Sunday, October 19, 2008

Justice Society of America #19 Review

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Dale Eaglesham

Another Geoff Johns book that deals with a team with a lot of characters. Unlike the Legion, I appreciate a lot of the Justice Society members, because I can actually tell who they are. I really like this Gog arc, and it has brought me back to this title after some crap 5 or 6 months ago. Another thing I like about this title is the long story arcs. Johns does not need to cram anything in because he takes his sweet time with the stories, and lets the plots naturally develop while he focuses on characters. That is my type of comic book. This storyline does wonders for the characters. How Gog affected each of the characters is evident throughout. What is better is the uncertainty and skepticism that Gog creates as he creates good. The way Gog gives and gives to the people and the heroes is very one-dimensional, and raises questions upon the reader. Why would anyone this powerful do this? The brilliant thing is Johns recognizes the questions, and he has some of the heroes question the situation within the comic. This provides great natural tension in the comic book, in a way that wasn't forced. Like I said, Johns let the story progress naturally, and the characters were defined enough to have the doubts. This splits the Justice Society down the middle basically, and should provide for some good stuff as we move forward. I really like all the stuff with Black Adam, as I love the character and how it was written in the mini-series, and Johns is doing a great job with it. It will be interesting to see where that subplot goes. I can't say I am terribly impressed with Power Girl, but I will wait and see how that goes. The art was just fantastic, and Alex Ross does a great job with covers. As long as Eaglesham can do the interior, and Ross can just focus on covers, the team is good. I recommend this book in trade form.

ART: PHENOM
OVERALL: GET IT

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #3 Review

"Rouges Revenge: Book Three"
Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Scott Kolins


Out of all the miniseries so far this one has been the best.
The greatest thing about this whole series is the character work that Johns has performed. Johns has a great understanding of the Flash and the villains he fights and he puts it all on display. The greatest thing he does is that he makes this title accessible to new readers but if you have read his previous run in Flash way back when it adds another dimension of understanding that most new readers do not get. I thought it was an interesting take on the character of Zoom. I always thought he was just the generic evil version of the hero but Johns did something interesting but instead saying that his purpose is to make the Flash better. It is something that doesn’t happen too often in comics and took me by surprise. You also have the emergence of Piper who after the mess that was Countdown was kind of written off or something. They make reference about his ability to do the Anti-Life Equation but this issue does not expand on that role or if he has any ties to Darkseid. As a matter of fact he just kind of shows up which is fine and proceeds to beat down both Zoom and the Rouges. The real topper is Libra showing up. We really don’t know much about Libra other than he is the high priest of Darkseid’s religion and since Final Crisis is taking an unbelievable amount of time to ship, I speculate that this is where we will see a majority of Libra since he won’t appear on the big title. The events that play out after he arrives on the scene are a bit confusing. We get a great moment with Weather Wizard as he sits there and weights his option about his kid. It was a really great character moment and thankfully he didn’t have to make the call, Reverse Zoom did. I am confused on what he did to the baby which could be really heroic sending it away or really dirty, real dirty. The artist really does wonders especially in that scene when he draws Weather Wizards’ eye. It communicates a lot. The speedsters always had a special place in DCU and Johns does somewhat examine that when Libra speaks about the powers the speedsters have to go across the multiverse and such in not so many words. Reverse Zoom manages to beat up on Libra which was really surprising to see and then it is followed up by the big showdown between the Rouges and Reverse Zoom and boy was it climatic. If Flash Rebirth does deal with half of the stuff that is set up here I think it could be as equally amazing. I hope DC has a talented enough writer to continue working with the Rouges and it would be a disservice to ignore all the character work that Johns has done with these villains. This mini is a testament to show what can happen when a writer gets to write characters that he loves. Enough about the plot points though, the dialog is great, the characters are amazing, the plot is awesome, and the art especially the inking is really nice to look out. Despite what some say about Action Comics being Johns best work I would have to disagree and say that this Johns at his best right here.


Art: PHENOM
Overall:
OWN IT

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #2 Review

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: George Perez

This was kind of a weird issue with a lot going on. Johns, who I praise continually for being the most accessible comic book writer right now, is tackling some high concept and convoluted stuff. The Legion of Superheroes has its fan (I am not one), and involves tons and tons of characters. Johns is bringing in 3 different Legions, as well as a Legion of Super Villains. We start the issue in a different world, where the Legion of Villains has been taking over. Led by Superman Prime, they have pretty much taken out every good guy out there, and all of the Green Lanterns except for one. This GL is really valiant, and sacrifices himself to save the other heroes. I found the whole Green Lantern subplot to be the most interesting in the book. Whatever Johns does with GL, I am ok with. The reveal at the end that Sodam Yat is really the last GL left, and he has all the rings is really interesting. I can't say I am too impressed with the Legion. I like how Rokks has taken a leadership role in this version, but I am not buying into the other characters, partly because there are just too many to keep track of. I don't trust Brainiac though. He gives me a bad vibe. Unlike many pundits, I do like Superman Prime. Johns does a good job with the character, and I am glad he is in this story. He plays an unlikable heel, and that makes me want to root for Superman and the Legion more to kick Prime's ass. Solid issue. George Perez is a good artist.

