Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 02/17/10

Starcrat 2 beta was released upon the unsuspecting masses today. I didn't get in.  In my depression, I read some comic books and decided to write some reviews for your enjoyment.  Perhaps your happiness will make up for my lack of vespene gas and need to build more overlords.  Hit the jump for the reviews.

Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Scott Wegener

There are few joys in life equal to the arrival of a new issue of Atomic Robo.  As 43% of us Canadians prefer bacon over sex, I'm going to have to rank Atomic Robo at least above sex, but just below bacon (mmm, bacon).  So, after having some bacon this morning and having satisfied that itch, finishing the day with, and I probably say this in regards to just about every new issue, probably the best issue of Atomic Robo to date, I can probably go to bed quite pleased with myself.  

Volume four of Atomic Robo kicked off with a few new recruits applying for jobs at Tesladyne Industries.  During the interview, vampires from the vampire dimension (obvious in hindsight as, well, where else would they come from?) kill one, pretty much assuring the other of the job - if he survives.  The rest of the issue has Jenkins solve the problem with his sidekick Robo doing stuff.  It wasn't important as this is Jenkins' comic anyways.

In all seriousness, Robo even quotes Rorschach with a, "we're not trapped in here with them, they're trapped in here with Jenkins" line.  Not a few panels later and Jenkins is turning vampires into red smears with his bare hands.  I never thought one of the random fleshy meat bags following the charismatic and sarcastic Robo around on his adventures would ever eclipse the our robot protagonist, but Jenkins has really become one of my favourite characters and he's like the goddamn Terminator crossed with every other badass operative you've ever seen in a movie rolled into one.  

Jenkins aside, Robo has many of his witty one-liners and the humour quotient of this issue is extremely high, but never at the expense of a story.  Some earlier issues had small pacing problems where they'd rush to conclusions after pages of laugh after laugh, but this issue manages to blend a perfect mix of story, humour and action into what was, again, one of the best issues of Atomic Robo to date.

Verdict - Must Read.  My book of the week and a fantastic start to another volume of Atomic Robo.  With the promise of Dr Dinosaur, a trip to Japan and more in future issues of this volume, I can't imagine this not being the best volume of Atomic Robo yet.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Scott Kolins

+ Great art by Kolins.  I really love what he does with the Rogues and various speedsters.  I get a feeling of motion and speed when he draws anyone in action, something most Flash artists fail to capture in my eyes.  
+ In Brightest Day... Not sure what happened at the end of Flash: Rebirth - oh wait, it didn't come out yet - but Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, was locked up and defeated.  His shown here a beaten and broken man constrained in various power dampening shackles. 

How does this relate to Brightest Day?  Seems the Black Lanterns chasing the Rogues stop dead in their tracks at Thawne's cell and stare inside.  In Black Lantern-o-Vision, they see Thawne a white and black glow (no emotions) with a Brightest Day logo floating outside his chest like the special construct effect they use to illustrate the Green Lantern logo on the chests of the GLC members sometimes.  Really confused as to the implications of this, but has me reconsidering all I thought I knew about Brightest Day and what it signified prior to this.  Maybe a sign of everyone that died and came back?  Someone that was reborn at the end of Blackest Night?  Could explain a lot...
+ The Rogues are obviously a focus of this issue, much as they were the series, and they do not fail to disappoint.  Really enjoyed how they ended the issue with the Boomerang.
+ Captain Cold was stellar throughout this series and issue.  He's definitely my favourite Rogue.
+ Series didn't end with a feeling of "to be continued" like other Blackest Night tie-ins did.  I feel like I got a complete package with these three issues as well as worthwhile additional content that adds to Blackest Night with the appearance of Blue Lantern Flash and dealing with Impulse's Black Lantern possession.  Few other tie-ins have been as satisfying in this regard.
- Nekron isn't in this issue.  Flash does not fight him.  Nothing related to that promising cover occurs in this issue.  Was a good issue and I don't put too much stock in covers, but they are rarely this blatantly misleading.

