Monday, September 10, 2012

The Week of September 5 in Review

I cut off this post since it just got way too long. I will have to rethink mentioning every book outside of maybe a quick pass or fail. Onto the books:

Green Lantern #0 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke was an enjoyable issue. Instead of being a jump back it was the origin of the newest Green Lantern on Earth. Simon Baz is being set up as a morally strong character but due to personal circumstances and unbelievable bad luck is considered a possible terrorist. I could quibble about why the ring chooses him, but with everything in the GL verse being as screwed up as it is, Baz is a cool choice. First off I’m always in favor of putting someone new under the mask and Hal’s time is long, long past. Second Baz as drawn by Mahnke has a great heroic cut about him. Making him an American Muslim of course just creates all sorts of hot buttons that can be pushed and I’m sure some of the left will hate that he was a car thief (with extenuating circumstances) and some on the right will think it is pandering to political correctness. From my vantage point it makes me excited to get the next issue and find out more about Baz. I just hope his gun totting on the cover was a mistake or a light construct that he uses to focus his willpower. I also enjoyed the one page of Sinestro and Hal being trapped in a black void, at least it is no mystery they are alive. Johns has blown up the GL corps and made the Guardians almost irredeemably bad so I’m curious to see how it all plays out. Of course the easy out is the splinter group of Guardians will become the new Guardians down the road. One other feature was the who’s who page on Hal Jordan. I’m reading between the lines but I think the whole Hal goes bad and kills all the other Lanterns has been written out of his history. This is the first book from Johns that I have liked in a long time and according to some interviews Baz is based a little from his own life and often that can be a good thing for a writer.

Hawkeye #2 by Matt Fraction and David Aja is the cool book of the moment. Issue #1 was excellent and issue #2 even takes it up one more notch. Hawkeye teams up with Kate Bishop who was Hawkeye with the Young Avengers. Clint appears to be trying to take care of various crimes around the country on his own, but has recruited Kate to be his partner in tackling these problems. We have not gotten into a rhyme or reason but between Fractions light and airy storytelling and dialogue and Aja’s wonderful art work the book is just a joy to read. It flows like very few books, is an extremely easy read and just a damn good book. It has humor, character building, action and it stands on its own.

Epic Kill #5 concludes the first arc as she successfully kills the Senator who killed her family. Raffaele Ienco’s art seemed to falter a little and his storytelling fell apart with annoying fantasy moments. All in all a great action movie and I’m very curious where he will take the book next as issue #6 is solicited for November.

Sweet Tooth #37 by Jeff Lemire is building to the end which comes in issue #40. This issue Jeppard is getting ready to fight off Abbott to save the hybrids. Jeppard believes the world is theirs and all humans are doomed to extinction. Lemire is a master storyteller and I’m just enjoying the ride he has given us with this book.

Think Tank #2 by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal is another very cool book. The premise is super genius David Loren makes weapons for the US Military and now he wants out. The military does not want to let him go and so the fun ensures. This issue David is brought back to his lab and he immediately begins to map out how he will escape. We also get background on how David was recruited and what pushed him over the edge. A ton of cutting edge concepts and ideas are thrown in with references in the back regarding all of these devices. The art is okay, not great but the storytelling ability is there. I think color might help this book out. I recommend jumping on this series as it has a great vibe to it and I would put it the same class as Hawkeye if the artwork was as strong.

Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #3 (of 4) is another pure gold book by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor. Amanda’s art on this book is so strong and Paul Mounts colors are perfect. The book just looks great. Cooke and Connor are credited with the script and the story of Laurie becoming her own Silk Spectre. The story is set in a sixties era San Francisco and is flat out a brilliant story. Sally gets upset about her running away and sends the Comedian to get her back and it was another perfect part of the story. The book does everything from placing itself in a moment in time, to building characterization, action and drama. All captured by Amanda Connor whose facial expressions are some of the absolute best in the business. Cooke, Connor and Mounts are one hell of a team, producing a top shelf comic.  

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt by Writers Steve Darnall and Alex Ross with art by Jonathan Lau was a pleasant surprise. The opening story grabbed my interest and presented a very different type of super hero. It also had a wonderful twist at the end of the story guaranteed to make you want to pick up issue #2. Lau’s art looks good and the story served its purposes of establishing this version of Peter Cannon. It keeps his background in tack, updates it for today and keeps your interest throughout. He is a hero who revealed his secret identity and is more interested in making the world a better place then fighting crooks. I absolutely loved the extra pages of the origin of Peter Cannon Thunderbolt by Peter Morisi. Mark Waid provides the background on why the story was never published by DC and gives us the unique history that the character has always been owned by Morisi. He was a rare creator to have a character that he created and maintained ownership. I have had some issues with Dynamite using public domain work, but this time it appears the Morisi family is being compensated or at least acknowledged and shown respect. A very good first issue and certainly gave you the bang for your buck.

