Friday, April 13, 2012

Week in Review 4/13/12

Batman & Robin #8
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Company: DC Comics
A solid epilogue to the both physically and mentally taxing battle with Nobody. Gleason consistently amazes me with his level of emotion and the ability to channel such a believable and heartfelt relationship between Bruce and Damian. Having a book that is essentially twenty pages of character bits instead of a mixture of action and drama is usually a bad thing, but here it's an engrossing piece of theater, one that is done well and executed on an artistic level with panache. Gleason's artwork is always great but it is, at times, stunning. The slickness and smoothness of his pencils and Mick Gray's inks create a flow to the storytelling that feels almost effortless, but it also conveys the dark and choppy waters that the book treads. The striking colors that John Kalisz and Guy Major utilize cement that feeling and add to the mood. Batman and Robin continues to shine.

Avenging Spider-Man #6
Writers: Mark Waid & Greg Rucka
Artist: Mark Checchetto
Company: Marvel Comics
The Omega Effect crossover (weaving through this title, Punisher, & Daredevil) starts off on the right foot. Waid and Rucka handle a great collection of characters, keeping each of their distinct personalities intact, while at the same time putting forth an action packed affair. I love the humor and the sense of unrelenting COMIC BOOKness that the writers are able to sneak in, not only in the places that you would expect it, but in the unexpected places too. Punisher, usually an element that I don't care for in the regular Marvel U, works well. That he's got a sidekick is a little strange, but it adds another layer to him. It doesn't soften him, but it makes him feel more human. When Checchetto first started on Punisher, the art that he was producing was rocky. The flow of his panels wasn't clear, which was a major problem, but he's rectified it rather quickly. The storytelling is rock solid and he handles everything with a deft ability as we see our heroes battle agents of The Hand. It's maybe not on the level of some of the solo issues that we've gotten in the main Daredevil title, but this crossover is turning out to be a hole hell of a lot of fun.

Saucer Country #2
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Company: Vertigo
Politics have never been so strange. Or you know, they probably have because that's the nature of politics these days, but I don't know if they've been as enjoyable and as unpredictable as the first two issues of Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly's new Vertigo series. Cornell, the man behind Captain Britain & MI:13 and the recent relaunch of Stormwatch, gives us Arcadia Alvarado, a woman on a mission to become the next President of the United States. Surrounding her are a host of people that are trying to help her. Oh, let's not forget the Aliens that abducted her and her ex-husband that one time and the UFO Scientist who is haunted by two miniature aliens (Twilight Zone style) who want to help her prove the existence of such beings. Just based on those things, you can imagine some of the nuttery, both humorous and dramatic, that is involved in Saucer Country. That with the addition of complex and stunning artwork by Ryan (Local) Kelly, the kind of guy who takes character pieces and bends them to his will, and you have an off-kilter book definitely worth your attention.

Conan the Barbarian #3
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Company: Dark Horse Comics
I'm quickly running out of new ways to tell you that this series is worth checking out. It. Is. Glorious. Seriously. Brian Wood continues to do a tremendous job of exploring this story, with both the characters and the world that they inhabit. Conan, this young and brash Northern Man, is so virile and strong and up front about everything. He fears nothing and does what he wants. Hence being on Belit's ship. This Goddess of ethereal Darkness only fascinates him and the way that the two play off each other leads to interesting places and the need to keep turning the page. There are also a few moments spent with the crew of this new ship and it all carries a bit of the mythical fantasy with it that it just gets under your skin. Cloonan's artwork smashes you in the face with raw talent. There's beauty to behold on every page with her pencils and Dave Stewart's stupendous array of textural colors. I'll say it again: Glorious.

Saga #2
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Company: Image Comics
From the eye catching cover with its vivid green and outstretched hands, Saga has you. This second issue may not have been the powerhouse that the first one was, but it was still by leaps and bounds an impressive display of storytelling. The Romeo & Juliet meets Sci-Fi meets Fantasy genre mashup that Vaughan has created feels extremely grounded. He's building up a cast of characters that are numerous and interesting. You want to know about the Television People and the Bounty Hunters. You give a damn about our star crossed lovers and their newly born child and their need to find a rocketship in this dangerous forest filled with nightmares. There's humor and horror and energy in every flavor. Fiona Staples is doing a bang-up job at giving this new world life. Her designs for its inhabitants are thought provoking and her attention to detail is astronomical, so much so that I hope she can keep it up and doesn't wear herself out. Refreshing and fun in so many different ways.

Cobra Ongoing #12
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Company: IDW Publishing
I'd taken a step back from the G.I. Joe books as of late. Not that I think that their quality has declined or anything, but because they read better in trade. Getting a chunk of awesome is sometimes better than getting a smidgen of awesome. True story. That said, upon seeing our resident Hawaiian shirt wearing spy gracing the cover to this issue, I had to know what it was about. Inquiring minds had to know! Mike Costa formulates a hell of a send off issue here. He doesn't resurrect the character or anything, which would have been a poor decision and gone against everything the book has been about, but instead he allows for Hawk to read Chuckles' final field report. It's a simple set up but Costa's grasp on the characters here is great. There's craft and guile at work here and Fuso's angular lines and heavy shadows only add to what is probably one of my favorite issues of Cobra.

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