Monday, December 26, 2011

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 12/21/11

Apologies for the lateness of this week's round of Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews.  Like many of you, the holiday season ended up taking up far more of my time than I would have expected and I'm a little behind, to say the least.  Excuses aside, I can still offer you some short and sweet quick shot reviews of some of the books that dropped this week.  So if you're chomping at the bit to see how things played out in Amazing Spider-Man #676, Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1, and Daredevil #7, hit the jump to get yourself to reading!

Written by Dan Slott
Art by Humberto Ramos

Oh, one-shots, how I love you so.  Happily, that's exactly what Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos serve up in this issue of Amazing Spider-Man.  And to make things even more exciting for everyone involved, they decided to leave Spider-Man out of the issue entirely!  Instead, we get a wonderfully little issue that succinctly catches us up with what the Sinister Six has been up to these past few months.  And it makes for a rather good read.

Dan Slott does what he's been doing week in and week out since coming back to ASM, which is to say he spins a yarn that is true to the characters involved and the existing continuity that also happens to be a ton of fun.  This is a great comic because it tells the reader everything they could need to know before getting the ball rolling and then once things get going they don't stop.  There's some big, exciting set pieces involved here, including the Zero Cannon, which can instantly transport anything - or anyone - into deep space, and Slott puts all his pieces to good use.  Of course, all this would fall flat if it wasn't for Humberto Ramos' absolutely wonderful work on pencils.  As always, Ramos does a great job putting everything on the page.  His action scene sing and even the more exposition-heavy moments are a pleasure to look upon.

If you've been wanting to jump onto Amazing Spider-Man, this issue is for you.  It might not feature its titular webhead, but it is right in line with the usual fun tone of the book and just so happens to set up what looks to be one of the major storylines of 2012.

Verdict - Check It.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham & Cameron Stewart

This issue has been a long, long wait, but after having read it, I can easily say that it's been worth every moment.  Grant Morrison has been telling this story for years at this point and this issue somehow manages to tie in most every major event that's happened since he started writing Batman all that time ago.  And it's awesome.

Although labelled as a one-shot, this issue is, in truth, the last two issues of the first arc of Batman Incorporated that Morrison started last year - and then some.  To make things even better, the story takes place in the good ol' pre-New 52, having such exciting elements as multiple Batmen and non-offense depictions of women!  Kidding aside, it was nice to dip a toe back into the continuity that we had known so well before September.

The first chapter of this issue is the blast from the past Batgirl story that every Stephanie Brown fan has been waiting for, and it does not disappoint.  It is a pretty enjoyable yarn featuring Stephanie infiltrating an all-girls school that trains adolescent assassins for supervillains around the world.  Morrison's writing is top-notch, telling a solid Batman tale that moves the story ever closer to its scintillating conclusion.  Cameron Stewart's art is also top notch, doing everything you could want it to and more.

However, as good as that first part is, the main attraction of this book is clearly chapter 2, where Batman finally confronts Dr. Dedalus face to face and discovers the true identity of Leviathan.  Without giving anything away, it's great.  Morrison brings his signature wackiness and tells an amazing story that plays with time, linearity, and reader expectations in a fantastic way.  This issue is exactly what Batman Inc. has been building towards - and it is amazing.  I'm still not completely sold on Chris Burnham's art, but it fits really well with the atmosphere that Morrison aims for and added a lot to the story.

I'm every so glad that this issue got to take place back in regular ol' continuity.  It's nice that DC didn't force the creative team to bend their tale to the status quo of the DCnU.  It's nice to get to see the natural conclusion of this part of the story.  I was also thrilled to see that there was no strict page limit being enforced here, as Morrison seems to take as much time as necessary to put all the necessary pieces in place to tell a great chapter in what's been an epic story.  If you've been following everything up until this point, this issue does not disappoint.  If you haven't and happen to like challenging, mind-bending reads, I don't understand why you aren't already following this title, but you should definitely give it a shot.

Verdict - Must Read.

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Poalo Rivera

This issue of Daredevil is another nice little one-shot that tells its whole story over the course of twenty pages while also managing to move Mark Waid's greater narrative forward.  The majority of the issue is focused on Matt Murdock and a group of young children stranded in the middle of a snow storm in the Catskills, trying their darndest not to freeze to death.  This focus is interspersed with a few scenes from the Nelson & Murdock holiday party, which is most of the great narrative development takes place.  Both stories are well done and keep the reader more than interested.

To be honest, this issue felt like a bit of a return to form to me.  It wasn't so much that the past few issues haven't been good, it's simply that they didn't have the same charge and feeling of excitement that seemed to exist for the opening arc of this series.  But that feeling is back in action as Waid and Paolo Rivera team up to bring us another great story starring the Man Without Fear.  It's interesting because while those opening issues were brimming with optimism, this one opens on a far bleaker note, with Matt being plagued by self-doubt at his ability to actually save the children he's found himself protecting.  Seeing as this is a superhero comic, things obviously turn around in the end, but the way it happens wasn't what I was expecting.  It was a nice touch that once again showed me why Waid is so well-respected in this business.  It probably goes without saying, but Rivera kills every single panel he does.  It's not quite as showy as some of the earlier issues he's done, but every single image is excellent and it's clear that he's giving every page his all.

I'm really enjoying Daredevil.  Mark Waid has really made this a title to watch, and as long as things continue to be this good, I definitely won't be taking my eyes off it.  I'd suggest you do the same.

Verdict - Must Buy.

Again, sorry for the tardiness of these guys, but I hope you enjoyed them nonetheless.  And more than that, I hope you've gotten some time off to spend with friends and family and that it's been good.  I'll see you guys tomorrow with some Previews.  Promise.

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The Gaf said...

Daredevil was great- but I have a bone to pick with the cover. He's doing snow angels in the city. Would have been equally a great cover, if he had been doing them on a hillside in the country. And it would have been relevant to the story....

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