Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Best and The Rest of Last Week

I had become jaded by event comics but War of Kings was a pleasant change of pace from Marvel and then Blackest Night just set the bar for how to do an event comic right. This does not mean I will be signing up for event after event, but it does mean that I can at least try out an event without having a bad vibe about it going in.


Blackest Night #8 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert and Joe Prado, Colors Alex Sinclair. - In my initial review I wanted to avoid talking about who is back and who is not so be aware if you have not read Blackest Night #8 yet, there are some SPOILERS ahead. Of course I did not reinvent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of Wednesday’s post.

What a great comic book. This is when super hero comic books are at their best. Johns and Reis hit a grand slam with this book and especially with this ending. It did not re-set the entire DCU, but the repercussions of what has occurred will reverberate throughout the DCU for years to come. Blackest Night is that rarest of rare creatures, an event series that was good from beginning to end and it had things that happened that will have an actual impact on the DCU and yet did not force itself into every other series or cause disruption to any other series.

The battle has a great ebb and flows and as the heroes finally win the day and Nekron is severed from his connection to the real world. The white light returns quite a few heroes and villains to life. Some of my favorite was seeing Maxwell Lord, Jade, Martian Manhunter and Deadman be returned to life. The story possibilities that these open up are tremendous and I was shocked that Boston Brand is now alive as it “kills” the character who I have always loved. I hope these threads and storylines are explored sooner rather than later. DC has a history lately of throwing at some great ideas and often taking forever to follow up on them. The epilogue was well done as we see Hal and Barry at a graveyard and Hal states that dead is dead from now on. One could only hope, but I have a feeling as much as Geoff Johns would like that to be true it only lasts as long as editorial allows that to last.

As great as the story and this series has been, it would never had been as good without Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair, Ivan on pencils, Albert and Prado on inks and Sinclair on colors. These guys did the job and then some. The art was breathtaking in scope and an amazing ability to handle the huge battle scenes as well as the quite moments.

Comics work best on an emotional level for me and this one hit the right notes. It felt heroic, it felt like good versus bad, life versus death, hope versus depression and it made me feel like the best is yet to come.

Madame Xanadu #21 – Writer Matt Wagner, Pencils Amy Reeder Hadley, Inks Richard Friend, Colors Guy Major. This series continues to be a high quality book. Every issue drawn by Amy Hadley just makes the book perfect. This issue we get back to the main story that is happening in the fifties as Morgana has returned and Madame Xanadu is trying to figure out what Morgana is doing and how to stop it. This is a Vertigo title but Matt Wagner has kept Nimue firmly in the regular DCU and this issue we have John Jones (the Martian Manhunter) as a guest star helping Nimue in her quest to stop Morgana. Jones never lets on that is anything other than a super powered human. This book has a great story, great art and is one of the best books on the stands. This issue also brought to light again what a great character the Martian Manhunter could be if done like a straight Detective set back in the fifties. The character would be a great noir type character and there are so many themes to play with that the series is just screaming to be done, maybe as a Vertigo titles set in the DCU like this book.

Other Books of Note

Cowboy Ninja Viking #5 – I thought last issue wrapped things up, but this issue felt more like the ending of the first chapter. I really have enjoyed this series and look forward to more, but I will also confess that I have gotten a little lost in trying to keep up with whom is who due to the fast paced and furious actions and the fact that many people are three characters. I’m getting the trade so I can re-read this arc.

Fantastic Four #577 – Nothing happened that required the FF at all. Hickman has some great ideas and concepts, but I often feel he is writing for one big reveal panel at the end of his story. That barely worked with Pax Romana and I’m worried he has forgotten about making the FF super heroes as well as explorers.

GI Joe Cobra II #3 – This issue we get to see Chuckles moving forward with his plan and no matter what Chameleon says he is going to try and bring down Cobra. Obviously Chuckles can never win this war, but I can enjoy the battles. I also can enjoy the characterization of Chuckles as we see he has pulled away from the Joes and has gone rogue, but he is still a good guy.

JLA #43 – DC needs to stop producing this book. It is obviously being crushed by editorial mandates as rosters are announced and disbanded with more regularity then most people change their socks. DC was heavily promoting the new line-up and over three quarters of the group are already gone. Between Blackest Night, Rise and Fall and other imperatives in the DCU the JLA becomes a cesspool for any writer trying to start up a story. Either let the writer have a group he can use for a couple of years by having second tier heroes carry the book or stop worrying about the continuity as what happens in the JLA can be its own thing or just drop the book until things are settled enough to give a writer a chance to do something that matters with the group. This was almost a worse book but I think Robinson and Bagley are making the best of a bad situation.

Justice Society of America #37 – I’m enjoying this story, but I can’t help but to be tired of using the whole Nazi thing. I know the JSA has ties to WWII, but enough is enough.

Realm of Kings Inhumans #5 (of 5) – This was so well done that I could have easily enjoyed this as an unlimited series. Medusa has changed and not for the better and you have to wonder how this will all play out as she tries to rule an Empire.

Sword #23 – Next issue we get to the end and the twist ending with this issue was well done. Of course we had been set-up by a lie told in the story, but those conventions are hard to avoid in telling certain stories. Regardless, the surprise ending was effective and has me looking forward to the end of the story. The Luna brother’s art continues to wear on me and this book could look much better with a solid pencil artist.

X-Men Second Coming #1 – The longer you stay away the harder it is to come back into a series, especially one like the X-Men. Still this was done well enough that I will continue to follow it for a few chapters. I hope Hope can fix the extinction problem as that issue has been going on long enough and the whining about it has to stop. Especially when they say stuff like having only 181 is not enough to continue the race. Since most of the X-Men were born of human parents when did it become an imperative to only interbreed amongst themselves? Logic flaws aside, I’m going to jump into to the Second Coming for a few more chapters and see if I can become an X-fan again.

It is hard to complain about a week that had Blackest Night #8 in it. I’m happy to hear that Brightest Day and JLI Generation Lost are both going to be following up on all that has happened with Blackest Night. DC has often failed to capitalize on some great story ideas over the last few years.

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