Friday, September 10, 2010
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.