Welcome to the new format of Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day, in which I don’t review a million comics and we stick to the ones that really matter to us! Without further ado, here are some reviews for you to chew on:
Batman And Robin #2
I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone who reads this blog that we are all Grant Morrison fanboys. His recent run on Batman, as well as Final Crisis, was absolutely game changing, and the previous issue was all that we had been hoping for in the Batman book. For all intents and purposes, this is the Batman book to follow. Grant Morrison has this great way of bringing in odd elements and new characters but playing it off as if this is what we’ve been used to forever, as in this issue we get a new group of villains who speak their own warped language. He also illustrates the rift between Dick and Damien as Damien still refuses to conform to the fact that Bruce Wayne is dead and no longer Batman. The other books have played it off a little bit in that they work together due to the situation, but Morrison writes his character the way he envisioned him – a bratty child with daddy issues who is trying to be a super hero. Frank Quietly’s art compliments Morrison’s vision extremely well, with his new characters looking as disgusting as they read. Quietly has a great style to his work, and while some people complain that it’s not as cutting edge as a lot of modern artists who try and make their characters look as if they were real people (i.e. Greg Land, who I also love), I disagree whole heartedly. Morrison and Quietly compliment each other well as a duo, as anyone who folllowed their run on All-Star Superman can attest to. Batman And Robin is no different when it comes to superb team work, and I can only hope for a long and succesfull run for the both of them. As each issue comes to an end, I’m always left wanting more right away, and that’s the way comics should be.
Daredevil Noir #4
With this we finally have the ending to the superb Daredevil Noir. I’ve consistently praised this work for it’s consistency to not only Daredevil but also the elements of noir. With the reveal that the Bull’s Eye Killer was actually a woman, the classic “it was really the woman all along” motif of noir plays true to an explosive finale in this dark and gritty world. Alexander Irvine set up a story that pays true to all the great workings of a noir story, with our detective moving along through a series of puzzles in an attempt to reach truth, and all of it stands true to classic elements of Daredevil’s origin without making it too extraordinary to be unbelievable. In this, as extraordinary as it is to have a blind man dress up and kick ass, it doesn’t seem so hard to believe this is taking place in the early 40’s. The dialogue between the Kingpin and Daredevil is also absolutely excellent, as Kingpin discusses the truth behind Daredevil’s actions with frightening accuracy. This book wouldn’t be half what it is without the art of Tom Coker, who does some of the most excellent pencils and ink that anyone could ask for in a book this style. With the other noir books, they either look too cartoony (Spider-Man), too dark to tell what’s going on (X-Men), or too messy (Wolverine, but Coker get’s it just right for Noir. The grains he overlays is reminiscent of the comic styling in Max Payne, which was probably the last good example of a noir based video game. The combination of the dialogue and art leave us with possibly one of the most satisfying endings of all time in a comic, bring an excellent resolution to the story. If you didn’t get this as it came out, I suggest grabbing it when it comes out in trade because it makes an excellent addition to any Daredevil fan’s library.
Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #1
I’ve gotta say, I was really nervous about picking this up. Deadpool is getting increasingly oversaturated in comics, probably due to the cult popularity that has grown in thousands since the release of Wolverine. The premise behind it was also pretty silly: Deadpool teams up with the severed head of Zombie Deadpool? How good could this honestly be? Well, it’s not great, but it’s still an amusing read for Deadpool fans. While Daniel Way is clearly off doing his own thing with the character in a sense that’s becoming increasingly repetitive, I find myself wishing for the old days of Deadpool where the story was more evolutionary with a wider range of characters. After reading Merc With A Mouth, I get the sense that that is the point of this series. While there is a clear plot arc for the first six issues, the way Deadpool acts is a little bit closer to the first Deadpool on-going series (and for comparison, they throw an issue in the back for an extra dollar). It’s nice to read a book that is influenced more by the classics than one man’s re-tooling of the character. As far as the new story goes, the head doesn’t really come into play at all. It’s a very slow build up for the plot arc, but it’s also classic: instead of people just coming to kill Deadpool, Deadpool is hired on a job and whacky things happen as he goes to perform his duties. In this, the whacky thing just happens to be he discovers a Deadpool worshipping cult centered around his severed head. Of course I have my obvious questions, such as why isn’t the head feeding when in Marvel Zombies 4, that’s clearly all it wants to do? I still hold massive reservation to the title, but since I love the character I’ll keep reading. Also, I feel the need to mention that this book merits a purchase for the reference to the Fallout series alone. In fact, Deadpool’s repertoire is top notch in this, making a lot of amusing references to various forms of pop culture that he hasn’t been doing in the other Deadpool books. One of the classic elements of Deadpool is that he’s a TV nut. The last issue of Cable and Deadpool (which essentially had just become Deadpool at that point) ended with Deadpool and friends just watching television. It’s nice to have a writer bring back his love of TV because it shows that they care more about the original version of the character than appealing to the modern one alone, and as much as I enjoy evolutions of characters, Daniel Way has kind of forgotten a lot of things he brought to the character when he brought him in in Wolverine: Origins. So it’s not a bad read all in all. Slow, but very promising.
Greek Street #1
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. I’ve never really read anything by Peter Milligan, so I didn’t know what I should expect, but after reading this I feel it’s a bit cluttered. We all know the old Greek stories and fables. We might not know them well, but the names of characters often bring to mind various incarnations we’ve seen in film or television. However, as I read Greek Street, I saw that no matter how much I knew, I had trouble connecting the characters to who they were supposed to be. The main character, Eddy, is obviously Oedipus. The book opens with him trying to find his mother and, inadvertantly, getting drunk and sleeping with her before accidentally killing her. I know that this is supposed to play a huge part into the story, but as for now I just don’t see how. Also, the other characters are all supposed to be based on classic stories from Greek myth, but they’re mentioned so obtusely that I can’t realy recognize who they’re supposed to be without needing some kind of glossary. I think that the art by Davide Gianfelice works really well, especially for a Vertigo title, and that’s one of the saving graces of the book. The plot just feels messy. We’re introduced to a lot of characters in a short time without having any real room to know who they are unless you’re a myth nut, and that makes this book sort of hard to get into or get excited about. See, it’s essentially like Fables: we have classic characters and now we’re reimagining them in the modern world. But unlike Fables, the character set isn’t as accessible to everyone. Oedipus is in no way like the Big Bad Wolf, and the Fureys are in no way like the Three Little Pigs. And Daedelus is a detective? I feel like if I read this as someone just trying to read a new comic series rather than someone looking for re-imagined greek mythology, it might read a little better. It comes Grant Morrison endorsed, so I’ll keep pushing through, but with this first issue I wonder if I’ll make it past the first arc ultimately.
Green Lantern Corps #38
Last issue we finally had the first real event of the Blackest Night. I was really excited about it, but in this issue we are left once again with a prelude. Call me over anxious, but I’m ready for my zombie lanterns already! This is quite possibly the most built up DC event I’ve ever encountered, at least in recent memory since I started reading comic books as if it was a full time job. It feels like this issue as an odd detour though. Rather than focus on the impending doom, we’re shown a brief glimpse of how dark the Guardians really are becoming. It is highly possible that this will be an important device in the upcoming Blackest Night, but I felt like for the most part it was just a stalling method. The last page reveals that the book will now be involved in the Blackest Night from now on, but everything else in it is peculiar. The Guardians expressly allow the murder of prisoners, and it seems very out of character for the creators of the universe. In trying to avoid the War of Light prophesized in the Sinestro Corps War, they clearly have caused the War of Light in what comes out as sort of a forced sense of irony. Also, where are the Indigo lanterns? At this point, we’ve met everyone except them. We’ve seen more of the Black Lanterns than we have of the Indigo Lanterns. That last bit isn’t neccesarily a fault of this particular issue, but it’s something that should be addressed soon considering the Blackest Night begins in two weeks. Either way, Green Lantern Corps falls short of the amazingness of Green Lantern, but it is does act as an interesting enough companion to make it worth a continual read. Some of the events seem a little bit forced and rushed, such as the evacuation of Daxam that happens over two pages, but it’s recognizable as obvious build up.
