Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Comic Reviews for August 12th 2009

A strong looking week turned out to be fairly average and mediocre sadly. Read on to find out why.

*Note from Andrenn: I'm bumping up the reccomendations for Ultimate Comics Avengers, as after rereading it a few times I've come to enjoy it more. Usually I hate to change a review after posting it, and I am sorry for the confusion, but it is up one Reccomendation Point now.

Ultimate Comics Spider-man #1
Written: Brian Bendis
Art: David Lafuente

Opening Comments: the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this issue is disappointment. Disappointment and a waste of 3.99 on a comic that should have been 2.99 no doubt and is a rip off. I love Ultimate Spider-man, this is Ultimate Spider-man, but this also Ultimate Spider-man done wrong.

Story Comments: We start with what I can only describe as one of the most boring uninteresting and unfunny openings in comic history. Peter runs down Spider-man, who he is and all that then has to talk to an old woman and explain what fries are. Hilarious. Well I guess it wasn’t awful, but it was a horrible way to open the issue.

MJ gives us the rundown about what’s going on. How time has passed and NYC is finally open for business again. Yay. Sadly this is the only panel MJ gets, one shot of New York and a panel of her. Wow. How sad.

We transition to a store robbery. The robbery is stopped by some shrouded guy and Spider-man shows up minutes later. It’s an all right scene actually ,kind of cool even. It’s as close as this comic gets to exciting though except for the every end.

The comic really hits me over the head though is when Peter arrives home. He talks to Gwen Stacy who is living with him since her family isn’t around. Out of nowhere they kiss. Not friend kiss, kiss kiss, the kind of kiss that makes you wonder if they can breathe all right.

This right here is my big problem, this comes out of nowhere, and we get no damn explanation. Not later in the comic, not prior in the comic, they kiss and that’s that. I don’t mind the shift in relationship, oh no, I mean sure I think Peter/MJ in the ultimate comic is the (pun very much intended) Ultimate Couple but we get no explanation why. I can only hope issue #2 alleviates my confusion, if not, I’ll be pissed.

To be perfectly honest I think this is a great dramatic shift. Cool even, this is the kind of shocking stuff that this series is made for but you can’t just have these 2 suddenly be a couple and not explain it at all. That’s random and idiotic. That’s poor storytelling and that’s rude to your readers.

I loved the ending I must admit, Mysterio taking out Kingpin. It looks like Bendis is building up Mysterio as the new big time villain in town. I’m glad for it as I’d love a really interesting version of Mysterio for once rather than the mediocre one we’re stuck with in the regular continuity.

So let me sum up why I’m so disappointed with this issue, it’s 3.99 when it doesn’t feel worth it at all, we get only brief glimpses at the supporting cast which is arguably the most important aspect to Ultimate Spider-man next to the webhead himself. All that plus we don’t even see most of the characters on the cover. We get one panel with MJ, a reference to Kitty, Jonny gets one whole page but that’s it. Where is Spider-woman? I was especially excited to see Spider-woman!

In the end for all my complaining about the story, for a first issue it wasn’t horrible. Bendis continues to handle character work well enough. His usual Bendis Speak does get a little grating after a while but I don’t mind it as much here since this isn’t a comic like New Avengers. Besides it even gets in some funny moments here.

Still for all this I don’t’ think this issue was anywhere near as good as it could have been. Bendis knows damn well by now what works and doesn’t work and this doesn’t work. This doesn’t hook me into wanting more, this makes me pissed that I wasted 3.99 on a comic that should be 2.99 and has nothing about it that makes it worth the dollar increase. This is just marvel trying to scam more money out of us once again, as if that wasn’t getting annoying by now.

Art Comments: for as much as I was disappointed by the writing, Lafuente didn’t let me down when it comes to the art. This is truly a beautiful looking comic. Lafuente does have a manga inspired style and usually I’m not a big fan of that but he makes it work. Especially with the amazing work from the colorist.

Really if there is one comic out this week I could recommend for the art alone this is it. Lafuente puts all the other artists to shame.

Final Comments: Longtime fans like myself of Ultimate Spider-man may be disappointed but should still give it a try. Even with the frustrations, random twists and little questions answered it was a decent issue and the art alone makes it worth while. Still at a 3.99 price tag, buy with caution.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 5 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Check It

Blackest Night #2
Written: Geoff Johns
Art: Ivan Reis

Opening Comments: After such a great debut issue last month Blackest Night sadly slows down a bit and this time doesn’t even bother going into space really. Something I’m sure is going to upset the longtime readers since the main mini is more focused on earth than space, though even with that problem Johns delivers an intense cool read.

