Comix this week! October 19, 2011

What is it about October that brings out the Blog in me? I have bounced around different sites, but I have decided to settle here for all my egotistical ramblings. Now, back in the day (writing that phrase is how you know you are old) I used to do this email comic review with some friends of mine which we appropriately called “Comics this week”. I have decided to resurrect it here for all to dissect and critique with me. Expect new posts every Wednesday.

 Justice League #2 Written by Geoff Johns, Pencils by Jim Lee, and Inks by Scott Williams.

Johns and Lee continue the story begun in last month’s relaunch.

Plot: The mystery of the alien incursion (cough cough Darkseid) unfolds as Batman and Green Lantern get into a slobber knocker with Superman. After exhausting nearly all their weapons and tactics against Big Blue, Green Lantern calls in The Flash (literally calls him mid-battle on a cell phone) and the heroes come together at the end to figure out what is going on. At the end, the “Mother boxes” (alien box) open up the “boom tubes” (wormholes) allowing armies of Para-Demons to invade the Earth, frying the heck out of a young Victor Stone in the process.

Writing: Johns continues to lay the groundwork of the New 52 as the JL comes together. The new Superman is still in a time and place where he is a loner and distrusting of just about everybody. Green Lantern is still new at his job and reflects the recklessness inherent in that. Flash is a cop who follows the law and does not consider himself a vigilante. Batman is Batman. Like previous incarnations, he is the one keeping the League on the job and focused. Vic Stone is getting a great set up on his road to becoming “Cyborg: A-Lister”. His dad is a man obsessed with the Superheroes, which will carry forward nicely as he needs to find a way to “fix” his injured son. There is a great sense of fun in the title. Johns is not afraid to throw out some humor amid the action, which is a great alternative the doom and gloom and Bwa-haha stories in past comics. He rides the edge nicely.

Art: Not much needs to be said about Jim Lee. When he delivers his work on time, it is great. When he delivers it late…its still great. This is one of the guy that defined that 1990’s Comic Art for me. He was a god to the young Ponte, and continues to be a great influence on my comic tastes.

Overall: A great issue. The slow burn heats up a lot by the end of this issue. Half the League is formed, and we are well on the way to seeing how the world turned from fearing superheroes to loving them.

 Supergirl #2 Written By Michael Green & Mike Johnson. Pencils by Mahnud Asrar and Inks by Dan Green.

Plot: Kara Zor-El believes she was on Krypton three days ago and her cousin Kal-el is just a baby. Now, she finds herself on a strange world named Earth, with powers she does not understand, fighting a powerful being claiming to be her baby cousin. In what I can only call a family reunion from hell, they fight across Asia, literally across Asia. By issue’s Superman calms her down, and he tells her that Krypton is gone. It ends with a mysterious governmental? agency studying the pod that brought her to earth and the information crystal within.

Writing: Green and Johnson do a great job of revealing pieces of Krypton history. What I liked most was the concept of the “Worldkiller” program. It appears to have been some sort of Super Soldier military project on Krypton. Zod is still a force to be reckoned with as Kara name drops him.

Art: Johnson draws a good fight scene, and that is what this issue is…one giant fight. Supergirl punching Superman through the great Wall of China never looked better (not that I have ever seen that before).

Overall: Supergirl continues to surprise me. It was one of those New 52 titles that I was hesitant to read. I am pleased to report that this title is one of the better of the 52. There was no exposition needed right off the bat. The story begins with Kara on Earth and confused. I look forward to seeing the story of Argo city unveiled in future issues.

 Batman #2 Written by Scott Snyder, Pencils by Greg Capullo, Inks by Jonathan Glapion

Story: Dick Grayson…Murderer?! Bruce Wayne…next victim?! Batman hunts the “Owl” killer, while evidence leads to Dick Grayson. Of course, Dick is innocent, but who is the killer? Bruce Wayne comes under assault atop Wayne Tower and defeats the Assassin. It ends with the Owl Killer rising from the dead?!

