Thursday, July 17, 2008

Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 07/16/08

Welcome back to this week's Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews. This is just the first batch of reviews, so make sure to check back later for the remaining two or three books I didn't get a chance to review. I would have waited until I finished writing the last couple of reviews, but I have some personal business to take care of and I'm not sure when I'd get around to writing those reviews, so just decided to update later whenever I got the chance.

Earlier this week, I asked the question, "What do you think DC is doing wrong?", with the promise of collecting everyone's thoughts and posting a follow up with yours and my own thoughts on the subject. I was amazed the number of comments and the sheer high quality of said comments and want to thank everyone for taking the time to post.

However, with the volume and length of so many comments, it's taken longer than expected to write the follow up, but I expect to have it up either tomorrow or on Saturday, so stay tuned for that.

You can read this week's reviews after the jump and be sure to check back later tonight for the update with the missing reviews.

Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Julian Lopez and Bit

Just when I thought it Batman and the Outsiders was going somewhere, this issue comes along and ends any chance of me continuing with the book past this issue.

First off, there's absolutely no follow up or fallout after the previous issue's excursion into China. It's hard to believe we just had an international incident that had no affect on the book nor was there anyone on the team even talking about said events. What was the point of that arc if it's pretty much been forgotten already?

If that wasn't bad enough, the story of this issue involves vampires, aliens replacing human minds with their own and other occult nonsense that is as far removed from the goddamn Batman as you can get. On top of that, Batman doesn't think someone kidnapping hundreds of humans, replacing their minds with an aliens, creating a giant "Death Star" laser and blowing a hole in the freaking Moon is JLA worthy and opts to keep it underwraps so the Outsiders can handle it. WTF?

Verdict - Avoid It. I love Dixon's work for the most part, but I'm more than happy to see him gone from this title. It started off with some promise, especially with all the controversy over the original creative team being ousted from the book mere months from launch, but this has been nothing but a downward spiral ever since.

Written by Joe Kelly
Art by JM Ken Niimura

Barbara Thorson finds giants. She hunts giants. She kills giants. If that's not enough reason to love this book, I don't know what is.

Okay, for those other giant killers out there that don't find that all that interesting, I'll go into a little more detail on just what this book is about.

Barbara is a precocious 5th grader with an overactive imagination. I'm sure everyone can associate with feeling different on some level and Barbara is that kid in your elemetary school class that was about as different from everyone else as you can imagine. She's into Dungeons & Dragons, wears a set of bunny ears and goggles and is the student every teacher dreads to hear from in the middle of a lecture.

As Girl Friday pointed out last week in her own review, Barbara is smart enough to know the things the other girls in her class are talking about are pointless and frivilous, but, at the same time, she wants to join in with everyone and talk about those same things. It's a very subtle moment in the book and adds a lot of depth and character to the book at the same time. Oh, and as mentioned, she hunts and kills giants.

However, the issue never really addresses whether or not she actually hunts said giants or not and we are left to wonder if she's merely endulging in her childhood fantasies or if these beings are real. The only indication that we have that these mythical creatures are real is a scene at the end of the book where Barbara is seen discussing the difficulties of life and her opinion of her family members with some fairy-like creatures in her front yard.

The art style of the book takes on a manga-like look, but never quite crosses over into full blown manga like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane or other Japanese influenced comics. This also means this is in black and white, but it really suits this story and I couldn't imagine it having the same style or feel if this was in colour. However, this is something that turns off a lot of people, so I felt I had to mention the black and white nature of the book.

Verdict - Check It. I loved this issue, but, admittedly, it's not for everyone. If you are looking for a unique, fantasy wish fulfillment story that reminds you of your youth, this is a great read and I think anyone that's willing to give this story a try will enjoy it on some level. Until we find out where this book is going (is it going to be a fantasy book or a social commentary on people retreating into and embracing their fantasies or is it just a Calvin & Hobbes-like adventures of a young girl's mind?), I'm going to leave this as a Check It, despite loving this first issue.

MARVEL 1985 #3
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards

This issue started out quite slowly when you consider the fact the last issue ended with Sandman attacking Clyde Wyncham's nurse and Electro zapping her fleeing boyfriend in the middle of the streets combined with the promise of the villains taking over the peaceful town.

However, the slow burn as Millar gave us some breadcrumb backstory on the mysterious Wyncham and Toby's father's relationship with him. There's very little information given, but there are subtle hints that Toby's father, Jerry, and his girlfriend at the time (Toby's mother) had something major happen in their lives because of Wyncham and it was so bad they decided never to speak of that night ever again.

After the slow start, we see the town beginning to react to the events of the double homocide the night before and Toby's father still refuses to believe him that their are real super-villains, just like in the comic books, up at the old Wyncham house.

What follows is a gradual escalation of the villains' attacks on the townspeople as we see MODOK and the Mole Man rounding up people and one scene even shows an entire street littered with dead bodies as an unsuspecting couple stumbles across Ultron. Fin Fang Foom is even found in the harbour and the National Guard is called in to deal with the creature.

