Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

Hard to believe we are already halfway thru August. The dog days are definitely upon us as my real world job is busy, regular life has been busy and this week I felt compelled to do a few extra reviews. Of course we missed having Gwen and Thomm this week also as both were out of pocket this week.


Blackest Night #2 (of 8) - Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert with Julio Ferreira, Colors Alex Sinclair. This is why I still read and love super hero comics. Super heroes are the American mythology or at least as close as we will get to sitting around the campfire and explaining where the thunder and lighting are coming from. All too often we as fans await these events and hope against hope that this one, this time, it will be the one to deliver. Well we are only at issue #2, but wow did this freaking book deliver. Johns and Reis are two for two with both a great story and breath taking art. I can even live with just 24 new pages of story and art for $4. The Green Lantern book leading up to this and the Flash Rebirth series have been solid and entertaining, but they have not been knock your socks off type of work, I think Geoff was just anxious to get to this story. It starts small (pun intended) as the Atom (Ray Palmer) is calling Carter Hall and pouring his heart out to him how he still misses Jean Loring regardless of what she did. The newly dead and Black Lantern Hawkman is shown speaking into the phone inviting Ray over. We switch to Gotham City and not only do we get a great scene of Hal being knocked into the Bat signal we get Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, Barry Allen and the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter. See my full review here.

Adventure Comics #1 - Superboy Story: Writer Geoff Johns, Art Francis Manapul, Colors Brian Buccellato. Legion Story: Writer Geoff Johns, Art Clayton Henry, Colors Brian Reber. Every book does not have to grab you by the throat and make you stand up and follow along, sometimes a quite start can be just as good and that is what this book has done. Geoff has made me look forward to reading about Connor Kent and I for one was never a huge fan of this character. His genesis being one of the replacement Supermen after Superman was killed by Doomsday always had this character as a cocky poor man imitation of Superman. Over the years he has evolved and now after his own recent death and resurrection he is back as a more mature character with basically all the powers of Superman and tactile telekinesis thrown in. His costume is a black t-shirt with the Superman insignia and a pair of jeans. It fits the understated and unassuming nature of this character. He is almost a relaxed super hero and we are meeting up with him as he tries to put his life together. As he is a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor he is trying to learn about whom he is and he is following the example of Superman. He has a list of what Superman did as he was growing up and he is trying to emulate that list as he puts his life back together. In this issue we see he is living with Ma Kent and Krypto in Smallville, has signed up to go back to high school, reconnected with the Teen Titans, and saved a young girl from drowning. At the same time we meet a young man from Smallville who will apparently be both a friend and foe for Connor. See my full review here.

Existence 2.0 #2 (of 3) – Writer Nick Spencer, Art Ron Salas, Colors Frank Bravo. I have to say that these guys are two for two with this story. The first issue is all about how our not so good guy scientist switching his mind with a cold blooded assassin and he tries to figure out who killed him. This issue we met the sister of the assassin who we know think is being controlled by the scientist mind, except the sister tells Marko (the assassin) that he is a paranoid schizophrenic who without his meds often believes he is someone else. What a great twist for a three part series. Part one gives us one idea of what is going on and part two gives us another and more logic scenario of what is going on. This of course leaves part three to give us the resolution. Wonderful mind blowing stuff and at the same time some over the top action and the plot is continually being moved forward. The only part that felt off was the wife of Sylvester (the scientist) sleeping with Marko, theoretically because she believe he is Sylvester, while their daughter has been kidnapped. I mean that would be pretty damn cold for anyone and she was portrayed as a decent person. All in all an incredible writing job with great turns and twist and well done art that has a beautiful noir feel that works very well with this story.

Ultimate Avengers #1 - Writer Mark Millar, Pencils Carlos Pacheco, Inks Danny Miki, Colors Justin Ponsor. Have to love the ambition with the numbering, so I guess issue #100 will be a definite this time as opposed to three mini-series. What I liked about the book was the fast paced nature of it. The fact that I had not read Ultimatum appears to have had no impact for this story. Based on what I heard the extent of the damage being so well repaired after only three weeks seems a little absurd, but again since I did not read that series I blew by that bit. Also I thought Nick Fury had switched universes, but what the heck Samuel L. Jackson is back, I mean Nick Fury is back. We find out that Hawkeye is putting together a black ops to team to go after Captain America and Nick Fury is one of his recruits. Cap has found out about the Red Skull. We then cut back to Hawkeye and Captain America fighting AIM members who have robbed the Baxter Building. We get some great action scenes with Cap flying out of a window on a motorcycle and jumping into the copter. Cap and Hawkeye and taking out the bad guys left and right. Now during all these scenes I still find it hard to reconcile that this Captain America has such a casual disregard for lives as he knocks out bad guys and throws them out of the helicopter. He flies out of a window on a motorcycle and lets it crash what must be 10 to 20 stories below, hope no one was down there. See my full review here.

