Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Detective Comics

Manapul and Buccellato to take over DETECTIVE COMICS

627A while back we reported that Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato would be leaving their acclaimed run on The Flash to take over an unspecified title. Well, the news has broken that that title will be Detective Comics with current scribe John Layman of Chew fame set to announce the book he himself will hop aboard at NYCC. Artist Jay Fabok has not announced his next project as of yet, but considering he got the cover for the villains month issue of Batman featuring the Joker, I’m sure he’ll land a job somewhere doing something for DC very soon.


Weekly Comic Reviews – 9/12/2013

Hey everybody, it’s time for that all important time of the week where I run down a number of comic books and tell you whether they make the grade. Last week was uncharacteristically downbeat, with The Star Wars being the one bright spot in an otherwise grim slate. But the thing about comics is that there is so much on the rack that if you wait a week you might just strike gold. There were a number of books this week that I sat down and read in the hopes of giving you guys a greater variety in terms of recommendations so without further ado, let’s go ahead and get this show on the road.

ac_cv23Action Comics 23.2 – (General Zod)
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Ken Lashley
Cover by: Gene Ha
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price:  3.99
On Sale Date:  Sep 11 2013

General Zod storms into The New 52! Witness the origin of this genocidal maniac, and learn how far he will go to destroy those who oppose him!

Greg Pak is a writer who I tend to enjoy. I think a lot of that is holdover good will from Planet Hulk. I’ve talked to him at conventions and he seems to be a pretty cool dude as well. I picked this issue up based more on the fact that his name was in the writing credits than any loyalty to the character of Zod. I’m not sure which incarnation of Zod DC planned on utilizing this time around. I remember there being a great deal of confusion regarding Zod from his previous uses in the Our Worlds at War crossover only to be re-imagined a few years later with Brian Azzarello’s For Tomorrow storyline just to be re-purposed by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner for Last Son. This issue gives us a Zod that doesn’t really line up with any of those, and delves into an origin story for the character that allows us to start from scratch and accept this version of Zod as one that has no conflicts with previous iterations of the character.

Our Zod is one who had to survive a harsh environment in his youth, losing his emotionless parents to a savage attack by alien beasts and eventually being stranded in that hostile locale until he is rescued by the house of El almost a decade later. That time trapped in the wilderness turned him into an embittered, sci-fi version of Green Arrow. He harbors aspirations of vengeance against the alien race responsible for wiping out his family and at the same time rises through the ranks of the Kryptonian military.

Only the ending of his story, being shunted off into the Phantom Zone, the one constant that never seems to change in his narrative, seems familiar. Zod’s motivations don’t seem reminiscent of any version of the character that I can remember, although I am sure there are through-lines that I’m just missing out on. The fact that we are getting a definitive take on the character for the new 52, working from a blank slate, makes the book interesting to read because the expectations of the reader should be equally as open.

Another nice surprise was the inclusion of Faora, who stole the show in Man of Steel this summer. Hopefully the folks at DC plan to utilize her effectively, as the DCU could always use some well-written female antagonists. She gets little face time here but it is Zod’s name on the cover after all. I’ll keep my eyes out for future appearances.

All in all, a better issue on all counts than last week’s Cyborg Superman issue, which I did not cotton to at all.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5

Batman-23.2-The-RiddlerBatman 23.2 – The Riddler
Written by: Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes
Art by: Jeremy Haun
Cover by: Guillem March
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date: Sep 11 2013

I pretty much eviscerated the 23.1 Joker issue last week. I felt like it was a harbinger of much worse things to come. After all, if the highest profile Batman villain in the bunch couldn’t get a decent issue, what chance did anyone else stand? The Joker isn’t a hard character to wrap your mind around creatively if you approach it from the correct angle. Giving insight into a tortured childhood isn’t the way to go. The fact that we get abusive parent back-stories for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn as well just goes to show that applying the same wrote, hack writing tricks to a character like the Joker just isn’t going to fly and that is why the issue failed on the whole.

The Riddler is a hard character to get into as well. For my money nobody writes the guy as well as Paul Dini, though I admittedly liked the turn Jeph Loeb gave him in The Long Halloween and Hush. Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes take on the character here and the take is one that works. In order to understand the Riddler you need to understand narcissism and self-importance. I am surprised that so many writers have such a hard time empathizing with such emotions because as a writer you have to tell yourself constantly that you are the most talented person in the room, you’re smarter than everyone around you, and your work should stand on its own merit by virtue of escaping from the confines of your imagination. The Riddler deals in similar themes. It comes through very vividly in this issue, where he systematically bypasses each and every security measure in Wayne Tower, returning for the first time since the events of Zero Year.

Riddler matches wits with the head of Wayne’s security, who also used to be a guard he crossed paths with during a stay at Arkham Asylum. This man’s downfall is that, unlike the reader and, especially the writers of this issue, he doesn’t realize that the Riddler is more than a simple criminal. He fails to empathize and it ensures his demise. The Riddler is always three steps ahead of those he feels are below him, which is simply everyone. Riddler is the green-tinted flipside of Batman without the grace of humility. Snyder and Fawkes realize this and write him as such. The issue plays out wonderfully, especially the climax which demonstrates that the entirety of the Riddler’s mission was for a singular purpose that I won’t spoil here, but it renders the rest of the issue in a light that makes perfect sense in regards to character motivation and seals the deal that these guys know what the Riddler is all about.

This is definitely the high bar for the villains month so far. Which, given Snyder’s previous work with Batman, is not at all surprising.

Rating: 5 out of 5

DTC_23-2-Harley_4cda5hj5a0_Detective Comics 23.2 – Harley Quinn
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Neil Googe
Cover by: Chris Burnham
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date: Sep 11 2013

If Dr. Harleen Quinzel wasn’t crazy when she fell for The Joker at Arkham Asylum, she sure was messed up afterwards! Find out more from Harley’s time with her beloved Mr. J. and see what got her into so much trouble that she was “recruited” for the Suicide Squad!

I haven’t been keeping up with Suicide Squad or paying much attention to Harley Quinn. She doesn’t resemble the character I fell in love with back in the early nineties watching episodes of Batman : The Animated Series. There is a cynicism to this version of the character that I don’t identify with. This issue gives us a beat by beat origin story for Harley, where we see that some of the elements of her original incarnation still live on. She was brilliant and became a psychiatrist, then wound up at Arkham hoping to truly challenge herself by helping the worst of the worst of the criminally insane only to be sucked into the Joker’s world. She posed as an inmate to get closer and wound up getting a little too close. That all works and doesn’t rub me the wrong way that much.

The rest of the issue does have flaws. I was not a fan of the fact that we got a beat-by-beat rundown of how she acquired pieces of her uniform. It seemed forced. And maybe I am just off base but the violence of the issue didn’t sit well with me either. There is no comedy to her rampage, just ruthlessness. I suppose that’s just the tone the character has now, but fans of the old Harley probably won’t enjoy this particular take on her. The word I used earlier was forced and that seems to be the whole issue with this revamp of Harley. They’re trying to make her something she isn’t and it simply doesn’t work. It’s not Harley. The tone is all wrong and you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole this way. I’m sure there are fans of this take, and I don’t begrudge them that, but my feelings are that such a revamp of her character makes her indistinguishable from other hyper-violent creations with no sense of irony or fun. It is a bleakness that simply does not jibe with pre-established notions of the character.

I’m probably just being stubborn, but there wasn’t much for me to enjoy here. I think I’m just not the target audience.

Rating: 2 out of 5

EW_001_COVER_CRAIN1-600x923

Eternal Warrior # 1
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Trevor Hairsine
Colorist: Brian Reber
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Dave Bullock, Patrick Zircher
Price: $3.99
Pages: 32
On Sale: September 11, 2013

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Pak (Batman/Superman, Planet Hulk) and superstar artist Trevor Hairsine (X-O Manowar, X-Men: Deadly Genesis) launch a brand new campaign for Valiant’s immortal champion, the Eternal Warrior, in an all-new monthly series!

