I let y’all down last week with comic reviews, so I’m going to make it up to you all at once, with some pretty quick reviews of every book I can remember reading last week (there may be some omissions of memory here).
52 #13 – For awhile, I thought the issue was really going somewhere with Ralph and his fellow Leaguers who had come back from the dead (which IS a cool angle), and how Ralph decides to get back to being a superhero. It was handled quite nicely. And then they decide to throw a big curveball, and make Ralph even MORE psychotic, when it turns out Sue very well MIGHT have been brought back from the dead. Lame! And Todd Nauck looked like he was given three hours to draw this issue. Not recommended.
All New Atom #2 – I though John Byrne’s art was very good in this issue. The story was also a lot of fun, although, while I acknowledge that the quotes are a clever idea in theory, in practice, I don’t enjoy them. In theory, they would add to the story. In practice? They don’t seem to add much. Also, while I love the idea of the super-scientists who work as the Atom’s support crew, I think the old man losing his pants was pushing past eccentric into “way too weird.” But yeah, fun issue! Recommended.
Battler Britton #2 – I really enjoyed Colin Wilson’s art in this issue (more so than the first issue), but I just do not think we’ve been given a distinctive enough comic book here by Ennis. It seems like really generic Ennis war-time work. I felt as though I’ve read this story at least a gazillion times. Not recommended.
Creeper #1 – I don’t get the concept behind having a Brave New World intro story end with a nice twist (Jack Ryder declaring “war” on the Creeper), and then have the issue that is led into by the Brave New World story be an origin story set WELL before the story in Brave New World, without any connection!!! I don’t mind a retelling (and in this case, redoing) of the origin, just throw in a nice framing sequence at the beginning of the issue tying it into Brave New World, or otherwise, you just basically threw away the lead-in readers from Brave New World! Still, fun origin story and nice art by Justiniano. And while double-checking the spelling of Justiniano, I discovered a 9.8 CGC graded Creeper #1 on eBay. I shit you not. What a world we live in. Slightly recommended.
Detective Comics #822 – I enjoyed the story with Riddler selling his services as a detective, but man, Don Kramer’s art was just awful. I have decided that I do not blame him. He must have been horribly rushed or something. But still, as luck might have it, I had some duct tape handy, or else my eyes literally would have torn themselves from my sockets rather than look at that art any longer. But yeah, good, solid story by Dini. Good enough that I guess it’s recommended with the huge reservation being that the art is just awful.
Ex Machina #22 – I liked this issue, even though Tony Harris’ new art style is way freaky looking. I especially enjoyed the way the whole “the mayor smoked weed?” subplot was handled by the Mayor. Good stuff. I think the stuff with the citizen shooting the firefighter was WAY over the top, and in addition, I don’t even think it worked well as a cliffhanger, because really, some nameless firefighter is killed – does that CHANGE the plot at all? Seemed like an unnecessary “shock.” The “shock” from last issue at least had a real point to it. But otherwise, this was a solid issue, with decent art (even though Harris’ old style was a lot cooler than this new one). Recommended.
Exterminators #8 – I thought this was a nice issue, which gave us a look at the main character Henry’s ex-wife and his current (possible) love interest, and what THEIR lives are like apart from him. Some interesting character work here by writer Simon Oliver, and excellent fill-in artwork by Chris Samnee. That being said, I think you really would have to be into the book to find this issue really engaging, so I’m going to give it a slightly not recommended (although I enjoyed it).
Justice League Unlimited #24 – I love Adam Beechen on this title, and I think Carlo Barbieri has done some excellent work on the series, as well. That being said, while there was a lot of good things to be said about this issue, ultimately, I found it a bit disappointing. The basic concept is about J’onn J’onnz being cut off from the rest of the League, who are controlled by Starro, as he flashes back to his life on Mars. The set-up is a good one, but I do not think that Beechen milked it for enough pathos. The ultimate resolutions seem to resolve themselves almost a bit willy-nilly. For instance, the way that everything ties to J’onn’s past just seems too forced. Still, as a quick, action story, it certainly is FAR from bad. But not recommended.
Manifest Eternity #3 – Greg mentioned this in his review, and its true. This series is astonishingly bold in its attempt at telling a sweeping story. In fact, I really enjoyed this story, with Scott Lobdell effectively introducing us to a lot of new characters quickly, but also managing to get us to CARE about them. That’s a very hard trick, and one he pulls off nicely. Sadly, though, the same bold attempts with the story by Lobdell are attempted in the art by Dustin Nguyen, as he is coloring himself on this series, and man – that, matched with his new art style to coincide with the coloring himself – it just doesn’t work. Things are just muddy and unclear. Nothing looks all that cool-looking. The story is barely told in the art. Just not good, and I loves me the Nguyen normally. So….it’s on the fence for me. I think I’m going to edge into slightly not recommended, because, unlike Don Kramer’s awful Detective Comics art, Nguyen actually affects the reader’s ability to follow the story – and that’s a BIG no-no.
