Reviews for 2/17/10

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It was a big week this week, and a good one. Normally when this many comics come out, there’s at least one clunker, but there was nothing this week that I didn’t at least partially enjoy. And I’ll probably still end up reading Blackest Night: Flash #3 (of 3) before long, since I know Lia wouldn’t lead me astray.

For now, though, reviewed this week:

Batman #696

Captain America #603

Dark Avengers #14

DoomWar #1 (of 6)

Green Lantern #51

Green Lantern Corps. #45

Incredible Hercules #141

Justice League of America #42

Uncanny X-Men #521

Dave’s Best of the Week Spotlight

Incredible Hercules #141

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente; art by Rodney Buchemi.

RATING: 6/5

Giving a extra point on the rating system might seem a little trite, but a simple 5/5 doesn’t do this issue justice. This is one of those books that you remember for years. “Assault on New Olympus” reaches its conclusion, and with the story already providing major shake-ups, it felt almost like there was only one way it could end. Additionally, Marvel has done its best to spoil the ending in its solits for upcoming stories. And yet, if you think you know what happens based on the internet chatter leading up to this issue, all I can say is don’t be so sure. Pak and Van Lente have been building to this moment for a long time, but when it finally arrives, they’ve kept one last twist in their back pocket, pulling it out here to deliver a coup de grace on your emotions. Like I mentioned to Goki on the message board, if I had gotten to read this entire run, including this issue, before we did our “Favorite Comics of the Decade,” then some very good book would have gotten dumped to make room for this. Really spectacular stuff; so glad I finally started buying it.

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Quick Hits: the Rest of the Week

DoomWar #1 (of 6)

Written by Jonathan Maberry; penciled by Scot Eaton.

RATING: 4.5/5

I was hoping this would deliver, but although it sounded badass, I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, surprise, it’s awesome. Maberry’s Black Panther feels incredibly like Christopher Priest’s depiction, just slightly more open and talkative. Last month’s Black Panther #12 is a helpful prologue if you want to buy this miniseries, as this issue starts right in without recapping all the backstory (though really, most of what is left out, you don’t really need). As great as Maberry’s T’Challa is, his Doctor Doom is nearly just as good. He also brings in the X-Men, and seems to nail the characterization there, as well. This is going to be a very fun miniseries, and when it’s over, I’ll be onboard Black Panther to see what else Maberry can do.

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Green Lantern #51

Written by Geoff Johns; art by Doug Mahnke.

RATING: 4/5

Parallax vs. Spectre concludes, with a lot of action and development packed into one issue. It makes for an exciting issue, but also a slightly frenetic pace at times. Beyond Hal, Johns has some great moments in this issue for the supporting characters, such as the Lex Luthor/Larfleeze scene, and the continued exploration of Atrocitus. It’s a big issue with some serious ramifications, but it’s not perfect. I still don’t like Johns’ treatment of Spectre, nor Mahnke’s depiction of Parallax. I know Mahnke didn’t start that style of drawing Parallax, but still, he looks too much like  a cross between Green Lantern and Venom.

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Batman #696

Written and penciled by Tony Daniel.

RATING: 4/5

Tony Daniel has been building very slowly since taking over the writing chores on the book, but as “Life After Death” reaches its fifth and penultimate chapter, he delivers his best issue yet. The story starts a little oddly, but quickly gains steam and rolls on to a strong ending that promises a very good conclusion. It’s a shame that Daniel will soon be giving up his art duties, because yet again he shows that he’s one of the best in the business.

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Captain America #603

Written by Ed Brubaker; penciled by Luke Ross.

RATING: 4/5

Part 2 of “Two Americas” shows that Brubaker is getting back into a groove on his best title. His pacing is good, and the plot is interesting, particularly if you’ve been reading the book for a while. Luke Ross’ pencils are very solid, but he gets slightly sloppy at the end.

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Uncanny X-Men #521

Written by Matt Fraction; penciled by Greg Land.

RATING: 4/5

The next-to-last chapter of “Nation X” is perhaps the best yet, and it’s quite accessible, if you haven’t been reading. It’s far from perfect, with some odd moments and so-so dialogue making a 3.5/5 a more appropriate overall rating. However, some big moments make it all worthwhile, and the issue has that slightly addictive quality. Land’s art is a bore, but Fraction includes some very nice nods to both Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.

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Green Lantern Corps #45

Written by Peter J. Tomasi; penciled by Patrick Gleason.

