Green Lantern #43
This is once again the book of the week for me. Geoff Johns’ and his epic reign in Green Lantern never disappoints. This issue acts as the prologue to the prologue of the Blackest Night and it’s awesome. Johns’ further fleshes out the Black Hand, who has mostly been acting out in the shadows (although still having a very large role in the events around him). Since his return at the beginning of the series before being shot off into space, we’ve never quite seen things from his perspective. We didn’t know what motivation he has, if anything. We didn’t know how it is that he was the leader of the Black Lantern Corps. Until now, that is. This issue acts as the final move in setting up all the players for where they need to be come next week when the Blackest Night begins. It also carrys a lot of foreshadowing into who may or may not become a Black Lantern, and your guess is as good as mine at this point. Either way, out of current DC events, this is easily one of the most amazing build ups in the past 10 years, to the same regards as Bendis’ Secret Invasion. Finally understanding where all the pieces came into play and what it all means makes the wait feel that much more satisfying, and I personally can not wait to pick up the first issue of the Blackest Night next week.
This issue also featured the best advertisement juxtaposition in the history of comic books (warning: Green Lantern #43 spoiler abound).
Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1
Dark X-Men: The Beginning acts as a tie-in to a crossover, which is almost unheard of. You have tie-ins to events, and events are crossovers, but crossovers aren’t events and don’t usually get tie-ins, just connected books. Either way, this was an interesting read. Dark X-Men: The Beginning serves to show how our Dark X-Men was formed. In this issue we see how Mimic, Namor, and Dark Beast all fit into their roles as members of the Dark X-Men, where they came from, and why. It’s an interesting read, but is it worth it? Not realy. To be honest, it’s about as worth it as any tie-in. Sure, it helps flesh out the story (because honestly, who saw Dark Beast coming? Shouldn’t he be dead or something?), but when all is said and done this won’t matter. I doubt the Dark X-Men will exist beyond Utopia (and if they do, I assure you I will not be buying it), so these essentially become throw aways. It’s just a question of how much do you care about the Dark X-Men in the end. If you want to know why each of them were brought in, then I’d recommend the issues. Otherwise, it’s pretty passable. Me, being the knowledge craving nerd that I am, like stuff like this, but I can easily see why it is really not that neccesary.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36
Marvel had teased us briefly before that Clone Saga-era things would become important again, and now we finally see it. The issue takes place in my hometown of Boston, and it’s probably one of the most hilarious Spider-Man’s as of late (except for maybe the Spot issue, that was awesome). In it, we finally meet the extended family of the Reiley’s (remember Ben?) and things begin to get set up for the betrothel of Aunt May and Jameson Sr. We also meet a brand new villain named Raptor, but the great thing about him is that as the issue progresses, we begin to question if he is or isn’t actually a villain. Through all of the things shown to us in the issue, both in a flashback by Raptor and the information he provides, we have a huge new plot set up for after the current one dies down. This is refreshing because, while I can’t speak for everyone, I am pretty tired of all the Dark Reign stuff, and I would like to see Spider-Man go off on his own adventures in his title book versus having him be an extension of everything else. Plus, the bringing back of Ben Reiley as a central character reminds me of when I was reading comics as a little boy and my mom got me the entire Clone Saga, including the issues where Ben was “birthed.” I can only hope that Miles Warren is some how intertwined in all of this. Either way, this was a great amount of bang for the buck, as Spidey often is, and it proves why he has one of the best books on the market (coupled with the fact that he’s the only one you can get weekly).
The Stand: American Nightmares #4
Before, when I wrote about the Stand, I complained because I was having trouble following it. I had never seen the TV mini-series or read the novel at this time. However, in between the last issue and this one, I found and sat straight through the entire mini-series, and I gotta say, now that I know the plot and the characters, this book is amazing. At first I was having trouble because I didn’t know the characters, but now that I do I have a much easier time following the book. On top of that, this fleshes out the story in a way the mini-series definitely does not do, and while I’m not sure which one is more accurate in the end, I can say that I enjoy the comic’s presentation (although the actor playing Randal Flagg was great). The Stand itself is an amazingly epic story, and Perkins does such a great job of giving the book a realistic and dark look. Again, I can’t speak for how accurate it is, but it is following along the same path as the mini-series, so I can assume it’s accurate. I personally have a great time reading it as it shows accurately the epic scope that this story covers. While the mini-series on TV stuck to the main characters, this shows us everything all over the world, and it’s wonderfully dark. If you’re not familiar with the Stand, I highly recommend this. You might even watch the mini and then read this, because watching everything match up is pure brilliance. And as much as I love the Ender’s Game adaptations, I’ve gotta say: this is better. So that’s an inkling of how high I hold this now.
The Unwritten is probably the single most promissing Vertigo series of the moment. Each issue makes me want to have the next one that much more and to know what’s goign on. I really love it. The quirky-ness of it, the intense pastiche of literature it provides – it’s just a great series. On top of that, I don’t really care for Harry Potter, so having my own wizard to enjoy makes me feel that much cooler. In this issue, we open up a whole new bag of tricks when we introduce horror into the mix. This is different than what Fables did, by bringing in different genres as characters. With this, we have a group of people discussing horror while at the same time the story takes a turn for a more classic horror tale with it’s mysterious villain. It’s a really great juxtaposition and it shows how good of a writer Carey is. I had previously mentioned that when he handles other people’s characters, I don’t care for it, but when he has it’s own it works well. Unwritten is a PERFECT example of it, and what pleases me is that I had little to no expectation about this book and now I’m a huge fanboy, trying to turn on everyone I can (which is less than I can say for what I’d hoped for in Greek Street). Either way, if you aren’t reading Unwritten yet, I feel bad for you, because you’re the best new Vertigo series out there. It’s smart, it’s funny, and it’s an all around great experience of a book. It’s sure to be big soon.
X-Men Forever #3
Chris Claremont had one of the most influential runs on X-Men of all time, and it is what kids like me remember most fondly about the 90’s and comics. Naturally, the return of these classic versions of the characters is a highly anticipated thing, and Chirs Claremont doesn’t let us down. I honestly feel like I’m in Elementary School again, waking up early to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons and not understanding what days comics actually come out (just working on the luck of the draw). This book is the absolute embodiment of what I loved about the X-Men back in the day, and therefore this book is everything that I endorse. It’s entertaining, it’s well written (obviously), and the art is an exact match to 90’s X-Men. I don’t know what more I could possibly expect out of this book but it consistently brings to me great amounts of joy. My comic book store and guy I gleefully jump up and down in anxiety about each plot twist, and I can’t wait until the next issue comes out. Absolutely amazing.
Superman: World of New Krypton #5
To me, James Robinson and Greg Rucka’s Superman: World of New Krypton is the best Superman book out right now. Of course, that isn’t saying that much, as the world of Superman is in a weird and possibly not better place now that Supes is off planet and living on New Krypton. Sure, Superman (as in the book by Robinson and Renato Guedes which is effectively about Mon-El acting as Earth’s protector in Supes absence) has improved, but we went from one elite title and one really mediocre one to two good titles (let’s not even talk about Action Comics).
In this issue, we find Superman under trial for treason (as punishable by death! Oh noes! Superman could die). The most interesting part of this issue definitely is not the trial, but Zod’s growing appreciation to Kal-El’s value to Krypton as a whole, as his honor bound ways are alien and intriguing to Zod. Rucka and Robinson assuredly tell the quite interesting story, presenting characters extremely well, especially in Zod’s case as he is graduating from despot to freedom fighter to possibly a visionary. Huge change from how Geoff Johns presented him in his Action run. However, the biggest problem with this issue (and series as a whole) is that as a race, Kryptonians are cold, and thusly, this entire series is cold. Without any real character connections (as even Kal is acting distant – when in Krypton…), the series suffers and it fades from your memory.
Until they start giving us someone to root for (besides the Green Lantern Corps), Robinson, Rucka, and the solid if unspectacular Pete Woods are fighting a losing battle.
Red Robin #2
I love me some Tim Drake (Wayne). As a huge fan of his previous series (simply titled Robin) I grew to love the guy and really regard him as the greatest character to bear the title, as his brilliant detective abilities, persistence, and believable everyman troubles made him quite endearing to read.
I love me some Tim Drake (Wayne), but this is not Tim Drake (Wayne) to me yet.
To see him rolling around the world in a ridiculous costume (why is he even dressed like that?!), beating up League of Assassins members and ex-girlfriends while raging against the machine, I just have to wonder exactly what is going on. Series writer Christopher Yost is nothing if not consistent, and I count on him to figure out the series and explain everything in an acceptable manner. But through two issues we’ve had a number of cool sections but nothing that really grabs me as a cohesive whole, and Tim is just reading out of character to me. I’m starting to think Tim would want nothing more than to get his own opportunity to shoot Darkseid (completely against character as well) and get sent back to caveman times to be with Bruce.
To be fair, Ramon Bachs is doing a quite good job on pencils, staging everything in a precise and very kinetic way that is very 90’s style, but not in a bad way. He reminds me of former Robin series artist Tom Grummett, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible (to both Grummett and Bachs). Very solid work. Now let’s just get that story in line with the art.
North 40 #1
Wildstorm is kind of in a weird place in my mind as a comic publisher. They are tethered to DC and are still attempting to develop their own universe, but really it isn’t working so well. Sure, they have intermittent successes, like Gage and Mahnke’s run on Stormwatch: PHD, Simone and Googe’s Welcome to Tranquility, or Bernadin and Garbett’s Highwaymen, but they are few and far between.
