Thursday, September 4, 2008

Comic reviews for September 4th 2008

I promised a walloping mountain of reviews, and that’s exactly what you get this week. 7 count that, SEVEN comics! Since I shortened my pull list a few months back, I rarely buy that much in one week. So for me, that’s kind major.

All right, we’re going to start with this weeks comics, then sink into some of last weeks’.

The Amazing Spider-man #570

Written: Dan Slott

Art: John Romita Jr.

Opening comments: Maybe I’m blinded by how great it is to have Eddie as Anti-Venom, maybe it’s just the great moments like Spider-man pointing out Eddie not being such a jerk, but this is probably one of the greatest issues of ASM I’ve ever read.

Story comments: Last issue, good as it was, suffered badly from poor pacing and a lot of jumping around from moment to moment. Luckily this issue does not suffer the same frustrating aspect. Here it is all mostly one solid story, with 2 cutaway moments that don’t take away from the momentum building in this issue.

Just as the cover should tell you, this issue is all about Venom and Anti-Venom fighting. With our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man caught in the middle. While you might be ready to think this is all action and no real story, you may want to hold that thought. If anything, this issue uses the action of the fight to propel certain character moments that tell an entertaining story.

I don’t want to spoil it like I usually do when I go into a story, so I’ll try to be as un-spoilerific as possible.

It seems Eddie has finally forgiven Spider-man for all his problems in life, which is great because it’s nice to finally see a progressive change for the character. While blaming the symbiote isn’t much better, it’s a step up.

One thing Slott focuses heavily on, as I mentioned, is the character moments. This is all what comics are about nowadays, getting in great character moments while progressing a story. At least, that’s usually what they are about.

Anyway, Spider-man finally gets some time in the sun through most of this issue. Whereas BND has been more about him along with his supporting cast, here, it’s all about the wall-crawler. About time Slott figure out that the supporting cast doesn’t need as much sun as Spidey.

The final few pages where Spider-man and Anti-Venom team up to take down Venom, great, takes me back to Venom: Lethal Protector and Maximum Carnage, both great stories in which the two team up. But the cliff-hanger…leaves a little to be desired, its split in two, really. Anti-Venom about to suck the radiation from Spidey’s blood and Menace approaching Norman Osborn. Meh, not all that great really.

Art Comments: John Romita Jr. is doing amazing work here. Seriously, that’s the best way I can put it. Outside of his usual inconsistencies (Norman’s hair, for example, it keeps looking like it shrinks and grows.) His work here is amazing. Especially on the fight scene, his detail in the character Menace, all of it is there, and it makes for some incredible moments.

Final comments: Make no mistake; this issue deserves all the praise I can give it, without spoiling it all for you. If you’ve decided against New Ways to Die, give it a chance, you may just have a great time like I did. With a great story with strong characters and character moments, along with incredible art, how could this not be a Must Have for anyone?

5 out of 5

Must Have

Detective Comics #848

Written: Paul Dini

Art: Dustin Nguyen

Opening comments: While last month’s issue was the best comic of August, this issue falls a little down due to being the middle of the road. Dini obviously has to take a bit of a break from the main development of the plot to help set everything up for the confrontation next issue and the finale in November.

Story comments: A great opening with Hush and Selina Kyle fighting, though the results is a little saddening as (can be seen in the preview) she gets taken hostage. We also get a weird moment where she cuts at Hush’ bandages and she’s shocked at what she sees. I always hate when writers do that, make some shocking scene that we don’t even get to see what’s so shocking about it.

Most of this issue is Batman knocking around some Venom crazed kid who’s (big shocker) afraid of Bats! I had definitely hoped for something a little cleverer than that from Dini. It’s a fairly cheesy and simple reason for the kid attacking Batman, and it definitely takes this issue down a notch.

The rest of it is Scarecrow being a bastard, Hush going into his past where he meets some girl and that pisses off his mother. I’m starting to see a connection to Hush’ villainous intent, finally. Dini is doing something I didn’t think was possible, making sense of Hush. One of the strangest Bat-villains of all time.

Really, what make this issue really worth it are the final few pages, where Batman is contacted by Oracle on his way to dropping off the kid he saved. Selina Kyle was driven to the hospital, though they don’t know by whom, and is being kept alive by machines. Why? Simple, she no longer has a heart!