However, for all the insanity that is going on, no one outside of Toby and his father, who was forced to believe everything his son has told him once he's seen the super-villains with his own eyes, seems to be the least bit concerned over the sudden appearance of these characters. Hell, Fin Fang Foom should have been a national panic, but the National Guard and other people shown didn't even seem phased by it, as if it was an everyday occurance. I'm hoping this is explained away as some kind of pyschic suggestions or something to do with Wyncham because it was really at odds with the otherwise "real world" feel of the story so far.

Verdict - Must Read. Despite that small nitpick over the reaction of some of the real world people, I still loved this issue and Edwards art fits this type of story perfectly. With only a couple of issues left, I'm a bit concerned about whether or not Millar can wrap this up with a satisfying conclusion, but I'm certainly enjoying the ride so far.

Written by Barbara Canepa & Alessandro Barbucci
Art by Alessandro Barbucci
Translation by C.B. Cebulski

Sky Doll #3 wraps up the first Sky Doll storyarc with a bang as the Agape religious faction begins rioting in the streets of the Holy City after the events of last issue.

Meanwhile, our conquering "heroes" return from Aqua after effectively putting an end to the Aquarian people's only means of reproduction, ending any future for their people and Agape-worshipping religion.

After the events on Aqua, Roy has become bitter and disenfranchised after being betrayed by his best friend, Jahu, and the very religion he worshiped and represented. While it looked as if Roy was becoming the generic dark and brooding ex-idealist, it actually built to the eventual confrontation with Noa and the two's budding romance would have taken a step forward if not for being interrupted just before their first kiss. However, it the brief interlude served its purpose and snapped Roy out of his funk and was a great character moment between the two.

One of the things I loved about this issue was the way Canepa and Barbucci play up the media aspect, moreso than in previous issues, of the Lodovica faction and the portrayal of Papess Lodovica and the gradual breaking down of her character as everything she's built crumbles around her and, by issue's end, her reaction to the betrayal of her most trusted advisor and would-be lover, the Miracolatore, who we've seen actually despises Lodovica and her distorted view of religion.

The conflict between the Lodovica and Agape factions comes to a head in this issue with the Agape faction adopting a terrorist-like focus and attacking the Lodovica television show, which Noa, Jahu and Roy were being celebrated for their actions on Aqua. This leads to the shocking death of Roy, who is shot on camera by the extremist faction. In the chaos and confusion, Noa takes the fallen Roy and performs a miracle on live television, reviving the fallen Roy to the shock of everyone.

It is revealed that Noa was created by the Miracolatore and he has one of his Agape followers at the studio put Noa on the line and he tells Noa he is her father and that he wants to come see him. This leads to an interesting internal struggle on Noa's part that is voiced for the readers by the Cleopatra character and it details the desire of people to please their creators, which I can be taken as a religious or familial connotation, and how it is juxtaposed against people's desire to explore the unknown and make connections with people and the pursuit of your own happiness, which can relate to any number of things, such as love, science or the general lack of faith in the religious system. It's a powerful scene that means different things to different people and is a testament to this series.

In the end, Noa has the decision made for her as Roy "saves" her from her predicament and he, Jahu and Cleopatra all take off for the stars, ending this chapter of the story on a high note with the promise of more to come.

However, this leads into my only complaint about Sky Doll and Marvel's adaptation of the work for North America (although, Heavy Metal technically already did this, but I believe those counted as imports instead of licensed NA translations) - the fact that the story isn't completed. Yes, you can get a fully satisfying story from these first three issues with a beginning, middle and end, but it would be like reading all the way up to the death of Captain America or Bucky taking over - you got a complete story, but you know it's only act one or two of a major story and you won't be able to read the rest of it anytime soon. This isn't the fault of Marvel and I applaud them for taking the initiative and bringing over such an ambitious product like the Soleil titles, but it doesn't change the fact there is literally no more Sky Doll, outside of a character sketchbook, available, here or in Europe. It's just not done. Maybe this project will inspire Canepa and Barbucci to finish up Volume 4 and to work on future volumes after that, but that doesn't lessen my disappointment that I won't be able to read anymore Sky Doll for a long, long time.

Verdict - Must Read. If you haven't picked up any issues yet, wait for the eventual trade. While I want this book to be as successful as possible to help spur the production of more volumes and to ensure the success of the Soleil North American line, you would be best served,at this point, holding off on a beautiful oversized hardover if you haven't bought any issues of this yet. Again, this is an amazing title with beautiful art and a story that will make you question your own beliefs in regards to religion, science, politics and everything in between.

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Parallax207 said...

Nobody around has seemed to pick up Spike: After the Fall... I was hoping for someone else's opinion on the comic.

Ampersand said...

Have you seen the trailer for Watchmen yet?

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