Story Comments: This issue’s high point was the Aquaman resurrection. Though we open with the Atom going over to see the resurrected Hawkman. But this has nothing of consequence since we see Hawkman at the end, with no Atom in sight. An odd, rather poor, way to open the issue.

Now as I said the highlight here was Aquaman. Similar to Martian Manhunter it seems becoming evil works well for him. He’s an absolute badass as he insists on getting Mera back as his queen. He gets Aqualad turned into a Black Lantern but this is just such an awesome fight. It really made my day and was so intense and cool.

We pick up the fight last time for Martian Manhunter. It’s another good fight, not as good as the prior but still good enough to keep my attention and intensely reading each page in eagerness to read the next. It ends nicely but leads into next time with the Undead Justice League. An odd way to close the issue.

As for the rest of the issue we get some nice developments. Something very odd happens to the Specter, some more Black Lanterns rise and it’s all a good time. Still this issue definitely was lacking the same punch that last issue held and that’s sad since Johns really got things rolling nicely last time.

Yes sadly the pacing is rather off and I was disappointed that we didn’t even get to see Oa. I know Tomasi is handling that over in Green Lantern Corps but it’s rather stupid to have that cliff-hanger in issue #1 and not pick up on it at all.

Still for the most part I really enjoyed the story, the character work was nicely done and the action was good and intense.

Art Comments: Reis continues to impress like he did last month. Though honestly his work here isn’t quite as refined, he has some little odd moments which are disappointing but for the most part he does a great enough job and impresses.

Final Comments: If you’re not reading Blackest Night, go get issue #1, then this issue as you shouldn’t be missing out on this exciting new event that’s looking to shake things permanently. Hopefully though next time things will shake a little harder.

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

Ultimate Comics Avengers #1
Written: Mark Millar
Art: Carlos Pacheco

Opening Comments: Another disappointing comic, though luckily since I wasn’t majorly anticipating this one I’m not so let down. Sadly Millar had lots of potential to give us a cool reboot of the Ultimates line but rather we get an unimportant issue that does the bare essentials of starting the storyline.

Story Comments: I liked the opening between Nick Fury and Hawkeye, Millar does a great job with the dialogue between this two and to be fair he handles the characters all very nicely. Especially Hawkeye who thank god isn’t bitching about how he hates life like he was in Ultimates 3. Still this opening just serves as the now, as after this we spend the entire comic one day prior. A bad move by Millar as that means things won’t pick up at the very least until next time.

We see Hawkeye and Captain America taking out A.I.M. agents, a simple and rather uninteresting fight but I give Millar credit for writing Cap and Hawkeye as two of the most courageous and wild heroes I’ve ever seen. Cap especially is crazy and it’s great.

Things go bad when Cap jumps to another helicopter only to find the Red Skull who then beats him silly and throws him off the copter. Hawkeye catches him and releases his parachute, a cool moment but suddenly just like that we’re done with Cap whispering that Red Skull said he’s his son. An all right cliff-hanger that would have been ten times better if Millar hadn’t spoiled this already on the internet and at conventions.

This issue felt way too short, especially at 3.99 it just cuts away and leaves you staring blankly with an empty feeling of “that’s it? We’re done already? I paid an extra buck for this?!” which is the feeling I got and why I was so disappointed with this issue.

Still the character work is nice and the action is cool. But for what I was expecting to be an epic opening of the Ultimate Universe turned out to be a short and not too worthwhile read.

Art Comments: Pacheco starts out strong but his art, by the end, turns out to be more of his average work. I can’t blame him, the script doesn’t really give his spectacular art a lot of chances to shine, some cool looking moments here and there but for the most part his artwork was underutilized.

Final Comments: While a fairly flawed and slow start to the Ultimate Avengers comic I can't deny that upon rereading it I did enjoy it more. Even with the unfair price tag of 3.99 I say check this out and if you like it stick around for more.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 3 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Check It

Blackest Night: Batman #1
Written: Peter Tomasi
Art: Adrian Saef

Opening Comments: After hearing such great praises of his work I decided to check out this mini mainly for the name Tomasi on the cover. With a 2.99 price tag and only 3 issues, this is looking to be one Blackest Night tie-in you shouldn’t miss.

Story Comments: the opening with Batman and Robin was great. Damian not wanting to touch Bruce’s grave fit perfectly well and made for an interesting cool twist on the character. Tomasi is did a great job giving us a quick insight to his character.

Batman isn’t the only key player in this mini though, Deadman also has a stake in this as he tries to merge with his Black Lantern self, learns about them and then tells Batman and Robin. That’s the gist of the story but Tomasi does it while giving us great character dialogue, strong moments and a cool cliff-hanger to leave me wanting more.

