Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 05/26/10


Tried to get these reviews done earlier in the week to go along with the Secret Avengers #1 review, but time was not on my side and fell behind.  Managed to get five more reviews from last week's comics done though and those are found after the jump for your enjoyment.




AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #632
Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Chris Bachalo & Emma Rios

Last issue saw the Lizard kill Curt Connors' son, an act which shattered Connors' mind and allowed the Lizard to take full control and dominance of their mind.  This dominance manifested itself in a new look and powerset for the Lizard. 

The most pressing thing to discuss is probably the new direction and look for the Lizard.  They've tried reimagining his look and making him more "extreme" in the 90's, but I really liked the classic look Bachalo employed in the previous issues.  The new design looks like he has brown tentril-like hair similar to what Connors hair looked like in human form.  Overall, I like the look, but felt Chris Bachalo did better with the older design. 

Moving onto the new powers, I felt the Lizard didn't need them.  He could fluctuate between the intelligent Lizard from Stan Lee's early days to the ferocious and feral version most know and was always a capable threat for Spider-Man physically and had the psychological aspect of it being Connors inside the beast as well.  The new powers added, in addition to going back to an intelligent Lizard that can speak, were some form of psychic ability that allows the Lizard to project thoughts and imagery into other humans' minds.  This causes them to revert to predator-like instincts and lashing out at others for food or, in Spider-Man's case, to flee in complete fear of the Lizard. 

I imagine there's some random lizard-like creature out there with some kind of real world variation of this that they drew their inspiration from (god, I hope there is or this would make even less sense), but it's just a really odd power for the Lizard to have and seems to go against his entire design philosophy.  It's like an entirely different character now.  Why not just make a new villain if that's the case?

Aside from the Lizard changes, I enjoyed this issue.  It wasn't as good as the first two and definitely softened my enjoyment of this arc, but I'm still happy with the story.  One great scene was with Spider-Man catching up to the Lizard and seeing him 'shed' his old look.  From there he gets serious and takes the Lizard to task over the death of Curt Connors' son and Bachalo did an excellent job conveying the raw emotion and power of the fight. 

However, speaking of art, Emma Rios does a few pages of the story again this month and the same problem occurs that happened last issue - it looks completely out of place compared to Bachalo's style.  If she did the whole issue herself, I think I'd be happy with the work, but juxtaposed against Bachalo's and it's really jarring switching between the two for the last few pages. 

Verdict - Check It.  Good issue, but didn't agree with the direction they went with the Lizard or the addition of new powers to him.  Put a damper on what was looking like an instant classic story, but not so much that it ruins or makes it unreadable or anything. 


DOOMWAR #4
Written by Jonathan Mayberry
Art by Scot Eaton

Doomwar has been one of the more surprising events of the year.  I really can't believe how good it's turned out to be and this issue continues the trend with another fast paced, action packed story that has this event living up to the "war" in its name.

Quick recap for those out of the loop - Dr Doom infiltrated Wakanda's government and eventually overthrew the ruling body and installed his own puppet government.  This was all so he could get his hands on the rich vibranium supplies of Wakanda.  Black Panther eventually led a team of other heroes to retake Wakanda, but Doom had already made off with the vibranium and is currently executing his master plan.  The heroes are waging a war on Doom's many possible locations and other factories and installations in an attempt to stop him from weaponizing the vibranium and taking over the world.  

This issue follows those battles on Doom's bases worldwide.  The problem is that Doom has already upgraded his Doombots with vibranium and the Wakanda army, using vibranium weapons of there own, are taking heavy casualties for every factory they shut down.  

Meanwhile, Doom has foreseen all of this and let's the reader know that his victory is less than a day away when the heroes all think they've got weeks to stop Doom.  Like previous issues, the best parts of Doomwar have relied on Dr Doom's prominent nature in the series.  Mayberry writes him well and he's rarely been so front and center in any story for as long as he has been in this series.  It's like we're following Doom more than the heroes and I'm perfectly fine with that.  

Some might be wondering what is up with the Deadpool cover for this issue.  Well, T'Challa is tired of losing this war and takes some drastic steps.  In this case, he hires Deadpool to infiltrate Latveria and assassinate Dr Doom.  Sounds laughable, but Deadpool is quite capable and one of the best assassins in the world for a reason.  When he isn't making jokes and running his mouth, he's quite deadly and he puts both his humour and abilities to work in the short three page sequence introducing him at the end of this issue.  While many may think it's more of a 'Wolverine effect' - whereby they used to add Wolverine to every comic (and still do it seems) to get a sales boost - but this is actually a pretty organic introduction and I didn't feel like Deadpool was here just for the sake of being here.  Now, whether that continues throughout the rest of the event will remain to be seen.