ART: Ballin
OVERALL: GET IT
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I haven't been a fan of this mini series as much as Rouge's Revenge. While that being said, I haven't been as high on Action Comics as the majority of the internet has been. Johns is the most technically sound writer in all of comics and i think that counts against him sometimes specifically in this issue where it feels that "paint by numbers". Citing Rokk over at the comicbook revolution (conveniently located on our blog roll) Johns sometimes has a habit of slaughtering characters for the sake of drama thus I too am skeptical about the role the big roster plays in this. Another thing that caught me off guard was one of the Brianic-5 who treated his older counterpart really bad because he has an adult. I know that was the premise at first of the current Legion title but they have kind of moved away from that and by Johns putting that in there it was clearly some manufactured tension because you know it won't lead anywhere so why even mention it. The big thing that I feel has to analyzed is the use of Superman Prime. He is definitely a tragic character without a doubt but his time has come. As a character it doesn't seem that you can do anymore stories with him rather than a big villain wants to do something and attempts to use Superman Prime as lackey before things go arwy and everyone starts all out brawling. I do agree the Green Lantern storyline is facinating as I've never had an understanding of what happened in the future to the Green Lantern Corps. It is a part of the DCU that has never flushed out (while on the subject where do the Guardians stand in the hierachy of DCU, are they above New Gods or below them?). It is worth a look at but Rouges Revenge is the better of the Johns mini.


Overall: SKIM IT

Friday, October 17, 2008

Uncanny X-Men #503 Review

Written by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker
Art by
Greg Land

The greatest thing I can say about this issue is that Cannonball is from Kentucky. I greatly enjoyed that since this blog is based out of Kentucky. That aside this issue has mixed feelings for me. Marvel attempted to turn the X-men into an action adventure team outside the mutant world and to do that they limited the number of mutants. Suffice it to say the results have been mixed. I think the thing I notice about this issue is not about the content but how it was written. The example I use is the dialog by Scott on the final page. He says his dead ex-wife (the clone of Jean Grey) is alive and for some reason that dialog was jarring to me. It seemed straight up from the 1960's or 1970's Spider-man comics. Summing up this issue is simple. The X-men are chasing Empath on a motorcycle while he is making people dream about the money, cars, and girls (TI reference) but making them think bad things as the X-men try capture him. Besides the fact the X-men seem inept and are unable to capture him even though Storm can't even make a tornado and opts to try to strike him down with lightning but Empath is bobbing and weaving lightning. Pixie ironically enough manages to man up and take down Empath while Scott is getting laid. I thought it was nice that some mutants are deciding that now since there aren't that many of them there isn't as much discrimination to deal with. Everything after that is extremely off putting, for example there is the subtle use of certain choice words by Dazzler while performing. Trying to not harp on Storm but really, I don't understand why she can't do anything and has to stand far away from Empath, she controls the weather, freaking smite him with thunder while he's standing there yelling exposition. Pixie then comes and takes care of Empath which when you think about it is quite interesting is because she is facing a villain whose power is to make people face their inner demons and she is facing her own demons while facing him (ahem, lame). The X-men don't seem to fit the style that Matt Fraction seems to write them in but hey what can you do. The X-men have always a somewhat politicized origin and there whole thing was all about tolerance and acceptance. When Marvel decided to reduce the mutant population you would think that would lead to more compelling stories about survival and such and they did that for a brief period of time before this kind of happened. The art is inconsistent and quite frankly it makes Scott look like a douche with some very interesting facial expressions. I do believe in Brubaker to able to turn this thing around because when he was alone on Uncanny X-men he was always so close to breaking through and was developing some great characters. This title has some limited upside but quite frankly the X-men seem to be in for a rough ride.



