Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comic reviews - November 8th 2009

Apologies for the delay in reviews, with grades just around the corner yours truly has been burning the midnight oil (does anyone use that term anymore?) to catch up with what he missed when he was out for a week with swine flu. So after the Halloween post I’ve sort of just been trying my best to catch up. No Week’s End but a The Week Begins tomorrow at least. And hey, at least I finally got these reviews done!

Haunt #2
Written: Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane
Art: Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane

Opening Comments: though the first issue failed to blow me away, I remained hopeful for the young series of Haunt. Kirkman didn’t impress me too much more but I can say the art was definitely a resounding success.

Story Comments: Haunt #2 was a big step up for the young series after the troubled debut issue and it renewed my faith in the young series and has me excited once more for it as we watch the tales unfold.

I really liked was that Kirkman is doing a good ob of subtlety making Daniel a more likable guy. Sure he’s still a sour jerk but at the same time we see glimpses of a good guy beneath the pissed off priest exterior.

Probably the one moment I saw a nice guy in Daniel the most was when the Cleaner showed up. Daniel was obviously nervous about meeting a cleaner but once they got to know each other a little bit he seemed more comfortable around him and this showed he’s not such a stuck up jerk who looks down at everyone as it seemed from issue #1.

It was great seeing Haunt out and in action as he has some really cool moves and it’s actually a lot of fun to read Daniel and Kurt’s back and forth when they are fighting as Haunt. Kirkman has developed the dynamic nicely and is using it well here.

About Haunt sticking to the wall. Honestly I can’t see why so many people hate that he can do this. As if Spider-man is the only hero allowed to swing around or stick to walls and anyone else is just a rip off. Sure it’s not 100% original but is anything these days?

Even Batman, the hero everyone loves so much, was inspired by a movie called The Bat. It had a man in a Bat costume, using the Bat-signal and climbing up rope. Only real difference is the Bat was a killer and Batman is a hero. Everything is inspired or has similarities to something, so if you’re going to bitch about one thing why not bitch about the other? Doesn’t see people calling Bob Kane unoriginal.

Obviously there’s a hint of Spawn and a hint of Spider-man, but that doesn’t automatically make this character unoriginal or bad.

Another thing I hear a lot of people complain about is that it has the Image feel of being gritty and gory. Compared to Spawn or Cyberforce, Haunt really doesn’t feel like those books at all. Just because a book is gory or gritty doesn’t make it like these other books at all in my opinion.

Though to be fair I grew up with Image so maybe I’m a tad bias or I don’t notice the Image style. This feels like a completely different book from any of the classic Image books of the 90’s so I can’t see where the influence comes in.

Now as for the story I must say I’m really glad that Kirkman was able to give us a solid story that progressed fluidly (with the exception of a certain moment I’ll talk about)) last issue Kirkman jumped from scene to scene, here the way this issue’s story flowed felt much more natural and I liked it a lot for that.

I really liked the character of the Cleaner. It seems that for now he’s just a one shot character that appeared for only 2 pages but Kirkman did a good job showing there is an established connection between him and Kurt so seeing him return or be a regular character would be great and I’d love that. Maybe he could even be a character that helps Daniel whenever things get messy as Haunt. Just a thought.

Action was handled very nicely here. Maybe it was because of the lay outs by Capullo but either way I loved the action here. It was very cool to see Haunt move and twist about and use his powers as he fights.

I have never talked about lettering before, but I must say that Richard Starkings did a really good job here. I like the thought bubble type bubble we have to distinguish Kurt talking from Daniel.

I seriously want a Spawn bong. Make it had TMP! Make it happen!

I did like the cliff-hanger mostly for that it did a good job of leading is into next issue with a new plot twist and finishing up what’s happened so far with the Cobra fight, delaying it for now and I am really interested to see what Daniel can figure out from Kurt’s HQ.

I mentioned that odd jump. It was just so out of place for us suddenly to see this big mess and the next minute Daniel is walking out like nothing happened. Just a really shoddy moment that I think could have been handled better with a quick transition scene.
Cobra was a fairly bland villain. While it’s clear that he and Kurt have some history, so far the villain does nothing for me and for an opening villain Kirkman failed to make him at all interesting. He’ll be showing up in issue #4 and I’m hoping Kirkman can give me a reason to give a damn by then.

Overall Haunt #2 was a good enjoyable read with some seriously gorgeous art. This series is on it’s way to great things at this rate as Kirkman did a great job getting things rolling for the future.

Art Comments: The biggest improvement was the art. Usually Ottley turns in absolutely gorgeous stuff over in Invincible and his art on Haunt #1, while it never got bad, was definitely far from his strong work on Invincible and I credited this mostly to the overly done line work that came with the inks.