Verdict - Buy It. Great miniseries that builds upon Blackest Night, adds to it and also tells its own story.  Some interesting implications for Brightest Day and the beginnings of what I believe will be another Rogues return to prominence in the upcoming Flash monthly.  This has me more excited for that new ongoing than Rebirth has, so if you've been on the fence about Barry's return, pick up this series to change your opinion on him.

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato

I want to like this issue and admit it's perfectly fine when taken on its own without knowledge of Siege.  Sentry goes insane, calls on his Moses powers and tries to Void up New York City while Norman Osborn talks him down.  Ms Hand has a lot of great moments and continues to establish herself as a more competent Maria Hill than Hill ever was during her time in SHIELD.  All in all, it's a pretty solid read that I'd recommend on that merit alone.

However, there's a few things I just can't wrap my head around.  For starters, this takes place days, if not hours, before the siege of Asgard.  Osborn references Ares's attack plans and the impending attack multiple times throughout.  

What's the problem, you ask?  Well, Void's attack on New York wreaks havoc with downtown New York.  Entire buildings are sheared in half, streets and vehicles are destroyed and even the New and Dark Avengers were shown trying to save as many people as they could as Norman talked down the crazy man.  And everyone has to see him up there causing all this as it's right in front of Avengers Tower and all the heroes are present.  

So, you say, it's just a few buildings destroyed and offpanel civilian deaths, no big deal, what's this got to do with Siege?  Well, Siege is hours away on this timeline.  New York was just devestated in an attack by the freaking Sentry that the New Avengers even witnessed and tried to stop (they didn't outright attack; were too busy saving people) and there's not a mention of it in Siege, an event that is built around a stadium of a few thousand dying in an explosion.  No one caught images of Iron Patriot in the middle of this trying to talk down the Sentry?  The New Avengers decided to go back and sit on Cap's couch and decided how to save Asgard instead of stopping the Sentry, whom they just witnessed nearly wipe New York out?  There's not a single mention of it anywhere in Siege that New York was just devestated by a Dark Avenger member or even an attempt at blaming it on the Asgardians to further the cause?  

I'm sorry, but I can't accept something of this magnitude happening within less than a day of the siege of Asgard, an event built and instigated on far less an incident than this Sentry temper tantrum, and not even receiving mention or consideration by the media or our heroes.  

Verdict - Check It.  While on one hand, I think this is actually a pretty solid issue with fantastic art and even some great character moments, the plot and where it lines up with Siege, something it's listed as a tie-in to, just doesn't work for me and pulled me out of the issue, resulting in me questioning everything about it.  Good stories shouldn't do that. 

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

There was a lot to like about this issue as Johns and Mahnke continue to knock them out of the park with each issue of Green Lantern.  If only the Blackest Night issues were as packed with plot driven events and epic moments as these "tie-ins".  But I digress.

Hal Jordan re-merged with Parallax last issue to combat the might of the Black Lantern controlled Spectre.  It was a much anticipated development ever since we first saw mention and early covers of Parallax's return.  I can say without a doubt that it did not disappoint, though the ending left something to be desired.

Simply put, Parallax takes the Black Lantern Spectre to task.  We find out some puzzling (to me at least since I have little knowledge of the inner workings of the Spectre) information, such as an "inner self" Spectre beyond the shell his human host gives him to which Parallax released.  There's lots of interesting backstory hinted at regarding Parallax and we even find out that, though Atrocitus attempted to claim Spectre as the rage entity, that he is in fact not their avatar.  Spectre does, however, state he has battled the red entity and that it is far more dangerous than Atrocitus could ever imagine and would devour them all.  

