Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Week in Review 2/14/12

Batwoman #6
Writer: J. H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Amy Reeder Hadley
Company: DC Comics
While it is a little sad to see Williams take a break from the art on Batwoman, the powers that be couldn't have chosen better for a replacement. Hadley is such a talented artist. Her work on Madame Xanadu was sensational and the work for this jumping on point in the Batwoman title is just as thrilling. The way that she has her own style but is able to mirror the
tone that Williams set up (the huge double splash pages and the like) allows readers to not be too jarred by the replacement. Williams' story is solid enough, though there is a sort of throw away nature to the villain. In a lot of ways, this is a book that focuses on characters more and less on action, even though it does seem that there is something brewing in the background. The way that it's segmented into specific character sections is cool, but the main reason that this book continues to impress is that he's given people like Cameron Chase and Maggie Sawyer a book to call home.

Wolverine & the X-Men #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Company: Marvel Comics
Nick Bradshaw continues to impress. Previously, Bachalo had seemed to be the guy for this book, as the oddness and sometimes outrageous style seemed to match the off the wall stories that Aaron was keen on telling. That hasn't turned out to be the case. The more traditional nature of Bradshaw's style allows a much cleaner and more approachable take on the zaniness of the book. This time out, there are quite a few laugh out loud and chuckle worthy scenes (Beast taking the kids on a field trip may have been the best), neck and neck along some generally well executed ideas. Revisiting the Brood for the thousandth time sounded boring, but Aaron created a reason for it that makes me want to know more. Aaron's simple ability to straddle the line of being funny without it becoming outright slapstick and therefore devoid of substance continues to impress. And the fact that he has endeared characters like Quentin Quire and Kid Gladiator to readers is a herculean feat I thought nigh impossible. Wolverine and the X-Men is always at the top of my reading pile, with good reason. 

Batman & Robin #6
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Company: DC Comics
Probably my favorite of the Bat-centric titles, Batman & Robin continues to be a thoughtful exploration of the book's core characters combined with a hearty dose of violence and mystery. Watching Damian spiral into the depths of evil has been a compelling read, as has the backstory between Bruce and Ducard. My one gripe with the whole thing is the pacing, as we're six issues in and still haven't had a new story arc to speak of. I could easily see how this could have been trimmed down, but then again, if that happened we wouldn't have gotten so much gorgeous artwork by Gleason. The powerful lines, the emphasis on character, the vibrant colors, and a whole deck full of spectacular action sequences treat the ocular orbs with such delicacy.

Secret Avengers #22
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Company: Marvel Comics
Rick Remender completes his trifecta of undercover operative books (Uncanny X-Force/Venom/Secret Avengers) with this first issue and jumping on point for new readers. I wish that I could say that it was an Ali-like knockout of an issue, but I can't. The story, which involves Super Adaptoids that hunt Avengers, is a tad on the hectic and frenetic side of table and while I typically have found Hardman's artwork always impresses, here the action sequences are tough to decipher. Remender's handle of Hawkeye and the inclusion of Captain Britain are nice touches, and the way that he's given Beast a very upbeat and SUPER science mindset makes for some great scenes. All in all though, the expectations of awesome were dashed by a mediocre outing.

Venom #13
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Tony Moore
Company: Marvel Comics
Venom, Red Hulk, She-Ghost Rider, & X-23 walk into a Casino in Vegas...Yeah, there's a joke there but there's also, believe it or not, a decent story in that idea too. This story, called the Circle of Four, is very reminiscent of the Midnight Sons storyline from the 90's, as it deals with Demons trying to take over the Earth. Remender's tongue-in-cheek nature and over the top sensibilities push the insanity along at a good clip and the focus on these four characters allows a more cohesive story to be told. The highlights for me were the back and forth, very adversarial, relationship between Red Hulk and Venom and the fact that Remender doesn't "Hillbilly-ize" Johnny Blaze. Moore's artwork adds another spark to the proceedings. The movement of his scratchy and distinct line work and the energy that he gives his characters make the events that much more exciting. It's a little sad that Remender is only going to be writing a few of the other issues following this one, but we'll see what happens.

Deadpool #50
Writer: Daniel Way
Artists: Carlo Barberi
Company: Marvel Comics
Having dropped off of Daniel Way's continuing adventures of the Merc with a Mouth a while ago, the hype of the Dead storyline couldn't be refused. Not that I actually think Deadpool will die or even come close to dying, but the story has too many wacky possibilities and like the Mafia, it drags you back in. Luckily, unlike a few of Way's other books, he seems to bring his A game with Deadpool. The humor that's illustrated here and the lengths that Wade goes to see himself get whacked with his over-complicated version of Chess (played his way) being the so called delivery system of his demise are satisfying. The way that Way is bringing in a lot of Deadpool's collected history gives it all more weight, especially if you've been reading the character for years. Barberi's artwork is cohesive with the story. It feels cartoony yet has a slick quality to it that allows the gags and insanity to have that quintessential Deadpool nuttery. A solid start to what could be a standout story.

Suicide Squad #6
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Tom Raney
Company: DC Comics
From dialogue box numero uno, this issue gets off to a smashing start and only goes up from there. Glass "gets" these characters. He makes them cool, allows the crucial aspects of the name Suicide Squad (the focus is on the Suicide part)  to shine, and is armed with a biting sense of sarcasm. This jumping on point sees our motley crew take some leave to hunt our pal Harley Quinn throughout Gotham City while at the same point delving deep into the psyche of our demented cheerleader with a sledgehammer. These two story elements that blend action and drama succeed at every turn, making for an exciting read. Raney's artwork is clear and concise. It isn't amazing but he doles out the crazy, the action, and handles the quiet moments with skill. Suicide Squad is a Top of the Class comic built with a hollow-tipped, blood soaked, laugh inducing bullet that never seems to miss.

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