Monday, September 29, 2008

Final Crisis Second Opinion Comic Book Reviews for 09/24/08

Second Opinion reviews? What's that? Well, I did these a few times before, but only as single reviews tacked on to my own reviews. This week, however, reader Justin Miousse submitted a whole slew of reviews and I felt they deserved their own post to reflect it. Not being terribly creative nor original, I simply stuck the Second Opinion moniker into the Final Crisis Comic Book Reviews title to reflect this.

As this is a rather light week, comic's wise, I'll try and catch up on the reviews I missed out on last week. For now, enjoy Justin's offering of reviews and be sure to give him lots of feedback! It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there like this and I think he did a great job on them.

And if you ever feel like you have a review you want to submit, whether one or an entire post's worth, feel free to drop me a line through my contact page. Also, please read the guest post submission guidelines beforehand.

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Steve Epting

I think this issue was a good conclusion to 'Death of Captain America' and a good beginning for the next arc. There was a lot going on in this issue, and despite the rest of the arc being somewhat slow, I don't have much of a problem with it. I'm certain that reading this arc as a trade is much more enjoyable, but this issue brought a lot of things home.

The 'deaths' of Arnim Zola and Red Skull were a shocker at first, especially with the possibility of redemption for The Director and Sharon Carter shooting Crazy Lukin Skull. I'm not sure why he went into a joker-esque laughter before being shot; did he see Sharon? There's also no explanation of what the plan for Sharon and her baby was, but of course it's still an ongoing plot, apparently.

Bucky and Black Widow hooking up was kind of obvious, but seemed rushed without any real buildup. I don't mind the character interaction, but I think more buildup was needed and I'm certain that this will lead to side-plots like Sharon and Steve had.

Verdict - Must Read. I'm going to be remembering what happened in this issue for a while, especially the Grand Director killing, and the last page of Skull's new body.

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Clay Mann

This issue was meant to start up the Lady Bullseye arc, but the entire introduction seemed like something that Ed had planned to put in Iron Fist, especially with Danny Rand himself showing up and being one of the first targets. I'm not sure what to think about her origin yet, though. I think having a family link to Bullseye would have made this worse, so I think it's a plus that Bullseye was motivation because of his actions and not because of some family bond.

The biggest part of this issue, although it was only a few pages, was Matt getting it on with Dakota. I've read Daredevil since about issue 90, and I don't have a big problem with Matt 'cheating' on his wife. I think that Matt nearly killing himself in the streets to avenge his wife in prior issues, and then doing this and feeling little to no remorse don't quite gel together. However, it was obvious that it was coming. Matt has a lot of work to do between his wife, and Dakota, which will only make things with Lady Bullseye even more difficult.

I'm a little confused as to how Lady Bullseye is supposed to be so dangerous, especially to all of the heroes on her hitlist, but I'll go with it. I guess The Hand is more dangerous now, but I'll wait and see. On another note, is there supposed to be some crossover with Iron Fist and Wolverine in the future, or what?

Verdict - Check It. I give this a 'Check It', because of Matt Murdock's cheating, and how this felt more like a Iron Fist book.

Written by Daniel Way
Art by Paco Medina

The first issue was okay. This one is definitely better. I know that whenever I go into this, I can't be too much a continuity nazi. Deadpool has been a comedic character for a while, and breaking the fourth wall has been common place as well. Last issue he was captured by Skrulls, and then offered up his services.

This issue is what I expect to see from Deadpool, in the comedic nature at least. He gets tests run on him by Skrull scientists where it's revealed he basically can't be killed. The Skrulls think it's a good idea that all their Super-Skrulls have this genetic coding in them, which logically sounds really good. Wrong idea. Deadpool goes on to explain that just having the powers isn't enough, and that they need to be used to their fullest. Deadpool, Ninja-Teacher extraordinaire shows up and shows them what it's like to be Deadpool. Limbs are cut off, Skrulls are shot, jokes are made, and Deadpool ends up going missing.