However, once Spectre was freed, there was little else done with him or Parallax.  In fact, Parallax was quickly written out of the story by having the Carol's love and the aid of the other lights somehow seperate Hal from Parallax's control.  Parallax then gets pulled away into some light while Hector Hammond hints at future stories. You're forgiven if you have no idea who that is as he hasn't appeared in like 40 issues or so and most people only started reading with the Sinestro Corps War.  It really felt out of place to me and I know they have to eventually start building new stories post-Blackest Night, but this wasn't the right time to do it and not in such a manner either.

Other than that odd ending, I really enjoyed everything else that happened.  We saw both Nekron and Black Hand, both of whom Mahnke draws the hell out of, and there's finally a feeling that something big is going to happen in this series as Nekron implies its time to do something other than stand in a graveyard for four issues straight.  

Also, seeing Lex Luthor explain the finer aspects of the human race and Earth culture (we're greedy capitalist scum who only care about personal possessions!) to Larfleeze and seeing Larfleeze change his opinion of Earth was a moment of the week for me.  All of the lantern/deputized member pairs had some good moments in the issue with the exception of the variant cover member, Scarecrow, who, I believe, didn't even appear in the issue after some great moments last month.  

Verdict - Buy It. Enjoyable issue that did not disappoint.  Seeing things like Parallax rip the face off of the Spectre, literally, or Larfleeze and Lex Luthor interacting were as good as you can imagine and the issue just feels like an event in and of itself.  Few minor hiccups near the end, but otherwise fine job by everyone involved.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason

For the first time in a long time, I walked away from a Green Lantern Corps issue disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, it's a very good issue and, realistically, it was probably next to impossible to live up to the expectations or continue the trend of one-upping each subsequent issue's awesome quotient by the factor of ten that it had been for the past year, but I was hoping for so much more from this confrontation with Red Lantern Guy Gardner.

In short, remember how the last issue solved the whole Black Lantern problem with Mogo conveniently showing up and taking out every Black Lantern without breaking a sweat?  He, again, saves the day here by doing what everyone else could not and subdues Guy, purifies his blood with space leeches (don't ask) and then spits him back out good as new with little to no after effects (though he does have to find a Blue Lantern to purge him of some trace Red Lantern elements in his blood or some nonsense).

In short, it's just an all too convenient solution to a problem so they can just get it over with and move on to the end of Blackest Night.  There's almost no consequence to him being a Red Lantern and his return to Green Lantern status so easily now removes any ramifications of Kyle's "death" that caused the rage in the first place.  

However, despite the negative tone of the review, I'm still pleased with this issue.  There's a lot of character development and exploration for Guy and his storied past as the green and red rings duel for control of his psyche.  We see the varying reactions of each corpsemen on hand to stop him and there is some solid action to be had within with great art by Gleason.  The man draws fantastic aliens and his expressions were designed for displaying crazy, if we can all that an expression.  It's just hard to overlook the way they handwave away the whole Red Lantern problem.

Verdict - Check It.  I want to love this, but it's a clear throttling back of the title compared to previous issues and felt like Tomasi just had to get everyone back into position for the conclusion to Blackest Night.  Did not care for the convenient reusing of Mogo to solve all their problems with little to no consequences for the second month in a row either. 

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Eric Rupe said...

"we even find out that, though Atrocitus attempted to claim Spectre as the rage entity, that he is in fact not their avatar"

I'm honestly surprised that the Spectre isn't actually the Rage avatar since Johns has been on this I'm-going-to-interconnect-everything-into-meaningless kick for the past few years.

Seriously, just because all of these characters are in the same fictional universe doesn't mean they all need to be connected to each other.

Radlum said...

To be honest, the only thing that dissapointed me from GLC was that no Blue Lantern was featured, I mean, it was obvious that they were the only option to rid Guy of the red ring, yet again we got a Deus Ex Mogo to fix this; I wanted to see Blue Lantern Ganesha appear at the end of the issue to set things straight, instead of leeches cleaning Guy's blood.
Anyway, both Green Lantern issues were good, I can't believe I had been missing this comics for months (since I just started reading GL last month, beginning with Rebirth)

TexiKen said...

