Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comic Reviews for November 26th 2008

With tomorrow Thanksgiving, outside of a Week’s End Sunday, this is the last post for the week. As I’ll be on vacation. But before I pack my bags and head out, lets enjoy 3 comics I picked up my way home today.

Batman #681

Written: Grant Morrison
Art: Tony Daniel

Opening Comments: Delays are frustrating no matter what, and Batman’s epic R.I.P storyline has been rather hurt by delays. Despite this though, something about this issue was actually well done. And, while the ending left me more frustrated then I’d hoped it would be, oddly an enjoyable read.

Story Comments: The opening with Batman in thought, going over a moment in his mind with a dark monk was…it was strange, but it set the tone of this issue nicely. Though really, it felt rather boring in that it was trying to set a far more ominous tone then it does, really, the tone here is dark, but nothing too far away from how Dark the Dark Knight has gone before…if that makes any sense to anyone but me.

Following this we have the club of heroes saving Robin’s nearly fried ass. It was great to see these guys back again, as they where absolutely great in Batman: The Black Glove and that great streak continue. Seriously, DC, make these guys series regulars, or do one better, give them an ongoing series.

We soon get back to Batman, we see Hurt and Jezebel have buried him alive and soon when they return Joker goes rogue. Now I have to give compliments to the awesome way Joker was written here, Morrison has a great handling of the character and writes him amazingly well. Also, the reveal that the Bat-radia was more then meets the eye…I’ll be honest, that scene, pure hilarity as what looked like a crappy old radio was actually Batman’s trump card all along to saving himself. It was great. I also enjoyed Nightwing saving himself nicely.

Now the scene with Batman rising from the grave was very well done and it was great to see Bats again. For a story centered around him, we haven’t seen the Caped Crusader most of the story, as Zur En Arh has been in the way. He’s great here as Batman is back and doing everything we’d hoped he would. It’s almost redeeming of the rather annoying Zur En Arh twist.

We get a nice moment with Jezebel Jet, a character I was more then relieved to find out was a villain all the time and her “love” with Bruce was as fake as we all figured it was. But this moment where Batman goes into her real origin, how he’s hurt her from it was….again, great. Though it is hard to redeem such an annoying character, these past wasted stories on her feeling worth it now just for that one moment of vulnerability and absolute hatred.

Now we see Robin on his way, and Joker on the loose. We then see…the death of the Joker? Yes, Daman runs over Joker who is in an ambulance, the ambulance falls of the bridge and explodes. Damian and Alfred of course where in the Batmobile at the time. It’s one of the stranger more random moments, but it was all right. Joker will not be missed as if he doesn’t die sooner or later, DC will have absolutely ruined the character and rung him dry like a wet cloth.

We then get the confrontation between Doc Hurt and Batman, it’s one hell of a face off. I won’t spoil it but come the end of it a helicopter goes down and explodes with these 2 on it. Ending the R.I.P part to R.I.P I suppose.

We get a great ending for Jezebel, attacked by Ninja-man-bats that, if we’re lucky, ripped her into so many pieces Banjo can’t put the puzzle back together even with Kazooie.

Then…we jump…6…months….later


I’m sorry, but an ending that so abruptly changes is so frustrating. Though the ending itself isn’t bad, if anything, it’s kind of cool, at the same time, it’s so frustrating that we jump 6 months later with the story between to be told next time along with Final Crisis. It’s just annoying.

Though I will give Morrison this much credit, the final page with Bruce walking out with his parents from seeing Zorro was excellent and a great way to cap off the storyline. Though really, R.I.P is just the beginning as it seems and I was a little disappointed with that. But still, despite the rather poor ending to R.I.P, the story itself was all right, this issue best of all, but the ending really killed any momentum following the Jezebel Jet attack. Still, a good read.

Art Comments: With some artists, delays are well worth it. While Tony Daniel is a great artist, and his work here continues to be strong, very well done, and overall great, it wasn’t worth such frustrating delays just for the final chapter. Despite this…I can look past a little more in the fact that he’d never been known as the most timely artist ever. So while the delay holds this issue back, the art is still great as ever.

