I got three books from Dark Horse this week. That’s a bit weird. It’s a Festivus Miracle!
Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #5 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), Jeff Powell (letterer). Back-up story by Brian Clevinger (writer), James Nguyen (artist), Adam Stoak (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $2.95, 26 pgs, FC Red 5 Comics.
Another Atomic Robo mini-series comes to an end, and you really should get the trade if you’ve been skipping it. This issue continues the fun, and although both series have had their moments of odd disjointedness (is that a word?), for the most part, they’ve been wonderful to read. This issue, for instance, features our hero uttering the words, “Leg-stealin’ fascist jerks!” Come on, what’s not to love? This is a big old-fashioned war story with plenty of gunplay and explosions and humor, and the one constant is that both creators continue to get better. Clevinger has a nice touch with the chracters and keeps things light even as Robo is shooting bad guys, while Wegener’s art is just wonderful. Clevinger adds a good coda that wraps up the story poignantly (sort of).
Wegener is doing an Image book next, but I hope he and Clevinger will continue to do Atomic Robo. There are too many stories to tell about him!
It’s not that I don’t like the Morrison run on Batman, because it’s been entertaining, for the most part, it’s just that I don’t see anything terribly ground-breaking or even memorable about it. Morrison’s prose is often as entertaining as his plots (sometimes very much more so), but the grand plot of his run isn’t anything great, and despite some typical Morrison idiosyncracies, the writing hasn’t been superb either. Take this issue, in which we learn what happened to Batman after issue #681 “killed” him off and we also get more of his indomitable spirit and why Lump can’t destroy his psyche. It’s certainly not a bad issue, but it is kind of a clip show (less so than last issue, because we need more forward momentum of the plot this time around), and it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know: Batman is so tough he uses his mind as a weapon when someone tries to delve into it. We’ve seen it all before – the first story that popped into my head while I was reading this was Milligan’s “The Synaptic Kid,” which was more psychologically disturbing than this and dealt with the issues of mind-control just as well. As I’ve written over and over about Morrison on Batman, I expect more. I expect magic, and what I’ve gotten is a messy epic that has its moments but fails to add much to the Batman legacy. The only thing Morrison has done that might stick is integrate Batman’s Silver Age stories with the modern. And that’s not really as dazzling a trick as it looks.
I was disappointed by the first issue of this mini-series, but as I have to pre-order my books, I’m on the hook for the rest of the series. I wouldn’t continue to get it, but it might improve – who knows? This issue continues the rather lighthearted tone of the first issue, as Jim Bowie and Lafitte enter Galveston and we get a set-up for the rest of the series. There’s a bad guy, a femme fatale, and a surprise at the end. It’s all rather forgettable and mediocre, and it’s too bad. I’m going to get the rest of the series, mainly because I ordered them, but I don’t have high hopes for it.
After the blast of high-octane fighting we got last issue, this issue slows us down and gives us a bit more information on our robotic protagonist and what he’s up to. It relies heavily on coincidence, which is only a bit annoying and not too off-putting. Remender gives us an unusual ending, one that’s supposed to shock us but doesn’t really work. It’s understandable why it would happen, but it seems to be in the book more for shock than anything else.
Nguyen’s art is fine, although it’s less impressive in the smaller moments than when he’s having robots and aliens battle it out over San Francisco. Remender seems to want to have a lot of big battles, so perhaps that won’t be an issue as the series progresses.
There’s not much to say in terms of what happens in this issue. It moves the plot along nicely, adds a rant against watching too much television, brings the United States military into the mix, and gives us a bit more human drama. It’s put together well, but we’ll have to see how it goes from here.
Mister X: Condemned #1 (of 4) by Dean Motter (writer/artist). $3.50, 23 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.
