Saturday, May 15, 2010

Comic Book Reviews - 5/12/2010

Big week in comics as DC's second biweekly book kicks off and we get some more Brightest Day tie-ins.  On to the reviews! What happened?  Well.....

Bruce Wayne has some trouble with a certain immortal caveman, Hawk cracks a fantastic one-liner, Barry Allen speed-reads himself into an architecture degree, Booster Gold gets tackled by Power Girl (which could be kind of fun in my opinion), Barbara Gordon is involved in the most disgusting restraint device ever, Deathstroke kills someone (go figure, with that name) and Batman just plain sucked.

Want more? Keep reading……

Batman : The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Sprouse

I really wanted this book to be the best book this week, but it just didn’t live up. This may get better as we get a bit further into the story, but something is off about this kickoff to the much anticipated Return of Bruce Wayne.

The art by Chris Sprouse is great. Clean, dynamic scenes are found throughout and for an issue with very little dialog, this is extra important. The design of Bat-Caveman is well done although we don’t get to see very much of him.

The story seems to rush through this first time period in Bruce’s journey back to the present but maybe it’s just because there wasn’t that much to talk about here. If you missed Final Crisis (or didn’t make it all the way through) you may find parts of this very confusing, but a quick Wikipedia synopsis will catch you up.

Very pleasing art but kind of a boring start to this story makes me hesitant but I know I will be picking up the second issue. I’m kind of a Batman fanatic so I couldn’t see my self not getting the whole series. Morrison stories sometimes do this to me, though. You go through it a little dazed but then upon re-reading the whole thing, you get that A-Ha moment and you understand (well…maybe not everything, but enough to enjoy it).

Justice League: Generation Lost #1
Story by Keith Giffen & Judd Winnick
Art by Keith Giffen & Aaron Lopresti

I had to do a double-take with this cover. My first thought was “Why is Mitchell Hundred from Ex Machina on a Justice League cover?” Then I saw Tony Harris’ signature and I’m sure he used the same reference person for Hundred as he did for Max Lord.

That aside, this was a very surprising issue. I wasn’t looking forward to this bi-weekly book as much as Brightest Day but for a first issue, this really grabbed my attention. It’s definitely more of a straight forward story than Brightest Day’s collection of character pieces, which more mirrors the successful 52 weekly series than anything else.

Max Lord was one of the people that returned after Blackest Night that made you say “Huh?”. This first issue drops him right back where we left him, being a megalomaniacal control freak. Booster Gold is played very similarly to how he is portrayed in the Justice League Unlimited episode “The Greatest Story Never Told”. He’s looked down upon by the other larger heroes in the DCU but he’s actually the only one who is seeing the big picture.

The last page was exceptionally well done and caps off this issue very well. I love the Baudelaire quote that is also featured at the end of the Usual Suspects: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” I’m calling this page the Scene of the Week since it portrays so perfectly a smug, extremely dangerous villain who just succeeded in his first step of what should prove to be a very devious master plan. Plus, if I were a super villain, this is exactly how I would celebrate too….except the cigarette would be a good cigar.

One extremely small nitpick is that there were two glaring grammatical errors in the beginning of the book which tend to yank me out of the story. I’m just a simple blogger so I know I make them, but I would think that a major publisher like DC would have people who check this sort of thing. Not a big deal, though because I really enjoyed this issue.

Superman : War of the Supermen #2
Story by Sterling Gates & James Robinson
Art by Eduardo Pansica

A few months ago I gave up on Superman. In fact, it was right after the wholly disappointing ending to Superman: World of New Krypton. I dropped Superman, Action and Supergirl from my regular pull list and figured I’d pick it all up again one of these days. I dipped into Last Stand of New Krypton about a month ago and still wasn’t ready to be back.

I just caught up with War of the Supermen and this is what a Superman event should be. It’s fast and grand, emotional and interesting. After the last issue, where General Lane performs his master stroke against New Krypton, we have a silent battle (they are in space after all) featuring Supergirl against Superman which does not require words to be powerful.

Zod becomes almost a tragic and sympathetic character after the events of the first issue. I seriously doubt that he had anything to do with what happened but I’m sure that he was being played like everyone else by General Lane.

