Three quick reviews in an otherwise light week. Hit the jump and enjoy.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #610Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Butch Guice
I tried to enjoy this story arc. I really did. I love Zemo. Masters of Evil, old Captain America issues, destruction of Avengers Mansion, and, most importantly, everything from Thunderbolts. He's been fleshed out a great deal since Busiek revealed him as Citizen V in that title and his character has evolved a great deal since then. This story? This isn't Baron Zemo. Not by a long shot.
I had told myself that I'd wait until the final issue before juding Zemo's new motivations. Brubaker had mentioned in interviews leading up to this that he'd be houding Bucky in honour of his father. It didn't make sense as Zemo had long since given up living in his father's shadow. Captain America and everything to do with him was beneath him now. As the first few issues only showed brief glimpses of Zemo or a brief fight with Bucky in the previous issue, there was very little to be known about his motivations other than what Brubaker had previously mentioned. This issue went to great lengths to tell us exactly why he wanted to make Bucky's life a living hell - daddy issues. Bucky cheated Zemo's father out of his kill by surviving as the Winter Soldier and now Zemo confirms he's doing it for his father.
What's disappointing about this is how there is no real justification for it. Zemo is doing it because his father was tied to Bucky's original "death" and Brubaker was using Zemo regardless of what any other writer had done with him over the past decade. They touched on how Bucky didn't really earn the right to a new life after his crimes as the Winter Soldier, but never really tried to tie this into Zemo's past and how he had tried to save the world in his own misguided way or how no one could look past his crimes and see him for what good he had done near the end of his time with the Thunderbolts. Nothing is even mentioned of it or his last appearance in the Zemo: Born Better miniseries.
The final insult is the horrid new costume they have Zemo in throughout this arc. He looks great on the Marko Djurdjevic cover in the classic costume, but they never use that in the actual comic. I'm not even sure why they have this new costume. It doesn't make sense. They never explain why the Fixer, who is a good guy over in Thunderbolts helping Luke Cage, was aiding Zemo either. He was just a bad guy at the start of this and then disappears.
If we look passed the gross mischaracterization of Zemo, which is tough to do for me, the central point of this issue is a fairly generic good guy overcoming his past story. Zemo confronts Bucky with several reminders of his "death" on the island where the original Barzon Zemo had tortured and apparently killed Bucky before they have their little confrontation that sees Zemo taken out in a few punches. He rigged Bucky's shield, so he gets to take out the hero in the end and strap him to a replica missile. He gives Bucky the option of fighting for his new life or dying like he should have and sends the missile on his way. Bucky gets to battle his inner demons and overcome the adversity, freeing himself and escaping "dying" a second time. That's it for the issue. Zemo is gone, Bucky is still Cap and now has overcome his personal demons.
Verdict - Check It. While I personally can't stand the reverting of Zemo to generic nazi badguy with daddy issues, the story is otherwise fairly solid with your standard hero confronting and overcoming his personal demons plot. Art is good and fits the tone of the story, too.
SECRET WARRIORS #20
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mirko Colak
This is probably the first issue of this series that I did not overly enjoy. Even the out of place Thunderbolts/Dark Reign crossover issues that sort of sidelined the Hydra plot were still enjoyable reads. This, though, was incredibly rushed and featured art from Mirko Colak that pales in comparison to Stefano Caselli and feels like a cheap imitation of Alessandro Vitti. There were times I could not even tell who the main characters were without some verbal cue from another character. If one thing is clear, this series is on its last legs and, if this continues, will limp to its finish in the six or seven issues it has remaining before the predetermined finish Hickman has in store.
One indication of the rushed nature of this story is the sudden jump to six months later after the previous Howling Commandos story arc. We quickly get a series of pages telling us of the war between Hydra and Leviathan and how it has escalated since the events of the failed incursion to China by the Commandos. Apparently, in the span of these few pages, we are told how all of these random bases we've never seen or heard of yet were destroyed, how each side took heavy losses and the two eventually agreed to a truce. Then someone assassinated a Leviathan leader and now they are at war again. This is all told in maybe 3 or 4 pages and is the equivilant of a flashback/recap for events that never even occured in the book. The series was originally planned to be much longer than the current plan of 27 to 30 issues that it will be ending in and glossing over major details like this that has the two major factions at war, working together and then at war again in a series of recap pages shows how truncated this storyline is going to end up being.
Another problem with the rushed feel of this issue is that events just move at a breakneck pace. One page we find out about Hydra and Levithan, the next Fury explains a major attack on Hydra by the Secret Warriors, then they are in space, then they are at the facility. We move so fast between key sequences that none of it felt like it even mattered. This is the opposite of decompression before people start pointing out how one minute we complain about stories too slow and the next I'm blasting it for going too fast. Everything up until now had be carefully plotted and every page felt like it mattered. This issue just runs through key plot point after key plot point without any time to digest it or even see the reaction of the characters.
Verdict - Check It. I'm tempted to say avoid it, but there's a lot of important things that are told in this issue that you will need to know moving forward if you have any desire to follow along. However, it was like reading a Wikipedia entry as Nick Fury recaps events and then tells us how they will attack a Hydra base. A huge stepdown in art from Caselli and Vitti combines with the other problems to make for a subpar issue of what has been one of my favourite books over the past year or two.
WONDER WOMAN #603
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Don Kramer
JMS continues his run on Wonder Woman and it continues to be enjoyable. The mystery of Wonder Woman's new status quo is progressing along and the big bad mystery villain finally appears.
The story continued from last issue with Wonder Woman leading the few remaining Amazons through the desert away from the military that was hunting them down. Along the way, Wonder Woman is confronted by winged demons known as the Keres who 'kill' her and take her soul to Tartarus where she meets with Charon. Charon tells Wonder Woman how Hades abandoned his post almost two decades ago and that he has abandoned his post as the ferryman of the dead as well. I'm not sure if this implies Hades is the one resopnsible for the current shift in the Amazon timelines or if this just leaves some backdoor to revive the other Amazons since they aren't being taken to Tartarus by Charon anymore.
Another interesting part of this trip to hell is that the Cerberus that blocks the path in and out actually recognizes Wonder Woman and calmly lays down and lets her pass. I'm not up to date on my Wonder Woman history, so I'm not sure if this has something to do wtih past continuity or if it is some implication of the current timeline. Charon mentions it only allows Hades through, so maybe Diana is connected to Hades or smells like him somehow? Did Diana's mother somehow fight/tame the beast and leave Tartarus and it is reacting to Diana similar to her mother's scent? Hard to tell at this point, but there's a lot of new questions and pieces of the puzzle in play from this sequence alone.
Once Diana frees herself from Tartarus, she awakens in her body again to find several hours have passed. The army has caught up to them and is now negotiating a deal to let the Amazons go free if Diana will stay and meet their leader. That leader? The mystery villain that destroyed Paradise Island and tied the Golden Lasso around his arm. He remains the shadowy figure he was then, even upclose and in a splashpage. He almost looks like he is made of stone and is bald, yet I could not place him or discern his identity. It looks like the next issue will be a major turning point where most of these questions will be revealed as the two are set to do battle to end this issue.
Verdict - Buy It. Really enjoying this title. It's fresh and unique take on Wonder Woman and is moving at a much faster pace than previous JMS books. Kramer's art has been excellent throughout as well. If I had any complaints, it would be mostly with Wonder Woman's dialogue as she seems quite glib in the face of all these adversities, particularly when speaking with Charon. Otherwise, a great issue.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Three quick reviews in an otherwise light week. Hit the jump and enjoy.