Monday, May 4, 2009

Jeff’s Reviews: Week of 4/22/09, Part 2

I’m way behind because I had another really busy work week last week, but our software has shipped so things should be back to normal for a while. I’ll review some books every day this week until I get caught up. I also have a complete set of Free Comic Book Day stuff coming from eBay this week so I’ll go through those too when they get here. Not to mention this week’s stuff. Oy, what I do for you people…

Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight 2: I’m still not convinced that we need a new Azrael, but if we do this is the way to go. He’s not John Paul Valley, he’s not crazy (yet), and he’s connected to Batman through Talia and the Suit of Sorrows. I like the idea of a good man using the suit’s power to atone for past sins and slowly being driven mad by it (though it does seem to put a time limit on the concept.) Good, but not essential to the “Battle for the Cowl” continuity so you may want to wait for the collection.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum 1: More of an introduction of three new villains (and the descent into madness of an existing supporting character) than a “Battle for the Cowl” chapter, but the new characters are interesting. Not unforgettable by any means, but it’s about time someone invented new bad guys and the credits say “acknowledgements to Grant Morrison” so maybe he’s planning to use them in “Batman & Robin”.

Justice League of America 32: I admit I’m predisposed to like this because I love the Milestone characters and I’m a fan of Dwayne McDuffie, but I think he’s doing a great job in a tough situation here with most of the major characters unavailable. (Ten members deceased or resigned, according to the roll call on p. 4.) The characterization of the remaining team members is great, and having Rags Morales drawing it helps with that to0. That said, this is only very good when it could be great. This storyline finishes in #34, then Len Wein is doing two issues, and then McDuffie says the powers that be are leaving him alone for 6 issues so hopefully we will see the full potential of this creative team then. (Well, almost, since Batman and Superman presumably still won’t be available.)

Guardians of the Galaxy 13: A full-on War of Kings tie-in, where the team splits up to politely ask the Shi’ar and the Inhumans to please stop the war because it’s destroying the fabric of spacetime and hilarity ensues. DnA do a good job of reintroducing the characters for people who may be reading the book for the first time because of the crossover. (There’s also a great unexpected connection between the Starjammers and one of the Guardians that made me laugh.) If you read only one book this month with Havok and a talking racoon, this should be it.

Skrull Kill Krew 1: I broke my (recent) rule about buying miniseries in trade here because I was curious about the writer. It’s Adam Felber, writer for HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and frequent guest on NPR’s news quiz “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, both of which I like. I liked this too, but it does tip more towards the bizarre humor end of the scale than people coming in just having read Secret Invasion or Avengers: The Initiative will expect. (And actually, the Skrulls in this book are connected to the original miniseries not to the invasion at all, and the new 3D Man from the Initiative does not appear.) It’s not as wacky and surreal as Patsy Walker Hellcat, but it’s out there. A must for fans of the original Grant Morrison series, if any of you are still alive, but those who like their Marvel U books more serious (Bill) may want to avoid.

Ghost Rider 34: This feels like a fill-in, even though it is by regular writer Jason Aaron. There are a couple of mentions of the ongoing story, but basically this is the second part of a standalone two-parter starring Danny Ketch. Not a bad little horror story, but skippable if all you care about is the major story arc.

Dark Reign: Elektra 2: Another exception to my miniseries-in-trades rule because it’s part of the Dark Reign arc. The first half, featuring a bunch of barely competent HAMMER agents and an ineffective-seeming Norman Osborn (which is getting to be a problem that I’ll talk more about when I get to last week’s Thunderbolts), is weak. However the last 8 pages, featuring an unexpected Daredevil-related guest star and an expected one, are terrific.

Hulk 11: I like this because I’m an old time Defenders fan, but it’s so fight-fight-fight that it’s over before you know it after a two-month (?) wait. Unless you’re a huge Loeb or McGuinness fan, this will be a better value when it’s collected. I’ll make my Red Hulk identity prediction in the comments below where people who don’t want to be (potentially) spoiled won’t accidentally see it at the top of the blog.

Nine more 4/22 books tomorrow, then last week’s books on Wed. and Thurs.

5 comments:

  1. Oh, thanks for the reminder--I just placed an order on Ebay for a full FCBD set, too.

    Why'd BC have to close right beforehand, huh? So inconvenient. If only they'd waited another month...

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  2. Forty dollars. That...that seems to defeat the purpose of Free Comic Book Day.

    Also, I believe that Grant Morrison said he'd be using entirely new villains for Batman and Robin, so it's very possible that Arkham Aslyum leads into that.

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  3. Regarding JLA, McDuffie has been honest (but not bitter) about the problems at both his own message board (which I frequent -- there's a link in the sidebar) and the DC message boards (which I avoid, but Rich Johnston has a good summary in his column this week.)

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  4. Oh yeah, I read those posts awhile back (somebody did the same thing Johnston did, gathering all of the quotes and putting them in one place). It's really interesting, and I admire the way McDuffie's gone about it--he may not be thrilled with it, but he's certainly not bashing DC for it, either. Like you said, honest but not bitter.

    With that said, I've really enjoyed what little I've seen of McDuffie's Justice League, and I look forward to reading further collections. All I've had the chance to read so far was the Injustice League arc, but I flipped through the most recent issue (where the League was dissolved following Final Crisis) and was actually fairly impressed. I think that the book is about as good as it can get right now, all things considered.

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