I don’t normally say this, but I feel like it’s pretty safe to say here: the comic output this week was pretty putrid. I only bought 8 books (I know – only), which has to be my smallest stack of the year. Not only that, but the majority of the books I purchased were not exactly high on my level of excitement. Still, it’s an interesting blend at least, if only because of how atypical it is.
0: Uwe Boll will direct the adaptation of this comic
0.1 – 1: Burn upon touching
1- 1.9: Abysmal
2.0 – 2.9: Art. Writing. Editing. All bad.
3.0 – 3.9: You’d be a masochist to pick this up.
4.0 – 4.9: “I’ll give it another month…but that was not good.”
5.0 – 5.9: “Really? The Watcher? In the face? I guess it was fun.”
6.0 – 6.9: “Hmm. That was decent.”
7.0 – 7.9: Well made but a few problems
8.0 – 8.9: Nearly flawless
9.0 – 9.9: Outstanding
10: Perfection. Issue of the year contender
This week my reviews include Wonder Woman #603, Secret Warriors #20, and Action Comics #893 . A shocking mix, if only because it includes more DC superhero books than anything else. Obviously I was drunk at the comic store once again.
Here’s a good rule of thumb for me: generally speaking, if on the front cover for credits there are more than say…4 people listed, the book is going to be pretty meh. Wonder Woman #603 is a pretty good example of that rule, as there is a bevy of creators contributing (three pencillers!) but all of it turns into a pretty mediocre venture altogether.
I think the most disappointing thing about the series continues to be JMS, as the art overall is decent. Don Kramer is a find, for sure, and his style fits the book fairly well. The two supporting pencillers do a good job of blending their styles, but nothing is really that dynamic artistically in this issue.
As I said, JMS though continues an absolutely horrid run on comics. Between this and Superman, I am completely repulsed by his recent production. This issue, which falls into the all-new, all-different take on Wonder Woman, just feels more of the same. It feels like Wonder Woman was born again into the same mediocrity that has ran rampant in her book for as long as I can remember. The story feels wholly disconnected from the DC Universe, it is perhaps too quickly told (she gets into and out of hell in half an issue?), and most all of it feels like a retread. To be perfectly honest, it feels like a lesser version of Gail Simone’s arc in which Wonder Woman has to go to Hades (or some form of underworld) with Beowulf and Claw the Unconquered to reclaim her sole. Except condensed in one issue and kind of sucky.
This is probably one of my worst reviews from a technical analysis I’ve ever written, but I just can’t help it: I cannot stand this book. It’s drab, boring, uninspired and just feels like a retread. For a run that was supposed to bring our favorite Amazon back to the forefront, it’s been hugely disappointing.
Final Verdict: 3.5 – Pass
Here’s the thing about Secret Warriors…when it launched it was one of the most exciting and intelligent superhero books on the market. The way Jonathan Hickman bridged the spy element with the superhero element worked incredibly well, and it was just a joy to read.
With each passing month though, it’s slowed down quite a bit. The recent Howling Commandoes arc was another standout arc, but something has grown quickly apparent to me on Jonathan Hickman’s work: his writing seems to match the quality of the art he’s dealing with. The better the art, the more grandiose his plots and intelligent his scripts. With the Howling Commandoes arc and the other standouts he’s done with this book, Stefano Caselli has been the artist. This issue? We have Mirko Colak, and artist who was previously unknown to me but someone who quickly made it apparent why he wasn’t: the art just wasn’t that good.Continued below
Don’t get me wrong, there are elements of solid art here: nice linework, solid backgrounds, passable storytelling. But the biggest problem for me is seemingly every character has the same expression and quite often characters don’t even look like themselves (I was shocked to find out one panel was Yo Yo – it didnt’t even look like her).
Hickman’s story seems a bit far fetched as well. The Hydra/Leviathan battle has leapt 6 months into the future and has escalated a few levels, with their battle apparently taking out the Space Needle in the process. How is it remotely possible the Avengers haven’t been like “oh snap, this is a bad deal” and come over to help? The idea of this battle being a secret one that Fury and his Caterpillar team could keep the lead on went out the window when Fury’s Helicarrier went down in the previous arc: it simply makes no sense.
The character moments are solid, I still enjoy the relationship between JT and Daisy, and the fact that he’s double crossing the living hell out of them makes it all the more delicious (although this move feels so much like the Hardball and Komodo’s relationship from Avengers: The Initiative it’s a bit fishy). It just feels like this book is grinding to a close instead of soaring like it once did. Here’s hoping Hickman picks it up as the book ends, and finds an artist that inspires him before it’s too late.
Final Verdict: 5.0 – Browse
Paul Cornell’s idea to make Lex Luthor the lead of Action Comics was received only with moderate cheer at the conceptual level originally, but it has quickly earned esteem for a number of reasons. The biggest reason? Cornell has a damn near perfect voice for Luthor, highlighting the things that make him such an interesting character: namely, his brilliance, his singular vision, and his exhaustive obsession with claiming enough power to take down Superman.
With that said, this issue was the weakest of his run so far, as there were individual moments that stood out but it didn’t weave together as a whole as well as previous issues had. I think one of the biggest problems with the issue stemmed from the fact that “Super Gorilla Grodd” seemed way loopier than he ever had in the past, as well as the fact that two deaths (even if one was just misdirection) seemed like too big of a reach in one issue for Lex Luthor. The former just seemed like dicey characterization unless I’ve missed a few story beats for the character, while the latter just seemed like rudimentary storytelling from the often energetic and innovative Cornell.
With that said, there were some moments that greatly entertained. Example: the not one but two times that Grodd put a head in his mouth (to eat their brains, natch). The first time was just hilarious, as Grodd quickly realized Lois Lane was actually a cybernetic Lois Lane. The second time was just a good story beat, especially considering that Grodd fell for it twice (although it was another odd and repetitive choice from Cornell). Additionally, I enjoyed Sean Chen’s art in this issue, and found that he was a better storytelling partner for Cornell than Pete Woods.
The true highlight of the book for me was the back up from Nick Spencer and RB Silva. This back up focused on Jimmy Olsen and was a very entertaining little story, alternately showing how much Jimmy relies on Superman and also how great of a character he is when he stands alone. Spencer’s dialogue heavy script worked perfectly, instilling a bunch of clever moments (like the concept of LexCorp making a Superman video game) as well as introducing a fun opposite number to Jimmy at LexCorp. Silva’s art was cartoonish but in a crisp, lithe way. It worked very well.
Out of the books comic publishers are making with a back up feature, I’d say Action Comics is one of the most successful ones if the Jimmy Olsen back up builds on its high quality open. We know Cornell can bring it with Lex, and seeing relative neophyte Spencer continue to shine with Olsen is a joy as well.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.2 – Buy