Saturday, May 2, 2009

Comic Reviews (half of them free) for May 2nd 2009

I have comics to review, 6total. 3 cost money, 3 of them where free. We’ll handle the first 3 ones that cost money first then the free ones. The free ones are of course comics sold as a part of Free Comic Book Day. While me and a friend got to the shop rather early, it seems it was not early enough to get the Avengers one-shot which is…frustrating. I got Aliens/Predator and the Cyber-force preview but they where both good reads that I don’t feel I have to review. They weren’t exactly eye popping or anything. But oh well. Let’s get to the reviews!

Dark Avengers #4
Written: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mike Deodato

Opening Comments: Dark Avengers has quickly rooted itself as one of my favorite new ongoing titles alongside other great new series’ of 2009. Bendis simply does everything right here and is clearly having a blast with this more twisted sense of an Avengers comic.

Story Comments: This issue picks up with the Avengers fighting Morgan again, we get a nice moment with Ms. Marvel (I’m going to try and call them by their new titles) where she uses a power I was never even aware of.
Then we have Doom and Iron Patriot confronting Morgan in the past. We get a good bit of wit from IP about him trusting Doom. Doom and Morgan face off for all of 2 pages before he drops her in the cauldron, sending her to caveman times. I admit this was pretty anti-climactic…also I was hoping for more of Doom and Morgan to come to some kind of understanding as they had an interesting dynamic that could have been very well utilized for future Cabal stories.
We then see IP and Doom have a chat, Doom pulls out what appears to be the Cosmic Cube (though I have my doubts if that really is it) and they go home. Bendis really hits the dialogue home in this issue and the back and forth between these two was the best. People like to complain that Doom overdoes it with talking heads, I confess, he does go overboard at times, but in this comic there’s never a word balloon that is not worth reading and entertaining.
On the ride home we get a funny moment between Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel hinting that they may get together next issue. With the solicit for it saying something about 2 Avengers getting freaky. It was a funny moment and actually a little bit of development for Noh-Var, showing he’s not completely detached from Humans like he acts to be.
The Avengers come home to see Sentry alive and well and are terrified by this. I admit, Sentry is a hard character to really do anything interesting with and Bendis is doing all he can to give the character a bigger edge here by having him more in control than ever. This was a nice way to close the issue but leave room for the next issue as well.
Overall it was a great read, though anti-climactic I admit. There was never really a moment I felt that it dragged really. It closed up this storyline nicely but also leads into the next one nicely as well. A great issue, with little to complain about.

Art Comments: Mike Deodato is a very talented artist. One look at this comic and I doubt you won’t realize that. He’s done some very powerful stuff over the last several years, and after all I’ve seen from him…there is no doubt in my mind that Dark Avengers is his best work yet. Sure his stuff on Thunderbolts was amazing, no doubt as well, but this just works so perfectly with the storyline and it’s characters. It’s the perfect art to go along with this book.

Final Comments: Dark Avengers is seriously a must have new series, despite it not being the smartest or even the most unique comic out there it has a lot going for it with great characters, a cool story and incredible artwork.

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

Overall: 5 out of 5

Must Have

Spawn #191
Written: Todd McFarlane
Art: Whilce Portacio

Opening Comments: With Holguin out of the writers chair I was worried for Spawn, but much to my delight it seems McFarlane isn’t out of shape when it comes to writing and is still in good form.

Story Comments: The issue opens with Spawn talking to some Angel girl. She rants on for a few pages about God, how she detests Heaven…yadah yadah. It’s some interesting stuff but it all culminates in her wanting to join Spawn, have them become Lovers and team up to take Heaven down. Certainly an interesting little twist but like all good would-be-romances it goes to Hell faster than you can say “Daaamn!”
The fight itself was a pretty simple one, Spawn doesn’t have a big trouble with her and soon had her crucified to the wall (Perhaps an homage to the Curse getting crucified?) they talk again but it ends with Spawn thinking she’s after Sara, so he goes to Sara’s and takes care of the agent who’s been waiting around at her place.
This really was my favorite moment and where McFarlane won me over as his new position as writer. Spawn gets the truth out of the Agent than has a real badass moment without even having to gall Spikey on him. It was just a really badass moment that reminded me of the simpler days of Spawn.
From there Spawn says his goodbyes to Sara after a brief hug. But before he can get back to the Angel girl, Clown shows up and after a short “discussions” he rips her wings off. End of issue.
I really enjoy this issue and I feel like Endgame is finally getting some real weight to it and immersing itself into a cool new spin on the Spawn mythos. Though it was not without problems, while McFarlane handles the dialogue well, it certainly rambles on and on at times. Sometimes I feel like these characters all have way too much to say and not enough time to say it. It was probably my biggest problem with this issue and for it I can’t help but be a bit frustrated that McFarlane fell into such an easy trap of over-stretching the dialogue.

