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Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 10

For Comics Released August 7, 2013

Welcome, all, to the TENTH volume of The Splash Page!  I know that, in the long run, 10 will not seem like such a big number, but, for the moment, it feels like a real milestone.  When I first started The Splash Page, I just wanted a way to put additional thoughts out there on the comics I was reading as, beforehand, I had only been reviewing 2-3 comics per week.  Now, with this wonderful little review roundup, I've been able to not only cover all the major comics from the big two, but I am thrilled at the continued growth that has taken place on the indie side of things.  Since this is such a special volume, I have decided that there will be no Spotlight Issues this week.  This was another pretty large pull this week for me, but that does not mean everything was great.  See how some of this week's releases turned out below!


Hunger #2
Written by Joshua Fialkov, Art by Leonard Kirk

The event which may seek to undo the Ultimate Marvel Universe as we know it continues this week.  Once again we see Rick Jones, a man gifted with cosmic powers from the Watcher, struggle to take on the onslaught of the inter-dimensional being we know as Galactus.  Fortunately, Rick has an ally this time around: the Silver Surfer.  In many ways, the addition of the Silver Surfer in this issue is something which was noticeably lacking last month: someone for Rick Jones to actually talk to.  Although the Watcher has said that Rick has the potential to stop Galactus, the Watcher is such a dull character in terms of his speech and his interpersonal skills that Rick might as well have been conversing with a chair.  With the Silver Surfer, we not only get someone with similar abilities to Rick who can help him in his struggle, but we also have a jolt of characterization given to this comic.  The pairing of these two cosmic characters seems quite perfect, and Fialkov writes their interactions very well.  But do not read too much into this story development, much of this issue focuses on Galactus tearing through the Ultimate Universe.  It feels like a very long time since we have had such a large story centered around 616 Galactus, and it is a very welcome reminder of just how great a villain he really can be.  Fialkov raises the stakes immensely with this issue, and Leonard Kirk's art is absolutely stunning in places (particularly a scene with Galactus and a supernova), but, while this issue makes some noticeable improvements, this event has not yet raised itself to greatness.  Rating: B+

Iron Man #14
Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Greg Land

Although this issue still runs under the banner of The Secret Origin of Tony Stark, that would seem to be a bit of a misnomer.  It would seem that Gillen is more than done with the flashbacks explaining Tony's past, but apparently that does not mean the end of this particular story.  This issue sees Tony attempting to hide from 451 inside the massive, almost 5 mile high robot The Godkiller while he works out a plan.  As we have seen time and time again in this series, 451 has quite a few fail safes to prevent Tony from stopping his ultimate plan.  I am not going to pretend that this has been an absolutely stellar series by any means.  If anything, the last 5-6 issues have been mediocre if not downright terrible.  Kieron Gillen is a writer with some talent, but it would seem none of those talents lend well to crafting a good Iron Man story.  Easily the most engaging aspect of this issue is the use of galactic bounty hunter Death's Head.  This is a character Gillen has used off and on in this series, and he has quite a handle on the character.  In fact, characterization is probably the thing Gillen excels at most in this comic.  The man most definitely has a keen sense of voice for 451, Tony, and many of the other characters he has used, but it is in the stories that he thrusts these characters into where this comic struggles a great deal.  Some stakes are risen with The Godkiller in a heart-stopping moment, but that is utterly ruined by perhaps the most predictable twist this comic has done yet.  451 is a villain who is written well, but he has frankly over-stayed his welcome and it is long past time this story came to a close.  Rating: C