Still, I keep picking up their books because they are perpetually entertaining even if they never tie into any central universe. North 40 is a perfect example of this, as it provides a great premise and set up for the rest of the series with this initial issue. Writer Aaron Williams develops a fleet of characters quickly and with much promise, and quickly sets us up for lots of action and intrigue in the remaining five issues of the mini. Essentially, the concept of the book is a study of what happens when a great evil is released on a small town in Texas and what a small group of citizens granted powers by the same evil do to stop it.Continued below
This book is one that is full of promise, as Williams and series artist Fiona Staples have set us up with a gripping and entertaining yarn with only one issue under their belt.
X-Men Legacy #226
As a rather major fan of Mike Carey and his take on the X-books (I rate Legacy as the second best X-book on the market, next to X-Factor), seeing that this was going to be a tie-in to the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover Utopia was a bit of a bummer. Unsurprisingly though, Carey manages to pull a few bits of awesome out of his bag of tricks and to make this a very entertaining read. Carey has such a brilliant grasp on the characters (sadly, his ace of spades Xavier is out this issue to be replaced with Rogue, Gambit, and assorted others) that it is virtually impossible to not be an interesting ride at the least, but he manages to make the whole experience logical and entertaining, which is rare for a seemingly forced tie-in.
My biggest problem with the issue is the fact I happen to really enjoy standard penciler Scot Eaton’s work, and the fact Dustin Weaver was on pencil duties this month was disappointing for me. Weaver is a talented artist in his own right, but I happen to quite like Eaton and his work with Carey is quite the partnership. Plus, Weaver’s pencils from the mid 90’s bug me a bit, but it fits the sort of retro feel to this issue (appearances from lots of throwback characters here).
No less, if you’re not reading Legacy you’re missing out on one of the best the X-books have to offer, and probably the best part of the pretty mediocre Utopia crossover so far.
BPRD – 1947 #1
Mike Mignola. Joshua Dysart. Gabriel Ba. Fabio Moon.
Seriously, just buy this book.
The talent in these pages is completely off the charts, and it appears we have another very interesting tale from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense to follow up last year’s BPRD: 1946 and its stellar vampire story. Ba and Moon fit right in, infusing their style with Mignola’s dark influence and colorist Dave Stewart’s exceptional coloring and seemingly providing one consistent look throughout even though they have differing styles.
If you’re a Hellboy/BPRD fan, you probably picked this up anyways. If you didn’t, you should just because of the exceptional talent contained within its pages. It’s a stellar combination.
Wednesday Comics #1
What can I say? This book(more accurately described as a newspaper) is extremely hard to get a real feel for. I mean, there are a lot of great talents collaborating, my favorite being Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred doing Metamorpho, and it’s told in a very innovative way. It’s a weekly serial featuring several DC Comics characters in page long segments. Now, I was originally very excited for this, and I still and looking forward to this, but this felt like several “Cold Opens,” if you will. You know when you watch a TV show, and they show the bit of the show before the titles to get you interested in the episode? That’s what all fifteen of these felt like. All of them are like reading the first page of the first chapter of a book with a lot of potential. With that said, some highlights are the afformentioned Metamorpho, just based on the creative team. I’ve never really been very well versed on the character, but he does interest me. Green Lantern has me, just because he’s Green Lantern, and I’m gay for Hal Jordan. The story is interesing, taking place back in the swingin’ 60’s, but so far, the eponymous character only had a cameo. but it’s written by Busiek, so again, I’m still looking forward to it.I also have concerns with the Superman story, but I think that’s because he’s fighting what looks like a roided alien from Toy Story. The Supergirl gets the thumbs down, so far, because it’s so…mundane. Adam Strange is fighting an alien invasion, Catwoman is going on an adventure with Etrigan(quite a wacky team up, if I do say so myself) regarding King Arthur, and even The Metal Men are foiling a bank robbery! But Supergirl is…dealing with Krypto The Superdog chasing Streaky The Supercat all around Metropolis? Is this REALLY the best we can do for her?
I’m new to Batman’s eponoymous title. While I enjoy Grant Morrison, I dropped it during the original Club Of Heroes arc because of monetary concerns, and knowing Grant Morrison writes like he created LOST, I never got back into it. But with the Reborn event, and a new creative team, I picked it up, and I gotta say it almost feels like the same story as Morrison’s Batman & Robin. Dick is reluctant to take over the mantle of Batman, but feels forced into the role(thanks to a cameo from Superman and Wonder Woman), while dealing with a precocious(and dangerous!) Robin. To their credit though, Judd Winick is a writer who is good more often than not, and Mark Bagley is as good as he’s ever been. But I think that’s part of the problem. Dick…looks EXACTLY like a certain Ultimized version of your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Only with black hair instead of brown. Oh yeah, and ears instead of webs. Also, how exactly is Batman regarded as an urban legend? This man is in the Justice League, he’s regularly fought the biggest villains in the DCU. HOW is he unknown, while simulataneously being celebrated by the media? I don’t get it. I never have.