Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Weekly Comic Reviews – 7/31/2013

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Today was my first day back in the comic shop since 2010. It felt a bit odd, to be honest. I can tell you the most vivid thing that I did not forget was the smell, that unmistakable smell of abundant paper. It was somewhat like coming home again after a long vacation. There is something warm and inviting about that place. A lot of it has to do with the people. I’m happy to be in my element again. I do not know for certain how long I’ll be there. I’d love to stay for a good long while, as it is familiar and comforting to me. If nothing else, I got to sit down and read some new comics today, which I haven’t done in a while and I’ve got some opinions you guys might be interested in hearing.

BATMAN_ANN2_ra4ejm6iuw_BATMAN ANNUAL #2
Written by: Scott Snyder
Pencilled by: Wes Craig
Inked by: Craig Yeung, Drew Geraci
Cover by: Jock
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 48
U.S. Price: 4.99
On Sale Date: Jul 31 2013

A special ZERO YEAR tie-in! Bruce Wayne’s first year as the Dark Knight has just barely begun…and already dangerous elements are coalescing, leading Bruce toward his final destiny.

I’m still a month or so behind on my regularly scheduled Batman reading but this Annual issue is enough of a standalone story that I didn’t feel lost. If following the narrative is a concern for you, breathe a sigh of relief because it would take a lot of effort to be confused by this particular issue. Here we are presented with a one-off story where Batman is brought in to Arkham Asylum by the powers that be to test out a new high-security section of the prison called the “Tartarus Wing.” It has been specifically designed to hold the most dangerous of Gotham’s rogues gallery and the folks running the asylum figure that if Batman can’t get past the defenses, nobody can. Batman’s arrival coincides with that of a new orderly by the name of Eric Border, a fresh-faced young idealist who is straight off the bus from Metropolis. He’s the sort of guy who believes that the work done within the walls of Arkham Asylum can benefit those incarcerated there and the world outside. From the reader’s perspective, we are meant to read him as a naive simpleton. He is a foil to Batman’s philosophy and obvious parallels to Superman’s handling of Metropolis with Bruce’s handling of Gotham can be drawn.

While Batman is defeating the defenses of the new wing, Border embarks on a B-plot expedition that finds him encountering the earliest patient to be committed to Arkham, a character going by the name of the Anchoress, whose backstory is that she willingly locked herself away at the Asylum to truly rehabilitate herself. Her name is derived from the Anchorites, who were penitents who would lock themselves away after recognizing the damages of their crimes. The Anchoress speaks about the difference between the Asylum as she entered it, several generations of Arkham ago, and where it is currently, as a simple repository for evil. You can guess who she blames for the shift in atmosphere.

The Annual is much in line with what these Annuals are usually like, that is to say it is competently written and this particular one makes some interesting comments on Batman and the Asylum, whether he does any good locking his foes away at Arkham and whether their incarceration furthers the escalation of violence in Gotham. It isn’t entirely new ground, but it is handled well enough to make it worth reading, especially if it ties into Zero Year as heavily as the front cover implies. As I admitted earlier, I’m a little behind so I can’t speak to its relevance in that arena.

Rating: 3 out of 5

SM_ANN_2_CVR_fnl_d3p47hlexk_SUPERMAN ANNUAL #2
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Frank Hannah
Art by: Pascal Alixe
Cover by: Andy Kubert
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 48
U.S. Price: 4.99
On Sale Date:  Jul 31 2013

What repercussions lurk beneath the surface from Brainiac’s first attack—and how does it all set the stage for the battle of Metropolis? Plus, how can the Man of Steel fight something he can’t physically stop!

I may be behind on Batman but I haven’t broken the cover of a Superman book in well over a year. I sorta gave up on all Superman related books around the same time and just never found the time or energy to check up on them. This issue begins Sunset Boulevard style with Lois lying on the sidewalk narrating her own near-death experience. We find out that Clark is off doing the whole internet blogger thing while Lois stays at the Daily Planet, preferring the dying journalism industry because she feels it gives her the power to speak the truth the most loudly.

One night while working late Lois encounters a woman who begs for help, her head is swollen and resembling the appearance of Brainiac. As if on cue, we are flashed back to the first Braniac invasion detailed in the early launch of the new-52. What follows is a mystery without a mystery because the “who” element is already answered with no sense of drama. There are twenty people who have been reported missing since the Brainiac attack and, surprise, they all are connected somehow. The writing in this issue isn’t great as there is no rise or fall to the narrative, simply a progression. In the last page it becomes clear why; this is only the first part of a puzzle that will be answered in the pages of Action Comics and Superman in a crossover called Psi-War, which I was unaware of because I am out of the loop.

Compared to the Batman annual, out on the same day, this issue seems to be lacking all around. The artwork is quite good and seems more polished than I expected for the issue, but Lobdell’s writing does nothing for me. It doesn’t stick the landing as a lead-in to a crossover and misses the mark by a wide margin as a standalone issue, which I feel an Annual should be able to manage.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

WOLVFLESH2013001-DC11-LR-b9abaWolverine – In The Flesh # 1
Written by: Chris Cosentino
Art by: Dalibor Talajic
Cover by: Tim Seeley
Color/B&W: Color
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date:  Jul 31 2013

Reality star Chris Cosentino tells a tale about Wolverine and food like only a Top Chef Master can! Adamantium claws meet steel kitchen knives in a culinary caper staring your favorite costumed Canadian!

Oh boy, where do I start with this one. Firstly, I don’t know who Chris Cosentino is because I’m not a fan of Top Chef. I’m more of a Chopped guy. So I only read this issue because of the novelty in a celebrity chef writing himself into a Marvel comic. One which I assume is canon. It’s glorious fan-fic given total validation by the publisher. Long story short, I love the premise and I wish they would do more with it. I’d read a book about Peter Parker taking a cooking class from Giada DiLaurentis. I would pay good money for a story where Deadpool tries to kill Gordon Ramsay but then they team up to fix a terrible restaurant. I don’t care that its ludicrous. I like ludicrous. Is the book any good?

Well, it’s entertaining to say the least. A couple of bike riders find a corpse that is apparently the work of a serial murderer known as the Bay Area Butcher. Logan finds out about it and after taking a look at the bodies he calls in his good friend Chris Cosentino, celebrity chef and master of “offal cuisine” dishes, which are prepared with ingredients normally tossed aside when an animal is butchered. Logan and Chris come to the conclusion that whoever this killer is, he must have some culinary or butchery experience.

And so the team up begins!

Really, I don’t want to give anything away because the book is crazy in a way you have to experience for yourself. Seriously, if you’ve got some spare cash and need to pick something up that will make you ask yourself if you truly read what you think you did, please pick up this book. Everyone needs to be exposed to this madness. It’s the best kind of madness I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in a long while. Honest to blog.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars

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