Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 05/22/13

Apologies for the tardiness, but the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews are finally here. This week, we're taking a close look at DC's newest title, The Green Team #1, as well as some quick reviews of Daredevil #26 and Half Past Danger #1. Check behind the jump to see what these books are all about!

Written by Art Baltazar and Franco
Art by Ig Guara and J.P. Mayer

Art Baltazar and Franco have become well-known for both Tiny Titans and Superman: Family Adventures, some of the best (and, let's face it, only) all-ages comics at DC. So when they were announced as the writers for The Green Team, alongside artists Ig Guara and J.P. Mayer, I was intrigued to see what they would do with a more mainstream title. Of course, I use mainstream pretty loosely, as I don't think anyone was really expecting DC to revive a book starring teenaged trillionaires.

Fortunately, it seems that DC occasionally gets things right, as Green Team #1 is a surprisingly enjoyable read. Much of this success can be ascribed to the confidence that Baltazar and Franco show in the book, as they plunge the reader into a fully-realized world of super rich teens who demonstrate equal confidence and aplomb. To help acclimatize readers to the setting, the writers wisely choose to start things off by introducing readers to Mohammed Qahtanii, an outsider from the titular Green Team and thus an excellent perspective character for the reader to explore and discover this part of the DC Universe with.

Mo is a young man travelling to New York without his father's knowledge in an attempt to prove himself worthy of inheriting his father's vast fortune. Despite his wealthy background, he is a very sympathetic character, as he is uncertain about his abilities but driven by the need to obtain his father's approval, a pretty relatable motivation. It also helps that he seems like a genuinely nice person and his status as something of a stranger in a strange land makes for some amusing interactions.

Ad it is something of a strange land that he discovers in New York, as the world his hyper rich peers inhabit is an eclectic mixture of underground hipsterism, superhero-level technology, and hopeful idealism that is pretty refreshing to see in a superhero comic. Because while the youthful members of the Green Team do like to have cash money (my term, not theirs), they also seem to have a predilection for using that money for good. The end result is that the issues and technologies they discuss don't feel that farfetched, having a nice grounding in present-day reality.

Thankfully, Mo (and by extension, the reader) isn't set adrift in this place to learn everything on his own. He soon encounters Lucia Lynn, a chatty girl who is more than happy to show him around and provide some introductions. Baltazar and Franco use Lucia Lynn to great effect, introducing the rest of the cast while creating interest in the character by avoiding much in the way of herself. Indeed, she goes on at length about the other Green Team members, including Cecilia Sunbeam, the famous actress, J.P. Houston, the appropriately named teen oil baron, and Commodore '64' Murphy, so named because of its awesomeness his 64 trillion dollar inheritance.

There is more to the Green Team than idealism and buckets of cash, as not everyone agrees with the kids' methods. And when a crazy masked gunman enters the scene threatening the kids, we get a taste of what looks to be another of the books' big focuses. Not only does Commodore want to use his wealth to invest in bettering the world, he wants to better the world through investing in superpowers. It's a concept that's been done before, but it's played extremely well here, flowing from story events organically.

Credit must also be given to the book's artists, who make this book look real purty. Guara's pencils are as solid as his work looks as brilliant as ever. He also has a habit of drawing characters bleeding across panels, which adds some nice flair to the book. His character designs also work quite well, with each character being visually distinct from each other. Mayer's inks provide some excellent finish, and colourist Wil Quintana gives some flair. I particularly liked how the characters each have their own colour – it's another good way to differentiate them.

Verdict – Buy It. Art Baltazar and Franco have combined for one heck of a first issue here, taking the somewhat questionable concept of teenage trillionaires and making it into something worth reading. The cast feels quite complimentary, the book looks great, and the conflict is interesting. This is a great start to a new series, and I'm eager to see where it goes.

Quick Shot Reviews

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee

After falling off the Daredevil wagon back when the series was still in its teens, I picked up Daredevil #25 on a whim last month and found myself really enjoying it. The conflict between Matt Murdock, Ikari, and the big bad pulling Ikari's strings was interesting enough that I was willing to come back for more. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Daredevil #26 does an excellent job picking up where things left off, following Matt as he tries to deal with the new threat in his life and ultimately goes to the hospital to talk things over with Foggy. Mark Waid's writing is as snappy as ever, moving along at a quick pace, and Chris Samnee's art seems to get better every time I see it. I really dig the way he lays out his pages, and the manner in which he depicts Daredevil's powerset is really innovative. Javier Rodriguez also kills it on colours, adding in plenty of pop and detail to Samnee's impressive lines.

While I've been away from the series the past few issues, Waid's plotting manages to make this issue's reveal feel fresh and exciting, even though, in retrospect, it feels like the only way things could have played out. And although we're getting answers to some of the long-term questions of the series, I'm happy to say that there's plenty of reason to keep reading. Waid and Samnee continue to put on their clinic of how to make enjoyable superhero comics that manage to walk the line of balancing the character's superhero persona and secret identity.

The issue also featured a small backup story focusing on Foggy speaking to some children in the cancer ward while waiting for Iron Man to stop by and chat with them. It's a cute little tale that looks at the strength and imagination children have that also has some fun visuals through the comic book they make as a thank you gift to Iron Man. Their story is quite the ridiculous little affair that has a lot of Golden Age elements to it, so Samnee renders it and Rodriguez colours it in that style.

Verdict – Buy It.

Written by Stephen Mooney
Art by Stephen Mooney

Half Past Danger #1 is the type of crazy pulp affair that you don't really see anymore. The book opens in the South Pacific during World War 2, following a crack squad of American soldiers as they work their way through an island held by Axis forces. It feels a lot like what you'd expect to find in a Sergeant Rock comic, at least until they run into some dinosaurs. That's right, before you know it, these grizzled veterans are knee deep in scaly predators, and things don't go particularly well for them. Mixing the Second World War and dinosaurs already feels like a recipe for success, but Stephen Mooney goes one step further when the story moves back State-side where we see Agent Huntington-Moss and Captain John Noble try to get a word about the attack with Staff Sergeant Flynn, the attack's only survivor. This leads to quite the misunderstanding, which turns into a barroom brawl.

As first issue's go, there's an awful lot of action to be found in the pages of Half Past Danger, and Mooney is more than able up to the task of drawing these scenes of violence. He actually does a great job of finding different ways to render these scenes, ensuring that they always look cool and exciting. While there's a whole lot of story elements introduced, they don't quite coalesce into a complete whole this issue, as Mooney prefers to keep the reasons behind them as a mystery to be revealed later. It's an interesting choice, although I'm not sure if it's the right one, as the cliffhanger feels a little flat.

If you're into war comics, dinosaurs, and fisticuffs, there's a lot to like in Half Past Danger #1, but if you'd like a bit more in the way of story to go along with that, you might come away from the issue feeling a little underwhelmed, left instead with the promise of more in the issues to come.

Verdict – Check It.

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