Art: ETCH a SKETCH
Overall: FORGET IT

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Walking Dead #53 Review

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

It is nice to know that Kirkman's one man campaign to save the industry hasn't stopped his books from being released on time. This is a big day here at the cave since this is the first Walking Dead review. It was a mad dash to catch up through trades but it worth it. The story so far is after the incident at the prison, Carl and his dad Rick have been on the road and they get some well deserved good news. They run into Glenn and Maggie and wind up back at Hershel's farm. The big shocking moment is later in the issue when they run into some strangers when one of them reveals that he knows what caused everything. The thing about this series is that the reader is well aware this series has to be finite and that cryptic statement basically means that it is a countdown to the end. Personally I'm a big fan of things that are aware they have a life span and instead of trying to reach for more story to tell they tell their story and move on (I'm looking at you Prison Break, I mean they aren't even in Prison anymore which is just asinine). That statement is basically Kirman's way of putting the reader on notice that the next arc will probably be the last. It is revealed that the city most likely to have survived a situation like this is New Orleans, just kidding it's actually D.C. (but wouldn't it be ironic if it was New Orleans, some socially aware satire there) and I assume we will begin the march to Washington. The dialog is extremely well done as Kirkman constantly adjust it to reflect the emotional damage that all these characters have suffered. The character's action also fit very well as they ask what you would expect them to ask and also act how one would expect them to act after what went down in the prison. The art style continues to capture the feeling. A great example is in the last page where it is nearly all black to capture the gravity of the statement the scientist made. Being in black in white works really well as it adds a nice touch as it successfully captures the mood through the use of shading which if I was a colorist would drive me crazy. That isn't to say that the artist doesn't do a great job, he really shines in the way he draws facial expressions (but then again he draws sad faces all the time since issue one that it can't be that hard anymore). Anyway though, this issue is good as it tones down all the action since the huge prison fight and manages to excite me about what is to come next. The criticism I have though is that this series doesn't read as well as it does in trade. I imagine Image comics makes a whole lot more money through trades than individual issues so they write all their comics with trade form in mind which really discourages the reading of individual issues so the issue doesn't get all that can in. The one example I can readily sight is when a zombie interrupts the meeting with the new survivors that was somewhat unnecessary as it didn't do anything but add some action for the sake of action in what was nice character driven issue.


Art: BALLIN
Overall: GET IT

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Detective Comics #849 Review

"Scars"
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs


Detective Comics quietly rolls on in the wake of Grant Morrison's story. The story continues to flush out Hush's character and add depth to Thomas Elliot that a majority of readers felt they were missing when Loeb did Hush. I personality never had a problem with Thomas Elliot in Hush because it was obvious that he was the gunman and the real mystery was in the Riddler. Dini manages to write every Hush story into continuity by revealing what happened in the end of Gotham Knights with the pace maker in Hush's heart. I guess the strongest thing about this whole story is how seamlessly Dini manages to provide motivation for Thomas's anger while tying up all the loose ends in Gotham Knight and adding a nice bow on top by adding characters throughout his run into the story to make all his previous work apply to this story. I enjoyed the stylized art provided by Nguyen as he adds a gritty feeling to the story by drawing everything with stains and a rusty aesthetic. The biggest complaint that the average reader may have is the appearance of the Joker in this issue. He isn't full blown clown at midnight and he shows no signs of the bullet wound or scars on his face. Whether or not that is part of an art style or just part of the story it takes the reader out of it by saying the Joker should be different. The confrontation between Hush and Batman was really engrossing. It started off with a bang with Batman disguised in scrubs jumping Hush in the hallway but it never developed into an action sequence. Hush and Batman begin to talk about the relationship between Batman and Catwoman and as a result they take a walk to where the heart is stored. It was during this sequence that you could see some of the guilt Bruce felt for nearly letting the Joker kill him as he followed Hush blindly into the room where Catwoman's heart is stored. While the idea of stealing a heart is a bit convoluted, it does get worse because Hush used the boy from the previous by placing him with a poison that when combined with the room where the heart is stored resulted in Batman being immobilized. He claims that Bruce got the poison on him when he hugged the boy to calm him down but if that's the case then Hush should be in the same situation since Batman jumped him in the hallway as we know jumping on a person to pound them is almost the same amount of physical contact as a hug (watch an MMA fight or boxing, at one point they hug it out). After that little plot hole occurs we get the exposition where Hush reveals his plan to replace Batman and has already taken his face. The character work that Dini does is impressive because you can understand Hush and his motivations which are quite captivating. On one side we have the kid that wants his parents and looks for that shelter and on the other we have the kid that wants his independence but is too financially dependent on their parent to ever get true freedom. I can understand the argument of Hush also being another villainous Batman. I do enjoy how this story ties into the theme that Morrison established of replacement Batmen as he ties in his run not through R.I.P. directly but thematically. I would some faults are the plot holes I alluded to earlier such as the poison that Batman from the kid doesn't rub off on Hush even though they tangled for quite a bit as well as the appearance of the Joker. Dini still manages to craft a captivating tale that I enjoy. It also features a nice introduction of Batman laying some sweet street justice on Scarecrow which is worth it (street justice always is).


