4/14/10 Reviews

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Nine comics this week — seven good reads, with the top five almost impossible to rank. What made the grade, and what will be relegated to toilet paper duty? Read on.

Review this week (alphabetical):

Batman #698

Black Widow #1

Brightest Day #0

Fables #94

Flash #1

Green Arrow #32

Kill Shakespeare #1

New Mutants #12

X-Factor Forever #2

Spotlight: Best of the Week

Brightest Day #0

Written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi; Art by Fernando Pasarin, with Cover by David Finch.

RATING: 4.5/5

Like I said in the intro, the top five were so close that just about any of them could have been in the Spotlight. But the epic scope of Brightest Day gives it a slight edge. From Finch’s rockin’ cover to the final page, this debut issue impresses. Although the series is largely about the “fallout” of Blackest Night, it’s definitely more of a new beginning than an epilogue. The issue hits in a lot of places, but flows well from one episode to another. Yet I will say that a couple of the characters fall a little flat — namely, Jade and Hawk. I think the former was Tomasi’s influence.

The art was also impressive. I hadn’t seen Pasarin’s stuff before, but he knocked this issue out of the park. Definitely a worthy follow-up to Ivan Reis on BN (though Reis reached the stratosphere by the end of that mini). Despite some misgivings here and there (more on one big one later), I’m very impressed with what DC is going right now. Between Brightest Day and its progeny, and Marvel’s upcoming Heroic Age line, comic books seem to be moving back toward more of a classic hero-centric style that reminds me of why I started reading comics in the first place. I think the 2010s could be a great era.

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Quick Hits: The Rest of the Week

New Mutants #12

Written by Zeb Wells; Art by Ibraim Roberson, with Cover by Adi Granov.

RATING: 4.5/5

The X-event of the year comes to New Mutants as “Second Coming” reaches Part 3. If you stop to think about it, the main plot line really hasn’t developed terribly far, yet issues like this continue to keep the crossover very interesting. I’d never read this series or anything by writer Zeb Wells before, but he does a great of weaving between his own team and the main X-Man squad, nailing the characterization on everyone very well. Angel has become a mega-badass again, which makes me happy. Roberson’s art is solid; I’m not a big fan of the faux-painted style, but it works decent here.

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Black Widow #1

Written Marjorie Liu; art by Daniel Acuña.

RATING:4.5/5

Almost didn’t buy this issue, and never even heard of Liu until now — yet this feels like it could become one of my favorite books. Marvel is trying desperately to capitalize off Iron Man 2, not only by getting Tony out front and center, but by trying to drum up a following for Black Widow. After two recent miniseries, a co-starring role in another, and several guest spots around the MU, Natasha gets her own ongoing, and it’s a very good debut issue. Despite getting taken down once in the name of plot development, Natasha is still a total badass, as Liu writes her excellently (the hospital scene is kickass). She also has a strong supporting cast right off the bat, led by James/Bucky/Cap, and an intriguing mystery villain and nice cliffhanger. Acuña has a growing following, and while I wouldn’t necessarily love him on certain books, his style fit very well here.

It’s becoming a fair question: could Black Widow soon be Marvel’s flagship female character?

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Fables #94

Written by Bill Willingham; penciled by Mark Buckingham, with Cover by Joao Ruas.

RATING: 4/5

“Rose Red” begins, though Rose herself takes a bit of a back seat in Part 1. The Blue Fairy drama was good stuff (I love me some Pinocchio), even though a final resolution is delayed. The future of the farm’s leadership is very much in doubt, and while I hope Snow and Bigby become more involved, it was nice to see their presence at all. The next issue launches into the past of Rose and Snow, which has been hinted at several times but never fully explained; I’m very excited for that. More good stuff from Buckingham, one of the most consistent artists in the business.

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Kill Shakespeare #1

Written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col; art by Andy Belanger.

RATING: 4/5

What do you get when you combine a company whose comics you’ve never bought and creators you’ve never heard of? In this case, awesomeness. Kill Shakespeare, from IDW, feels like a breath of fresh air, to use an appropriate cliche, and it’s fitting that the debut comes out the same week as Fables, which has set the standard (for me) in re-imagining literary stories. This series ambitiously tackles the Bard himself, taking some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters and forcing them into intriguing interaction. Belanger’s art has a bit of a Michael Lark feel to it, and works pretty well. The $3.99 price tag is actually not bad at all for a 32-page book with no ads.

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Green Arrow #32

Written by J.T. Krul; art by Federico Dallocchio, with Cover by Mauro Cascioli.

RATING: 3.5/5

“The Fall of Green Arrow” is a very apt name for this story, as life for Ollie goes from bad to worse to really worse. Green Arrow must face his closest friends, face a trial for his murder of Prometheus, and of course, face a reckoning with his wife, Black Canary. Really no surprises, and all of those interactions play out rather predictably. I might do a brief spoiler edition on some of that in a day or two. One of my biggest problems was how unrealistic the trial was; I realize that’s a snobbish thing to say, but fuck it, it bothered me. Dallocchio’s art is ok, but his faces all look the same, and Cascioli’s cover is really the art highlight.

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X-Factor Forever #2

Written by Louise Simonson; art and cover by Dan Panosian.

