Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 06/17/09

In lieu of the Post-Crisis Previews, I opted to catch up on some reviews from last week. I'll be posting the previews tomorrow and this week's reviews should be back to their regularly scheduled Wednesday post time. Hit the jump to find out what I thought about last week's books.

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Ariel Olivetti

As I mentioned in the previews for this issue, I'm just not feeling this event anymore. It's been dragging on for a while now and nothing has really happened beyond people popping claws, cutting and/or shooting things and the odd decent moment with Apocalypse or Deadpool, but those only occur in the Yost/Kyle parts of this crossover. It also doesn't help my enthusiasm for it when I absolutely loathe Olivetti's artwork and just about everything Swierczynski has done with Cable since the start of this series.

This issue continues the trend of just mindless violence while we wait for a Yost/Kyle X-Force issue. It's like filler for an event that should have only been handled in the X-Force book or a separate miniseries and really hurts the progression of the story when every second issue in the story consists of recapping where we're at, what happened in X-Force and then standing around grimacing or randomly killing foot soldiers.

However, there is one moment of note from this issue and it dealt with Apocalypse, whom Angel/Archangel/Death (he has too many codenames!) saved over in X-Force previously. He basically comes back to his base, which Stryfe had taken over, and armours up and looks like will be the one to save our heroes from Stryfe, who looks to be unstoppable at this point. Curious as to what they will be doing with Stryfe and Apocalypse post-Messiah War and whether they'll be killed off or not since they are both merely alternate timeline versions.

Verdict - Avoid It. Nothing really happened. Sound and fury signifying nothing, but with bad art. Most crossovers, even as bad as they some parts are, they are typically worth purchasing to know what is going on. Not the case with this one.

Written by Ed Brubaker, Roger Stern & Mark Waid
Art by Dale Eaglesham, Butch Guice & Luke Ross

Having the extra few days before reviewing this issue has allowed me a rare opportunity to just let a much hyped book, as this 600th issue of Captain America was, to just sit and digest moreso than the typical 'read and review' Wednesday format I typically employ. In some cases, taking the extra time to let a new comic sit can change my opinion on it, much like how subsequent rereadings of Final Crisis did for me.

However, in this case, with the amount of hype and media attention Marvel threw at this issue, even with the downtime, I'm fairly disappointed with what was given to us. The issue is made up of several short stories that all act more like interludes or retrospectives than an actual story. Some were good, like the Patriot/Rikki Barnes segment or the short glimpse of what our villains have been up to and none were outright bad, but none felt important nor did any carry any real weight that could possibly justify the amount of hype for this issue.

I suppose the big news for this issue was the so-called return of Steve Rogers, who does not even appear in the issue nor is it confirmed he is alive. Sharon Carter, who was originally brainwashed into killing Steve, is still having visions/dreams of what she did and her most recent one reveals that she didn't use a normal gun to kill Steve and she's sure he is alive. Yes, something as ridiculous as a magic science gun from Arnim Zola is the big retcon for this death. Marvel should be ashamed of even trying to get media attention for this because I'm honestly embarrassed that such a cliched, well, comic book-like solution was used for such a real and tragic death. With how silly it is, I can't believe this was even picked up on by media. They should have really just waited for Reborn #1 before doing the whole mass media angle.

Verdict - Check It. It's a good issue, but nothing special and hardly worth the amount of attention it's received. It's greatest failing is probably due to not living up to the hype as it's still a solid outing for Brubaker and Co.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Leonard Kirk

I'm a little torn over how to feel about this issue of Captain Britain and MI13. I know I liked it overall, but the opening sequence really disappointed me for some reason.

It consisted of basically washing away Dracula's entire victory and conquering of Britain last issue by having it all revealed to have been a dream sequence setup through MI13's use of Plokta. Using Plokta, who they defeated and captured earlier in the series, was a nice touch, but I was so blown away by the ending to the previous issue that it just felt a little cheap, no matter how well executed it was, to have it all just amount to a dream sequence. No one really died or was taken out of play in a manner that could not be resolved either, so I was expecting Captain Britain to find a way back into Britain and Blade to go it alone with the rest of the team captured or incapacitated. Thankfully, we were still given an excellent followup, but a lot of the promise from last issue was lost.

One of the more interesting subplots this issue was build upon was Dracula's weakened control over other vampires. I'm not sure what is going on there, but it seems like a rather major development and I hope it's expanded upon before the end of this storyline.