Art Comments: By now Portacio has really wowed me with his work on Endgame, but this issue by far is his best so far. He gives the Angel girl the right amount of badass bitch look to her, without making her look unappealing like angels are to appear. Spawn himself is looking more and more like he should which is nice, and characters are losing a lot of that unrefined edge they had. Overall his art was really great as usual but even better than ever.

Final Comments: Spawn has certainly won me over with Endgame up to this point, though I confess that it is frustrating that it took all the way to part 7 of the storyline to really grab me this much.

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

Overall: 4 out of 5

Must Read

Witchblade #126
Written: Ron Marz
Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening Comments: War of the Witchblade is an interesting arc, 2 parts in and so far we’ve seen no actual warring. By the end of this issue the stage is set for the war to begin, but really this is just more set up which I confess is rather frustrating, though really like always, it’s a great read.

Story Comment: Last time we saw the Angelus spying on Dani and Finch, this time Finch dreams of it coming to her and trying to use her as a host. A simple moment picking up where the last went off, and certainly an interesting one that I look forward to seeing where it all goes.
Though more of a key moment is when Sara gets to a crime scene with Gleason, she’s a total bitch. There’s no nice way of wording it, she’s completely out of character and just downright nasty towards her boyfriend. She ridicules him for not being able to sleep with her since his father got out of the hospital, comparing him to the worth of a vibrator ( you know you want to facepalm, it’s okay, I did) and just overall being the world’s worst girlfriend, leaving Glean and Sara sour as she leaves fast.
Marz takes a risk by making Sara so unlikable in this moment to show the point of how the half of the Witchblade she’s got is corrupting her so badly. When just a few issues ago she was being Mrs. Sweetheart to Gleason yet now she’s Queen of Evil. Not a lot of writers will go so far to make a point and show how badly Sara is affected by the negative half of the Witchblade.
We get a brief history of the Angelus soon after when Dani goes to the Curator with Finch (who is absolutely hilarious right here with how clumsy she is) to talk about it. We get the explanation also that we learned from an interview a few months back, that Dani has the good side of the Witchblade and Sara has the bad and that Dani has to beat Sara and get the other half back, that if Sara gets it than she’ll just be more evil by now.
Sara is approached by the mysterious man who appeared a few issues back, he convinces Sara to go after Dani to get the other half of the Witchblade back. Marz again impresses me with how well he crafts our shifty villain. He doesn’t bluntly say “go get the blade back, mwah ha ha!” he’s far more cunning than that and I appreciated that.
Marz continues to shine as writer as he’s finally set everything up perfectly for the upcoming battle next time between these two and made an entertaining read as always. Not many real complaints, the dialogue never got heavy nor where any scenes boring.

Art Comments: I’ve mentioned that Sejic has had an odd problem when it comes to the characters, making them look more 3D than simply painted in the last 2 issues. Though it seems he took care of the problem as his art is back to it’s usual gorgeous quality.

Final Comments: Witchblade is finally going where it promised to go and is a great read as usual. I must admit that I’m more excited for next time than I am thinking of this issue but still, a great read is a great read.

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

Overall: 5 out of 5

Must Have

Now before we get to the Free Comics, I want to do a re-cap review of Savage Dragon #147. this will be very short, all of a few sentences.

Last time in Savage Dragon, the Dragon is looking for his kids, gets busted up by a chemical plant. Some guy gets mutated by the chemicals and has this ability to steal people’s memories, killing them in the process. He does this to Dragon and apparently kills him, but then transforms and becomes Dragon. A really, really, really weird twist and I’m not sure what it all will mean in the end…

Now onto Savage Dragon #148, which was a Free Comic.

