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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 5


For Comics Released July 3, 2013

Hello, everybody, and welcome to a brand new volume of The Splash Page!  As you may have noticed, The Splash Page is coming to you on a Friday this week instead of a Thursday.  I would have loved to have given you my thoughts on my pull of this week's comics yesterday, but, let's be honest, most of you were out having fun with family and friends yesterday so you wouldn't have been able to check out this awesome little comics article anyway.  All of this to say I will go back to posting The Splash Page on Thursdays next week!  Since there was a holiday this week, it also meant that the amount of comics released was a little small.  While this means a shorter Splash Page this week, my wallet is not complaining at all after two big pulls one right after the other.  In addition, I am thrilled to announce that I pulled the exact same number of Marvel and DC books this week for the first time in a very long time!  I know that I had promised to make the Spotlight Reviews more even if I ever had such a pull, but, I think you will like the route I have decided to take instead.  So, anyway, without further ado, let's check out how some comics turned out this week!

Marvel


Iron Man #12
Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Dale Eaglesham

It is probably best for Kieron Gillen's sake that his run on Iron Man has not been getting a ton of press.  If so, fans would probably be attacking Gillen with more fury than they do Dan Slott for his work on Superior Spider-man.  With the previous issue, we learned that Tony Stark was manufactured in utero by 451 so that Tony could prepare the Earth for an eventual extraterrestrial attack.  In this issue, Gillen continues to reveal new things about just how much of Tony's person was fabricated, including the existence of the Iron Man armor entirely.  We get to see Howard Stark's rag tag group attack the Area 52 casino in order to keep the Grey's off the trail of what Howard and 451 are up to.  This makes for an Ocean's Eleven-esque scenario that, while entertaining, is completely overshadowed by the ludicrous reason any of this is even happening.  451 is an interesting villain who does something here which is a nice touch on his sinister nature, but this is an issue which makes the reader feel as restrained as Tony in the present.  We are learning these new things about Tony's origin that are, frankly, quite stupid in their concept, and we do not get to see Tony just sock 451 due to his control over machines.  Although this certainly does a good job of raising the stakes, this is a kettle which is more than boiling over.  In Gillen's first "year" on this book we have continued to see him struggle with the character.  Eaglesham's art is nice, but there is just too much here that feels wrong for this to be a great issue.  Rating: C


Thunderbolts #12
Written by Charles Soule, Art by Steve Dillon

Although the previous arc of Thunderbolts improved as it reached its end, it was ultimately a confusing mess that tried to do too much with too little.  The only saving grace of the previous arc was that Orestez Natchios was actually a pretty intriguing villain for the Thunderbolts.  It would seem Daniel Way was meant to leave on an open-ended note, however, as the previous issue was his last and he never finished his story with Orestez.  Instead, mopping up duties are left to new writer Charles Soule, who is currently doing work at DC on Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns as well.  Soule does a good job of sliding into where Daniel Way left off, with this issue focusing on the Punisher's hunt for Orestez as Elektra's lack of answers in his murder seemed flimsy.  What we get here, then, is an issue that focuses solely on one of the Thunderbolts.  With such a dynamic team, this could have been a mistake, but Soule proves here why it was ultimately the best choice.  Charles Soule has a deep understanding of Frank Castle and the way this character works.  The characterization alone makes it one of the best Thunderbolts issues we have gotten thus far.  Getting to see Frank size up everyone at a hot shot Hollywood party is incredibly fun, and Soule's writing of the character helps to set up some literally explosive action.  There is some tension established here that will be immensely fun to see Soule capitalize on down the road.  Though it cannot be said Soule is doing a great job on Thunderbolts until we see him write some of the more difficult to handle members (namely Deadpool), this is a great start.  Rating: A+


