Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free Comics Review for 03/09/11

Sorry for the rather late edition of Free Comics Review! Course work meant that I could not complete this by my usual Friday schedule, and the large amounts of comics to review is certainly not helping either. In any case, this week we have three comics from Marvel and DC each, not to mention our forth-night friend Box 13 showing up as well. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Box 13 Vol. 2 #12 (ComiXoogy App)

Written by Dave Gallaher
Art by Steve Ellis

Ah, Box 13. As always, delivers a short and sweet story to my columns. When we last left the story, Dan Holiday was approaching the Orjol, with Olivia ready to move in and take him down. All the players are clashing in the same place.

In this issue, we see how Olivia tries to enter the building, only to run across April (I believe was her name). The two fight it out in a prolonged scene that is a beauty to behold. The two ladies punch and kick each other for several pages.

The only thing that seemed strange to me was that during the fight, Olivia uses a suitcase containing Box 13 to defend herself. You figure something that important wouldn’t be used as a makeshift shield, right?

Not much more to say about this issue, I’m just really looking forward to the conclusion of this series, which can’t be too far away by the way things are going.

The creative team delivers as usual. I’m actually really looking forward to reading this whole thing as once to see how it holds together as one piece. I figure it’s going to be ending soon, so I might do a full feature on it.

Dark Avengers #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato Jr.

This issue was previously reviewed in this older column of Free Comics Review.

Fantastic Four #538 (Marvel App)

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Mike McKone & Andy Lanning

How strange. Last week we had the Straczynski-penned Civil War tie-in to Amazing Spider-Man, and this week around is the one for Fantastic Four. Just one of those small coincidences, I guess.

This takes immediately after the actions of Civil War #1, where Johnny Storm was put in the hospital after someone threw a brick at his head. Marvel’s First Family is shaken by these actions, particularly there is a lot of tension between Sue and Reed.

Meanwhile, Ben sits next to Johnny in the hospital, trying to cheer him up. On his way back, though, he runs into his old pals from Yancy Street, who are not very happy about the registration act and are protesting.

There is a particularly amusing bit where Ben tries to keep Johnny interested in the hospital (a useless venture, since he is in a coma), and basically spend the whole time talking by himself about a variety of topics. The final punchline is that he has only been there for an hour.

JMS shines when using Ben, who comes off as level-headed and likable. Every other character feels like a soapbox of some kind. This could be intentional, considering everything that was going on the universe, but reading it years after the fact does not make it gel so easily.

McKone’s art in this is not quite up to his normal standards. While he shines illustrating The Thing, everyone else looks a bit strange. It might have been that the inking and/or coloring did not play to his strengths.

Human Target #1 (ComiXology/DC App)

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Javier Pulido

Last week, I reviewed another issue of Human Target. In that case, it was of the most recent series that is heavily based on the TV series of the same name. This week is a different series, from a few years back and released by Vertigo.

I was particularly eager to read this iteration, as I had heard many great things about it. The creative team certainly raised my expectations, and they definitely did not disappoint at all with this first issue.

The comic stars Frank White, an action movie actor who has just been in a terrible fire accident. He had to go through a heavy series of plastic surgeries to regain his looks.

However, not everything is what it seems, and things start to go awry when a stalker fan called Mister Smith starts tormenting Frank. Smith is not very happy with the violence in Frank’s films, and he decides to do something about it.

I really don’t want to reveal too much, but trust me when I say that this book is a mind twister joy of a read. Milligan and Pulido make an amazing team, and this story really must be read to be enjoyed completely.

As a side note, if this doesn’t appear in your DC app, you must first download it from the ComiXology app (a normal policy on most Vertigo titles).

The Question #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Rick Veicht
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards

Speaking of strange books, someone at DC must have decided it was a good week for mind bender comics with faceless protagonists to go up for free. The Question is a six issue mini series from some years back. This comic stars Vic Sage, before he was replaced by the new Question (Renee Montoya).

The format of this comic is quite interesting, as the book is divided into two different parts. One, where Vic Sage is living his civilian life, and the other one where he acts as the vigilante The Question. Each section has it’s own approach.

During the Vic Sage parts, it is told mostly through a first person point of view, something that we don’t often see in comics. What we see is what Vic sees, as he travels from his native Chicago to Metropolis to meet an old friend, Lois Lane.

Meanwhile, we also see flashbacks to the night before, when The Question was patrolling the streets of Chicago, hunting corrupted mafia bosses and what not. These parts are told with some rather poetic narration, which can admittedly get annoying fast.

As a whole, even if this comic is not perfect by any means, it is ambitious and unique. While I don’t think everyone would like it, I think everyone should read it.

Sensational Spider-Man #28 (Marvel App)

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Clayton Crain

I’m starting to think there must be a Civil War trade coming out from Marvel, because these many Civil War tie-ins released in these last couple weeks are starting to become noticeable.

That being said, I’m not complaining, because this issue is by one of my favorite and underrated writers, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The man excels at creating a strong mood, more so than almost any other writer in the comic industry.

Of course, when you think of the mood of a Spider-Man comic, you probably think of teenage angst. And that is what happens here, wrapped in a tale set shortly after Spider-Man unmasked during Civil War.

Jordan is a student in one of Mr. Parker’s classes. He loves biology more than any other subject, and he is always trying hard to get good grades in. Despite of this, Mr. Parker’s absences are not helping him. And when he reveals to the whole world that he is Spider-Man, Jordan goes through a very strange set of emotions.

This comic is a testament to the strengths of Aguirre-Sacasa as a writer. It’s a done-in-one issue, and it packs an emotional punch. The ending might be a bit too Silver Age for me, but I really enjoyed this comic.

Crain’s art is in his usual style, but at least things don’t look quite as muddy as his artwork does in X-Force. All in all, this comic looks alright, and that’s probably the best I could have hoped for.

Superman: Confidential #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Tim Sale

Superman: Confidential was a short lived series from 2006, which featured untold stories of Superman’s early days. This first arc deals with his first exposure to Kryptonite.

The comic starts with Superman fighting the Royal Flush Gang, while he inner-monologues the heck out of everything and what people expect of him. Particularly, he is worried of what might finally kill him.

Speaking of that, we get a glimpse at some of the Kryptonite that left Krypton when it exploded. It seems to land in a foreign planet, and also, it is alive. Yes, the Kryptonite is alive. Or at least there is a monster made out of the poisonous stuff.

Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, Clark Kent, along with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are in the middle of a stake out of a seemingly-corrupt businessman Anthony Gallo (who looks suspiciously a lot like Anthony Stark).

I’m going to be honest. I read this issue twice, the synopsis online, and even then I have hard time remembering what happened in it. It is aggressively boring, at least to me. Other, more Superman-oriented readers might find plenty to enjoy here.

The real star of the show is Tim Sale, who is a master storyteller. I’m sure you are really familiar with his art, so there’s no need for me to praise it even more. However, I did find that I liked his style more here than in the color books he did with Jeph Loeb over at Marvel.

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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David Gallaher said...

Thanks again for the kind words about BOX 13. The final installment will be 13 pages (that's five more than usual) and will wrap up on March 30th.

- David Gallaher

Hypersteve said...

Wow. Thanks for the review on Box 13. IT really means a lot that people enjoy our stories...


Matt Duarte said...

No, thank YOU for the story. I'm looking forward to the conclusion.

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