Superior Spider-man #15
Written by Dan Slott, Art by Humberto Ramos

Lately, Superior Spider-man has been a series which has struggled to regain its' once even footing.  Unfortunately, this issue does not do very much to curb that downward spiral.  With Shadowland and the Kingpin seemingly out of the way, Otto sets his sights on tracking down the Hobgoblin.  While the Hobgoblin deals with problems of his own, Otto also must decide whether the time has come to get rid of the Peter Parker side of his life and devote himself full time to being the Superior Spider-man.  After four issues of this series which had a consistent focus (albeit a focus on a very lackluster storyline), Dan Slott returns to his old writing habits by jam-packing this issue with a ton of story.  Unfortunately, what this exercise once again amounts to is pacing that feels incredibly uneven and aspects to the narrative which feel superfluous.  Where Slott succeeds in this issue is in his constant teasing of stories which will eventually come to fruition.  Once again the Green Goblin makes an appearance, but this only serves to show just how boring the Hobgoblin is in comparison.  We see that several of the people in Peter's life now fully believe that this is not the real Peter, and, once Slott decides to capitalize on this plot twist, the comic will undoubtedly become interesting.  Unfortunately, the rest of the issue is a jumbled mess of sometimes interesting moments, but everything passes by so quickly it is difficult to take it all in.  It also does not help that it is all drawn poorly by Humberto Ramos.  Rating: C+


Earth 2 #15
Written by James Robinson, Art by Nicola Scott

For a long time, Earth 2 was easily one of the best comics in the New 52.  Once the news broke that James Robinson would be leaving the book after issue 16, however, things began to go steadily down hill.  This issue begins with a long narration by Jay Garrick (Flash), detailing how he, Doctor Fate, Green Lantern, Red Arrow, and the Atom were all quickly dispatched by the three super powered beings sent by Steppenwolf to attack them.  What this really amounts to is a rather large action set piece.  While there are some decent moments throughout this action scene, it ultimately feels like the typical superhero schlock which one would find in Justice League.  Not a bad thing when done well, but it seems Robinson wrote this scene with a certain amount of apathy as he would rather Jay TELL us what happened instead of SHOW us as well as giving everyone incredibly bad dialogue.  Then the book suddenly shifts between two plots: Hawkgirl's continued search for answers in the death of Alan Scott's boyfriend, and Barda and Mister Miracle fighting off Wonder Woman's daughter.  The latter of these plots had been left so long without development it was difficult to remember who was the hero in this situation.  Each of these plots is used to add even more characters to this already too large cast.  It would seem Robinson wrote this entire arc knowing his days were numbered, and the entire thing comes off as feeling far too lazy.  Whichever writer is brought in next will clearly have a lot of straightening out to do with this very cluttered comic.  Rating: B-

Green Lantern #23
Written by Robert Venditti, Art by Billy Tan

It would seem that Hal Jordan's first day on the job as the new leader of the Green Lantern Corps is not going very well.  This issue sees a desperate Hal Jordan rushing off on his own to seek out escaped prisoner Nol-Anj.In some ways, this issue is a slight improvement on Robert Venditti's run thus far.  While there are still very silly constructs on display, this is the first issue Venditti has written where it feels like some actual police work is going on.  This is a welcome idea as there were numerous times where Geoff Johns seemed to forget that the Green Lanterns are space cops, not superheroes.  Venditti attempts to inject a bit of humor into this issue, but most of his jokes come off as either played out or not very funny.  For starters, at the beginning of the issue, we see Hal sizing up the newest recruits to the Corps.  While this scene seems like it is meant to be funny, it comes off as more cruel than anything.  One would assume that someone who has spent so much time in a diverse group like the Green Lantern Corps would not be so dismissive of someone's inert ability.  When Hal decides he will pursue Nol-Anj on his own, Kilowog rightly urges Hal to begin acting like a leader, but Jordan refuses to put any more lives at risk.  Hal Jordan is a character who is known for being a bit risky, but Venditti writes him like he has never been part of a team.  Frankly, Venditti's Hal Jordan is so pompous that it is a bit grating at times.  It's time to see Hal take some responsibility as leader of the Corps.  At least the art is good.  Rating: B


Kick-Ass 3 #2
Written by Mark Millar, Art by John Romita Jr.

