Friday, January 7, 2011

Free Comics Review for 01/05/11

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review, the very first of the year 2011! To celebrate, we have some really good comics that were available for free this week, and in yet another surprise move, two DC comics were available this week! Curiously though, we have no free comics outside of the big two. Anyway, hit the jump to see the reviews.

Batman - The 10 Cent Adventure #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Rick Burchett

As the name implies, this ten cent promotional comic was released to kick off the Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive storyline, which was crossover among all the Batman titles and lasted for several months.

You may remember I briefly talked about this crossover when DC had a huge Batman sale in their digital comics app. This issues kicks off that event, but until a couple of days ago, only the Batman titles were there, but not Detective Comics or any other of the auxiliary titles. You’ll be happy to know that they are now all there.

Because of it’s promotional nature, this comic’s main job is to set up the status quo for new readers, welcoming them into the current ongoings of Bruce Wayne, Batman, and Gotham City.

Sasha Bordeaux acts as the narrator, and we learn that she is acting as bodyguard for Bruce Wayne. Doing her job, she discovered Batman’s secret identity. Forced to keep her on the job, she is now going on patrol with Batman (with her own costume and everything).

The majority of this issue is a recap of a typical night for Batman, beating up thugs along the city, rescuing people, and stopping crime. We see it through the eyes of Sasha, and she notices there’s a lot of anger inside of Bruce.

When they get home to Wayne Manor, after a long night, they find the body of Vesper Fairchild, an ex-girlfriend of Bruce’s. Just as they discover it, police forces break into the house, preparing to arrest him.

It’s hard to judge the merits of the storytelling, as not much happens until the final pages. I understand why this is necessary, and I’m sure at the time it was successful, but there’s not a whole lot to interest me into the next part of the storyline.

The art is quite different from what you expect a regular Batman comic to look like, as the art looks more like something from Batman: The Animated Series. Which is not to say it’s bad, but I prefer a different type of art for Batman titles.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Dennis O’Neill
Art by Edward Hannigan

Speaking of Batman comics, here’s the first issue of the Legends of the Dark Knight series, which launched in 1989. The first story arc, which obviously starts here, is called Shaman.

As a small side note, that's not the actual cover shown on the digital comic. This one looks kind of dull, doesn't it?

Part of this comic takes place in the time shortly before Bruce Wayne became Batman, during his trips around the world to acquire knowledge. Here, he is traveling to Alaska, when he is left stranded in the middle of a storm.

Almost dead, Bruce is rescued by a group of local Inuit. Among them, there is a shaman that seemingly uses mystical powers to restores Bruce to health. While semi-conscious, Bruce hears of a fable involving a bat and a raven.

You can see where this is going, right? Not long after these events, Bruce goes out on his first night of vigilantism, only to fail miserably. Then, when back in his study, the fabled bat crashes through his window, and a legend is born.

I’m a bit surprised that the origin would be explored here, as this was only two years after Year One was released. This story doesn’t clash against it at all, just compliments it, but it’s odd that they would be published so close together.

Art-wise, this is classical Batman look, where it could fit comfortably anywhere in the past 40 years and no one would be able to tell you what year it is from. This is by no means a bad thing, as it gives the art a timeless look that works in favor of an origin tale of this kind.

Daredevil #100 (Marvel App)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Gene Colan, Michael Lark, Alex Maleev, Lee Bermejo, John Romita Sr.

This week’s best deal is this right here. The 100th issue of Daredevil is a big celebration with double the normal page count. It also features art from a veritable who’s who of artists.

This kicks off the Without Fear arc, which was somewhere in the middle of Brubaker’s long stay on the title. Daredevil comes to clash with old foe Mister Fear. He injects fear drug into Daredevil, who is hallucinating throughout the issue.

Each artist draws a section relating to their historical stay on the title. For example, John Romita Sr. draws a scene where Matt is remembering his time with Karen Page, Gene Colan draws a scene with Black Widow, and so on.