Wow…just…just wow. You want a heart stopper of a cliff-hanger? Here you go! Seriously, this is a great lead in, and may be a driving force to Batman actually trying to kill Hush. With any luck, Selina will somehow survive this, but the cover to #850 doesn’t seem to say so.

Art Comments: Dustin Nguyen is great as always, I love his style and he does some awesome stuff here. Especially the twisted look he gives the Bane enhanced kid. But really, there isn’t much to say here with his work. As always it’s solid, but really it’s just Batman fighting some muscle bound child in a dark cave. Not much to talk about really.

Final comments: While it’s not as great as last issue, I still really enjoyed this issue. But really it’s exactly as Scarecrow put it “A distraction” until the main show begins next issue. I certainly look forward to it, and you should too.

3 out of 5

Check It

Spawn #182

Written: David Hine and Todd McFarlane

Art: Brian Haberlin

Opening comments: Let me take you back over a year ago, when Spawn #164 came out. The revelation that Al Simmons made his wife miscarry so that he could continue to be a solider. In the forums, I said that “what if that baby turns out to be the shadowed figure?” and you know what? Over a year later, I was Right! HA! I may not have been the only one to theorize it, but I was one of the first. I just wanted to share that fun bit of knowledge with you.

Story comments: My own personal victory aside, this was an incredible issue. Seriously, it was great. This issue is mostly Mammon being Mammon, explaining his plan, finally showing us how his fruits of labor have finally come to fruition.

I know I’ve been pretty hateful of the character, I’ve been hard on him I know and said how I hope for his death soon. I still stand by that mostly, but damned if…all those annoying “I’m untouchable” times weren’t worth it. Finally, this character feels useful again; he feels…I’m not sure how to put it…better, better than he’s ever been.

There are several revelations here, one being that Mammon told the costume to be Simmons’ and that the costume was in on Mammon’s plan all along. Another being how Mammon told Malebolgia about Simmons, that it was Mammon who pushed for Simmons to become the next Spawn.

When you really look at it on the scope of how important this all ranges, this alone is some pretty major stuff. This is tying into stuff that started with the beginning of the series. Most people don’t seem to like when there is this huge of a retcon, but here, David Hine pulls it off flawlessly.

Another great thing here is narration. I believe Todd McFarlane is handling most of the dialogue and narration, and he does an amazing job. I especially liked the comment bout Al’s heart beating fast when Wanda hugged him. It was a nice touch and made for a good moment.

More revelations, being how Mammon left nothing to chance. He wasn’t simply making Hellspawn from coincidences and chance anymore; he was breeding one, trying to make the ultimate Hellspawn. Now don’t go thinking Al Simmons is that warrior, oh now, after 2 generations of a bloodline with a Hellspawn in it, the child of the Simmons and Blokes (as I mentioned above) is the perfect Hellspawn.

Never underestimate the sheer level of greatness this is. The fact that Hine has tied in his past stories so well into this storyline just…well…it’s very impressive. It’s all very, very impressive.

Another revelation is that Al didn’t intentionally want to kill the baby. It was Mammon’s evil influence, which felt like a slight (slight meaning not full, mind you) redemption for the character. I finally can hate Spawn a little less.

And finally, the final, most epic revelation ever, being Moranna, the thought miscarried baby. She is very much alive, she’s fully grown now, with skin and everything (by everything, I mean that Haberlin pretty much shows us just about everything here, no joke) and that she is indeed whole. If she’s still human though, I’ve yet to see, common sense says no. She’s still some odd Vampiric beast.

Art comments: Brian Haberlin does a great job here. His detail in the moments, his depiction of characters like Malebolgia, all done with a great sensation behind his art. The fact that his art is coupled with Greg Capullo’s lay outs definitely helps. This is some incredible art.

Final comments: In the end, this was an incredible issue of Spawn. Hine, McFarlane and Haberlin are all at their A game with this issue and I have a good feeling this high point will end. With any luck, this will end up being one of the best Spawn stories ever told.

5 out of 5

Must Have

Venom: Dark Origin

Written: Zeb Wells

Art: Angel Medina

Opening comments: This may just be the shortest review I’ve ever written; because this is certainly a comic that anyone would have trouble talking about. There is about as much meat on the bones here as a science class skeleton.