A fun cameo in this issue was by Killpower, a character that pretty much defines the 90's X-TREME movement. He was an undercover agent for MI13 acting as a slave to Dracula and helped them rescure Spitfire and others.

Another interesting follow up was with Dr Doom and Meggan from the recent Captain Britain and MI13 Annual. Dr Doom 'saved' Meggan from Hell simply to give to Dracula as a gift in exchange for Dracula owing him a favour. I'm curious as to what that is all about and if we'll see it followed up on in the future now that we know this book is due for cancellation. Dark Reign could be over before we ever see a miniseries or relaunch of this book, so it may never see the light of day.

Verdict - Must Read. All in all, despite the whole dream sequence washing away at the start, this was a very good issue of the always excellent Captain Britain and MI13 that has left me wanting more. Can't wait to see how this storyline concludes.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Mark Brooks

While I enjoyed the first issue of DR: Young Avengers, it was far from perfect and had not completely sold me on the idea or need for a series like this. This second issue goes a long way to dispelling any of that with a very solid outing.

Last issue ended with the real Young Avengers teleporting into the Dark Reign version's hideout with what looked like the obvious super hero battle setup for this issue. While we do get a few pages of fighting, I was actually surprised at how fast they came to terms and all just sat down to talk things through.

This led to Coat of Arms telling us the origin of why she formed this new team of Young Avengers, which amounts to her being insane and/or obsessed with Norman Osborn. After a chance encounter with him, she was determined to form a team to challenge him and I think get him to become the Green Goblin for her again. At least her heart is in the right place. She's also got a history with Speed from the Young Avengers, which should be interesting to see more of.

While the "origin" took up most of the issue, the actual talking between the teams was interesting and the Young Avengers are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them try out for their team or find their own name if they wish. Very refreshing take on the typical fists first approaches.

The one other thing of note was the reveal of who Executioner's mother is and she turns out to be Princess Python from the Circus of Crime. While not a major villain, the conversation they are having is rather interesting as Executioner has managed to see past Kate Bishop's (aka Hawkeye) amazing disguise of sunglasses to discover her secret identity and is talking to his mother about Kate. I'm not sure if they just have past history, but it seems like they do based on how he speaks of her.

Verdict - Check It. While not a must read or major story, this was still quite entertaining and fans of Young Avengers will be very pleased with their handling here.

Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Wellinton Alves

While I think this was the best issue so far for War of Kings: Ascension, I still can't get past the idea that I hate the main character and almost every scene he is in is a negative to me. I'm not sure what it is about Chris Powell that grates on me, but I he's just not someone I want to read about for extended periods of time.

Now, that doesn't mean I don't like what Abnett and Lanning are doing in this issue or series. Far from it. I actually quite enjoy everything they've done with the Fraternity of Raptors and Talon and Razor, especially when combined with their dealings with Vulcan over in the main event book.

Both Talon and Razor are interesting variables that I would love to see explored more, but we've been treated to only the merest cameos of each in every issue so far in favour of showing what I consider to be a poor comic book trope - the inner mind struggle for dominance on the part of Darkhawk to wrest back control of his armour.

Speaking of which, he does just that in this issue. Shortly after Razor kills Lilandra (repeated from War of Kings), Darkhawk retakes control of his suit just in time to be faced with the grim reality that Gladiator is about to kill him for what Razor just did. It was a good spot to retake control from a storytelling standpoint, but the whole inner struggle trope practically screams out for these things and makes for predictable and a tad lazy storytelling in my opinion and is one of the reasons I really dislike this type of plot.

Verdict - Check It. Talon's and Razor's parts are still quite entertaining and worth checking out, but I'm not feeling anything that has to do with the actual main character of the book.

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btownlegend said...

You ever read DC comics?

Steven said...

While it won't give you reason to care for the character more, you are misreading the situation in ASCENSION.

Chris isn't exactly fighting an inner mind battle. His body is not inside the armor, it is replaced by the armor.

While he does spend some time out of his body, it is a physical manifestation taking place in another dimension not on some psychic plane.

Flip The Page said...

Captain Britain and MI13 REALLY copped out this issue, but it's forgiven for continuing to be so damn good.

Also it looks like Hawkeye might stick out for a change in DR:YA!

Matt Ampersand said...

btownlegend, I don't know if you are being facetious or that is an honest question. Either way, Kirk reviews plenty of DC comics. It just happens that last week was a particularly small offering from DC, with very little in terms of high profile books.

Anonymous said...

Unless you count the return of Dini/Nguyen in Streets of Gotham, which was great btw

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