Featured Posts

Reviews Load More

Features Load More

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Splash Page, Vol. 46

Comic Reviews for the Week of June 11, 2014

DC Comics

Infinity Man and the Forever People #1
Keith Giffen and Dan Didio, Story and Art

[Harper]: You guys all think the Metal Men are DC's most valuable property, right? Then you'll probably agree with Dan Didio that this comic was a good idea. The central premise here is to essentially reboot the Forever People, maybe the least interesting of Kirby's New God creations: the story centers around some very young New Gods who make their way to Earth. For who is maybe the main character Serafina, this is an assignment for school, but several others go with her for one reason or another. They arrive to meet Big Bear and Kirby, the latter of which is a "communal reconstruction bio engine" that serves as the TARDIS-like bigger-on-the-inside apartment for the ragtag group that finds themselves in Venice Beach. The book closes with an odd and seemingly unrelated few pages about Mantis chasing some kind of agricultural scientists down and converting them to his cause. It's not so much that this was bad, it's just boring and doesn't seem to have a place or a purpose. I'm all for books outside the normal range of DC's typical stuff, and I'm traditionally a big fan of the New Gods, but there's just nothing at all to grasp onto here. It takes the things I'm not crazy about with Jack Kirby's writing–the flat characters with no personality–without any of the wonderful inventiveness or giant cosmic ideas. The art too, is pretty substandard unfortunately. Just another case of DC's editorial staff (literally) writing the story. Rating: C

Justice League United #2
Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Mike McKone

[Shane]: Don't be too confused by the title on this issue...this comic is still called Justice League United.  Despite this opening arc being dubbed Justice League Canada, 98% of this issue takes place in space.  The JLU finds itself on an alien planet, seeking answers as well as their missing comrades; meanwhile, Hawkman and Lobo fight once more as Byth begins to unleash his deadly creation.  One of the hallmarks of Jeff Lemire's writing is that he does an exceptionally good job of writing dynamic characters.  This issue shows why Lemire is so damn good at making you love his characters as each member of this team has a distinct voice.  Compare this to Geoff Johns' run on Justice League, which, despite some exceptional storytelling, features character voices that often seem like they could come from anyone.  The only frustrating thing Lemire does with these characters is they way most of them treat Stargirl, a character who has become really exciting to watch over the past year.  This is an issue that is a bit bogged down with a lot of exposition about DC's cosmos.  Most of the names and species mentioned are going to feel like gibberish to those unfamiliar with such a distinct nook of the DCU, but Lemire does a good job of making the story transcend species/planetary distinctions.  What really makes this book an exceptional read each month is Mike McKone's art.  His blend of realism with just a touch of the unrealistic helps to make this book have a very distinct look.  McKone also gives this book some of the most dynamic panel layouts of a DC title, made all the more vibrant with Marcelo Maiolo's colors.  Rating: A

Superman Wonder Woman #9
Written by Charles Soule, Art by Tony S. Daniel

[Shane]: As Superman: Doomed continues, it is beginning to feel like Charles Soule and Greg Pak have been forced to make the best of a bad situation.  What started out as a finale to Scott Lobdell's run on Superman has now been entirely handed down to Superman's other caretakers.  Fortunately, Soule and Pak are doing a much better job with a silly story idea than Lobdell ever could.  Superman, still turning into Doomsday, attempts to escape Earth with the help of Wonder Woman, but finds that he can never truly escape as the Red Lanterns attempt to stop the monster.  Reading the opening recap of this issue, the constant mention of "Super Doom" is such a cringe-worthy 90's super villain name that it almost makes one not want to keep reading.  Luckily, Charles Soule is one of the best writers in cape comics today, and he takes this story to some interesting places in his next chapter.  Kryptonite bleeding into Earth's atmosphere is a neat idea, Superman struggling with his inner demons is a neat idea...the way this is all coming about?  Stupid idea, mostly.  Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple is not a terrible idea, but, as can be expected, this relationship is constantly having a lot more strain put on it than any other in comics (except for perhaps Jean Grey and Scott Summers).  At this point, DOOMED is making one wonder if perhaps the all too forseeable breakup of DC's power couple will be more controversial than their initial hook up.  Tony S Daniel is what really makes this stupid idea of a story work so well.  Sure, Soule's writing helps too, but this issue continues to prove why Daniel is one of my favorite artists in comics today.  It's difficult to pinpoint what makes Daniel's art work so well, but the great panel layouts mixed with stunning portrayals of characters we have seen drawn by so many is definitely a part of the equation.  Rating: A

Image Comics
Starlight #4
Written by Mark Millar, Art by Goran Parlov with Ive Svorcina

[Cal]: I'm not a Mark Millar fan by any stretch, but Starlight increasingly seems like it might just turn out to be Millar's late-period masterpiece.  Like his recent MPH, the series is highlighted by some strong characterization; unlike MPH, however, there's a naked emotionality to the series that feels honest and earned.  A bizarre mash-up of Pixar's Up and Flash Gordon, Starlight follows the impeccably-named Duke McQueen, a man who, in his younger years, visited, saved, and became the hero of another world, only to return to an Earth that didn't believe in any of his adventures.  Decades later, after his wife has died and his kids have outgrown him, Duke is called on again to save the alien world, and forced to come to terms with the fact that the universe has seemingly gotten darker, and he may be too old to deal with it.  Goran Parlov's retro-futuristic designs, which loosely play off the old sci-fi serials that dominated the screen pre-Star Wars, are gorgeous, and he works well with colorist Ive Svorcina to update that vibe for more modern sensibilities.  Starlight #4 continues the winning streak on all fronts, giving us some amazing flashbacks to McQueen's old adventures, some stunning new locations, and continuing with the strong character work.  Even when I like Millar's work, I tend to find it fairly puerile, but Starlight feels like the work of someone with history and weight, someone who is no longer sure how he fits into the modern comics landscape.  It's not flawless, but it's just the right combination of thoughtful and effortlessly exciting to keep me eager for more.  Rating: A