RATING: 3/5

The fights are too long, the personal interactions are too melodramatic, and the villainy is very ’90s. I shouldn’t like this, but I do. What can I say, it’s just addictive. It’s nice seeing the original five together again; I’m particularly enjoying seeing Scott and Jean together, or seeing Jean at all, for that matter. Panosian’s art is kind of a microcosm of the series: it probably shouldn’t work, but it does. He’s angular and a little weird, but I love the way it looks. Also, the back-up feature is reminding me of why I used to like Apocalypse as a villain. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a fun read.

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Flash #1

Written by Geoff Johns; art by Francis Manapul.

RATING: 1.5/5

By the time I was done with this issue, I felt like I had just read Bendis’ 27th “showdown” between the New Avengers and the Hood: the internet is abuzz with how good this is, and I’m left saying, HOW? How can you people like this? Honestly, I can’t get it. It’s amazing to me that this was written by the same guy who just did Blackest Night #8 (or even co-wrote Brightest #0 this week, for that matter). Manapul looked like he was trying to go for a Wieringo/Bagley blend style, but it fell very flat for me; there was no detail, and in one panel in particular, that was a problem. I might have to do a spoiler rant here, I don’t know. Probably for the best, though; at least I can save my money by never getting this again. Well, they’ll probably suck me in at some point (Flashpoint?), but at least I feel no need to buy this monthly for the time being.

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Batman #698

Written by Tony Daniel; art by Guillem March.

RATING: 1.5/5

The plot here was completely nonsensical, and I never got into it at all. Someone is killing low-level criminals, but doing it as cheap imitations of super villains. Meanwhile, the Riddler is supposedly trying to help the investigation, but barely if at all. And no one seems concerned, at all, when this known super villain keeps walking onto crime scenes in broad daylight to talk to Bats and Gordon. At no point was I at all interested in what happened next, and it was really one of the most boring comics I’ve read in a long while. Ugh.

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5 Responses to “4/14/10 Reviews”

  1. Gokitalo Says:

    Woo-hoo for Brightest Day! Add to my pull list, I will 😀

    Oddly enough, your review of Flash #1 makes me want to buy it even more now. If only it’s to see which side I fall on! I’m glad you dug Black Widow #1, I’ve been hearing pretty good things about it.

    I do want to check out X-Factor Forever, as I don’t think a lot of people really “got” what Simonson was trying to do with Apocalypse. In the ’90s, he was largely concerned with ruling the world and gaining more power. Yet his original motivation was ensuring the survival of his species by exposing them to horrible, life-threatening things (“that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”). So I’m kind of intrigued to see Louise return to that version of the character and take him to his logical conclusion.

    And finally, Kill Shakespeare. I wonder how the Bard would feel about the title! :b So it’s a bit like Fables, but with Shakespeare characters? That could become a very fun series.

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    Feel free to add a spoiler filled addendum for Green Arrow if you’d like.

    Whoa, it’s fun to see Zeb Wells still alive and doing some good work. He was the guy who won a Marvel/Wizard contest to write a Marvel mini series or something, right? I’m glad he’s stuck on, and if I remember, I liked a lot of the stuff he did back in the day, including a Spidey mini series.

    I’m so happy you got Kill Shakespeare. Indie comics rule generally, and with a title like that, it deserves a shot. I’ll see it when the movie it comes out (in 20-never).

    Well done as always AA. I feel semi connected to comics by reading your weekly reviews. Grazi.

  3. davidry214 Says:

    Simonson’s X-Factor Forever is interesting, because it’s less of Poccy trying to take over the world, and more of him trying to fuck with the Celestials’ plans for Earth while furthering his own master vision.

    SPOILERS FOR GREEN ARROW
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    Ollie is unmasked and arrested for killing Prometheus. While he’s in jail, Dinah stops by to tell him she’s leaving him. I was disappointed by that, but it was actually very well done. She tells him she’s neither angry nor surprised, but that he’s always found a way to mess up their relationship and put something between them, and she can’t/won’t live with it anymore. So she gives him back the ring and walks out (to walk into the new Birds of Prey).

    Ollie then goes to trial for murder. His superhero friends show up, but not the Arrow family. He’s found not guilty, essentially because the jury was as pissed at Prometheus as he was. But the judge then says he’s banishing Ollie from Star City forever (which a judge can’t judge do like that, but whatev). Green Arrow relaunches with a new #1 in June, the third #1 in less than a decade.

  4. spiffyithaca Says:

    And it’s written by……Andy Diggle? Please?

    I’m heartbroken by Dinah leaving him, and while I always loved their relationship, they did make Ollie a bastard time and time again to her, so what she said has merit. I hope he fucks Wonder Woman now.

  5. davidry214 Says:

    It’s written by J.T. Krul, who just came on the title. The covers by Mauro Cascioli are badass though.

    I’m torn on the split. Dinah developed into a much stronger character in the years Ollie was dead, via BoP, so perhaps this is setting her free in a way. But my romantic side is more overwhelming. I remember when they first saw each other post-resurrection during “Quiver,” with tears coming down her eyes as she interrupted him: “Just say it again. Call me ‘Pretty Bird.'” You’d have to be made of stone to not have melted inside when you read that for the first time.

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