Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 08/27/08

It's been a hectic last few days with family stuff, but I've still managed to put together a quick handful of reviews for everyone. I didn't get a chance to review them today, but Catwoman's final issue was an amazing cat and mouse game with Batman that no one should miss and Kick-Ass was just over the top violence to the extreme (in a good way). I'll be reviewing them and the rest of this week's books tomorrow, so check back for those.

Oh, and I meant to point this out last week. Kirby Krackle released their debut single, One of the Guys, which you can give a listen to on their MySpace page. I think the best way to describe it is Geek Rock and it's worth taking a quick trip over to their site to give it a listen.

Hit the jump for this week's reviews.

Written by Dan Slott
Art by John Romita Jr

There's something about getting these ASM comics "weekly" that I both like and dislike. The story wraps up pretty quickly, allowing you to get the entire thing with little to no wait, whereas you would typically take half a year for the full story, but, for those same reasons, it leaves very little time to 'digest' the stories, leaving no room to mull over or wonder what's coming next. You end up getting the story and then tossing it aside as you queue up the next one a week later, giving each issue an almost inconsequential feeling compared to monthlies, if that makes any sense.

As such, there's been very little time to really appreciate the last issue and contemplate or discuss Norman Osborn and the other Thunderbolts sitting on Peter's couch in his apartment as he comes home, as we saw for the cliffhanger last week. In fact, it just ended and we had previews up the very next day showing us some of the stuff from this issue, compounding the unimportance of the first setup issue and it's non-ending.

Basically, any tension or build up was thrown out the window the minute the last page came about and it was proven less than a week later that that cliffhanger was a fakeout and Norman knows nothing about Peter's secret identity. He merely connects Peter's photos with Spider-Man and wants him to show him how to find him. When Peter refuses, Venom eats some photos and tears up some couches and they leave.

Speaking of which, Venom doesn't seem like the Venom from Ellis' Thunderbolts run, but few can capture the insanity of Ellis, so this version is close enough. Also, Venom knows he comes from Spider-Man and that Spidey was his original host, but has no idea who Spider-Man is either.

Interestingly enough, Peter knows about his deal with the devil, Mephisto, and mentions how what he did still seems to be working when Norman and Venom show they don't know who Spider-Man really is.

The rest of the issue deals with Peter beating up cops and giving Norman some smack talk as Spider-Man while Venom attacks the Feist shelter, where he "felt" his former host, Eddie Brock, who he confused as being Spider-Man when he first felt the presence. As soon as Venom touches Brock, he feels immense pain and then Eddie begins turning white and we get the Anti-Venom preview shot from several months back to end the issue.

Verdict - Check It. Maybe if the whole Anti-Venom thing hadn't been spoiled months in advance, this might have been more interesting, but this entire story has been just going through the motions, hitting the beats you'd expect as it goes along with no real surprises along the way. Not bad at any point, but nothing 'amazing' either.

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jefte Palo

I didn't think it would be possible for Aaron and Palo to follow up on the simply amazing last issue, but the duo managed to pull out all the stops and give us wall to wall action with a brilliant narrative and tight scripting, which served to move this story along swimmingly.

Basic premise of the tie-in is that Skrulls want Wakanda for the vibranium. Wakanda has no real super heroes (the Panther is merely a man), so they've sent some foot soldiers and the odd Super Skrull with them to subdue the small nation.

Problems arise when most of their sleeper agents have been ferreted out and their systems have been compromised, resulting in a ground war between the two forces. It was handled extremely well and quite believable, as far as super hero and alien wars can be seen as believable, and the dark and moody art fit the well crafted story perfectly.

Well, this issue continues the story with a much more human perspective, as opposed the Skrull perspective of last issue, as we are shown how T'Challa feels every casualty on his side, lamenting the names and occupations and loved ones of assorted guards, militia and simple farmers that have taken up arms against the Skrulls.

This all takes place as Black Panther fights against the Super Skrull, who he systematically takes apart, literally, as he breaks arms, gouges eyes and defeats his superior foe.

However, all is for naught as it is the remaining sleeper agent Skrulls reveal themselves, one taking out Storm while another takes down Black Panther from behind, ending our issue with the two Wakanda leaders defeated and their people retreating to behind the city walls.

Verdict - Must Read. This is easily the best Black Panther I have ever read and a superior secret invasion than the actual Secret Invasion event. Cannot recommend this enough.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Scott Kolins

Okay, so my experience with the Rogues has been a little lacking, having never read Johns' Flash run, but, goddamn, did this issue ever change how I view these "D-listers". Or, should I say,certifiable badasses after what they do here?

This issue consisted of two things, the Rogues kicking ass and taking names and Zoom training Inertia to be Kid Flash at Libra's behest.

Fresh off their proclaiment to kill Inertia last issue, the Rogues seek out their old tailor, Gambi, and find out he's been killed by the new Rogues, who were introduced in Gotham Underground and whom I had assumed were just throwaway villains for that storyline.

Johns takes these knockoff villains, who were simply using stolen weapons and costumes the Penquin provided them with, and sets them up as Libra's replacements for the Rogues and their first task is to take out their predecessors.

Sadly, for them, they have little to no experience with their new abilities and the Rogues take them to task with some of the craziest shit I've ever seen in comics, ranging from Weather Wizard creating a tornado in one guys stomach to Mirror Master blinding another and, well, you'll just have to check out the Moments of the Week to see how everyone else got in on the action. Let me say this though, it does not disappoint.

For long time Rogues fans, there's an interesting interlude with Captain Cold's father, who was being used as leverage against the Rogues by the fakes. I didn't know this, but seems Cold doesn't care too much about his abusive father and the fakes' plan to use him against Cold backfired spectacularly.

After the fakes were dealt with, Cold confronted his father and, while unable to kill the bastard, didn't hesitate to tell Heat Wave to "do it".

On the Intertia / Zoom front, Zoom revealed he wasn't doing this for his usual 'make people be better heroes' MO and is training Inertia to be a new Kid Flash because Libra has told him to do it. I'm not sure I agree with this change of personality for Zoom (let's blame it on the Anti-Life Equation) or even Libra's involvement in the story, which seems tacked on and unncessary, to be honest, but it's still an interesting development and Libra addresses the Flashes' importance to Crisis-level events and that is why he's trying to force the Rogues, who have experience with fighting Flashes and have trained all their lives to do so, to kill another Kid Flash (Inertia) and join up with him.

Verdict - Must Read. Each character is given time to shine and each has their personalities and motivations laid bare in a perfectly executed narrative by Johns, both progressing the story and involving us with each villain at the same time. Oh, and a guy gets a tornado in his stomach. Doesn't get any better than that.

Written by Terry Moore
Art by Humbertos Ramos

After an excellent opening issue for Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Terry Moore flexes his writing chops again with this debut issue on Runaways #1.

Moore has a grasp of teenage dialogue that few writers are capable of and these are some of the most realistically depicted teens I have ever read. Where Whedon seemed only able to grasp Molly's voice, Moore nails every single character, from the alien, Xavin, to the females, Karolina and Nico, right down to the girl-out-of-time, Klara, and everyone in between.

However, the issue was far from perfect. It was leaps and bounds above what Whedon had been doing, but that wouldn't take much effort to exceed, either. If I had to place this somewhere, it would be about equal to the latter parts of Vaughan's run on the second volume - very good, but lacking that special magic the first volume had.

Speaking of volumes, I don't see why this needed a new #1. It literally picks up right where we left off with the team returning to LA, fresh off their adventures in the past. I imagine it was for a sales boost, but I think a time skip of a month or so to have the team established would have been a better option for this first issue than dealing with the team finding a new base, looking for food and seeing Chase try to find a job.

In the end, the good far outweighed the bad and I'm more than happy to see these characters and this book actually being fun to read again. I think my favourite part was Molly and her various moments, sepcifically her Princess Powerful saving Chase scene and the Youtube for old people comment about the 'moving picture boxes'.

Oh, one last thing before I wrap this up. The art by Ramos was excellent - assuming you like his art style. I thought it was some of his best work and it really fit the style and tone of these characters. Everyone is expressive and distinctive at a glance, but it's an acquired taste, much like a Yu or Bachelo, and I'm sure you'll either love it or hate.

