Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Comic Reviews for February 4th 2009

Lots of comics to review, we’re catching up with Last Week’s and then Reviewing this Week’s comics.

Batman #685
Written: Paul Dini
Art: Dustin Nguyen

Opening Comments: Faces of Evil has been good to the Last Rites aspect of the Batman books. Paul Dini’s continuation of the Heart of Hush storyline has turned out to be a good read, but the conclusion leaves a little more to be desired despite how enjoyable it still was.

Story Comments: The opening picks up hilariously where the first chapter left off. Hush being used as a punching bag for a rhino. I can’t think of any better punishment then that. It opens the issue perfectly and leaves me curious for more as to where we go from there.

Catwoman soon lets Hush in on what she’s been up to since their last meeting. It’s nothing too special really, just freeing some animals from poachers. Still a nice set up that fits well with her character. Still, it’s just all right of a set up to explain why she’s in Vietnam.
The plot plays out simple, Catwoman is done playing around with poachers and needs Hush’ help to get out. She promises his freedom of he escapes with 2 village people to distract the poachers for her own escape.
Really, for where this could have gone and knowing how talented Dini is, it was a tad disappointing. It feels like he just wanted to tie things up nicely and not really go anywhere with this storyline. Maybe it was just to set things up for Battle for the Cowl, but either way it’s disappointing.
The twist at the end come Hush’ escape with the 2 villagers was nice though. It was Nightwing and Robin in disguise and they capture Hush then take him to their own personal prison where no one can find him. It was more of a simple loose end tied up then really doing anything with the character.
For what it was the story was still good. Narration was nicely done and while I was wanting a lot more I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Paul Dini is clearly someone who loves writing for the Bat-verse and it’s characters as Hush and Catwoman both have some nice moments. But really I was hoping for more still.
Though despite how disappointing the lack of interesting the ending could have been, it was undeniably well written and a great read.

Art Comments: Dustin Nguyen is always an artist I’m favorable of. His style greatly appeals to me and often his work is top notch. Though I must admit the script here doesn’t give him a lot of room to show off or do much. The best scene was when Selina recaps the events of R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Nguyen did a great job on that part but really that’s the only chance he got to shine much. He doesn’t even draw Catwoman with her full costume, which was disappointing as Nguyen draws a great Catwoman. Though still his art is great, it doesn’t get to be his usual greatness.

Final Comments: Faces of Evil spotlighted 2 villains who, under the right writer, are great. Dini and Nguyen turned in a good solid story, though with only 2 chapters didn’t seem to be able to really do too much. Still a great read for anyone interested.

Writing: 4 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Must Read

Savage Dragon #144
Written and Art: Erik Larsen

Opening Comments: This review won’t be too long really. For one I can’t possibly hope to cover every little moment in this issue and it is a tad too constantly changing to really spoil much for you in discussing it. Still, despite that, Erik Larsen went out on a limb here and it paid off with an awesome read.

Story Comments: The experiment that Larsen does with this issue is to do 121 days over the course of 22 pages. Each panel a different day (in most cases at least) and with each new day a new significant or interesting moment for the characters. We see a lot of things advance her.
Alex and Dragon split and Alex moves in with the recently returned Chris, only to later get engaged to him. Rex’ spiky dinosaur lover heals, they get married. We see other things advance over time such as Angel/Malcolm bonding as brother and sister. Dragon go from fight to fight to pay the bills. Plenty of running gags in this issue as well.
One running gag I commented on was the Shadowhawk magic call in last Week’s End. It’s a funny bit that runs 3 times, the first explaining it, the 2nd with a real crisis and the 3rd was just as hilarious. We get on update on how Invincible looks and we see the beheaded corpse of Al Simmons! I laughed so hard when I saw it. Pure comedic gold on Larsen’s part.
Another gag is a guy who’s obsessed with milkshakes as every time Dragon is in the diner that guy is there ordering a new one. The gag seems fairly pointless at first but come end of the issue it actually is well done. Come issue’s end, Dragon, in a fight with a super villain, knocks over the guy and he ends up in a hospital. Dragon being the nice guy that he is brings him a chocolate shake. It’s a heart warming little moment like that that made he love this issue.
Overall what makes this work so well isn’t that it’s a bunch of fun moments strung together. What makes it work so well is how Larsen uses each moment and evolves the story and characters more and more with it, telling a continuous story of Dragon’s struggles to pay the bills, Rex and Alex’ fortune in love and Dragon getting used to family life.
Despite some odd moments such as the Angel/Malcolm kiss and She-Dragon still locked away I really loved this issue. It reminded me of everything I love about this series and it’s characters, it told a story that just can’t be told by comics like Spider-man or Batman. It was, pure and simple, perfect Savage Dragon.