This really is looking to be a mini-series that shouldn’t be missed out by Batman fans. Even if you don’t like the new Status Quo of Batman Reborn there’s plenty of great character work to make it worth your money. Also the issue is stuffed nicely to make it a worthwhile purchase.

We also see Dick’s parents rise as Black Lanterns and Tim’s as well. It’s an interesting twist even if we saw it coming from the solicits. It makes me excited to read more and see the characters reactions which I’m sure will be incredibly well handled.

I don’t want to spoil a lot of this issue because I give it my highest recommendation of the week.

Art Comments: the art here is nice. It’s not very unique or exciting but it’s good art that has good emotion and conveys the story nicely. Sadly there really isn’t much I can say on it.

Final Comments: If you’re avoiding most of the tie-ins like myself for Blackest Night then look at this one again and give it a shot. It’s worth your money for sure.

Writing: 5 out of 5
Art: 3 out of 5
Overall: 5 out of 5
Must Have

The Amazing Spider-man #602
Written: Fred Van Lente
Art: Barry Kitson

Opening Comments: After a flawed but well done issue I was hoping Van Lente could keep the momentum going for the return of MJ. Sadly this issue has a weak plot though makes up for it somewhat with strong character work.

Story Comments: the gist of this issue is the return of the Chameleon and he seems to be more important to the story than MJ. MJ does get a few moments near the end but mostly this is the Chameleon finally washing away the crap from that bland Obama back up that gave Marvel so much money.

I have got to say Van Lente does a great job with MJ. We again get no OMD pokes or frustrating little teases that she may remember. She’s just MJ doing her thing, being her cheery self and I loved it. This is what the fans want, not OMD pokes.

Chameleon is awesome again, I could write this entire review about him and tell you to buy this just to see the most creepy and badass version of Chameleon ever. Seriously it’s great and this has to be the best he’s been in years.

As for the rest of the issue though, it’s boring. Peter fights some boring robots, it’s not entertaining. Peter is applying for a job to work for JJJ (worst. Mayor. Ever.) and Chameleon wants to get close to JJJ so he steals Peter’s face then as MJ calls up Peter about Harry sleeping at the Coffee Bean we see Chameleon in Peter’s face and the chair Peter was in covered in acid, presuming that Peter is now dead.

All right, the cliff-hanger was okay but come on folks he’s’ not dead. He’s Spider-man. Giving us a “he’s dead!” cliff-hanger by now is pointless. I don’t mind the cliff-hanger really, it leaves me excited for more but at the same time it’s not that shocking.

Still with a fairly weak plot and pacing this issue doesn’t do a lot for me. Van Lente works some nice character magic and that’s about it really.

Art Comments: Kitson’s art is great here. While it’s fairly simplistic when compared to other artist working on Spider-man he doesn’t need to shine with uniqueness alone, he’s got a solid clean and beautiful style of art that’s just fine and does a good job.

Final Comments: This feels like part 1 to Red Headed Stranger, and I am happy to see that MJ wants to connect with Peter. Outside of that though I can’t give this issue a high recommendation, fans of MJ though should get something out of it.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Check It


Cat said... weren't to happy with your books this week huh? :-) I'm completely opposite on the two new Ultimate comics...I really enjoyed both of them. I do agree with you that the $3.99 price tag is a bit steep. I did buy some bad books today though. Ms Marvel & Deadpool were a complete waste of money.

Andrenn said...

@Cat: I think I set myself up too much this week. After such a simple week last time I was so excited to get some really big comics to sink my teeth in to, I was counting down the days in excitement and couldn't get to the shop. In all fairness to the 2 Ultimate Comics I think I set myself up too much and was disapointed by them when I read them. My expectations for Bendis was too high. In the long run I did enjoy UC Spider-man #1, but I'm still worried for the series. Hopefully issue #2 will settle my worries.

Also I'm really hoping Marvel does the smart thing like they did with Secret Warriors and drop the prices of these books to 2.99 after issues #1.

ChrisP_comicnerd said...

Dude, I went to the shop today and bought the new Ultimate Spider-Man #001, it is fantastic! I loved it. And The Blackest Night: Batman was good as well, I am going to do reviews on them, as well as the other three comics I bought today.

ChrisP_comicnerd said...

But, of course, it wasn't as good as the Ultimate Spider-Man that I did a review on. I don't think anything can really compare to that Spider-Man story.

Andrenn said...

@ChrisP: Upon further reading, I was more impressed with the Ultimate Comics than originally. They where good reads.

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