Writing: Snyder has a tight plot, beautifully set up with Bruce Wayne being thrown out of Wayne Tower, with the story that follows telling the tale of how we got to that point. It has been used a thousand times, but this is still one of my favorite story devices. I enjoy that Snyder is delving into the history of Gotham City in the series. Bruce Wayne is not just the son of Dr Wayne, but is descended from many generations of the family. Gotham is in his DNA and Snyder enjoys reminding us of that.

Art: Capullo draws some good gore, and he always has. We have stabbings and an autopsy and a few killings giving Capullo a chance to show his stuff. He has demonstrated his ability to draw caped figures fighting in the night quite expertly throughout the 90’s in Spawn, and he, like McFarlane, is a great fit for Batman.

Overall: Another solid issue of Batman from Snyder. This was a great case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Pre-52 Batman was very very good, and they are not messing with the formula.

Green Lantern Corps #2: Written by Peter J Tomasi, Pencils by Fernando Pasarin, and Inks by Scott Hanna

Story: Someone is killing Green Lanterns. A group led by Guy Gardner and John Stewart travel to find the culprits. The strange alien menace is stealing water and air from other planets in a plot that reminds me of Spaceballs, but more violent.

Writing: A very lackluster issue. The story functions well, but as an introductory plot it leaves me a bit cold. There is an awful lot of Green Lanterns being torn limb from limb, and the overall goal of the enemy is not impressive.

Art: No complains on the art. The creatures are well designed, and the action is well executed.

Overall: I am invested in Green Lantern pretty heavily (every issue back to the 70’s) so I am not gonna be dropping this title, but they need to bring a better game. Tomasi can write some good stuff, but this is not jiving for me. Green Lantern, with Batman, was the other character that was not meddled with at all in the reboot. Sales were strong and the story was good. This is the first good title that has taken a nosedive following the reboot for me. I am hoping that as we get deeper into the story, there will be a turn around.

  Wonder Woman #2 Written by Brian Azzarello, Art by Cliff Chiang

Story: Wonder Woman has a woman who is carrying the daughter of Zeus! She brings the woman, and the injured god Hermes to Paradise Island for refuge. After being initially suspected of being intruders by the Amazons, they are given asylum. Diana’s origin is retold (being molded from Clay), and she competes in some athletic competitions while back home. The story ends with an attack by The Goddess Eris, called Strife here, and a revelation that she and Diana are…sisters?!

Writing: Azzarello is rocking this title. Wonder Woman is rarely done well. George Perez understood her 20 years ago, and Gail Simone did great with her a few years back, but Azzarello is off to the best start on her I have seen since the 80’s. We are not being served with another “Hero learning her trade” story. Diana knows who she is, and what her place is as Wonder Woman. Part of the charm of this tale is what is coming next issue, as Diana learns a secret from her past.

Art: Beautiful. Simply beautiful. The Designs on the Gods are great. They are not the typical “Spartan armor/Toga” versions we have been served with for years. Strife is very Goth, Hermes looks like a damn alien. The design on Hera is very Greek/Middle Eastern, but she is the queen of Mount Olympus, so it works.

Overall: Another pleasant surprise from the New 52. What was once at the bottom of my “Must read” list is now at the top with the best of them. Wonder Woman is one to watch.

 Nightwing #2 Written by Kyle Higgins, Pencils by Eddy Barrows, Inks by J.P. Mayer and Paulo Siqueira.

Story: Someone wants Dick Grayson: Murderer dead! I cannot but help think that this is tied to the murder frame happening over in Batman. A mysterious Assassin tries to kill Dick Grayson and “Nightwing” steps into the fight to stop him. Following the brief tussle, Dick gets his romance on with Raya from Haly’s Circus and gets pulled into a request from Circus owner Mr Haly. He travels to Atlantic City and meets with the dying Haly who reveals that ownership of the circus is now falling to Dick. The Assassin discovers the Haly connection and tortures the old man to the point where he reveals Nightwing’s identity. Old Mr Haly dies before he can reveal to Dick a “secret” in the circus.

Writing: Well written, best I can say. Higgins keeps the reader interested, especially at the end with the talk of secrets. I am curious to see if there will be a link with the Court of Owls over in Batman.

Art: Excellent panels and splash pages are used to great effect. Barrows continues to grow as an artist in DC, building on his work on Superman to bring a great dynamic to this title.

