February 17, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 2.14.2007

Two in a row, whoah...

52 Week #41
After the smackdownerrific events of last week, 52 downshifts and concentrates on character bits and catching up on a couple storylines. Adam Strange and Starfire are still trying to get home. The space opera lost me about 10 minutes after it started, but this works marginally better. Meanwhile over in Nanda Parabat Renee deals with Charlie's death, meets a Very Important Guest-Star, and seems to make up her mind about becoming the Question. I've never been a fan of that idea, but it makes sense here. Throw in some classic Ralph Dibney detective work and a heartfelt confession from Adam Strange and you have one of the better issues of this series.

Batman #663
Um, okay.
This is not actually a comic book. This issue is an extended prose piece by Grant Morrison featuring some lovely paintings from John Van Fleet. Morrison's prose is so preposterously overheated one has to assume it's part of the joke. If it isn't... well, don't quit your day job. There are some neat bits here -a nice bit of detective work, a great exchange at the end between Batman and the Joker- but it doesn't tie together. The self-indulgence is palpable, and contrasted with the tight, whip-smart Batman stories that Paul Dini writes over in Detective, it just seems unnecessary.

Justice Society of America #3
The General Glory storyline was one of the last of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis run on Justice League America. It was the duo at their goofiest: a Captain America parody featuring magic words (“Lady of Liberty, hear my plea, for the land of the brave and the home of the free!”) and giant Hitler robots. It didn't completely work, but it certainly funnier than any current comic and featured some lovely Linda Medley art. Why do I bring this up? Because in this issue the Sandman points out that General Glory (his replacement actually) was dismembered at his wedding recently

This is about par for the course, as DC has spent the past few years mercilessly destroying any remnant of the Giffen/DeMatteis run. It should also be mentioned that this is a Geoff Johns' comic, and he does love the slaughterin'. We get three pages in before a young mother and her pre-teen daughter are ripped apart by Nazis. Johns' has a reputation of writing solid superhero stories, but it seems to come with a dash of Saw-like gore porn. It's really wearying, and has no place in this book.

Green Arrow#71
I've really come to appreciate this current incarnation of Green Arrow. This book is direct and unpretentious, offering up straight-forward slam-bang superhero action. It isn't great art and doesn't pretend to be. Throw in some snappy lines by Judd Winick and Scott McDaniel's terrific pencils and you come up with one of the better books DC puts out each month. This issue is no different, a classic team-up and split-up guest starring Batman. It does, however, continue the return of Jason Todd, an idea that started off dumb and hasn't really gotten away from that.

Ultimate X-Men#79
For all of his success on creator-owned works like Invincible and Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman's output at Marvel has been uneven at best. His run on this title has been slow and his choices -like the borderline unreadable Magician storyline and the ill-advised idea to bring back the best-forgotten Silver Age Xavier-loves-Jean misstep- have been questionable at best. This issue redeems his run, focusing on Xavier's funeral. The quiet, day-after story has long been an X-Men staple, and this -with touching and true character bits on nearly every page- is one of the best.

Astonishing X-Men #20
Despite the erratic schedule and general feeling that Astonishing never quite lives up to the sum of its parts, this is still one of the premier titles in comics. This issue is no different: snappy (if slightly soundalike) Joss Whedon dialogue, eye-popping John Cassady art, and a couple of moments where one remembers why reads comics in the first place. This issue? Colossus punching somebody up into the roof and a touching -if slightly weird- moment between Wolverine and Hisako. A terrific reveal at the end, too.

Thunderbolts #111
Two issues into the T-bolts revamp, and I haven't quite figured out if I like it or not. This is a book designed to make traditional superhero fans really uncomfortable, and it certainly succeeds there. Warren Ellis uses a very minor hero named Jack Flag to show just how brutal the new Thunderbolts are. The title accomplishes what it sets out to do, set along by dark and moody artwork by Mike Deodato, who turns in some of the best work of his career.

Star Wars: Legacy #8
Dark Horse has come up with a very innovative way to deal with delays: they seem to have resurrected the fill-in issue, stories that fill-in without comprising continuity. This issue gives the Sith and Empire side of the fall of Ossus, featured in the debut of the series. Legacy still seems a bit recycled for my tastes, but there is no denying John Ostrander has come up with an enjoyable look at the SW universe. The artist is Adam Dekraker, and his work, while appropriately dark, seems a bit rushed. A solid effort, if nothing special.

Best of the Week: Ultimate X-Men #79

Posted by Frinklin at February 17, 2007 10:53 PM | TrackBack

I agree 100% about Green Arrow. Next to 52, this is the DC book I consistently enjoy the most. It is what it is -- a solid, action-packed, no-frills superhero book. Winick writes a clean, fast-paced story. It took me a while to warm up to Scott McDaniel's art -- his approach is a bit raw and cartoony for my taste -- but it perfectly suits the style of the book. Good stuff!

Posted by: SwanShadow at February 20, 2007 08:40 AM
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