Monday, July 18, 2011

Week in Review 7/19/11

Alpha Flight #2
Writer: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Company: Marvel Comics
An improvement over the last issue.  The explanation of the "shock" ending, which was groan worthy at the time, is more satisfying and believable than I had thought it would be.  The result is a chunk of story, that while very traditional and old school (something that Van Lente and Pak, for good or ill, bring to the table with their work these days),  is also action oriented and fairly satisfying.  The writers handle Puck's return, his recent stint in Hell included, decently enough.  There are a few lines of dialogue during the scene that feel cold and lacking any real emotion though.
 Eaglesham art still puzzles me a bit.  It's fine work from him for the most part.  Everything is there on the page, from well executed action pieces to character work, it's just that there is no punch to any of it.  It's weird too, because the kind of punch I'm talking about was all over his work in JSA and Steve Rogers Super Solider.  In the end, Alpha Flight ranks as good but not fantastic.  One can hope that with six more issues, that will change.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Company: Vertigo Comics
Right out of the gates, this comic is dressed to impress.  Why?  The answer is easy:  Sean Murphy.  His art is so engaging that it borders on criminal.  There's detail upon detail stacked up, little things that normally are taken for granted, but here add more and more to the actual story.  He perfectly matches the darkness and harsh world that Scott Snyder's story conveys as we witness our two main characters weasel their way into a Nazi stronghold.  In reality, the story side of this issue is a little light, mainly because not a ton happens and most of the issue takes place inside a plane.  Still, Snyder effectively wrangles up a few creepy moments and a few character reveals that helps in the development, which is needed.  The result of this sure-fire formula is a comic that both doesn't disappoint and sates the thirst for both fun and violence.  American Vampire, whatever incarnation it happens to take, is truly awesome.

Batgirl #23
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Company: DC Comics
Issue after issue, Batgirl chugs along at such a brisk and delightful pace that you can't help but have a smile on your face as you read it.  This issue wasn't as glee inducing as the previous issue was, but it has it's moments.  Writer Bryan Q. Miller's dialogue is cute and youthful and right on the money for Stephanie Brown.  With this issue, we see Stephanie go toe to toe with a group of individuals known as The Reapers.  They aren't exactly the best villains in the world, but their designs are decent enough and Miller makes the battle worthwhile.  He also has a nice reveal as to who the Reapers are working for that makes perfect sense.  Pere Perez's art is always a treat, as he just knows how to draw this character with some verve and style.  His pacing is on the money and it all has a very clean look to it.  There's some sadness with this issue too, as it means there's only one more to go.  However, it seems as though Miller is going to bring Stephanie Brown's story to a satisfactory conclusion, which is something you always hope for.    

Batman the Dark Knight #3
Writer: David Finch
Artist: David Finch
Company: DC Comics
David Finch is a more than solid artist.  He's evolved since his days since Ascension and Cyberforce and has proven that with the work he's done on Moon Knight and New Avengers.  There's a much more defined edge to it all.  His Batman exudes a cool factor and the detail he packs into each of the panel, be that of the Batmobile blazing down a street or Batman strapped to a chair with a bomb about to explode, is nice and allows the story to be more realized.  His writing talents however, aren't up to the same par as his art.  The tale that The Dark Knight is telling is more supernatural, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the way it's told and the one dimensional characters are less impressive.  His takes on the characters are not a favorite either.  Having Etrigan outright killing pedestrians as he tries to stop a demon on the rampage in Gotham just feels wrong.  Overall, the art is nice to look at but this book has a lot of problems.

FF #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Company: Marvel Comics
Well, Hickman's FF has been so good lately that I had pretty much figured that he can do no wrong.  That was until we hit the comic shaped speed-bump that this issue is.  Why do I say that? Well, the main story about the alternate world Reeds, not to mention the rest of the cast and stories, have been left in the cosmic dust to make room for an issue all about the Supreme Intelligence and The Inhumans.  And while I could certainly get behind those characters, watching the Supreme Intelligence spout out factoids and math is not something that even Hickman can't make interesting.  Tochinni's art just doesn't shine and has a very flat nature to it.  All in all, this was a confusing outing.  I can understand needing to know about how Black Bolt comes back and what that means for the good folks on Earth, but devoting an entire issue that circumvents the fun factor that this series was building may have been a mistake.

Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #2
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Company: IDW Publishing
This one might be labeled Godzilla, but the book has been stealthily taken over by another giant monster, Mothra.  Is this a bad thing?  Not at all.  John Layman crafts a story that is not only true to the character and all of the specifics that come with her, he also crafts a story that knows a thing or two on how to grab the reader.  Layman's acidic wit matched with the concept of a disgraced cop fighting against corruption by using a monster leads to some fantastic new territory to stomp around in.  Ponticelli excels even more than he did with the last issue.  He easily conveys both the real and the crazy, and does it so well that both aspects pour out of the page and into the reader's imagination.  His Mothra just looks cool too, which doesn't hurt.  Gangsters and Goliaths is a refreshingly fun tale that gets in your face and roars until you become subservient to its will.  Or in other words:  It's good.  Buy it.

Green Lantern #67
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamay
Company: DC Comics
If I had to describe this issue in one word, that word would be this:  Ballsy.  It's one of the only comics that I can think of, beyond Batman: Knight of Vengeance #2, that really surprised me to the point of me saying, "Did that really just happen?"  The War of the Green Lanterns storyline also comes to its much delayed conclusion.  All in all though, it's worth it.  Johns dishes up a story that feels final, supplies surprises that you never see coming, while at the same time keeping in line with the characterizations that he has built up for the past 5 years.  Mahnke and Alamay, as always, do the book justice.  They draw cool looking aliens, clean action, and really do know how to keep the reader interested in what is going on the page, so much so that you just keep turning the page.  For much of it's time, Johns and company have really made Green Lantern into something more than it's ever been.  This is a pretty solid capper.

Hellboy the Fury #2
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Company: Dark Horse Comics
It's been awhile since I ventured into the realm of Hellboy.  Sure, I've visited the land of B.P.R.D. but the stories there have felt a little stale to me.  Not bad, just not for me.  This story that Mignola has created in this arc of Hellboy though is everything that you could want out of a comic.  It is a symphony of violence, fantasy, and brilliance.  Seeing Hellboy take on the Dragon, an entity that has plagued him from his beginnings, to the melancholy tale of his ties to King Arthur and where that leads him things is a chorus of awesome.   Paired with Duncan Fegredo's art makes for an unforgettable experience.  And while I do understand people miss Mignola's artwork, Fegredo emulates the moody style well enough and really makes it his own so well that it never misses a beat.  Hellboy The Fury is in a word, perfect.

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