Overall: As stated before, so many issues were added with great trepidation in this new 52 era of DC comics. Nightwing is not as strong as some of the other titles out there, but he is safe from cancellation for now.

 DC Universe Presents #2 Written by Paul Jenkins, Art by Bernard Chang

Story: Deadman wants answers from the goddess who fated him to inhabit the bodies of people. He wants to know why he is doing it, and what the endgame is. After catching her in a lie (why am I seeing the faces of those I quantum Leap into), Boston jumps from body to body infiltrating a nightclub where there is a mysterious woman called The Librarian. She is a fallen angel in possession of books that tell the fate of every soul. His, and all those linked to him, end in damnation.

Writing: Jenkins does a good job of moving the story along by having Boston leap into dozens of bodies, all to start what is essentially a bar fight in the club. He comes across a room full of vampires and monsters who can see him, and they think he is some sort of stand up comedian at one point. It was pretty uneven in those sections, but it moves along well enough. Not his best stuff.

Art: Great cover by Ryan Sook, and OK art by Chang inside. He does a good job of making the confusion of the club fight scene understandable.

Overall: I am giving this one more issue. This is supposed to be a title that showcases various minor characters in the DC lineup. The Deadman story is supposed to run 5 issues long. I think this is way too long. I would prefer 2-3 issue arcs on each character. Deadman is great, but I am not sure if I can keep interested in this for another 3 months. I may pop off for a while and return in the next arc.

 Avengers 1959 #2 by Howard Chaykin

Story: Following a series of attacks on the 1959 version of the Avengers by Nazis, Nick Fury gets recruited by Powell McTeague to bring the Avengers on a mission to uncover these Fifth Column Nazis and take care of them.

Writing: Its Howard Chaykin.

Art: Its Howard Chaykin. You love it, or hate it.

Overall: Great follow up to the story in the Avengers. Seeing Fury lead a team of Mad Men era Avengers was inspired. The team make up is awesome, but I am interested in this character called The Englishman. Is it a pre-existing character from the period? Could this be young Jarvis? I am in all the way with this title.

  Avengers 18: Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Daniel Acuna

Story: Following the events of Fear Itelf, Steve Rogers finds himself back in his role as Captain America: leader of the Avengers. Gathering in the Old Avengers Mansion, Steve lets the team know that it is time to decide who should continue to be Avengers- prompting confusion by the members. Throughout the issue, we see a “greatest hits” of the last few years worth of stories. There is a woman who has been working for SHIELD, collecting DNA samples from all the members of the teams. At the end of the issue, she turns these samples over to HAMMER for their nefarious purposes.

Writing: Bendis is at a point now where he knows this stuff left and right. His definitions of the characters of this team are the standard. He is a “Architect” for a reason.

Art: The art left me a little cold. There was not much to play with in this issue other than a lot of characters talking to each other, but it went well enough. Acuna likes that “painted” look in his stuff, and he uses it a lot in this issue. While the cover is nice, I am not sold on Acuna as an interior artist just yet. I feel he needs to season a bit more.

Overall: I picked this one up just to see the follow up to Fear Itself, and I was not let down.

 Fear Itself #7: By Fraction and everybody else.

Plot: The Heroes get superweapons, and defeat the Serpent God. Thor dies. Was this that hard? Did we need 7 issues?

Writing: yeah…

Art: Art first It was ok. It seems as if every other page was done by a different artist…because it nearly was lol.

Overall: The multiple epilogues and closing chapters do a great job of closing out this monster turd of an event. Fraction had some really great things to work with in this story: Iron Man re-succumbing to alcohol, a secret Serpent God Brother to Odin, 8 Hammers, similar to Thor’s, that bestow evil powers, the Death of Bucky (again), and the death of Thor. This should have been awesome, but it was poorly executed and ultimately uninteresting. The Last issue was the best of the series, sadly. This series was the final straw that got me to stop reading Fraction’s Iron man.

Now on the last page, we get a 2 age splash advertising “It is Coming” with a flaming Phoenix depicted. I am fearful of what this one will be, and how they are going to screw up the phoenix force, and the possible return of Jean Grey.

Coming tomorrow: A Recap of New York Comic Con.

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