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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Splash Page, Vol 41












Comics Reviews for the week of 5/7/14

 DC Comics



Batman/Superman #10
Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Karl Kerschl and Scott Hepburn

[Harper]: Although this book has been not so great lately, I'm a huge fan of Ray Palmer as the Atom. I love the science heroes of the Silver Age, and having seen the Atom put to great use in a couple of modern stories here and there, I was interested to see how they brought him into the New 52 here. The issue opens with Superman finding Dr. Palmer in S.H.A.D.E.'s tiny headquarters and asking if he can help save Batman's life: he's gone into a coma, and Superman's microscopic vision discovered a floating dead superhero in Batman's blood. After some bantering, they shrink down and find a whole alien city in Batman's brain, complete with its own super villains. The concept is not a totally new one, but the addition of tiny heroes and villains is a fun one, and there are a couple fun payoffs. Lemire's got a nice take on Ray Palmer's Atom as kind of a weirdo with a good sense of humor, and there are a couple great Batman lines as he hears what was going on ("This is why I should never leave Gotham"). While the design of the new Atom costume is pretty good–coloring and design that are respectful to the original while adding functionality and a sweet Ant-Man-like helmet–the art overall unfortunately is not. The book goes back and forth between Kerschl and Hepburn, both of which draw annoyingly gaunt faces with goofy expressions that don't match the scene. All-in-all, a decent introduction to one of DC's biggest B-level (okay, maybe C-level) heroes…but I wouldn't dare hope for a solo series anytime soon.

Rating: B-

Future's End #1
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens
Art by Patrick Zircher

[Special Guest Review by FUTURESENDDAVE]: SO I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF READING THE LATEST ISSUE OF CYBERFORCE, AND CHECKING OUT ALL THAT EXTREME IMAGE ACTION (NO NOT THAT PUSSY ASS SAGA STUFF) WHEN SOMEBODY TOLD ME THAT DC WAS DOING AN EVENT WHERE THE FUTURE IS ALL JACKED UP WITH EVIL VERSIONS OF THE HEROES AND SOMEBODY HAS TO GO BACK IN TIME TO STOP IT. WELL, SEEING AS HOW THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN COMICS EVER IN ITS ENTIRE HISTORY, I KNEW THIS WAS A MUST READ. THE BEST PART IS THAT THIS BOOK BRINGS DAN JURGENS BACK, WHO AS WE ALL KNOW WROTE THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK OF ALL-TIME "THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN", WHERE SUPERMAN DIED...LITERALLY DIED! THAT TAKES MAD BALLS YO, AND THEN THEY REPLACED HIM WITH A ROBOT SUPERMAN WHO HAD CRAZY WEAPONS SYSTEMS, CLEARLY THE MARK OF A GREAT COMIC! I'M SO GLAD DC CAME TO THEIR SENSES AND BROUGHT BACK THIS TITAN OF INDUSTRY AND ALLOWED HIM TO HELP SHEPHERD ALONG THESE NO-NAMES LIKE AZZARELLO (IS IT SPANISH OR ITALIAN? I DUNNO) GIFFEN (THE MAN WHO TURNED JUSTICE LEAGUE INTO A JOKE! JUSTICE LEAGUE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, YOU PANSY ASS) AND LEMIRE, WHOM JURGENS IS CLEARLY KEEPING HIS PENCHANT FOR CANADIAN REFERENCES AT BAY ('MURICA!). THIS BOOK HAS IT ALL, GUYS...BATMAN BEYOND, STORMWATCH, EXPLOSIONS, GRIFTER, GRIFTER'S WEAPONS, PEOPLE DYING (SO YOU KNOW ITS GOOD), DID I MENTION GRIFTER? HES CLEARLY THE PINNACLE OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT! THE BOOK EVEN ENDS WITH A DEATH, AND OF COURSE ITS GREEN ARROW WITH A BEARD, CAUSE FUCK THAT. I'LL SAY IT RIGHT NOW, THIS BOOK IS THE EQUIVALENT OF 20 ZACK SNYDER CHEST REPS AND WILL MAKE YOU MORE OF A MAN, EVEN IF YOU'RE A WOMAN! I'M NOT SURE WHY THEY'RE EVEN MAKING COMICS ANYMORE AFTER THIS, AS CLEARLY IT WILL GET NO BETTER AND WE SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND GIVE THE EISNER TO THIS BOOK FOR ALL TIME! HELL, LET'S JUST START CALLING IT THE FUTURE'S END AWARDS. IF THIS DOESN'T END UP ON YOUR TOP 10 OF THE YEAR...WELL, THEN GO BACK TO READING YOUR HAWKEYE COMICS OR WHATEVER IT IS YOU LIKE. ANOTHER BIG WIN FOR THE NEW 52, A FLAWLESS LINE OF COMICS IF I EVER SAW ONE.
RATING: A++++++++++++++++++++++++ (Big thanks to Futures End Dave! Kyle's thoughts: This book is hot garbage, the art is pretty nice though in places, D)

