Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 04/07/10 - 04/21/10

I started writing reviews for older comics I missed during my health related downtime (hadn't been to the shop or even read these comics in the past three weeks) with the intent to include them in addition to this week's releases.  

Sadly, I ran out of time and misjudged the number of comics I actually read.  Getting a stack of comics that big after only missing three weeks of pick-ups is kind of scary when you see it like that.  I even had to leave out some reviews of these older comics due to lack of time.  That means tonight's reviews will be a collection of short reviews from random comics released over the past couple of weeks ranging from Brightest Day to Atomic Robo and even some Secret Six and PunisherMAX mixed in for good measure.  

I'll catch up with this week's reviews with a second edition of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews tomorrow, so be sure to check back again tomorrow for even more review goodness from yours truly!





ATOMIC ROBO AND THE REVENGE OF THE VAMPIRE DIMENSION #2
Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Scott Wagner

As much as I loved the previous issue and Atomic Robo in general, this issue was decidedly average.  It was good, but too many Japanese stereotypes (Power Ranger/Sentai knock-offs, giant monsters, over the top naming, etc), a pretty straight forward plot with predictable action and light on the laughs compared to just about any other Atomic Robo issue, even the more serious ones, like battles with Helsingard or the war stories of volume two.  By no means a bad issue and I'd still recommend it to people, but well below the high standards I hold this title to these days.  

Verdict - Check It


BRIGHTEST DAY #0
Written by Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin

Felt like an epilogue to Blackest Night and felt like I was reading a better written, but still not very good Countdown issue.  By this, I mean the issue is made up of two to three page sequences for the dozen or so characters that will be involved in the series.  Each sequence offers very little story and left me with a feeling that I just bought something telling me to read the numerous Brightest Day tie-ins for the rest of this month's story.  

While I used Countdown in my comparison, note that it is nowhere near Countdown-level of bad.  The story was just laid out like an issue of Countdown in the format.  It looks better and is written well, but the 'spine of the DC Universe' format it seems to be using killed my interest in the project.  Will give it a couple of issues to win me over and dissuade my fears.

Verdict - Avoid It


DOOMWAR #3
Written by Jonathan Mayberry
Art by  Scot Eaton

Like previous issues of this event, I absolutely loved this issue.  I know, I can scarcely believe it myself - a Black Panther event is blowing me away.  However, it's unfair to call it a Black Panther event.  To me, the main draw is how well Dr Doom is being written.  I knew he had been used in the new Black Panther ongoing that led into this event, but I always assumed, well, that it was a terrible book by all accounts and reviews of the early issues.  When did it, and Dr Doom, get so good?  

For example, last issue it was shown that Doom forced T'Challa to choose between his wife, Storm, and the key to unlocking the last lock to the vibranium vaults of Wakanda.  T'Challa choose to stay silent, condeming his wife to death in favour of keeping the vibranium safe.  Doom laughs and throws Storm to him and promptly leaves having already cracked the lock and looted the vibranium.  He just wanted to leave T'Challa and Storm with the knowledge that he would choose vibranium over his love for her and her life.  

If that wasn't enough proof, this issue shows how Doom cracked that lock with a mystical showdown with a panther god to prove his purity of spirit and conviction.  Doom so single mindedly believes that his right to rule is the only way to ensure the safety of mankind and a peaceful world, under the rule of Doom of course, that this god of purity is forced to let him pass and have the vibranium.  It is an extended sequence that was classic Doom for me.  

Loving this series and it's a real sleeper hit in my eyes.  Give it a look if you still are sitting on the fence or at least consider grabbing the trade. 

Verdict - Must Read


GREEN LANTERN #53
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

After reading Brightest Day #0, I jumped into this issue of Green Lantern expecting the worst.  With fears of Countdown and retreading or even contradictory retellings of the events from Brightest Day, I was pleasantly surprised to find Green Lantern to still be one of the best comics on the stands and firing on all cylinders.  

While not the barn burning, action packed story that the Blackest Night issues were, this was still a real page turner of an issue.  A feat made that much better with the fact it was pretty much an epilogue/fallout issue from Blackest Night, mostly slowing things down and setting up plots for the future.  

In this regard, colour me impressed.  I am more excited about Green Lantern than I have been in months and that's a difficult feat to produce.  What really stuck out to me in this issue was how much I enjoy everyone not named Hal Jordan. Larfleeze, Atrocitus, Sinestro and all the various scenes where Hal is not present (or where he is a sounding board for Sinestro) were excellent and have me wanting to see more of those characters.  Realizing Larfleeze was sitting on top of the Guardian Sayd nearly made me spit my coffee out.  The entire scene with him and Luthor was a riot and I can't wait to see more of it.  