Image Comics

That's Because You're a Robot (One-Shot)
Written by David Quantick, Art by Shaky Kane

[Harper]: "Two cops: One of them is a robot–only the don't know which!" With these words begins the most bizarre one-shot you'll find in this week's releases. We find ourselves in a semi-futuristic Los Angeles, where two cops (one of whom is a robot) manage to bungle an interrogation, ruin an undercover operation, and take part in a giant supervillain vs cops battle royale over three (self titled) "Bonus Double Page Pinups". The wacky and inconsistent drama continues to mount throughout, but never loses it's indie (with a lowercase "i") appeal and humor. Kane's art is fun and fills an underground comics void that I'm always happy to fill, and while the story is not a masterpiece, it's got a really enjoyable contrast between the completely silly concept and the always deadly serious main characters. Like most indie comic one-shots, we don't see nearly as much of this weird world as we might want, though this allows them to throw in things like supervillains and massive conspiracies midway because, "Hey, we never said this world didn't have an evil magical leprechaun. Don't hold us to your rules, man." Maybe not the best thing on the shelf this week, but I absolutely adore Image for putting things like this out every once in a while. If you're looking for a break from the melodrama of superheroics and writing for the trade, this is definitely worth $3.99 and fifteen minutes of your time. Rating: A-

Marvel Comics

New Avengers #19
Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Valerio Schiti

[Shane]: It's finally here.  Hickman's New Avengers versus Hickman's Totally Not The Justice League/Society.  Too bad it almost feels like too little too late.  As yet another incursion comes about for Earth-616, the Illuminati attempt to quell the fear of another Earth, while preparing for the inevitable ending this conflict will produce.  Have you ever read a story and loved the idea, but then wished the writer hadn't spent so long expanding that idea and instead had just gotten to the point and moved on?  This is pretty much the snag that Hickman's run on New Avengers has run into.  Rumors abound that all this incursion business is leading to a Marvel reboot next year, which is fine, but it is coming at the sacrifice of what was, at first, a stellar comic book.  New Avengers started out so strong, and the idea of a secret team of heroes coming together to make the tough calls despite the obvious moral consequences is really the only reason I find myself coming back to this series.  But this incursion stuff as simply gone on for too long.  It is a story that has produced so much apathy now that Hickman is essentially giving us Marvel vs DC and nobody could be bothered to care.  Valerio Schiti does some decent art, but, much like Hickman's writing, it is all too weighed down with the feeling that this story should have ended long ago.  Perhaps Marvel is holding out on this story so it can lead into a reboot of 616, but it's a shame they had to make one of their better titles almost utterly boring in the process.  Rating: B-

She-Hulk #5
Written by Charles Soule, Art by Ron Wimberly with Rico Renzi

[Cal]: Charles Soule's She-Hulk is one of the best books on the shelves today, and a big part of what made that work was a dedication to style and innovation that made Javier Pulido's art leap off the page.  Which is to say, I understand why they took a chance on artist Ron Wimberly to fill in for Pulido for a two-issue arc - Wimberly is ambitious, stylistic, dedicated to experimenting with angles and layout, and clearly influenced by filmmaking to look at all the forced perspective and dutch angles that dominate She-Hulk #5.  But Wimberly sacrifices clarity in his push for style, which can make this issue a frustrating read at times.  Only at times, mind; Soule's script is still rock-solid, a mix of fun legal drama and superpowered action the blends well and keeps things going.  And for all my issues with Wimberly, he does a good job keeping the energy up, and while his action is stilted, he's actually a great match for Soule's wry sense of humor.  She-Hulk #5 isn't going to go down as one of the best books of the great new series, but it's a solid entry unfortunately marred by an artist who wasn't entirely a great fit for the book - though I could see him growing into one.  Rating: B+

Mighty Avengers #11
Written by Al Ewing, Art by Greg Land

[Kyle]: I've said it before and I'll say it again, Al Ewing's Mighty Avengers is the best Avengers comic on the stands. Sure, I dig Ales Kot's "weird espionage" Secret Avengers and Rick Remender's mega-arc guided Uncanny Avengers has alot of momentum as well, but pound for pound Mighty Avengers has exactly what I've been looking for in an Avengers title: Good humor, a diverse cast, stakes that aren't tied to the end of the universe, and a good mix of the cosmic and mystic. In many ways, it and the equally fabulous Justice League United have alot in common, and thus they're my favorite of their respective lines. Issue 11 brings us another Original Sin tie-in, and uses the concept to good effect, allowing Luke Cage the spotlight as he confronts his father about the deep-rooted secret he learned regarding his past with Blade and the formation of the "original" Mighty Avengers. Despite our team's somewhat mixed reactions to Original Sin thus far as an event, the tie-ins (at least the Avengers based ones I've read) have been very good and work quite naturally into the overall narrative of each series' arc, rather than derailing the books into nonsense as is the case most of the time in these cross-overs. Mighty Avengers #11 has the feel of a 70's Blaxploitation action film and incorporates the Blade backstory and mysticism so seamlessly that it's stunning to me that this book is such a poor seller. Greg Land's work is also quite good here, I know he has his critics, but there's something about his expressive style, particularly how he handles the "emotive response" of each character that fits perfectly for the very personalized stories Ewing is telling. Slowly but surely, this title is working its way to the top of my Marvel pull. Al Ewing is THE creator to watch at Marvel right now. Rating: A 

Share This

comments powered by Disqus

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts
© GeekRex All rights reserved