Art comments: Similar to the story, the art has a lot of great moments and it’s real fun. Though some panels go along with the weird moments in not being so great and others are just not that well done. Though it’s obvious that some of these panels aren’t as important so Larsen didn’t spend as much time on these not so important panels which is just fine still. Really the art was great Larsen work and I enjoyed it greatly.

Final Comments: I think to end my review for #144 I should talk to anyone who isn’t reading Savage Dragon, who is considering getting on with #145 but might not be sure. Savage Dragon is a great comic, with a great cast of characters and awesome art. Larsen is in the zone right now and doing some incredible stuff with the book, it’s never been a better time to be a Dragon fan.

Writing: 5 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 5 out of 5
Must Have

Ultimate Spider-man #130

Written: Brian Bendis
Art: Stuart Immonen

Opening Comments: This is another one of those comics that’s hard to review. Not for a real specific reason, but more for the fact that if you’ve ever read it, you know what to expect. Solid well done writing and good art.

Story Comments: We pick up from last issue where Aunt May was arrested as it seems the world cops know who Spider-man is. It was an all right moment really, Bendis excels as usual at this back and forth stuff. Though really it was just all right as it leads into the first wave of the Ultimatum.
Here is where the issue really picks up and gets good. Spider-man’s reaction is what anyone would have if a giant tidal wave hit New York: OH MY GOD! Spider-man spends most of the issue struggling to save people as best he can, freaking out on a wide scale over the mass destruction.
We pick up where Ultimatum #1 left off with Kitty and the rest of Spider-man’s friends all stuck on the train car. Kitty helps get them out, even though she’s a mutant to which the people react nicely to. Bendis has some light comedy and continues to excel with these characters.
We get a nice moment that ties into the end of Ultimatum #2 where Xavier sends out his message to the heroes. It was a nice way of again keeping the book relevant and important to the Ultimatum event.
We get a nice moment with Spider-woman who I was glad to see return after last issue. I was worried she wouldn’t play a role in Ultimatum and that Bendis just brought her back to tell a quick tale. Still, she seems to have an important role in Ultimate Spider-man’s tie in to Ultimatum so I’m excited to see where we go with her.
This issue ended a little too fast for me though as shortly in a bit we end and cut off to the beginning of Ultimatum #2 where Hulk helped out Spider-man. Going off the solicit for #131 we already know that there is to be some kind of fight. It should be interesting, but here comes my biggest problem with the issue: It ends so abruptly and leaves me wanting a lot more.
Bendis has had this problem from time to time with his comics, thinning out each issue of a story arc. It’s not a heavy problem, but Ultimate Spider-man is often the book he’s done this with too often.
Still, despite how annoying it was of Bendis to thin this issue out, I still enjoyed it greatly. It’s same old same old great Ultimate Spider-man.

Art Comments: Stuart Immonen is usually a good artist. Strong work even if it’s never really reached the same level Mark Bagley did with his long run on the comic. His work here is solid, but one thing I had to mention is when he renders the Magneto at his Throne scene from Ultimatum #1. Most artist nowadays just edit in their own rendition of scenes like this and to be fair, it’s a time saver and I usually don’t mind it really. Though I have to admit that I liked seeing Immonen decide to do it himself as he does a pretty good job rendering the scene.
Overall Immonen does a solid job and I look forward to seeing what he does through out Ultimatum.

Final Comments: After reading this issue it’s fairly clear that Marvel gave the job of writing Ultimatum to the wrong guy. Bendis has written circles around the first 2 issues of Ultimatum with the first 2 issues of tie ins to Ultimatum. If you can, skip Ultimatum. Spider-man is all the Ultimate you need.

Writing: 4 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Must Read

Lets cap off last Week’s Comic reviews from a slightly older comic I decided to pick up while at the shop, Thunderbolts #128. Now Picked this issue up for 2 reasons, 1 I heard nothing but love for it and 2 there’s a certain president in there who I happen to be fan of. Now this is a Open Fire! Review for the sake that I don’t have too much to say on it more then some little things here and there.

