Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 08/22/12

I've been travelling a lot of this week, so I apologize for the lateness of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews.  I know that Monday is not a great day to have reviews go up, but I figure they're better late than never.  Due to said travel, reviews are slightly smaller sizes this time around, but I've tried to look at a number of different books to take a bit of the edge off. of that.  So hit the jump for my short form thoughts on Adventure Time #7, Flash #12, and Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1, and more!

Written by Ryan North
Art by Shelli Paroline & Branden Lamb
Backup Stories by Shannon Wheeler & Zac Gorman

Did you know that there's an Adventure Time comic?  And that it's kind of the best thing ever?  In case you've somehow missed this memo, Ryan North and friends have provided yet another bang up issue to help you remember.  Adventure Time has been one of the most fun and most hilarious comic books on stands, and this issue doesn't miss a beat in continuing that track record.

Half of the opening page is dedicated to Finn sleeping and Princess Bubblegum brushing her teeth (and singing the most terrifying toothbrushing jingle in history), and it's all gold.  To be honest, the whole issue is pretty well golden.  North laid the seeds for a time travel storyline last issue, and those beginnings really take root and grow at a crazy pace here.  Before you know it, Finn and Jake have somehow ended up fifteen years in the future with no way to get home.  Instead, they're trapped in a world where they have to fight evil robot versions of themselves on a daily basis.  It's about as awesome as it sounds.  The whole issue shines, but I was particularly taken with the two page spread that mostly summarized what Finn and Jake missed between their past and their current future.  It was an excellent mixture of art and writing, and Princess Bubblegum apologizing for all the expositioning she's doing was quite cute.

All throughout the issue, North liberally administers jokes left and right, and they all hit the mark.  One of the favourite parts of this series is how North puts little aside jokes at the bottom of many of the pages.  It's a nice Dinosaur Comics touch, as it mimics the hover-text jokes that are featured in every comic, and North provides some of his best ones here, including repeated time travel jokes and brags about how much experience North has of hiding in cardboard boxes.  While I've always enjoyed these, I think North really outdoes himself here, providing some of the funniest ones yet.

While Shelli Paroline and Brandon Lamb have excelled at combining Adventure Time-esque art with amazing comic book storytelling devices, the two artists get an opportunity to spread their wings a little more in this issue.  Because the vast majority of the story takes place in the future, Paroline and Lamb get the opportunity to design a lot more of the world, including the hilarious future versions of Finn and Jake, which do a great job of parodying some dystopian future cliches.  The two take full advantage of these additional creative liberties, offering some amazing visuals to accompany North's hilarious script.

There are two backup stories this issue, including a four pager from Shannon Wheeler and a one-page story from Zac Gormon.  Wheeler's is a thematically appropriate look at different theories of time travel (one per page) that manages to succinctly explain the theories while also making for a few nice chuckles.  Gormon's is a simple one-page script looking at Lumpy Space Princess' incredibly difficult (read: easy) life.  It's fun and cute and a fine use of a a comic book page.

Verdict - Buy It.  This series is great for readers young and old.  Ryan North provides some absolutely hilarious scripts on a monthly basis, and Shelli Paroline and Brandon Lamb do an great job of knocking all of those scripts right out of the park.  Happily, everyone seems to be upping their game for this time travel arc, making what was already a terrific book even better.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham

While the book came out a month later than originally intended, Batman, Incorporatd #3 was well worth the wait.  Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham absolutely kill this issue.  Their time together and familiarity with each other's style really shows here as they are making some great things together.

The issue opens with a few pages narrating how Leviathan has been slowly infiltrating and poisoning every aspect of Gotham City.  This was an excellent sequence that ably combined text and image in an incredibly intuitive manner while also concisely summarizing the relevant story info for readers who needed or wanted a small reminder.  The whole thing is patent Morrison craziness, but it's developed in a way that it all makes sense.  It was also cool to see how Burnham managed to create an easy visual cue for Leviathan agents.  It's a small thing, but it does a lot to emphasize how omnipresent the organization truly is.

From there, we dive right into things as Bruce goes undercover as his criminal alter-ego, Matches Malone, to pump the criminal element for some information on Leviathan.  This sequence is also excellently executed, as Morrison leverages continuity (both from his work with Batman and the wider DCnU) in a way that adds a lot to his story.  It's nice to see a positive use of continuity, as it too often seems to get in the way of a good story.  The remainder of the issue spirals out of the initial scene with Matches, with Morrison paying off some moments from it and from earlier issues as things barrel along at a mad clip.

The whole issue moves really quickly, jumping from one cool thing to the next, making for a lot of great character moments throughout.  This is where Burnham shines, as his art fits perfectly with the mood of the issue, jumping from the quiet moments to the big action scenes with ease.  Damian's efforts to save Bruce towards the end of the issue were particularly great, with Burnham using lots of little panels to demonstrate all the badass things Damian was up to.

Verdict - Buy It.  Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham give us yet another great Batman book, which is pretty much par for the course at this point.  I loved the use of Matches Malone, as it fit quite naturally with what's been going on story-wise and was really well done.  The whole issue was a ton of fun, with lots of great little pieces that ended up making an even better whole.  As a last comment, I totally dug Batcow's cameo appearance.  I hope that she sticks around even longer.