Mark Waid’s Irredeemable continues to be one of the most explosive maxi-series of the modern era. Just when you think it can’t get any more dark and twisted, it consistently grows more and more evil. You really have to hand it to Waid because while the Plutonian is an obvious amalgamation of super heroes (most notably Superman), the other characters are entirely new creations for this unknown universe with their own set of powers. Each issue also serves to flesh out one the Plutonian’s old friends history with the Plutonian and thusly bring light to the transformation from protector to annhiliator. Although I can see most people overlooking this due to it being put on Boom! Studios, it’s a real shame. This issue especially featured by far one of the darkest moments of the entire story as the Plutonian addressed the UN. It conjured up a diabolically reverse image in my mind of the scene from Superman IV when Christopher Reeves talks to the UN about the use of nuclear weapons. What’s amazing is that we’re only 4 issues in, but we’ve already seen so much. This comic has accomplished more in such a short span that most modern comics don’t do in their average runs. I feel like ultimately this could be come quite the modern cult classic. In fact, a studio would be very intelligent to hop on this, because this is a comic book story for the ages. It’s an origin story, it’s a revenge tale, it’s everything ultimately classic about superheroes rolled up and served in an enticing new skin.
The Mighty #6
The Mighty is the other big maxiseries coming out right now. It gives us the same “evil protector” type story that Irredeemable gives us, except in this one our hero is the only hero. For the past couple of issues, we’ve been questioning Alpha’s motives, and now the pace begins to quicken. As Gabe deals with the death from the previous issue, he becomes increasingly more wary of Alpha and his actions. He also begins to become very terrified of what Alpha might do to him if he finds out that he knows the “truth.” Except now we know that Alpha does in fact suspect Gabe of being a traitor to his cause. The first few issues played off their relationship as somewhat of a bourjening buddy cop drama, but it has very quickly changed it’s route. Now we know to fear Alpha, and the more he does, the more nervous we are about him. When he shows up as a friend, we see him as a monster, and it works very well. Those that have been reading Green Lantern Corps know Peter J Tomasi’s work quite well, and I think that this stands to be better overall than his work in GLC. The reason for this is because we have two main characters, really: Gabe, our protagonist and detective to reveal the truth of what’s going on, and Alpha, the mysterious hero who we are slowly becoming to fear. The tension in this book is growing steadily, and I can’t wait to see where it’s all leading to.
Uncanny X-Men #513
I really like the concept of the Utopia crossover, but I’m so confused. The main confusion I have comes between the relationship between Scott Summers and Emma Frost. We know that they are lovers, and we know that Emma was part of the Cabal. As she takes up her role as leader of the Dark X-Men, whom we meet in this issue, we see Scott’s reaction as “It’s ok, this is all going to plan, Emma knows what she’s doing.” But as the book progresses on and we meet some of the other villains behind this (including an alternate dimension foe who I never expected to see again), I begin to question her motivations even more. Does Emma know what she’s doing? Or, perhaps, does Scott really know what Emma’s doing? Emma has had a dark past, but she has been an increasingly good character, especially after the New X-Men stuff by Morrison, so why the sudden turn around to go all dominatrix on us again? It seems a little off to me, how she’d just figuratively jump in bed with Norman like this. Ultimately I recognize that it all stands to be part of a bigger plan, but it’s a confusing plan at that. While there are interesting twists in this book as to the identities of the new Dark X-Men, I feel like right now there is too little information to comprehend the big picture, and we’ll have to wait until the end of the arc to truly get it, which isn’t neccesarily a bad thing. I also must say that it appears the artwork has downgraded a bit since the last issue, which happens with different artists but it’s not really appreciated. I liked the smoothness of previous X-Men issues which managed to be cartoony yet effective, and in this it just seems awkwardly angled. It’s a minor complaint for an otherwise decent story, though. We’ll see how Utopia involves as there is plenty of time for the story to build up, especially with the tie-ins. I still have high hopes.