If there was one thing I could complain about with this issue, it was the art.  Scot Eaton has been stellar throughout the event, but this issue felt rushed.  It's still quite nice looking, but lacks that level of detail and polish that previous issues had.  It could be the inker's doing though, as it felt much more muted in the tone and blacks, but blame in these cases fall on the artist in my eyes.  Not an ugly or game breaking complaint, but worth noting.

Verdict - Buy It.  This issue was another great read and I could see this event being one of the best of the year at this rate.  I love the self contained nature of it and the focus on Dr Doom.  The inclusion of various other heroes, such as the Fantastic Four and X-Men, also gives it an epic feeling and no tie-ins or other excess baggage makes it a compelling and satsifying read every time.


GREEN LANTERN #54
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

Ugh, this felt like I was back in the days of Countdown where half an issue is just a repeat of what I read in that ill-fated weekly series. In this case, Green Lantern is rehashing scenes from previous issues of Brightest Day and, well, I bought and read those scenes already.  

Sure, Doug Mahnke makes it look much prettier and there's slightly more information, but they were written by the same guy, Geoff Johns, and this actually feels like a longer winded version where we're wasting even more time on useless exposition in addition to the repeat viewing of old content.

The scene in question is the one in which Sinestro, Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris attempt to lift the White Lantern.  The only difference between Brightest Day and here is we got a double page splashpage of the three of them failing to lift it together and the lantern crying out for them to help it live by finding the entities.  It really spoils the mood when this kind of thing happens and irked me during Countdown's run, making me feel like I've paid for the same content twice.  

Ignoring the double dipping nature of Brightest Day, this was actually a really solid issue.  I'm sure those not reading Brightest Day (and I won't be for future issues) won't even notice what I'm complaining about and probably appreciate the viewing.  

So, what made this a good issue?  Atrocitus and Dex-Starr (aka Rage Kitty).  Rage Kitty gets some face time after many months and long waiting by fans.  We were promised a Krypto vs Rage Kitty fight at some point and I'm still holding out hope of seeing that, but this issue was just as good with the Mahnke doing a spectacular job illustrating just how a cat with a power ring would look and act.  The way Dex-Starr swaggered into the train with its nose up to the charred bones and flesh of the muggers it just barfed blood all over was perfect.  

On the Atrocitus side of things, he's got some new powers (can now make constructs like other corps) and is in pursuit of the entities himself.  Turns out they are all located on Earth and in America.  His little blood ritual actually drew a perfect map of America.  Very specific ancient blood rituals that pays attention to border policies.  I don't know how to feel about the fact that every entity besides the two already captured (Ion and Parallax) are all located on Earth AND located in America.  Unless these entities are possessing heroes and villains, I just can't buy into them all being located on Earth and in such a limited space.  They could have at least had a globe trotting adventure. 

I mentioned Ion being captured above and you may remember Sodam Yat sacrificed himself to turn Daxam's red star into a yellow one.  The hooded Guardian-like character that kidnapped Parallax during Blackest Night actually shows up in this issue and 'saves' Sodam by stealing the Ion entity and forcing the star back into a red state.  He crashes on Daxam no worse for the wear, so we'll likely see him back in the Corps at some point.

One thing that disappointed me with this issue more than even the Countdown-like repeats was that Larfleeze did not show up at all.  He was touted in the solicitation and showed up last issue, so I was expecting to see more of him 'adapting' to Earth culture.  

Verdict - Buy It.  Despite my early complaints about the repeating Brightest Day scene, I really enjoyed this issue and the Atrocitus and Dex-Starr moments are worth buying the issue for alone. 


GREEN LANTERN CORPS #48
Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Adrian Syaf

The new Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason-less era of Green Lantern Corps begins with this issue and the change is much smoother than expected.  Storywise, I don't think this issue misses a beat and it does a good job of continuing with the post-Blackest Night direction Tomasi had begun seeding.  The art is a different story, though.

After being spoiled with Patrick Gleason's consistent and high quality art for so long, it was jarring to see Adrian Syaf's work. Gleason's art was stylized and unique and he had a knack for drawing some really diverse and crazy looking aliens - a perfect fit for a book like Green Lantern Corps with so many diverse alien races in every issue.  In comparison, Syaf's art looks dated and 'safe'.  It's neither visually striking nor offensive - it's just sort of sits there.  It's lifeless and feels like anyone could have drawn it.  I know I'm being a bit harsh in this criticism, but it's just this feels like a huge step back in terms of the art for what has become one of DC's top titles. 