Story comments: So they have retconned something here. Nothing major really, just Anne’s skin color. She was originally a short haired white blonde girl, now she’s got pig-tails and is African American. That confused me for a second, but it’s nothing major. Just odd to do that, but nothing major. Also, the two seem to be living together now. It doesn’t say just how far ahead this issue picks up from the last one, but I can guess they are both out of college.

So this issue is Eddie’s rise, and fall, from grace. As the cover hints at, it involves Sin-Eater and him leading on Eddie back killing people. From all the craziness of his killings and everything, it all turns out to be a hoax as the one contacting Eddie is just a copy cat while Spider-man is the one who takes down and in the real one.

As this story plays out, we get to see a more normal Eddie Brock, one who isn’t as spontaneous and crazy, one who actually thinks before he jumps. It’s nice to see Wells finally grounding the character.

We see a great judgment of character when Eddie refuses to release the name of his killer who is giving him so much fame. Eddie finally gives up the name of his copycat killer after a great moment with his father, who is now ashamed of his son. But just as Eddie releases the name, Spider-man apprehends the real Sin-Eater and Eddie is fired.

Really, it’s all one big spiral that we’ve seen before. This time though, from a more full perspective from Eddie. It’s a fairly well written story, but still, it bears the name Venom which we’ve yet to see. But now that we have Eddie’s fall to vengeance out of the way, you all know what comes next.

Art comments: Angel Medina does a good job here with what he’s given. But just like last time, when there isn’t much to work with or chance to shine, the art doesn’t do so well. Hopefully that will be remedied come next month.

Final comments: It’s a huge improvement over last month’s issue, but even by the standard of “Huge improvement” doesn’t make it much better really. If you really don’t know the story yet, and don’t want to find out via Wikipedia, you may enjoy Dark Origin #2.

3 out of 5

Check It

Witchblade #120

Written: Ron Marz

Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening comments: As much as I hate delays, Witchblade is the comic I feel can get away with a week or two’s delay and not get me mad. Seeing I usually seems to enjoy it too much to be frustrated over the delay. This is another case of “the delay doesn’t take away from the issue” for me.

Story comments: This issue is mainly focused on Dani and how she’s really been taking some hits these last few issues. A major hit of course being her boyfriend trying to steal the Witchblade from her and trying to kill Sara. But hey, that’s life, you live, you love, your live is a homicidal maniac, etc.

So that’s the heart of the story really, it’s mainly just Dani talking with Sara. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it makes for an entertaining read for sure and we get some great moments. My personal favorite being Sara talking about Gleason. Dani asks Sara if she loves Gleason, and Sara gives an answer that one would expect from her.

Still, as boring as this issue may sound, it really is great. Characters talking are rarely this entertaining, but this only reminds us why we love these characters and what is so great about them. Marz really plays off both their good and bad qualities to make for a fun read.

After the long conversation, Dani talks to her dance teacher. Then, all of a sudden, she is appointed teacher of the class. It’s kind of funny spur of the moment scene, but for Dani, she really needed a win so it’s nice to see that finally happen. Marz really makes us feel for the character and feel good about her finally getting a win.

While the ending is a little odd, this issue has some strong character moments and leads in nicely to the next issue.

Art comments: Stjepan Sejic is amazing. I know I’ve said this before, and I guess I have to say it again, he’s amazing. His work here is nothing short of great. Not every artist can actually make an issue full of talking, look good. Usually the art has no chance to shine with stories like that, but somehow Stjepan Sejic does it.

Final comments: While not quite as good as last issue, it’s still another strong issue and full of great moments. If you’ve been reading Witchblade, or are at least familiar with the series, you’re going to really enjoy this issue.

4 out of 5

Must Read

All right, that’s all for today. I’m tired, it’s been a long day, and I’ve got an even longer one tomorrow. I won’t be reviewing Skaar #3 or Wolverine #68. Instead, I’ll write this up quickly.

Wolverine was great; you know that if you read Week’s End. Incredible story and art, loved the twist at the end and the possibility of Logan going back into action as a cliffhanger.

Skaar was a tad bit better, but only a tad, it isn’t much of an improvement. It was okay enough for me to give it a chance still. But if it doesn’t start to pick up here, I think I’ll drop it.

So there you have it, my epic reviews. Sorry I was too tired to write up the final reviews. I’m sure you’ve read IGN or Kirk Warren’s reviews, they where both spot on and I agree with them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need my sleep.

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