Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 09/09/10

Holy reviews Batman, it's a Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews update!  I know, it's been a while and it shocked me, too.  Apologies again for how long it's been since I've done any real review work.  I've been having a lot of difficulties in real life and not really been at liberty to blog or write reviews to the extent I wished.  Working on getting back into the groove of things, so bear with me for only have three reviews for you tonight.  Hit the jump for those.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frazer Irving

Ever read a comic, enjoy it and know that a lot of stuff happened, but still feel like the story didn't go anywhere?  It's hard to explain, but that's how I felt after reading this issue.  I enjoyed the issue immensely, but to describe what happened would amount to saying it was a middle issue of a three parter where players are just moved into place and nothing of real significance happened.  And that's not a bad thing either.  It's just what you have to accept with a multipart story.  

I think my favourite part of the issue was the same as it was from last issue - everything to do with Joker and Damian.  The art, particularly with facial expressions, especially Damian's when he gets poisoned by the Joker, made the scene perfect for me.  I loved the interaction between the two - it feels like classic Bruce Wayne Batman and Joker, but with a new twist due to the inexperience and youth of Damian.  With Nightwing, Joker never really gets to him the way he does with Batman.  Damian, as Joker said last issue, is 'just like him'. 

If I could have two favourite parts of the issue, every scene Pyg was in would be my second favourite part.  He's so twisted, peverse and just completely messed up.  Most of Batman's rogues gallery could be described as insane, obviously, but no character has ever been written quite as deranged and, frankly, insane as Pyg.  He doesn't make sense, but you can see that he honestly feels everything he's saying and does makes perfect sense to him.  That is insane to me.  Joker seems to have a plan or some goal or general sanity of a sort - Pyg is just broken inside and the cracks are so visible that it makes him unique in my eyes and I get a sick pleasure in watching what twisted thing he'll say or do next, of which this issue featured plenty of things to appease my sick desires, to which I thank Morrison for. 

An interesting juxtaposition from this issue was the reversed rolls of Batman and Joker. Most villains fear Batman and his very presence, or the knowledge that he is there, lurking in the shadows, is enough to drive the villains of the plot to action in some way, typically fear.  In this issue, Dr Hurt and Pyg, upon learning of the Joker's arrival through the poisoned popcorn one of their lackies ate, are absolutely terrified.  They know the Joker is after them and has already struck at them with one of their men laughing themselves to death from popcorn and know they are next.  It's the reaction you would expect upon a random thug being pulled into the shadows by Batman, not something in relation to the Joker.  Batman isn't even the focus of this issue what with how he's either out cold or captured in most of his appearances. 

Verdict - Buy It.  All in all, I really enjoyed this issue, but it has a middle issue feeling - some decent moments, good characterization and art, but very little happens.  Players were moved into position for the big conclusion next month and while I have anticipation for what will happen next, I almost feel like I could skip this issue and be fine going into the final part with how little plot sensitive material was here and that keeps this from a Must Read verdict for me.  Don't let this slight negativity fool you though, it was still an excellent read and I still highly recommend it.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

Well, this was interesting.  With the fuss made over the supposedly misogynistic cover, which features the first male Star Sapphire fully clothed and in a dominant position over the chained, half naked Carol Ferris, I expected a great deal of controversy to be stirred up over this issue.  What I got instead was just another great issue of Green Lantern.

Despite a brief interlude at the start with the fallout of Hector Hammond absorbing Ophidian (or maybe that should be the other way around?), the story quickly shifts to Las Vegas.  Apparently Hammond wants Carol and influences Ophidian enough to make it leave Hal and Larfleeze alone.  They both make a beeline for Carol, who is in Las Vegas searching for the love entity, the Predator.  

The Predator has actually been in the Green Lantern mythos for many years, though not defined as the love entity.  It's even possessed Carol Ferris before, so it was nice to see that brought up and at least acknowledged, though not really dwelled on.  To be frank, it's probably for the best they don't try too hard to make it fit and I'm happy with how they've reconciled it into the entity it is today.  

What I enjoyed most about the focus on the Predator in this issue was that they addressed the nature of the entity, of which, up until now, we've mostly assumed was taking on a sexual predator type of role and influence.  The issue starts off with the entity playing on that preconception by choosing a host that is clearly defined as a stalker.  By the end of the conflict, we see through Carol's actions and point of reference that the entity is actually being corrupted by its hosts and not the other way around.  It's hosts do not have true love in their hearts, not even Carol with her feelings towards Hal when she was previously possessed (she goes into greater detail on that in the issue, I'm not inferring that point of view), and those impure feelings, or complete lack of love, as was the case with the stalker who simply wanted to love something/be loved back and didn't even know her full name or anything about the girl he was stalking, are what gave the Predator the predator-like compulsions.  Upon freeing it from the stalker host, the Predator is almost like a puppy that was being pet and staying by its "master" Carol.  It should be interesting to see if the Predator is captured or if it will possess Carol or if some other fate awaits the creature.

Speaking of the Predator's fate, the Star Sapphires actually wanted it captured so they could use it to power their previously destroyed power battery.  Carol convinced the Star Sapphires that the entity should not be enslaved in such a way by stating that no other corps requires a power source - the emotions of that spectrum were all that was required to power everyone else's power batteries and the same should be for the Star Sapphires.  Queen Aga'po is swayed by this speech and sacrifices herself to ignite the power battery, but not before declaring Carol Ferris the new queen of the Star Sapphires.  An interesting choice, but she felt Carol understood the emotion of love and was the most experienced Star Sapphire wielder, having used it even prior to the corps existence, and that she had shown herself the most capable of leading the corps.  

Personally, I'm not sold on the idea.  There was very little build up to it.  Mari Riam, the first new Star Sapphire Corps member we were introduced to in Green Lantern Corps seemed like a much better candidate and had been fleshed out quite a bit in the build up to Blackest Night.  She seemed like the best choice to me for the job, but has been criminally neglected since Blackest Night ended (and even during the event, barely appeared).  However, if this new role as Queen can be fleshed out for Carol, it could help build her character and distance her from 'Hal's love interest' or 'that girl that loves Hal, but who Hal never loves back'.  She's really only been defined in one of those two roles, even during most of this issue, so anything that gives her a personality and something substantial that makes her stand on her own as a character would do wonders for her, so I'm in favour of the new role as Queen as long as Johns has something planned for her to do with the job.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention Larfleeze.  He stole every scene he was in, from the opening pages with Hal and Ophidian to his triumphant debut in Las Vegas.  There's the danger of him turning into a joke character though.  I'm hoping the resolution of the Ophidian plot will re-establish Larfleeze as a credible threat again.  He had the Guardians and the entire Green Lantern Corps at his mercy in his debut.  Now, he's as I said, a bit of a joke character with no real threat.  I'm loving every scene he's in, though, so I'm torn on how to react to his new lot in life.  Hoping there's a balance we can reach between the two aspects of his character.

Verdict - Must Read.  Great read that pushed the Star Sapphires in a new direction and redefined, at least for the time being, a character in much need of moving out of Hal's shadow.  Great resolution of the Predator's nature and Larfleeze was, as usual, stealing every scene he was in.  Finally, Mahnke's art was stellar in this issue.  Top marks all around here.

Written by Chris Yost & Craig Kyle
Art by Gabriele Dell'Otto

X-Force: Sex and Violence wraps up the only way it possibly could - with even more sex and violence.  And that's a good thing.  I'll get the biggest draw of this issue out of the way in this intro - the art is still absolutely gorgeous and is worth the cover price alone.  It's rare to see art this good, so you should do yourself a favour and pick it up just for the art.  

Now, with the Dell'Otto praise out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty.  The story so far has been about Domino getting into hot water with both the Hand ninja and the Thieves Guild.  She was contracted to help out and the deal went south.  Domino, of course, took the money and ran.  Wolverine has been helping her straighten things out while we find out the full details of the deal gone wrong.  Now the duo are forced to return to the Thieves Guild to try and plead for forgiveness.

As you can expect, things do not go well and we get to see the Thieves Guild's little team of assassins go to work.  It's a brutal fight that has even these Z-listers looking like credible and deadly threats.  The whole fight sequence was spectacular and a visual treat, but one scene in particular is noteworthy whereby we see half of Wolverine's face sliced off, leaving nothing but the adamantium jawbone visible. 

Just when things are at their worst, in comes the cavalry as X-Force proper makes an appearance to bail the duo out of trouble and even the odds.  I wasn't actually expecting the team to show up.  In terms of the story, it almost feels like cheating.  X-Force showed up for maybe a page or two, and only a handful of the characters at that, in the first issue.  Now they solve all of the problems for Wolverine and Domino and rob the conclusion of any real impact.  Taking the story on its own would leave you wondering who most of these characters are that just showed up to save Wolverine and Domino.  A Domino and Wolverine story from start to finish would have made for a better conclusion than deus X-Force machina.  

However, this is a very, very minor complaint.  I still enjoyed the blood and carnage wrought by the inclusion of X-Force and the chemistry between Wolverine and Domino, even in the epilogue, was perfect throughout.  Take your favourite big ticket summer action movie and this would be the comic book equivilent.  Splitting hairs over minor plot resolutions isn't really going to detract from the spectacle of it all and to me I got my money and then some from this issue and the series on the whole.

Verdict - Must Read.  Great dialogue, great action, beautiful art and just plain fun from cover to cover. 

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Bill said...

I thought the "epilogue" was fairly tasteless in X-Force. Even with the mature content label... it's an X-Men comic, that just doesn't seem right.

Ivan said...

Man, they didn't even wait for Cable's corpse to coll off, did they? :P

Klep said...

@Bill - It's not an X-Men comic, it's a Wolverine comic.

Kirk Warren said...

@Bill - What didnt you like about the epilogue part? They donated several 100 million dollars to an orphanage, Domino, being Domino, kept a few million for herself and it led to some playful dialogue with Wolverine over it. What about it did you disagree with?

Klep said...

@Kirk - I think he disagreed with the implied road head.

Jank said...

Was it me, or was Wolverine getting some (sorry if I offend anyone) road head in the last scene? Domino tells him to focus on the road, and, if I remember right (have to reread when I get back home), only Wolverine is shown in the last panel. If so, score for Logan.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, I was blown away by Batman and robin. Joker is a perverted sick and also a genius in his own way. By reading previous issue I never tought he could get th eupper hand over damian; I tought that damian was going to cripple him with the crowbar. The twist of the poisonous-joker-blood was just brilliant.

Damn! I wish all the B&R books continue being the same when Tomasi takes the rein.


Bill said...

I guess technically an X-Force comic, but same difference.

And what I didn't like... well maybe I should read it again, but I'm pretty sure Domino was giving what the kids refer to as "road head" to Wolverine at the end.

Anonymous said...

@Kirk - I think Bill might be referring to the part where Domino appears to go down on Wolverine in the car as they drive away. A little tasteless.

Kirk Warren said...

Wow, I totally missed the road head part. Had to go back and look. Yeah, that's a bit out of place and inappropriate now that I see it. Wow, that's actually hard to believe now.

Anonymous said...

@ bill wow your offended by a comicbook with a warning and wait its not the violence its the fact that a character kept some money. jesus some people

Anonymous said...

its called SEX and violence . good you guys stop being stereotypical geeks with the whining over the sexual content

Klep said...

The way I view that scene is this.

It's called X-Force: Sex and Violence. You got what it promised. The second issue actually included a sex scene in it, and we're going to be bothered by implied road head? It's not like there was any implication that there's some deeper relationship between these two that ending the story on that note demeaned.

Ivan said...

I think the most disturbing implication is that Wolverine is blatantly cheating on his girlfriend.


Klep said...

@Ivan - It's not really settled exactly when it is in continuity. The only real cues are that it's after the team moved to SF, and after Domino joined the team. It's entirely possible (and I think likely) it happened before he met his girlfriend. We know cheating on her is something he's unlikely to do because he turned down guilt-free sex from Yukio before he even admitted to himself that he had a girlfriend.

Bill said...

I'm not at all offended by it. But it seems weird, and kinda inappropriate, is all. They have sex scenes on network TV and in PG-13 movies all the time, but not road head scenes.

Ivan said...

@Klep - Ah, ok then. I wish I had Wolvie's moral fiber when it came to that...

Daryll B. said...

Bill as I read your comment, an ad for Scary Movie 2 just came on...That is one movie of note that ended with a road head scene....

I putting this out there... Larfleeze may have just passed 'Mazing Man and Ambush Bug as DC's DeadPool type character...

I didn't get the whole Damian/Joker interaction... Honest! It just felt like it was a love letter to Jason Todd fans... otherwise the issue is good...

Klep said...

@Bill - So road head (only implied road head, in fact) is more inappropriate than vanilla sex because it doesn't happen as often? That's preposterous. Besides which, this isn't a PG-13 product. It's a comic called Sex and Violence and the cover features a label warning of Explicit Content. Given that, the sex in it (road head and all) is actually rather tame, certainly compared to, say, Wolverine's face getting sliced off.

JP said...

I agree that Mari Riam would make a better leader for the Star Sapphires than Carol, but like you I am willing to let Johns make it work.

My guess is that Mari Riam will either join Guy's "Emerald Wariiors" exploring the Unknown Sectors (still don't known why we have never heard of these sectors until now?) under Tomasi's pen, or Carol will eventually cede her role as leader to Mari.

Bill said...

I have no problem reading a comic with all kinds of messed up stuff in it. I've read Crossed, so I'm far from a prude.

That we as a society consider violence more tolerable than sex is a whole different argument, but that's just that's just the way it is. So, if a parent were trying to make an informed decision for what their kids (or in this case, hopefully, teenagers) can read, they would be incredibly naive not to expect lots of violence. And of course, sex in the title should give them some pause. But two things about the road head thing bothered me.

One, Marvel has tight brand control. Their major characters (of which Wolverine is certainly one) do have sex and participate in all kinds of wonderful violence, but they don't curse, they don't smoke, and they are not in explicit sex scenes. Parents might grow to rely on this brand control. If they believe their kid can handle the violence, any comic with Wolverine or Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four is safe. Which it almost always is. This is, I think, why DC characters are no longer allowed in Vertigo stuff. The second reason is that the leading cause of death among teenagers is car wrecks, and road head is dangerous as hell. Teenagers can barely operate cars safely when they're actually concentrating on the road.

You're welcome to disagree. This kind of thing is totally subjective, and I'm not calling for someone to get sued or fired, it just struck me as inappropriate.

Kirk Warren said...

I'm with Bill on the road head thing. Im not crying over it or starting any petitions. After having it pointed out, I found it really out of place for some reason from a brand perspective and the fact its a mainstream comic with something like that. Doesnt ruin the comic nor does it make me think any less of it or the creators involved - it just struck me as really out of place in this title.

Anonymous said...

no thanos imperative review?

Anonymous said...

SEX AND VIOLENCE people! stop saying its out of place!

Mike Haynes said...

Seconding the comment that the book is called Sex & Violence for a reason.

While the scene during the epilogue might have seemed a tad out of place, it's certainly not inappropriate for a book where we saw the two main characters engage in "extra-curricular activities" on more than one occasion throughout the series already.

Looking past this, S&V is probably one of the most "fun start-to-finish" comics I've read in a while. Having never really read too much into the X-Force line before this, I'll definitely be checking out Uncanny when it kicks off in October.

Lucho said...

I´m dropping B&R after issue 16 when Morrison leaves and just buying Batman Inc.

This writer is amazing. Everything he has written since Batmanm & Son is so NOT Batman.
Sci Fi and homages to weird Batman stories from the 40´s and 50´s. He even made rescued the concept of Bruce and Talia´s son without putting crappy Son Of The Demon back in continuity.

He writes like a puzzle and is constantly challenging the reader with his concepts.

When he leaves the Bat Universe it´s gonna be very hard to replace him.

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