Friday, June 17, 2011

Week in Review 6/17/11

Avengers #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Company: Marvel Comics
Well first off, Romita Jr. continues to keep the ball rolling with successful and amazing art.  This knock down drag out slug fest between Red Hulk and the newly "Hammered" Thing looks beautiful.  The action is splashy, well thought out, and it all feels very dynamic.  This is the true definition of what comic book action should equal.  The story side is where things get a bit shaky with this one.  What do I mean by that?  Well, one of the biggest issues is that the entire book is told in the past tense by talking Avengers heads (for fun, in your head flip around who's saying it
doesn't matter).  The idea of doing this as a writer's tool is okay and I have seen it used well.  That just isn't the case here.  Another thing that bugged me personally was the comparison of this story and one of, if not the best, Avengers story Avengers: Under Siege, which is done through character dialogue.  I wouldn't mind it so much if it hadn't felt as if it was saying that this story was better than that one.  It felt wrong and out of place.  Again, Avengers lately has just felt off.  I think it really boils down to the fact that Bendis, while a great single character writer, really has some problems when dealing with a team book.  There are pretty pictures here though. 

Batgirl #22
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Company: DC Comics
In accordance with Bruce Wayne and with her standing in the new Batman Inc., this issue sees Stephanie Brown make a cross continental jaunt to merry ol' England.  I do have to say, before really getting to the meat and potatoes of this issue, that writer Bryan Q. Miller has been doing some great stuff with this title over the past year and a half or so.  He has fleshed out Stephanie Brown as a character and while he did stray into some darker stories, he never lost the "fun".  This issue may in fact be my favorite.  Not only do we get fun loving Stephanie, but when you have a book in England in the DCU, you have to have Knight and Squire show up.  There are a veritable ton of fun, not mention laugh out loud, moments in here as Squire and Batgirl save the city from a menace who can bend the will of time itself.  Drawing this affair is Pere (Birds of Prey/Action Comics) Perez and the work is so animated and youthful and works so well that it conveys a sense of energy on the page that really gets the reader even more interested in the story that's playing out.  At the end of the day, this is a done in one book that epitomizes what a great comic book is.

Batman #711
Writer: Tony Daniel
Artist: Steve Scott
Company: DC Comics
A mediocre outing for Daniel and Scott I'm afraid.  The main problem that this book has right off the bat is that for a book titled Batman, there is hardly any Batman in it at all.  That kind of thing could be alleviated by injecting interesting characters that take up the slack, but Daniel's Two-Face doesn't cut the mustard.  This issue is obviously in mid story, a story that focuses on the appearance of someone close to Harvey Dent's heart, but it feels choppy and uneven throughout.  It also seems to build on things that happened in Long Halloween, which while a fun idea, should have been executed better.  Much of the dialogue feels campy or forced or simply unbelievable and Scott's artwork isn't as polished as Daniel's even.  There was a scene in particular that had an almost cartoon-y vibe to it that made me think I was watching a Looney Tune short.  That's not the kind of thing you want to feel when you're reading Batman.  All in all, I really hope that Daniel can step it up when he moves to Detective Comics.

Dungeons & Dragons #8
Writer: John Rogers
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Company: IDW Publishing
Somehow, John Rogers keeps rolling critical hits with every issue of this comic.  That's probably because of two things.  Well okay, three things, if you count the simple fact that he is a great storyteller.  One is that he obviously has a general fondness of Dungeons and Dragons.  You can easily tell that in his writing and with the knowledge of the places and monsters, this time out throwing our characters into the Feywild.  I would say that there's a similar feel to this and the old G.I. Joe that Larry Hama wrote, as he too had a love for that property like Rogers has a love for this one.  The second thing are the characters.  These characters, in a short span of time, exude a coolness and a likability factor that boggles the mind.  Seeing them jibe and smack talk while at the same time beating down some evil gnomes...That's a good time.  Andrea Di Vito is also back in the saddle with this issue and is continuing to make things look impossibly good.  He really sells the alien qualities of the Feywild while at the same time making sure that the fighting feels smooth and fluid.  This book has not swayed in its level of excellence and in fact has only gotten better.  That's impressive.  Most impressive.

