With Matt out this week, I will be taking the reigns on reviews for the site. Of course, Matt has a really huge pull list (compared to me, which is enormous) and this was also a light week, so expect far less reviews than usual. It’s been a really busy week so I’m making it through books slowly, but I will get them all posted by early in the weekend.
Book of the Week: Batman & Robin #1
In terms of sheer industry buzz, nothing could top All Star Superman‘s team supreme (aka Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely) and their new book Batman & Robin, a book which all of Morrison’s work in the intermittently brilliant Batman R.I.P. and the scattershot and possibly insane Final Crisis had been leading to.
Of course, if that is what it takes to get a Batman book that is so full of great character moments and brilliance, I’ll take it. Morrison’s self-proclaimed “widescreen comics” genre is on full display here, with all of the conceptual genius the man brings to books paired with a coherent and fun story. Given that Quitely is his always brilliant self in these pages, this book is almost impossibly entertaining. It’s the perfect jump on point for new Batman readers, and it could not come much more highly recommended from yours truly.
Secret Six #10
As I said on this post, Secret Six is one of the most underrated and underpurchased books on the market right now. This book is a perfect reason why, as it combined the best aspects of the book into one stellar product. Gail Simone and Nicola Scott brought their A game once again, establishing a scary new villain for the second straight arc amidst top notch character moments between members of the team (the focus this issue was on two relationships: the bizarre and kind of creepy funny one between Deadshot and Jeannette, and the oddly touching one between Scandal Savage and Bane (note within a note: Bane’s reaction to Scandal getting shot and Deadshot’s corresponding reaction made me laugh out loud very hard)).
This was a great issue of a great and underrated book. Get buying if you want one of the best books out there.
War of Kings #4
Every year it seems there is a new mega crossover that is kind of a bust in the Marvel and DC universes. You have your wars, your invasions, your whatever. They always seem to not be worth the hype put into them though. However, the cosmic crossovers from Marvel and DC (the Annihilation books and the Green Lantern books respectively) have been uniformly superb, and War of Kings is no different for the most part.
While the rest of the series has been briskly but brilliantly paced, this one kicked it up a notch perhaps a little bit too far, especially at the end. DnA (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) were their usual economical selves and Paul Pelletier continues to be one of the best cosmic artists out there, but towards the end the pacing crumbled. Combine that with continuity jumps from side books that do not make logistical sense (i.e. taking plot points from Ascension #3, which has not been released yet), and this was easily the worst issue yet. Still enjoyable and full of rich character moments (like the relationship between Lilandra and Gladiator and the one between Crystal and Ronan the Accuser), but with heavy flaws to weigh it down.
It’s still very solid and it was probably necessary to write at a breakneck speed to get us to where we are going, but it still brought the issue down as a whole.
Mighty Avengers #25
This book has quickly become a throwback to the Avengers of yesteryear, with a disjointed team written in a charmingly archaic way by Dan Slott. This issue works really well, especially in juxtaposition with the other two Avengers books which are so heavy in Bendis-speak that to get anything different is nice, and to get something very well written and often quite funny (the argument between Reed Richards and Hank Pym is an all timer) without reliance on random characters speaking like VH1 pop culture show talking heads is quite nice.Continued below
As per usual, the weakest point of this issue is the art. Stephen Segovia’s art on the recent Wolverine: Manifest Destiny brought to mind Lenil Francis Yu’s art on Wolverine back in the day (mostly because his style appears to be a direct crib of Yu), which is a great thing indeed. However, that same art style on this book just doesn’t work as the book is light and adventurous, not gritty like that style fits. Khoi Pham, the previous arcs artist, was no better of a fit, and until they find an artist that fits Slott’s style better (perhaps Slott’s She-Hulk compadre Juan Bobillo?) this book will not reach the upper echelon of Marvel books in my mind.
This issue though is setting up a ridiculously cool arc for most of the team (U.S. Agent and Quicksilver are off recruiting another team member and being anti-social, which is what they are good at), in which they have a scheme to break into the Baxter Building to steal something from the Fantastic Four. The arc itself just has a great name, titled “the Baxter Job.” I am really excited about this arc, but I really want a new artist. Please Marvel, make this book the flagship book it deserves to be.
Dark Avengers #5
This is a really entertaining book, but something about it has always bothered me and I think I finally found why.
Characters like Venom and Daken just do not fit Bendis and his heavily pop culture influenced writing. Venom should not be making references to TV shows, that should be rule #1 to this book, but Bendis still does it. I completely understand Moonstone doing that, but I swear to god, the first time Marvel Boy makes a reference to Jon and Kate Plus 8, I will drop this book so fast the Sentry’s increasingly crazy head will spin.
