Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 02/04/09

It's been a while, so let's see if I remember how to do these things. Only reviewed Legion of Three Worlds and Secret Warriors this time around, but might go back and add Secret Six and War of Kings: Darkhawk tomorrow. Hit the jump for review-y goodness.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by George PĂ©rez and Scott Koblish

Where Final Crisis suffered from too many obscure characters with seemingly little to no explanation for being in the story, Legion of Three Worlds suffers from having far too many Legionairres and Johns trying his best to explain every single one of their appearances and histories, causing the story, what little there is between the massive fight sequences, to crawl at a snail's pace.

Furthermore, there are just way too many characters in this story. Let me rephrase that, Johns is trying to micro manage far too many characters. These battles literally consist of hundreds of characters, yet it felt like Johns was trying to tell me who every single one of them was, what their backstory is, what their motivation is and so on to the point I just stopped caring and my eyes started glazing over as I watched random person get killed or someone else get knocked down. I just couldn't associate with anyone outside of Superboy Prime, Superman, the Brainiacs and the one or two other characters I have a stronger grasp of and could pick out of a crowd.

Does this mean the issue was bad? I don't think so, as I did enjoy it, on a fundamental level, but I know I shouldn't be casually flipping through certain sections, glancing for dialogue that mattered as random people I don't care about died either. At the least, these should have been interesting or shocking, but the deaths just became so, I don't know, immaterial, as if they didn't even add anything to the story and had no place being in the issue. In fact, many scenes felt unnecessary or aimed at the more die hard Legion fans as opposed to being necessary to the story.

In the end, the only things you need to know are Sodam Yat came back after a nice scene with fellow Daximite, Mon-El, Superman and Superboy fought for all of two panels, where Superboy blew a hole in Superman's hand, and, at the very end of the issue, after some painfully dull explanations over the course of several pages, Kid Flash, Bart Allen, returned to the land of the living and Superboy Prime is still terrified of him after what happened in Infinite Crisis. I assume Kid Flash was plucked from the time stream and that is why he is a child again.

Verdict - Check It. The scenes that were impressive were extremely well done, but most of the book felt forced or aimed at a very niche audience of Legion fans with encylopedic knowledge of the teams, even with the numerous attempts by Johns to cue us in on who's who.

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Stefano Caselli

Easily my pick for Book of the Week, Secret Warriors just plain does everything right.

In a time when it's common practice to spend an entire issue introducing a new team of heroes, even if we've already met them before, Hickman manages to casually introduce us to everyone in such a way that it just feels natural and never breaks up the flow of the story.

For instance, the book opened up with an espionage sequence where our Secret Warriors are infiltrating an abandoned SHIELD safehouse. The first page focuses on Quake and Hellfire and sets the scene. We are instantly shown, through the dialogue, exactly what type of character each person is and it doesn't consist of two big text boxes full of narration nor does it break up the flow of the scene.

Later, we see the same thing as we transition between Fury and Quake going to check in on their youngest member, Phobos, who's been busy playing some Call of Duty on his Xbox. Not only is it one of the funnier moments this week, but the scene just felt right, as if it was completely natural for this type of scene to take place between them. To me, that's a sign of great writing and I find it very hard to explain just how natural and spot on this all felt as I was reading it, even with relatively new characters like most of these are.

As for the actual plot of this issue, while primarily an introduction to the team for new readers, it also does an excellent job setting the tone and pace of the series. While investigating some remaining ties to SHIELD before HAMMER takes over, Nick Fury discovers some disconcerting evidence that he had to confirm, which lead to the operation that opened the book. That opening operation ended up being botched as both Hydra and HAMMER troops showed up on scene.

Fury reveals, later, that he had leaked the information about this SHIELD safehouse to the President of the United States and it was designed to confirm his suspicions, as he reveals to his second in command, Quake, and us, that SHIELD and the US government has been so comprimised that Hydra literally has seats in power high enough to be in contact with the president and that Fury has been basically working for the bad guys the entire time.

While some jaded fans point to the Skrulls and other signs of corruption in SHIELD and other government agencies in the Marvel Universe as ways of underselling this revelation, I thought it was handled extremely well and was quite taken aback by the reveal, moreso than I should have been.

Finally, the mountain of extras included in this issue only served to heighten my enjoyment of it. While some fans might ignore these dossiers, documents and other Hydra or Caterpillar file extras, I ate them up like candy and going the extra mile on such "minor" things as these really helped swallowing the high price tag of this issue that much easier.

Verdict - Must Read. I didn't care much for this ragtag squad of heroes during Secret Invasion, but Hickman has my full attention with this debut outing. One of the best debut issues for a series I've seen in a long time. Highly recommended.

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Franco said...

do you have a blog roll? i would love to interchange links.
I totally understand 'bout the mighty avengers, $3.99, heck no,

Chris said...

I am glad you felt the same way I did about Secret Warriors. I like how all of the characters in the book are virtually blank slates for characterization. Hickman can mold the heroes into whoever he wants them to be without having to rely on what other writers have done with them(besides Fury). The art helped me enjoy this issue too. Caselli is top notch talent. The Layla Miller reference in the end notes was pretty cool also.
Sidenote- Its great to see you back Kirk. One suggestion, if you have the time, I would like to just see a post about some of the comics in January that you missed. Just some brief reviews about some of the major books released would be cool. Dark Avengers, end of Fianl Crisis etc.

Daryll B said...

Welcome Back Mr. Warren and I have to agree with you on both. As a Legion Nut, it did feel like Johns was trying too hard while Hickman floated through doing almost the same thing effortlessly.

That being said I am curious as to what your reaction to Final Crisis #7 was. And your hopes for the Post Crisis DC Universe.

Once again, welcome back Sir!

Anonymous said...


Mighty Avengers ain't 3.99. Just issue #21 with the status quo.


issue #22 and onwards seems to have reverted to the original price.

Andrenn said...

The first issue of Secret Warriors wasn't all that great for me. I was hoping for more of a team dynamic then what Hickman gave us. It was all right, in the end, but I wasn't too impressed with it.

Anonymous said...

great to have you back Kirk, but when are you gonna let us no your thoughts on Batman's sacrafice in Final Crisis? I would love to hear what you think, I for one am I excited for where it goes from here.

Matt Ampersand said...

I loved Secret Warriors too, and while I liked the extra information dossier at the end, I wasn't sure if we are supposed to know who these people and what these places are. The only names I recognized were Layla Miller and that place where Marvel Boy was in during Secret Invasion.

Lazaraki said...

WOW u are still the best reviewer around

i missed u so much!

Kirk Warren said...

@Franco - It's not just the fact one issue of Mighty is $3.99, but so many other books are jumping up to that price point that makes it difficult to keep up with books that I have a passing interest in when it's hard enough picking up all the books I really want.

@Chris - If you read the "I'm Alive" post, I actually mentioned I had planned a fake magazine download for the Best of 2008 awards and, as I hadn't finished it before disappearing, I was going to add some of the reviews from the past month I didn't get a chance to post. I've also added a complete set of Final Crisis annotations and am trying to finish up some brief who's who character profiles for all the obsucre characters that showed up. I'm hoping to get it down by the weekend and it looks like I should be able to roll it out on Saturday or Sunday, so look for it then!

@Daryll B & Anonymous2 - As I just told Chris, look for a review in the TMC magazine I'll be posting this weekend.

Kirk Warren said...

@Franco - Forgot the blogroll part, I have a links section at the top of the page. Feel free to use the Contact link at the top to send me a link to your blog and I'll try to add it in the next day or two.

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