However, as I said, Hal Jordan's scenes were boring.  He has a personality made out of cardboard and his only memorable moments are those in which you could substitute any Green Lantern (Kyle, Guy or John) into his role and the outcome would be the same.  His interactions with Carol are boring and devoid of emotion (no, that's not some pun).  Keep the focus on the Green Lantern mythos and ancillary characters and I'm happy.  Just keep the plot moving.  When it slows down for these moments with Hal's personal life, it's just painful to read.  

Verdict - Buy It


PUNISHERMAX #6
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Steve Dillon

Bullseye makes his first full fledged appearance in the MAX Universe in this issue (he had a cameo or two prior to this) and immediately makes his mark with some, well, let's call them "MAX-like" moments.  I'm not sure how I feel about Bullseye being a MAX character. I was looking forward to him after how well Aaron introduced Kingpin to this world, but this version of Bullseye feels out of place.  

Oh, he's hardcore and makes use of the MAX mature readers label, but even without a costume, he felt like a supervillain to me.  Sure, he makes a choke about killing someone with a toothpick only to laugh as the halfwitted victim believes him before shooting said victim and proclaiming the absurdity of it, but the bullseye tattoo on his forehead, the over-the-top manner in which he was shown dispatching his previous target and general manner in which he acts just scream super villain to me.  Maybe it's just the name and associations with Bullseye that I have preventing me from seeing him as a real world alternative.  I can see Kingpin as a "realistic" MAX character.  While Barracuda was never exactly realistically depicted, I never felt this way about him either.  Odd.  I'll see if this continues with the next issue.

As this is a Punisher comic, I guess it's okay to talk about him, too.  I like how Aaron segues into Frank's world every now and then while building up both Kingpin and Bullseye.  The doctor checking on Frank from his old military unit was a nice touch and I enjoyed the back and forth between the two.  

Overall, it's a solid read, but have reservations about Bullseye and his place in the MAX-verse.

Verdict - Check It


SECRET SIX #20 
Written by Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore

Wow.  I was not expecting this one.  Catman was blackmailed at the end of last issue by the employer of their most recent dealings.  His hired muscle had Blake's baby boy held captive and threatened to kill the baby if Blake did not kill his teammates.  I wasn't sure how it was going to play out, but this, this I was not expecting.  

Catman, after a moment of deliberation where it looked like he was sizing up his chances of success in killing his teammates, proceeds to list what he knows about the kidnappers speaking to him on the phone.  Things like accents, where they are currently located based on the sound of the harbour, ailments such as asthma, etc.  He then tells repeats their threats back to them, telling them to kill the child, but that he will find them, alone and with them hiding in the dark and then kill them. 

The scary part?  He does.  At least, he tracks down the first one and slowly tortures and kills him, despite the man's claims that the child is alive and other cries for mercy.  It's disturbing, twisted and exactly the kind of thing I love about this series.  

In addition to the focus on Catman, we have yet another splintering of the team, this time with Bane and Jeannette staying together with Jean promising to help recruit four more "monsters and perverts" to help fill their promised contracts.  The rest of the team went off to help and/or stop Blake.  I'm not really sure which, but enjoyed the concern from Deadshot. Another great moment from the issue.

Verdict - Must Read


S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Dustin Weaver

Every once in a while, a comic comes out that you know is special from the minute you open the first page.  SHIELD is one of these comics, but I'll be damned if I can tell you exactly what it's about.  It's like a secret history of the world that actually delivers on that billing.  We've got continuations of the connections between Hydra and SHIELD from over in Hickman's Secret Warriors, cameos from gods, time travellers, cosmic entities, and even Apocalypse.  I'm still a little bit stunned after reading and viewing the incredible art of this spectacular issue, so check out Matt's review for a little less hyperbole and a similar glowing recommendation.

Verdict - Must Read




SIEGE: LOKI #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie

Wasn't sure what to expect with this issue, but Kieron Gillen continues to impress me with his work on Thor.   Add Jamie McKelvie's art to the mix and this Loki centric issue was absolutely stunning.  

The actual story fills in the blanks of Loki's scheming since the end of the Siege: The Cabal one-shot.  We have Loki striking bargains with cursed god eating Asgardians from his  grandfather Bor's time, Hela, and even Mephisto.  Each deal is self-serving and benefits each participant in some way, yet ultimately were unneeded by all without Loki's machinations.  

To be honest, I'm not even sure how each deal serves to further Loki's goals or what those goals might be.  He seems bent on ending the predestination of the cycles of Ragnarok and came to the conclusion that if he is still Loki, Thor is still Thor and Asgard still exists despite all that has transpired, that he must destroy Asgard, which leads to the whole Siege and manipulation of Osborn.  The rest, however, I am unsure of how at this time will benefit Loki or come into play during Siege.  Perhaps the recent announcement of Gillen's run on Thor being extended might mean these things will be continued in future issues of Thor?  

