Thursday, September 10, 2009

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 09/10/09

Sigh. I had a bunch of reviews finished for the night before a power surge caused me to lose power, and several reviews in the process. As such, the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews are a little light tonight, featuring only four reviews, but I'll do my best to update this post tomorrow when I get a chance to re-write the rest of my reviews. In the meantime, hit the jump to see what I thought of this week's releases.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Francis Manapul
Co-feature written by Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Co-feature art by Clayton Henry

Adventure Comics #2 is pretty much exactly what you would expect after seeing that cover of Superboy and Wonder Girl. Hell, the scene on the cover even happens in the comic.

However, while I thought Johns did a good job with the dialogue and general feelings between the two characters and their previous relationship, it just glossed over too many things that occurred in the past year to make it meaningful.

For reference, the biggest glaring omission has to be Wonder Girl's little Superboy cult and general insanity during 52. Johns at least touched on the Wonder Girl/Tim Drake Robin relationship that was taking place in Teen Titans during his short-lived time in the grave, but event hat was only a panel or two of Cassie reflecting on it and then it being washed away to put the two characters back together.

As such, while there's some strong dialogue and a good foundation for a relationship/return to status quo for these two characters, it just rings hollow to me and felt like a bunch of pretty pictures and talking heads. The only really interesting moment for me with this issue dealt with the Lex Luthor/Brainiac escape and Luthor's discovery that Conner was still alive. But even this was only a short subplot to the book moving forward.

As for the Legion back-up, there was no Starman and it revolved around Lightning Lad's evil brother, who was supposed to be the only member of his race born without a twin, revealing he does, indeed, have a twin and wants Lightning Lad to track him down for him. Longtime Legion fans may like it (or hate the fact they made him have a long lost twin now), but it did nothing for me.

Verdict - Check It. There's some good dialogue and beautiful art in the Superboy part of the book, but it fails to address the previous year of in story time and events in favour of getting the two characters back together. With Johns and Manapul off the book with issue six, I may just drop the title as well.

Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Barry Kitson

Red-Headed Stranger concludes with this issue and I have to say, while it was far from a perfect storyline, it was the first time I've actually enjoyed the Brand New Day-era Amazing Spider-Man. There were no 'cute' jabs at readers over the status quo, Chameleon as Peter was great, the havok he caused to Peter's life deliciously evil and Mary Jane, while not having a huge presence in a storyline named after her, is finally back in Peter's life again. All in all, I'm liking Spider-Man again and will continue with the series for the foreseeable future.

Now, as for this issue, I'm still not impressed with the cop-out answer as to how Peter survived the acid bath from the Chameleon. It felt cheap and I would have preferred Chameleon dispose of his victims in a different, easier for Spider-Man to survive, manner, but it's also easily forgivable in the long run.

Another oddity was the Harry Osborn encounter with Chameleon as Peter. Chameleon was pulling a gun while walking into the Coffee Bean and we cut to Spider-Man escaping with the ominous "bang, bang, bang" sound effects acting, or so I thought, as a double meaning for Peter's escape and Chameleon's use of the gun. Instead, the gun and pulling thereof was pointless and Chameleon actually offered Harry a place to stay at Aunt May's place as an act of selflessness, as Chameleon called it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I loved what they did with Chameleon here and the reveal that he actually 'helps' the people he impersonates, despite killing them and replacing them, but I didn't like the fake out on the Harry thing, which mirrored how I viewed the whole fake out on the acid bath for Peter. Again, a minor nitpick that didn't overly affect my enjoyment of the book.

I suppose the biggest thing to come out of this issue was Mary Jane and Peter, the real one this time, finally meeting up again. Where it was a bit ambiguous in earlier chapters of the story, it's made quite clear that MJ does know that Peter is Spider-Man with comments about how his only real skill is punching people with metal arms in the face. Not much else is really explained and how their relationship ended wasn't touched upon, but they are back on speaking terms and I hope this means she'll be showing up more often now.

Verdict - Buy It. Solid ending to an all around good arc, which was one of the first BND era Spider-Man stories to, well, feel like a Spider-Man story to me.

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason and Rebecca Buchman

I'm not sure how to feel about Green Lantern Corps #40 at this point in time. I want to like it, but the shiny new smell and initial awe over the whole Blackest Night event is quickly wearing thin as we're treated to the exact same story in every single issue - loved ones rise from the dead, hero is confronted by them, we get mixed emotions and, more likely than not, someone dies a gruesome, literal, heart-wrenching death.

If this was in one issue, it's shocking. Two, it's still a bit of a shock. But, with every single issue of the event and its myriad of tie-ins featuring the exact same story and "shocking" deaths, it's no longer interesting or shocking or even something to be emotionally engaged with as a reader. It's just senseless killing with the odd bit of actual story thrown in for good measure.

For example, the whole Kryb missing babies subplot was the only thing that really interested me with this issue for the simple fact it didn't revolve around zombies and loved ones and senseless gore. We've seen Kryb and her babies crying out to her several times since she was first shown captured by the Star Sapphires and, after she broke out, I'm interested in seeing where this is going. Did Black Lanterns steal them to evoke some kind of emotional response from Kryb? Was it the dead parents of all the babies reclaiming their children? To what end would that amount of effort against one Sinestro Corps member amount to? Is it someone else doing it? Indigo Tribe maybe?

There's so many questions revolving around such a small subplot that has me actually engaged whereas the mindless violence and gore of just about every other page of the book left me feeling hollow in comparison.