Written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul

After two rather shaky issues, things feel like they're starting to get back on track over in The Flash.  While it's still a little unclear how we ended up where we are at this point of the story, Manapul and Buccellato take all those different pieces and tell one heck of a story here.

For reasons that are yet to be revealed, The Rogues are getting the band together, which means that this issue is kind of a trying one for Barry.  There's a lot going on throughout this comic, but Manapul and Buccellato managed to balance it all, bringing all the smaller narratives together into one large problem that Barry has no option but to try to deal with.  I really appreciated how quickly this issue moved, spending all of its time on important and interesting things, making for a great read.  It was definitely a nice change of pace, as for whatever reason, this issue was far more coherent and directed than the past two.  Things slowly build up to a critical mass, with the clifhanger dropping at just the right moment.

While the writing definitely saw a return to form, the art is definitely the draw on this issue.  Francis Manapul returns to his art duties in a big way, making for one of the prettiest Flash issues yet.  His painterly style perfectly renders the world of Keystone and Central Cities.  There's a lot of wicked action scenes, and he nails all of them.  However, a lot of credit has to go to Buccellato, as his colours are out of this world.  At multiple points in the issue, he chooses to colour just one character, leaving the world around them in black and white.  He uses this to great effect for Flash and Glimmer, providing for a super intuitive way to show their powers in action and how said powers separate them from the rest of the world.  It's some absolutely brilliant stuff.

Verdict - Check It.  Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are back, providing one of their prettiest issues yet.  This is definitely a huge step in the right direction to taking this series back to its earlier glory, and I'm looking forward to reading this week's Annual to see how the whole story plays out.

Written by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Art by Wilfredo Torres

Considering all the tales he's starred in before, I was pretty darned excited to get some more Lobster Johnson goodness this week.  I've actually been looking forward to this since I first saw the announcement, as the next few issues of our pulp hero's adventures are all going to be one-shots, which seems like a good idea to me.

This issue features Lobster Johnson infiltrating a private meeting of social elites in connection to a murder from earlier that night.  Of course, this being a Lobster story, the meeting is centred around the unveiling of a new mummy, with the whole event being steeped heavily in the supernatural, specifically Egyptian mythology in this context.  Like most Lobster tales, this one is filled with sparse dialogue and intense fights, and it works pretty well.  I think that the story could have benefited from a bit more of an introduction, as the bare bones one that issue features doesn't provide quite enough context to really understand or appreciate the conflict that's going on.  More and more information is doled out over the course of the story, but I think it would have been easier to get immersed in the story with a bit more info up front.

However, this oversight by no means ruins the issue, as Lobster Johnson manages to bust some heads in some pretty enjoyable action scenes courtesy of Wilfredo Torres, who does a fine job on art.  This is especially true towards the end of the issue, which features more supernatural elements and looks quite good under his capable hands.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dave Stewart's colours are all kind of great, adding the perfect mood and atmosphere to the story.  It's some good stuff.

Verdict - Check It.  The Prayer of Neferu is an enjoyable done-in-one romp that hits a lot of the right notes, but it doesn't do much more than that.  If you're jonesing for a good adventure yarn, you could do worse than this story, but it isn't the most memorable of Lobster Johnson's stories.

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee

Even though I've stepped off the Daredevil train, I can't deny that Mark Waid has been doing some pretty impressive stuff of late.  The same can easily be said of Chris Samnee, whose eye catching art has been popping up all over the place.  Consequently, when I heard that IDW was doing a Rocketeer minisries, with Waid and Samnee helming the effort, I was intrigued.

Now that I've read the first issue, I must say that I was disappointed.  The story simply didn't grab me the same way that Waid's work has in the past.  The writing was servicable, but it didn't have the flair and excitement as Waid's usual scriptings.  I'm not terribly familiar with the inhabitants of the Rocketeer's universe, and as a new reader, I wasn't particularly engaged by the majority of the issue's characters, many of whom felt quite flat.  While there was more than its fair share of action, none of it felt all that exciting to me.  Don't get me wrong, the comic is alright, but it definitely didn't blow me away or anything.

I felt a similar degree of frustration with Samnee's art.  It simply didn't feel up to his regular standards.  Perhaps the writing is partially responsible for my disconnect, but a lot of the book's panels read as pretty lifeless in my eyes, lacking the dynamic energy that Samnee usually brings to the table.  There's definitely a lot of what he usually does here, but I don't feel like it clicked quite right.

Verdict - Check It.  If you're a Rocketeer fan, you'll probably dig this comic far more than I did.  Otherwise, you might be better served looking elsewhere for your comic book adventures.  Waid and Samnee do a fine job, but considering their past work and comic book credentials, I feel like this issue could have been a lot better.  As it stands, it's a decent begging to the story, but it doesn't distinguish itself from all the other similar books that are also on stands.

I apologize once again for the delay this week, but if you took the time to read through these reviews, I hope you enjoyed them.  How was your week?  Did you get your hands on any of these titles?  What did you think was the best book going?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, so hit up the comments section and let me know.

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Anonymous said...

Loving Adventure time, always wanted a story about Future Finn ever since he appeared on the show.

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