The first issue of Kick-Ass 3 was quite the refresher, mostly because it felt nothing like the ultra-serious and seriously unfunny Kick-Ass 2.  One thing that was missing, however, were stakes.  Fortunately this second issue seeks to rectify that as Mark Millar introduces us to Rocco Genovese, the new mob boss in town.  This is an issue which feels like an amalgamation of the things that worked for the first two volumes of Kick-Ass.  There was a bit of a worry upon reading this issue in that it seemed to take on a bit more of that serious tone that made Kick-Ass 2 such a stale venture.  That comic had high octane levels of violence without any real repercussions.  With this issue, these results are finally dealt with, but only somewhat.  We get to see things from the perspective of a character who largely played a background role in the first two volumes: Red Mist's mother.   From this focal point, we get to see how the rest of New York is reacting to the violence perpetrated by Red Mist, and it really does a worthwhile job of examining what life is like for the family of those who commit crime.  Where this issue really shines, though, is in its moments where we see Kick-Ass and the rest of Justice Forever geeking out, this time over a plan to re-enact a certain scene from Batman: Year One.  These moments really remind one why they enjoyed this series in the first place.  Kick-Ass 3 has yet to do something great, but it is slowly but surely getting close.  Rating: B+


Satellite Sam #2
Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Howard Chaykin

The first issue of Satellite Sam promised us a comic with 1950's sci-fi television, behind the scenes drama, and sex, and this issue delivers on all three fronts.  Much of this issue focuses on LeMonde Television Network owner Joseph Ginsberg seeking to make sure the cast and crew of Satellite Sam stay with his network when their contracts come up for renewal.  This behind the scenes drama pervades much of the issue, making it seem like the promise of the mystery surrounding Carlyle White's death would go unfulfilled.  Despite this one small gripe, this makes for an intriguing issue as it allows Fraction to give us a better idea of who these characters are and how they work with one another.  One of the things that Fraction excels with in his characterization in this comic is that he is able to make multiple characters have intrigue and depth with very little dialogue/presence.  The story of this issue is much more linear than the previous one, making for a comic that flows a lot more smoothly.  This does not mean, however, that Fraction and Chaykin do not experiment a bit with the medium.  Chaykin's art continues to be one of the best aspects of this issue, and the way his art works with Fraction's words is a perfect symmetry not found in many mainstream comics today.  The very last page of this issue as well as a funeral scene are perfect examples of this.  Hopefully the mystery we were promised is actually examined next issue, but otherwise Satellite Sam is off to a fantastic start.  Rating: A+


Fairest #18
Written by Sean E. Williams, Art by Stephen Sadowski

After last month's revelation of how Prince Charming survived that explosion so long ago, the Return of the Maharaja continues!  As Nathoo deals with the arrogant Buildeo, Prince Charming and Nalayani must find a way out of the Village of the Dead before a strange plague overtakes Charming.  Williams titles this chapter "Death and Dismemberment," and both things certainly happen here, but perhaps not in the way you would expect.  It would seem that Indu is the most dangerous of the Fables worlds, with attacks by creatures and supernatural beings that seem far more disastrous than anything the Adversary could have brought seeming to be normal occurrences   When one considers these things, it makes sense why Nalayani become such a strong, independent woman: she had no other choice if she wanted to survive.  If one complaint could be lodged against what Williams is doing here with this story, it would be that it is a bit confusing as to who the main character of this arc truly is.  Nalayani is an incredibly fascinating character and a shining example of the types of female characters comics truly need, but, lately, everything she has done has been over-shadowed by Prince Charming.  Charming begins to see Nalayani's importance in this issue, however, so perhaps that is a sign that she will again become the focal point.  Even if Charming continues to steal the spotlight, it is hard to fault Williams and Sadowski too much as they are doing good work and telling a story which could easily extend well beyond Fairest.  Rating: A-

So, we have come to the end of this milestone volume of The Splash Page.  Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this article from volume one, and I hope that I can continue to bring this to you for a very long time.  If you like what you see here, please share it with your comic loving friends, I would love to see The Splash Page's readership continue to grow!  Be sure to pay attention to GeekRex next week as big changes are coming to The Splash Page with Volume 11!

As always, if there are any comics you feel were reviewed unfairly, or any that are not being covered you would like to see on here, please do not hesitate to leave a comment!  Thank you, and I will see you next week!
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