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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Comic reviews in a paragraph or less - Week of 1/16/2013

Wednesday is always my favorite time of the week, why? New Comic Book Day of course, join me as I discuss some of the highlights of the release week that I personally pull and give you an idea of what I think is worth your time, or what to avoid completely. There's no catch-up here, so if you're amongst the uninitiated, you've been warned!

Let's start with this week's featured books:

Batman #16 - W - Scott Snyder, A - Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Scott Snyder's stand-out Batman run enters the final stages of its "Death of the Family" storyline, with Bruce entering the Joker's labyrinth of horror setup throughout Arkham Asylum. When reading this issue a couple of things came to mind, firstly the obvious connection between the story structure and the video game plot of Arkham Asylum, which clearly played no small influence in the story-beats that Snyder is crafting here; additionally I was struck by the similarities between this particular gauntlet issue and the one where Bruce enters the home of the Court of the Owls. That particular issue was a highlight (if not THE highlight) of his run last year, so something that brings it to mind without trying to ape its success is impressive. Capullo's art is at its sharpest here, particularly in scenes where Bruce fights his "knights" as the Joker puts it (or other Arkham inmates as we come to learn). I'm still not sold on this King/Jester/Royal Court language, but through it Snyder is putting his own spin on the idea of Batman creating his own foes through his mere presence, one of my favorite concepts in the mythos. Another great backup by James Tynion as well that puts more focus on Two-Face, which we haven't seen in awhile.

I give this issue an A-

Daredevil #22 - W - Mark Waid, A - Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez
In this issue of Daredevil, Mark Waid pits Matt up against the new "Superior" Spider-man (the titular character's mind being inhabited by Dr. Octopus). I'm ambivalent to this concept that's taken over the Spider-man titles, but it makes for an interesting Daredevil story as the web-slinger is the "Avenger that I'm closest to", as Matt says. Needless to say, this version of Spidey, who was sent by Asst. DA Karen McDuffie to talk to Matt about his "public menace-ness", has different ideas in how to deal with our favorite superhero. The battle is pretty humorous, particularly when universal joke villain Stilt-man makes his first appearance in the new series. Perhaps the real strength of the story lies in what book-ends this fight. The first few pages deal with how Matt, as a blind man, handles money, not financially, but physically. It's a piece of character development that I've never thought much about, but it makes perfect sense and is really well told by Waid. The story closes with Matt trying to reconcile his friendship with Foggy, and possibly resume their law partnership. I did not see the twist ending coming at all. It's a touchy subject they're embarking upon, but if anyone can handle it with enough pathos and respect, it's Mark Waid.

I give this issue an A

New Avengers # 2 - W - Jonathan Hickman, A - Steve Epting, Rick Magyar
This issue was slightly easier to follow than the first. The most notable thing to focus on is that is a book that is almost completely talking heads. The reader gets a quick recap at the beginning of the issue and then you're off to the races, or maybe more appropriately speaking, the debates. This go-round, we learn a little more about the central concept of what Black Swan was doing last issue in "alternate-Wakanda" and there's a nice bit of antagonism that's developing between Namor and Black Panther, that as someone that's not a Marvel expert, I was fairly new to, though I know Namor may just act that way to anyone that isn't Sue Richards. The rest of the tale is taken over by description of the central conflict, which deals with parallel earths colliding and hastening the heat death of all existence, which sounds like a Hickman story if I've ever heard one. The set-up for the next story arc is put into place with the idea of splitting the Illuminati into two groups, where utilizing the infinity gems they all have, one group will attempt to find the mind gem that was in the possession of the recently deceased Charles Xavier, and the other will be creating an "emergency incursion system" for when the next parallel earths will begin to collide. A wordy read, and alot to swallow in parts, I'm still excited to see where it goes next. Hickman is a bit of a mini-Grant Morrison in his way, with more science and less chakra. Epting's art is stellar, though he's only given a little bit to do this go round as the action is fairly sparse.

I give this issue a B

Demon Knights #16, W - Robert Vendetti, A - Bernard Chang
Robert Venditti makes his DC debut with this issue that takes place 30 years after the conclusion of Paul Cornell's final issue on the title and after the Battle of Avalon. I'm a sucker for "years later" type tales, and this one goes deeper chronologically I've seen in mainstream comics. While the team has been split apart due to circumstance, a much older Al Jabr has to reorganize them to battle the mysterious vampire Cain and the army he is amassing across Europe with his right-hand woman, who also happen to be an Amazon. Vendetti really impressed me with this story, particularly in how little he relied on decompression, which I found to be the biggest flaw of his predecessor. Every character of importance gets equal time, and the threat is generally much more interesting and threatening than what Morgan Le Faye and Mordru were up to previously. It needs to be said, it's a gruesome book, there are detached limbs throughout, and there's a scene involving Horsewoman's mount that ended in a sad fashion. I have no issue with this type of thing, but be warned. Overall, I'm incredibly excited about this run, and enough to call it my Book of the Week.

I give this issue an A

One sentence reviews

Captain America #3 - Not bad overall, I found the flashback tale more satisfying than the main story, but I still can't quite work up the interest to care about anything that's going on in Dimension Z and the alien designs are still a bit of a bore. I give this issue a C+ and it gets one more issue from me

Saga Chapter Nine - It's a tale well-told and as I find The Will and his trusty Liar Cat more interesting than the series' central protagonists, this held my interest more though I'm not as hot on this series as most. I give this issue a B+ 

Threshold #1 - It's great to have Keith Giffen back writing sci-fi comics for DC, I just wish it was something a little less confusing, as I felt a bit lost throughout. I give this issue a C+ and it's on the requisite three issue bubble

Comeback #3 - Continues to be one of Image's biggest surprises of the year, along with Nowhere Men, and one of the most interesting concepts I've ever seen in a comic with great noir-ish art. I give this issue an A- and urge that you check this mini out if a time-travel thriller sounds like your idea of a good time.
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