Final Comments: While I’m sure had this all been on time nicely, I could score this a little higher, as it is a good ending for R.I.P but I also was frustrated by the time jump randomly at the end. Still, for what we get here, Batman R.I.P was a good read and it’s concluding chapter was good.

3 out of 5
Check It

Savage Dragon #141

Written and Art: Erik Larsen

Opening Comments: Larsen impressed me last time with his little Image Pals get together. Now we come to the conclusion of that storyline with the final fight with Solar Man, but also the lead in for the future of the title as far as Savage Dragon is concerned.

Story Comments: I immediately have to say I was disappointed to see nothing on the She-Dragon “WTF?!” moment of last issue. Such a “holy shit” moment and yet we get no follow up this issue? Rather disappointing.

Still, with what we do get here, mostly Savage Dragon and friends taking on Solar Man, the storyline here is solid. Rex (or Robot Guy as I called him in my last review) and Shadowhawk converge with Dragon and friends by issue’s end as the plot of Solar Man is nicely resolved.

We get another “oh shit!” moment involving Dragon’s daughter, what I can only figure is the missing wife plotline Solicits described, but we’ll have to wait for the next issue to find out…which I found…frustrating.

But I return to the main plot of the issue. Rex finds the source of Solar Man’s power, other heroes! I though this was a brilliant twist on Larsen’s part as to why Solar Man was so strong, he had detained other classic comic book heroes long ago and was using them to power him. Though when Rex frees them and Solar Man’s extra strength goes out the door, things end rather messily.

Dragon punches Solar-man’s head in half, literally, which leads to a big silent shock moment, followed by the classic heroes attacking the Image heroes suddenly. Luckily, before it gets to the point where things are looking stupid, common sense flies in as Rex saves the day. I thought this was a great moment and seeing all these classic heroes like classic Thor and Captain Freedom among heroes such as Spawn and Invincible, very cool, a little funny.

So by stories end when all is said and done, the public hates Dragon for killing Solar-man, despite Rex’ explanation. Things aren’t looking to good for him, but still, should be interesting. Overall, a great story with great moments.

Art Comments: It would seem my problems as of last issue are gone. Maybe Larsen simply needed to get on his feet for handling so many characters, maybe I was just seeing it wrong, but the art here greatly improves. Characters all look great, the strong detail is there again and the art is really great here. Sure, there is still the odd little moment from time to time, such as Dragon’s Daughter looking a bit odd, but outside of that, the art here is really great and every hero looks distinct and nicely done.

Final Comments: A strong issue, though lacking a bit thanks to unresolved plotlines. I feel that the Dragon is trying to juggle a little too much for his hands, and with any luck this won’t hold the book down in the future though. Still, a great issue, even if lacking a bit.

4 out of 5
Must Read

Thor: Man of War one-shot

Written: Matt Fraction
Art: Clay Mann, Patrick Zircher

Opening Comment: Before I actually review this issue, I should state my history with the God of Thunder. While my father was always a big Thor fan, I myself never cared for him despite a lot of the comic my father gave me as a child being that of Thor’s adventures. I simply didn’t like him, and didn’t care for JMS’ reboot of the character following Marvel’s Civil War.

But I’d heard such good things of the first Ages of Thunder one-shot by Matt Fraction. Curious, I decided to check out the sequel one-shot Reign of Blood and was greatly impressed. While I’m not necessarily a Thor fan yet, these one-shots are great. Man of War, the ending of the one-shot series, is a great ending to a great series.

Story comments: The story is divided into two parts, part 1 continues off where Reign of Blood left us off, part 2 continues from there and concludes the overall storyline.

Part 1 sees Thor and Valkyre going head to head after Odin sends her after him. The action here is all right, but ends soon when a monster gets in the way.

Now what makes these more action scene based stories so good is the narration. Fraction really captures the heart of the Thor series with how strong the narration is in detailing the story, and the visual representation matching the great narration.

The first part is all right, the action great and I must admit rather funny. It shows how immature Thor and friends where at a time and how ungodly they once where. It shows that Thor hasn’t always been this golden god of virtue and greatness, and was not above more violent tendencies that most heroes nowadays lack.