With that said, Mike Deodato is an ace (even if his Norman Osborn looks exactly like Tommy Lee Jones) and Bendis is superb at pacing and plotting. This story, which focuses on Osborn responding to Clint Barton’s TV appearance in New Avengers and team dynamic building (and the eventual appearance of Atlanteans), is set up with time shifts and location changes galore, but the story never loses any of its focus and always keeps driving forward in a completely logical and engrossing manner. It works really, really well.
Now if Bendis can just start being realistic with his hardened criminal characters, I’d be willing to say it’s reached its potential. But we haven’t crossed that bridge yet.
This brand new Image title that is written by John Layman and drawn by Rob Guillory is one of the most entertaining debut issues I’ve read in years. In fact, the concept is one of the most original I’ve ever read, and I can’t even imagine where they could possibly go with it, all I know is it will be really fun getting there.
This title is about Tony Chu, a police officer in vice in a world where Bird Flu got out of control and the sale of chicken became illegal, and also a police officer with a very special talent – he gets the life experiences from whatever he eats (besides beets). The story is at times laugh out loud funny and one of the most inventive concepts on the market, and it is paired perfectly with Guillory’s art (which looks very similar to Atomic Robo‘s Scott Wegener in its cartoonish glee) to accomplish alternatingly disgusting and hysterical things.
The debut issue really just focuses on getting all of the story and characters set up in the places they need to be, but it is instantly the most original book on the market and one of the most well put together as well. This is the next big book. Don’t wait until the trades come out, pick this up right now. You don’t want to be the last person to grab it, as my store was nearly sold out already.Continued below
Superman and the World of Krypton #4
After the New Krypton arc in the Superman comics, all of the books took a big change. Strangely enough, Superman is no longer in Superman and Action Comics, and is exclusively appearing in this book. While I had my doubts initially, I really am starting to like this book four issues in. Greg Rucka and James Robinson are telling an awesome story, and this issue showed the ramifications of the appearance of New Krypton on the surrounding DCU, specifically via the appearance of the Green Lantern Corps. Obviously the Guardians were going to be interested in the development of this new society in sector 2814, but this issue revealed more about Zod’s plans and where this book is going.
Robinson and Rucka have a great grasp on all characters involved, although I have to say one of the parts that interested me the most was Sodam Yat, the GLC’s resident Daxamite, and his reaction to hearing that Mon-El has taken Superman’s place as protector of Earth. This could lead to really interesting story arcs, and even a small two or three frame story beat was remarkably interesting in the hands of these two. Paired with Pete Woods, whose relatively plain and static art style never really stands out for me but does quite well in this book, this is quickly becoming the top Superman book.
Now if we could just get cover artist Gary Frank to do interiors as well.
This book is awesome.
Originally, I loved Jason Aaron’s dialogue and story but I couldn’t stand series artist R.M. Guera’s work. Slowly but surely, whether or not my taste changed in Guera’s work or his work improved, I’m not sure. This issue though was an absolute clinic on gritty crime art, with Guera providing some of his best work of the series and a page by page highlight reel on the human condition. Just ridiculously awesome work from Guera on this issue.
Oh yeah, and Aaron’s story/dialogue was quite brilliant in wrapping up another top notch arc, as we finally find out what Dash’s fate is as the casino robbery comes together. Bloody, badass and frankly brilliant. This book rules.
Amazing Spider-Man #586
American Son is the current arc for ASM, and it is written by one of my favorite writers Joe Kelly. Kelly was responsible for the 90’s Deadpool series, some great recent creator owned work, and one of the best arcs of the whole Brand New Day ASM shebang, and this arc is shaping up to be a big one for the Marvel universe, as it has Spidey infiltrating the Norman Osborn regime.
This issue had a lot of big movement, plus some great character movements and developments. One of the best things things they’ve done in Brand New Day is develop the supporting cast to where it isn’t just a one man show, and past just the May/MJ combo from years past. Whether you’re talking about coworkers from Frontline, Jameson Sr., or Harry Osborn, these characters are either new and very interesting or redeveloped old characters. Great work by all involved, and this issue showed that very well.
Solid second issue of a big arc, and I am really looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time #2
This Atomic Robo story is the first mini-series that breaks into hard fantasy, even incorporating H.P. Lovecraft into the story as a character and further deepening the clear correlation between this series and Mignola’s Hellboy. Scott Wegener and Brian Clevenger continue their solid character work, but I would be lying if I didn’t say this one isn’t as massively fun as previous arcs have been. Sure, the interaction between Tesla and Robo is great and there are some great action set pieces, but the storyline is a bit less awesome than the rest.Continued below
Not the best example of a great book, but still very solid. This book comes highly recommended from yours truly, just start with previous arcs first.