Across ten millennia and a thousand battlefields, Gilad Anni-Padda has traversed the darkest, most mysterious corners of history. But the horror and bloodshed of constant warfare has finally taken its toll on the man myth calls the Eternal Warrior…and he has abdicated his duties as the Fist and the Steel of Earth for a quiet life of seclusion. But when a blood vendetta from the distant past suddenly reappears in the modern day, he must decide if he will return to the ways of war…for the child who betrayed him thousands of years ago…

I went into this COMPLETELY blind. I had no idea what to expect. I just saw the cover and thought it would be worth reading. I guess the logline for the story could be Conan the Barbarian meets Highlander. We open on the brink of a massive battle in olden times. Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, an immortal but not entirely invulnerable mass of muscle and sinew, is preparing for a war against a horde of enemies who worship a god of death. Gilad forbids his daughter, Xaran, from involving herself in the battle. So opposed to her involvement is Gilad that he gives her a closed fist smack to the jaw, then rides into battle with his son, Mitu. What follows is a betrayal and a slaughter, then the passage of thousands of years, to a time when the Eternal Warrior is living Wolverine-style as a hermit with only a dog for companionship when the source of his betrayal returns.

I really enjoyed this issue. I like the concept, and Greg Pak brings the action in a way that recalls his time spent writing The Incredible Hulk all those years ago. Fans of books like Conan should give this one a read. I haven’t been following any of the new Valiant comics but this one was rewarding and a surprise pick of the week for myself. It runs a little short because so much of the issue is spent dedicated to action scenes, but overall the series shows tremendous promise. I’ll definitely be picking up issue two.

Rating: 4 out of 5

detailInfinity : The Hunt
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Steven Sanders
Price: 3.99
Release Date: Sept. 11, 2013

Hank Pym, Wolverine, and She-Hulk bring the students of the Marvel Universe together to announce a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS!This CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS pits the super students of schools all over the Marvel U (including some you’ve never seen before) against each other.However, the Contest is interrupted when Thanos’ forces descend on Earth. What do they have to do with the young heroes?

Man, oh man. Big event crossover tie-ins, right? Why do they even bother anymore. But hold your horses there, Mr. Cynic. This issue is something a little different. Feeling more like a companion piece to Avengers Arena and other books featuring the next generation of Marvel heroes, almost none of the issue feels like a cash-grab tie-in to Infinity. In fact, were it not for the Infinity title on the front cover, you would never know this is related to that event. The book feels more like a crash course intro into different corners of the youth oriented Marvel Universe. Characters from the Future Foundation, Avengers Academy, Jean Grey School, and more are assembled for a gathering that will put them to the test and determine which school for gifted youngsters is producing the most viable talent.

The majority of the issue, as I said, is introducing us to the concept of the book and the characters that will populate it. Only in the end are we treated to a cliffhanger that will set events into motion. I find myself marveling at how adeptly the book was able to draw me in. I don’t read any of the books involving the characters who populate the issue and yet I found myself sucked in. The script is tight and flows from panel to panel fairly effortlessly. If there is one flaw in the book it is that people who are familiar with these characters my grow easily bored with the exposition heavy element of the first issue. As it stands, I appreciated the time spent to set things up and explain everything because if there is one thing I hate it’s not being able to follow a story with characters I don’t know for a tie-in book I shouldn’t have been reading in the first place.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5

detail (1)Mighty Avengers # 1
Writer: Alasdair David Ewing
Artist: Greg Land
Price: $3.99
Published: September 11, 2013

The Avengers are light-years away in space, contending with the Builders! Thanos’ marauders ransack the Earth, doing as they please! Who will stand in defense of mankind?Luke Cage! The Superior Spider-Man! Spectrum! The White Tiger! Power Man! And a mysterious figure in an ill-fitting Spider-Man Halloween costume! These unlikely heroes must assemble when no one else can—against the unrelenting attack of Proxima Midnight!

I won’ speak to Greg Land’s art. Let’s ignore that at the moment because I know it’s a deal-breaker for a lot of people. The writing of the issue works. It practically sings. Power Man (the new one, not Luke Cage) is a character I want to read more of. His voice is fun and vibrant, and his interactions with Luke Cage make for enjoyable reading. The interplay between Cage and Spidock-terman is fun and lively. Of course, this is a tie-in to Infinity and spins out of that event. If you’re not reading Infinity, it doesn’t really matter because all you need to know is explained in a matter of pages. All you need to know is that the Avengers are off-world so Thanos wants to break Earth in twain while it is undefended. Luke Cage ain’t gonna let that happen. Oh, sweet Christmas, it ain’t gonna happen.

I don’t know who Alasdair David Ewing is. I haven’t read anything with his name on the cover. This is my introduction to his work. I have to say I’m impressed. The team is filled with characters I enjoy, and something has to be said about the diversity of the team with Luke Cage, White Tiger, Power Man, Spectrum and some new guy called Spider-Hero who is an enigma and a non-entity at the moment. This is the most diverse team I can think of at either of the major publishers, something that will likely get a lot of press given how the diversity in comics debate is starting to really become the major issue of the industry at the moment.

You know what, I’ve gotta say something about Greg Land. Yes, the art is dry and terrible. I’ve seen these same traced facial expressions more times than I can count. I’m just going to leave it at that. Everyone knows Greg Land refuses to advance himself as an artist. I would say stop buying his books but he seems to land (ha!) books that are worth buying, this one included. It’s a book with a diverse cast by a new writer who seems eager to prove himself and it’s likely Land won’t be on the title forever. Do yourself a favor and get the book and try to ignore how the art is trying its damndest to give you eye herpes.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 


The Dark Nostalgia Rises – Knightfall vol. I

Vol 1BATMAN : KNIGHTFALL VOL.1

Synopsis: In the first installment of this classic storyline, the Dark Knight’s greatest enemies have all simultaneously escaped from Arkham Asylum and are preying on Gotham City. With his city under siege, Batman pushes his body to the limit as he takes on The Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, The Riddler and the Scarecrow. But things get much worse when Bane, the man behind all the madness, confronts an exhausted Batman – and breaks his back.This massive first KNIGHTFALL volume collects BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-660, SHOWCASE ’93 #7 and 8 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #17-18, including chapters never previously reprinted.

With The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, DC Comics has decided to collect the entirety of the now-classic Knightfall storyline into three massive volumes. Never before has the entire story been collected in trade. The tale spanned multiple books and is one of the largest crossovers I can think of. I have all of these issues in their original magazine form stuffed in a longbox somewhere but haven’t revisited the series in quite some time. This collected edition makes that task much simpler by assembling all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. Previous collected editions have only contained the very core of the story, leaving out the ancillary pieces. By creating a multi-volume omnibus style collection of the story, it is much easier to get a real feel for one of the biggest cornerstones of the Batman mythos. I have to say that Bane’s introduction and the breaking of Bruce Wayne’s spine is one of the most important stories in Batman’s history. It’s definitely up there with the death of Jason Todd. As far as crossovers go, I would say it’s one of the better handled ones I can think of. I think the closest comparison would be something like the Death of Superman or Spider-Man’s The Other. I would argue that it is easily better than either of those.

The story begins with a special issue detailing the origins of Bane, from his birth and time spent in prison on Santa Prisca to his eventual escape and migration to Gotham. I feel like this is where the story makes its best effort to ensure that it is differentiated from something like The Death of Superman in that we get a true feeling for Bane as a character. His introduction strikes me as gloriously silver age in design despite being a character very much cut from the nineties cloth. There is a deliberate nature to his creation and his motives that seems very much like what you would have seen for a new character in the seventies. The only difference is that Bane was created with the storyline of taking Bruce Wayne out in mind and so arguments will be made that he came secondary to the story itself. It could have been anyone who pulled his scheme on the Batman. However, Bane is such an inventive character that you truly have to respect the effort that went into his creation. Imagine if Doomsday had this sort of development instead of having the personality of a rock. I think The Death of Superman would hold up much better. Bane was created to serve a purpose, but he was created in such a manner that after this storyline ran its course he could be used again and allowed to evolve. Doomsday never had that option. Nor did the villain in Spider-Man’s The Other storyline whose name I can’t remember, thereby proving my point. Bane made an impact. He wouldn’t be around now if he didn’t. He wouldn’t be the focal point of a new Batman film if he hadn’t made an impact. He’s been in two major motion picture adaptations of the Batman mythos. There are other high profile villains who don’t even have that honor.

