Friday, July 17, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 7/15/2009

Welcome to my 9 book extravaganza of reviews. It'll be a long one so sit down, grab a cold drink (may I recommend New Glarus Brewery's Spotted Cow? That's what I'm drinking) and soak up the reviewy goodness inside. Yes, spell check I'm aware that "reviewy" is not a word. I'm trying to be more spoiler-free in the reviews except where explicitly noted so bear with me while I make this transition.

What happened? Quite a bit actually : a planeload of tourists are in for a zombie-rific surprise, the mysterious Indigo Tribe remains mysterious, Tempest returns...and it's kind of dull, Mongul was a precocious little scamp, Red Robin kicks some serious ass in Europe, Flamebird does a great impression of Johnny Storm, Hush does a great impression of Bruce Wayne, Nemesis does an impression of the Wheel of Fortune and last but not least, the dead rise...and it is scary as hell. Want more? Click below :


Blackest Night #1
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis
Cover by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover by Ethan VanSciver & HiFi

Here we have yet another Geoff Johns event that kicks off with a serious bang. This book recalls the same excitement that I experienced after reading the Sinestro Corps Special that kicked off the previous event. As I read through the first half, which is basically a recap of the major deaths in the DC Universe, you can feel the uneasiness building. Then, in true Geoff Johns style, you roll over the top of the big hill and hold on for dear life.

The second half is a rush of "Oh Shit!" moments along with some of the more terrifying and gory images in recent comics. I won't spoil the characters that do show up as Black Lanterns (check back later this week for Shining Light on Blackest Night for spoilers) but I will tell you that one in particular was scarier than I was expecting.

Ivan Reis' art is dead on (hehe...dead) and fits the grand scope of the book which is jumping quickly through different areas of the DC Universe, If I had an actual rating system this would easily be 5 stars or thumbs up or whatever I would use. I also picked up the VanSciver variant cover which is pretty sweet on it's own. Blackest Night is here...and it is seriously f#$%ing creepy.

I think that one of the more frightening aspects that have been introduced is that these are not your classic mindless zombies that walk around aimlessly and moan "BRAAAIIINNS!" (see The Last Resort #1 review further down for that). No, these zombies speak in complete sentences and seem to retain some of the character's original personality, although it is clearly twisted and dark. It might be easier to dismiss them as a threat if they were just mindless slaves which is clearly not the case here, which makes the Black Lanterns more threatening.

This was a phenomenal beginning to the much anticipated event and lets hope that the roller coaster ride doesn't derail. Of course, if it does derail and we all died, we could be recruited into the Black Lantern Corps. I already have my Black Lantern ring courtesy of Collector's Edge Comics, so I'm prepared. Damn, just reading this book will put you in a dark frame of mind, I'd hate to be around Johns and Reis after a marathon creative session :-)


The Last Resort #1
Story by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Cover A by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts
Cover B by Darwyn Cooke

The main reason that I picked this book up was my condition wherein I have a lot of trouble passing by a Darwyn Cooke cover without purchasing it. I have the same problem in relation to J. Scott Campbell covers, but that's for different reasons. Anyway, this is the second zombie based book this week, but this is the old school "BRAAIIINS!" zombies instead of the more intelligent and driven Blackest Night zombies.

This first issue is mostly setup as we see the major players fall into place and we get a quick intro to the characters, including the young nymphomaniac couple that typically doesn't last too long in the horror genre. Along with this couple comes alot of gratuitous toplessness but I'm not complaining and it earns it's Mature Readers rating pretty quickly. I'll be giving Issue 2 a chance to see where this is headed but so far, it definitely intrigues.


Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #1
Story by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jerry Ordway, Chris Samnee, Rags Morales & Doug Mahnke

The first of three tie-in issues focusing on key individuals in the War of Light was a hit and miss for me. The first background, which covers the Blue Lantern Saint Walker, was a bit dull and went exactly where I expected it to, but on the positive side the art by Ordway is pretty. The second feature focuses on a very young Mongul having fun and the art by Chris Samnee is a refreshing and different style from the others. I had the opportunity to meet Samnee at a local convention in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin last year and he was a genuinely nice guy who was a blast to talk to. The final feature addressing the Indigo Tribe was confusing, but intentionally so. We can't understand what they're saying but we're supposed to draw the meaning from the images, which are wonderfully rendered by Rags Morales.

