laborious explanation.

Let me see if I can explain.

The book features many classic Marvel characters as they would be if they had been born and grew up in the late 1500s. I'll admit it: this is a neat idea. But it didn't need to be explained. Making the whole point of the story an explanation of why modern characters were somehow re-born in the past (the explanation provided via a certain deus ex machina character) really killed much of the fun out of the story! It took away the atmosphere and mystery.

It was fun the way it was. Why ruin it with a rationalization? Why kill the sense of magic?

There were a few clever and amusing points which I won't spoil, but they certainly didn't make up for the essentially leaden and unmagical tone of the book.

On the plus side, it was well-illustrated. And at nearly 250 pages, it was longer than most graphic novels; a decent way to kill a couple of hours. In a fractional system, I'd have given it a 2.5.

I just expected more from Neil Gaiman, that's all.

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bobquasit: (Default)
Marvel 1602 TPB (Quill Award Edition) Marvel 1602 TPB by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman ventures into Alan Moore territory for Marvel. Oddly, it's not a very exciting expedition.

Gaiman may be the victim of expectations. I was a huge fan of Sandman and The Books of Magic. Frankly, nothing he's done since has impressed me half as much.

In 1602, he takes a clever idea - what if all the Marvel superheroes were alive in the time of Queen Elizabeth? - and does less with it than I would have expected.

But I'll admit that in part, that's because Alan Moore has done so much remarkable work with historical comics and heroes that Gaiman suffers by comparison. I'm used to incredibly dense, clever, brilliant stories - books that make you think, references to other works and historical events that are so complex and interwoven that it takes another book (probably by Jess Nevins) to annotate them all.

Gaiman has approached that level of cleverness in the past, with Shakespeare in Sandman. That's universally agreed to be a classic of the genre. But 1602...was just a comic book.

Oh, it's not a bad comic book. It was just surprisingly unimaginative. And oddly enough Gaiman's strongest suit, his sense of mystery and atmosphere, wasn't particularly notable here.

At one point I had to wonder if some editor at Marvel had interfered with the book! Because to my surprise the mystery of the book was killed dead with a somewhat laborious explanation.

Let me see if I can explain.

The book features many classic Marvel characters as they would be if they had been born and grew up in the late 1500s. I'll admit it: this is a neat idea. But it didn't need to be explained. Making the whole point of the story an explanation of why modern characters were somehow re-born in the past (the explanation provided via a certain deus ex machina character) really killed much of the fun out of the story! It took away the atmosphere and mystery.

It was fun the way it was. Why ruin it with a rationalization? Why kill the sense of magic?

There were a few clever and amusing points which I won't spoil, but they certainly didn't make up for the essentially leaden and unmagical tone of the book.

On the plus side, it was well-illustrated. And at nearly 250 pages, it was longer than most graphic novels; a decent way to kill a couple of hours. In a fractional system, I'd have given it a 2.5.

I just expected more from Neil Gaiman, that's all.

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Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age by Brian Michael Bendis


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expectations.

Sometimes, it's all about expectations. A mediocre book by one of my favorite authors is a greater disappointment than a poor book from a writer who's new to me. And a great book by a new author can be a greater thrill than an equally great book from an author that I know.

Which isn't to say that Daredevil: Golden Age is great, mind you. It's just that Marvel and DC have churned out so many steaming piles of dung in the form of graphic novels, that a relatively good one comes as a positive shock.

As this one was. To my amazement, it was actually well-written, funny, and even pretty intelligent. It managed to avoid the many cliches of the genre. I was - I'll admit it - even a bit impressed! And that's all the more surprising to me because I've never been much of a fan of Daredevil as a character.

To the specifics: the book deals with some of the history of Daredevil and Hell's Kitchen, the area that he...protects, I guess you'd call it. The art style is very reminiscent of the style used in Frank Miller's Batman: Year One; I call it it the prune face school of art, because most characters look like an implosion of wrinkles like the villain Pruneface in the old Dick Tracy comics. The exception is the hero(es) and their romantic interests; they're relatively smooth and cleanly-drawn. As you might guess, I'm not a huge fan of that particular art style.

The storyline itself has been put through what I like to call the Ronco Plot Disjoint-O-Matic. That is, the plot jumps back and forth between relatively ancient history (many years ago), less-ancient history (some years ago), recent history, and "now". The art style changes to reflect the era that's being represented, which is actually a nice touch; I liked it. Ancient history was black and white, and it worked well for me.

But while I understand the use of flashback and telling the story out of chronological sequence, I think that tool was overused here.

That was the bad side of the book from my perspective, neither complaint being particularly damning. The good side? The dialog never insulted my intelligence. The "ancient history" segments were actually refreshing; instead of battling each other, the heroes actually battled crime - organized crime. And yet Bendis was able to make that interesting. The whole thing had more of a "real" feeling to it than 97% of the comics that I've read (leaving out Alan Moore, that is).

Now that I think of it, there was a bit of a hero-vs-hero battle - but it's impressive that I didn't realize it until this moment. Even so, it was very well handled. In fact, it was part of the best sequence in the book: a delightfully terse and convincing explanation of why some people put on tights and fight crime.

It may be worth mentioning that Spiderman make a short appearance, and adds a very nice touch of humor to the book.

All in all, if you're tired of the cliches of the superhero genre (or of poorly handled cliches), I'd say that Daredevil: Golden Age is well worth checking out. It's not utterly self-contained; clearly it's part of a continuing story. But even though I'm relatively ignorant about the character, I found it easy to follow the plot and very enjoyable. I plan to check out other books in the series.

In a fractional system I'd have given this a 3.5. To be honest, it might even deserve a 4.0...but I'm trying not to be swept away in reaction to my original low expectations.

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Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age by Brian Michael Bendis


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expectations.

