There is a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.
Let’s get this party started.
Action Comics #27
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Aaron Kuder
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Greg Pak, in a way that shouldn’t be rare but is, just gets Superman. Superman saves, Superman sees the best in people, Superman unconditionally attempts to do the right thing. Not only that, but he gets Lana Lang, too. In fact, I’d wager that Lana has been better represented in these first couple of Pak-scripted issues than she’s been in over a decade, if not longer. Their interaction has been an absolute joy; for the first time in a long time, you can see why Clark fell in love with her, and why they made a good pair.
On the art side, Aaron Kuder continues to do really special things in this book. Despite having the first 8 pages done by (very capable) fill-ins, the book still retained Kuder’s tone throughout the book. What is so refreshing about his work is that the broad spectrum of emotions is present – that sounds silly, but it is something DC is sorely lacking. His work has joy, and sadness, and flirtation, and pride, and worry, and protection all right there on the page. So many DC books are brood-fests that no one can smile, let alone have a complex emotion. That doesn’t mean that the action suffers, either, and most of this book is fast-paced monster fighting.
Together, these two are created something really and truly worthy of the character they are working on. Bravo, gents.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy
Written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan
Illustrated by Mike Hawthrone
Reviewed by James Johnston
In lieu of a traditional review I’m just going to list things that are in this issue. A terrible capitation pun, the cute smile Mike Hawthorne draws underneath Wade’s mask, Agent Preston, the first canon appearance of Agent of SHIELD’s Lola, a pensive Crossbones, the first recorded use of “hella” in a comic book, Moral Orel’s Scott Adsit, Batroc the Leaper, and Phil Coulson hanging out with Deadpool.
I’ve had many regrets in my life, but not catching up with the new “Deadpool” until now has been one one of the biggest.
Final Verdict: 7.9 – Buy, this run of “Deadpool” made me a believer.
Earth 2 #19
Written by Tom Taylor
Illustrated by Nicola Scott and Robson Rocha
Review by Vince Ostrowski
What used to be appointment comic book reading is now kind of more like a soap opera. Well, a soap opera where there’s twists or shocking events on every fifth page. I’ll admit that I’m enjoying this title post-Robinson, but it’s mostly on a very cheap junk food level. The problems with taking this fast and loose approach with the plot start to really show themselves in issue #19, where the abundance of characters means that the team seems mashed together and compelling arcs like Lois Lane’s emergence as Red Tornado feel like they’re being stunted in favor of shuffling characters off to new conflicts. It doesn’t help that having another evil Superman flying around in a DC title has “Earth 2” feeling like “Injustice” or “Forever Evil” reheated. Nicola Scott’s art is as expert as ever, but DC once again falls into the trap of combining two artists on a book to prevent a fill-in and weakening the final product with an inconsistent visual style.
Final Verdict: 5.2 – Browse. This is fun as a stunt book, so I guess if you like stunts, have at it.
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
Review by David Harper
The grunge arc comes to an end, as the events of the Amsterdam saga and where Nicolas is at with his captor Nelson come colliding together. It’s really clever, what Brubaker and Phillips did here, as I didn’t even suspect the twist at the end in the slightest, and it continues to underline what lengths men will go to for Josephine. This arc ends in death, as Fatale’s arcs tend to do, but the way it is all delivered is tragic in a wonderfully insane way. In many ways, Jo is the villain of this story, as she leaves carnage and heartbreak wherever she goes, and this sets us up for a run at the very end of this book. The players are in the places they need to be, and Phillips does his thing in making moments like satanic rituals and brutal murders evocative and page turning. It’s never gratuitous, as he ensures that we get just what we need to make the proper impact, but never so much that it would repulse us.
Fatale is an exercise in perfectly measured storytelling amidst what is often a bloodbath, and I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, if they ever get better again.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – the end is nigh, and there may be no survivors
Five Ghosts #8
Written by Frank Barbiere
Illustrated by Chris Mooneyham
Review by David Harper
If I could boil this book down to two pages – the map that is used as the title page – I’d give this book all of the high grades. I love that title page, and it makes me want to live in this book. The rest of it ain’t bad either, as Fabian Gray teams up with a bunch of scoundrels in pursuit of more dreamstone, with flashbacks to previous dreamstone owners and current opposite numbers haunting him. Barbiere gives the familiar events a zest and pop that entertains throughout, and Mooneyham’s art effortlessly accentuates and emphasizes all of the story and character beats so they work all the better. The only significant demerit this issue gets is for the scene when Fabian’s crew’s ship gets boarded, and all of a sudden Fabian and the two ruffians he’s with have a random encounter a la Final Fantasy. I’m all for sweet pirate fight sequences, but the lack of clarity as to how these people got onboard and the fight began made me flip the pages back and forth a bit, impacting my reading experience in the process.
Besides that though, Lost Coastlines continues to be a rollicking good time that you could argue is even more fun than the first, introductory arc.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – they took the map straight to my heart with this one
Green Arrow #27
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
Review by Vince Ostrowski
‘The Outsider War’ continues to develop the partnership between Shado and Ollie, allowing Lemire to show off his ability to imbue personality and chemistry in a very short amount of time. Lemire also continues to play with the legacy of “Green Arrow” as well as line things up with the television series in a surprisingly unobtrusive way. Lemire reveals one of the biggest secrets of Oliver’s past, and while it’s a little predictable, there is no doubt that the stinger on the very last page is one of the most satisfying things I’ll see this week, for a variety of reasons. Andrea Sorrentino’s skill is chief among those reasons. Not only does he nail that final moment with the pitch perfect payoff, but his unique approach to the art is single-handedly making “Green Arrow” one of DC’s “must read” titles. Much like Ollie’s quiver, Sorrentino’s bag of tricks hasn’t run out yet.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy
Sex Criminals #4
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
If this book was just the letters column, it would be one of the best books being published today. Throw in the hilarious, soulful, touching comic that precedes it? Shit, son, you’ve got yourself a wiener. (see what I did there?)Continued below
For a book called “Sex Criminals,” there isn’t all that much sex in this book. Sure, there are a few sequences of public fornication, but the book really isn’t about sex – it is about how two specific people can use sex to do whatever they want. In many ways, the characters in this book are good people, but they go about things in pretty terrible ways. Because of that, there is a level of moral ambiguity which breeds tension in the book that is rare for a comic. You’re rooting for these sexed up kids, but you understand why they probably should fail.
Zdarksy’s art is really beautiful here, and he never trivializes or overdoes the sex acts. This is a pretty exploitation-free comic which, again, from a title like “Sex Criminals” seems odd. The intrigue being built around the “police” is really interesting, and the book continues to be maybe the funniest book on the stands right now. This is a damn good comic.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy