Sunday, September 21, 2008

Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 09/17/08

Here's the rest of this / last week's reviews. I'm going to try and put up the Moments of the Week and the Previews tomorrow, so be sure to check in for those. In the meantime, enjoy these reviews.

Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Scott Wegener

The first issue of Dogs of War fell a little short of my lofty expectations and I think, after reading this issue, I know why. I think Clevinger and Wegener were taking themselves too seriously in their attempt to pay homage to WWII and went for a more somber and dire tone to the story compared to the usual battle driven and one-liner ladden Robo formula.

When you're accustomed to reading about a talking robot from WWI that routinely fights giant insects and blows up pyramids, it's a little jarring when they switch over to the serious tone that the first issue had.

While the first issue was still good, with this second issue, the story has shifted back to the old formula that we all know and love. Even the "serious" letter to loved ones that a soldier was writing manages to poke fun at itself with the final line, "And then there's the robots.", when discussing the horrors of war. It still manages to hit those serious tones the first issue overwhelmed us with, but this issue packs in the trademark wit and charm of the original Atomic Robo series and made for a much more enjoyable read.

Continuing from last issue, Robo is busy trying to take down the armoured robot division of the nazi staging ground in this area and we get some great action and moments as Robo gets tossed around before finally disabling the machine. This culminates with Robo and a platoon of soldiers tracking down several more of the robots before being assigned to a special task force later that night.

Along with the main story was the hilarious backup story, which is set in the present day, as Robo and his team debate what they should do with the giant monster about to crush them - whether to fight it or preserve it or bring it back to the lab to study - and how they would go about doing these things. They even have a nice reference to the first series and how Robo destroyed one of Egypt's pyramids. In the end, one of the teammembers takes out a bazooka and blows the monster away before it does anything to them, ending the debate.

Verdict - Must Read. This was exactly what I was expecting from a new volume of Atomic Robo and I can't wait to read the rest of this mini-series.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Pat Olliffe

I think the best part of this issue, and this is in no way a jab at Leonard Kirk, is that Pat Olliffe did the art. He's by no means the biggest name in comics or anything, but I've been a huge fan of Olliffe since his work on Untold Tales of Spider-Man (amazing and underappreciated series) and Spider-Girl (the original series) and it was great seeing him doing some of his best work in recent memory on this title.

To be honest, this issue of Captain Britain and MI: 13 read a lot like a first issue of any other series. It's fairly slow, introduces us to the cast and sets up the premise and formation of the team. The only difference is that this was entertaining and these moments meant a lot more after getting to know most of these characters over the course of the first Secret Invasion arc, which also rocked and you should get it regardless of what you think of SI.

The addition of Blade to the team was an interesting one. Much like the characters, I had no idea Blade was from Britain and just assumed he was American. While I don't think you have to be British to be in this book, his inclusion makes a lot more sense with that little bit of context.

One thing that has me a little bit apprehensive is the revelation that Captain Britain's powers post-death will rely on his willpower or state of mind in order to be effective. The way they describe it is that he can go from being nigh invincible at one moment to the equivilent of tissue paper the next, all based on how he feels at the time, very similar to Gladiator, of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. And like him, I get the feeling this will lead to scenes where he gets taken down with ease and others where he'll just wrap up any problems the team has in a deus ex machina way. It hasn't happened yet, but the seeds have been planted to give the writer that kind of out and I hope he avoids that cliche.

After an issue of nothing but talking heads, it was quite shocking to get to the final pages and see Blade welcoming Spitfire onto the jet just to stab her in the chest for being a vampire. The only problem I can see is that, earlier in the issue, Spitfire showed Jack Flag that she doesn't have fangs or those powers anymore. I'm not sure it meant she's not a vampire anymore or not as I thought she was going around biting Skrull necks left and right in the opening arc - anyone know what's up here?

Anyways, it appears she's "dead", but I'm guessing the good doctor will be performing a miracle save next issue. As far as a cliffhangers go, I was expecting something like this, but not a full blown stake through the heart in graphic detail that this ending showed, which caught me by surprise.

Verdict - Must Read. Best new series in a long time. I don't know these characters, aside from knowing them to see them, I have no prior attachments to them and I can't believe I'm enjoying this as much as I am.

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Doug Braithwaite

The second issue of Thor wasn't bad, but it definitely treads familiar ground, as the Secret Invasion tie-ins are wont to do. While Fraction does a nice job with the action and hyping up of the battle and even with the characterizations, it's just hard to feel any attachment or involvement with this story when it's the same basic premise and hits all the same notes as every other Secret Invasion tie-in.

For instance, like the X-Men or Inhuman or Runaways / Young Avengers tie-ins, this one deals primarily with a major Skrull attack on a specific area, it has tailor made Super Skrulls, there's the talk about trusting each other and dealing with the overwhelming odds and it goes through the same pace with the setup first issue, "defeat" of the second issue and the "comeback" in the third.

While this shouldn't be a reason to dock points from an otherwise fine story, it's just hard for someone, like myself, who reads a lot of these books to not notice these glaring similarities in every single tie-in so far. Some manage to rise above the others by mixing it up a bit or with some stellar characterization, but this Thor series just feels like it's going through the motions and it really hurts my enjoyment of this second issue.

In fact, nothing major really happens. At least, nothing you wouldn't expect. As the title is Thor, it was obvious that he'd be coming back in after they let Beta Ray Bill have the spotlight for this issue and that's just what happens as we have the Skrulls destroying Asgard and the Asgardians all banding together to fight back against insurmountable odds. This leads to the releasing of a Super Skrull that manages to take down any and all challengers, even tossing Bill aside like a ragdoll (poor Bill, you just haven't been the same since Simonson left all those years ago). This all culminates with the return of Donald Blake, fresh from delivering the baby he left to tend to last issue, and with him, the return of Thor to set up our next issue.

Verdict - Check It. It's just more of the same from the SI tie-ins. It's better than most, but not much original or noteworthy to see here. Mostly narrative of battle scenes, to be honest.

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard

It's always a pleasure to see a new The Walking Dead at the shop. It's not always on time and the online shipping times are never accurate, but walking into the shop every other Wednesday and finding a new issue of this book is one of life's great joys.

After a couple of slow issues to help us catch our breath after the shocking conclusion to the No One is Safe storyline, issue 52 heralds the next big push for this series. While still more of the same transitonal pacing of the last few issues, this one re-introduces an old character to the mix, which, as you can see by the sword on the cover, ends up being Michonne, and this is a welcome addition to duo of Rick and Carl.

While it has been great seeing Rick and Carl's relationship progress in new and interesting directions since his wife and Carl's mother died, the interactions, all at once, were starting to become stale and lacked the meaning after two or three issues of it.

With the return of Michonne, we see a new side of Rick and the way Carl reacts was perfect. This young boy, forced to live through these unimaginable hardships and not even given a moment to mourn his own mother, crumbles at the first sign of a mother figure and it's heart warming to see how he interacts with Michonne.

After some catching up on what happened at the prison (Michonne was busy with the Governor and not present at the time), Rick and Michonne are confronted by two strangers on horseback in the middle of the night and the cliffhanger reveals they are Glenn and Maggie, both who got married and left the group prior to the prison massacre. It looks as if the series will be coming full circle with a return to the Hershel farmstead.

Verdict - Must Read. Another stellar issue that introduced some much needed supporting cast members to the now culled group and they end up being some familiar faces to boot. Lots of great character moments, specifically with Carl, too.

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Ethereal said...

Did you miss Guardians of the Galaxy? The Skrull reveal is inside, nothing too important though. The book is very good, and it basically showcases Drax being the Destroyer, and alot of plotlines are furthered along.

Captain Britain was very good, although I'm a little confused as to why Blade has a cybernetic arm (prior story that I missed?). I'm also kind of curious as to why Union Jack isn't in MI 13 but doesn't have a solo book (anymore). Just a matter of time?

IslandLiberal said...

Blade got his hand cut off and had a gun-hand in his most recent solo series; Cornell has just given him a cybernetic one in lieu of the gun.

As for Union Jack, presumably it's just because the author didn't want to put him on the lineup.

My favourite of the week was "Incredible Herc"; hilarious.

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