Jeff’s Comics Review, 7/15/09 releases, Part 1

Titans 15: This is a good solo issue starring Tempest (a.k.a. Aqualad) that reintroduces him, settles the fate of his family and sets up a surprising new role for him. Just as everyone over at Marvel seems to have one good Norman Osborn scene in them, everyone at DC seems to have a good Dick Grayson as Batman scene and the one in this issue is no exception. (Garth: “Well, I’m sure Bruce would be proud of you for what you are doing.” Dick: “He would have been proud no matter what.”) Even though I didn’t care for the Cyborg solo last issue, I’m starting to think that individual tales of these characters (or small team-ups) make more sense for this book than the whole team. It doesn’t really make sense for them all to be together with Dick as Batman and Wally and Roy with the Justice League (though that may be changing), but there is interest in these characters so maybe it would be better to follow them on a rotating basis. (I don’t think that’s DC’s current plan, though.)

Blackest Night 1: I’ve already told you almost as much as I can say about this without giving away any surprises, but I will say that Ivan Reis does a George Perez-level job here – there are a lot of characters in this book and they all look great. (The scene where Hal shows Barry all the characters that have died since he’s been gone is especially moving.) For the record, my prediction is that Barry will sacrifice himself again to bring all the Black Lanterns back to life.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps 1: I’ve been hard on these anthology books lately, but this one worked for me. I think it’s because two out of these three stories are backgrounds for mysteries that Geoff Johns already set up in Green Lantern and are written by him. Johns and Jerry Ordway tell the origin of Blue Lantern Saint Walker, and Johns and Rags Morales introduce us to the Indigo Lanterns for the first time. Pete Tomasi’s Mongul story is fine, but it’s more like the kinds of stories I’ve criticized in the Marvel anthologies. (You don’t need to read this to understand Blackest Night #1, by the way, but anyone reading GL and GL Corps will be interested.)

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape 3: The only escape happening here is me from this book. It continues to be incomprehensible, which I have to blame on the credited editors: Dan DiDio & Rex Ogle. Which means I blame DiDio, because according to dc.wikia.com Rex Ogle is an assistant editor which means he’s probably not the one making the decision to release the book in this state. Maybe it will be brilliant when it’s collected, but if that’s the case then it should have been released as a graphic novel instead of as a monthly. I love the DCU spy characters, but I just can’t make enough sense out of what’s happening here to care about how it ends.

Deadpool 12: Weird, even by this title’s standards. I liked the resolution of the Bullseye/Deadpool fight (though I just re-read Batman ending a fight the same way in Grant Morrison’s JLA), but I’m not sure what to make of the last two pages.

Dark Reign: Mister Negative 2: I like that Mister Negative’s corrupting touch actually changes the corruptee’s internal monologue – they’re not possessed, their thinking actually changes. That’s a new twist on this kind of power that I don’t remember ever seeing before. The background of his family in China is also interesting, and the head-on confrontation with the Hood next issue should be fun.

Captain America 601: A stand-alone flashback issue not connected to the current storyline, featuring Gene Colan’s art reproduced directly from his pencils (no inker.) The result is uneven – brilliant in some places and sketchy in others. Whether that’s an artistic choice or the effects of age, I can’t say, but Colan has mostly still got it and any fan of his will find something to like here.

All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special: Marc Guggenheim and Javier Pulido bring back the Blonde Phantom (last seen in John Byrne’s She-Hulk, if I remember correctly) in the present day in a 40’s-style hard-boiled private eye mystery. It works pretty well, but I had the mystery figured out way before the end. The rest of the issue is a new story of “Marvex the Super Robot”, and a couple of Marvex reprints. I’ve never heard of Marvex before, but he’s a robot that kills his creators and then goes out and becomes a superhero for no adequately explained reason. The new story is written and drawn by Michael Kupperman, who I’ve also never heard of. Wikipedia says his work “often dwells in surrealism and absurdity played as seriously as possible”, which is about as good a description of Marvex as I could have come up with.

Existence 2.0 #1: This Image title (for adults) from Nick Spencer and Ron Salas is a much more successful noir than the one above. It’s about an “evil” scientist that’s able to transfer his consciousness into his killer and live on to investigate his own murder. The writing and art remind me a lot of 100 Bullets, and there’s also some interesting stuff about the nature of identity. Recommended.

X-Factor 46: No review of noir titles would be complete without X-Factor, but we’re so deep in the current story that there’s nothing specific I can say without spoiling it. It’s great stuff, though, and I’m very interested to see how all the moving parts of this story come together in the end.

Fallen Angel Reborn 1: Peter David and J.K. Woodward are back with this excellent series, this time trying to pull in new readers by featuring a character from Joss Whedon’s Angel. I haven’t seen any Angel episodes (though I do have the DVD set), but Illyria is introduced without needing any background. In fact, most of this issue is introduction, making it a great jumping on point for new readers – which I highly recommend if you are – if not an entirely satisfying one.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers 3: I mention this only because this issue and next feature President Obama’s dog Bo, so there is a slight chance they will be collector’s items. (You laugh, but the Obama Spidey issue sold half a million copies, so who knows?) Also, Ig Guara’s artwork is beautiful and Thanos should fire his agent.

More tomorrow, including Dark Avengers, Mighty Avengers and Streets of Gotham.

Comments

  1. Hey, we actually read some of the same books!!!
    BLACKEST NIGHT: I also automatically thought of George Perez after admiring the way Ivan Reis is putting so much into each panel - - and not just a lot of characters - - his detail is amazing. (So is the story by Johns). I've also been reading FLASH: REBIRTH by the same team (and drooling over this one as well) - - and I share your thoughts about Barry's role. He seems to get more remorseful every issue as the Speed Force claims another speed-powered victim. I get the feeling he feels responsible and the only option may be to sacrifice himself.
    CAPTAIN AMERICA #601 - I am a fan of Gene Colan's art, and while this is not is best it's still pretty darn good. (Bill mentioned that he saw Gene at a convention and he's suffering from some physical disability so the fact that he still managed to put out some recent work should be celebrated). The familiar angular panels, overlapping panels, and other Colan style points are still here. (You're right -- there are some uneven spots -- maybe just working the rust out.) Didn't care much that this was a vampire story (not a fan of any such themes in any book, so yeah, I'm vampire-phobic) - but the WWII setting and scenes with Cap and Bucky are worth it. It's a neat flashback and the modern-day framing sequences with Bucky put it in good perspective. Brubaker put vampires in his story and still made me like it!
    FALLEN ANGEL REBORN 1: David and Woodward are back - - and reminding me to read my Fallen Angel trades (I haven't read a monthly issue since the Shi crossover). But I also picked up this issue and love seeing the characters again (although it's my first encounter with Illyria, an appropriate name) as well as Woodward's great art. I'm a little concerned about the story, hoping it doesn't turn out to be just a slugfest between two powerful entities. However, I had a similar quality concern about that Shi crossover and that turned out to be decent. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping this is worthwhile.
    Wow. I didn't realize I was commenting this much. (What a sneaky way to review the same books as Jeff, without sticking them under a headline and byline.)
    P.S. . I also read STREETS OF GOTHAM #2, so look out.

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