I have never read Motter’s Mister X series before, but I was a big fan of his two Terminal City series with Michael Lark (Terminal City exists, apparently, in the same universe as Mister X does), so when he decided to bring out a new series, I decided to check it out. Motter has always done a nice job blending the weird futuristic vibe of 1930s science fiction with more noir-ish elements, and he does so here. The story takes place in Radiant City, which, through its architecture, drives its citizens mad. Everyone is afflicted with some kind of psychosis, and the government of Radiant City has started knocking down buildings so they can transform the town. This is the larger plot, and from this first issue, it appears a cast of several characters will revolve around this center, with the mayor and city council, mobsters, a reporter, and the enigmatic title character himself moving through the plot. It’s a nice introduction to the city for those of us who haven’t read the series before – Motter gives us enough information to follow along and leaves enough hidden to intrigue us. His art, while not as good as Lark’s (not terribly surprising), has a nice Art Deco/film noir aesthetic to it, with wonderful angular buildings, tough-as-nails guys and dolls, and goofy yet menacing robots.
It’s a pretty cool beginning. Motter doesn’t seem to have a ton of range in terms of storytelling (I could be wrong; I’ve read some of his stuff, but not a majority of it), but what he does he does well. I’m looking forward to winding through Radiant City with him.
She-Hulk #36 by Peter David (writer), Pasquale Qualano (penciler), Vincenzo Acunzo (inker), Barbara Ciardo (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.
Peter David isn’t usually too predictable, but the resolution of this storyline certainly is. At the end of last issue, you’ll recall, She-Hulk was invited to the president’s palace to discuss the situation in Marinmer. In this issue, he comes off all nice, but things go badly rather quickly. He’s actually a scumbag who has set up a trap for Jen, and then things unfold as we expect, with a shape-shifter coming in rather handily and the book ending with Jen in trouble with the U. S. government for interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation (ironic, considering recent U. S. history) and another ironic commentary on hopeful rulership. Nothing is particularly biting about the script, and although it’s not a bad read, it’s still disappointing. I suppose it doesn’t matter, as the book is ending, but I hope David has a few good issues left in him.
Another fascinating issue of The Umbrella Academy shows up, and it’s pretty fascinating. The gang continues to deal with the aftermath of the previous series, and there’s a new bad guy who’s fairly evil, and some nasty henchmen in strange masks do really horrible things. Plus: Girl Scout cookies! Bá draws it all beautifully, of course, and Way continues to balance the weird with the horrible with the goofiness. And Mr. Perseus is a dick – firing his assistant like that! DICK!
You know, when a voice whose narrative boxes are black is speaking to you, you really should listen to it and shoot the dude! I mean, come on, that’s just logical.
As always with new series, I’m still feeling this one out, but Dysart has done a decent job balancing the violence with some not-so-subtle social commentary. It’s a bit disconcerting watching kids play soldier, especially when things get rough, but it’s also tragic, because that’s the way things are these days in the world. It’s nice to see that Dysart is trying to keep things as close to reality as possible even in a somewhat unrealistic story as this. Ponticelli continues to do fine with the art, contrasting the gruesome present with the hopeful past. We’ll see where Dysart goes with this, but for now, it’s pretty good.
I apologize for the sloppy reviews this week. It’s Christmas, my family is in town, and we’re really busy. I will say that this is the last week of the year that comics come out. Yes, they’re scheduled to ship on the 31st, but because of the holiday and the fact that next week the first is on a Thursday, new books don’t come out until Friday the 2nd. And so this is my last weekly review post for a while. I’ve been doing them almost every week for a bit over four years, and I’m a tad burned out. Putting up covers and links takes a long time, man! So I figure January is a good time of year to take a break. I’ll still be posting other crap, but not these weekly reviews. I’m sure some of you will celebrate!
But on to other things, like totally random lyrics, now 100% more random:
“Flashback to springtime, saw him again,
Would’ve been good to go for lunch,
Couldn’t agree when we were both free,
We tried, we said we’d keep in touch.
Didn’t, of course, ’til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.”
Sing it with me!
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