Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 03/14/12

My apologies for the delay on getting the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews out the door this week.  I'm traveling and haven't had the amount of internet access that I was expecting, so things are a little behind schedule.  But let's not dwell on that.  Instead, let's get rolling to the reviews in question.  Due to said travelling, they come to you in an easy to digest, bite-sized format – what we like to call the Quick Shots. Fortunately, there were lots of titles to look at this week, so you'll get a general idea of my thoughts on a number of different books, including Adventure Time #2, the finale of the Unwritten's War of the Words storyline, and lots more. So hit that jump to give it all a gander!

Written by Ryan North
Art by Shelli Paroline
Back up Stories by Lucy Knisley & Zac Gorman

I still haven't seen all that much of the actual show, but I'm starting to think that it might be worth my while to do so. Ryan North seems to be becoming increasingly comfortable with these characters, managing to stay true to their voices while also infusing some of his signature wit and style into the story. Finn and Jake spend the issue trying to escape from their seemingly never-ending bag of holding prison, and it's a rather amusing exercise. There's a lot of pithy one-liners courtesy of North and excellent visual gags from Shelli Paroline that add a lot to the comic. I particularly enjoyed the many sand related food items that Desert Princess continued to make (along with Finn's many disgusted reactions). North manages to move the story along, introduce some of the world's other characters, and leave the reader with a pretty solid cliffhanger, so I would call this issue a win. The backup stories are pretty fun as well, especially the second one that takes up a single page – it's a pretty cute tale. As long as Adventure Time keeps on like this, I'll keep on reading it.

Verdict – Check It.

Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Art by Amy Reeder & Rob Hunter

I don't imagine it will come as much surprise to you to hear that I was a big fan of this month's edition of Batwoman. Even though J.H. Williams III isn't on art duties for this arc, he and W. Haden Blackman continue to do a bang-up job on the writing side of the equation. I was a tad uncertain about their plan to centre this arc around 6 different characters, but I must say that I'm really enjoying the manner they're going about it. This issue, like the last one, sees them dedicating a small portion of the comic to each character, and the strategy is working really well. Perhaps the strongest part is that each time they jump to another character they also jump to a different point in time, covering a number of different points in the story's previous month over the course of the issue. It does a great job of letting the reader in on what's going on bit by bit, revealing the story slowly over time. While Amy Reeder won't be on the title after the next issue (due to the well-publicized creative differences between her and Williams III), she is still doing an awesome job with what little time she has left. Seriously, while I've lauded Williams III for all his work on the title, Reeder has been the perfect transition, doing a lot of similar things to Williams III while also bringing her own unique take to Batwoman. I love her pages and breakdowns and will be sad to see her go. Fortunately, we still have one more issue of these talented creators working together, and if it's anything like this one, I cannot wait for it.

Verdict - Buy It.

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Becky Cloonan

Despite his storied past, I'm not all that familiar with Conan. My total experience with the character is limited to having seen parts of Conan the Destroyer as a youth and reading the first issue of this new ongoing from Dark Horse. While the film didn't really do all that much for me, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's take on everyone's favourite Cimmerian has already made a convert out of me. I adore the pulpy writing style that Wood has taken on for his interpretation of the character – especially the over-the-top narration. It sometimes flirts dangerously close with going into campy territory, but Wood walks the line quite capably, and Conan's musings and words serve to support him as a noble and courageous warrior who, despite that, still has lots to learn. It's impressive how quickly Wood was able to establish Conan's character and how he's already starting to develop it. While his initial confrontation with Bêlit may have come a little quickly, it was really well done and made for some intense fight scenes. Of course, it was Cloonan's art that was responsible for carrying these moments, and she delivers with apparent ease. Conan fights pretty much an entire ship's worth of pirates in this issue, and it is sufficiently epic and amazing. These two creators are getting on like a house on fire, and the comics they're producing benefit greatly from it.

Verdict – Buy It.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert

My other monthly fantasy book isn't quite as nuanced as Conan, but its  less serious tone is always a nice change of pace from most of the other books that I pull on a regular basis. I admit that it has been moving a little bit slow lately, but such a claim cannot be made this month. After much teasing, Paul Cornell finally lets slip the dogs of war as the fight between our heroes and the nefarious forces of evil over the small town, and I gotta say that after all the buildup, the payoff is a pretty good time. Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert get plenty of reign to flex their artist talents, laying down a whole lot of intense moments between our multitude of characters. There have been some hints towards how big of a scale our heroes working on, and that is really pushed to the forefront in this issue. Everything is huge and intense this time around – we get scenes that are literally set in hell, fights that are hellish in their violence, and some mighty grand splash pages to pull it all off. As unfair as it might be to switch gears on the book so quickly, my main complaint here is that, now that things have picked up, they're moving perhaps a smidgen too quickly. The battle pretty much begins and ends in the course of this issue, which is a little frustrating considering how much time was spent working towards this moment, but having too many things going on is far more preferable than not having enough. It also doesn't hurt that the setup for the next adventure seems pretty darned fun.

Verdict – Check It.

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Mirko Colak

It's been a long time in the making, but I think I can say with confidence that Punisher is my favourite book that Marvel is putting out right now.  Considering my incredible love for pretty much everything that Greg Rucka writes, this isn't exactly coming out of left field, but nonetheless, I'm continually impressed with just how good his take on the character has been.  This issue sees Frank's current fight against the Exchange getting to be a little too much, with Rachel Cole-Alves providing some much needed assistance.  The strange relationship between the two takes an interesting turn that's getting me even more excited for next month's Omega Effect crossover.  Speaking of, Mirko Cholak does a great job filling in for Marco Checchetto on this issue.  He picks some great moments to depict and does an excellent job of using lighting and darkness to emphasize the book's atmosphere.  This series continues to deliver and it doesn't look like it'll be slowing down anytime soon.

Verdict - Buy It.

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross & M.K. Perker

Mike Carey and Peter Gross' conclusion to their epic War of the Words storyline was amazing.  The issue closes off a key chapter in Tom Taylor and company's life, and it's picture perfect.  It hit all the right beat, tied up all the necessary narrative threads, and pulled on the perfect number of heart strings.  Carey is at the top of his game here, delivering on a lot of the concepts that he's been playing with since issue #1.  This is an excellent issue with lots of thought provoking moments.  Gross is also firing on all cylinders, doing a phenomenal job of realizing the narrative's many ideas in exciting and innovative ways.  Comics represent a unique relationship between words and images, and our dynamic duo take that for all it's worth, leveraging the concept and pushing it to the nth degree, making this act not only a great conclusion but also a great example of some of the things that the medium is capable of accomplishing.

Verdict - Must Read.

So a little different than usual, but I hope you enjoyed the reviews nonetheless. How did the week treat you? Any books that really blew you away? Any that left you wanting? Hit up the comments and let me know!

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Zdenko said...

Art for Punisher #9 did Mirko Colak, not Checchetto.

Grant McLaughlin said...

@Zdenko - Thanks for the note. I was pretty sure that it wasn't actually Checchetto, but I didn't have the issue when I was proof reading.

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