Sometimes, it's all about expectations. A mediocre book by one of my favorite authors is a greater disappointment than a poor book from a writer who's new to me. And a great book by a new author can be a greater thrill than an equally great book from an author that I know.

Which isn't to say that Daredevil: Golden Age is great, mind you. It's just that Marvel and DC have churned out so many steaming piles of dung in the form of graphic novels, that a relatively good one comes as a positive shock.

As this one was. To my amazement, it was actually well-written, funny, and even pretty intelligent. It managed to avoid the many cliches of the genre. I was - I'll admit it - even a bit impressed! And that's all the more surprising to me because I've never been much of a fan of Daredevil as a character.

To the specifics: the book deals with some of the history of Daredevil and Hell's Kitchen, the area that he...protects, I guess you'd call it. The art style is very reminiscent of the style used in Frank Miller's Batman: Year One; I call it it the prune face school of art, because most characters look like an implosion of wrinkles like the villain Pruneface in the old Dick Tracy comics. The exception is the hero(es) and their romantic interests; they're relatively smooth and cleanly-drawn. As you might guess, I'm not a huge fan of that particular art style.

The storyline itself has been put through what I like to call the Ronco Plot Disjoint-O-Matic. That is, the plot jumps back and forth between relatively ancient history (many years ago), less-ancient history (some years ago), recent history, and "now". The art style changes to reflect the era that's being represented, which is actually a nice touch; I liked it. Ancient history was black and white, and it worked well for me.

But while I understand the use of flashback and telling the story out of chronological sequence, I think that tool was overused here.

That was the bad side of the book from my perspective, neither complaint being particularly damning. The good side? The dialog never insulted my intelligence. The "ancient history" segments were actually refreshing; instead of battling each other, the heroes actually battled crime - organized crime. And yet Bendis was able to make that interesting. The whole thing had more of a "real" feeling to it than 97% of the comics that I've read (leaving out Alan Moore, that is).

Now that I think of it, there was a bit of a hero-vs-hero battle - but it's impressive that I didn't realize it until this moment. Even so, it was very well handled. In fact, it was part of the best sequence in the book: a delightfully terse and convincing explanation of why some people put on tights and fight crime.

It may be worth mentioning that Spiderman make a short appearance, and adds a very nice touch of humor to the book.

All in all, if you're tired of the cliches of the superhero genre (or of poorly handled cliches), I'd say that Daredevil: Golden Age is well worth checking out. It's not utterly self-contained; clearly it's part of a continuing story. But even though I'm relatively ignorant about the character, I found it easy to follow the plot and very enjoyable. I plan to check out other books in the series.

In a fractional system I'd have given this a 3.5. To be honest, it might even deserve a 4.0...but I'm trying not to be swept away in reaction to my original low expectations.

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Origin: The True Story of Wolverine Origin: The True Story of Wolverine by Bill Jemas


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Forgettable.

If you're going to try to create an origin for one of your most iconic characters, that origin had better be (*@#ing memorable. Look at Batman, for example. Or look at what Alan Moore did for the Joker in The Killing Joke. The origin should resonate for the reader.

In Origin, the story kind of lands with a dull thump.

Oh, it's not terrible. The authors clearly tried. They just weren't up to the task, that's all. And so they've created an utterly forgettable, inconsequential, run-of-the-mill...

I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah. Origin. Sorry, I nodded off.

In a fractional system, Origin would get a 1.8 from me. At best, it was kind of cheesy. I mean, when you've got your character running and howling with wolves, it's a pretty good sign that you're in way over your head...unless you're a really, really good writer. Which these guys aren't. And maybe it was a warning sign that there were three writers on this turkey.

Hmm...if they'd had Wolverine running and gobbling with turkeys...now, that would have been memorable! :D

PS - the claws looked stupid to me. Claws should look like claws, not unicorn horns!

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Origin: The True Story of Wolverine Origin: The True Story of Wolverine by Bill Jemas


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Forgettable.

If you're going to try to create an origin for one of your most iconic characters, that origin had better be (*@#ing memorable. Look at Batman, for example. Or look at what Alan Moore did for the Joker in The Killing Joke. The origin should resonate for the reader.

In Origin, the story kind of lands with a dull thump.

Oh, it's not terrible. The authors clearly tried. They just weren't up to the task, that's all. And so they've created an utterly forgettable, inconsequential, run-of-the-mill...

I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah. Origin. Sorry, I nodded off.

In a fractional system, Origin would get a 1.8 from me. At best, it was kind of cheesy. I mean, when you've got your character running and howling with wolves, it's a pretty good sign that you're in way over your head...unless you're a really, really good writer. Which these guys aren't. And maybe it was a warning sign that there were three writers on this turkey.

Hmm...if they'd had Wolverine running and gobbling with turkeys...now, that would have been memorable! :D

PS - the claws looked stupid to me. Claws should look like claws, not unicorn horns!

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Eternals Eternals by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman takes on one of Jack Kirby's creations for Marvel.

Despite the fact that these are two very big names, the biggest reaction I can muster is "meh". It was okay, but there was nothing that really grabbed me about it. Gaiman and the artist managed to squeeze the Kirbyishness out of it, without imparting anything particularly great or new.

It was okay, but that's about it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable; it didn't stay in my mind. In a fractional system I guess I'd give it a 2.5.

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Eternals Eternals by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman takes on one of Jack Kirby's creations for Marvel.

Despite the fact that these are two very big names, the biggest reaction I can muster is "meh". It was okay, but there was nothing that really grabbed me about it. Gaiman and the artist managed to squeeze the Kirbyishness out of it, without imparting anything particularly great or new.

It was okay, but that's about it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable; it didn't stay in my mind. In a fractional system I guess I'd give it a 2.5.

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