Looking back at this particular volume it is easy to see that it does have some of the trappings that we hold against stories of its time. There is a definite 90’s feel to some of the story but there is a lingering feel of classic Batman style to it as well. Only when Azrael begins upgrading his Batman armor do we get a tinge of the ninetiess comics era that was dominated by the hard-edge pioneered by the folks at Image where violence and grit became the status quo. This story however, utilizing Tim Drake as the audience surrogate, seems to intimate that by going in that direction you lose what makes comic characters like Batman special. While some will call this story the epitome of what was wrong with comics in the nineties, its easy to see how, just as easily, it can be a crusade to uphold what has come before. I never truly recognized that until I gave it a read-through again this time around.

Anyhow, the book is a great deal even at the 29.99 cover price, but many retailers are selling it for almost half of that. You really could find worse things to spend your money on. DC has plenty of lesser offerings at the moment, if that’s what you’re going for. This thing does deserve the title of classic. I’m convinced of that now.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

It’s been a while since I’ve done any weekly comic reviews, but with day-and-date digital becoming more common it’s easier for me to do timely reviews for you folks. I hope to keep a regular schedule when I can, with new reviews available every Thursday. I would have kept to that schedule this week but I was involved in an auto accident and have been dealing with the fallout from that little debacle.

Anyhow, here’s some reviews!

BATGIRL # 1

Here’s one I was looking forward to. Gail Simone has hardly ever steered me wrong. Just about every book she’s written I’ve given golden reviews to because she knows how to balance character, plot, and wit with equal measure to the betterment of any book she’s placed on. She’s one of the biggest talents that DC has and it’s nice that she’s getting one of the most high-profile books of the relaunch to play with as her own.

The book begins with a mystery villain called “The Mirror” assaulting a man who he believes cheated death when he escaped a sinking boat where the rest of the souls aboard perished. He then proceeds to rectify this problem by drowning the man with a water hose. I don’t want to make any Final Destination jokes because I only vaguely remember watching the third one one night on Showtime when I couldn’t sleep and therefore don’t have a whole lot of reference but it does seem like a strikingly similar concept and I would be a bit disappointed in its inclusion if it didn’t tie in well with the idea of the overall plot, being that Barbara Gordon is on the list of people who should have died; an obvious first reference to The Killing Joke that will probably drive a lot of the drama as the series unfolds.

We then are treated to Batgirl doing her thing and taking down a particularly vicious group of serial murderers all the while getting glimpses of Barbara’s mindset in the process. The internal monologue here gives us a good idea of who this Batgirl is in the scheme of the new DCU. I have to admit that a lot of Barbara’s dialogue and internal thought process felt…off. Not particularly wrong but just a bit off base. I’m not going to lie, she has some lines that seemed more in tune with Frank Miller’s DKR Batman than what you would expect with Batgirl, but I’m thinking it may be more of Barbara trying to effect a different persona while on patrol than a struggle to find her voice on the part of Simone.

Compared to last week’s JLA # 1, this is a stellar intro issue. We don’t get many answers as to why Barbara is able to walk again or much in the way of true world building but we get the foundation laid for those things to emerge organically which I find to be far more important. The only problem I found with the book really was that a lot of the dialog felt a bit over-the-top in what seemed like an attempt to feel more like the silver-age comic book writing of the seventies. It felt jarring at some points, especially on the last page where a Gotham cop shouts some dialog that feels like it belongs on the cover of a sixties-era Detective Comics issue. But it’s not enough to dissuade me from finishing out the rest of the arc and perhaps staying on for the long haul.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

GREEN ARROW # 1

Oh boy…

Listen, I’m a fairly big Green Arrow fan. I’ve got a complete run of the title going back to Grell’s run in the eighties. I think he’s one of the best B-list under-the-radar characters that DC had for a while and I appreciated his push to the forefront of the DCU in recent years but lamented the fact that it diluted his character and made him somewhat less interesting as a consequence. I was happy to see him married to Black Canary but saddened by how mediocre that book was aside from some amazing art on the first arc by Cliff Chiang.

This book gives us a reinvention of Green Arrow that I don’t find particularly interesting. They’re touting him as sort of a vigilante Steve Jobs and they’ve given him a personality that falls more closely in line with the Smallville interpretation of the character. I can’t fault them for doing this as that is the version that most of the mainstream identifies with but at the same time for those of us who have been reading Green Arrow for over ten years it’s hard to swallow. It doesn’t feel like Oliver Queen. It may have worked with a new character, but for Green Arrow fans its a disappointment.

The story is nothing to write home about, Ollie is overseas in Paris stalking some low-grade super-villains and it seems mostly written as a way to introduce his methodology and support team which includes his own personal Oracle-who’s-not-Oracle and a pacifist weapons developer. Oliver’s belief system is still intact from previous versions of the character but his attitude has changed. I know that this is an all new continuity but there seems to be almost too much overhaul here. It would have been nice if there were more balance between the old and new on display but as it stands there’s not much to interest already established fans of the character and therein lies one of the problems of the relaunch. They’re hoping to bring in new readers but they’re only going to be replacing the old readers they’re alienating with the changes. I’m not going to be sticking around for this title, for example, despite the fact that I have been on-board for about as long as I’ve been collecting. That should say something.

Overall Rating: 2/5

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL # 1

I fully expected to hate this. I really did. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy this one quite a bit. Is it the “bwaha-ha-ha” style of the original? No, it’s something different. The dynamic here works, though. Also, unlike JLA#1 we get the whole team assembled within the first issue AND thrown into their first mission. It’s not very decompressed the way that some other books have been. It’s got a brisk pace and a lot is established in the very first issue.

Booster Gold leads the team, chosen because he’s a glory hound who can be easily controlled by the UN so that his PR image doesn’t get tarnished, and this immediately sets up some conflict with resident Green Lantern Guy Gardner. In a few panels we get to know everyone’s feelings on each other. It’s a nice quick buildup and helps establish characters that most people might not be familiar with in a short little exchange of dialog. It works. I will admit that there’s not much in the way of explaining the backstories of a lot of these characters. I am willing to bet new readers will be confused as to exactly who Godiva is and what the hell she’s doing on the team, but this is a serialized medium and I’m sure things will be fleshed out as the series progresses.

This one could easily be one of my favorites of the relaunch because it isn’t written in a way that makes it feel decompressed or empty. There is a lot to like in this book. If you want bang for your buck, this is one of the titles I suggest you pick up. Really. Plus it has Batman and you know you need more Batman.

Overall Rating: 4/5

DETECTIVE COMICS # 1

I was hesitant to read this one. Tony Daniel is not high on my list of most-admired Bat-writers. His recent run on Batman was pretty much horrible. I almost dropped it entirely until I realized I’m pathetic and need a complete unbroken run in my boxes because I’m a nerd like that. So it was with reluctance that I picked this one up. Though I did it entirely for review purposes. Because I love you guys.

It’s not a bad book.

There, I said it.

Of course it’s a Joker story, because you have to come out of the box hot and capitalize on what people are expecting and the new DCU needs to establish the Joker as much as it does Batman early on or people will think things are amiss. It’s the sort of well-established formula Joker story we’ve seen before but at the same time it feels well put together and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen in a while. It’s sort of like a forced in-continuity version of Brubaker’s Man Who Laughs with more focus on Batman’s drive to be a good enough detective to anticipate what the Joker can and will do.

