This week, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different here at Multiversity – we’re going to split up reviews. I’m taking six reviews to Matt’s slightly more considerable number, both in an effort to split up duties and to give you the readers a different set of opinions and writing styles. This will likely be an every week thing, so see below for my reviews for the week of 7/1/09.
The Good: Ed Brubaker could write these characters in his sleep – has a brilliant grasp on each characters voice and guiding them in logical ways. Pages drip of importance – just feels like a huge event. Very solid work from Bryan Hitch.
The Bad: Major questions weigh this book down.
Overall: This was an extremely well made book. Ed Brubaker is clearly bringing his A game here, as he directs his characters like they are his pawns in a giant chess game but still gives them life effortlessly, and he never forgets to make this book entertaining at the very least. You could make the argument that Bru looks at this book as the culmination of his long, long run on the book, so he’s pulling out all of the stops.
Not only that, but Bryan Hitch predictably does a top notch job as well, as he’s simply one of the best artists in the business (although I prefer his work on works of a more grand scale). He has a great grasp on the look and feel of the characters, although I do have to wonder why we couldn’t just get Steve Epting on this book (it looks like he’s busy with that new Marvels project though). Bru and him have been working together all along, and for continuity sake it would have made sense to pair them up again.
With all that said, you would think this is on its way to being a rave, but I have major questions, led by the simple question of why? Why is Steve coming back? Why is this series happening (short of a money grab)? Why would the Red Skull send Steve through time and not just kill him? I feel like the first issue only gave me more questions rather than resolving any of the ones I had previously, and as a reader that is frustrating. I guess I’m part of the camp that openly wonders why we can’t keep going forward with a Bucky driven book, and this did nothing to convince me otherwise.
The Good: Strong work by DnA with many characters, particularly Talon, Crystal, and Ronan. Great work by Paul Pelletier (as per usual). Sets up the pieces for a big finale.
The Bad: The T-Bomb plot point is bit of a reach, even for a cosmic comic – clearly just trying to bring Black Bolt and Vulcan together. Inhumans are facing a characterization shift, from righteous victims to pragmatic aggressors.
Overall: At this point of the series, you’ve probably formulated how you feel about it overall. As an unabashed fan of DnA’s writing (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning), the cosmic scene, and Paul Pelletier, I dig this series. While it’s definitely not as high quality as Annihilation as of yet, War of Kings is definitely another entertaining romp through the cosmic world of the Marvel universe. This issue though had two major problems that are closely related, and they may eventually be enough to downgrade the series from “outright success” to “good, but not as good as it could have been.”
While the plot up to this point made perfect sense (the Inhumans/Kree are attacked by the villainous despot Vulcan and his Shi’ar Imperial Guard, causing a war throughout the universe and potentially triggering the ascent of the Kree and the downfall of the Shi’ar), the twists in this issue sent it spiraling into uneven ground. In this issue, you had the Inhumans essentially giving up on standard warfare based around retribution and going on an inane quest of forced terrigenesis to make everyone the same (essentially the comic book equivalent of the last scene in failed blockbuster Volcano), which is frankly stupid and self defeating: after carefully positioning the Inhumans as the side to root for in the first four issues, DnA effectively decided that they were pragmatic conquerors as well when their back is against the wall.Continued below
That leads me to this question: who do we root for? In a storyline of this sort, you need those kinds of answers.
The Good: Fantastic characterization by Simone, with believable double crosses, sharp dialogue, and interesting new characters. Great surprise guest appearance. Brilliant work by Nicola Scott (as per usual).
The Bad: It ends?
Overall: Continuing an arc that is simultaneously fun in a way that only Secret Six is fun (funny, sexy, and creepy) and thematically resonant in that it gives us a look into the sordid world of human trafficking via the super villain angle, Gail Simone and Nicola Scott once again bring their best as their eleven issue run is stacking up as one of the best in recent memory.
I’ve kind of beaten this into the ground at this point, but this is one of the three best series DC is producing right now (along with the Green Lantern books) and if you aren’t picking up this well written, sharply drawn, incredibly funny and oddly touching book, you’re missing out on one of the best.
The Good: Continuation of a great story arc. The degradation of Tony Stark’s intellect. Matt Fractions’s brilliant characterization and character interactions (particularly between Natasha Romanova and Maria Hill). Salvador Larocca…most of the time?
The Bad: Salvador Larocca’s Tony Stark. Somewhat bizarre finish.
Overall: Just like Iron Man: Director of SHIELD before it, this book is a strangely forgotten one because it continues to exist simultaneously within continuity and entirely outside of it. It’s a bit of a breath of fresh air for a book to be almost entirely standalone, and that would be a good way to describe this book.
For the past 8 issues or so, we’ve followed Tony Stark as he tries to hide from Norman Osborn and HAMMER forces as he essentially reboots his brain, and its been a wild ride watching Tony become more and more simple minded (or normal, as he calls it in this issue) and still dodge Osborn. This issue finds Tony and his gal pal Pepper reuniting in Russia, just in time for Madame Masque to make a move on them, and this leads to some great character moments and a kind of bizarre finish (“do me or Potts gets it” is what I took from Madame Masque at the end). Fraction writes Stark as kind of a futurist, genius version of James Bond, and the ending with two ladies vying for his amorous intentions is pretty classy.
This issue is with very few flaws, but my biggest problem with it is Salvador Larocca’s Tony Stark. It bothers me how different he looks! Assuredly, as Stark is on the run that is what he’s going for, but you would think he would still look like basically the same person. I quite like Larocca’s pencils outside of that, but some uniformity or at the very least, basely recognizable qualities would be quite nice.
The Good: Finally ties Millar-verse works from the past year and a half together. Occasional great work by Bryan Hitch. Intense threat that really raises the stakes.
The Bad: Terrible inking drags Hitch’s work down. Storyline feels a bit forced, making connections where connections are not necessarily evident. Another issue that is effectively a very threatening conversation. Poor pacing.
Overall: I veer wildly up and down on my opinion on this book. It’s a much better book in concept than it is in actuality, as Millar + Hitch + FF should be a recipe for a (excuse me) fantastic book. The problem I think lies in big concepts that are dragged down by slow pacing and shoddy inking, not to mention Millar’s obsession with connecting this with Old Man Logan and 1985. This is the issue where those connections finally happen, and while it makes sense, it leads to more villainous exposition and another issue where we essentially have the FF up against a massively overpowered keynote speaker.Continued below
The biggest shame I’d say is the horribly inconsistent and occasionally too intense inks that they are laying down on Bryan Hitch’s pencils. High quality work by Hitch as per usual, but his art is coming out dirty and too busy thanks to the inks that they are laying, not to mention its giving the book a variable quality in terms of visual representation. I’ve heard Stuart Immonen is wrapping this run up, and I have bit more faith in him as I’m fairly certain he does his own inks. However, it’s quite frustrating to see a flagship book like this be downgraded by poor creator choice.
Still a solid and entertaining book, just an underwhelming one. A fantastic shame if I’ve ever seen one.