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 #28
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Aaron Kuder
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
I know we sound like a broken record around these parts, but bless Greg Pak’s heart – his Superman comics are so good! This issue, like every other “Action” issue he’s done thus far, has felt like a classic Superman story in the all the right ways, and yet has been accessible and fresh in the ways that DC envisioned the New 52 to be. This issue, in particular, does a fantastic job of showcasing why Superman has been an iconic character for the entirety of his existence. He gets to show off his cool powers, both big (flight and super strength) and small (looking into the water to see if it was poisoned), he gets to show his unstoppable humanity and optimism, and shows why women swoon every time he enters a room.
The Lana/Clark interaction reminds me of being a Lana/Clark ‘shipper back in the early Smallville days, except that both characters are well developed and aren’t emo-ing around to bad WB music. Pak and Kuder do such an incredible job of showing their attraction almost entirely behind the other one’s back. The book doesn’t quite ignore the fact that Superman is dating Wonder Woman elsewhere in the DCU, but it lets Clark still have a little crush and handles it pretty perfectly. A big chunk of that is due to Kuder, who does a really nice job bringing emotion and subtlety to the small moments in the book. Of course, he also draws awesome ghosts, dinosaurs, lemur/monkeys and underground royalty, so the book isn’t all character moments. It is a full formed comic in the best sense.
If you like Superman and aren’t reading this, you’re wrong.
Final Verdict: 8.3 – Buy
Batman: Joker’s Daughter #1
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by Meghan Hetrick
Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski
Oh my – this character again – oh my. I hold a very staunch opinion that there is no such thing as a bad character. A great writer can make any character interesting, if approached with the right state of mind. Marguerite Bennett is not a bad writer, but neither she, nor anyone else, has done a decent job of explaining why this character should exist and why we should care. While her ‘Villains Month’ title was nigh unreadable, “Batman: Joker’s Daughter” fairs a little better in telling a coherent story from page 1 to page whatever they’re charging 5 bucks for now. While the ‘Villains Month’ issue felt like the plot was moving forward by pure coincidence, at least here Joker’s Daughter’s motivations are at least clear – no matter how crooked they might be. The result is a comic in which its central character desires to be 10x more twisted than her idol. What does that mean for us? Relentless violence of a horrifying proportion. Even by usual modern DC Comics’ standards, this one-shot alone could take an innocent, impressionable reader, make them lose all hope in humanity, and then render them completely desensitized to gore in one reading.
I can’t believe I can honestly say this after such a depressing and relentless issue, but Meghan Hetrick is quite clearly a talent to look out for in the future. Her clean, cartoony takes on the ‘New 52’ characters is totally welcome and refreshing, even on an issue that doesn’t suit the style at all. Batman looks young, lithe, and dynamic – like an animated series version of the character rather than the bulky tank that he’s been in the ‘New 52’. Both totally valid takes on the design of the character, but his appearance here was a welcome reprieve from the hulking figure we’ve seen lately.Continued below
The main question is, even if you want another Joker’s Daughter story, did you really want to pay 5 dollars for it to be able to read twice as much of it? If the answer is yes, then you bought this already. This review doesn’t matter and I’ve wasted my miserable life.
Final Verdict: 4.0 – Pass. Here’s to not seeing “Joker’s Daughter” blow up on the speculators’ market again.
Five Ghosts #9
Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Illustrated by Chris Mooneyham
Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski
Multiversity-favorite “Five Ghosts” continues to thrill and delight, benefitting from a fresh new “high-seas” setting, a handful of new characters, and a willingness to play with the formula. Fabian Gray again finds himself in the clutches of a seemingly impossible situation to escape from. The thrill comes from just how he’s going to escape, rather than if he will. That’s the mark of a great comic book character. Barbiere continues to impress with his ability to pay homage to pulp adventure history while creating a fresh story that we feel like we haven’t seen before. He has the ability to write villains as mustache-twirling, maniacal-laughing bad guys and have it feel exciting rather than cheesy. Barbiere can write a throwback as well as anyone in comics.
Mooneyham, just the same, continues to be a revelatory comic talent. His barrel-chested Fabian battles against the odds, quite literally in this case, swashbuckling his way through the adventure. Mooneyham uses a variety of visual tricks and styles to tell a non-chronological tale with clarity and wonder. A particular sequence of dusty, sketchy visual style evokes the life beneath Mooneyham’s finished pages. We’re going to keep recommending this one until every single one of our readers have checked it out – it’s that good.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy
Green Lantern/Red Lanterns #28
Written by Robert Venditti and Charles Soule
Illustrated by Billy Tan and Alessandro Vitti
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
While the new creative teams on the Lantern books has certainly given them a spark, the cracks are beginning to show a little too. Authoritarian Hal is borderline insufferable, and while the limiting of the emotional spectrum is a fascinating development, it hasn’t lead to the sort of creative stories that could come out of that development. The “Green Lantern” side of this issue feels like an excuse to catch up on a few plot points without really pushing them forward. Sure, we get to see Saint Walker, we get to hang out on Mogo for a spell, we get to see the pacifist Lanterns being teased by the bully pro-light gang, but nothing really happens. Well, that’s not entirely true, we see Hal and co. deliver Red Lantern Supergirl to Ysmault.