I didn't really follow Boomerang Jr since he showed up in Identity Crisis, but it seems like Johns removed all the character growth with him in this issue (from what I saw of the issue) in order to show his pet character Captain Cold being a bad ass.

He was striving to be a hero, this issue he was pretty nasty with what he did for his dead dad.

Parallax207 said...

I hope the rogues are featured heavily in the BRIGHTEST DAY Flash series. Their appearances in Rouges Revenge and now Blackest Night Flash have been amazing. @texiKen I'm the same way about Boomerang Jr. so I wasn't sad to see him go. What I was surprised about was that we didn't see any interaction between a Black Lantern Trickster and Pied Piper... after their big arc in Countdown to Final Crisis.

GL 51 was awesome, I am still waiting to see what happens with Carol Ferris and Predator. [BTW, Where the hell is Fatality?]

Dennis said...

If I read it correctly, I think Dark Avengers #14 shows us that The Void was in control during Siege #2. Perhaps this is a way to redeem him for killing Ares?

The Dangster said...

1. the only complaint about atomic robo: it's only 4 issues!!!! sigh, free comic book day will even it out.

2. Blackest Night Phantom Stranger wasn't bad and im diggin Ardian Syaff. It deals with Spectre a bit more. It's just a tie in thats not necessary but in case you Phantom Stranger, Spectre, and Deadman...

3. Mankhe's artwork is steller. I want more Hector Hammond. I think Lex's implication of how the orange and black lanterns work will be important.

4. I really really really really really wished that Guy would stay a red lantern for a bit longer. He did go longer than Hal as Spectre or Kyle dead. Love Gleason was better than normal this issue, loved the two page spread on Guy's memories (one punch one punch!)

Mikey Donuts said...

Am I the only person in the comic-reading universe that thinks that Deodata is not a good artist? Maybe he draws a decent christ on the cross version of Sentry but that's it. How is this guy on an Avengers title? I guess he works fast. It looks like he does.

Anonymous said...

Ah, this is what I miss: Weekly Crisis, first thing on a Thursday morning with reviews!

I liked GLC enough, but my main problem is that I don't think it was the right time for a whole issue devoted to Guy Gardner's red ring, especially considering there's still a whole mess of Black Lanterns out there. This issue felt like a distraction from the main event. Also, it seems Mogo doesn't just socialize; he won't shut up!

I had a similar feeling towards Green Lantern. I don't know why Parallax was brought in since it didn't really seem to add to the Black Lantern battle other than to spend a whole issue devoted to the Spectre. And for a character as powerful as the Spectre's supposed to be, he sure has been getting his ass handed to him lately.

And you're right about Mahnke. He draws the hell out of Nekron and Black Hand!

Daryll B. said...

Not a good week for me picking up books:

-Green Lantern and GLC both left me lacking praise this week. Radlum was right with the "Deus Ex Mogo" line and again the lack of concern for Mera in GL is disconcerting. The art in both looked rushed. I know people love the styles but to me after having Ivan Reis doing your event, Mahnke and Gleason just don't carry "cosmic" very well.

-Uncanny X-Men was just as bad. Who was the enemy exactly? Wasn't this stupid Sublime thing done to death already? Don't get me started on the whole Magneto thing...

-Dark Avengers...bwahahahahahahahaha...Kirk hit this nail on the head and to me there is no further proof that the Siege thing was freaking rushed than this...and the solicts for New Avengers 62 next week.

-A great swerve in Cap. America 603 but issue did feel like it was stuck in neutral until the last 4 pages.

-I thought the promotions of future books hurt the impact of Incredible Hercules. I know that this opinion isn't popular, but I can't help feeling that way.

smkedtky said...

@Mikey Donuts: I enjoy Deadato's work but can see why others wouldn't. For me, it helps that I love the coloring on DARK AVENGERS (it works well with his art). Either way, he's come a long way from the pseudo-Image work he turned in in the 90's.

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