Verdict - Must Read
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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