We also establish Batman’s relationship with the police. That is to say, he and Gordon are buddies and everyone else wants to shoot him repeatedly. It’s a classic dynamic that I think most Bat-fans will appreciate because it’s what they’re used to and at the same time it feels like an organic part of the idea of Batman. That he works in the shadows and people are immediately distrustful of him. It adds something to the character when he’s working alone and under the radar. How this jibes with there being so many other members of the Batfamily operating at the same time is yet to be seen but at the moment it seems to work just fine.

It’s not the best Batman story ever, but it’s a strong enough effort coming out of the gate that I have to tip my hat to Tony Daniel for upping his game. He really did a good job with this one, which is not something that’s easy to do when so much is riding on a single issue. So, kudos.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

ACTION COMICS # 1

This is the big one. The one that I was anticipating above all others. Grant Morrison back on a Superman book. I was anticipating All Star levels of amazing. I was hoping that finally Superman would be getting the sort of widespread attention he deserved and not for shitty PR stunts like rejecting American citizenship or walking across America like a hobo. I was hoping for a total reinvention of the Superman mythos in a single issue and a literary orgasm.

Was it all that? Not really, but it was still one of the best books to come out of this relaunch. This new young Superman, fresh into the world and looking to make a difference, isn’t what you would expect out of Superman. There’s more edge and attitude to him than you would expect. The way he intimidates criminals, which is something he’s always done but albeit more playfully, makes him seem as if he’s working from Batman’s playbook and so when he transitions back into Clark Kent the shift is so much more immediate and dynamic. It’s a change that I agree with, although seeing as this is sort of a “year one” story for the character I don’t think it will stay forever, it’s too much of a change to be entirely permanent.

We also learn that he’s still friends with Jimmy Olsen but in a shocking turn of events he’s working for a rival newspaper and Lois Lane doesn’t like the idea of Mr. Kent beating her on a scoop. Lois only appears for a few panels here but she’s still the same spunky independent woman that she’s always been and I hope that in coming issues we’ll get more of her because Morrison truly does write her well, even in short snippets.

My favorite element of the issue however was Morrison’s Lex Luthor, seen here working in conjecture with the government to bring down Superman. He’s relaxed and sure of himself with no sign of bluster or bombast. This is the same Lex Luthor that we saw in All Star. The sort of man who would be bemused at the idea of finding himself on death row. A man with a plan. He executes a Goldberg machine style plan to bring down Superman that ends in an amazing final page cliffhanger and I simply cannot wait for the next issue.

Seriously. Buy this book. Or I will hurt you.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

***********************************************

And there you have it. Next week should see more reviews for your reading pleasure. See you then.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I feel like these won’t be up to snuff. I’ve been off my game for the last few days, more focused on my novel than the content of the site, sad to say. I know it’s horribly short-sighted of me considering that the novel is in no way a sure thing whereas this site seems to have a dedicated audience if our recent web-numbers mean anything at all. (Hint, they don’t)

So here we go.

ARRIVALS 6-23-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #635 GRIM 3.99
AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #3 (OF 6) 3.99
COVER RUN THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES HC 39.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #866 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #580 HA 2.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #18 2.99
GREEN ARROW #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
HERALDS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
HULK #23 WWHS 4.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #3 2.99
JURASSIC PARK REDEMPTION #1 3.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #4 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #13 2.99
SEA BEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK #1 4.99
SUPERGIRL #53 2.99
SUPERMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THUNDERBOLTS #145 HA 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #4 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #14 3.99
X-FACTOR #206 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #237 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #2 2.99


GREEN ARROW # 1

I was so wary when I bought this title. I got the distinct feeling that it was going to be just downright abysmal. It had every indicator that it would be. In the wake of what’s going down with Arsenal, which may be the absolute worst storyline/title that DC has published in years, I expected to be equally disappointed in the new Green Arrow title. Despite the fact that I have every issue of Green Arrow from the moment Mike Grell took over the character to the end of the last series, I was seriously considering skipping it this time around because I didn’t have much faith that I would get my money’s worth.

The first issue was largely an exercise in getting people caught up, with Green Arrow telling a would-be victim everything the reader needs to know in order to jump aboard. It feels a little bit like a drag considering that I have been following Green Arrow for a while, but I suppose DC figured this new direction would hook a couple of new readers and they’d need the recap. Still, it could have been done a lot better without seeming like we were being led by the nose.

The new villain who takes control of Ollie’s old company is actually a pretty cool looking figure, she has a graceful mystery to her presence that makes her seem like less of a throwaway villain than other new arrivals, and thank god she’s not another archer (that we know of) because that’s just getting old.

The teaser reel at the end of the book that shows us where the book is headed helps to keep me interested, because it promises a few interesting possibilities. I’m not likely to drop the book as I’m a completist when it comes to Ollie, but I won’t regret my decision to stick around if things stay mostly as they are here.


JURASSIC PARK # 1

Man, this thing is a mess. The story is bland and overly familiar, and the art looks like amateur hour. Nostalgia aside, there is no reason for this book to exist because there is nothing to salvage it when it comes to quality. I imagine some people who are really die hard fans of the franchise will stick around to see its completion, but I would have to be handed this book for free the next go-around to read issue two. I really wish I could say more about the book, but it was so mediocre that while reading it, nothing sunk in except how much I disliked it. I even like the second and third films, so it’s not like I’m holding it to any high standard. It’s just not a very good book, and it really could have been. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. It’s just a mess of an issue that turned me off nearly immediately.


POWER GIRL # 13

Everyone here is probably well acquainted with my eternal love for Power Girl. I think she’s an underrated character who gets shoehorned into a stereotype because of the size of her bazongas. Everyone knows the story where she was supposedly drawn with bigger knockers every month back when she first debuted just to see how far they could go with it before someone noticed.

The thing is, as Jimmy Palmiotti (friend of the site, natch), Justin Gray and Amanda Conner can attest, you can squeeze some great stories out of her if you’re willing to think outside of the box and go places that aren’t readily visited by the majority of the characters in the mainstream. Power Girl operated for twelve months as the most legitimately fun book on the stands with some of the best expressive artwork this side of Kevin Maguire. It was earnest and endearing and I never wanted it to end.

Unfortunately it had to.

Now Judd Winick has taken over the writing duties while new artist Sami Basri has the unenviable task of following Amanda Conner. How do they do? I would put their efforts at “admirable.” Judd Winick does a good job of handling the tone set down by the previous team, but has to work in the events of Generation Lost, so things take a turn toward the more standard superhero fare. It feels kind of like a mash-up of the previous issues of Power Girl with a hint of Sterling Gates’ Supergirl work during the big crossover.

I think that Winick would have done better if he’d kept Generation Lost separate from the Power Girl ongoing, just as the previous team kept Power Girl separate from her interactions with the JSA. I understand the reasoning behind the move, but from a storytelling standpoint it feels like it’s trying too hard to fit into an overall continuity and not concerned with growing organically.

As far as the art is concerned, Basri does a good job but there are instances where it seems like there are three different renditions of Power Girl throughout the book where she doesn’t look like the same person. I think when the artist gets a better grasp of the character, those little nitpicks will slip away.

I just hope that Winick can manage writing the book without fretting over making the character “integral” to the overall scheme of the DCU, because crossovers kill interesting titles. It becomes less about the character and more about the universe and frankly I don’t want that to happen here.


SEA BEAR AND GRIZZLY SHARK

Uh, yeah. I don’t know what to think about this one. Well, I know what I think about it. I just don’t know what to think about my liking it. There is no setup, it’s just a dive-in and go with the flow sort of book. Like it’s an issue of a series that already has four issues on the rack and this is just the next one in the series. There is no rational explaination or origin given for these characters, and nothing makes any real sense but the artwork is genuinely amazing and I don’t think I’ve cough-laughed the way I did with this book in a long time. I mean, a lot of this book caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to think. I can’t really recommend it for general audiences but if you’re looking for dumb violent “WTF” style stuff, this is definitely worth a look.



