WINCBD! – Walt’s Stack (8-11-10)

By | August 12th, 2010
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

This is my last set of reviews for you fine Multiversity writers for a while as I readjust to college life, but hopefully it won’t be too long before I return to shove my opinions in your face once again. As usual, enjoy our rating scale:

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

What books do I have for you this week? Why, Daredevil #509, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #2, Birds of Prey #4 and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #13, that’s what. Follow the jump for more.

Daredevil #509

Both Matt and I predicted that with Shadowland we would be getting something similar to Blackest Night, and so far it looks like we were right. The issues of Daredevil have been superior to the issues of the main Shadowland mini, partially due to the better art, but also due to… well, something else that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Shadowland #2 was a lot of talking heads, so I was glad to see that there was a good deal more action in this issue. I’m certainly not one that believes superhero comics should be action and action only, but well-written fight scenes are Andy Diggle’s forte, and it would be foolish to want something other than his best. Once again, Diggle shows a solid grasp on nearly all the characters, from Foggy Nelson to Master Izo. All things considered, Diggle should be the guy to go to for writing an event like this, but something still isn’t clicking.

What I don’t get is why this was released when and where (chronologically) it was. The entire issue takes place before Shadowland #2 and doesn’t spoil anything from that issue. If that’s the case, why wasn’t the story from this issue in Shadowland #2 and vice versa? I guess Diggle is trying to keep the two titles somewhat separated, but I don’t think that it’s necessary for Daredevil to read fine on its own from Shadowland when the event is about Daredevil. It just bothers me when events and their tie-ins get a bit out of sync, but hey, to each their own.

All that being said, this was definitely the best issue so far. Someone made an appearance who I wasn’t expecting, but as a long time Daredevil fan I’m interested to see how Diggle uses the character. Roberto De La Torre’s art is just as great as always, rivaling even Michael Lark. I’m still very invested in this story and in Daredevil as a character, but I can honestly tell you that this issue is worth a buy.

Final Verdict: 7.2 – Buy it!

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #2

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been keeping up with Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. I know it’s good, but it’s just hard to keep up in trade when on a college budget and catching up with other series (I’m a completionist when it comes to comics, so I can’t just jump back in). I’ve loved every bit that I’ve read so far, so I was sure to get Brubaker’s new series centered on Steve Rogers, international man of mystery (I think I got that right).

Honestly, I wish that this was an ongoing series. Everyone knows that I love Secret Warriors to death, but I think Marvel can make room for another espionage book, especially if it’s being written by Brubaker (until they’re off of Mars, Secret Avengers doesn’t count). You can tell that Brubaker is in his comfort zone here: while I feel traces some of his previous work in the narrative and the action, it is still unique, interesting and, above all, exciting.

Continued below

This issue picks up from the cliffhanger that last issue ended with, presenting all sorts of puzzles for the former Captain America. The Super Soldier Serum had fallen into the wrong hands, and a face from Steve’s past has returned to haunt him. Are things what they seem to be, or are is someone just jerking Steve around? Spoiler alert: it’s the latter. In the end of the issue, Brubaker brings in a relatively obscure villain, so I’m not sure (but interested in seeing) how things will play out.

As sore as I am that Dale Eaglesham is no longer on Fantastic Four, his excellent work on this mini is enough to satiate me. Eaglesham is excellent at making calm, almost serene backgrounds and then suddenly filling them with kinetic scenes; something that works very well for an espionage tale, where action may spring up at any minute. I’d love to see him do more work with Brubaker, but I’d be fine with anything so long as we get Eaglesham art once a month. If the story and the writing are the ice cream, Eaglesham’s art is certainly the whipped cream and cherry on top. But, like, really fancy whipped cream and cherry.

Final Verdict: 8.2 – Buy it!

Birds of Prey #4

I finished reading Gail Simone’s original Birds of Prey run shortly before this new volume was announced, so that was a convenient coincidence. The original run was very good, and got me interested in characters I hadn’t been very invested in before (namely Huntress, who I disliked beforehand). I was slightly worried that since I hadn’t read those issues following Simone’s departure on the title I would have trouble jumping back in, but honestly I’ve had no problem picking the book back up since the relaunch (which, I suppose, is the point of a relaunch).

The story so far has been centering on the mysterious White Canary, who has it in for — you guessed it — Black Canary. Up until now, the White Canary’s identity has been a secret, but in this issue (which marks the end of the first arc) we finally find out her history. I can understand why some people who haven’t read Birds of Prey weren’t satisfied with the reveal, but if you read Simone’s earlier run then you should recognize the reference to the (arguably) best arc from then.

I’ve never been a big fan of Ed Benes’ art, but usually it’s good enough for me. Something about his work in this issue, however, really bothered me (aside from his usual hyper-sexualized women). Something about it just looked rushed and unfinished, though some panels were worse than others. Giving it a second glance, though, I can’t really tell if it’s a matter of bad pencil work or sloppy inking. I just don’t have an artist’s eye. Whatever the case, it does not work for me.

Overall, the action in this book was as good as you would expect from a title by Simone, and there were a bunch of emotionally intense moments as well. I’m glad that I picked up Simone’s earlier run when I did, because — while I’m sure this would still be a fun read — I don’t see it being quite as good without prior reading.

Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy it!

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #13

Following Ultimatum, we saw Peter Parker in a very strange position: things were going well. The people of New York loved and respected him, his new relationship with Gwen was going great, and — most bizarre of all — J. Jonah Jameson had recognized him as a true hero. Everything was swell… but we can’t have that in a Spider-Man book for long, now can we?

Brian Michael Bendis certainly doesn’t think so, and in this issue he proceeds to destroy everything happy and nice that he so willingly Peter Parker at the beginning of this relaunch. We somewhat recently saw the Chameleon show up in Amazing Spider-Man, but now he is making his first Ultimate appearance. As far as I know, The Chameleon has never appeared in a high school-aged Spider-Man setting, which is the sort of setting that he could probably do the most damage in. But that’s just one Chameleon, what about… well, I’ve said too much. All things considered, Bendis really shows his prowess of dialogue in this issue without getting too wordy (obviously, a common complaint by those who don’t care for his style), and really leaves the reader wanting more. This is the writing I endured Ultimatum for.

Continued below

The writing in this book is some of Bendis’ best, but I really, really do not like David Lafuente’s art. I can’t say that it’s “bad,” because he really does have an artist’s eye; all of his layouts, perspectives and such tend to be solid and interesting, but I just can’t stand his style. His people just look really awkward to me, and his J. Jonah Jameson looked so awful that I could hardly get through the scene with him and Peter. That’s how much I don’t like it.

After a rocky start, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man is around the same level of quality as Ultimate Spider-Man was when it comes to writing. In terms of art, though, it is far, far behind. Until Lafuente is off of this book, it will constantly get at least .5 points off what it would probably get with any other artist (I care more about writing than art, otherwise it would probably be significantly higher).

Final Verdict: 7.7 – Buy it!

Walt Richardson

Walt is a former editor for Multiversity Comics and current podcaster/ne'er-do-well. Follow him on Twitter @goodbyetoashoe... if you dare!