OMAC #2 – I was surprised by how much fun this issue of OMAC was. I enjoy Guedes art, but Jones’ story was pretty good, as well, and I was NOT a fan of #1. Ultimately, I think the issue was undone by the fact that none of the issue seemed to carry much weight to it, a little too fluffy, but man – the fluff was a lot of fun!! Basically, the guy who is the current OMAC is trying to escape in Las Vegas, but he keeps turning into OMAC abruptly! This leads to a lot of madcap chases, and the involvement of superheroes Cyborg and Firestorm (whose banter between each other is pretty bad). A lot of wackiness, but it doesn’t seem to be GOING anywhere. Slightly not recommended (it WAS still pretty darn fun!).
Outsiders #39 – Again, best “Get Well” wishes to Matthew Clark! Pop Mhan drew this issue, and it wasn’t very good looking. I don’t like it when writers take one little clever idea a better writer had years ago, and just runs it into the ground, which I think is what we’re getting with the whole “Brain and Massalah love each other” thing. Yes, it’s a clever idea! We get it! Leave it alone! Every issue is like that lame Austen “Romeo and Juliet with mutants” story that MarkAndrew likes for some reason. The fight scenes are uninspired, the villains were uninspired, heck, the “twist” ending was uninspired. This book is not very good. Recommended that you do not read it.
Y the Last Man #48 – This was a nice spotlight issue on Alter. Vaughan does a GREAT job of really getting into her head. I was quite impressed. Goran Sudzuka draws the issue quite well. I have been consistently impressed with the high quality of replacement pencillers this book has gotten when Pia Guerra is not on the title. Just remarkable – not a drop-off in quality yet. What I absolutely loved about this issue is how Vaughan doesn’t try to get us to LIKE Alter – just understand her. That was a great idea on his part, and worked for this issue very well. Highly recommended.
Bomb Queen vs. Blacklight One-Shot – This was a fun little one-shot by Scott Wherle and Jimmie Robinson. Blacklight, in case you don’t know, is a supporting character in Shadowhawk. She’s a very old-fashioned superhero. VERY similar to Jolt from the Thunderbolts. Bomb Queen, meanwhile, is a psychotic supervillain who holds a town in her thrall. They meet up on vacation, as each are going to different conventions in the same hotel (a Sci-Fi convention and a weapons convention). Fights ensue, and while Blacklight cannot obviously WIN (as Bomb Queen has her own title), she manages to do okay for herself. It is pleasant fare, with nice art. Recommended.
Dusty Star #1 – This was a breathtaking work from Andrew Robinson (with story assists from Joe Pruett). The basic story is about a “cowgirl” who is getting revenge upon her former commanding officer during the war, for a decision he made that got a friend of hers killed. Robinson’s art is amazing – noirish, gritty, but with a great flair for emotions and characterization. The characters themselves are simple, yet interesting. It’s not a complicated plot, but it’s one executed with perfect flair (which shouldn’t be a surprise, as Robinson has been working on this one for awhile). Highly recommended.
Emmisary #2 – Quite often, when I speak about “realistic” comics, I would suggest to folks that, you know, real life isn’t always, well, INTERESTING. That is the message I get from Emmisary, which attempts to take a real-life approach to what would happen if a super-powered being suddenly showed up in the middle of Manhattan. What would happen in real-life, though, is a bunch of meetings in rooms as people interrogate the Emmisary. Which is what we get in this issue. And, well, I didn’t find that all that interesting. Nothing happened that you wouldn’t logically expect to happen, so unless the characters themselves are fascinating (they’re not), there has to be SOME sort of extra hook – and there just isn’t so far in Emmisary. Maybe there will be in the future. Great art by Juan Ferrreyra, though! Still, for now, not recommended.
Invincible #34 – I enjoyed this issue, which shows Invicible sent to an alternate future where he ponders his actions from the last issue (where he killed the bad guy). Great character work here, and the Robot stuff back in Mark’s timeline? What a clever plot twist THAT was!! Finally, the best plot twist I thought (and FUNNY, too) is when a character reveals her feelings to Invincible…but in doing so, reveals someone ELSE’s hidden feelings. Very clever, but steeped in good character work. Recommended!