SUPERMAN # 700

There has been a lot said about Stracynski’s arrival to the Superman title. Everyone by now knows the premise that Superman will be walking across America trying to reconnect with the people he’s supposed to protect. What I’m wondering is if this little pseudo-art vanity project will end up like Brian Azzarello’s run from a few years back that everyone dismisses as pretentious garbage. I suppose it would be worse if it were happening in Action comics, because I don’t know how much Action you can get out of a brisk jog, but considering that it’s been a while since Superman even appeared in his own book, I don’t know if Superman going through a pseudo Kung Fu “walk the earth” trek is really what we need right now.

I think that the War of the Supermen story was really well done and it had the sort of epic edge-of-your-seat stakes that I require from a Superman story. I doubt I’m going to get that in Stracynski’s run. I don’t doubt that it will be well written, because when he’s not hamstrung by editorial mandate, JMS can crank out some good stories. He knows how to write characters to thei strength and I don’t doubt that we’ll get some interesting moments out of this story arc. What I’m afraid of is when it fails to generate interest and gets cut short because editorial wants to see a bump in numbers but modern comic readers don’t have the patience for a slow burn anymore.

All I’m saying is  that it’s off to a decent start, and it has a good chance to be something really great, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t seem like it’s not going to end well. No matter what happens.

*******************************************************************

So there you go. Next week I’ll try to have these up in a more timely fashion. But, I’ve said that before and you get where I’m going with this.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

It was a hectic week at the shop. UPS lost one of the shipment boxes, and it happened to be the one that contained the packing list in it. Not gonna lie, UPS is about as competent as a brain-damaged snail when it comes to the handling and delivery of packages. When that’s your entire purpose for existing and your that bad at it, perhaps you don’t deserve to be in business. Just saying. Actually, I’m not really saying anything as much as I’m venting. There’s a subtle difference and most of it has to do with the tone of voice I hear inside my head while I type this, which is probably not conveyed very well as text over the internet.

ARRIVALS 5-26-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #632 2.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #2 OF(6) 3.99
CHOKER #3 (OF 6) (MR) 3.99
DAZZLER #1 3.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #11 (OF 13) 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #865 3.99
EARP SAINTS FOR SINNERS #0 1
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #3 (OF 3) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #579 HA 2.99
FORTUNE & GLORY A TRUE HOLLYWOOD COMIC BOOK GN HC 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #12 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #54 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #12 2.99
PREVIEWS #261 JUNE 2010 (NET) 2.7
SECRET AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
THOR #610 SIEGE EPILOGUE 2.99
THUNDERBOLTS #144 HA 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #13 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #44 2.99
X-FORCE #27 XSC 2.99
X-MEN ORIGINS EMMA FROST #1 (MR) 3.99

And because I have access to the internet, now come my opinions:

DAZZLER # 1

I freaking love Dazzler. If ever there was a character who deserved more respect, it’d be her. She pre-dates Jubilee and has enough of a sob-story background to appeal to the angst-happy comic reader of the modern generation. It would be a dream come true for me to write a team book led by Dazzler and Boom-Boom that goes off and fixes all the problems that the A-Listers can’t because they’re too busy dealing with a crossover or something.

The issue picks up on the threads left in the Necrosha crossover following Dazzler’s run-in with her sister, a mutant who can kill with a single touch. She and Rogue should have a pow-wow. Anywho, Dazzler’s feeling all misdirected and shaken up after the events of Necrosha and then has to deal with Arcade kidnapping her and dropping her into Murderworld, which honestly needs a new name as I’m not sure anyone has ever been killed in Murderworld. It sounds all ominous and scary but Arcade is probably the least successful X-Villain with the best ideas for marketing.

Here’s the sad thing about this issue; it’s really good. But not a whole lot of people are going to pick it up because Dazzler has essentially been reduced to a one-note joke and nobody realizes the potential there is for good stories with her in the lead. I’d rather read a story with Dazzler than Cyclops, honestly. But then again, that’s just me I guess.

EARP : SAINTS FOR SINNERS # 0

I love proto-futuristic, psuedo-apocalyptic stories. The environment presented in those types of books usually do it for me. They just suck me in and I don’t want to leave. Earp has the added bonus of transplanting famous historical gunslingers from the past of the American west and dropping them into the future. Is there any reason why they couldn’t have told this same story with new and original characters? From what is presented in the pages of this zero issue, the answer is pretty much a solid no. There’s not any real impedus given for the characters relation to historical figures, it just works with the story they’re trying to tell.

Radical publishing is hit and miss with me. I love Last Days of American Crime but I never quite got on board for FVZD or Hercules. This book seems to fall within my sensibilities. I think that’s why I added it to my pull sheet when I saw the ad for it in Previews. It takes a lot to get me to jump onboard a series nowadays, so it’s high praise when I say that something will keep me around for the next issue, which is the case here with Earp.

POWER GIRL # 12

This issue was darn near perfect. It was a great send off issue for the creative team that has kept me onboard for the last year and made me punch a wall when I heard they were leaving. This issue we get all the major players from the series coming back and tying up the loose ends so that anybody who doesn’t want to stick around can feel like they had closure. I’m still not sure if I’ll be sticking with the book when Winick comes on. I feel like I have to because I don’t want DC to think that the demand for Power Girl isn’t there.

But seriously, if you can find the issues still on shelves, pick them up. Or barring that, be sure to pick up the trades. Because this run was seriously some of the best anything that DC put out in the last year. For sure.

SECRET AVENGERS # 1

Ed Brubaker. That guy is something. I feel like if GI Joe had never left the Marvel umbrella all those years ago, this would resemble his take on that particular property. Brubaker knows how to utilize characters to their fullest extent, and here he meticulously points out how every member of the new covert ops Avengers team fits into the mold and makes sense in their appearance in the book.

I also get the feeling that he’s gearing up to write something that has the same scope and over-arching intricacy of his Captain America or Iron Fist runs. It’s easy to see that he’s hitting the ground running a little faster than Bendis is over in the flagship title, where by the end of the first issue we’ve already seen the team operating on multiple levels and we have an idea of what kind of foe they’ll be up against.

I won’t argue which of the two writers is better, as they’re working in two entirely different arenas, that having been said I do believe that Secret Avengers sucked me in a little better than Bendis’ mainline book, simply because of who they have on the team and the manner in which they were utilized. With Nova’s book off the market, this seems to be where I’m going to get my fix and I like the way Brubaker handled him in the overall context of the group.

This is going to be a series to keep your eyes on.

X-MEN ORIGINS : EMMA FROST # 1

I almost didn’t pick this up. I’m not going to lie. I’ve mostly ignored the other installments in this little expirement, but I like Emma Frost as a character. I think that she has the most potential for interesting stories out of any of the high tier X-people on the roster right now, with the possible exception of Rogue, who has been proving her value in X-Men Legacy for the last few years.

Having read the issue, I would like to say that with all the books that came out this week, only two inspired real gutteral emotional responses from me. One was War of the Supermen, where (***SPOILER***)Krypto took a kryptonite knife to the spleen to protect his master (***END SPOILER***) and the other was this issue, where Emma’s struggle to deal with her father twisted my stomach into a pretzel. I think that we all have a sort of undying need to please our parents, but the extremes presented here with Emma’s dad exemplify the sort of worst-case-scenario that every child fears. Emma’s father is presented as the physical embodiment of the no-win scenario, and the manner in which she deals with his abuse, and let’s face it, whether his intentions were pure or otherwise, such treatment of any child is abuse, forms Emma into the character she is today.

