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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 13

For Comics Released August 28, 2013

It's another week, so it must be time for another volume of The Splash Page!  Once again I had myself a pretty large pull, although, I have to say, that this will be nothing compared to the onslaught that will hit me next week.  My wallet has already started to cry in pain at the thought of the sheer amount of titles from DC alone I will be picking up next Wednesday.  Nevertheless, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  Let's talk about some comics you can get your hands on NOW!  This week saw the continuation of Infinity and that much-hyped final chapter of Trinity War!  See how these comics and more turned out below!


Marvel

New Avengers #9
Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Mike Deodato

Marvel's latest crossover event, Infinity, continues onward with this spin-off issue.  Although the main Infinity comic will most likely be an understandable read on its own, one cannot read this issue of New Avengers without feeling that these spin-offs are also necessary to get the entire picture.  That being said, that does not mean this particular issue of New Avengers is new reader friendly by any means.  While the Avengers are off in space in conflict with the Builders, Thanos makes his play at Earth, seeking the last of the Infinity Gems as well as another prize known as the Tribute.  Easily one of the most exciting aspects of the first issue of Infinity was the pages involving Thanos and his plan to make his way to Earth.  With the Avengers gone, Hickman does an excellent job of showing just how susceptible Earth becomes.  Something happens with this issue that is somewhat of a rarity with this comic: large action on an even larger scale.  Since it began, New Avengers has been a largely intimate title, focused on developing its small cast through storylines which challenge their morality.  In many ways, this Infinity tie-in is a place for stories which had been built up in this book to finally come to a head, and it is done so in a way which will likely please long-time readers, but could easily confuse those who picked this up in light of the crossover.  With that in mind, however, this is still an incredibly engaging read that finally amps things up in a story which had seemed to be taking its time.  Deodato's art is great.  Rating: A+


Thor: God of Thunder #12
Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Nic Klein

With the first story arc of Thor: God of Thunder out of the way, Jason Aaron treats us to an extra issue this month, allowing us to wind down from the nearly year long ride we as readers had been taken on.  One of the things which makes Thor different from his brethren in Asgard is his love for the people of Midgard (Earth) and his constant vow to protect them.  That is where the focus of this issue, largely, lies, taking a look at how Young Thor, Avenger Thor, and King Thor all feel about the place we call home.  This very much so feels like an issue to stand in until the real story takes place, but Jason Aaron writes it so wonderfully that it is not an issue without purpose.  An intriguing aspect of the Gorr storyline that was just wrapped up was the idea of how the gods are perceived by the people who worship and interact with them.  Aaron touches on this theme more so in this issue, and it pays off beautifully, giving us as readers an image of Thor as a very caring being in addition to his macho, warfare-heavy lifestyle.  Jason Aaron has proved to us already that he knows how to craft a Thor story with enormous stakes and large action, but, whether it is his willingness to be there for a man facing the death penalty or even a heart-crushing scene between former love interest Jane Foster, Aaron is able to prove to us that Thor also has heart.  It is for that reason alone that makes this issue more than worth the break from the punching and throwing of hammers.  The only complaint that could be lodged here is that Klein's art is not as nice as Esad Ribic's.  Rating: A-


Ultimate Spider-man #26
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Dave Marquez

After deciding that destiny is something one cannot avoid for too terribly long, Miles Morales has (unsurprisingly) donned his mask and become Spider-man once again.  This is an issue with surprisingly very little Miles Morales.  We get a nice scene with Miles and Spider-Woman chasing down a super-powered girl who had made a brief appearance before in this series, but other than that the focus from Miles is all but lost.  It is not necessarily a bad thing for Bendis to do this.  The issue featuring the origin of Ultimate Cloak and Dagger was incredibly emotionally resonant as well as an engaging read.  What just seems so strange is that, after a year of not being Spider-man, one would assume his return to the role would be met with more focus/development than we get here.  On the bright side, Cloak and Dagger make an ableit brief appearance again, but it is one of the best scenes of the entire issue.  One simply cannot have too much Ultimate Cloak and Dagger.  Bendis has done a marvelous job of building up these two characters in just a few short issues.  While the development with one of Roxxon's other experiments is interesting and filled with the heart this book typically brings, it is in the development of the antagonists at Roxxon where this comic gets most intriguing.  With this comic ending soon in light of upcoming event Cataclysm, it seems the build up with Roxxon may be the last big story we get with Miles Morales.  Fitting considering its connections to this series' beginnings.  Rating: A-


DC


Batman/Superman #3
Written by Greg Pak, Art by Jae Lee and Yildiray Cinar

As anything related to the cinematic union of Batman and Superman remains big news, one cannot help but continue to be excited about their newest exploits in comics.  Finally beginning to work things out with his double and Wonder Woman, Superman discovers that there is a weapon being prepared which could prove disastrous if used...and it is seemingly connected to Batman.  Although Greg Pak has not yet made it clear to readers who may not be in the know that this is Earth-2, it is difficult to believe that such readers could let that dampen their experience of this great issue.  In terms of characterization, Pak has passed any tests of writing these characters with flying colors thus far, proving with this issue that he also has a pretty decent handle on Wonder Woman as well.  Pak's Wonder Woman is so intriguing, in fact, one almost wishes Pak would take over her title if/when Azzarello decides to leave.  As always, Jae Lee's art is absolutely stunning from cover to cover, with his Darkseid being a beautifully drawn character, perhaps the best of the entire issue.  It is a bit disappointing, if not outright jarring, when the art transitions to that of Yildiray Cinar.  While Cinar's art is not as fantastic as Lee's, one cannot help but enjoy the way it meshes with the fantastic backstory Pak gives us about a young Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.  By issue's end, not only does this arc become immensely fascinating, but one also realizes this is going to be one special comic.  Rating: A+


