Saturday, May 14, 2011

Week in Review 5/15/11

Batman Inc. #6
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Company: DC Comics

I'm just going to throw this out there to the masses:  Batman fights Mario and Luigi of Super Mario Bros. fame.  I kid you not.  But that's not all that happens in this sixth issue of Batman Inc., the major plot with Leviathan is moved forward.  We also get to see Bruce meet with various other Batmen that he has established all over the globe.  Like always, there is a lot to digest and enjoy.  I guess the one word that I would use to describe the psychedelic pinball machine that Morrison has made this book is this:  FUN.  The Silver Age feel, the happy Batman...It's all extremely
bizarre and quirky and wonderful.  Burnham's art, which is channeling a cross between Frank Quitely and Lee Garbett, is striking.  He has all of the makings of a great artist:  Great structure, complexities of backgrounds, energetic style...I could go on, but suffice it to say that he's damn good and he's proving it time and time again.  All in all, Morrison's Batman has been consistently kicking ass and taking names now for five years.  I hope for it to continue for another 5.
Birds of Prey #12
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Company: DC Comics

Another extremely solid issue from Gail Simone that pits our resident heroes into tackling two missions:  A Huntress and Question one that sees them go after crooked cops, and the second one where the rest of the team infiltrates the stronghold of a villain who threatens the entire East Coast.  It's a pretty beefy issue, stocked to the gills with cool moments and neat action.  Drawing all of that neat action, making it look as spiffy as can be, is new series artist Jesus (Manhunter) Saiz.  Saiz has always been a great artist and his deft skills here add a new layer to an already entertaining book. My one small complaint with the art is that there is a lack of backgrounds.  Disappointing, sure, but Saiz's anatomy and the kinetic-ism of his pencils are so strong that isn't as distracting as it could have been.  On the story side of things Simone also throws in, like she has done in the past, a connection with her other books.  This one makes a lot of sense, but I didn't see it coming and was thoroughly surprised by the reveal.  It's always nice when a comic can do that.

DC Comics Presents Legion of Super Heroes Damned #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Company: DC Comics

In preparation for the Legion Lost HC that is coming out in a short period of time, DC gives us DnA's first foray into the 31st Century with this prestige format volume.  And at $7.99, not an insignificant amount of change, it's entirely worth it.  The story, which sees the Legion and the world of Earth being dominated and enslaved by an alien race known only as the Blight (think Borg mixed with the Phalanx), is downright creepy.  There's a resistance to the takeover, but DnA do a great job of getting across just how harsh things have been and just how dire the situation has become.  They also are able to make the enormous roster of the Legion discernible, something that oftentimes is a headache.  Providing the visuals to the affair is a young Olivier (Thor) Coipel.  In fact, I believe that this was one of his first jobs as an artist and while the style used here is nothing like the style he uses now, the bare bones of it still shine.  His pencils are a bit looser and organic, but it reads just as well and he gets to be inventive with the design of the Blight.  This is a near perfect mini.  I highly recommend picking it up.

FF #3
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting
Company: Marvel Comics

A few months ago I wasn't following Fantastic Four.  I wasn't interested.  The FF are a concept that I love, but it's rare that there's been an iteration of them that has really resonated with me.  Waid's run was truly the last one that I was excited for.  Then Randy Lander said to me, "Try it.  I know you'll like it."  So, I did.  And I did like it.  Hickman gets these characters.  He understands what makes them tick and never forgets to include the scientific adventuring that makes the FF great.  This issue continues in that vein.  Hickman furthers the plot with Doom, hearkens back to the Reeds from the Other Worlds and continues making Valeria a force to be reckoned with.  Epting, on the flip side, nails the art.  It's detailed and engrossing, perhaps better than what he was doing with his work on Captain America.  The new costume designs are even growing on me, which I didn't think was possible.  Really, this was another in a long series of great issues from this book.  If there ever was a time to give the FF a try, this would be it.

Flash #12
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scott Kolins & Francis Manapul
Company: DC Comics

To say that this was an unsatisfying conclusion to the current story arc would be a complete understatement.  Johns' rushes with reveals, probably stuffing what could have easily been two issues worth of material into a single comic so that the end would happen before the first issue of Flashpoint occurred.  I'm also not a huge fan of sad sack Barry Allen, which seems to have become his standard mood lately.  The art ranges from rushed to beautiful.  Scott Kolins, typically one of my favorite artists in the business, work here seems lackluster.  He's trying to emulate Manapul a bit too much to keep a bit of continuity and the style just doesn't work for him.  I kept wanting him to cut loose and do what he has shown he can do on Flash, but like with the story, things were just moving too fast it seems.  Overall, while I think Flashpoint will be a fun story, I'm hoping that the proper Flash book sways back into the territory it was at when it restarted.  Flash should be fun, and sadly that's something that's been missing for a couple of months.

Red Robin #23
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Marcus To
Company: DC Comics

Taking second place in the hierarchy of cool in the Bat-Universe, Red Robin has been consistently a stand out.  Let me say it another way:  You should be reading this book, especially if you are a fan of Tim Drake.  Drake's continued growth as a master detective, and simply as a character, has been a blast to watch.  Nicieza has been coming up with interesting story elements and has created a nice niche for him, giving him his own crew and love interests.  This issue sees a villain from his past return and take on a job that leads to an assassination attempt on Lucius Fox.  There's more to it of course, a twist if you will, but I wouldn't spoil the fun for you.  To's art is classic in appearance.  He has solid story telling skills followed up by an ability to choreograph action in a way that is pleasing to the eye.  In the end, Red Robin is super heroics at their best.  Nicieza is able to give us everything a comic book should have to be memorable and enjoyable. That is enough for me.

X-Men Legacy #248
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Jorge Molina
Company: Marvel Comics

Age of X is over.  Bring on the Aftermath!  That is exactly what Mike Carey does here, focusing on the trial and tribulations that these characters endured during their stay in Legion's created world.  Seeing those ramifications are more than interesting (especially in cases like Cyclops and Cannonball and Pixie) and the way that something like this can affect a particular character is potentially great for further stories.  Carey is a character driven guy.  He's proven that with his run on Legacy time and time again with his ability to channel Claremont in the best way.  My only worry is that he may be gathering up too big of a group to focus on and things might get lost in the shuffle somewhere.  I hope that doesn't happen though.  Molina's art is serviceable, but there were times where the character's faces looked wrong or out of proportion, which took me out of the story a bit.  Still, the story has me.  I want to see where things will go.

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