Verdict - Check It. This series is finally readable again and Terry Moore did a great job re-establishing the characters in LA while simultaneously setting up the new plots for future issues.

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Eric said...

I enjoyed Black Panther but it wasn't as good as the previous issue. It is still leaps and bound better than anything Hudlin could ever produce though.

Rogues' Revenge is really good and I am surprised that Johns can write something this dark.

I enjoyed Runaways a lot more than you seemed to. I guess that is probably because I have read very little of Vaughn's work on the title.

Andrenn said...

I enjoyed ASM enough to give it a Must-Read, but I agree with your point on how the BND tales feel. With 6 issues, you'd think Slott would slow down, just a little bit.

I decided to skip Runaways #1 this month, see if the reviews where good, then if I can pick it up in a week or two I will, if not, I'll start with #2 next month.

Keith Gammage said...

Hmm, if Johns writes the Rogues like this...things are looking good for The Flash: Rebirth

The Phoenix King said...

Great reviews, Kirk, as usual. It definitely was a good week for comics, and I found I could only get a few of the books I wanted, given the huge numbers of quality titles. X-Men Legacy was awesome, the first arc of X-Force wrapped up pretty nicely, and New Avengers really helped to flesh out some of the pre-Invasion details, as well as help justify Reed Richard's counter-Skrull ray. Might head back in tomorrow for BP as well.

The Dangster said...

Aw, man people need to pick up the Johns/Kollin trades of their Flash run. If you read them you wouldn't consider them "D-Listers". They're B-Listers at the most. They don't do anything extreme or grand because the rules, which keep them out of trouble.

As you can tell Captain Cold's dad was an alcoholic and abusive ex-cop. Cold's only escape was his granddad who put Cold's dad in his place and took Cold and his sister out in his ice truck. He died when he was 12, so his only protection from his dad was gone.

Kirk Warren said...

@eric - "I enjoyed Runaways a lot more than you seemed to."

Hey, now, that makes it seem like I hated it. =p I did enjoy it, but there jus wasnt enough going on to warrant a must read in my opinion.

@the phoenix king - I was actually expecting something bigger than Reed's clone scribbling some answers on a piece of paper that detail how Skrulls could be "undetectable" (which doesn't make sense if they coudl be detected...) and Reed doesn't know anything abou tmagic, so how could he know or come up with some kind of magical way (and it is all about magic with teh cloth on face nonsense) to do this? Dr Strange would have made more sense for this than Reed's science, at least with how Bendis has portrayed their ritual to become undetectable.

@the dangster - The whole reason I put D-lister in quotations was to show that I don't view them that way anymore after this issue.

pat said...

DC put out some great books this week, Catwoman takes the cake i think..unfortunately I wasn't as blown away by Superman Beyond..the 3D didn't add or take anything away, in fact the art was great overall, I guess my hopes were too was still a fun book and I will definitely be pickin up part two..

Anonymous said...

Waitaminnut... I thought the whole bargain with Mephisto was that he wasn't supposed to know about the deal after it was carried out & that at best it would be like a subconscious memory. When did he suddenly remember his forgotten past? Sounds like some editor or writer got lazy & forgot to remove that bit from the script.

If I was Peter & I'd realized I'd lost 20 years of my life, I'd be slapping up every mystic from Camelot to K'un Lun trying to fix it. Heck, Batman launched a sentient satellite after losing just 10 minutes of his life. Think of what Batman would do if he lost 20 years & a marriage in the bargain.

The Dangster said...

i liked the art for Superman Beyond. I guess i'm just easily amused.

My final crisis tie-in picks are Rogue's revenge and Last will and testament. Meltzer finally did something right. I wonder how long it took Kubert to do art chores....

Eric said...

I really didn't think Moore handled the voices of the characters that well at all except for Molly. I thought Whedon did a much better job. I hated how Xavin was male the entire time. Nico was sorely underused for being team leader and Chase was way too immature. It was like there was no growth. I'm a huge Moore fan, love Echo, loved SIP and picked up SM Loves MJ based solely on his writing, so I hope this was just a misstep. I love the characters and don't want to drop the book.

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