Monday, September 03, 2012

Week of August 29 in Review

So this week I have been writing capsule reviews/impressions of books sometimes right after I read them and sometimes a little while afterwards. I can’t always jump onto the computer and knock out my thoughts right away. My desire to at least give some mention to every book will make this post a long one.

Before Watchmen Minutemen #3 by Darwyn Cooke is a masterpiece in storytelling. Cooke manages to spotlight Silhouette and Nite Owl and tells a great story while filling in the blanks about the rest of the team. At the same time Cooke builds in some time jump and does so effortless without making it a confusing narrative. His storytelling ability is probably one of the best in the business. He mixes so many different ways of telling a story and layers it with emotion and poignancy that is rarely seen in a comic book. His clean line work and great panel design tells us the story and marries his words and pictures as well as anyone has ever done.  I will gladly pick up any book with his name as writer/artist or as just writer. This issue Silhouette is badly hurt taking down a ring of pedophiles (or even worse) and during the battle the girl she tried to save is killed. Her relationship with Nite Owl is unique and sadly for Nite Owl doomed to be a friendship only. Don’t miss this series.

I read Green Lantern Annual #1 first this week. It should have been an issue that was amazing as it had reveals of a “first lantern”, a second group of guardians and the death of Sinestro and Hal Jordan. All leading up to a prelude of the rise of the Third Army which is the Guardians new idea to rid the universe of Chaos, but it fell flat for me. It did not have the emotional resonance that this book should have had. It was too many rabbits being pulled out of hats with no foreshadowing. Too many left turns when we were not at an intersection. I’m not buying Hal is dead and the creation of this Third Army was just odd. I will continue to follow Green Lantern and GL Corps, but I’m not jumping back on Red Lanterns or GL New Guardians. If I can’t follow the core story without getting the other books I will just drop all of the GL stuff. The logic (even comic book logic) I fail to understand within the GL material, but I’m curious to see where this goes for a couple of months. My concern is it says “The Rise of the Third Army” which insinuates to me that we will have at least a year long story.

Another fantastic book was American Vampire #30. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque have managed to continually make great issues deep into the series. The book resonates with powerful emotion and betrayal. Yet within the context of the story you can feel the pain of each character and the motivation that drives both the love and betrayal. The characters are so true to how they have been portrayed that you almost feel like the book is writing itself. If it sounds like a soap opera, it is not, as the action is fast, furious and violent. The art by Rafael continues to excel. This story is filled with so raw emotion, brutal violent action, tender moments and sexual lust. Rafael nails all of it. This is Scott’s best work and considering all of his work is some of the best in the business that is saying a lot. 

Next up is Justice League #12. I dropped this book and decided to buy it for the Superman and Wonder Woman kiss. In the new DCU they have decided the make them a couple. The JL book still disappoints. Johns does not have the right notes working and in reality, since the first arc was the formation of the JL, this second arc is only the first adventure we have seen of the group. We get all the innuendo of stuff that has happened in their history, but we have no connection to that history since we don’t know what has happened in the past. This is one of the major flaws in the new DCU an implied history that readers think they know, but actually have no clue of what has happened in the past. Since I have no real connection to the characters at this time or know what has happened even the big moment fell a little flat. DC is pushing a lot of what will be important line wide into this book, so I may be forced to pick up the series again just to keep my hand in what is happening inside the DCU. I find with Marvel and DC following whatever their core title is keeps me from becoming totally disconnected from those universes. I do not want to lose the tenuous connection I have with both universes after following them for so long.

The Flash Annual #1 is about the Flash’s battle with the Rogues. It brought home the same point with the new DCU that the JL book did. The gravitas of this battle is lost since we don’t have a history that we know about with these characters. The flip side is I have jumped into the middle of other storylines before and figured it out as I went along. I think slowly getting back into a few of the DC series I quit may work better as trying everything at once was just too many new stories to begin in the middle. Short story I’m back on the Flash book for now. The story was about Captain Cold using the Flash to regain leadership of the group and then double crossed the Flash. The comic read well and with Manapul supplying layouts the art stayed consistent even with four or five other artists doing the pencils.