It leads in nicely to part 2 where Odin dawns the Destroyer armor and takes on Thor. Part 2 is much better and it is the superior to the 2 parts the comic is divided in to. Odin is great in his wise caring self, but he is still a warrior and it seems he needed remind his son this in one of the best fights all year. Though it is somewhat short, lasting only a few pages.

Still, despite the battles shortness, the sheer epic proportion captured in it is magnificent and really is exactly what a fight among Gods should be, epic blow to epic blow, no tricky punches here, it is simply weapon to weapon or weapon to face.

Though the action and narration are good, the final moments, following Thor’s defeat at his father’s hands are what really sell this and make it a great comic. We see Odin chew out Thor for his overbearing attitude and sentence him to a life as a humble healing man who helps others.

I found this end nice, and really, it feels like an origin story for Thor. As if explaining why he was so much kinder then other gods, after experiences like this, it would hard not to be more humbled despite your great power.

To sum it up, the story is a lot of action, strong narration, and a great conclusion. The Ages of Thunder one-shots have been great and absolute must-haves, even if you are not a big fan of Thor, as I am the same. If you missed out on these spectacular one-shots, do yourself a favor, pick up the Hardcover next year.

Art Comments: The art is all around good, Clay Mann does a great job for what he can do, though is not above the lazy panel here or there. It never holds back the storytelling and he does a good job of conveying action nicely. Patrick Zircher though is the real star as he conveys amazing detail to his artwork, strong character work and really brings to life the epic scale of the story and action.

Final Comments: Thor Man of War is a great read and a good stand alone issue if your really unable to find the previous one-shot. The storytelling is great, the characters are great, and it just may have made a new Thor fan. Either way, I loved this issue and give it my highest recommendation.

5 out of 5
Must Have

And so ends our reviews, I’m sorry there will be no Collection Spotlight Friday, maybe I can post the next edition of Andrenn’s Pull list tomorrow before I go. Either way, I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and for those who do not live in America, have a great week still. So until I get back, adios and goodnight.


Cat said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Nice reviews! Been a bit busy lately so I just got caught up with your last few posts. I felt the same way about Batman, maybe a bit more disapointed then you. This storyline should have been so much better. I didn't pick up the Thor special, I may have to check it out.
I like your top 5 comics! I hear so much complaining about all star Batman but I love that book. I have been enjoying it more than All star superman.
My fave book from this week so far is Walking Dead....good stuff.

Andrenn said...

Thank you again, Cat.
I'm glad you enjoyed the previous post, I feel the same way about Allstar Batman. I tried reading Allstar Superman, didn't find it that great really.

I think the ending to R.I.P, for what it was, was good. Morrison wanted to keep an ongoing tale still so you could keep reading without starting from ground one next issue. Still, I am a little confused with where we go now for Batman.

I stopped reading Walking Dead after a while, much as I loved the characters, the story lost me. I was planning to return but, Laurie's death threw me off, so...maybe another time. I still hear good things about it.

Arc said...

"We then see…the death of the Joker?... DC will have absolutely ruined the character and rung him dry like a wet cloth."

I personally disagree with this statement.. I mean sure, all of this y so srs shit is getting on my nerves, as it is everyones, but I actually like where joker is now heading in this arc.. I also think that the joker is not dead, because he has been shot in the head and lived before, who's to say that being thrown off a bridge would kill him? that sounds like the equivalency of Superman dieing by getting shot in the kneecap, I mean, the death of joker is not going to happen..

Also, did you notice the similarity to Joker and Marilyn Manson? It's fucking awesome.

Andrenn said...

While we disagree, in some ways, we agree as I feel Joker was great in this arc. By DC ruining the character, I meant the fact that he pops up in other comics, where he is completely out of place/character there and is only there for the sake of having Joker in another comic. As we've seen in Birds of Prey and Trinity, Joker is somewhere he shouldn't be most of the time.

I did notice Joker's more "metal" look. I liked the transformation, but again, was sad to see the other books didn't reflect this whenever he showed up. It's all very confusing. Then again...this is for if he's dead or not, if DC kept him alive but didn't overuse him, I'd be fine with that.