Image Comics



Nailbiter #1
Written by Joshua Williamson, Art by Mike Henderson

[Shane]: There is probably something you should know about me.  Obsessed is probably the wrong word, but I am quite fascinated by the idea of serial killers.  Your Dahmers, Gacy's, Bundy's...I just find myself curious about them.  Not so much about their crimes, but more as to the how and, especially, why.  What drives someone to commit such heinous acts more than once?  Lucky for me, Ghosted writer Joshua Williamson has many of the same interests/questions.  Being a huge fan of his series, I just couldn't let Nailbiter pass me by.  Taking place primarily in Buckaroo, Oregon, Nailbiter tells the story of the Buckaroo Butchers, the nickname given to the SIXTEEN serial killers born and raised in the town.  Investigators Carroll and Finch descend on the town; the former to investigate a seeming connection between the killers, the latter to find his partner when he goes missing.  Buckaroo ends up being exactly what you expect in a town with such a colorful history, even having a Murder Shop for those who would like to own serial killer memorabilia.  This is a delightfully macabre comic, and Williamson and Mike Henderson work together perfectly to create something that is truly disgusting, horrifying, yet all the more intriguing.  With Ghosted, Williamson takes on the genre of ghost stories/haunted houses.  In Nailbiter, it looks like Williamson is taking on the slasher genre (in a way), with two of the Buckaroo Butchers seen thus far committing crimes making them worthy of the horror film treatment.  If Ghosted is any indication, Nailbiter just may teach you to not rely on your expectations for this genre.  Looks like Image has another hit on its hands.  Rating: A+


Marvel Comics

Cyclops #1
Space writing by Greg Rucka, Space art by Russell Dauterman with Chris Sotomayor

[Cal]: Cyclops has always been a difficult character for Marvel.  The early work with the character played him as something of a stick in the mud, the All-American boy who more and more often became nothing more than a punching bag for Wolverine.  While that's changed in recent years, with writers introducing a hefty amount of (fairly justified) darkness to the character, it was still a controversial decision, and Brian Michael Bendis' decision to bring the original X-Men to the present day in All-New X-Men is the gift that keeps on giving.  Summers has been bent but not broken, and seeing him here, worried about his future but jubilant about his present, presents an ideal version of the character.  Greg Rucka has given him a lot to love, reuniting him with his father, space-faring pirate Corsair, and his crew, the Starjammers.  What 16 year old boy wouldn't want to be a space pirate, after all?  Cyclops #1, essentially a premise pilot intended to introduce us to the series' main cast and dramatic thrust without really setting up a story, is slim but warm-hearted, following Cyclops' as he adapts to his father's ship and comes to terms with the decisions he can't make before being given the opportunity of a lifetime.  Dauterman and Sotomayor downplay the dark colors typical in space adventures and opt for a more colorful palette, really selling the series' essential warmth well.  Even in the vacuum of space, we are treated not to grim, absolute darkness, but to beautiful swaths of color cut across the page.  Readers who don't like Cyclops or who don't like relatively low-key adventure stories may not warm to this, but Rucka and his artists have crafted a welcoming first chapter for one of Marvel's hardest-to-handle characters.  Rating: B+



Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-man #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by David Marquez