This is also Billy Tan’s weakest issue of the book thus far – his Hal seems to have lost his “look,” as he doesn’t appear consistent from page to page. This issue illustrates (pardon the pun) how difficult it is to draw a Lantern book because of all of the variety of characters’ looks, species, etc. While certain parts look great (the Saint Walker bits, the rage-spewing Supergirl), Tan’s work has typically been stronger than this. I don’t doubt that he will turn it around, but this was a bit of a disappointment, art-wise.
I never thought I would say this, but the “Red Lanterns” half of the book is a more interesting part, by far. By “taking” Sector 2814 as their own, Earth is now Red Lantern jurisdiction. We get a mention of Baz for the first time in who knows how long, we see Guy and Ice working through their, ahem, complicated relationship, and we get to see the two warring sides of the Red Lanterns: Atrocitus and Guy Gardner. While Guy’s cop-stache and stringy hair isn’t exactly the best look for him, Soule is taking steps to establish him as not just “Guy Gardner playing a Red Lantern,” but rather “Red Lantern Guy Gardner.” There is a nice moment between Guy and Hal where, for the second time in this issue, Guy’s humanity is able to peek through his Red exterior.Continued below
And while Vitti is still not my favorite artist working today, his heavy line and uneven style sort of fits the rage-obsessed book a little better than it did a few issues ago. Consistency is also his problem, as Guy has about 40 different faces in this issue. The wild style, as I said, does fit the book, but it needs to be reigned in for the non-action sequences. If Vitti brought all the crazy for all scenes involving battle or rage, and toned back his work elsewhere, that would be a huge improvement over this current work. I’d love to see him get there.
And, of course, there’s the business of Red Lantern Supergirl. We learn here that she is the first of 9 “new” Reds that will be showing up soon. I doubt all will have the power potential/name recognition of Kara Zor-El, but it is a nice piece of long-term storytelling.
Final Verdict: 6.0 – A great value for $2.99, and you get two ok comics.
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Michael Lark
Reviewed by David Harper
World building can be a very rewarding process in comics, but in the wrong hands it could be a complete drag. You see it in comics sometimes where they build and build and build, but you never actually get anything from it. With “Lazarus”, that is certainly not the case, as Rucka and Lark take the second issue of the “Lift” arc to expand this tortured, desperate world while expanding our relationship with the lead, Forever.
Forever is the rarest of action leads in that the most we can take from her is often in her inaction, and one of the most notable sequences in this issue is where instead of quickly tackling a group of thieves in her family’s lands, she instead watches. It’d be more accurately called “assesses”, I suppose, as she measures the value of each action she could take, and comes up with the most effective solution for everyone (she apparently applies Nashian principles to her day-to-day life far better than the rest of the Family Carlyle). It’s all bolstered by a look at her childhood, as her trainer notes how much her father’s distaste for Eve’s progress has fueled her, to the point when she’s sharing her concerns about the child, you realize that it isn’t just concern, it’s fear, as brilliantly realized by Lark.
Meanwhile, the Barret family’s story begins to give us a look into why the arc is called what it is, and we are given quite a bit more insight into not just them as characters, but the structure of the Waste side of society in the process.
It’s all wonderfully effective and efficient storytelling. Sort of like Forever in story form, which really only makes sense.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – But it’d be a 9 if Rucka and Lark would just add some god damn aliens
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Mirko Colak
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Turok, a character nearly 60 years old, is best known by folks of my generation as a Valiant comic from the early 90s and a first person shooter game. I have not encountered a piece of Turok material in nearly 20 years, so I was curious to see what the character would look like to my 31 year old, and not 13 year old, eyes.
The art, while stunning at times, suffers a little bit in the differentiation of the characters. This isn’t the fifth or eighth issue of the series; Turok needs to stand out a little more, as do Timo, Kobo, and Andar. Part of this, I’m sure, is the bias of my American upbringing, but different colored headbands just isn’t instructive enough. (Before someone quotes TMNT on me, those characters all have different weapons as well) That said, the issue lays out its goals really well, gives a nice introduction to the character and his world, with a nice little twist at the end. Pak makes the characters all well developed, without the use of too much dialogue, and sets the stage for a few interesting plotlines down the road.Continued below
There is a certain feel and tone that Dynamite books have, and while I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it, I am intrigued that, no matter the creative team or book, the tone is consistent. That tone is more in place for a story like this than, say, it is for “Uncanny.” That tone – something in the coloring, perhaps? – harkens back to a time long past. Whatever the unnamed element is, it makes this book feel less than modern – that isn’t an insult, but rather an observation – and that tone helps transport the reader into a time and place they are not familiar with. For “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter,” that helps set the book up for a successful debut.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy