Friday, December 24, 2010

Free Comics Review for 12/22/10

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! This yule edition brings us a  true Christmas Miracle: there is a free full DC comic for everyone to read! Not Zuda, not Wildstorm, but actually a DC comic featuring characters from their main universe. Aside from that, ComiXology’s main app continues to struggle and hasn’t been working properly the past two weeks. You can still read them at their website, but because I usually read these comics on my work commute, I haven’t had the time yet. In any case, there’s still four free comics this week. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Amazing Spider-Man #595 (Marvel App)

Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning

Another issue of the thrice monthly Amazing Spider-Man makes its way to this column. This time around, it’s the first issue of the American Son arc, which tied to the events of Dark Reign going on around the Marvel Universe at large.

The issue centers heavily around the relationship between Peter Parker, Harry and Norman Osborn. There’s actually quite little “Spider-Man” going around, as the story centers around their civilian lives.

Peter and Harry are invited to a dinner with the mayor, J. Jonah Jameson, and Aunt May, who is going to be marrying JJJ’s father. Peter thought that having to deal with his former boss would be the worst, but there is an additional guest: Norman Osborn.

Sparks fly as Norman and Harry come together. I would actually go as far as saying that Harry is the most compelling character in the whole comic. I don’t know if Kelly is just particularly fond of him or what, but he shines more than everyone else.

A scene with Wolverine and Spider-Man hanging out in rooftop contemplating the destruction of Norman Osborn is, to say the least, polarizing. On one hand, the whole “superheroes don’t kill” thing is stupid, but on the other, if there ever was a character that should stand up for it, it’d be Spider-Man.

Towards the end of the issue, Spidey goes after Norman, and delivers a beating to the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. which is bound to bring down the law on top of him. Norman mentions all the living hell he’s made his life in the past, and that it’s going to be nothing compared to what he’s going to do after this.

Which makes me think, what does Norman exactly remember after the events of OMD? Does he just remember randomly throwing a blond girl off a bridge, and it upset Spidey a great deal?

I can’t say I care much for the art team behind this comic. While I generally like Jimenez’ art, it doesn’t seem to suit Amazing Spider-Man very well. Everyone looks generically middle aged, from Peter to Jameson. He does a considerably better job in the action scenes though.

DC Holiday Special 2009 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Various
Art by Various

Last year’s holiday themed anthology was uploaded to the DC app for free this week, and it’s a whopper of a comic, with over 70 pages featuring a veritable catalog of DC’s characters, creators, and styles.

As all anthologies, this is a mixed bag, and there’s bound to be a couple of stories that you love, some that you hate, and a bunch that you don’t really care about. At least because they all center around holidays, they’ll help you get into a festive mood.

Some of the highlights include the “Silent Knight” featuring Batman hunting a criminal dressed up as Santa Claus. The whole tale is, as the title implies, silent, and it’s a good exercise in storytelling for artist Peter Nguyen.

There’s also a Martian Manhunter tale by normally-Marvel writer Fred Van Lente. It’s pretty good, albeit short story from his early days, when he was posing as a detective in Chicago. And a short four-page story featuring the Flash doing last minute Christmas preparations is also quite funny.

War stories are also represented here. A Sgt. Rock story seemingly based on real events is a heart-warming reminder of humanity during its darkest hours. A different Enemy Ace story (with art by Howard Chaykin) tries to hit a similar emotional note, but fails in comparison with the Sgt. Rock one.

Among the ones that I didn’t enjoy, or didn’t care for, where the Doom Patrol story featuring Beast Boy quite heavily and a Bizarro Superboy one that I couldn’t quite understand the payoff (if there was one).

All in all, it’s a pretty good package, and worth reading for the good stories, even if there’s a couple of stinkers in there.

Ultimate X-Men #34 (Marvel App)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Dave Finch & Art Thibert

Even though this marks the first issue of the Blockbuster arc of Ultimate X-Men, I had to double check I wasn’t actually reading an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. He features quite prominently in this issue.

Wolverine is the main center of attention though, as he is sitting in a diner enjoying breakfast when he is attacked by some mysterious group that shoots him from vans stationed outside the place.

The scene is actually kind of dumb. Wolverine, who is supposed to have hundreds of years of expertise, and is one of the most dangerous assassins in the world is quite slow on the uptake. You would figure he’d attempt to make a run for it.

Badly wounded, Logan goes to the closest safe place he can think of, which is Peter Parker’s house. The surprise guest scares Peter, but he tries to help Logan recover from his wounds.

When it seems that the coast is clear, Logan suddenly sees the same vans from before parked right outside of Peter’s house.

Now that I think about it, not a whole lot happens in this issue. If someone wanted to make a case for Bendis’ overuse of decompression, this would be the perfect example.

Finch’s art is better than normal when he is handling the Wolverine scenes, though there are still some of the usual problems. He struggles a lot with making the faces of characters seem different from one another. Additionally, Mary Jane looks at time like she’s 11, instead of the 15 she’s supposed to be.

X-Force #12 (Marvel App)

Written by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Art by Clayton Crain

Suicide Leper, the third arc of X-Force, begins here, which also works as a prelude to the Messiah War crossover event. The title continues to be as grim as it ever was.

This arc centers heavily around the character of the Leper Queen, a mutant hater that leads a group of purifiers. She, however, is under the control of the newly resurrected Bastion, who is using several people from the X-Men’s past to destroy them.

The team has had some slight change in it’s line up, and the addition of Domino and Vanisher bring some humor into the mix. There’s not much of the team to be found here though, as they are mostly trying to keep up with the plans of the mutant-haters.

Speaking of them, the whole thing doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, racists and bigots are not known for being the most logical kind, but the whole story hinges on people hating mutants. Of course, this is also after the events of Decimation, where the mutant population is down to a couple of hundreds at most.

The Purifiers are grabbing random mutants off the street, injecting them with something that causes their powers to overload, and letting them loose on huge crowds. Again, there’s so few mutants left that you would figure someone (like, say, Cyclops) would be monitoring them.

Crain’s art is still quite muddy, though I was happy to see him draw some scenes that were set outside on a sunshiny day. It looks like a completely different artist, to be honest.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. Remember that you can always read the comics in the ComiXology web reader (with the exception of the Marvel ones). We always try to improve our content based on your suggestions, and with a new column, it's good to hear back from the readers. So, comment away!

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professor death said...

It needs a major patch update , I deleted then downloaded it again and it worked fine . It freezes then switches off when you have to much comics

Matt Duarte said...

@professor death: Yeah, I've been checking with them over Twitter, and apparently it has to do with some issue involving the new version of iOS. I think the issue comes up when signing in. I tried deleting and reinstalling, and it worked fine, but when I went to sign in or download any comics, it freezes.

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