Art:
BALLIN
Overall: GET IT

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Justice League of America #25 Review

"The Best Lack All Conviction"
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Ed Benes

Justice League has been in a state of flux for a while now and 25 is a new launching point. They say it is a double issue but the first half is about basically finishing everything that Meltzer has previously done and the second half is where the true meat of the issue begins. The first thing that struck me when I read this was how the League treated Animal Man. I found It a bit weird that they consider him a quack especially what they have been through. It never makes sense in comics when superheroes are skeptic of one another experiences since they routinely die and deal with mind altering events. It was nice to give a nod to the work Morrison has done in Animal Man because he is the only character that is aware of his medium yet no one believes him about it. The second half was when McDuffie finally gets to tell a story that will result in the introduction of several superheroes DC has acquired which include Static Shock (yay). The art is great as usual but it isn't all Benes as the solicits on DC.com indicate but due to sheer laziness that would outstand most people I won't reflect that in the credits but will rather list them here (it's all about principles): Benes, Mahnke, Robertson, Davis, Churchill, and Reis. They combine to make a nice looking comic but there are scenes where you can clearly see that it is different artist. You can't really experience it though late in the issue. There is a point in this issue where I suffered from dialog fatigue. There was so much written and coming off all the previously written amount of text I went into that cruise control where it doesn't stick and you will end up going through the motions. The main villain is the Trickster God and he is responsible forgiving Buddy his powers which is basically recons his whole origin of being experimented on. I really don't like the character of Firestorm and I don't think he belongs in the Justice League. In all honestly he is more Brave and Bold than League material. I would rather they bring back Justice League International and put him on there rather than have him on this title. I don't like the fit and it seems like a matter of simple matter of respect, where does he get the rights to call someone else crazy, he hasn't don't anything to warrant that. He is just disrespectful. I did manage to reread the issue and get through the text and this story has some great upside. The new Justice League that Vixen will most likely recruit looks real interesting. I liked the little back-story that the Trickster God gave them was a very interesting plot device. The god of stories was creating these stories that will become characters. I am guessing that they were going for some meta-textual commentary using this character and how the success of the stories they tell about these characters basically beating the creator basically guarantees the creators victory. I said it very poorly but there is a message there along those lines. The story is good and it is about time that we get to finally enjoy this title since it has been a while since the Injustice League arc in which McDuffie got to tell a story (that arc is very enjoyable)and outside the point where the art switches it is consistently good.


Art: BALLIN
Overall: GET IT


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Batman #680 Review

"The Thin White Duke of Death"
Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea


To quote Sports God, the first thing you can say about this comic is that it is "masterfully drawn" which is a very accurate description of what Tony Daniels has done here. That isn't to say that Daniels manages to steal the spotlight from Morrison's story. The story continues to be just as equally masterfully done. At this point anything can happen and you as you read you know that this is one of those stories that could launch a new era of how things are written. As in the Dark Knight, the Joker again steals the show by being retooled by Grant Morrison. We were being teased about this Joker for a long time and the wait was worth it. It was in the Clown at Midnight when Batman describes the latest Joker as a walking holocaust which actually might be underplaying what this Joker is. This Joker will probably only appear in Batman because no other writer could probably do anything with this Joker. He seems too wild to be used by any other writer. You also have to appreciate how much of a loose cannon this Joker is. He is chaos personified which is a scary thought. The explanation of how retarded it was for Batman to look for rhythms or any meaning in what the Joker does. There is no deeper meaning there and he clearly shows it by taking apart half of the Club of Villains (R.I.P. Evil Rey Mysterio in a suit, you will be missed but not forgotten). We also get a "shocking" revelation that Jet is somehow involved with the Black Glove or could be (I still think the big reveal is coming) which makes sense since she pretty much has been there for at the start of a lot events such as the museum when Talia attacked, parachuting when the third Batman attacked, and the restaurant when the 10 eyed assassin attacked. As for Batman, he has some moments in this issue. We learn that Bat-mite is indeed a device invented by Batman to help keep him honest while he is in his Zur-en-arrh form (side note how balling it would it be if Bat-mite had a similar costume). Another big development is now there is no way that Gordon doesn't know that Batman is Bruce Wayne. It is a bit overlooked as people are more concerned with Joker finding out but he doesn't care, I'm curious to see if Gordon knowing who Batman is will change anything. The biggest thing we can take away from this issue is the foreshadowing of Robin. Something is going to happen involving a Robin and Tim Drake is still out there. We also have Nightwing waiting in the wings as well as Damien, Talia, and Gordon getting ready to make a move. All of this is offset by the fact we still don't know who Black Glove, Bruce Wayne may be dead, and there is still a third Batman that somehow will factor into this (mark it down bitches). It seems like such a shame to wait sooo long for the next issue but there is so much to look forward to that it seems unbearable. This issue wasn't even the climax! It was very well written, "Masterfully drawn" and thus deserves our highest marks.


Art: PHENOMENAL

Bottom Line: OWN IT