RATING: 3.5/5

Tomasi concludes his Guy Gardner story, and parts of it are just great. Other parts have Tomasi’s characteristic struggle with dialogue, and most unfortunately, he writes himself into a bit of a corner and relies on a weak deus ex machina. Gleason’s art is again uneven, but it could be worse. It’s still a very enjoyable story.

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Justice League of America #42

Written by James Robinson; penciled by Mark Bagley.

RATING: 3/5

This was Robinson’s last chance to impress me on this title, and I was fully expecting him to fail. However, he actually made good on the opportunity, giving us an unremarkable but enjoyable issue. The new team has its first day in action, and there are some nice moments inside each character’s head. The dialogue is a little better, though not particularly great. The cliffhanger could have been stronger, but Robinson has other set-ups during the issue that show he might be going somewhere interesting. If nothing else, he bought a couple more issues to show what he can do.

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Dark Avengers #14

Written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by Mike Deodato.

RATING: 2/5

Clearly the weak link of the week, Dark Avengers fails to make good on its promise after last month’s issue. It begins with the same encounter between Osborn and Victoria Hand that we’ve already seen a half dozen times, then moves into a variance of the same Osborn/Sentry manipulation (or negotiation, depending on how you look at it). I liked Deodato’s art, and the end is a little interesting, as was Hand taking control of Moonstone’s efforts at undermining Norman. However, I won’t miss this title when it ends in April.

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8 Responses to “Reviews for 2/17/10”

  1. davidry214 Says:

    Oh, also worth noting is the new Nomad back-up feature in Captain America, which started last month and is written by Sean McKeever. It’s interesting so far, featuring the young Nomad, formerly of Counter-Earth, and Arana, the new spider-girl(ish) character. I like McKeever, and I think Spiffy was an even bigger fan.

  2. Gokitalo Says:

    He’s going to write a Firestar comic soon. That’s kind of got me pumped. He wrote this great Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends special with Iceman, Firestar and Spidey a while back.

    Sounds like this was a great week for comics! I think the high praise for Herc makes it pretty clear those guys are onto something. Think I should hop onboard after this status-quo changing issue, or should I try catching up with trades?

    Looks like I may end up getting Cap and JLofA after all (well, if I remember :)). Even UXM looks intriguing, since I’ve seen the twist ending and always dig it when people include nice nods to Morrison’s X-Men.

  3. davidry214 Says:

    Yeah, I want to say it’s just a one-shot, but I imagine I’ll get it.

    As for Herc, definitely jump on board with the new status quo, which is supposed to start in May after a brief hiatus and a special one-shot. So start reading then regardless. But if you can get caught up via trade in time, it is well worth it.

    I think you would like UXM; it’s not mind-blowing, but definitely a good read. For Cap, you’d like it more if you’ve read Bru’s run up til now, but hey, never too late to jump on. And JLA can still go either way, but I want the book to succeed, so this issue was nice to see that there is potential there.

  4. spiffyithaca Says:

    Yeah, I loved Sean McKeever. His Sentinel series (both Vol 1 and 2) we’re honorary mentions that I forgot for best of the decade. I forget what else he did, but I’m sure he had some other nice stuff on his resume I read.

    I gotta say AA, your effusive praise for Hercules (and the 6/5) perhaps made me want to read comics again more than anything else I’ve read on this blog since I quit. I don’t entirely know why, but I went from 6 to midnight. And made me imagine a day when I read comics again. I’m so happy for Hercules and that creative team. They took a book that nobody wanted and made it awesome.

    And then follow that up with a really remarkable review of DoomWar (especially for a snotty BP fan) and Captain America, and dammit all to hell. I need a job.

    If and when I get back, I’ll need a “What Spiffy Needs to Read to Catch Up” post.

  5. davidry214 Says:

    I actually read McKeever’s first work for the two big companies, when he did a fill-in issue for, of all things, Spectre, and another fill-in for Spider-Girl (a more logical fit). He’s a good read.

    I will gladly supply you with a catch-up post, if you’ll get back into comics. There are some great, creative books that I know you would really love. And Goki and I can have a bitter, angry debate about the top five books you need to be reading (Herc would be on there).

  6. spiffyithaca Says:

    RE: McKeever: Do you want a medal?

    Well it ain’t happening until this summer at the earliest, but feel free to plan the epic blog post. Or maybe I’ll fade into the mist come mid-May…never to be seen again except for sad drunken Saturdays every 6 months

  7. davidry214 Says:

    OK, whatever. If you ever do get back into comics and I can help, great. If you fade away, pity.

  8. spiffyithaca Says:

    Awww don’t be too upset. I’ll still text you sweet nothings.

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