Thursday, October 30, 2008

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 10/29/08

Rage dominates this week's Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews. No, I don't tear any books a new one. By rage, I mean Rage of the Red Lanterns and if you haven't picked up a copy yet, you better hurry because this one's going to be selling out fast. Hit the jump to find out what all the fuss is about.


FINAL CRISIS: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Shane Davis and Sandra Hope

I'm going to start this review off by saying this is my pick for book of the week. It really gives the Green Lantern titles that kick start to get them going and almost read like this year's Sinestro Corps War Special, heralding the arrival of the Red Lanterns and leaving nothing but dead Sinestro Corps and Green Lanterns in their wake.

But, before I go into the full review of this book, I want to speak about the Final Crisis tagline stuck on the book and how this book relates to said event. Simply put, it has nothing to do with Final Crisis. I was actually shocked to see them explicitly state this story takes place between FC #2 and 3 as this implied, to me, that they were going to pick up on some random subplot or event from Final Crisis and use it here. You know, like a real tie-in.

Sadly, they put that little editor's note in the corner of a panel for no particular reason as that was the last we saw mention of anything related to Final Crisis and this was yet another $3.99 non-tie-in that apparently has the Final Crisis moniker to help boost sales. If you are looking for Final Crisis related stories, stay away from this. It has nothing to do with that event.

However, do note that this is an amazing story and worth every penny despite the lack of Final Crisis ties. I just find it odd that DC stuck the Final Crisis banner on all these tie-ins and none of them, outside Grant Morrison written books, have anything to do with the event.

Switching gears back to the actual book, like I said, this is the equivilent of the Sinestro Corps War Special. It doesn't have the exact same, "WTF!", style "OH SH--!" moments as that particular book did, but we're also expecting a whole lot more from Geoff Johns and his Green Lantern work these days, too. The mere fact Johns managed to impress me with this issue to such an extent, despite my higher expectations, should tell you just how good this book really was.

As the cover shows, the basic premise of the book is that the Guardians sentence Sinestro to death and the Green Lanterns are escorting him to Korugar, Sinestro's home planet and the source of his first crimes against the Corps, where they will carry out his execution.

As expected, the transport doesn't go as planned and several Sinestro Corps members show up to liberate their leader. I liked how they managed to address Mongul and his attempts at taking over the Corps here.

The question arises, however, of how these Sinestro Corps members knew about Sinestro's transport. It is alluded to the scarred Guardian being the culprit as she is shown with a Sinestro Corps emblem in one eye and a Green Lantern one in the other. Why she did this is a question unanswered and one I'd love to know. I thought having Sinestro dead would be advantageous to her and allow her to manipulate events more easily. Maybe she does not perceive him as a threat for some reason?

Back to the break-out. Just as Sinestro is being freed by one of his subordinates, a cute, cuddily cat shows up with a red lantern ring on his tail. As the Sinestro Corps member brushes the cat off, our cute, little cat starts raging and pukes flaming blood all over the Sinestro Corps member, killing him and lighting Sinestro's sciencell on fire in what has to be the best moment EVER.

With this, the entire Red Lantern Corps arrives on the scene, killing Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps members alike. Even Laira, who we saw become a Red Lantern in Green Lantern Corps several months back, is with them and she's lost all manner of reasoning, going so far as to simply attack Hal and John on sight. Curiously, the red blood/flame eats away at their ring's auras and even corrupts their power supplies.

Just when things are looking bleak for Hal and John, the issue ends with the debut of the first Blue Lantern, Saint Walker, who is here at Ganthet's request to help and his 'hope' causes Hal's power levels to shoot up to 200%.

Verdict - Must Read. I don't think it's an understatement to call it this year's Sinestro Corps War Special and I can see this one going back to printing several times, just as that issue did last year. Fails as a tie-in to Final Crisis, but kicks the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline off with a bang.


MARVEL 1985 #6
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards

Marvel 1985 had a lot of promise as an event and I was almost ready to start comparing it to works such as Marvels for its down to Earth style and man on the street perspective, as well as the overall quality of the series.

