A couple of quick reviews for everyone to kick of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews. I'm going to update this post with the the rest of the reviews later tonight or sometime tomorrow. It's too freaking hot inside to write any more at the moment. Ryan will have his reviews up later this evening as well, so check back for those, too. Hit the jump for the first wave of reviews.
Update - Added reviews of Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1 and Secret Six #23.
SECRET SIX #23
Written by John Ostrander
Art by RB Silva
This issue of Secret Six is a random done-in-one story set before the events of the past few issues in the title. It's easy to regard it simply as filler, especially since John Ostrander is the guest writer on the issue, and I wouldn't fault anyone for considering it as such, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an entertaining issue either.
Ostrander has been collaborating with Gail Simone on Secret Six off and on for the past year or so and has a great grasp of these characters. He's even got the style and tone of the book down pat and is a more than worthy fill-in for Simone whenever the need arises.
This issue was actually quite straight forward in its plot. The Secret Six were contracted by some wealthy businessmen with a penchant for hunting humans with high tech military weaponry and cybernetic suits. They typically kidnap normal humans and hunt them and treat it like a game. Seeking bigger game, they contract the Six under false pretenses and then proceed to hunt them once they get them to their remote island. This, obviously, goes quite wrong for them as the Six proceed to kill every last one of them for their trouble.
Like I said, it's a simple plot and you've probably saw a movie or two based on the premise before of hunting humans like a game before. The plot isn't really the focus of the book and it's more on the execution and seeing how each of our villains react to the situation. Bane really shines in this regard. They've got the standard electronic collars keeping everyone monitored on this island and Bane simply fights through the pain and destroys his. There's another great scene with him killing his 'hunter' where the art uses some hilarious old fashioned sound effects in contrast to the gruesome scene. Each character gets their own little sequence like this as they fight back against their pursuers before they all meet up again and leave the island, their captors dead and the Six no worse for wear.
Speaking of the art, RB Silva was a bit hit or miss. It seemed too inconsistent to me. When people wear masks, they look great, such as Deadshot and Bane, but when the masks are off, they faces looked off to me, particularly with Catman, who looked great in costume, but nothing like Blake does with the mask off. Certain fight sequences were difficult to follow as well, such as Catman's leaping from a bridge to a helicopter drone plane, where it was just awkward looking how the motion for the leap took place. These are minor complaints as the art did its job in most cases and did not detract from the experience, despite some minor flaws.
Verdict - Check It. A fun, though cliched done-in-one story.
STEVE ROGERS: SUPER-SOLDIER #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Dale Eaglesham
I was extremely intrigued in seeing what Ed Brubaker would do with the Nick Fury-esque Steve Rogers, who is now heading up SHIELD, in this miniseries. With Dale Eaglesham on the art, it seemed like it would be a sure fire hit with me.
But after reading this first issue, I'm a little disappointed with what was on hand. I'm not sure how to put this, but it didn't read like an Ed Brubaker comic. As I consider his run on Captain America to be one of the definitive runs on the character, similar to a Bendis or Miller Daredevil run, and that he's also one of my favourite writers, I was a bit shocked at how, well, generic this read. It was like a standard super hero spy story that, save the few bits of story related to the super-soldier serum and Cap's history, could have swapped out the lead character for anyone else and it would have worked just as well.
That's not to say this issue is outright bad, but it's not what I expected from someone of Brubaker's quality either. The story is about a new Dr Erskine, revealed to be the grandson of the original super-soldier serum's creator reclaiming his grandfather's surname, heading up a hotshot research lab and rumours that he has cracked the super-soldier serum for a new generation. This draws Steve Rogers, the new head of SHIELD, into the mix, as there are also rumours he will be selling the serum on the blackmarket. Rogers proceeds to track down Dr Erskine, infiltrate his exclusive part in a nice James Bond-like spy moment and then find out the truth behind this new super-soldier serum.
The problem I had with all of this is that there's not one bit about SHIELD in this issue outside of the knowledge we have that Rogers is the head of the spy organization. It's like he's off on an adventure as Captain America, just in the new SHIELD outfit he's been sporting lately. Another issue I had with it was that the super soldier serum pops up completely unnoticed by anyone. If anyone was developing something like this, especially the grandson of Dr Erskine, I'm sure alarms would have been firing long before the events of this issue. It just seemed very contrived to have him and the serum used in this manner.
I don't mean to make it sound like I'm bashing this comic into the ground or making it out as the worst book ever written. I was just looking forward to this issue a great deal and was expecting big things. I wanted to see Rogers reacted to his new position in charge of SHIELD, see how he handles things differently from Tony Stark, Nick Fury and Norman Osborn, and see a more personal view of the same character Brubaker is writing much better over in Secret Avengers.
Despite my own, possibly unreasonable, expectations for the book, I did enjoy parts of it. The art was excellent. Eaglesham was a boon for Marvel to snap up from DC and he does a fantastic job on the art here. I loved the way he handled the infiltration scene and showing Rogers come out in the tuxedo. Also, while I think Brubaker fumbled the rapid introduction of Erskine and the super-soldier serum, it did make for an excellent ending to this issue, whereby Erskine was shot and killed. The writing here was great as Cap realizes he's had to watch another Dr Erskine die in his arms.
Verdict - Check It. Overall, I'm disappointed that my own expectations were set too high and I do feel this was slightly below Brubaker's standard quality, but it's still a solid story that moves from a simple Point A to Point B, likely due to the miniseries nature of the story. I'll be sticking with the title as it shows promise in the last few pages.