Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week in Review 05/10/11

Herc #2
Writer: Grek Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Neil Edwards
Company: Marvel Comics

Action packed. Smart. Entertaining. Smile inducing. All of these things can be said about the first two issues of the Son of Zeus' newest incarnation. The dynamic of Hercules as a human continues to work. It humanizes him and allows the character to grow in ways that we haven't seen yet. Also, Pak and Van Lente's idea of gearing him up with powerful "gadgets" is just innately cool. With this issue we see Herc go toe to toe with Kingpin's newest henchman, Hobgoblin. I will say that I don't know much about this Hobgoblin, and while he seems a bit of a Deadpool clone, he works as a good villain for the story and the ensuing battle has a lot of high points. The strong art by Edwards doesn't hurt either. The action is clear and decisive and memorable.
Three things that you most certainly want in your comics. Overall, Herc continues to surprise. Do yourselves a favor and check the series out.

Secret Six #33
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Calafiore
Company: DC Comics

Believe it or not, Secret Six has become Gail Simone's best book.  Sure, it's easy to go back to the earlier (and current) issues of Birds of Prey and say that those were great too.  They were.  No doubt about it.  Still, there's something about the Six.  In every issue (this one included) Simone caters to all of the things you could want.  You want villains?  You want horror?  You want action?  You want sick and twisted humor that makes you laugh and question your own sense of morality?  You want defining character arcs?  Yeah, you're covered on all fronts.  With this issue we see "The Darkest House" arc come to a conclusion, and let me tell you this, it concludes with a bang and proves to be quite satisfying.  Califore's art is a little hit and miss with me though.  Sometimes it works and drives the point of what is happening on the page home, but there are others times where it just seems a bit muddled and meh.  Overall though, the story and the way that it impacts on this rag tag group of killers, mutilators and schemers trumps such issues.

Uncanny X-Force #9
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Billy Tan
Company: Marvel Comics

While I normally find Uncanny X-Force to be among the strongest, if not the actual strongest, of the X-Men titles, this issue left me a little on the cold side.  That may have been the point to some extent, seeing as how the issue centered on Magneto finding out about the team and then blackmailing them into exterminating a person from his past to keep silent.  That's pretty cold.  Still, the whole shebang felt rushed and off balance.  Billy Tan, best known for his work on Uncanny X-Men, is an interesting fit here.  He's tuning his style to feel a little more in line with Jerome Opena's, which is both good and bad.  A part of me wants him to cut loose and do his own thing, as I find Tan's art to be getting better and better as the years go by.  Another part of me wants the feel that Opena has created to stick around, as it feels like, for lack of a better word, home for X-Force.  While I do think that this was a lackluster outing, this book has been great.  Remender's sensibilities lead to some great out of the box stuff, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next.

Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: David Baldeon
Company: Marvel Comics

Well, let's get something out of the way first.  I love Arcade.  And no, I'm not speaking in Caveman talk and saying that I love arcades (which I do have a fondness for, I won't lie).  Arcade the character is who I am speaking of.  Yes, the inventor of Murderworld.  He may not be th greatest character, he just happens to speak to me.  That said, while I do love that he's the villain du jour here, beyond that there is not a lot of love for this issue.  The concept it simple (members of Avengers Academy and Young Allies) get caught in Murderworld because Arcade needs to make a new name for himself.  Traditional fight ensues.  End scene.  There's no pop to be found.  It's all bright lights and noise with no substance to really sink your teeth into.  And for $7.99, there should be something that really makes an impact.  Instead, this one ends up being fairly forgettable.

Moon Knight #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Company: Marvel Comics

Moon Knight has traditionally been called the Batman of the Marvel Universe.  I personally like that version of the character.  I did not care for the psychotic, "I rip your face off and laugh maniacally," version that Charlie Huston brought about a few years back.  But what about this version?  Bendis' version?  It's...okay.  I like the idea of moving him out of his typical waters and into the Hollywood scene.  That works.  What doesn't work for me so much is the characters continual downward spiral into a psychological purgatory that he will probably be stuck in for some time.  A part of me wishes that Bendis, who can be a great writer, would step back from a project and try to take his usual quirks out and just write a great story.  He's capable of that.  He simply doesn't do it that often, case in point being the punch-line of this issue, which made my inner Moon Knight fan cringe.  Maleev however does a good job with this one.  The action doesn't feel stiff and Matthew Wilson's colors really do job of creating the seedy underbelly that should belong in the city of L.A..  Really though, this book did not excite me.

Heroes for Hire #6
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Company: Marvel Comics

Hands down, the best comic of the week.  Why?  Because DnA know how to write one hell of a story.  Some might say that they are bit old school in their storytelling, and I can see the criticism to some extent.  I however do not agree that it is a bad thing.  They are able to remind us of what made the comics of our childhood cool while at the same time invigorating them with current sensibilities. They also realize, like they have in just about anything that they have written lately, that they are playing in the Marvel Universe and aren't afraid to thrown in a ton of references.  With this issue, they somehow make Paladin (a character I could go either way with) cool and team him up with Spider-Man while at the same time furthering the story of who was behind Misty Knight's recent incarceration.  There's humor, action and the characters are all taken seriously and never one note.  You can tell that the writers actually care.  Walker's art is just as good as the story, grand and fun and blasting right off the page.  Like I said before, Best Comic of the Week.

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