Thunderbolts #128
Written: Andy Diggle
Art: Roberto De La Tore

For all the praise this issue got, I have to admit, I was fairly disappointed on that end. For one, we see the team on the cover. We see who are to be the Thunderbolts, yet in the comic we get all of 3 members of the Thunderbolts. While Diggle didn’t have to spend the entire issue setting up the team as Bendis did Dark Avengers, a little more Team Book then “random happening” would have been nice.
The twist that Samson has footage of what happened during Caged Angels with The Green Goblin was a cool twist and I liked how it was handled come issue’s end. Though really this doesn’t feel like much of a team book yet. We see Black Widow 2 get recruited and that was nice, bur really that was it. It was at least nice to see Ant-man, a great character as always.
Despite this, I can’t deny that it was well written at least. Obama was a great character as Was Norman Osborn and Doc Samson. These 3 really stole the show and I enjoyed every moment they all shared in discussion. Really they where the highlight and why I enjoyed this issue and I hope Obama somehow becomes a main character for the series, checking in on Osborn every so often.
The lead in to next issue was great, great enough to keep me coming back next time. Though with the upcoming Deadpool crossover I won’t be reading Thunderbolts longtime or anything. At least not yet, maybe in the future.
De La Tore was incredible on the art here. While it’s not quite at the level set by Mike Deodato Jr. it’s still some seriously great stuff and this book seems to be absolutely perfect for him. I definitely look forward to next issue if only to see what he does as the story concludes next time.
Overall it was a good read, a little off but still pretty good and the art was spectacular. If you’re interested I suggest it but I’m not really too interested in the future outside of #129. Still, a great read despite it’s fault.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Check It

Now a bit of bad news, I didn’t get Jersey Gods #1. My LCS simply didn’t get it even though it was on my pull list. Hopefully I can get next month’s issue but man…I’m disappointed.

Witchblade #124

Written: Ron Marz
Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening Comments: When you’ve got a big up and coming event comic you want to set the stage perfectly. You can’t just throw the reader head first into the event without actually showing what caused this in the first place. Ron Marz has done a perfect job of creating an Event Prologue that does it’s job just right. It has a strong balance of leaving me excited for more, but still satisfied with what I got this issue.

Story Comments: Last issue left off with Dani helping Finch get away from her loser boyfriend Rock. This issue picks up where Dani runs to Sara in tears, then explains what happened after Dani Went Witchblade on Rock.
Things got out of hand and Rock’s friend ends up shooting at Dani but hits Rock, killing him. From there Sara uses Rock to help close the case of who was killing off the Jewish people in the last story arc.
I think it was a brilliant way for Marz to tie the two events together. What seemed like 2 totally different events that would have nothing to do with each other converged perfectly. Writers have tried to do this in the past but rarely does it work as well as it did here in Witchblade.
Sara is of course upset about going against her ethics so she ties her friendship to Dani after many harsh words are exchanged. At first I was confused why Sara was acting this way, sure she was upset, but more so then one would think she’d act. Marz explains in an interview he did earlier today that Sara and Dani have 2 different halves of the Witchblade, Dani has the Light half while Sara has the Dark. I was curious why they often looked so different in full Witchblade form, nice to finally know.
This is another brilliant idea and it should play out very interestingly come #125-#130. Neither is really good or evil so much as their just people and a conflict has risen between them. Sara is now angry at Dani, her mistake put Sara on the line and Sara is done with her amateur crap. Dani doesn’t know what to do, she’s more the vulnerable one keeping up her defenses.
This issue itself had a great balance of character moments and moving things along nicely. Everything ties up mostly from the last story arc and leads in perfectly to the next one as The Witchblade shall war.
I’m not sure what else I can say, it was another incredible issue by Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic as far as Witchblade is concerned. The story, the characters and the moments within each issue are always incredibly well done and this issue was just as great. If I had one problem with it I guess it would be that Finch wasn’t anywhere in the issue after the recap of Rock’s death. I’m hoping we’ll see her throughout the War of the Witchblade as she’s a good new character. Though overall, Marz continues to write an incredible read.

Art Comments: Sejic continues to impress me. Not just with his art in general in how beautiful and great it looks but also with how timely he is. However I have to be fair, there was a couple of moments with Sara and Dani in Rock’s apartment where the art looked a little odd. I’m not sure how to describe it unless you see it but outside of these moments the art was great as always and it continues to impress.

Final Comments: Really there isn’t anything all that negative about this issue. Outside of the 2 minor complaints, it’s solid greatness and I loved it. Similar to Savage Dragon, Witchblade has a new jumping on point next issue (Marz’ words is that it’s a good place to jump on, at least) and I continue to recommend it as the best comic on the shelves right now.
Writing: 5 out of 5
Art: 5 out of 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Must Have

Secret Warriors #1

Written: Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman
Art: Stefano Caselli

Opening Comments: Going into this first issue of Secret Warriors, I was psyched to check it out and see where we go from here. It looked great from previews and really, even though I was a bit disappointed, it’s not a bad read. Still, some things here and there bothered me, most notably was Hickman’s inability to really use the Team Dynamic that most Marvel Team books have going nowadays.

Story Comments: The opening to Secret Warriors is promising enough. A simple recon missions that went bad when Hydra shows up. It’s a great opening really and it sets a strong tone. My only real problem is when J.T. is talking to Daisy about how he needs some love. It was a weird enough moment as it is, but she seems to react in a way that leaves me baffled. I don’t want to spend too much time on it but she says “We’re either going for a long talk or a short walk” and I didn’t get it at all. Maybe that’s just me.

From when things go bad and the Warriors get back to base is where I started losing interest. The characters interaction with Nick Fury was all right but he really just bullies them from what it looks like. None too interesting for me personally and it didn’t even go anywhere until Daisy and Fury go for a walk.
We catch up with the character of Phobos and that was nice. He’s a cool little guy and I like him, he gets a nice moment and hopefully he won’t be held under lock and key too much through this series. Still a good character here despite only showing up for a one whole page and that was it.
We then flashback to one month prior where Fury invades an old Shield place, He talks to his computer, finds out something that shocks him then leaves after blowing it up. I would rather Hickman have opened this issue with this moment, then the moment following about Fury meeting the president, then the opening to this issue as the third sequence as it would have flowed better. Here these 2 flashbacks rather interrupt suddenly to tell the story and it was disappointing to me.
The second flashback to days ago where Fury meets the new President Obama was a better moment. Marvel has been doing a good job of integrating Obama into their universe and this is another case of well done integration. Though really this moment just further delayed the actual issue’s progression. It was necessary of course as was the previous moment, but still it feels out of balance.
The issue ends with a rather big reveal. Hydra has always been a big enemy in the Marvel Universe, we’ve never known how big, now we finally find out. They’ve apparently been so influential that they’ve controlled the government, all the way to Shield. It’s…a good reveal. Certainly not something I could have seen coming and for that I applaud Bendis (Or Hickman, whichever thought of it) for thinking it up. But really it doesn’t leave me as excited for the next issue as one would think.
Overall the writing was all right, but with only a few of the Warriors getting any page time it was disappointing. For a team book, there isn’t much team dynamic going for it. Thunderbolts had the same problem under Warren Ellis but he made up for it with strong storytelling and wicked moments. Secret Warriors has neither so far and with casualties already coming for the team it doesn’t look to good. Still, I can’t deny that it was still good writing and I did, to an extent at least, enjoy it.

Art Comments: Stefano Caselli continues to be a great artist with only one problem as far as this issue is concerned. Most of it is spent in 2 specific lightings that don’t really work that well. The dark tone in the Warriors HQ doesn’t really leave much to be shown off and his art doesn’t look to good from it then the bright lighting from the flashbacks glosses over his usual strong style. The only time the art really looks great here is during the opening, right there is when the art is best. There’s no annoying light fixtures that mess with the style or anything like that, it’s simple great style with strong stylish animation like art. I greatly enjoyed it, if only the rest of the issue had kept that look it would be golden. Still he does a good job regardless.

Final Comments: Despite my complaints, it was a good issue. Though as an opening issue it didn’t grip me much or really leave me wanting more. I’ll stick with this series for a few issues and see if it picks up, but if not, I don’t have much reason to continue if things don’t pick up and I only recommend it if you’re interested, if not, no reason to pick it up really.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Check It

While I was sad that there was no Jersey Gods waiting for me, hopefully I’ll have better luck next time. I hope you enjoyed my reviews, that’s all for now.


Keith Gammage said...

I think that the team dynamic is what I enjoy most about Marvel Comics, and is why I lost interest in Thor. So I'm kinda glad I ended up not getting Sercret Warriors, cause it was on my list for a while.

Andrenn said...

Hopefully the series will pick up come #2, #1 set the stage well enough to show where we go now we just need to go somewhere with it.

BrikHed said...

I trust in Hickman, he is one of my favorite writers, but since I am not in the middle of Marvel U. I felt like some of this was over my head.

The art was average to me. The pencils and inks were fine but the overly rendered look with the colors is just not my thing.

I will stick around for a while and see where this goes.

Andrenn said...

I'll probably stick around to issue #3 or so. If by then it doesn't pick up or get any better then I can't see why to keep reading.