Here it’s much smoother looking and it definitely looks a lot better. This is a much better blend of Ottley’s gorgeous pencil work and McFarlane’s strong inking. Of course I also continue to love the page lay outs by Capullo as he really gives the already great art an extra amount of uniqueness to it all.

Also the coloring was better as it helped give depth to the characters rather then just have them all looking gloomy in a dark place.

Overall the art was gorgeous this issue and much closer to the Ottley art I love.

Final Comments: If Haunt #1 put you off to the series and you aren’t reading it, I definitely recommend you give Haunt #2 a shot as the series really does seem to be heading for good things in the future. Try to get past some of the obvious influences and enjoy it for what it is and I think you’ll find an exciting and enjoyable new series to read.

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

Gaze upon the Spawn Bong and it’s awesomeness.

Ultimate Comics Spider-man #4
Written: Brian Bendis
Art: David Lafuente

Opening Comments: Ultimate Comics Spider-man #4 is the best issue so far of the young series and definitely impressed me greatly as this was a lot more of the Ultimate Spider-man that I knew and loved as it did a great job of blending the personal character drama and action that the old series was known for.

Story Comments: My favorite aspect to this issue was the confession by MJ that she misses being with Peter. I was really annoyed at how Bendis just randomly split them up without so much as a reason why, so seeing him address this was really great and I’m glad for it. It almost feels worth the surprise of the time skip.

Bendis handles the interaction between these 3 characters very nicely and I especially liked how Gwen kept calm about this. Rather then being all upset that MJ was being like this she did the smart thing and tried to be there for her friend regardless of the situation and that was a smart move by Bendis not to go with the cliché of angry girlfriend vs. upset ex.

It was also nice seeing Peter and Gwen both try to re-establish their friendship with MJ. And not in the “ex boyfriend being cool” way either. That made me laugh. Though this does make sense for their characters to be like this and reach out to MJ no matter what as they  both still care about her.

Of course like always Bendis handles all the dialogue nicely as nothing here felt like filler as it was all interesting and fun to read like Bendis has always been able to do with Ultimate Spider-man.

The scene with Jonny Storm was honestly hilarious. I love the way he and Peter interact, you do get somewhat of a big brother and little brother vibe. Bendis has already established these 2 as great friends but it’s really cool seeing them develop a brotherly relationship and I really look forward to seeing where Bendis takes that.

Speaking of that brotherly relationship, that’s just going to make things even more awkward when Jonny finds Spider-woman.

I am also glad that Bendis hasn’t been shoving the Peter/Gwen relationship and trying to force us to get used to it and is just gradually showing them together without showing them as couple of the century or something. He’s easing us into it better and it’s not so frustrating when a writer does that.

I continue to be interested in the Shrouded figure. Peter hinted that he thinks it may be Sue Storm but I’m not so sure. I don’t remember all of who survived Ultimatum but one guess I have is possibly Colossus or maybe Ice man. He was on the cover to #1 but we’ve yet to see him.

Kitty is another possibility. Right now I’d say she’s the highest possibility since she can phase through things and the bullets never seem to scar the Shroud so I’m guessing she’d just phase through them.

I did like the moment where MJ and Gwen both shouted for him to be careful. I sense that there will be some competition between the two even if Peter wont’ realize it. Bendis is doing a good job of setting up some interesting new twists for these characters.

one complaint I did have with the story was that I was disappointed that Mysterio only actually showed up for one page. He’s been developed nicely by Bendis into a cool now villain and I was disappointed that he only showed up in one page.

Also it was predictable that the Hulk turned out to be another trick by Mysterio.

I was bugged how the solicits mentioned something important happening with Kitty that would affect Peter’s life, but Kitty doesn’t show up here at all.
Overall I really did like this issue a lot and this is starting to feel like Ultimate Spider-man after taking some time to adjust to the time-skip.

Art Comments: The art by Lafuente continues to be gorgeous. I especially loved the shot of Hulk that just made him look towering and massive and it was awesome. He’s also doing a better job of keeping Spider-man’s head more normal and I really like it. He delivers some great stuff here.

Much as I loved Lafuente’s art I do have one complaint with how he draws Gwen. For whatever reason she always has make up on, 24/7 it seems and it’s really annoying. I can understand that she has it on at school, but in home? During family dinner? That just seems so out of place and weird.

Final Comments: If you decided to skip Ultimate Comics Spider-man then I definitely suggest you give it another look as it’s really starting to turn back into the comic we all knew and loved. Sure it’s still got some bumps on the road but at the rate things are going smooth sailing is ahead. Highly recommended to all.

Story: 5 out of 5
Art: 5 out of 5
Overall: 5 out of 5
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