[Shane]: Wow.  Two weeks and two BRAND NEW Spider-man series starting at Marvel.  All around the same time as a new Spider-man movie!  Must be a coincidence, right?  Not exactly, but at least the better (current) Spider-man is back.  After a brief break to fight Galactus and get his life back in order, Miles Morales and Ultimate Spider-man finally make their triumphant return!  This is the third title in the new, smaller, Marvel Ultimate Universe.  Although Miles has been in around 30 issues or so, writer Brian Michael Bendis does a good job of making this issue a stable jumping on point for new readers.  That being said, this issue is all about the people who have been following Ultimate Spider-man from the beginning.  With SHIELD being shut down, their assorted prisoners are being moved to other facilities, and this includes Norman Osborne...the man who murdered Peter Parker (things go exactly as expected in that part of the story).  Meanwhile, Miles is now living with best friend Ganke after his dad ran off (Miles had just told him about being Spider-man), but Miles is at least taking comfort in new-ish girlfriend Katie Bishop.  It seems that, even when Spider-man isn't Peter Parker, the character is still going to face some troubles in his personal life equal or greater to those in his superhero life.  Not only does Miles have to worry about two new villains on the scene, but he is also struggling with being essentially orphaned as well as whether or not he wants to tell Katie his secret.  In short, Bendis makes this issue VERY true to everything we know about Spider-man.  David Marquez is up as artist, and he does just as excellent a job with this comic as Sara Pichelli.  Marquez has some panel layouts in this issue which are incredibly engaging and stunning to behold.  Many are talking about the shocking twist on the last page of this issue.  While it is certainly a big one, it is easy to worry about the many awful directions it could go.  Rating: A



Moon Knight #3
Written by Warren Ellis, Art by Declan Shalvey with Jordie Bellaire

[Cal]: The first two issues of Warren Ellis' Moon Knight were among the year's most ambitious, redefining a long-running character and using page layout and story structure to tell stories in interesting ways.  Moon Knight #3 drops the structural magnificence of the series' second issue, but it continues to push Marc Spector into fascinating new territory.  A gang of street punks is running wild, beating random passers-by and vandalizing property, but when Moon Knight goes to confront them, he realizes that they are ghosts, able to hurt him while he cannot touch them.  The first issue shows us one new persona, the second issue showed us another, so it makes sense that Ellis would use this issue to give us his third, the one haunted from beyond life by a dead god who cries out for justice.  Shalvey and Bellaire make the suit appropriately haunting, war armor made from bones and mummy bandages, and the issue's two fight scenes continues the series' dedication to explicit, graphic, hard-to-watch violence.  While Moon Knight #3 is probably the weakest of the series to date, it's still an excellent entry in what's shaping up to be one of Marvel's most ambitious books.  Rating: A-




Original Sin #1
Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

[Harper]: Events are very hit or miss for me, and lately almost completely miss. My expectations were low for this summer's inevitable event, but they slowly started to rise given the cosmic murder mystery concept and Jason Aaron taking the lead instead of the robotically dull Avengers-Hickman. I'm pleased to report that the first issue of Original Sin was…pretty damn good. Aaron's got a knack for bringing humor into dark and epic situations, and it really lends itself to very fun characterizations as the issue starts with Cap, Wolverine, Black Widow, and (the original) Nick Fury discussing the best steaks they've ever eaten at some backwoods steakhouse. Things soon get crazy as they take Fury's car to the moon to find The Watcher murdered, by some kind of giant gun. While the central team investigates the crime scene, Spider-Man and The Thing battle a Mindless One who is not so mindless and waving around the ultimate nullifier, the Punisher and Doctor Strange interrogate a suspect, Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, and Gamora head into space, and Ant-Man, Emma Frost, and Black Panther head towards the center of the Earth. (pause to take a breath if you're reading out loud!) Putting together such different characters makes for some nice clashes and mystery. It was a great, and Deodato's art is solid; it feels down to earth which keeps the story feeling serious. Events almost always start great, and this one is no exception–a really fantastic beginning to what is hopefully the big superhero event that will break the streak of dull, point-A-to-point-B stories we've gotten in the past year. Rating: A+
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