However, Marvels, and other works like it, told complete or self contained narratives and delivered a memorable conclusion when everything was all said and done.

Marvel 1985's conclusion, like many of Millar's lesser works, fails to deliver on any of the initial promises and is what I consider to be the worst thing a comic can be - forgettable. I literally picked this up, read it through, put it down and I didn't even care enough to get upset or angry at such a shallow and rushed conclusion. I will probably stick this in a longbox in the closet and never pull it out again.

Just what happened to this series I've been fairly favourable towards since the first issue to make me feel this way? Nothing and that's the problem. After last issue, Toby ended up in the Marvel Universe and got Spider-Man to help him recruit the other heroes. As expected, the heroes show up in the 'real world', thrash the villains and everyone goes home happy. The end.

Gone was the sinister real world depictions of the villains, who were slaughtering people with reckless abandon, all at the mysterious Mr Wyncham's command. All we saw were snap shots of the heroes beating down the villains and the threat, which began gradually with insidious killings and built to a fever pitch of panic and widespread chaso, was washed away in a generic and predictable ending that soured me on the entire series.

As for the whole Wyncham mystery, Clyde Wyncham was the first and only mutant in the real world. In one of the flashbacks, his mother accused Toby's father of having powers and calling all the townsfolk to the Wyncham home. Here, we find out that Wyncham did, indeed, have the powers and his mother smashed him upside the head, putting an end to his powers and that's how he ended up in the nursing home.

Toby's father confronts Wyncham, gives him some comics back and he's happy and stops controlling everyone. Captain America takes him back to the Marvel Universe with them where he'll get help and I assume that's how he ends up in the current Fantastic Four and Wolverine storylines.

Verdict - Avoid It. As I said, it's contrived and rushed and wholly forgettable and I'm fairly disappointed with the whole storyline after reading this so-called conclusion.


ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #3
Written by Brian Bendis
Art by David Lafuente

Mary Jane wants to have sex with Peter, but doesn't know if she's ready. We have an issue full of awkward talk as Peter tries to figure out why MJ's acting weird around him now. Mysterio shows up in his Jurgens' / Clone Saga era-style costume. There's some fishbowl jokes. Good times had by all.

So, first up, because it's my favourite topic, let's talk about the good stuff - sex. For all the hype around whether or not they 'do it' in this issue, there was very little actual story to back it up. We have a few opening pages of MJ sorta, maybe, trying to talk to Peter about sex followed by an abrupt scene change, which was a problem throughout most of the issue.

Mary Jane spends the rest of the issue giving Peter the coldshoulder and acting funny around him until Jessica Jones starts making a fuss about Spider-Man and wanting to find out who he is for the school news team. The sex talk gets sidetracked as she and Peter have some very fun dialogue that goes back and forth around their problems as they discuss the current Mysterio bank robberies.

Lafuente's art during this scene, and the entire issue, for that matter, shows off some great expressions and I'm all for seeing more of his work in the future and wouldn't mind seeing him on Ultimate Spider-Man for fill-ins or other one-shots.

However, after some fill-in-the-blanks style dialogue with the police department about the Mysterio case, there's a sudden leap in logic and jarring shift, unless I'm missing pages, as Peter goes from not knowing anything about Mysterio to knowing one of the police officers is working with Mysterio and follows said cop to Mysterio's base and confronts him. It's like, one page we see MJ declaring she'll solve the case and the next Peter is in Mysterio's base and it's all thanks to MJ's Nancy Drew detective skills somehow. A page or two explaining the sudden shift would have been nice.

The Mysterio fight, if you could call it that, shows Mysterio has more to him than some simple tricks as he seemingly, and this could be a trick, I suppose, manhandles Spider-Man and delivers him an ultimatum that he'll face him when he's good and ready. It was a good introduction to the ultimate version and it shows some promise over other recent re-imaginings by Bendis.