Most of the best X-Men stories revolve around family. The X-teams are essentially the family that most of the members never had. This issue ties into that by showing how important family is to the development of certain characters. Emma has a family in the beginning that offers no solace and she drifts from the Hellfire Club to the X-Men later in life, all in the search of the acceptance her father never gave her. Such a story could have come off as overwrought or melodramatic, but this particular issue handles the situation well and seems organic to what we know about Emma overall, which is the true test of validity for a story like this.

*******************************************************

I’m done for now. Have to get some rest before the weekend, as it looks like it’ll be a long and tiring road ahead of me. Cheers.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I learned something this week. Comic books are not an easy habit to downgrade. While last week I remarked that due to my financial situation, comic books would have to be scaled back for a little while alongside other things like blu-ray movies and steak dinners in order to help me build up a little extra cash in the bank, this week I found out that I can’t seem to stop myself from throwing stuff on the pile. Let me just say that while I still am going to try to restrain myself, hard as it may be because there is so much good stuff out there that I really want to read, I’m not going to hamstring myself either. If you can’t enjoy your hobbies the way you want, they sorta cease to be hobbies in my opinion.

ARRIVALS 4-28-2010
ACTION COMICS #889 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #629 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 3.99
DEADPOOL #22 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #864 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #4 (OF 4) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #578 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #11 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #32 A CVR SEELEY (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 HA 3.99
JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 29.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #38 2.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #2 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV (MR) 4.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #36 SIEGE 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #64 SIEGE 3.99
PREVIEWS #260 MAY 2010 (NET) 2.7
PUNISHER #16 2.99
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE GN (MR) 6.99
SHUDDERTOWN #2 (MR) 3.5
SUPERMAN #699 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #3 (OF 3) 3.99
THOR #609 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #6 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #1 3.99
X-FORCE #26 XSC 2.99

And now, your weekly biased opinions.

The Deadpool Went Down To Georgia
DEADPOOL # 22

I love a good one-off Deadpool story in which all kinds of ludicrous wackiness ensues. When you try to go epic with this particular character you can either get some amazing results like the Cable/cult stuff in Cable & Deadpool or you can get something like Deadpool Corps which doesn’t have quite the same *oomph*. This story has Deadpool being Deadpool somewhere in Georgia and wreaking vengea-justice against some corrupt backwoods hillbilly cops. It’s not high art in any way shape or form, but it feels like Deadpool, moreso than any universe-hopping counterpart he may have in another book.

In all fairness, this is the only Deadpool book on my list now. I cut off DPC and Team-Up because I wasn’t caring for them at all. They felt empty and bloated at the same time and didn’t give me anything that I was looking for in the character. Merc With A Mouth is still mostly excellent but it ends in three issues, so it might as well be gone already. I’m going to hold off on the upcoming Wade Wilson’s War mini-series, despite my immense love for Duane Sweircantspellhislastnameski because I’m pretty sure they’re gonna make an oversized hardcover for it that will look nice next to my Suicide Kings hardcover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of a bookshelf brimming with Marvel hardcovers.

My point is that the main Deadpool book is actually better than it gets credit for, and that I find it interesting that writers at Marvel, like the fanbase, have such wide and varying ideas of what a Deadpool book should be like, given that a few short years ago, Deadpool was one of the simplest characters to write. But exposure has forced multiple interpretations and I’m glad that I found the one that works for me. Maybe Deadpool Corps is the one that works for you. I can’t say. I barely made it through the first issue without vomiting in revulsion.

Bitches Leave!
Gotham City Sirens # 11

This issue featured maybe one of the most horrible and obvious plays on words that I’ve ever read in a comic book. I mean, it was too easy and it was telegraphed a mile away and I can’t believe that Paul Dini wrote it. The rest of the comic was pretty damned good. But I keep going back to that one cringe-worthy panel, which I would totally scan if my machine weren’t on the fritz. (Yeah, that’s why the panel of the week segment got cut, because I spend too much money on comics to afford a new scanner. I have no shame.)

The majority of this issue centers around Selina and Harley searching for a lost dog while Poison Ivy makes a first impression at her new job. I will say I was surprised by how that little section of this issue turned out. It looks like they’re not going with the secret identity idea for Poison Ivy as a long-term idea, which I was interested in seeing play out over the course of a few issues.

I think this is a good book. I really do. But this issue is a definate drop in quality from the last arc with Riddler. But then again, that could be on account of my epic Riddler-positive bias. I truly do love the Riddler, I think he’s underappreciated and misunderstood. Thankfully, Dini gets the Riddler better than just about anybody and I think he’s got plans for him down the road.

He Is IronMan
Invincible Iron Man # 25

The heroic age is here. Kind of odd that Siege still technically hasn’t ended and we’re already moving on to the aftermath. Better than holding up all the books while we wait but still a bit odd. This issue is just about everything you could want in an Iron Man comic. Matt Fraction might be God, I’ll have to ask his wife if their new baby was immaculately conceived in order to prove my hypothosis. (Congrats to the both of them on that, by the way)

One thing I think that is immediately noticeable about this book is the timing. A week before the new film drops and we get a comic featuring the return of Hammer Industries, the company founded by Justin Hammer, a prominently featured character in the new movie. Coincidence? I doubt it. Just as when this book launched in the wake of the first film with a story featuring Ezekiel Stane, Fraction has organically found a way to grab the interest of any new readers who might jump on board following the release of the new movie.

The tone of the book has reverted to the same sort that it had around it’s launch. Whereas the last arc was very hyper-real with a good chunk taking place in Tony’s mind, we’re now back to the corporate warfare and industrial terrorism actioner vibe that started in The Five Nightmares. It’s a tone that really works for Iron Man, and even with all the changes Stark is going through, he seems to fit into the puzzle with ease. This truly is some of the best Iron Man writing in ages.

Texas Comic Book Massacre
Random Acts of Violence

Here’s one of the books that proves my point about the inevitability of my comic collecting nature. I didn’t know this book was coming out this week. I completely overlooked it. But when presented with it, I took one look at the cover, saw Palmiotti and Gray’s name on the credits and tossed it on the pile. If there ever were a dream-team of comic writers, those two are it. Right up there with Brubaker/Rucka as far as I’m concerned. I mean, have you read Jonah Hex? Power Girl? Those guys are amazing.

This book utilizes what they know about the comic book business and builds an effective meta-textual story that comments on the world of comics from the inside and out. From publishing to the fans that read the product, to the media that capitilizes on its burdgeoning popularity. At the same time they manage to make a statement about the current state of the horror genre, both in the world of film and in the graphic literature medium. It’s a mixed message that they put out, I’ll admit, but then again that mirrors the content that they’re deconstructing here. Honestly, the book feels very cinematic. It has a very clear first, second, and third act and is illustrated in such a way that I felt like I was reading an adaptation of a mini-series on HBO.

I’m not going to say that this is their best work, but it is an interesting read. My only real complaints stem from the fact that due to the nature of the book, which seems to be a deconstruction of the modern horror story, the plot turns seem telegraphed and predictible. A problem that seems to plague a great deal of horror movies/novels/comics nowadays. Aside from maybe The Walking Dead, I can’t recall being shocked by a horror title in a long time. Crossed came close, but Garth Ennis can’t stop himself from being Garth Ennis, so a good deal of that book felt predictable as well, sad to say.

However, in the case of Random Acts of Violence, I can say that for the price tag, you get your money’s worth and then some. It’s a very meaty book, it feels full and complete without the need for decompression or rushed…anything. It’s simply a well put together book with a few slight snags applied due to the nature of the beast.

PRIIIIIIME!
Transformers Ongoing # 6

Optimus Prime gets dropped out of a helicopter onto Swindle. Of course I fucking liked it.

******************************

See you next week….maybe. I’m taking a trip to Louisiana that weekend and I might space out between the middle of next week and the following Monday.


BATWOMAN Ongoing Moving Forward with J.H. Williams III

Batwoman

According to DC’s THE SOURCE the previously announced Batwoman series that would have been written by Greg Rucka before his exodus from the company, will be moving forward with Detective Comics artist J.H. Williams III taking on the writing duties as well as doing the art for the book. This gives me a lot of hope for a decent book as I have a feeling that Williams will probably be working off notes left on Rucka’s drawing board when he was still planning to write the series.

