Comics I Read: Catching Up #22

Vengeance of the Moon Knight 2-5: Pretty good stuff from writer Gregg Hurwitz. I could have lived without the Sentry appearance in #2, but otherwise he does a good job of showing Marc Spector fighting his killer impulses (and winning, for a change) and the use of The Hood to resurrect an old villain is clever. Jerome OpeƱa gives the art the feel of the original series, which is nice, and there are some nice action moments but his faces are sometimes a little bit sketchy. Overall a good read that doesn’t rise to the level of “must have”.

Siege 3: There’s another big act of destruction in this issue, although it’s not nearly as (literally) visceral as the last one. (It makes me wonder how much Matt Fraction has been lying in his “Thor” interviews lately, though.) It’s great fun to see the “real” Avengers again, though we don’t quite get the Cap/Iron Man/Thor together moment I was hoping for. I didn’t feel the “White House” expository captions in the first few pages added much to the story – is there really anyone reading this who doesn’t already know who all these characters are? I’m also a little confused by the last page, which feels like it was meant for me to have an “a-ha!” moment but if I was supposed to recognize that figure I didn’t. Edited 3/19 to add: The last page made a lot more sense after I read "Dark Avengers" #15.

Siege Embedded 3: Putting aside my doubts about Ben Urich surviving the things that happen to him this issue unscathed, Brian Reed and my current favorite new artist Chris Samnee do a great job showing the huge battle in Siege #3 from an outsider’s perspective.

Batman 695-697: Fortunately, I read these in one sitting so I wasn’t annoyed by the cliffhanger of #696 where Batman figures out who Black Mask is but the reader still doesn’t know. There are so few writer-artists left in mainstream comics that I hate to criticize Tony Daniel, but I didn’t love the idea that Dick was mind-controlled for much of #696. He may not be as hyper-competent as Bruce (because he’s not as paranoid), but I have trouble believing he would have gotten into that situation. Also, the Black Mask reveal in #697 wasn’t that surprising – I thought Daniel telegraphed it in #695 – except that a few months back when they used him to introduce some new villains it seemed like he was on a different path. Makes me wonder if he was a mind-controlled pawn too, and the real villain is still out there. Edited 3/19 to add: David Hine tells Newsarama that the character in question was planned to be the Black Mask all along.

Justice League: The Rise & Fall Special: Eek. This is way off in a direction I don’t even slightly agree with. It’s one thing to say that Ollie snapped after Lian’s death and hunted down Prometheus, but it’s a far cry from his cold, premeditated attempted murder of Electrocutioner in this issue. Not to get all ranty about this again, but Ollie’s the guy who was devastated enough to join a monastery the last time he thought he killed someone and he was the voice of morality in “Identity Crisis”. Obviously, Lian’s death and Roy’s injury change things, but not to this degree. Despite my complete rejection of the plot, J.T. Krul’s writing is good – there’s a particularly nice scene between Wally West and Dick Grayson about taking over their “father’s” roles – and Mike Mayhew’s new art style is as great here as it was in the “New Avengers” annual.

Green Arrow 31: This issue, which follows directly from the one above, is worse. Mainly because of the art, but there are also more inexplicable character decisions. Ollie seems to actually contemplate hurting Dinah at one point, directly contradicting all the character development in this very book over the last couple of years, and even if I bought the premise that Ollie would become a murderer I wouldn’t believe that he’d allow Mia to be involved in it. Again, it’s the plot that bothers me but the actual scripting is pretty good – the scene between Conner and Ollie is well done.

Amazing Spider-Man 622-625: I didn’t love the Morbius story in #622, but I don’t think there was anything really wrong with it other than he’s not one of my favorite characters. Mark Waid’s Vulture two-parter in #623-624 is excellent. Not so much for the new Vulture, who isn’t that interesting, but for J. Jonah Jameson. Waid gets JJJ better than anyone, to the point in this story where I actually sympathized with him instead of Peter when Peter gets fired. Joe Kelly’s Rhino followup in #625 is both wonderful and tragic, with the only misstep being the last page – why would Peter walk away from unemployment benefits?

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