On the story side of things, we get a little bit of setup for the upcoming Emerald Warriors series with Ganthet, Guy Gardner and Atrocitus meeting and being all cryptic.  This scene was pretty much what you'd expect with them hinting at things more than outright telling you in an attempt to drum up interest in the new series set to launch and I'm fine with that, but I really hated the part where they go to explain things and then it cuts to the next panel with a "Four minutes later..." caption box and never actually explain it to us.  That is really bad storytelling and they should have just ended the entire scene at the 'listen closely...' part if they were just going to jerk our chains over it.  I'm also not sure how this lines up with Atrocitus' appearances over in Green Lantern.

Thankfully, the rest of the issue was much better than this little interlude and Tony Bedard shows an excellent grasp of both the main Green Lantern Corps members and knowledge of the supporting cast and other fundamentals, such as the Alpha Lanterns.  

The crux of this issue was focused on Ganthet quitting his duty as a Guardian of both the Blue Lantern Corps and refusing to rejoin the Green Lantern Corps...as a Guardian.  He must have enjoyed his time as a deputy Green Lantern since he officially enlists himself as the Green Lantern of Sector 0 (aka Oa).  We follow him as he forges a ring for himself (not sure why he needs one though, what with how powerful Guardians have been shown to be) and as he gets himself into the trenches, helping out with the clean-up on Oa and 'introducing' himself to everyone as the newest Green Lantern.  I'm quite happy with this development.  It fits with Ganthet's personality and is a logical decision.  Looking forward to seeing more of him as an active recurring character.

The only other major storyline developing currently is with the Alpha Lanterns.  Something's gone wrong with them and they are now forcibly press ganging Green Lanterns into service as Alpha Lanterns.  They kidnapped one injured Green Lantern during this issue and his partner finally tracks him down by issue's end only to find he's an Alpha Lantern now and the issue ends with his partner and the other Alphas demanding he join the Alpha Lanterns as well.  I'm guessing either Scar left a little present in the Manhunter-like programming of the Alpha Lanterns before Blackest Night or that same Manhunter-like programming has backfired on the Guardians again.  Either way, should be interesting to see where they go with this.

Verdict - Check It. Solid debut issue for Tony Bedard and Adrian Syaf.  I'll miss Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, but I don't see me dropping this title over their departure and expect it to continue to be a favourite of mine.


THANOS IMPERATIVE: IGNITION
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Brad Walker

Thanos Imperative: Ignition lives up to its subtitle.  The fuse is lit, Houston has been contacted and this event is blasting off.  I'm not sure how these cosmic events manage it, but every one has had one of these prelude one-shots to kick the event off and every single one has been absolutely amazing.  Thanos Imperative continues the trend.

The early parts of the issue were actually a well done recap of everything you need to know about Thanos and current events. It was handled through monologue by Thanos himself and was a result of mind probes by the various telepaths on the Guardians of the Galaxy.  These are usually boring or really hamfisted recap pages in most cases, but I actually enjoyed reading this one, despite knowing everything about the story and having read all the issues they recapped.  It's also fairly short, maybe two or three pages at most, but should be a nice refresher for long time readers and good catchup for new ones.  

From there, the issue dealt with the plot threads left over from the on-hiatus/possibly defunct Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova series.  We have the Guardians debating what to do with Thanos, who they have imprisoned, but is growing stronger every day.  Drax and Moondragon think they should kill him for all the suffering he's caused and it kinda was Drax's job to make him dead. It's actually the one thing he was created for and Thanos did just kill Phyla, Moondragon's girlfriend, so I'd say both of their votes are a little biased.  Most aren't sure what to do with him.  They'd like to believe Adam Warlock saved Thanos for a reason and that he has some purpose, but most are divided or conflicted on what to do now that they've captured him.

On the Nova side of things, he's shown chasing the evil Quasar  that infiltrated Project Pegasus in his title through space.  Seems this Quasar is making a beeline for the Fault and he's not alone - the Inhumans, Negative Zone army (led by King Blastaar) and the Shi'ar Imperium are all enroute to the Fault as well.  The problem, though, is that Magus has the entire Universal Church's armada stationed at the mouth of the Fault already.  Nova doesn't know about Magus either and this Quasar is working for him.   They have a short battle before the real Quasar shows up to help. 

However, this is all interrupted by Magus' actions.  He summons dozens of Church worlds to his location and then detonates the wells of faith based power generated from each, destroying each planet in turn.  This causes changes in the Fault and allows those beings from beyond the Fault (those Cthulhu versions of the Avengers from the Realm of Kings specials) to enter ours more easily.  The leader of these beings?  Captain Mar-Vell (the sketches in the back list him as Lord Mar-Vell).  I was floored when I saw this. The hero most associated with dying to cancer is leading a universe that has conquered death and of which people have nicknamed the Cancerverse.  What was even more shocking was that Magus bowed to him and was later killed in an instant by Mar-Vell for failing to erradicate the Avatar of Death (aka Thanos) in this universe.  