Deadpool ends up throwing all of the Skull plans off and, at the end of the issue, is shown being congratulated by Nick Fury via a monitor. Good Job. It was a great ride, and giving Nick Fury some spotlight in any book is nice. I'm not sure what's going on next issue, which is the major weakness of this issue as it offers up nothing for upcoming storylines. How long are the tie-ins supposed to last?

Verdict - Check It. This issue doesn't offer up anything important, and it's just a fun ride, which is fine for a book that's meant for that audience.

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Bryan Hitch

Wow. I have to keep saying this; I haven't liked FF this much in forever. This issue explains pretty much everything we need to know about The Defenders. They're from the future, from a dieing earth. The imagery was great for this. Banner is a descendant of the current Bruce Banner, and Galactus is a future version, which took dozens of Defenders to take control of. This entire issue, despite how much I hate stuff like future and alternate realities, made sense. I am a little concerned as to why Galactus' herald wasn't mentioned, but it doesn't matter much. I'm a little shocked as to how strong they portray Johnny, putting him with Doom and Galactus-level powers.

The reveal of the babysitter being the future version of The Invisible Woman, and the leader of the Defenders, was something that I didn't see coming. I have no idea what's planned for the Fantastic Children, but I'm sure it'll be figured out soon enough, the more interaction with them the better I think.

Just like the rest of Millar-World, I'm loving this. I hope Mark stays on the this title long-term though.

Verdict - Must Read. It's a wonderful issue. Answered a lot of questions, and gave us a major cliffhanger, all while keeping me interested.

MARVEL 1985 #5
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards

I have no idea how they're going to wrap this series up without a completely random ending, and this issue didn't help that. Not much happened here. Toby's mother is found, alive, but in a rather tight situation, along with Toby's dad. Toby crosses over to the Marvel universe, being chased by a villain (I couldn't recognize him really.) Toby loses the villain, and reaches the Avengers Mansion, where a non-skrull Jarvis gives him a pin and tells him to go see the Fantastic Four, tough luck.

Toby shows up at the Baxter Building, getting told by a hologram that they're too busy for his problems, again, tough luck. Toby rationalizes that if both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are busy, the best person to tackle alternate realities is... Spider-Man. Toby passes on a note to Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle to meet on the roof, where Toby reveals Parker as Spider-Man, along with Spidey's prior adventures as proof.

I didn't like this interaction much. I understand how easy-going Parker is, so going to him isn't necessarily a bad idea if you have a problem and no where else to turn, but I have no idea what Spidey is supposed to do to help here, unless he goes and busts in the Avengers Mansion and the Baxter building asking for help.

One major complaint, that I can't get over, is how Toby keeps referring to the Marvel Universe to people from there. Did I miss a memo where everyone says they're from the Marvel Universe? I hope this stops because it's really frustrating.

As far as I know, this series ends next issue. How it ends, I can't even guess at. There's so much open space here left to work with it, and I'm scared that Mark is going to leave the series with a cliffhanger. I'm sure that it'll work into the rest of Millar's One Man Event, but it's still a major concern.

Verdict - Avoid It. I'm a little upset at how bad this issue was, despite the awesome cover and prior issues, so I'm giving it an 'Avoid It'. The only meaningful part of the story was the introduction of Spider-man and Toby being in the Marvel Universe, both of which we already knew was going to happen. Skipping this and going straight to the next issue is probably going to be fine.

NOVA #17
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Wellinton Alves

The major reveal at the end of the issue is enough for this to be a 'Must Read'. Nova arrives on earth, chats up his parents, and is told his brother is in trouble. Richie arrives at Pegasus HQ, where his brother works, and finds the place totally trashed. Darkhawk shows up and allegations of everyone being a skrull are thrown around.

I like this little jab at the Skrull Invasion. I don't like the circles it turns in though. Nova meets up with his brother, finally, and we're told that Pegasus actually has a high-tech secret end-all weapon against the Skrulls. Great! There's a problem though, the Skrulls know about it and took over all the computer systems, so getting to the weapon isn't likely, unless they have an alternate computer to work with.