I do have to say that I enjoyed Jamal Igle’s art in the first issue but was really not feeling the art from Eduardo Pansica in the second. As far as the story goes, this is great event writing. Everything moves along at a good clip and we jump between characters often enough that none of the major players are forgotten or out of the picture for very long.

This may just re-kindle my interest in the big blue boy scout. I know that a new creative team is taking over the Superman family of titles after this is over so I’ll check a few out and see how they turn out.

Batgirl #10
Story by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Pere Perez

Batgirl continues to impress although this issue pulls a bunch of information and plot lines from the horrific Oracle: The Cure mini series. By the way DC, I’m still waiting on my refund for that one.

Calculator has been a pretty interesting villain since his role in Identity Crisis but he’s become a bit unhinged here as he holds conversations with his clearly deceased son Marvin.

The writing is excellent and the interplay between Barbara Gordon and Stephanie is a lot of fun. I especially enjoy how they maintain Stephanie’s flighty personality when she’s not being Batgirl. This title has been fast-paced and fun from the first issue and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Bat-family of books.

By the way, the scene where the techno-zombies capture Barbara is fairly gross as they literally vomit up some sort of bio-technical goo that envelops her for transport or capture. Eeewwwww.

Birds of Prey #1
Story by Gail Simone
Art by Ed Benes

Oracle sums up this issue perfectly with one line: “We need to get the band back together.” That is basically the whole of this issue. We find out where the former Birds of Prey members are and what they’ve been doing, we meet some new ones, and we meet a new villain (who may be someone we already know).

One aspect of this issue that I thoroughly enjoyed was how Simone reinforces what a tool Hawk is. After beating up a gang dressed like cheerleaders, he delivers a great one-liner: “Cheerleaders are for backseats, not for armed robbery”. And we’re putting this guy on a team that is all women…and women who would not take kindly to being talked to like that, except Lady Blackhawk maybe.

Besides the intros and gathering of members, the new villain for the first arc is introduced. When she first attacks someone surmised that it might be former Batgirl Cassandra Cain, which would have been pretty cool but it doesn’t seem to be her. My second guess would have been Sin, Canary’s adopted daughter but I don’t know enough about the character to make an educated guess or come up with reasoning to support that. Although they have been referencing Sin a lot in various titles lately. I guess we’ll find out later.

Benes brings his very distinct brand of cheesecake to the table here, and I do love cheesecake. Is it me or does he draw the hottest Barbara Gordon? And his Huntress is second only to Jim Lee.

This issue warrants a second issue purchase so we’ll see how all of this is going in the next month or so. Good to see Gail Simone and Ed Benes back with the Birds!

Oh and by the way….number of super-heroine ass-shots: 10. Actually kind of light for a Benes issue :-)

Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1
Story by Eric Wallace
Art by Fabrizio Fiorentio, Mike Mayhew, Sergio Arino, Walden Wong….did I miss anybody?

I checked this out strictly as a gauge of whether or not I would pick up Titans in the future. That answer is pretty much no. Even though a hero is murdered in the issue, I didn’t really care about any of this. The art was so wildly inconsistent and of poor quality that I almost stopped reading it altogether.

So, no Titans for me in the future :-)

Batman #699
Story by Tony Daniel
Art by Guillem March

How bad does an issue of Batman have to be to be featured at the bottom of my review list. Issue 699 bad, that’s how bad. What the hell happened? It went from an interesting start last issue to this train wreck. After I read through it I had to check because I actually thought I had somehow skipped an issue and missed a part of the story.

I imagine the conversation for this issue went like this :

DC Executive : “Dammit Tony Daniel, we need to wrap this story extra quick so we can move on to Batman 700. Now get the hell out of my office!”

Oh well, Morrison is back next issue and we can return to the strangeness of the last couple of years of Batman.


Kerry said...

I'm picturing the executive yelling at Tony Daniel looking like J. Jonah Jameson.

My line on Daniel's Batman is the same: nice art, mediocre writing. Bring on Morrison.

You should probably review whatever meager non-DC books you get. It's getting to be a real DCausage fest in here (hmm, not sure if that play on words works).

Jason D. Manger said...

I will be bringing in more non-DC reviews as I pick up the books. GI Joe this week :-)