Phantom Stranger #0 by Dan Didio, Brent Anderson and Scott Hanna was a bitter disappointment. The mysterious nature of the character was undercut and they are trying to use this book to set up the big Trinity War Cross-Over coming up next year. The Phantom Stranger is Judas doomed to walk the Earth and we jump 2000 years. I will follow for a little bit due to my love of the character, but more likely I will just read the showcase volumes of the Phantom Stanger. I could write a long review of what is wrong with this book and it was all about the writing as the art was decent.

Planet of the Apes Cataclysm #1 by writers Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman with art by Damian Couceiro was perfect. It is set prior to Taylor arriving on the planet and gives us the starting point of a story about the moon being destroyed. It sets up characters and the situation and satisfied my craving to read a new Planet of the Apes story. My one quibble is that I know certain characters have to survive since it is set before the first movie. The bottom line is this was a fast paced, entertaining read with solid art.

Animal Man #0 by Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh and Swamp Thing #0 by Scott Snyder and Kano were both good reads and gave us origins that were fine for both characters. Oddly enough the Animal Man origin pulled together all of the incarnations of how he became Animal Man very well. The problem I’m having with both books is get the story started! I feel like we have had 13 months of a prelude leading up to Rotworld. Even with two of my favorite writers that has been way too long.

Archer & Armstrong #2 by Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry was very well done. It has captured the essence of the dynamic of the two characters, set them on a quest and mixed action and humor with a deft hand. I hope people are giving Valiant a shot because so far all of their books are good and all are in the top 50 of all the books out there.

Earth 2 #0 by James Robinson and Tomas Giorello managed to sell me on Terry Sloane being a great uber-villain for Earth 2. He is the smartest man in the world and because of that he is exchanging the deaths of a lot of people to save the world. He knows he is right so he is doing the right thing in his view. The best villains are the ones who do the evil things for the right reason. Ozy in Watchmen, Ras As Ghul in Batman and many others have been cast in that role and that makes for the best villains in comics.

World’s Finest #0 by Paul Levitz and Kevin Maguire was a great issue. First off a book totally by Kevin Maguire is a good thing; I can even not miss George Perez when Kevin is doing all the work. Levitz is blessed to have the artists he has on this book. Second the story was great showing us the first appearances of Earth 2’s Robin and Supergirl who have become Power Girl and Huntress in the new DCU (I guess it should just be called the DCU now). Where Levitz ran me off of the Legion his work with these characters has made World’s Finest a top tier book for me.

Fairest #7 by Matthew Sturges and Shawn McManus was a great one and done book. Not only was a terrific noir type story told with Beauty and the Beast, it also changed everything we thought we knew about the characters. An awesome issue and is one of the best books of the week.

In a week of many strong books Bloodshot #3 makes a case for itself being a best of the week. Duane Swierczynski and Manuel Garcia are bringing us an action packed adventure series with great science fiction themes mixed in with great drama and emotion. In what maybe the typical ending for the book Bloodshot is killed again, but it just sets us up for how he comes back to life next issue. Memory implants, nanites, a human EMP weapon, betrayals, super science, mysteries all are laden into this series and it is not crowded or a slow read at all. It is an intelligent action packed epic in the making.

Dark Avengers #180 by Jeff Parker and Neil Edwards is testing my love for Jeff Parker’s work with the multiple plotlines and the unending nature of this story line. We have three different time lines and about five different story lines. All are starting to draw together and hopefully come to a conclusion.

Detective Comics #0 was almost silly as Gregg Hurwitz and Tony Daniel showed us the last stop on Bruce’s world tour learning how to be a hero. It tried too hard to be an “important” story, but was ultimately heavy handed and contrived. The backup story by James Tynion IV and Henrik Jonsson saved the book from being a total washout. I find it amusing how Batman’s origin is being portrayed closer to the movie version. Not a bad way to go since I loved the Batman trilogy.

Harvest #2 (of 5) by A.J. Lieberman and Colin Lorimer was excellent. Dr. Dane accepts the job to do the illegal transplants until his conscience (I’m guessing as he sees of a small boy with a tattered towel as a super hero cape talking to him at times) forces him to turn against his employers. It has the feeling of something that could actually be going on. At the same time you have to wonder how blind was Dane to what he was doing. A smart series, with good art and a fast paced well structured story. 

A quick note I check on Thrillbent by Mark Waid and Peter Krause every week now and lately the site was hacked or something. I have no clue but it is annoying to think someone would maliciously take down a website that is just providing entertainment. This is definitely an issue for digital publishing and one that never came to my mind.

It is obvious that I cannot give my views on every book every week. Number one the post is way too long. Second football season has started and that eats into my time of the week-end. Plus my real world job often requires some of my time on the week-end. This week was made harder due to my not receiving any books until Friday. Anyway expect some changes as I go back to trying to decide how to do the column yet again. Consistency bores me. For the record I’m not commenting on Near Death #11, Action #0, Dial H #0, Thief of Thieves #8Mind the Gap #4, Hell Yeah #5, Guarding the Globe #1, Stormwatch #0 and Punisher #15. Neither a plus or minus on those books, just ran out of time and needed to end this column. Maybe I will shoot out a kick post giving them all at least a pass / fail rating.

See everyone next Monday. 

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