Enter Worldmind. Nova hasn't been the same book without the Worldmind, so getting this part of the storyline worked on as soon as possible is great. I'm not sure what they do, but basically they reboot Worldmind, and hook it up as the computer system controlling the release of the super-weapon. All of this while Pegasus HQ is getting hit by Skrulls, with Darkhawk and some military guards defending, huge sense of urgency here.

The major reveal at the end, makes this entire issue worth it. I'm actually surprised that it didn't show up in the Moments of the Week (Kirk's note - Actually, I couldn't find a scan of this). Wendell Vaughn is back. I'm not sure how, or if it's the Quantum Bands, but he's back. I love this, personally, and this opens so much for the book to work with. However, apparently, Worldmind is still in Limbo since the rebooting brought out Wendell (a little confused on this..).

Verdict - Must Read. That reveal at the end was, well, cosmic.

Written by Chris Yost & Craig Kyle
Art by Mike Choi

I'm not sure how to rate this issue. It felt like a different book than what I had gotten used to in earlier issues. I still loved the issue, but it was different. One of the major differences was the art. I noticed nearly immediately the different art and I think that for THIS issue, it was a good thing. There was very little death and destruction in this one, which gives the book some depth I think.

I like the portrayal of Cyclops in this series. He's not a sex-crazed idiot like in Uncanny X-Men. He's a very logical, down-to-earth and calm guy. Maybe he's a little boring, but I don't think you can miss him in this issue, or, whenever he's on page, he is definitely the headmaster/leader figure.

Cyclops and the rest of the team get Rahne and Archangel to confront each other with a wall of glass in between. Rahne transforms nearly instantly, ripping into Wolverine's arm (The most grusesome part of the book) and showing just how crazy she can get, and has gotten, due to the Purifier injections.

Angel, once threatened, turns into Archangel, destroying the window, and getting blasted by Cyclops in the process, yet keeps on going. Cyclops manages to get him to revert to his Angel form, but it's a definite problem.

We later see Cyclops (later revealed to actually have been X-23's plan) bring in the Cuckoos to help with Elixir, Rahne and Archangel. Wolverine objects, confronting Cyclops on crossing a line that they accused Xavier of (tampering with minds). I can't say I agree or disagree with the issue, but it's definitely important to the future of the team.

This issue actually has a lot of plot lines opened up. Gradyon Creed is back, and being controlled by Bastion. SHIELD get involved due to their involvement with the Purifiers. It's currently unknown what the plan for both is, but it's definitely interesting. Warpath leaves for a time to visit his brother in New Mexico. I'm not sure if this short-term or not, but having him absent is definitely a problem for the power of the team. There's a nice scene where it's shown how much of a problem he's been having with the team and its actions. I like this a lot actually.

The end of the issue shows the Vanisher stealing the Legacy Virus. I have no idea what sort of problem this creates as I thought the Virus was made obsolete.

Verdict - Must Read. As it's great set up for later issues, and has a lot of speculation involved.

Written by Jim Shooter
Art by Francis Manapul

I've really enjoyed Shooter's most recent run on the Legion, and having no past experience with the team, or its members, I feel like I've known the for years because of his writing. That being said, this issue, like the others, has a lot of dialogue.

There's a lot of follow up on last issue's developments. The issue begins with Garth being thanked for saving everything, by the president. There's some nonsense about how the United Planets Young Heros will crush the Legion. News comes that due to the cancelled tryouts because of the planetary emergency, the hopeful recruits are making some trouble. Ultra Boy disposes of everyone practically alone.

At the end of last issue Ultra Boy and Saturn Girl were caught doing the dirty, and that's looked at in this issue. Ultra Boy and Saturn Girl both believe that they have to tell Garth, knowing that his reaction won't be a pleasant one. I like this love triangle thing. So far, it's only elevated Garth's status as Lightning Lad, The Leader. However, it's made Saturn Girl seem very much like a naïve character.

Princess Projectra has had a lot of devestating things happen to her lately. Her homeworld was destroyed, her fortune is gone, she lost her royalty status, and all this leads to a pretty tough adjustment period. Despite solving her financial plan last issue, there is a lot that needs to be fixed.