Noble Causes #22 – At its best, Noble Causes embodies the best aspects of Claremont’s old Uncanny X-Men stories, with the intermingling of subplots and character work, all coming together for an intricate, and fulfilling story experience. At its worst, it is a poor soap opera with a bunch of different plots all advancing slowly. This issue leaned towards the worst, as the story advancements were extremely minimal, and extremely cheesy at that. At to that the poor artwork, and this is a rare not recommended for me for Noble Causes, which is a title I enjoy.
Agents of Atlas #1 – This issue was excellent! Leonard Kirk’s art hasn’t looked this good in quite some time, and Jeff Parker packes so much coolness into this issue, I think you could get frostbite from all the cool! I especially loved how we got the story from the past, to really give us our action quotient so that the rest of the issue could bring along the expositionary stuff – but still managing to have some drop-dead awesomely stunning moments, like with Marvel Boy’s spacecraft. Highly recommended.
Fantastic Four #539 – A perfect example of outside writing. JMS had it in his mind that he was going to have Ben Grimm come to a certain conclusion, then wrote the exact string of events that would HAVE to occur for that to happen. Along the way, JMS uses some sadly generic characters from the Yancy Street Gang to move the plot along. You would have gotten just as much enjoyment out of this issue if this comic was just the final page, as that’s all the issue was about. “What is Thing going to do? Let us kill time for 20 pages and then we’ll find out!” Not recommended.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11 – I think Peter David was working with WAY too much continuity on this issue. It totally weighed down what could have been a pretty nifty story. But being “forced” (as I know he wasn’t LITERALLY forced) to resolve Peter’s teaching position after the big Civil War reveal, plus work in all the Mysterio continuity – man, it did not do much for helping the story. Still, Mysterio trapping everyone in the school, leaving Peter and Flash Thompson to lead kids to safety? That’s a good, old-fashioned plot right there! I approve! Not recommended, for the other stuff.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #18 – Luckily, on Marvel Adventures, Peter David does not have to deal with ANY continuity, so it is a big improvement, storywise. Of course, the lack of continuity makes it kinda weird that he would choose to use MAN-THING of all characters, but hey, whatever – so long as it is a GOOD Man-Thing story, and this one is a good Man-Thing story. Meanwhile, we get fun character work with Peter being out of place on vacation with the other teens. Good stuff. Nice Mike Norton art, too! Recommended.
Marvel Team-Up #23 – This issue is split into two stories, for, really, no reason that I can tell. I could see the comic easily being worked into one story. Weird. Andy Kuhn’s art is a lot better in one of the stories, for some reason (the Freedom Ring one), as the first one it seems almost like something you’d see from Liefeld. In any event, in the first story, Spider-Man and Wolverine get their butts handed to them by Iron Maniac. The story is just a fight scene, really, and it’s not bad, but nothing great. The second story shows us Freedom Ring, as he recovers from his injuries. It turns out his neighbor is a Skrull spy (huh?) who tells him they should both become superheroes together – we then get a Rocky montage, and eventually, we see them ready to go – just in time to fight Iron Maniac! The issue is pretty fun, but just WAY too slight. So, just barely not recommended.
Punisher #36 – This was a really fun ending to the Barracuda storyline. Ennis had finally put all the players into place, and he just lets the dominoes fall as they may, and it’s really just a spectacle of blood, sex and gore. But always entertaining! Recommended!
Ultimate Spider-Man #98 – After last issue’s nice mix of action and character work, this issue sadly takes a swing back into boringville, as most of the issue is just Peter talking to the Fantastic Four about the clone that he discovered at the end of last issue. Then, we get the shock of the “Spider-Girl,” and the shock at the end with the return of a “dead” character. There is a whole lot going on in this issue, but not much of it has any real meaning to it. Nice art, though! Not recommended.
Uncanny X-Men #477 – Wow, this issue was pretty dull, wasn’t it? It wasn’t BAD or anything. But nothing much happened. Just recaps of Vulcan’s life, mostly. But we knew most of that from Deadly Genesis ANYways. So, I could see how someone who didn’t read Deadly Genesis would need this issue, but mostly, I didn’t think it was all that necessary (or interesting). Not recommended.
Leading Man #2 – This was a fun issue, as we learn that his co-star is ALSO a spy. Funny stuff, especially as they must deal with his tagalong co-star (the one who ISN’T a spy). Nice art, too. Overall, an entertaining title. Slightly recommended.
That’s all I can think of for now!
Hopefully I can come by tomorrow (or the next day) to catch up on this week’s books!
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