Verdict - Must Read.  If they were looking to build hype and add a level of "OH $%!&!!!" to this event, mission accomplished.  Starts off a little slow as they catch people up to speed on the current status of the cosmic universe, but quickly ramps up and ends with a bang. 


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14 comments:

Steven said...

TPB seem to think every 10-15 years or so that Spider-Man's rogues gallery needs to be updated to be more extreme and "kewl". It always stinks to high heaven, threatens to actually ruin the future use of the characters and destroys whatever character development had previously been established.

One More Day as a whole has had a tendency towards this. But this whole Guantlet storyline is epic suck in sheep's clothing.

Kevin said...

Thanos Imperative: Ignition completely blew me out of the water. I love how DnA have turned Thanos to be the saver of the universe as I originally thought he was going to be the villain of the story when first announced. And Captain Mar-Vell appearance. Holy Crap! Now that is an ending. Can't wait for the first issue of Thanos Imperative next week.

I thought Adrian Syaf was handling the pencils for Green Lantern Corps #48? Or was my issue of GLC #48 a typo?

Kirk Warren said...

@Kevin - You're right on the artist for GLC. I simply went by the solicit info. Should have double checked. I'll update it.

Anonymous said...

THE GREAT ANONYMOUS

Man I really miss Pat Gleason pencils on GLC. If he is not drawing that main title, what is he up to now? is it that all of his time is being taken away by Brightest day? if this turns to be true I'll be very dissapointed as he was hitting it out of the park with his distinctivelly style in GLC since number 1. I heard and please correct me if I'm wrong guys that he would be drawing GL Emerald Warriors, but then I saw a solicitation with an artist that is not him... Is this right? and if so, then it means all of his talents are being fueled into BD ?

Anonymous said...

MIGHTY DUDE

Heeeeeeeeeeeere is Johnny!

I hope this time Deadpool faces against the real Dr }Doom and not a Doombot (doombots are annoying)

Kirk Warren said...

@Mighty Dude - the Doombots mentioned int he review are actually not 'Dr Doom' Doombots. They look like vibranium covered Hulks almost. Hopefully they dont have a Doombot fake out fight with Dr Doom. Hate doombots and LMD Nick Furys.

Anonymous said...

THE MEXICAN

I hope that the next issue of GL will contain a vicious fight between Lobo and the other four new guardians (Hal, Carol, Atrocitus and Sinestro) and that he beat the hell out of all of them until Larfleeze appears taking his motorcycle away from him being this the one weakness they have to stop him.

I also hope that Johns wont go the easy way and making Lobo a new red lantern.

Freacking cat was awesome and I hope he and the Lobo's dog have a good brawl too.

Anonymous said...

are you going to do thanos imperative primer?

Anonymous said...

CRONOS LEGACY

I just heard a sad new .... Guillermo del Toro will not be at the helm of the Hobbit movie. That is a real shame. Hopefully now he will be able to gie us hellboy 3 or Deadman (now aliveman) soon

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous #8 - To be honest, this event snuck up on me. I didn't think it was starting for another month or so. I would have liked to have had one ready for it, but nothing is set yet. I'll see if I can put something together this week though.

jonathanmaberry said...

Glad you're enjoying DOOMWAR. I'm having a tremendous amount of fun writing my first Marvel 'mini-event'. And I can promise a few unexpected twists by the time it's all wrapped up.

Daryll B. said...

wow a guest commentor..lol Great Job Mr. Maberry so far...

Kirk it seems like the 'secret' event with Marvel always outshine the hyped ones... Annihilation, Doomwar, and I place even money that Thanos will outshine Siege....

Over at DC, the same thing occurs...think about it. What was the best event at DC in the last 10 years? Sinestro Corps War... and in comparison to everything else they have pushed..that got no love until 3/4ths through the event....

stillanerd said...

Re: Amazing Spider-Man #632. Technically, the Lizard's ability to influence the R-Complex is not exactly a new power. Check out this page from Mark Millar's Marvel Knights Spider-Man #7:

http://www.comicboards.com/php/image.php?msg=smb-2010052813023857&att=mksm-07-03.jpg&fullsize=yes

Although to be fair, it worked a little bit differently than just projecting thoughts and images into people's R-Complexes. And also, towards the end of the story, after the Lizard starts influencing New Yorker's, couldn't one read that the one screaming "Want. Mine." and jumping on the woman with the dog be seen as the guy attempting to sexually assault her?

Kirk Warren said...

@stillanerd - It is similar to Millar's version, but this one seemed telepathic in nature or direct influence more than a phereomone to me.

For the sexual assault question, I was under the impression base instincts kicked in like how the other man wanted food and went ballistic over his need to get the food in a predator manner.

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