One part of this issue I'd like to comment on is Loki's battle armour.  He looked badass with it and his sword.  I just wish they had chosen to show more of the fight sequence where he forces the god eating Disir into submission.  One of the first times I've ever seen Loki shown to be capable of physical prowess in any way and something I'd be in favour of seeing more of in the future.  

All in all, a solid read that, while offers little to the Siege story (unless the Disir and other deals with Hela and Mephisto show up in the final issue of Siege), is still an entertaining and highly enjoyable read in its own right.

Verdict - Must Read


ULTIMATE AVENGERS #6
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Carlos Pacheco

Entertaining, but devoid of any real lasting impact or emotion.  A typical, yet slightly toned down Mark Millar story that had it's high points, but never really hits those classic Ultimates moments.  Liked how they took down the Red Skull, but didn't understand how he survived long enough to be brought back to the SHIELD hospital and then executed by the Wasp.  It was perfect as it was, yet they added this whole production for a witty one-liner.  I guess some Millar-isms never change.  The Nick Fury twist at the end was predictable, but still enjoyable though.

Verdict - Check It


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19 comments:

The Dangster said...

art work for ultimates was so damn awful, Pacheco hit it out of the park on 1, but whoever is inking his stuff now isn't helping. But agreed, it was a fun and decent issue, not worth the delays though.

Ultimate Avengers 2 #1 was interesting. glad they put it out now, to make up for the delays.

The Dangster said...

oh and agreed with your atomic robo review, not the strongest issue, but i feel like it'll work best in the trade format.

TheGoose said...

Completely disagree with your review of Brightest Day #0. Also, I highly disagree with what you said about Hal Jordan. Those scenes with Carol are emotional and Hal, as a character, has much more personality than cardboard.

Nemo_N said...

"SECRET SIX #20: The rest of the team went off to help and/or stop Blake."

This is what I enjoy the most about Secret Six; you just don't know.

brandon said...

I agree with Atomic Robo. It was too much Japanese satire. Some would have been brilliant but this was too much.

Also agree on Hal Jordan. He's very boring as a character under Johns especially since the Sinestro War. All of his interactions (especially with Carol) have me rolling my eyes. And Sinestro echoed by feelings when he asked them why they feel the need to fly planes when they have rings. It just makes no sense.

TheGoose said...

"And Sinestro echoed by feelings when he asked them why they feel the need to fly planes when they have rings. It just makes no sense."

The reason Hal and Carol both like to fly in their planes is because they both like to fly without the aid of the ring.

Anonymous said...

Hal has said, numerous times, that he always flies his plane without a ring. In fact, one of the first OYL stories dealt w/ the ramifications of Hal, Cowgirl, & their teammate crashing behind enemy lines & Hal being without his ring.

brandon said...

I guess I should clarify. How is it possible (with or without the ring) for a space cop having done all the things he's done in space feel any sort of rush or excitement from flying a plane?

If you've ridden a motorcycle at 150 mph are you going to get any excitement from sitting on a tricycle? It's just a difficult stretch to keep Hal grounded with Earthly things and it helps make him seem boring, to me, anyway. It makes more sense to keep him in space, like they've done with Kyle.

Kirk Warren said...

@TheGoose - I just dont get any emotion from these scenes though. Carol, before becoming a Sapphire again, had been written out of the series and Hal's life for the most part. He never mentions her, never has an internal monologue or thoughts about her in any way. He was dating Cowgirl. She's not even been shown outside of one panel cameos since like issue 19.

Even his family (brother, nephews, etc in Coast City) dont have any resonance since they only show up on random 'believe in Hal' one panel scenes during events. T hey looked like they would be a recurring cast member at one point back during Sinestro Corps War, but now they get trotted out for an "emotional moment" that has no impact since there's no development and no characterization. This makes all these scenes lack any impact to me. They rely on 'oh, it's his family, emotional moment now' or 'oh ya, he had a girlfriend, time to care'. It's dead baby syndrome where they kill off a baby just to evoke an emotional response in readers. It's not real development and never realistically handled. People just react to a dead baby. Hal's entire life is dead baby syndrome with the only real reactions built into the development at hand.

Your mileage may vary on that, but I really can't get into Hal's life at all. That doesnt mean the stories are bad. Quite the contrary as I enjoy Green Lantern quite a bit and almost always favourably review it, but play to the strengths of the character and play up the action and aliens and other people that are more interesting through their interactions with Hal.


@brandon - I actually think you'd still get a thrill out of flying the plane. the rings remove limitations, like g-force and other factors. You probably feel like youre moving through water when flying around with a ring. You're heart might be beating in combat or what not,b ut you arent really getting the thrill from flying. Strapping yoruself to a couple tonnes of metal and rocketing around at mach speeds probably still holds some thrill.

brandon said...

