Jeff’s Comic Reviews, 6/24/09 releases, Part 2

Detective Comics 854: Finally, the debut of Batwoman in her own series and it was worth the wait. It has the “Batman Reborn” banner, but it’s not connected to the other books at all except for a brief (intentionally vague) Batman cameo. The J.H. Williams III art is stunning. It jumps off the page like nothing else on the stands, and even changes style depending on which characters are in the scene. (Credit colorist Dave Stewart for this too, though my understanding is that Williams is involved in the coloring too.) We won’t get her origin until the first story arc is done, but Greg Rucka gives us our first real glimpse into her world, including her surprising support system. The Question backup is also an excellent start. Fortunately I don’t have to, but I’d pay $3.99 for this book without a discount.

Skaar: Son of Hulk 12: More Skaar on Earth hijinks, as he tries to confront his father but realizes that the Hulk’s personality is unstable and not what he expected. “Meanwhile, on the other side of the Universe”, we discover that a powerful and dangerous (and familiar) being is attracted to the “old power” that Skaar and the Warbound wield. This title splits into Son of Hulk and Incredible Hulk next month – Hulk will still be Red Hulk stories, I guess.

X-Force 16: OK, I’m officially annoyed. As far as I can tell, the crossover with Cable ended exactly where it started – Cable’s still protecting the girl, and Bishop’s still looking for them in the timestream. What was the point of all of this exactly? The X-Force specific parts of this issue – them trying to get home to finish the mission they were on when they went after Cable – are actually fine, so I’ll probably wind up dropping Cable instead of this book.

Amazing Spider-Man 598: Spidey’s survives last issue’s cliffhanger in a not-unexpected way, and Harry faces multiple betrayals (by him and to him) that may change him for good. I was against the return of Harry Osborn, much the same as I was against Norman’s return way back when, but I have to say that I’m pleased with the way they’re both working out. (Not that we didn’t have to endure a lot of crappy Norman stories until they figured out what to do with him.)

Dark Reign: Zodiac 1: There are a lot of these “Dark Reign” villain miniseries, so when they’re not about characters I already care about (The Hood, Elektra, etc.) then I have to be strict about evaluating them because there are too many to buy. So, Joe Casey’s new Zodiac doesn’t make the cut for me. It’s not terrible – it’s got kind of a Foolkiller vibe that could be interesting – but it didn’t hook me, and it’s not helped by the ugly Nathan Fox art. (I appreciate the skill that went into the artwork, but I just don’t find it aesthetically pleasing.) That said, this is quirky enough that some people might really like it – if you have access to a copy it wouldn’t hurt to read it and see what you think, but I can’t recommend that you pay for it.

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion 1: Like the above, without the redeeming qualities. OK, it’s not quite that bad, but certainly not anywhere near good enough to spend $3.99 on. However, I am intrigued enough by the surprise last page appearance that I might seek this out in trade depending on how it’s collected. (It’s only a 3-issue series, so I assume it will have to share a book with something else.)

Astonishing X-Men 30: Another one I agree with Mike about. As I said in my comment to his review below, “I agree that Ellis and Bianchi pulled it out at the end. The story wasn't about what I thought it was about, and I ended up liking it.”

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink 2: I liked the first issue of this a lot better than the other “Aftermath” books and I continue to be impressed here. At first I found the art a little confusing, but I’m warming up to it as I flip through it now. (It’s also colored in watercolor-like style that at least is different.)

Dark Reign: Hood 2: I don’t think they should be charging $3.99 for this, but as I said above this gets a pass because (a) I’m already interested in the character and (b) it’s good. Bendis only has room to show The Hood’s “business” persona in New Avengers, so I’m glad to have Jeff Parker’s look at the man inside and his family. There was a big status change for The Hood in the most recent New Avengers, which this series must take place before, so it’ll be interesting to see how that gets set up.

Dark Reign: Elektra 4: Fans of the original Frank Millar Bullseye vs. Elektra battle will find a lot to like here, and the mystery of her Skrull abduction continues to unfold. There are some good Norman Osborn lines too. (“If only there was someone I could torture a straight answer out of…”) The only misstep is that Wolverine’s appearance, which should be a surprise on the last page, is given away on the cover.