In reading Detective Comics Annual #1 the DCU history reared its ugly head again; almost all of it has changed. Black Mask is back but the deep and rich history is gone and so is the sense of menace with the character. Plus I can't get past how young everyone is being made. Bruce appears 30 at the oldest yet has had 4 Robins and has a ten year old son. The incongruities for a long term fan are hard to reconcile and too often take me out of the story. The story was okay but ultimately nothing was resolved during the climactic battle of Black Mask, The Mad Hatter and Batman. It is odd seeing the Black Mask being a super powered villain now. The art was decent but all the computer tricks being used make a lot of the cityscapes feel like CGI and not true work of an artist. I'm back on Detective since John (Chew, Mars Attacks) Layman is coming on as writer with issue #13.

The Goon #41 had two stories. The first story by Eric Powell was the opening chapter full and grotesque monsters and such. I always love this book. The second five page story was by Powell and Mark Buckingham on art. It was in black and white and is telling a story of a Bog Monster versus the Goon. Good stuff every issue.

Debris #2  (of 4) by Kurt Wiebe and Riley Rossmo was a good read. Rossmo's art has always been good but now it is cleaner and flows better than ever. His artwork is a big draw (pun intended) for me. Wiebe's story is fun as we follow Maya on her quest to discover clean water for her village. As the "protector" she fights crazy robot creatures and now has a companion (Kessel) who is teaching her more of the history of her enclave. This is a cool post apocalyptic world brought to life by Rossmo's art.

National Comics Looker #1 turned what was a very different super hero and turned her into a common Vampire. For me this doesn’t work in a company that is already publishing the great and unique take on vampires in I, Vampire and over in Vertigo we have the great American Vampire series. It was a well done story and I would have supported it is a mini-series but they took the last element of Looker’s career, being turned into a vampire, and made that the only element of the series.

Hulk #57 ends the Red Hulk series and in two months it becomes The Red She-Hulk series #58. Why they are not jumping to a new #1 is beyond me. This series ended on a low note as the Mayan Rule storyline was too many characters and way too many plots being squeezed in. Also the Mayan names were overwhelming in trying to keep the cast of characters straight. Jeff Parker still managed to make me find the book at least mildly entertaining and Dale Eaglesham’s style was perfect for this book.

X-O Manowar #4 really moved the plot forward and I feel like the series is coming together. X-O battles in modern times and finds out he has lost 1600 years. At the same time the aliens in our midst are alerted to the fact that they are suppose to secure the sacred armor. Also the aliens are sending a fleet to Earth I guess to get the armor and/or conquer Earth. Cary Nord's art is great and writer Venditti's pace on the book is better. This series is moving up on my chart.

Phantom Lady and Doll Man #1 is cliché ridden in many ways from witnessing the death of your parents to being caught in your own experiment. There is even some clunky writing at times and the art is average at best.  As what I can only assume is DC policy we start with Phantom Lady in action and then flashback to start the origin story. Given all of the negatives I'm still getting the next issue because I trust the writing team of Gray and Palmiotti to make it all work.

Winter Solider #9 was a solid effort by Brubaker and Michael Lark. In fact the second arc has been far superior to the first arc. This issue Bucky’s enemy has reprogrammed the Black Widow and has done such a great job that she ends up taking down almost everyone.

Then I read Morning Glories #21 and this is my final issue. We are 21 issues in and I still have no idea what the story is about. What is the purpose of the school and who is behind it? Worse none of the characters stick with me and I sense no growth of Joe Eisma as an artist.

BPRD Hell on Earth The Return of the Master #1 (of 5) was more of a set up issue as we checked on many of the current players and set up the problem that will need to be solved. BPRD is just a great continuing story and it is amazing how many cast changes have happened and yet it is still always a good read.

Uncanny X-Force #30 continues to be a strong book, I hate to see it end, but this is a run that made Remender a name at Marvel. This issue was a middle chapter with good writing and average art.

Locke & Key Grindhouse One Shot – Great little story, nice background material about the house, but I felt a little ripped off getting only a 16 page story. I love Locke and Key, so I can live with it. It is great to realize that while the main story may end this setting has the potential for an endless array of stories.

The Avengers vs X-Men #5 (of 6) fight book was its usual vapid self, but I know who I’m sending it too and he should enjoy it.

Smoke and Mirrors #5 (of 5) was the end of the mini-series and I won’t be back for any follow ups. It was an okay story, not worth the $20 cover price for the entire series.

Wow, this post got way too long. I wanted to give each book at least some mention, but next week I may go back to only highlighting some books and group some books together with a brief decent read remark. Check back tomorrow for another long post talking about what I’m getting this week. 

No comments:

Post a Comment