Justice League: Cry For Justice #1
This is pretty much the “true” sequel to Final Crisis, and it’s exactly what we need. Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen create a rag-tag group of bad ass Justice Leaguers to go around and kick some serious ass in a way that ties into not only Final Crisis, but also the Faces of Evil one shots as well. That’s probably my favorite part of it. Those that kept up with the Faces of Evil probably read the bad-ass return of Prometheus, the original, and now his return is coming into play. On top of that, this book promises to deliver us more of Libra, who became quite an outspoken player in all of Final Crisis after having been such a minor foot note in Justice League history. The best part about the book is by far the artwork. It’s absolutely beautiful to look at. Mauro Cascioli shines beyond shining in this book, delivering some of the coolest renditions of Green Lantern and the rest of the Justice League I’ve ever seen. I would have bought this book on the artwork alone. My only complaint, though, is it’s an incredibly slow build up. This is a mini-series, so we don’t have a lot of time to play around the subject. However, for a team that teases a bold roster, we not only meet less than half of them but we see no logical reason for them to be connected. Green Lantern and Green Arrow agree to go into this together, but everyone else we meet are in seperate places for seperate reasons. It makes me question the delivery of the story, because it threatens to rush the most anticipated elements, and that is the inevitable beat down that the team brings to the villain world. Slow it’s a slow opener with an unusual cast, but it does still look incredibly promising. If you were disappointed by Final Crisis then you might want to read this, as it is sure to deliver on your quota of bad-assness.
The Sword #18
The Sword continues to grow as one of the coolest stories currently being published. Each issue continues to shock and awe me as a reader, and it’s consistency is rather refreshing in an indie. Some books appear to try too hard when pulling out the shockers, but this book does it almost effortlessly. In the final battle against Knossos, we are left with such a shocker that it just goes to show you the depths that our villains will go in twisting the tale. Dara has been a consistently villainized character for carrying around a sword and, despite defeating 10 story tall rock monsters who crush cities with rocks out of anger, the media still portrays her as a villain. So are there no heroes in this story? Dara continues her quest on a bloody streak seeking only vengeance and death in return for what was brought to her family, and that’s how she comes off in the media. It makes for an interesting juxtoposition, especially during the events of this issue. We only have one elemental god left, though. I have the utmost confidence that in the final issues of this truly epic series, the Luna Brothers won’t let us down. This is quite easily definable as their masterpiece.
The Boys #32
The Boys was initally billed to me as Garth Ennis trying to out-Preacher Preacher. So far, it’s pretty much failing to do so. Let me set it straight – The Boys is a good series. It has a high entertainment value. But when we know that it’s going to end in about 30 more issues, I can’t really call it a great series. For a large part, I’m still very unsure about the general direction of the book. There are some inklings, but it doesn’t have a path like Preacher had a path, and none of it is so out there crazy that it out-Preacher’s Preacher. Last issue I thought we were going to get something truly shocking in the months to come, but as it turns out, that ending is more of a footnote, a possible red herring if you will. The Girl was left in a bloody coma and presumed dead, but now we know why. The result is definitely a bad ass ass-kicking, but it’s not anything truly special. This issue kind of fizzles in that formulaic way that the Boys has been going: meet supe, beat supe, upset Vought, Vought takes action, meet supe, beat supe… I’m sure that we’ll eventually get to that ultimate goal with V0ught and all it’s handling of superhero-dom, but it’s taking a slow path to go there. The last page hints that the next issue could be sufficiently dark, so let’s hope it goes to the places it needs to. The book really is good overall, but when you boil it down to individual issues like this, it can get rather disappointing. Perhaps the Boys works better as a graphic novel than it does a serialized comic, which can happen. But when you have issues like this one, despite all of it’s action, it still feels like filler.