As a whole, this is an incredibly looking book. Lee Bermejo and Alex Maleev provide awesome interior art, while Michael Lark provides the art for the framing device surrounding the other scenes.

Sadly, I know this is the place where many people started losing confidence in Brubaker’s story. Mr. Fear has declared open war on Matt Murdock, and the first thing he goes for is Mila, his wife.

Though it’s not shown, she murdered another woman while being affected by the fear drug (in the previous issue). Foggy is there to help her, but there is not much he can do, other than wait for Matt to come back and break the bad news for him.

Even if you disliked the direction of the story, as a package, Daredevil #100 is a package worth getting.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #33 (Marvel App)

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Pascual Ferry

Mike Carey took over Ultimate Fantastic Four with this issue, and God War kicks off in grand style here. In the end, this would lead to the Fantastic Four to meet the Ultimate Thanos.

A group of aliens from a different reality crash into Earth, and run into the Fantastic Four. As it tends to be in these cases, the two parties clash and fight, not realizing what is going on.

After the battle, the aliens are forced to leave their transport behind, which Sue and Reed take home to investigate. They don’t realize, however that the transport is actually alive and a member of the alien team.

I’ve read this before, and I remember hating it at the time. What were all these new characters? I wanted new takes on older characters! That’s what we were reading the Ultimate Universe for, right? I now realize that it was shortsighted of me.

Carey packs a lot of big ideas into here, particularly with the aliens and their powerset. Their reaction to the world the Fantastic Four inhabit is also quite funny: “It’s like children pretending to be adults”.

Pascual Ferry’s art is very much like his current output in Thor. Everything has a very dreamy quality to it, helped by the coloring, with very soft shadows and colors.

X-Factor #7 (Marvel App)

Written by Peter David
Art by Ariel Olivetti

X-Factor slows down between arcs to take a breather, and consider their future. Issue #7 is a done-in-one tale between bigger arcs that still advances several ongoing plots of the series.

The majority of the issue is divided between two tales: first, Jamie Madrox goes to a meeting with the heads of Singularity Inversions that ends quite badly, and secondly, Siryn gets some bad news, which she takes surprisingly well.

Madrox meets with Damian Tryp, in a meeting where the former and all of X-Factor Investigations gets offered a contract to work for the latter. Madrox declines, and it ends with him being thrown out the window. Or should I say, one of his dupes being thrown out a window.

While we don’t know exactly why they are being offered such a generous deal, Madrox guesses that it’s because their investigations are about to uncover something big dealing with Singularity. The two groups clashed on previous occasions.

Meanwhile, Siryn is visited by Cyclops, who comes bearing bad news: Banshee, Siryn’s father, died while on duty (this is after the events of Deadly Genesis). One would expect her to take this badly, but Siryn is in heavy denial of his father’s death.

She argues that half the X-Men have been dead at one point or the other and they return all the time, saying that this is probably Banshee’s way of hiding from his enemies. The whole ordeal is quite funny, and the reactions of the rest of X-Factor to Siryn’s denial are just as funny.

I had to double check that the art credits were right, and they are. This book looks gorgeous, and it’s drawn by Ariel Olivetti. It looks unlike anything else I have seen from him, and I really wish he would use this style more often.

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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Stephen Waniak said...

Man, X-Factor used to have some dynamite art. I sorely miss those Sook/Calero days. And I agree wholeheartedly: #7 was a surprising and very, very welcome departure from Olivetti's regular style.

Matt Duarte said...

@Stephen: Yeah, it's too bad that the title could never hold on to an artist for too long. My favorite of them all, however, was Pablo Raimondi. He was the perfect fit for X-Factor.

Stephen Waniak said...

@Matt: I did like Raimondi a lot. X-Factor was definitely a better match for his style than the Inhumans series he did during Realm of Kings.

Honestly, my biggest gripe about the art lineup on X-Factor is probably how truly terrible Strong Guy usually looks. He's one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe, and almost no one can make him look decent.

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