All in all, 2 out of 3 aren't bad and we also get the Lantern Corps background pages by Doug Mahnke that are reprinted from the Free Comic Book Day offering of Blackest Night #0 for those that missed it.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #2
Story by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen

Continuing the story threads from Detective Comics' Heart of Hush run, albeit with a new Batman, Dini and Nguyen continue to produce a solid read. We begin to see the payoff for Hush after his plastic surgery to look like Bruce Wayne and Firefly continues to climb the ladder of super-crime in Gotham City.

Nguyen's art gets better with each issue as I've become more of a fan of his dynamic style and Dini's storytelling is tight. Unfortunately I'm having the same problems with the Bat Titles as I am with the Superman Titles...they're all good. I was hoping with Blackest Night coming out that I could drop one or two of them but I can't bring myself to do it because they are still quality books. Not that this is a bad thing...just a little expensive.

Titans #15
Story by JT Krul
Art by Jose Luis

This issue was a waste of my $2.99. It has a Prelude to Blackest Night banner across the top so it came in with my Blackest Night event order but it was useless as a tie-in or prelude. We get to hear that Tempest has purple eyes so the Atlanteans don't trust him about a dozen times (OK, a dozen is exagerrating but I counted at least 6 instances). Seriously, you can tell me this once and I'll remember it. The only decent part of the book is the art, which is well done, and the first and last pages are pretty cool. The rest...avoid. By the way, big pet peeve of mine...that cover has nothing to do with the issue interior.

Wednesday Comics #2
Story by...a lot of talented individuals
Art by...some more talented people

DC's new weekly project rolls on with another fun week of stories. Deadman, Supergirl, Flash and Demon / Catwoman are still my favorites but Hawkman, Strange Tales and Metamorpho are growing on me. I'm enjoying Green Lantern's "New Frontier" feel and the Teen Titans art style would have worked well for an animated show (better than Teen Titans Go anyway). Wonder Woman continues to be a difficult read due to the experimental layouts and fonts, and will probably always be the last section that I read every week.


Look, it's Kerry, okay? said...

Very much a fan of Dustin Nguyen's art, and glad to see him get some more exposure via arguably the most popular character in comics. I remember buying WildStorm's thoroughly mediocre Jet mini-series because of his art, and he's gotten even more stylized since then (or perhaps he's just adjusting to working in Gotham).

And, Jason, I seem to remember telling you when you added the crossover to your pull list, "You know that means you'll be getting EVERY tie-in, right?" Titans was just the beginning; there's random issues of other DCU books in your future, my friend. Solomon Grundy, anyone?

Wednesday Comics is still super-cool, though I've sadly decided that the Wonder Woman strip looks good when you look at it from afar but is borderline unreadable as an actual comic strip.

Jason D. Manger said...

I'm not complaining about the crossover order, I knew what I was getting into :-) My complaint comes from the fact that Titans #15 had literally one brief line that could possibly tie it to Blackest Night, and the rest was Tempest whining that he had purple eyes.

Heretic said...

Tie-ins SUCK!!

-Stephen M. Wolterstorff said...

Reviews + beer = typos? :)

Having dipped into DC events before and been burned, I've been fighting off 'Blackest Night' with the expectation of getting it in trade if it works out as good. You are making that wait more and more difficult as you enjoy these books.

Jason D. Manger said...

If there are typos, which I will now search more diligently for, they were more likely due to writing the reviews late at night after a very long work day...but the beer may have helped a little.

I'd say that I'm sorry about making it hard for you to wait until the trade.....but I'm really not :-)

Jason D. Manger said...

Jeebus that was many typos! Thanks for pointing out my typing errors Stephen. No more late night posting for me :-)