Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jeff’s Comics Review, 7/8/09 releases

Slow week, so only one post this time.

I have not yet seen Wednesday Comics because my mail order copies won’t arrive until later this month. I could comment on it from a scan (not that I have any idea where to obtain such a thing), but the format is so much a part of the experience in this case that I prefer to wait.

Booster Gold 22: There’s a lot to like about this – Dan Jurgens’ art captures the early New Teen Titans days perfectly, for example, including the gratuitous bathing suit scenes – but it does feel a little like a repeat of the “Blue & Gold” storyline. (Someone dies or is saved that wasn’t supposed to and a breakdown of the timeline occurs.) I think Jurgens is going to have to accelerate the reveal of his overall plan if this title is going to stay viable to anyone other than the direct target audience (i.e. me.) The Blue Beetle backup continues to be basically the same as when the book was being published, which is in my opinion good although one could argue that approach didn't sell. (But hopefully it is being exposed here to more people who might like it.)

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly 1: Chuck Dixon takes over, and it’s much better than the first time Dynamite tried to launch this book as The Man With No Name. It’s not really my thing – My brain isn’t as wired to love this as it is Lone Ranger or Zorro – but as the late Don Thompson of Comics Buyers Guide used to say, "If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like."

Green Lantern 43: The last prologue before Blackest Night #1 ships this week. Geoff Johns does here for Black Hand what he did for a lot of the Flash Rogues by spotlighting him and giving him a backstory that explains his behavior. I also love the idea that the Black Lanterns are especially interested in people who’ve died and been able to come back (e.g. Superman.) The initiation that Black Hand has to undergo to become the Black Lantern equivalent of Ion and Parallax didn’t entirely surprise me (it’s a very logical idea), but the sequence is shocking because it’s something you don’t normally see in a DC comic. It also occurs to me that that gadget that he carries to steal Green Lantern energy probably will work on the other rings of the spectrum too. I think Doug Mahnke is the new regular artist for now, which is great because his work here is really good.

Red Robin 2: I liked this issue better than the first because Tim is less offhandedly brutal (it helps that the people he’s attacking tried to kill him) and Chris Yost also flashes back to more of the story of Tim leaving Gotham. I like that Tim is portrayed as good enough to be Batman, but he’s decided this is his mission now instead and he’s protecting Bruce’s legacy by using the “tainted” Red Robin identity. It also helps that Ramon Bachs’ art looks a lot like guys who’ve drawn the old Robin book. (I actually thought Bachs had drawn some issues of that too, until I Googled him.) I feel like the only thing that’s keeping me from accepting Tim as Red Robin is that we don’t know why he thinks Bruce is alive. Hopefully that’s something that Yost plans to cover over the next couple of issues.

Batman 688: Turns out that Judd Winick is only sticking around for 4 issues total, but I like what he’s doing with them. He’s showing us Dick slowly making the Batman role his own, for instance making costume changes and operating more in the open. Alfred and Damien are also having to deal with having a different relationship to Batman. This isn’t as good as Brubaker on Captain America, but I have the same feeling about Dick Grayson that I did about Bucky as Cap – I’m not in any hurry for Bruce Wayne to come back yet.

Superman: World of New Krypton 5: Everyone’s doing their best work here. Pete Woods’ trial scenes are gorgeous (heavily influenced by the movies, but that’s OK) and there’s a wordless sequence near the end that’s flawless. Rucka and Robinson convey Kal-El’s quiet heroism (he literally stands in one spot for most of the issue) in a way I found inspiring. Add on the mental chess between Kal and Zod and the surprise ending of the year, and you’ve got a must read.

Green Arrow/Black Canary 22: For some reason this has morphed into Black Canary with “co-feature” Green Arrow. I liked both stories, especially the flashbacks with Dinah’s mom, but Dinah’s anger at the end of Ollie’s story came out of nowhere for me. (Maybe it’ll work better when I read these issues collected.)

REBELS 6: Now this is more like it! Dox is in charge and in rare form (“I hate him so much I can’t think straight.” Dox: “Yes, I get that a lot.”) and the plot is finally moving along at a nice clip. I’m not in love with the new Starro idea so far – it’s pretty similar to what Geoff Johns did recently with Brainiac – but we’ll see what happens.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 36: Speaking of Ben Reilly, fans of his (hi, Shane) will definitely want to pick this up as it kicks off an upcoming storyline in the main book that features him. (Or at least the idea of him; it’s far from clear whether he will actually appear.) It’s by Marc Guggenheim and Pat Oliffe, two of my favorite creators, and in addition to the aforementioned prologue features some great Peter/JJJ stuff at Aunt May’s engagement party and the appearance of May’s side of the family (who we’ve never met before unless you count Mark Millar’s Trouble, which I do not.)

X-Men: Legacy 226: This story (including next issue) takes place during the riots in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1, which works because Matt Fraction left a lot of it unshown. Mike Cary dips way down into the mutant obscurity well here, having Rogue rescue characters I didn’t recognize (Trance, Indra, Ariel) but I liked the tense reunion between Rogue and Cyclops, and I thought matching up Rogue against a particularly appropriate Dark Avenger was clever (as was Ares vs. Gambit.)

Dark X-Men: The Beginning 1: This is one of those anthology miniseries, like X-Men: Manifest Destiny with three stories spread over the series’ run. I’m not a huge fan of this idea, and it didn’t help that I was expecting the whole issue to be written by Paul Cornell but he’s only on the Namor story. The idea here is to show how Norman Osborn recruited each member of his X-Men team, in this issue featuring Namor, Mimic and Dark Beast. They’re basically all conversations with Norman, which oddly has turned out to be one of the strengths of “Dark Reign”, but there’s nothing here that can’t wait for the trade. (Though I am interested in how Norman convinced Cloak & Dagger, so we’ll see if I crack.)

War of Kings: Warriors 1: Similar to the above, except that the stories are complete in this issue and both by Christos Gage. (They were originally published online, I think.) Unfortunately, I didn’t think either story was successful. The Gladiator story shows his induction into the Imperial Guard by showing that his race has a really warped sense of duty and honor that frankly makes it hard for me to sympathize with him in the future. The Blastaar story tries to add depth to him by showing some of the politics of his people (he’s the son of the king, etc.) but he doesn’t need to be any more than a mean guy who blows stuff up.

Ms. Marvel 41: Sign up Brian Reed to write Deadpool, because he’s actually funny here. (To Moonstone: “You fight like a psychologist!”) Anyway, the real Ms. Marvel is back sooner than I expected (Osborn: “*sigh* Death used to mean something…”) and “War of the Marvels” starts next issue.

4 comments:

  1. Just a quick note--Red Robin is written by Chris Yost, not Christos Gage.

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  2. Oops, I always get them mixed up. Correction made. (And I added a comment about the Blue Beetle backup that I forgot the first time through.)

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  3. You mean you can make a correction to your article after it's been posted? - - I'd like to find out how that's done. Jeff, please write to my email address with some details.
    I'm also liking Red Robin, another book that surprised me by being not just good but much better than I expected. I'm anticipating that Tim is going to end up being right in suspecting that Bruce/Batman is still alive - - but I'm not sure how much of why will be revealed or even how long the story will take to get to that point.

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  4. Tim is right -- it's not a secret to Final Crisis readers that Bruce is alive -- but since we don't know his evidence, I can't judge whether he's following false hope or if he's really on to the truth.

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