Projectra has an enormous ego and treating everyone equally (including herself) has been, suffice to say, difficult. She's also had a run in with the law, having dealt harm to others in her anger. Garth tries to get the charges removed, but she's sentenced to taking a Psyche-scan (Psychologists got the shaft in the future, didn't they?).

She is found on the roof of the base, crying, by Timber Wolf. She goes to wash the tears away and is contacted by some of her surviving subjects, who give her a magic potion to hide all her emotions so that the Psyche Scan will clear her. They also tell her that she should remain with the Legion for now as it will prove beneficial. During all this, Projectra is battling herself to look upon people equally. Asking Phantom Girl to read her a “ancient comic book, written in the ancient language of English, about the ancient Superman”, well, you get the picture.

Of course, the major storyline lately has been the unknown alien invaders. Last issue Chameleon Kid seemed to have been able to scan one, and it's weapons. Brainac 5, of course, takes interest and, thinking strictly for scientific purposes, asks Chameleon Kid to show him the weapon and proceeds to cut off Cham's arm in the process (it can grow back, but still hurts) so he can evaluate the weapon.

We find out that the planetary emergency and the alien attacks are coming from the same source. Big stuff is going to happen. Garth acknowledges this and Invisible Kid delivers the idea that a recruiting drive might be in order (which based on future solicits, does happen). Brainiac 5 wishes Supergirl was there.

Saturn Girl confronts Garth about the situation with Ultra Boy. Garth takes the fearless leader and puts the team first, saying that despite their differences, he needs both Saturn Girl and Ultra Boy around to help out. Ultra Boy later confronts Garth as well and, while Garth says the same thing to him, he still tells Ultra Boy to stay away from him and that they are not friends.

Projectra also passes the Psyche Scan, being one of the most emotionally-stable patients ever examined. Nice Potion.

I love this book, every issue has this one and done feel, but brings forth more story development, great character development, and I'm excited for every issue.

Verdict - Must Read. If you aren't reading this book, this might not be the greatest place to jump on. It's still a great book, but this one definitely needs, at least, the last issue to be understood properly.

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Ethereal said...

Thanks for the kind words Kirk!

I have to mention how hard writing these are. Kirk has alot of patience and a really good understanding of his writing and reviewing skills to do all this, so I think he deserves alot more credit, at least more than I was giving him. I also want to thank Kirk for the edits, and formatting which I should have done but didn't get around to, I'll be better next time ;). Keep it up Kirk.

That being said, I realize how all over the place these reviews were. Some were long and thorough, some were short, some skipped from beginning to end to beginning, and other problems in structure. Hopefully I'll get some time to fine tune them once I get used to it, especially during slower weeks.

However, I'm still very surprised at how well I did with all this, and I'll try to help out when possible, especially for stuff that's not being reviewed here regularly (ex: Legion and Deadpool).

Also, something that needs to be mentioned concerning Legion, is it's going to be cancelled after issue 50. Apparently DC wants to give them a break after Legion of the 3 worlds, which will have huge ramifications on the team(s). I'm upset that this is going, but will keep with it until the end, especially because of the FC tie-in.

Alan said...

I have to jump to Daredevil's aid here.

For a start, his actions are entirely believable and his guilt show him as a flawed character, and altogether more likely to make a connection with the reader than if he were to push away a beautiful woman when there's an obvious attraction.

I don't see the Iron Fist connection. Ok, it's the same writer, Iron Fist is in it, it's got the same kind of mood - however the character exploration seems a little more Criminal than Iron Fist. But that's just my opinion.

Either way, I just can't agree with Check It. This is setting up a new (and possibly major) protagonist and it delves into things that will be impacting the rest of this arc and possibly even roll over into other arcs.

Nick Marino said...

i read one issue of Fantastic Four under Millar and Hitch that included the babysitter (back in the spring i wanna say). she was in it for only a few panels and the second i saw her i said to myself "Sue Storm from the future!" i don't know why exactly... i think it was maybe a specific line of dialogue or a facial expression, but something screamed Sue to me.

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