Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week in Review 3/24/12

Wonder Woman #7
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Company: DC Comics
Azzarello doesn't skimp on the all encompassing darkness and threads of sheer unhappiness with this issue. He also doesn't skimp on the makings of a particularly great story. Wonder Woman, a character and comic that typically has been a passenger on the up and down roller coaster of less than stellar (the Perez and Rucka runs notwithstanding), has jumped that hurdle and landed in a puddle of brilliance. The serious themes (the God's male children!) and Azzarello's take on our leading heroine's new role as Zeus' bastard has added something that was missing. Also this issue, with its almost gathering-like feel as we see the many people who are flocking to help Wonder Woman go into the depths of Hades domain to rescue her charge, boasts some of the series' best artwork. Tony Akins was a fine fill-in, but he lacked a bit in the story telling department. Chiang's work is smooth and slick and the details and motives have much more definition and clarity. This Wonder Woman moves to the beat of her own drum. It's a gloomy beat for sure, but it's intoxicating.

Batman #7
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Company: DC Comics
There's not many people that I want messing around with Frank Miller's pinnacle of Batman stories, Batman Year One, but somehow Scott Snyder makes it work. The Court of Owls doesn't feel shoehorned into the mythos, it feels organic and creepy and Snyder effectively makes them a force to be reckoned with by adding tweaks to history here and there. After the conclusion of the last story arc, this issue sees Bruce drag his broken body back to surface and begin to understand just how badly his enemy has their hands wrapped around his and his team's throats. I'm still not 100% sold on Capullo's art, but there are some great moments spread throughout this issue. The detail in the various backgrounds, everything from caves to forests to city skylines, is great. Capullo is pulling you into the story and making Gotham seem like an extremely unfriendly place to be. Like Verbal Kint, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are the men with the plan. So far, it's a great plan.

Justice League #7
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gene Ha
Company: DC Comics
After the in-fighting fest of the last issue, I wasn't sure what to expect from this issue. Seeing these guys bicker is boring and tedious and feels wrong when it's taken to the degree that it is. Unfortunately, there's still a bit more of that in this one. Happily though, Johns takes a step back from the League and focuses more on another character all-together, a man named Steve Trevor. It's a little strange to see this mainly Wonder Woman character move up the ranks and be the Government's liaison with the League, but it makes sense and the dynamic that it provides (especially when you add in the feelings that he has for one of the team) makes for a story that pops. The villain that rears its ugly head on the other hand is kind of one note and not the most interesting. Gene Ha's artwork is a nice change of pace. Lee is definitely a draw, but the realism/surrealism mash up that's going on makes for some great window dressing. The back up that focuses on Shazam! is a bit of a mess though and made me pine for Jeff Smith's take on the character.

Prophet #23
Writer: Brandon Graham
Artist: Simon Roy
Company: Image Comics
Beautiful. If you had asked me several months ago if that was a descriptor that I would ever associate with a book who's beginnings started with Rob Liefeld, I would have thought that you were insane. It's true though, Prophet is a beautifully written, beautifully drawn book that accomplishes a great story that seizes control of your senses in the span of three issues. World building, character development, action, and art to die for is all here. It's an arsenal that other books would die to have and its used so well to tell John Prophet's mission to save humanity. Roy's artwork and the way that he takes Graham's world and breathes life to it is nothing short of brilliant. The colors are muted and harsh, the action bloody and believable, and the outcome of this opening arc makes a hell of a lot of sense and has you wondering, "What the heck happens next?" Can you ask for anything more from a comic? I don't think so.

Supercrooks #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Company: Icon/Marvel Comics
While I was a fan of Mark Millar in the past (Superman Red Son/Ultimates), he has constantly been on a downward spiral for me. I know that I'm in the minority on that as well, as the general consensus for his books always skews relatively high. Kick Ass alone has shown that, which I found mediocre and it's sequel to be even worse. So, I approached Supercrooks with a bit of trepidation and maybe a tiny bit of skepticism. The result however wasn't quite what I was expecting. The story here, which focuses on slightly substandard super villains who are tired of getting caught and coming to the realization that not everywhere on the planet is patrolled by heroes with such tenacity as the town that they currently reside in is a decent hook. It has a bit of an Oceans 11 meets...Well, meets Mark Millar kind of vibe. Yu's artwork suits the super powered crime genre well. It has a much tighter feel to it than his work on Secret Invasion did and the design work for his characters and settings makes for a higher degree of enjoyment. Not an issue that really blew my socks off, but it was better than expected.

Amazing Spider-Man #682
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Company: Marvel Comics
More and more I feel compelled to check in on Spider-Man and more and more I am coming around to the feeling that Slott is doing the book justice. There was a time for me where his creativity took a dip, but the ideas that he is putting in the forefront here are fun. Horizon Labs, the think-tank Peter works for, is a great idea. I also think going back to a Sinister Six story line is a great thing. Spider-Man, right there with Batman, has a set of Rogues that rivals pretty much every other hero and putting them all in the same room makes for a memorable and fun tale. My only gripe with the story is J. Jonah Jameson's involvement. It feels tacked on and not a beat that was quite needed. Caselli's is one of those artists that I look for. The tenacity in his pencils and the way that he controls a story is great. He makes the details, the action, and the characters come alive. There's also the case that he makes the new armor and costume of Spider-Man work, something of which I was dubious of. A good jumping on point for new readers!

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