The Marvels Project #1 (of 8) - Writer Ed Brubaker, Artist Steve Epting, Colors Dave Stewart. Since Marvel has had the preview pages of this book floating around for awhile the introductory pages were by now well worn territory, but it still set the stage nicely. We open with the Two Gun Kid, now an old man, dying in a hospital and being attended by a Dr Thomas Halloway. The old man regales the young doctor with his memories of the world to come and the strange heroes that will populate it as the Two Gun Kid had lived in the future for awhile. Halloway thinks it is a strange form of dementia but is fascinated by the stories and even takes notes. The old man dies and bequeaths his six shooters to Halloway, saying from one hero to another. The year is 1939 and the start of the super human era is about to begin. I was not exactly sure who Halloway would become, but a quick internet search lets me know he is The Angel, an old golden age non-powered costumed hero. The rest of the comic is almost being told like a history book, which is what this is all about as it is the highlight of Marvel’s 70th Anniversary celebration. Brubaker does a great job giving us so many familiar scenes. For those of us familiar with the history of Marvel/Timely comics, Ed make it still feel like it is fresh. He is interweaving all the pieces into a tapestry and is tying things together that had never been tied together before, but as you read it, it does not feel like a classic retro-con, it feels like this was the “true” story. See my full review here.


Final Crisis Aftermath Escape #4 (of 6) – It takes a lot for me to drop a mini-series with only two issue to go, but this thing is unreadable. Maybe it will make sense by issue #6, but someone will have to tell me what happened. I know Tom Tresser is supposed to be confused and with have his point of view, but you have to yet the reader in a little by this point or at least have some semblance of a story. Cancelled.

Titans #16 – Cancelled. This book has gone nowhere for 16 issues and I have no real reason why I hung on for so long. I guess my fondness for the group from years gone by, but this book is just a waste of paper and has no direction. This was a spotlight on Starfire and she is upset over recent events. At the end she is saying to herself “Why are you here?” I guess she is referring to Earth, but I started asking “Why am I buying this comic?” I also could not answer my question, just like Kory. so I cancelled the book.

Uncanny X-Men #514 – This book is getting worse. Terry Dodson is a great artist and there is a French comic he did I would love to see redone in English, but here his work looks sloppy and just poor work. The story has fallen apart and the cohesion is not there. I’m not sure who is doing what and I may skip the last two chapters of Utopia. I’m certainly glad I have dropped this book other then the Utopia story line.

Quick Hits

Batman #689 - Why I’m not a huge fan of Judd Winick all the time and this book is the weaker of the Bat books, what this story does show is that even a typical bat story, which this feels like, becomes something different since Dick Grayson is under the mask. If this had been Bruce Wayne the story would not been nearly as enjoyable as it is with Dick Grayson as Batman. Mark Bagley’s work looks great in this book and all in all I still love the Batman:Reborn work.

Blackest Night Batman #1 (of 3) - A real nice start to this add-on mini-series. In this issue we have Batman, Robin, Red Robin and Deadman all involved. Both Tim and Dick’s parents are now apparently Black Lanterns and Boston Brand’s body is now a Black Lantern. What is so nice about this is we are seeing the impact of Blackest Night on Gotham without it having to interfere with the regular series. Also Peter Tomasi writes a better Dick Grayson Batman then Winick and he should be on the Batman title. I was not familiar with artist Adrian Syaf, but his work was very solid.

Green Lantern Corps #39 - Guy and Hal are discussing their love lives as they head back to OA. Apparently they left Earth before the Black Lanterns started showing and as they make it to OA all the dead Green Lanterns are now raising up and becoming Black Lanterns and Jade is back as a Black Lantern. What was also well done is we still check in on Arisa and Sodom Yat who is apparently stuck in Daxam’s son as he powers it to be a yellow sun. This is an extremely strong series from DC and continues to match and sometimes exceed the regular Green Lantern series.

Grimjack the Manx Cat #1 (of 6) – It was nice to see this series back in print. I know this was being done as a webcomic on Comicmix, but I just don’t get into reading a comic a few pages at a time on a computer. For me I still enjoy this format the best. Ostrander and Truman did a wonderful job with this opening chapter.

JSA vs Kobra#3 (of 6) – Eric Trautmann and Don Kramer are doing a great job with this series. It is a mini-series that you feel is really an extension of Checkmate, the JSA and the Kobra one-shot. I’m enjoying the Cat and Mouse game Jason Burr is playing with Mr. Terrific and Mr. Terrific’s interaction with Power Girl. Don Kramer’s art is excellent and overall I’m thinking this maybe a trade I will have to pick up to be able to read the series as a whole.

Red Circle Inferno #1 – JMS is two for two with The Red Circle characters. We don’t get a true origin with Inferno, but we get a good idea that this character is someone whose past will be very interesting. Greg Scott’s artwork looked terrific and it is great to see an artist like Scott who was doing work for some of the independents step up and get work from the big two as I assume it is a better paying gig. Inferno appears to come to life, but afterwards he is an amnesiac trying to find out what is going on. What JMS is doing so far is giving these characters the right hook to make me want to read more about them.

Red Robin #3 – This book is getting a little bit better, but the storyline is still a little confused. We have League of Assassins people being killed and Ras trying to help Tim with some league members, Tim believes Bruce is alive and searching in Europe. It has never been explained why Tim thinks Bruce is alive and the jumping around with different timelines and different plots is beyond this writer’s ability to handle. Still it is coming together a little better. Ramon Bachs is a decent artist and I like his work, but he draws Tim more like a 13 year old then a 16/17 year old.

A rarity occurred this week when I cancelled a mini-series so deep into it, but I had totally lost interest and saw no reason to finish the story. I have rented movies and stopped watching them in the middle also and once or twice walked out on a movie. If something is not working and makes no sense or is lacking in enjoyment why waste any more time on it.

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