Fear Itself Youth in Revolt #2
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Mike Norton
Company: Marvel Comics
First and foremost, the level of quality with these Fear Itself tie-ins run a wide scope from boring to mediocre in quality.  Fear Itself Youth in Revolt falls somewhere in the middle of that range.  For McKeever, who's worked on some great titles such as Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and Gravity, it's a bit sad to see him basically revisit the same things that Civil War did with the 50 State Initiative.  I think he does get these characters (which he shows in several scenes), but the story feels dated and the fact that he has one of his characters (Thor Girl) being imprisoned for really no reason and then be tortured just because she looks Asgardian felt wrong on several different levels.  I sort of see what he was trying to do, it just wasn't a direction that I felt was necessary to illustrate how bad its gotten with these hammers falling.  Norton's art on the other hand is nice.  It has a good youthful energy and the characters all look cool, especially the newly designed Cloud 9.  Wish it wasn't the case, but Youth in Revolt simply doesn't deliver the goods.

Uncanny X-Men #538
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Terry Dodson
Company: Marvel Comics
The true highlight of this issue is the fight between Wolverine and, dare I say it, Kruun of Breakworld.  Dodson really gets to shine as well, as he makes said action scene shiny and all fight-y.  Really, his style has always worked well for the X-Men.  It's clear, sharp and draws the eye to all the right places.  After that fight scene though, this issue takes a steep fall right off a cliff.  For one, can't we let Breakworld fall into the depths of X-Men past and never again bring it up?  Is that really asking so much?  In truth, Gillen uses them well enough, it's just that this story hasn't been exciting.  With this issue you get to see Kitty run around some, sacrifices are made, and a new status quo for the Breakworlders is set up.  It's true, things do happen.  It's just that those things aren't satisfying and it all feels sixteen different flavors of bland.  Gillen's a fantastic writer, no question about it.  This is the guy who had Beta Ray Bill take on Galactus.  This issue of Uncanny just isn't one of his best.

X-Men Prelude to Schism #3 of 4
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Will Conrad
Company: Marvel Comics
Okay, let me see if I have this straight.  We're three issues into a four issue mini-series and we still don't know exactly what this "big" villainous evil entity that threatens to wipe out all of mutant kind is.  Can that be right?  I'm all for keeping spoilers a secret and waiting until the main series starts, but this is supposed to shape the entire X-Universe for quite some time, and this prelude  feels like a money grab.  Why?  Because nothing happens in this issue beyond Cyclops whining and moping about, talking about how he can't see (you know because he only sees in red) and how maybe he shouldn't be a leader. Jenkins has always been  heavy handed with the emotions, but Cyclops IS the leader of the X-Men.  He's a badass.  Hell, if you happen to read the Bendis Board, there's an entire thread devoted to just how much of a badass he is.  The art by Conrad is meh as well, but his anatomy is a tad wonky and there are times when his pencils are too loose, which makes it hard to tell exactly what emotions we're meant to be seeing.  I'm interested in what Schism is, I truly am, and I do think that Jason Aaron will come up with something cool.  Jenkins' Schism however is boring and doesn't seem to have a point.

1 comment:

  1. Nick, I'm with 100% on the Avengers review, was just thinking about mentioning the very points you pointed out when I came today for RPG day. That comparison to the Under Siege really got my geek ire up. You write lame story that had all the drama sucked out of it by the way you presented it and then you end by that comparison. I actually tossed the book down in disgust.
    You know I was also with you about Fear Itself and its tie-ins being boring to mediocre in quality. But then I read Avengers Academy. Gage hits it out of the park. He writes a great story filled with pathos and heroics, that just points out how poorly everyone else has been doing with this idea. You need to check it out.