@kirk

You may be right.

Still, it feels like the creators have boxed themselves into a hole with Hal. They want him to be Earth-guy Hal when every recent story about him has had him off world.

To me, it makes Hal come off as cardboard because he IS filling so many roles. His dialogue doesn't appear to be unique to him at all IMO.

It also seems they can't decide what to do with Carol, which was the problem with the character for as long as I can remember. I find myself dreading her appearances.

Dickey said...

I think the use of the planes scenes is in line with their desire to recapture the spirit of Hal as the explorer of the edges of Earth in his civilian guise. If memory serves me correct, he has always been a test pilot, and back in the Sixties that was still a job that could inspire awe in our societies as we kept setting new altitude records and pushed the boundaries of human flight. The problem though, is that the collective excitement with air (and space) exploration has immensely dwindled. So when we're having these scenes shown to us, they just don't inspire any emotional resonance, as I imagine Johns intends them to.

Good call on them not flying with rings though, so why the heck were they in this issue?

Daryll B. said...

To the Hal lovers...GLC did a much better job handling the ramifications of BN AND setting up future stories. You could feel the various emotions of the characters come through...

Be prepared folks....

If you love the set-up given by Loki DON'T read the latest Mighty Avengers yet...wait a week.. Siege just "Countdown"-ed itself by giving away a major plot point in 4 within MA

Both that and New Avengers otherwise felt like endings and set-ups to the new status quo....

Where can I get a T-Shirt saying "Pym Told You So"?

I am loving Howard The Duck in Marvel Zombies...

TheGoose said...

"I just dont get any emotion from these scenes though. Carol, before becoming a Sapphire again, had been written out of the series and Hal's life for the most part. He never mentions her, never has an internal monologue or thoughts about her in any way. He was dating Cowgirl. She's not even been shown outside of one panel cameos since like issue 19."

Carol hasn't been gone from the series long. I mean we saw her during the Secret of the Star Sapphire arc and the Rage of the Red Lantern arc. And considering that she got divorced from her husband and called Cowgirl, asking for Hal, she clearly still loves Hal. Plus, Carol was in Blackest Night many, many times and had scenes with Hal. I don't see where you think her involvement is out of the blue.

Hal, on the other hand, has moved on. But, considering he got kissed by Carol, fought and almost died with her during Blackest Night, I don't see why he wouldn't be hanging out with her after all that. Even Carol wonders why he's hanging out with her even though he's still dating Cowgirl. Maybe Hal still has a thing for her or maybe he just wants to spend time with her. Who knows...for now.

"Even his family (brother, nephews, etc in Coast City) dont have any resonance since they only show up on random 'believe in Hal' one panel scenes during events. T hey looked like they would be a recurring cast member at one point back during Sinestro Corps War, but now they get trotted out for an "emotional moment" that has no impact since there's no development and no characterization."

Completely disagree. Johns detailed and characterized Hal's whole family back during the Secret Origin arc. Just because we haven't seen them in awhile doesn't mean that their character development, etc. is gone.

"This makes all these scenes lack any impact to me. They rely on 'oh, it's his family, emotional moment now' or 'oh ya, he had a girlfriend, time to care'. It's dead baby syndrome where they kill off a baby just to evoke an emotional response in readers. It's not real development and never realistically handled. People just react to a dead baby. Hal's entire life is dead baby syndrome with the only real reactions built into the development at hand."

Johns has characterized Hal's supporting cast and family. Johns has shown through flashbacks and interaction how Hal feels about them and his actions toward them. If it were a dead baby syndrome, as you say, then Johns would have never done anything with them at all. But, he has done lots. Again, just because they haven't been seen awhile doesn't make prior characterization disappear.

TheGoose said...

"I think the use of the planes scenes is in line with their desire to recapture the spirit of Hal as the explorer of the edges of Earth in his civilian guise. If memory serves me correct, he has always been a test pilot, and back in the Sixties that was still a job that could inspire awe in our societies as we kept setting new altitude records and pushed the boundaries of human flight. The problem though, is that the collective excitement with air (and space) exploration has immensely dwindled. So when we're having these scenes shown to us, they just don't inspire any emotional resonance, as I imagine Johns intends them to."

Johns is using Hal and Carol's want for excitement and to fly for characterization. He isn't bringing back those traits because he wants readers to be inspired like people were back in the Sixties during the space race.

"Good call on them not flying with rings though, so why the heck were they in this issue?"

Hal learned what happened without flying with a ring back in the Wanted: Hal Jordan arc. Carol, I'm guessing isn't so hung up on, "the ring takes the excitement out of flying" like it does with Hal.

Michael said...

Glad to see you back and feeling better, Kirk.

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