This is good news as it proves that DC has enough faith in the character that she can sustain a book without it being part of an established series and also that she’s a strong enough entity that one writer can leave the book and the fans will still remain on board. They’re playing it safe by keeping the Eiser award nominated artist on board, but this is a step in the right direction after rumblings that the series would be put on the shelf without Rucka to steer the boat.

All of this ties into my general attitude toward mainline comic companies and their seemingly strict inability to get new characters to stick around in any real capacity of their own, instead giving up on them and relegating them to team books that have only a marginally higher readership than the new hero’s cancelled title (Blue Beetle anybody?). I figure with Batwoman, the hype she got even before she showed up as well as the fact that she has bat-family ties, makes her sort of bulletproof in the eyes of editorial, and so she’s safe by virtue of circumstance. I’ll take that victory in whatever way I can.


Greg Rucka Leaves Detective Comics – A Look At Creative Teams At DC

DONT GO! WE NEEEEEED YOOOOOU!!!!

I think it’s common knowledge around these parts how much I love the Batwoman driven Detective Comics title. And while a great deal of that love comes from my unabashed love of J.H. Williams III’s wonderful artwork, just as much of it comes from writer Greg Rucka, who has turned a character who could have been a throwaway token lesbian into someone fully developed by subtle characterization and organic growth.

Now the news has broken out of Wondercon that Greg Rucka will be leaving the title and focusing on work outside of the comic industry. I’m not going to rant and rave about how disappointed I am, because as an artist I understand that if doesn’t want to work within someone else’s system, under someone else’s mandate, and would rather let his mind work freely, he should be allowed to do so and commended for having the strength to do it. The main crux of this little article is meant to illuminate what I believe to be a major problem with the DC system, namely, the manner in which their writers are promoted as an entity.

Look at the way Marvel handles their writers. Names like Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Slott, etc. are treated like they’re members of some holy pantheon. They put their writers up on a pedestal in such a way that even if we have never heard their names before, the marketing forces us to sit with mouths agape in awe. One only need look at the way Quesada pushed the rotating teams of writers on the Amazing Spider-Man title as an example of how Marvel sells the writer just as much as they do the book itself.

And DC does the same thing, to a point. But my main problem with DC is that at this moment, with Rucka exiting, it’s easy to see that DC doesn’t promote their talent roster the same way that Marvel does. I will be the first to admit that DC has just as many good writers as Marvel, if not more. The difference is the way in which they tier them. DC has Morrison and Johns at the top, with Stracynski joining them after getting little fanfare during his little run on Brave and The Bold. But where is the hype for people like Matt Sturges, who is knocking it out of the park with JSA All Stars? Where’s the love for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray? People will claim that these names don’t sell books, but that’s my entire point. Marvel has an entire marketing machine built around making their writers, ALL their writers, seem like the cream of the crop. You don’t think people would be consistently buying JSA All Stars if DC ran to Wizard every month telling people how important the work he’s doing there will be at some point? If they splattered editorials all over the internet proclaiming him to be the next Geoff Johns? You bet your ass!

I’m afraid that DC is going to rely on the same “established” writers they’ve had on their books for the last several years, like Winnick and now Robinson, who has fallen so far from his wonderful work on Starman to the point that I can barely read any of his work. JT Krul has been getting a lot of high profile gigs but they’re doing nothing to inspire consumer confidence in him as a writer. The same goes for all the new blood that seems to be working their way into the system. In this regard, DC really needs to take a page out of Marvel’s handbook and start working some marketing mojo.

That is all.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Maybe I should just commit to doing these on Friday so they’ll technically be up on time. I doubt that’d work, as eventually I’d be moving to Saturday to force an adherance to the deadline and that would just be sad. So as it stands, these are a day late. So sue me, but don’t, because I’m broke.

ARRIVALS 03-31-2010
ADVENTURE COMICS #9 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #627 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #8 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #84 SIEGE 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #863 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #577 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #10 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #30  3.5
NEW MUTANTS #11 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #5 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #42 2.99
X-MEN SECOND COMING #1 XSC 3.99

As you can see, it was kind of a short week, so I’m going to focus my energy on a select few titles, hoping to really drive my point home if possible.

BN8
BLACKEST NIGHT # 8

Finally this mother-trucker comes to a conclusion. I haven’t been the biggest proponent of this title, as I think that trying to shoehorn it into the company wide crossover niche has destroyed any and all subtlety and nuance that could have been present were it done as a crossover event in the GL books the way Sinestro Corps War was done.

I’m sure those who have liked the book so far will go absolutely apeshit over this issue as well. I mean, it’s got everything that they expect out of the event in great quantity, so why wouldn’t they love it. For those of us who have been along for the ride wondering if the bizarre plot twists and deviations from established characterization would somehow make sense when the arc came to a close, unfortunately we get no such payoff.

I think that is my problem with this whole event. I know Geoff Johns can write the hell out of Green Lantern. The monthly title has consistently shown that from the very moment he relaunched it with that shiny # 1 a few years back. That much is not up for debate, he’ll be seen as the definitive Green Lantern writer of the last twenty-five years hands down, simply because he’s elevated the character to a place where he’s more of a flagship character than Superman, if you look at sales and interest.

The problem with Blackest Night is that it tries to use the elements that make Geoff Johns such a good writer but the end product is rushed and mangled due to the restraints of containing the bulk of the story to a single book. It’s the same problem that happened back with Infinite Crisis. If you read the collected edition of that book, nothing makes any sense because key bits are in other books. The same thing feels like it happened here. I feel like with a book like this, cohesion is key, and they could have either made GL and GLC official parts of the story, and allowed Geoff to weave the narrative across the mini-series as well as the two ongoings, thus giving the narrative some space to breathe and flow organically.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. With this issue, I feel like everything was abrupt and oddly presented, and aside from the “wow factor” that comes with some amazing spash page and a few resurrected heroes, the final issue, much like the rest of the series, seems to fall just a little bit flat.

X-Men Second Coming
X-MEN SECOND COMING # 1

Time for another x-event. It’s been a while since Messiah Complex, but a lot has happened since then and it feels like it’s all been leading to this. I have to say that I wish it would have gotten here sooner because so much of the X-books in the last few years has felt like repeated filler. Like they were treading water getting ready for this event. Does it measure up?

Not really.

I think my main problem with the book had to do with Finch’s art, which compared to his prior work on New Avengers and Moon Knight looks like it was just plain rushed. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks he made the art so shoddy as a middle finger to Marvel as he hopped on the bus over to DC, but I think most of it was honestly a stylistic choice, though one that I don’t agree with.

I’ve been reading the x-books up to this point and I still didn’t quite get parts of the book. I didn’t know who the hell the smiley faced mercenaries were, and the reveal at the end didn’t seem like much of a shocker having read the X-Force series.

Maybe it’s just off to a slow start, as I wasn’t impressed, but things need to pick up soon if this is going to measure up to Messiah Complex, as I straight up loved that crossover.

***

That’s it for this week. Next week should be a bigger week, and I’ll hopefully have the reviews up on an actual Thursday this time around. Until then…


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Did you miss me? I bet you did. How would you know what comics to buy if I didn’t tell you what was good or not? Surely you would be lost and you would have to find a new hobby. Like knitting. I’m sure you could do that on your own. Can you tell I’m completely rambling right now? Sorry. I went to a Dropkick Murphys concert last night and didn’t get any sleep afterward. Oh yeah, comics!