Finally, the story wrapped up where it began, with more sex talk between Peter and MJ. It's finally explained that MJ is just upset with herself for putting the whole talk of sex out there while not actually being ready to follow through with it and she's upset with herself for thinking Peter might leave her like what happened earlier in the series when the same thing occured between Flash and Liz Allen. Obviously, the two make up in a tender moment and the sex talk has been curtailed for another time.

Personally, I found the topic was handled quite well and, while a predictable ending, the journey was far more interesting than I thought it would be. My biggest beef is with the Mysterio mystery that seemed tacked on and only served to disrupt the flow of the entire issue and distracted us from the actual focus of the story.

Verdict - Check It. Great job dealing with the teenage sex talk, but the various subplots of the book all feel disjoint and lack any cohesion, giving the book a jarring and disconnected feeling. Trim this down to the important parts and it would have been a picture perfect book.


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16 comments:

Andrenn said...

Great reviews as always Kirk. I'm glad to hear that you, for the most part, liked the USM Annual. I'll be picking up my copy sometime tomorrow probably.

Sad to hear that 1985 fell apart, but I'll still probably pick up the HC come January.

Just wanted to throw this out there, if your interested, the new reboot to Spawn started with 185 today and I found it quite good...just saying, maybe if you are interested, you may want to check it out.

Rawnzilla said...

RAGE KITTY! Love it.

Kiko said...

The art Rage of the red lanterns reminded me of the early image books. that said, that was my only problem with that excellent book! Oh and they should have stayed away from that whole final crisis nonsense :)

Cat said...

Great reviews as always Kirk. I enjoyed 1985 much more than you did but maybe I'm just still in shock after spending $20 on 5 comics this week.
Andrenn: I was almost going to pick up Spawn for the first time in years but was disappointed in McFalane's digital inks...not that they were bad, I was hoping to see his "style" influenced on the art though.

Andrenn said...

@cat: McFarlane's ink work isn't perfect, but for the most part he does an all right job. I don't feel it held back Portacio's incredible artwork though.
I have a review of up 185 in my blog if your interested in seeing my full thoughts on the issue. I highly recommended it.

Ampersand said...

I was hesitant to read Rage of the Red Lanterns, seeing as how i'm not following Final Crisis and i was worried i would not get what was going on.

I'm glad I did, 'cause it was a great issue.

Negadarkwing said...

Well as someone who's owned a cat, having one as a rage powered red Lantern is no surprise.
As someone whos seen a few Super Robot anime series, Hope powering up courage is no surprise. Now If we just add in love, I figure Hal will be able to make a boxing glove capable of punching the whole universe out. I really do look forward to seeing how the varous colors of the emotional spectrum affect each other. Red weakens yellow and Green, but blue strengthens green. It's an interesting twist.

Max said...

Please bring back the Top 10s, Kirk – I always enjoyed those.

Anonymous said...

what about the Joker graphic novel kirk? I hope you review that for all of us...i think it comes out this week and from what I hear its right up there with Killing Joke

Kirk Warren said...

@andrenn - I was tempted to take a look at the Spawn reboot/new direction, but it sold out and made my decision not to fairly easy. =D


@rawnzilla - IM IN UR SECTOR KILLIN UR GUYS!


@kiko - I didn't mention in the review, but the art did seem off to me. I think Davis was trying to emulate EVS and Reis and came upa little short.


@max - I've been working to get the reviews, previews and motw back on track and the T10T is the next thing to add back into the mix. I'll see if I can work out something for next week.


@anonymous - I think the Killing Joke comparisons are far too kind to the Joker HC. I found it a bit shallow and it depended more on violence and gore to push the story forward and cover up the weak plot.

It was a good read, but it doesn't hold up to multiple readings and many of the flaws became more apparent to me on my second read.

Ill post a reveiw on the weekend when I get a chance.

Anonymous said...

I think we do know why the scarred Guardian was doing what she's doing in the pages of Rage of the Red Lanterns. You must have missed the panel a few pages earlier where she had different symbols in the pupils of here eyes... the symbol of the Black Lanterns.

Anonymous said...

Great reviews! Loved rage of the red lanterns. Why didn't you get LOSH 47 since it is ending in 3 issues?

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