10/21/09 Reviews

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Last week had a plethora of good to great comics. This week? Uh, not so much. Reviewed this week:

Dark Avengers #10

Dark Reign: The List — Hulk #1

The Incredible Hulk #603

Justice League of America #38

I only buy one of these books (Dark Avengers) regularly. The Hulk duo — well, reading so much of Peter David’s run recently put me in a Hulk frame of mind. And I’ll be giving Justice League an extended try, mostly out of nostalgia for the old Morrison and Waid JLA.

Dave’s Best of the Week Spotlight

Incredible Hulk #603

The Incredible Hulk #603

Written by Greg Pak

Art by Ariel Olivetti, Guiseppe Camucoli, and Cam Smith; cover by Ariel Olivetti

RATING: 3/5

In the weakest of weak weeks, Incredible Hulk gets the Spotlight just by being decent. It was enjoyable, but I can’t say it was anything special. First, for both this and The List, I felt that the “Previously” page that appears on all Marvel comics could have been much more informative. As I mentioned above, I’m new to the title, and they could have done a better job making it accessible. Nevertheless, I picked up on the basic idea and found it mostly entertaining. The plot? Wolverine and his son, Daken, come looking (independently from each other) for Bruce Banner (no longer the Hulk) and his son, Skaar. Naturally, it leads to Daken vs. Skaar, which is cool, and Pak plays well on Skaar and Daken’s similarities throughout the issue. However, the fight is somewhat abbreviated and doesn’t really measure up to the classic Wolverine vs. Hulk battles.

Still, Banner himself is a badass now, and Pak does a nice job of sprinkling in some humor. The art switches back and forth between Olivetti’s painted art, and Camucoli/Smith’s traditional pencils and inks, which are similar to Jim Calafiore’s so-so stuff. Neither art set is anything special. I should mention that there’s a back-up story here, by Fred Van Lente and Michael Ryan, on a “new She-Hulk,” but it’s completely forgettable. Not sure yet whether I’ll try this book again. It’s not great, but does have some promise. I’ll probably decide when it gets close to the next issue, basing the decision off the next solit and how big the week is.

Quick Hits: The Rest of the Week

Dark Reign: The List -- Hulk #1 (of 1)

Dark Reign: The List — The Hulk #1

Written by Greg Pak

Art and cover by Ben Oliver

RATING: 2.5/5

Another helping of Hulk this week, this one not quite as good. The “Previously” page was again unhelpful, making the start of the comic pretty unaccessible. As Dark Reign drags on, Norman Osborn sends his right-hand woman, Victoria Hand, and Ms. Marvel (Moonstone) after Banner and Skaar. It’s an odd duo to send after someone so powerful, and the fight is even more odd. It’s nice to see Banner being a badass without becoming the Hulk, but he’s more like Tony Stark than Bruce now, which is weird. Even weirder is that Victoria Hand, a low-level SHIELD agent until her sudden promotion to No. 2 in HAMMER, is able to match wits with him. The resolution to the conflict feels sudden and a bit strained. Art is OK, nothing special — similar to Olivetti’s painted stuff in the main title.

Dark Avengers #10

Dark Avengers #10

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art and cover by Mike Deodato

RATING: 2.5/5

If you’ve read my recent comments, you know I’ve been hard on Dark Reign lately. Nevertheless, I’ve mostly liked this book, and based on the solit, came into this issue with somewhat high hopes. It didn’t particularly deliver. Deodato’s art is a treat, but the story struggled. Karla Sofen (aka Moonstone, now Ms. Marvel) was a character of great complexity and intrigue under Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza in Thunderbolts. Bendis is writing her like a sex addict, using her scantily clad exploits and come-ons as fodder for horny fanboys. I had a difficult time getting over that characterization, and it spoiled this issue for me. Also, billed as the issue where Norman starts to crack, the chinks in Osborn’s armor were a little too understated. The only redemption of the issue, outside of Deodato’s art, was the final page, which, if everything is as it appears, marks the return of a favorite villain of mine. Very nice.

Justice League of America #38

Justice League of America #38

Written by James Robinson

Art and cover by Mark Bagley and Rob Hunter

RATING: 1.5/5

OK, I was rooting for this to be good, better than Justice League: Cry for Justice, also by Robinson. But this is just not how you start a run. The main reason the rating isn’t a full point lower is because I have too much respect for Bagley’s art. Robinson, meanwhile, clumsily tries to tie up the loose ends of the preceding run, throws in a long and mostly pointless battle (seemingly just so there’s some action in the midst of poor dialogue), and concludes by setting up a Blackest Night tie-in for the next issue. Also, there are multiple references to events in Cry for Justice that haven’t happened yet in the mini. It was a very poor effort. I don’t understand why DC didn’t have someone else wrap up the old team and do the tie-in, then let Robinson start fresh with his new line-up, hitting the ground running. Also, let him start his run after his miniseries is finished, especially if he’s going to reference it. I’ll still give this book an extended try, because I really want it to be good. But I don’t have a good feeling about this.

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One Response to “10/21/09 Reviews”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    “Karla Sofen (aka Moonstone, now Ms. Marvel) was a character of great complexity and intrigue under Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza in Thunderbolts. Bendis is writing her like a sex addict, using her scantily clad exploits and come-ons as fodder for horny fanboys. I had a difficult time getting over that characterization, and it spoiled this issue for me.”

    Did you see how Bendis wrote Andreas Von Strucker in that Dark Reign a while back? Now that was painful. From what I’ve seen (which admittely, isn’t much), Strucker’s always had a somewhat dignified manner of speaking… but Bendis just made him sound like a thug. So his characterization of Moonstone/Ms. Marvel doesn’t really surprise me.

    I’m sad to say I didn’t really have very high expectations for Justice League of America. Still, if Robinson manages to work some of that Starman magic of his and turn the book around for the better in future issues, I’ll happily start reading. Until then, the League will have to go on without me (I’m sure it’ll manage).

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