THE PULL LIST:

ADVENTURE COMICS #8 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623 2.99
BOYS #40 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 TWILIGHT PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHEW #9 (MR) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #19 2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #862 3.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #1 (OF 3) FOH 3.99
FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) 4.99
GREEN HORNET # 1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #4 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #1 (OF 5) 3.99
PUNISHER MAX BUTTERFLY #1 (MR) 4.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #11 3.99

And now, my humble opinions…

ASM 623
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 623

I’ll start off by saying that, yes, the art has taken a bit of a nosedive for this issue. The art isn’t horrible. It’s a bit muddy, but it’s not indecipherable and it clears up in scenes set in daylight. However, I believe that any art will look lackluster when following Michael Lark. Because, c’mon, it’s Lark.

The story however is right up my alley. We finally get a little background on this new Vulture and we get some throwback to JJJ’s involvement in crafting the original Scorpion. There’s a lot to love for Spider-Man purists here, while being modern enough to appeal to people who think that the old Lee/Ditko Spidey stories were too cheeseball.

One thing I would like to point out is that we once again get some acknowledgment of the daughter of Kraven’s existence. She’s been on the periphery for a while now but hasn’t been directly involved in the proceedings, it looks like we’re finally getting to the crux of the story, and I’m anxious to see how things play out.

Boys 40BOYS # 40

First of all, how weird is it that this book has reached issue forty? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for that long. And yet, it’s been on shelves for over three years, and chugging along like a juggernaut each and every month.

This issue sees the fallout from the last issue, which I reviewed HERE starting to shape up. It plays with the common storytelling trope where the reader knows everything but the parties involved know only pieces of the puzzle, thus creating a sizeable bit of tension and drama. Here, Butcher has drawn his own conclusions upon finding out about Hughie’s relationship with a known supe. Hughie is unaware of Butcher’s knowlege and we start to see a bit of a breakdown within the group. As readers we’ve come to really like Hughie and hate to see him put in such a position, and we hope that nothing bad happens as a result of Butcher’s rash and brash nature, but this being a Garth Ennis book, we have a sinking feeling in our gut that something REALLY bad is going to happen soon, and so we are forced to keep reading with mindless zeal.

First Wave # 1FIRST WAVE # 1

Batman does not appear in this book. Unless he was stealthily hiding in the shadows or something. I just feel like I should point out that this intro issue is definately a showcase for Doc Savage and the Question, providing the new readers with an insight into the diversity of their crime-fighting styles. Throwing Batman in there might have muddied the waters, I suppose. Still, I’m never going to say that something should have less Batman. I mean, wouldn’t Avatar have been even more awesome if there were some Batman in it? I just imagined There Will Be Blood with a Batman cameo. That would rock.

As far as the issue goes, they do a good job of setting up the story. It’s full of classic noiry intrigue. The kind that Brian Azzarello does so well. And the art by Rags Morales is quite effective. Remember that book called Identity Crisis (aka Mindwipe & Rape : A Musical Revue)? That was a detective story at its core, albeit a shoddy one. But the art was very well done. Morales knows how to capture the tone of a pulp/noir/detective environment and here it most definately shows.

But the next issue better have some Batman or I’m gonna start wrecking shit.

Girl Comics # 1GIRL COMICS # 1

In the same comic we get a cute little comic about Venus trying to prove her worth to the male gods of the pantheon by working at a fashion magazine and a story where the Punisher goes all Chris Hanson to the nth degree on a pedophile at an amusement park.

Kind of a striking dichotomy no?

Green HornetGREEN HORNET # 1

Everything about this felt…wrong. It was too modern and too keen on being hip to feel like The Green Hornet. The voices of the characters seemed off. I know that characters are open to different interpretations and that no one embodiment can be considered definate because it could always be replaced down the line. I mean, c’mon, look at Batman. But in this instance it just seems like it doesn’t fit anything previously established with the character. Like, if Superman started saying “Yo, man. Stop the crime, dude.”

I spent an entire review praising Kevin Smith’s work on Cop Out, but I cannot do the same here. It just doesn’t feel right. It just didn’t click with me. I hope it clicked with someone because Dynamite put out EIGHTEEN variant covers for this issue, and that’s a lot of effort gone to waste if everyone felt like I did about this particular issue.

Invincible Iron Man # 24INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 24

The ending of the Tony Stark : Dissassembled arc hits home with a fairly anti-climactic final issue. I think that attempting to balance a fight with Ghost against the cerebral surrealism inside Tony Stark’s head led to a contrast of intent and could only really be resolved in a manner that felt overly simple in the end.

What the book has going for it however, is the last few pages which really drive home how much has changed for Tony Stark. During Civil War someone commented that they wished Tony Stark from years back could see his actions during that crisis, and here we sorta get that but with none of the satisfaction. It’s more of a shallow pity and it does a great deal toward redeeming Stark as a character. Which needs to happen considering he’s just as recognizable as Spider-Man in the public eye now.

Prelude # 1PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 1

The issue begins with a panel of Lady Deadpool seen from behind where her leg tapers off into something that looks like a suction cup. It’s supposed to be her foot.

Did I just start this review with the statement that Rob Liefield can’t draw feet? A fact that is pretty much abject fact at this point? Yes I did. And do you know why? Because it doesn’t get any better from there. The book is one long rambling fight sequence, then Deadpool shows up and drafts Lady DP into some mission and the issue ends.

There is NO substance here. And for a character where razor-sharp wit is the defining characteristic, this issue is filled with some of the dullest humor and sloppiest attempt at witty writing this side of a Dane Cook special.

My fears have been realized. Deadpool is no longer infallible in my eyes. Excuse me while I weep.

Punisher Max - ButterflyPUNISHER MAX : BUTTERFLY # 1

I think this book simply proves my point that the Punisher is only as interesting as the people he kills. Garth Ennis knew this. Jason Aaron knows this. And Valerie D’Orazio knows this.

If you don’t know Valerie’s story, and believe me it is a long surreal tale unlike any you’re likely to hear in the world of comics again, you might want to take the time to give her pseudo-memoir/blog “Goodbye to Comics” a look-see. It’s not a short read by any means, but it is something that begs to be read. For a quicker bio, you can click HERE.

There are two ways to read the book. You can read it knowing Valerie’s story or going in blind. If you’ve read Goodbye to Comics you can get an inkling of how cathartic writing this book must have been for her. There are themes that are definitely derived from her experiences in the publishing world and it helps to make the book feel genuine. If you know nothing about the writer, you’ll either bitch that there’s not enough Punisher in the book or you’ll comment on how the best Punisher stories of the last few years seem to use the actual character of Frank Castle sparingly. Like the shark in JAWS.

UCNU#1ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES # 1

Jeph Loeb didn’t make me want to kill myself while I read his latest offering to the Ultimate universe. You may remember how I called Ultimatum one of the worst books of 2009. I stand by that. UCNU (because typing out that long ass title every time would make me want to kill myself) is about as middle of the road as you can get. It is not excellent nor is it bad. It simply is. I like where Loeb hs put Tony Stark. I like that we got to see Frank Cho draw Hela undressing herself seductively in an attempt to get Thor to “raise his hammer.” I like that nobody was eaten alive.

It’s like when Homer Simpson invented the Flaming Homer; “It passed the first test…I didn’t go blind.”

Weapon X # 11WOLVERINE WEAPON X # 11

Wolverine celebrates the resurrection of Steve Rogers by having Nightcrawler fly them around the world to different bars where they get drunk and form a nice little bromance. Also there are multiple Deathloks going all Terminator on the progenetors of the next generation of heroes.

Yeah. I dug it.

****************
Once again, I’m sorry for the lack of DC material but there were only three books on my pull from that particular company this week and the only one that would make a good review is the one I’m not caught up to in my reading.  Hopefully next week I’ll do good by DC again, so as not to incurr the wrath of Dan DiDio.

Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.

The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
ARCHIE #605
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99

And here come the reviews:

AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32

Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.

BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.

The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.

It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E

DETECTIVE COMICS # 861

Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.

While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.

RED HULK # 1

A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41

I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.

Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.

ROBOCOP # 1

I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.

ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1

I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.

WONDER WOMAN # 40

Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.

***

And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?