It’s that time again! And lucky for you this time the reviews are on time. I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into that because I really don’t feel like being analytical at 8:00 am on a Thursday morning. I’m doing this all for you. Really. Because I sure as hell am not getting paid to do this.
I’m apologetically pro-Damien. I think he’s one of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. There’s something about him that sets him apart from all the other Robins and I would say that it’s mostly the fact that he’s what Jason Todd could have been. The whole “Sidekick with an attitude” thing works for some and doesn’t for others and Damien works. Now, I will admit that too much of his schtick can be tiresome. But the same can be said for any character. I love me some Deadpool but I got some serious DP burnout following the 87 series he had going on at once last year. Luckily, DC seems to realize that Damien provokes strong reactions and therefore uses him with a deal of finesse. What I mean by this is that usually his personality is either downplayed or dialed up depending on the context of the story. In this debut issue, he’s far more antagonistic than usual because we’re being reintroduced to his dynamic with Bruce. That level of mutual respect that we had seen in previous stories seems to have been scaled back because of this new timeline and as such we get some interesting character beats from both Bruce and Damien in regards to their views on the sentiment of death and the ethos of fighting crime.
Like some other books this week, it’s clear that some holdover elements from the old continuity will be front and center for certain characters. In this case, it’s the worldwide enterprise of Batman, Inc. The fact that Batman has only been around for five years in this continuity doesn’t seem to hinder that storyline at all. We’ve yet to see exactly what parts of Batman’s history are still relevant. I don’t know if Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Murderer/Fugitive, etc. have happened in this timeline but we do know that Damien is still around and Batman Inc is still happening around the globe. Again I have to point out how troublesome this is to new readers if that’s truly what DC is trying to draw in with this relaunch. Someone picking up Batman and Robin # 1 without a prior knowledge of Morrison’s work on the character might be a little perplexed as to when exactly Batman had a son and what the hell Batman, Inc. is. Fans of those particular storylines will not be let down however, as this is a pretty direct continuation of those themes in a similar sort of style.
Overall Rating: 3/5
I’ll just go ahead and say upfront that this is my favorite title of the bunch so far and if you haven’t already you need to go buy a copy and read it right now. The rest of this review is just going to be me gushing over how amazing the book is and how lucky we as readers are to have someone like Paul Cornell writing a book like this. Seriously, if there is one thing that I have to applaud DC for in this whole stunt it’s giving good writers chances to work on books that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. There are a lot of people who are going to pick this up just because of its connection to the “new 52” and they’re going to find one of the most fun, well-written fantasy adventure comics to come along in a long damned time.
I’ve always been a fan of Etrigan. I think he’s one hell of a character and he really hasn’t been given his due in the last few years. That changes here and I think it’s mostly due to the fact that Cornell knows how to write him and that he is a character that works best when he has appropriate characters to bounce off of and he gets that here with Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and a whole host of medieval side-characters. The fact that this is set entirely in the middle-ages allows Cornell to go wild and do whatever he pleases without worrying about bumping up against someone else’s plans. The recent dust-up with Gail Simone being displeased about Batgirl’s appearance in Birds of Prey without her prior knowledge comes to mind. I don’t think anyone is going to try to appropriate anybody in Demon Knights anytime soon. There is an artistic freedom that comes with a book like this that I really can get behind.
Seriously, go buy the book. It’s the shining pinnacle of what this relaunch has to offer.
Overall Rating: 5/5
This one is hard to review. It’s not a bad book. It’s actually quite an interesting read. It’s just so hard for me to disconnect this version of the character from the previous incarnation. Even more so than last week’s Green Arrow, not a whole lot of this book felt like what I would associate with Superboy. That having been said, what we’re presented with is a fresh take on the character. The scientific procedural element of the story is interesting and provides an excellent framework for progressing the issue. My only problem with the book has been that Superboy’s personality is defined by NOT having a personality. That can only last for so long before it becomes a chore to read through. I think that Scott Lobdell knows this, but he’s trying to match the character’s personality to the expected tropes of the genre he’s presenting the character in. He’s a clone, so he needs to be a blank slate at the beginning. That’s how these stories work. I think he’s trying to play with expectations a little bit and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with it.
Superboy is a title that I’m cautiously optimistic about. The final page seems to indicate that this storyline somehow informs the new Teen Titans, which doesn’t look very interesting at all to me. I can’t really say for sure how much I’ll enjoy this past the first issue. I’ll just have to keep reading to find out.
Overall Rating: 3/5
I am very tempted just to write *facepalm* and leave it at that. There really are no words to express how much I disliked this book. Anything not involving King Shark (he’s a shaaaaarrrk!) was pretty much terrible. Deadshot has lost his mustache and Amanda Waller is a young, thin slice of bland. This was just…well, a mess. I don’t imagine any other DC book has missed the mark as hard as this one has. Or let us hope, at least. I’d hate to see what could be worse than this slap in the face to what was once an amazing title.