Savage Dragon #148
Written and Art: Erik Larsen

Opening Comments: Erik Larsen takes a bold move in giving out a crucial issue of SD for free. I say crucial because while this issue had it’s problems, it resolves a major plotline that I was worried would be left dangling.

Story Comments: we open with a re-cap of SD up to this point (minus the blob monster soul eating thing) which was a smart idea from Larsen. Making it even more crucial a point that even if you missed out on 145, you can still pick this up and check it out even if you’ve never read SD.
The plot is fairly simple, Daredevil is one of the heroes freed from Solar Man’s evil prison and has made his home in Chicago. He decides to help Dragon search for his kids and it’s a fairly wild ride. I admit that Larsen gives DD a great amount of Silver Age cheese to him to where it’s hard to take him seriously as a super hero but at the same time he has a nice dynamic with Dragon.
The worst part of this issue was the Wise Guys who DD commissions to help find the kids. Just a really weird group of kids and none of it really made any sense or seemed important.
This issue was heavily bogged down by DD being a Silver Age hero, his dialogue feels out of place and his comments are rarely interesting or funny. I can’t see any reason he was in this issue at all as he felt fairly useless.
Though one good thing came out of it, in the chaos of a battle, they find Dragon’s kids just before they are crushed by a building. We find out their captor was Dart. A great resolution to the plot and explains the characters appearance next time.
Overall this wasn’t really a great or a bad issue, it was a simply good read. DD was a bit of a pain, but we got a satisfying resolution to the Dragon’s Missing Kids plotline which I was grateful for.

Art Comments: Larsen is always a great artist and even the mediocre plot doesn’t hold back his strong artowork.

Final Comment: Since it was free I can’t really complain about it. It does a nice job of resolving a plot that had me worried, but outside that it wasn’t too good.

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

Overall: 3 out of 5

Check It

Written and Art: Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

Opening Comments: There are few characters from my childhood who stick with my memory as well as the TMNT did in their cartoon form. I can still remember the times they fought the Foot Clan, when Crang revealed himself or whenever something crazy invaded the sewers from aliens to alligator men. With a chance to see the beginning of it all I could not pass up, and as I’d hoped, it’s an incredible read worthy of starting one of the best ninja turtle teams in the world.

Story Comments: This issue does a great deal of telling how it all starts, opening with the Turtles first ever fight against real foes. A great way to open the issue and introduce all the turtles. The narration from Leonardo was awesome and really cool, with some great lines like “Yes we can bleed…and so can you!” and others. Though following this we get the explanation of Splinter and the Turtles’ origins, and following this they come head to head with the Foot Clan and their leader, Shredder.
It’s all a fairly grim and gritty plot when compared to the cartoons. A great opener but really I don’t have too much to say, sadly, the characters are all very well introduced and it was a great read. I had no complaints with the story.
Art Comments: When I saw that “dedicated to Jack Kirby and Frank Miller” at the beginning of the issue I knew I was reading something from 2 people who clearly respect the people who have come before them and done legendary work. The art is in awesome black and white and reflects a grim New York in the clutches of gangs.

Final Comments: As a fan of the TMNT who has grown up, I loved this comic. I suppose it’s not as kid friendly as the cartoons have been but that’s okay. Batman hasn’t always been Kid Friendly really. A great and really cool read that reinvigorated my love of the franchise.

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

Wolverine One-Shot
Written: Fred Van Lente
Art: Gurihiru

Opening Comments: I was hoping for an entertaining read here…what I got was a short, none too interesting and mediocre read.

Story Comments: the story is very simple, Wolverine checks out a town under robotic siege on orders from Department H. He then proceeds to save the town from it’s robotic captors in the a simple bland and uninteresting way.
There’s really not a lot to talk about here. The dialogue was nice but that’s really it. The plot is boring and really rather stupid and I just don’t have anything more to say.

Art Comments: the art is nice, but it never goes too far to really impress. Just okay art to go with a bland story.

Final comments: I know it’s a short review but…man, what a disappointment, especially when from Van Lente, such a talented writer.
Writing: 2 out of 5
Art: 3 out of 5

Overall: 2 out of 5

Pass It

So that’s it, hope you enjoyed the reviews. My LCS changed their rules to only 5 comics per customer much to my dismay. But oh well, I think I’m going to go sleep now…expect another post sometime around FCBD 2010.

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