The Flash #23
Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, Art by Francis Manapul

Easily the most annoying thing about this recent arc in The Flash is that Manapul and Buccellato seemed content to just continuously tease things which may happen, not ever fully letting events pop as much as one felt they could.  This was the case not even with just the Reverse Flash's identity, but with the limited way the character had been used.  Last week things finally reached their boiling point between these two foes, and this issue is where everything in that pot completely spills over.  This is a comic loaded to the brim with one action sequence after another, and,after all the complaints about how slow and steady Manapul and Buccellato had been taking things, it actually feels like all that set-up was mostly worth the wait.  Practically every other page of this issue is a splash page, and it is something which gets a bit weary after three or four times..  What truly helps all of these action sequences really work is not just the spot-on writing, but the spectacular art by Manapul.  Manapul really knocks this issue out of the park, giving his best for this fight.  Even though we know the Reverse Flash is bad news, one thing really keeping this incarnation of the character from truly feeling like he could be the Flash's arch nemesis is that his identity may have little connection to Barry Allen.  The reveal of Reverse Flash's identity is finally made by the end of this issue, and it is one that makes the Reverse Flash Villains Month issue next month perhaps the most anticipated for this reviewer.  Rating: A


Justice League #23
Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Ivan Reis

After two months of waiting and almost two years of teases, the end of the New 52's first big story arc, Trinity War, has reached its final chapter.  The debut of this series was not just a fantastic comic, but quite possibly one of the best single issues of a DC book since the New 52 began.  From there, the story took just a bit of a dip, spending a lot of time setting things up and not really accomplishing a whole lot.  With this final issue, a key question comes into play: can a comic book still be an exciting and engaging read after almost every facet of its story has been spoiled?  Sure, we knew things were not going to end well for the Justice Leagues as Forever Evil/Villains Month were being solicited, but numerous details about the final pages of this very issue made their way online weeks in advance.  If you were one of the lucky few to make it to this issue spoiler-free, you achieved something worthy of commendation.  Once again we see the various superheroes of the DC Universe playing hot potato with Pandora's Box, this time at an ancient Greek temple instead of an isolated room.  Revelations are made about Pandora's Box, the Secret Society, one of the members of the Justice League, and even the leader of the Secret Society, the Outsider.  All of these make up an issue which caps off Trinity War with an incredibly exciting cliffhanger, even if you aren't sure exactly who the new players involved are.  Ivan Reis does a great job, giving this finale some much needed good art.  So, to answer the question, the spoilers take a bit of the fun out of this issue, but that doesn't make what Geoff Johns sets up here any less exciting.  Rating: A


IDW


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #25
Written by Tom Waltz, Art by Mateus Santolouco

As TMNT's most ambitious arc yet, City Fall, continues, we get to see more of where this arc actually gets its name.  Since this rebooted series began, there has been a slow build up of stories involving various street gangs in New York, each of which have come into contact with the Turtles in some capacity.  With this issue we get to see conflict between gangs begin to come to a head, and it allows quite a few things to finally take place, some of which have been a long time coming.  One of these things is perhaps the weakest aspect of the entire issue.  In the writing of this comic, Tom Waltz has rarely made us forget about one of the main characters, often giving them or their stories some sort of development in every single issue.  This issue sees April and Casey beginning a new step in their friendship, and, although it is a nice development that feels inevitable, it all seems like a big distraction as to what is going on elsewhere.  Having Casey say he wishes he could be out helping the Turtles does not mean your unnecessary plot thread is relevant.  We get some decent enough development with Donnie, Mikey, and Raph here, but it ultimately does not feel like anything other than a glorified pep talk, something we have seen happen many times in this series.  Where this issue really hits its stride is in the development of Leonardo's role in the Foot Clan as well as the escalating war between the Foot and the Savate.  Not only that, but an out of left field move is made in the narrative that only makes this story even more exciting.  Rating: B+


Image


Lazarus #3
Written by Greg Rucka, Art by Michael Lark

One of many recently begun Image titles, Lazarus has continued to improve as it moves along.  While the previous issue split its time between the development of conflict and the development of Forever's character, this is an issue which seems to only be interested in furthering the story, which is not a bad thing by any means.  This is very much so a comic which feels like it could easily make the transition to television, but, for the moment, it is thriving very well within this medium.  In an attempt to end the fighting before it can begin, Forever comes as a representative of her father and makes a parlay to the Morray family.  In many ways, this is quite an intimate issue, with the settings and characters feeling much tighter, allowing for the story to flow quite nicely.  When reading, one easily becomes so lost in the soap opera esque drama of the Morrays and the Carlyles that it is easy to forget the more science fiction elements which pervade the world of this comic.  Much like Saga before it, it is really that simplistic element, that feeling that this could really be taking place in any time period that allows for this dystopian story to escape many of the cliches of its genre.  Rucka does an excellent job of giving his reader just the slightest bit of information on each of these characters to make one practically beg for more.  The continued revelations and developments made on Forever's end really make this comic a standout in terms of providing strong, female roles in comic books.  It is just as exciting to see Forever develop as it is the story.  Rating: A



So that's it for this week's volume of The Splash Page.  Apologies for it being released a little bit later than usual, I assure you it would not have been done if it were not absolutely necessary.  
As always, if there are any comics you feel were reviewed unfairly, or any you would like to see covered on here, please feel free to leave a comment!  Be sure to come back next week as I dive into Villains Month and the plethora of exciting comics coming from DC in September!
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