Thursday, May 20, 2010
Light week for me as I mentioned in the previews on Monday, but I've got my two whole reviews - Brightest Day #2 and Girl Comics #2 - for this edition of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews ready for your perusal. I took a look at Avengers #1 at the shop and had to put it back on the shelf. To put it gently, it just plain did not appeal to me in the slightest. Ryan should have a full review for you tomorrow of that one. Hit the jump for my two reviews.
Written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Art by Various
When DC came out and made it clear to everyone that Brightest Day would not be "bright" or a return to happier times for the DCU, they sure weren't kidding. Just three (counting #0) issues in and we've see a bird's head cracked open and smeared upon a grave stone, child sex rings, undead sealife killing said slavers and, now, a mother turned monster/Martian slaughter her Rock Band-playing family with a knife to the throat, drumsticks through the chest and plastic guitar contusions. And that doesn't even touch on the random deaths and other grim topics, like Firestorm's blowing up or what have you.
Personally, after the super hero horror movie event that was Blackest Night, which saw "zombie" Black Lanterns killing people left and right and heroes and villains alike gruesomely taking these Black Lanterns apart in graphic manners, I was kind of looking forward to getting back to a kinder, gentler DCU. Additionally, with the lackluster story, of which there hasn't really been a plot established to yet, it seems like these three issues have been only about over the top killings and shock deaths. We don't know any more about the White Lantern than we did at the end of Blackest Night. We don't know why these particular heroes and villains were revived. We don't know who the badguy of this piece might be. It's three issues in and I don't see any story or build up towards a story - it's just a bunch of killings and two or three page spreads dealing with random characters reacting to the violence.
What makes this even worse is that the few times it tries to do something with the characters, it's retreading old ground. Take this issue's Firestorm and Martian Manhunter focuses. Firestorm's storyline is all about him having two people trapped together in the Firestorm Matrix and not being able to get out. This likely has something to do with one half of the duo coming back from the dead, but we don't really learn anything new about the situation or move towards solving it in any way. The entire sequence is about showing off a new fireproof costume for the Atom and having the two Firestorm characters bicker and argue with each other incessently for three or four pages - the same thing they've done in every panel Firestorm's been in since the end of Blackest Night.
On the Manhunter side of things, J'onn's retreading his origin, something every Martian Manhunter miniseries and JLA story seems to want to do. This time, we're adding a daughter to the scientist that initially brought J'onn to Earth and we find out that the father and daughter brought some other Martian or alien menance to Earth before J'onn - presumably the mother that went nuts earlier in the issue and tore her face off to reveal what I thought might be a White Martian, but that doesn't seem to be the case based on what the professor brought through the portal in the flashback. I'm not sure how this really added anything to his origin or what it adds to the plot of Brightest Day. It also requires the question of how and why this monster/Martian had a family and children and what it was doing for all these years in hiding as a suburban house wife.
The only remotely interesting part of this issue was the final section with Deadman. The White Lantern ring that's been guiding him teleports him to Qward, in the Anti-Matter Universe, where the ring tells him to "fight" and plops him right in front of the Anti-Monitor and even this is only interesting in that I'm more curious about the Anti-Monitor and his whereabouts than anything else that's occurred in Brightest Day to date. You'd think the Guardians and Green Lanterns would be all over him or that Sinestro might be curious as to what the big guy has been up to since returning to Qward. He was the Sinestro Corps' guardian prior to becoming Nekron's power source in Blackest Night. If he's on the Sinestro Corps homeworld - Qward - shouldn't we have heard something about him from Sinestro or the Guardians by now?
Also, while only a minor detail, it really annoyed me that Aquaman's reaction to summoning the dead sea creatures last issue was completely glossed over and forgotten here. Despite him having the cover spotlight and the ominous Black Lantern version of himself reflecting in the water on the cover, both he and Mera only show up on a single panel as Deadman tries calling out to them before he goes off to Qward. I was excited about that cover when it was solicited several months ago and all that speculation over it was pointless as it had no bearing on the issue and all story development for Aquaman was left out of this issue.
Verdict - Avoid It. As of right now, it's three issues in and, much like Countdown and Trinity, I don't foresee this storyline going anywhere for another 20 issues and I am not willing to sit around reading two and three pages of individual stories every second week for the next year as we wait for some imagined pay off down the road. Comics should be good every issue. There shouldn't be some carrot dangled in front of the reader or creators/fans telling us to sit tight because it'll get better later on.
Written by Various
Art by Various
For those that have forgotten, Girl Comics is an anthology comic featuring work from an all-female creative cast, ranging from writers and artists to inkers and even editors and letterers. It's a tour de force of the best and brightest female creators in comics and a spotlight for their talents that debuted back in March. It's been a while since that first issue, which I gave a favourable review, so I'm sure you're wondering how the second issue holds up.
To be fair, I found this issue underwhelming. There are some interesting art styles on display, such as Faith Erin Hicks's Boom Boom and Elsa short and Colleen Coover's work is always a treat for the eyes, but the overall package felt a little weak compared to the first issue.
The biggest problem wasthat there wasn't really a single story I could look back on and say, "that made the issue worth buying". The first issue had several stories that I felt justified the purchase and, here, I found myself struggling to really pick one I liked, let alone justify the purchase. None were overly bad or anything, but none were overly good either.
If I had to choose a best story from the issue, the Dr Strange short would have to be the one. It didn't have the best art, but I felt the story was the only one that really had any meat to it and did something with the characters. Hick's Nextwave duo story I mentioned for its unique art above, while not stellar or laugh out loud funny, was another that stood out.
In short, a lot of the love I had for the series has waned over time. With the lengthy delay between issues and what I consider a relatively underwhelming second outing, I'm left wondering if this would have been better off simply being a one-shot for Women's Month back in March. I still enjoy anthology series where they put a great and diverse cast of creators on the book, as seen with Strange Tales, but perhaps they were stretching for content with the strict criteria of female creators only on this one.
Verdict - Check It. As anthologies can be very hit or miss for each individual reader, it's likely others will enjoy the content of this issue more than I did. There's also the desire for some to support teh impetus behind this anthology's creation and to show Marvel you'd like to see more female creators getting work. As such, I'm giving this a Check It - there's some unique content here that should appeal to a broad range of readers, but, personally, I felt this was a rather weak issue compared to the first.