DC


Earth 2 #14
Written by James Robinson, Art by Nicola Scott

After several issues of slow burn, Earth 2 finally begins an explosive conflict with Steppenwolf.  Out of all of the comics released this week, Earth 2 definitely wins any awards for Most Beautiful Cover.  But is the issue itself as fantastic as the image on the front?  The answer is: somewhat.  Although this has, thus far, been a comic which has had to introduce (in some cases re-introduce) alternate versions of DC characters, James Robinson has done an excellent job of fleshing out most of these superheroes.  It is for that reason alone that makes this issue feel like something which has been a long time coming.  By taking the time to carefully develop these characters and this conflict, all Robinson has to do now is have that conflict come to a head in a way which feels fluid and natural and he will be able to cap off a run many would find excellent.  The only problem that comes in with Robinson's run ending with this arc is that we will not get to see his ideas for characters who do not have a stake in this Steppenwolf fight completely fleshed out.  While the new writer will certainly have ideas of his own, it will not be the same if Robinson is not telling us what is happening with Hawkgirl, Captain Steel, Batman, and whoever the new Red Lantern is.  Perhaps that is this comic's greatest weakness: there are so many characters, all of them well written, but some of them have to be forgotten about for several issues at a time in order for the story to progress.  Robinson's run is heading towards an interesting conclusion, but it is a very somber feeling seeing his hard work end too soon.  Rating: A-


Green Lantern #22
Written by Robert Venditti, Art by Billy Tan

Robert Venditti's run on Green Lantern continues here in his second issue.  As Larfleeze continues to attack Oa, Hal Jordan must find a way to lead the Green Lantern Corps' newest recruits.  Whether or not you enjoy this run on Green Lantern thus far really depends on what type of Green Lantern story you are looking for.  If you saw the movie Green Lantern and were looking for a Green Lantern story with that level of silliness, but better writing, then this might just be up your alley.  Venditti tries his hardest to make this a Green Lantern comic which blends fun, action, and just a little bit of drama.  Hal flies around fighting off Larfleeze's forces with ridiculous constructs including a giant shark, an airplane, and a truck.  It is a level of camp that may appeal to many, it is, after all, a pretty entertaining issue, but it would seem a level of depth was lost in the passing of the torch from Geoff Johns.  What further adds to the messiness of this issue is the entire concept of Larfleeze invading Oa.  If this story were published a year ago it would be no problem, but Larfleeze has his own series now and, with that, there are certain barriers of continuity that should be respected.  Perhaps we will get such an explanation in Larfleeze, but that comic is just as mediocre as this one so who can really tell.  The best aspect of this issue does not even have Hal Jordan, but instead a Green Lantern named Cossite and his prisoner, a woman named Nol-Anj, who has been selected as the next Star Sapphire.  Billy Tan's art continues to surprise, but it falters a bit here.  This is a decent issue, but it all depends on what you are looking for in the character.  Rating: B-


Vertigo


Fairest #17
Written by Sean E. Williams, Art by Stephen Sadowski

One of the biggest question marks with this current arc on Fairest was whether or not the story took place in the present.  In this issue, we finally find out that Nalayani's story indeed takes place in the present, meaning that Prince Charming is alive and well in the Fables world.  With that revelation, we also get an explanation of how Charming survived the explosion which occurred so long ago in Fables.  If anyone is reading this comic without also reading Fables, it may not be a story that is of particular interest, but it is one which Sean E. Williams writes in a way that makes sense, but also has that usual Charming allure.  This issue is absolutely stellar.  Not only is it encouraging to see that Prince Charming is alive (it means he could later show up in the main Fables book), but the main story at hand is one which becomes immensely fascinating with each issue.  This month we get to see Prince Charming fight a giant crocodile in a scene that is written with a lot of wit and is absolutely stunning to look at.  Stephen Sadowski had before seemed like an artist about on the same level of some of the better artists to draw this world, but this issue pushes his art entirely to the next level.  Coupled with Adam Hughes' cover art, Fairest is quickly becoming a must read comic for its stories of female empowerment as well as some of the best art in comics right now.  Now that we have any questions about Prince Charming out of the way, it will be interesting to see if this story puts its focus back on the just as interesting Nalayani.  Rating: A+


Spotlight Issue

So, you have made it to the end of yet another volume of The Splash Page!  As you can see, both my Marvel and DC pulls were a bit low, so I hope that you will understand that I did not pick from either of those publishers for this week's Spotlight Issue.  Since it was such a small week, I also decided it would be best if we only have one Spotlight Issue, but I think I have made an excellent choice on that end.  This week's Spotlight Issue is Satellite Sam #1, written by Matt Fraction with Art by Howard Chaykin.  Behind the scenes drama, noir, and 1950's sci-fi television are combined to make a rather unique new comic.  Find out more in my review!



Thanks again for taking the time to read this volume of The Splash Page.  Hopefully there will be a little bit more to offer you next week.  As always, if there are any comics you feel I should cover, or any you think should have been reviewed differently, feel more than free to leave a comment below!  See you next week for The Splash Page Volume 6!
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