I don’t want to sound like a cranky fanboy, but seriously…I just can’t imagine how anyone would find this interpretation of the title appealing. It’s generic, bland, and brings nothing new to the table while disregarding the elements of the characters involved that made them interesting in the first place. It’s just one big ball of missed opportunity, because these characters in their pre-reboot forms on the same team would have been interesting to see. Now? not so much.
Overall rating: 1/5
So, controversy, huh? We’ve got an African-American/Hispanic Ultimate Spider-Man and that has some people angry and other people bored and other people happy as hell. Emotions! Does any of that have any bearing on how good the book is or isn’t? Not really. The initial PR stunt nature of the book is a bit disheartening because I think it might have been a little bit better received if it had come out of the box as a surprise. It’s actually a pretty decent book. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of the old series as much as it feels like an entirely new story where someone who isn’t Peter Parker somehow winds up getting spider-based powers. It’s got Bendis’ usual sense of story-flow, that is to say that it begins a bit slowly, but the slice-of-life soap-opera elements of Bendis’ writing were what made that book work so well in the early days.
I’m not going to call this one better or worse than the Parker years because it’s only been one issue and it’ll be another twenty-three or so until I’m able to see what sort of book this is really going to be. All we know right now is that Miles is going to have a little bit of a different power-set from Parker judging from that final page cliffhanger, and that he probably won’t have a costume until around issue six if Bendis keeps to his usual pace. But if everything between then and now is well written as it was back when he first launched USM, then I doubt we’ll really care.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
And that’s our show everybody. Join us next week for another round of my telling you what you should do with your money. See you then.
Man, this week has been intense. I’ve been working on some major renovations inside the store, trying to make room for all the cool new shipments of figures and statues and assorted awesomeness that’s set to be hitting the shelves within the next month or so, which has left my body sore and weak from the labor. I’m not sure if you know this, but comic books in bulk start to get heavy. Especially hardcover collections. I swear it felt like moving baby cows on my shoulder at some points. But it all was worth it for how great the new setups look and the fact that this week’s new books are pretty much the pinnacle of awesome.
ASTONISHING X-MEN XENOGENESIS #2 (OF 5) 3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #1 HA 3.99
BATGIRL #11 2.99
BATMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
BOOSTER GOLD #33 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #606 HA 3.99
CHRONICLES OF CONAN TP VOL 19 DEATHMARK 17.99
DAREDEVIL #507 2.99
DOOM PATROL WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE TP 14.99
HACK SLASH MY FIRST MANIAC #1 (OF 4) CVR A (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #27 HA 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
NEMESIS #2 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
PREDATORS #1 (OF 4) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #8 (MR) 3.99
SECRET SIX #22 2.99
SHIELD #2 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #3 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #11 3.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #525 XSC 2.99
YOUNG ALLIES #1 HA 3.99
And as always, I will tell you why you should buy things.
Wasn’t initially going to get this one, but Christos Gage is one of those writers who has a tendency to churn out some amazing stuff out of concepts I initially hesitated on. He’s a solid writer who is well on his way to getting the name recognition he deserves. With Avengers Academy, he may have found that project.
If there is one flaw with the book it’s simply that, by nature, it’s sort of the black sheep of the Avengers family. The “heavy hitters” in the book as far as star power goes are Hank Pym, Justice and a newly reformed Speedball. Gage plays with this by saying that we’ll get some big names as “guest instructors” over the course of the book, to show that those characters care about the events transpiring in the book, so we should as well. LISTEN TO CAPTAIN AMERICA! HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT!
So yeah, the book has that hurdle to overcome in the mind of the financially conscious fanboy, who may not view the book as “essential reading.” But the book hits all the notes it aims for, and the new characters introduced in the book are all interesting and get a fair share of development in their debut. Reptil shows up, having gained some exposure through the Superhero Squad cartoon. Other members of the group seem to establish their niche right away, with Finesse and Hazmat being the darker foils to Reptil, Mettle and our primary protagonist Veil. Personally I think Mettle has the chance to grow into a really great character. He seems to echo the greatness that Rockslide projected back in New X-Men.
The reasoning behind using these characters, and why the program exists, parallels the Heroic Age’s overall theme of rectifying the wrongs of the Dark Reign era. It probably won’t be the theme for too long, as the status quo will likely shift again fairly soon, but it’s an excellent way to get the ball rolling and they’ve hooked me in for another one.
Man, this one was epic. It’s not exactly a new-reader friendly jumping-on point as one would figure, as it hearkens back to Grant Morrison’s issue # 666 as well as the two-part Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader arc and we even get a segment (albeit a short one) that jumps into the Batman Beyond universe. It’s a veritable garbage-bag cocktail where every last drop of alcohol at the party gets mixed together in the hopes of making a concoction that will give you a kicking buzz without making you go blind.