Guardians of the Galaxy 15: It has been pointed out to me that I rejected Buck Rogers #1 because of a talking bear, but I don’t seem to have any problem with a talking raccoon (this book) or a talking gorilla (Agents of Atlas). All I can say is that (a) I never claimed to be consistent and (b) it’s a freaking cyborg bear in Buck Rogers, give me a break. Anyway, the Guardians get attacked by both sides in the Kree/Shi’ar war this issue but they at least manage to convince one side that they’re doing damage to the structure of spacetime. There’s a talking tree in this book too, so take that, haters.

Superman 689: I was listening to Greg Rucka’s latest wordballoon.com interview in the car today, and he called James Robinson’s ongoing story in this book “elegant”. I think that’s a great description – it reminds me a lot of his Starman, especially in this issue where Mon-El takes a world tour and meets a lot of obscure existing and new international characters. (Will Von Hammer, private detective, is my favorite.) I could rant about the Black Lightning reference (he’s supposed to be in hiding in Outsiders), but I like this book too much to be annoyed at it.

I’ll finish up last week’s books tomorrow.

Comments

  1. I did expect Messiah War to have more long-lasting effects, too, but then I remembered that it is the second part in the trilogy of the Messiah Child. If Apocalypse's involvement, and his desire to get to Hope, returns in the third part of the story, I could see this crossover as being more important.

    Actually, now that I think about it, solicitations for the next issue suggest that Hope and Cable are separated--remember, in the last scene they were in, Hope started to jump out of the time travel effect just as it began, so perhaps that causes a significant problem?

    I'm not buying any of these books, granted, but the sheer quality of Cable (I think that it's probably my favorite X-book right now) would keep it on my pull list.

    Yeah, issue 16 is vague, but issue 17:
    Hope is lost. Literally-lost in time, with Cable stranded in the future, unable to travel back to save her. For the first time in Hope's short life, the so-called "mutant messiah" has to fend for herself... and now she's hiding out in a futuristic city born of the ashes of Cable's greatest enemy, Stryfe.

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  2. By the way, the website the Question uses to get clients in the Detective story actually exists at www.ask-the-question.net

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  3. Jeff, that Detective Comics book sounds great. I'm going to pick it up based on your recommendation. (Yes, and pay $3.99 for it since I already made that choice).
    Glad we agree on Astonishing X-Men - - it's the X-book to buy!
    Re: Guardians - - talking raccoon, talking gorilla, and now talking tree? Three strikes -- you're out!!! This makes the top of my "books to avoid like the plague" list. Why oh why did they have to mess up a great concept like Guardians of the Galaxy? -- please bring back the original team.

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  4. Shane, you're right about Hope being missing -- my mistake. I still feel like it was a lot of pointless running around and shouting.

    Mike, Vance Astro and Starhawk are in "Guardians" now so it's not as far from the original as you think!

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  5. That's partially good news - - I do remember seeing Vance Astro on the cover of the one Guardians book I picked up, a "Secret Invasion" crossover that by the way never featured Vance Astro in the story. I like him but I never liked Starhawk (never portrayed right, usually comes off as arrogant or out of the info loop). I think I'm still staying away from this book. Good effort, though.

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  6. It's actually a rather good book--a bit cooky, yes, but a very good cosmic jaunt. They're tied to the original Guardians, and there's not actually a talking gorilla (that's in Agents of Atlas).

    Basically, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have earned a lot of faith in me, after their run on Legion (and just about everything else I've read by them). They're doing great things with the Marvel cosmic books, from Annihilation (well, okay, that was spearheaded by Giffen, but they played a role) to Nova to Annihilation: Conquest to Guardians of the Galaxy and now at War of Kings. If you liked the old cosmic characters, I'd say to give it a try--the characters you referenced are a bit jarring at first, but incredibly charming after merely moments. The book certainly isn't "mess[ed] up"!

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  7. Although if you were to give it a try, start at Annihilation, that's the beginning of the epic and it'll tell you right off the bat if you like it or not.

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  8. Haha, sorry, one more note--for fans of the classic lineup, it looks like the book may be heading there after War of Kings? At least, that's the rumor.

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  9. One last comment, I lied.

    Shane, you're right about Hope being missing -- my mistake. I still feel like it was a lot of pointless running around and shouting.

    Oh, I completely agree. It feels like it should've had more impact. Although having just read Cable 16, I'm noticing plenty of consequences from the crossover that weren't quite so obvious, so I think that there's plenty of fallout from the event now.

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  10. For what it's worth, the latest Marvel Previews says the original 31st century Guardians of the Galaxy will be featured in issue #18.

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