Sure, Bzzd back in action, even as a Black Lantern, was a great scene, particularly his words towards Guy Gardner, and Salaak finally growing a set and putting the Alpha Lanterns in their place was another great scene, but those were two moments in a 22 page comic full of the same thing I'd seen in five or six other comics already with the promise of dozens of more of the exact same thing set to roll out over the coming months. It leaves me a bit apprehensive moving forward, to say the least.

Verdict - Check It. I'm not completely disenfranchised with the Blackest Night yet and this issue wasn't nearly as bad as my more general commentary on the state of Blackest Night so far would have you believe, but I am holding out that things shift away from all this death and repeat dead-loved-ones-encounter stories that we've been getting non-stop in every tie-in and issue of the event so far.

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Carlos Pacheco

How can an issue where, well, let's be honest, nothing happens be so damn entertaining? It amounted to little more than a generic evil origin for Red Skull, aka Captain America's illegitimate and inglorious basterd of a son, and some present day scenes of Nick Fury called in to recruit a new team of black ops Avengers and more on Cap going rogue.

Yet, despite the tropes of the evil son, the straight forward plot and forced 'Cap goes rogue to find his evil son' stuff, I still loved this issue and was smiling most of the way through it. I don't know why and can't really explain it, but Millar's Ultimate work just clicks with me and his Hawkeye, Gunman X-treme costume and all, is back to being a great character similar to how he was portrayed in Ultimates 1 and 2.

Oh, for those wondering about the Red Skull's origin, it amounts to Cap and Gayle having sex before he left for the war, the government forcing her to put it up for adoption (aka giving it to them so they can have a baby super soldier) and this perfect and superior Cap offspring being perfect for 17 years and then going nuts, killing everyone in the facility, cutting his own face off so he wouldn't look like his father and becoming a terrorist. It sounds like fan fiction, yet I didn't care in the least about the absurdity or clicheness of it. It's Mark Millar being Mark Millar and it works here for me.

Verdict - Buy It. Just a fun return to the Ultimates from Millar and, slow pacing and comic book tropes aside, something I enjoyed for no real reason I can put into words other than it was fun to read.

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btownlegend said...

no Red Robin review????

rollenspiel said...

Blackest Night? Indeed. The story doesn't seem to move on. Loved ones rise, battle, and the dead ... pardon, the Black Lanterns can't be beaten. There needs to be a shimmer of hope by now. A solution. Maybe not THE solution, but a way to deal with the problems at hand.

Example: Every rising dead could be destroyed by a personal secret. That could solve one specific conflict, but the bigger problems of Black Lanterns in general would still be unresolved.

At the moment all the conflicts involving Black Lanterns seem a little pointless, since it's all about heroes getting torn to pieces, joining the Black Lanterns or, at the most, trying to survive.

Hell: Even "trying to survive" would work, but please, dear storywriters, take a look at the zombie genre and look how storytelling horror-survival stores is done. Will you?

Flip The Page said...

blackest night wore so thin for me so quickly. I mean I expected a decent war of light/people coming back from the dead balance and instead got an almost completely non-lantern related story with green lantern being the only one to remember there's more going on.

Matt Ampersand said...

I haven't been reading any of the tie-ins, just Green Lantern, GLC, and the main series, so I haven't grown tired of it yet. Ask me again in 2 months, though, and the story may change.

stuclach said...

I take it most of you haven't noticed the fact that those who are at piece cannot be resurrected. Johns gave you the glimmer of hope right there. Their weakness is made obvious. They target your emotions. If you keep your emotions in check....

The Dangster said...

just an FYI, while i am also Blackest Night fatigued a bit, Blackest Night Batman #2 was quite good, despite myself not being a fan of of the first issue, the art's quite superb this issue. It doesn't add much to the story of Blackest Night, but it's a cool story if you want to know what Dick, Damien, and Tim are doing.

I think Johns has stated that Blackest Night is the DCU while Green Lantern will deal with the light wars. I think it'll work out since we're only 2-3 issues both series.

I did enjoy Ultimates, I forgot how entertaining it could be after volume 3 and Ultimatum. The issue did feel thin but it felt good.

stuclach said...

Sorry. I obviously meant peace, not piece.

Kirk Warren said...

@btownlegend - Check back later today and Ryan should have a review of Red Robin for you.

@stuclach - the 'at peace' bit is in relation to Dove, who was the agent of order and peace basically, so lived and died in peace. it's touched on a bit in the Titans tie-ins where the current Hawk and Dove are featured. I don't think it will relate to any (or very few) other characters due to the nature of Dove's powers affecting his 'at peace'-ness.

Mike H. said...

How does the origin of the Red Skull sound like fanfiction? I don't get it, especially as there is a surprising amount of good fanfiction out there better than alot of what is on the stands.

Kirk Warren said...

@Mike H. - I meant more along the lines of how it's a very typical "comic book-like" revelation with Cap's son going evil for the sake of being evil. Think of how a soap opera story always seems to have the evil twin or someone else revealed as the father or long lost lover and so on. It's not necessarily bad, but it comes off as somethinga fan could have conceived. There's a lot to be said for execution though, so it still reads well.

The Dangster said...

i want to say Millar's gonna elaborate on Red Skull's motives for being evil.... but it's Millar.

Ethereal said...

No Marvels Project?

Are you sticking with Spidey after this Arc?

Wheres the WoK one-shot?

World of New Krypton was good stuff, again. They should have put this in the Superman book and have Mon-El be a backup.

Kirk Warren said...

@Ethereal - I'm working on some other reviews. Like I said in the intro, my power flickered and with it I lost 4 or so other reviews I had written up. It was too late to redo them all, so I just went with what was actually saved.

stuclach said...

It looks like the "at peace" issue has shown up again. As described in the most recent issue of Blackest Night: If you keep your emotions under control, they can't track you.

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