The story has time travel, the Joker acting bat-shit insane, an appearance from the Mutants that harkens back to The Dark Knight Returns, Two-Face 2 who may be the greatest idea for a new villain that won’t be able to recur due to where he made his debut, and an amazing pin-up art gallery at the back end featuring drawings by some of the greatest artists ever to draw the Dark Knight.
I wish this review could be longer, but honestly the book is one that you have to read for yourselves. I don’t think it is an issue that everyone will enjoy, but I think that it’s definitely a ballsy choice for an anniversary issue this large. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a read just for the sake of seeing if you understand what the hell was going on.
Captain America has been firing on all cylinders for around five years now. Brubaker knows that book like the back of his hand and refuses to let up. This issue deals with the fallout from the last arc where Bucky had to put an end to an evil Steve Rogers clone with a bullet to the dome. It doesn’t sit well with Bucky, as you can imagine the boy has some issues when it comes to Captain America dying, real or not.
While all this is happening, Baron Zemo seems to be working some machinations, which makes me happy as I friggin’ love Baron Zemo. I hope to god he at least gets name dropped in the Cap movie, because I think he’s just one of the most awesome characters Marvel has. Don’t believe me? Go read some Thunderbolts before Warren Ellis turned it into some sort of twisted abomination from the depths of hell. Zemo is a multi-faceted villain who simply does not get his due nowadays and I’m glad that between this and the new Thunderbolts, he seems to be making a comeback.
My only squabble with this issue is the fact that I’ve not yet determined where the hell it fits in with what’s going on over in Thunderbolts. I’m sure they’ll work that out sooner or later, but for the moment I’m trying to place it myself. With all the time line jumping in the Cap book, it’s a chore for sure. But continuity isn’t as important as everyone makes it out to be, especially when the book is this good.
As for the Nomad backup, I’m certainly enjoying it. I like the world they’ve established there, I’m just tired of Nomad ending up in peril so often due to her own naivety. It’s repetitive. Luckily, she seems to not have that shortcoming over in Young Allies, which I’ve reviewed further down the page.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is one of the more consistantly fun and entertaining books on the rack and when I heard it was moving over to Image, I thought “Oh thank the Lord, something good to read by that company that’s NOT written by Kirkman!” (All praise, be to the Kirkman)
With this mini-series, you get a fresh jumping on point if you’ve ever been interested in reading about Cassie’s exploits bashing the brains of creepy stalkery torture-killers with the aid of her hulking sidekick Vlad, who may currently be my favorite recurring comic character. He’s all kinds of awesome and unfortunately he doesn’t make an appearance in this first issue. He’s probably off in a corner reading Chippy Chipmunk at the moment.
The issue gives us a quick origin storry for Cassie that, while familiar to long-time readers, does not feel repetitive or dull. That was my main concern when the book was announced; that the mini-series would mostly be rehashed from prior events that we had already seen and therefore be of no consequence to those of us who have been onboard since the start.
And while I am certainly familiar with Cassie’s origin, the events presented here seem fresh and new even if parts of it do seem familiar. I like that Seeley is simply moving forward with the series rather than using this label-hop as an excuse to do a reboot. Because as we all know, reboots are all the rage in the horror genre right now. Because everybody wanted a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, right? Whatever.
Get the book, hop on board now so that you can be like me and stand around telling everybody that they should have been reading this years ago. It’s a fun feeling. A nice boost to the ego. I love it.
I picked this one up out of my love for Nomad. I loved her mini-series, I love the backups over in Captain America, and I think that it’s amazing that a character who was borne out of such a horibble event (Heroes Reborn. *shudder*) could end up being such a great addition to the mainstream Marvel landscape. Teaming her up with Araña was a stroke of genius, because that girl, while an interesting concept, needs a foil to work to her fullest potential, as evidenced by her appearances in Ms. Marvel.
The book starts off somewhat dark, giving us the origin of a couple of kids who are ripped from their families and trained to be death soliders for some South American Generalisimo. If it were drawn by someone like Mike Deodato it’d be downright frightening and hard to bear, but artist David Baldeon has a light tone that doesn’t strive to be hyper-detailed or stylized, and so while the impact is effective, it does not make you want to rip out your own soul. This is a comic book after all.
The issue plays out much like New Avengers # 1 did a few years back, with the team being brought together by a single circumstance and a whole lot of coincidence. The formula works well this time around, because even the villains remark before they pul their caper that they’re looking for heroes to be in the area and expect them to show up. It’s a little touch that makes the book run a lot smoother.
Between this and Avengers Academy, Marvel seems to be doing all they can to get their readership invested in the next generation of Marvel heroes. Meanwhile, DC is probably trying to find a way to kill off Jaime Reyes. The butchers.