Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Week in Comics 3/28/12

This is probably my least favorite of the comic weeks. There's good stuff in here, but it's missing an amazing series. Nothing totally blows my mind every month in this week. Maybe when the second wave titles are out something will. As always SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

All-Star Western v3 #7
By Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Patrick Scherberger 
     I've complained a lot about backups in the New 52, and I have really felt that they didn't add much to the series in most cases. I think All-Star has finally gotten it right. The character in the backup appear in the main story. It takes away the wall between them and makes it seem like I am reading a continuation of the story I bought rather than a completely different short story. It helps that Nighthawk is basically wild west Batman.
     Backup love aside, the main story felt a little split to me. Maybe I don't remember what happened last issue as well as I should, but I was a bit confused in the first few pages. It felt kind of clumsy in the way the August 7 stuff was set up. The arena stuff was pretty good though. It'll be interesting to see how this story plays out knowing that Hex has to be back in Gotham in issue #9 for Night of the Owls.

Batman: The Dark Knight v2 #7
By David Finch and Paul Jenkins
     I really started this issue out with hope. I don't know why, but I did. You can't mess up a fight with Bane that bad right? For a couple of pages I could just ignore the stupid plot and read a fight scene. But then it cut back to the stupid plot. Which is stupid. There were two parts that stuck out to me though.
     One, they make a huge deal about the flash not stopping. Superman tells him he has to keep running and the flash can't take it. And then out of nowhere Batman enacts this plan to take down Bane by dropping a venom antidote thing, and the flash just stops and grabs it. No big deal. He doesn't die or freak out on venom. he just casually stops and lets the reader know that nothing relating to the flash has been at all important.
     Two, the reveal at the end. IF you really don't want spoilers skip this part, but really who cares. If you are worried about being spoiled on a terrible comic, go outside for a while and really think about your life. So, BIG SURPRISE a Bruce Wayne's girlfriend is evil. NO WAY. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN ANY OTHER BATMAN COMIC EVER.
     As I say every week, this comic is terrible. Don't read it. Just hold out for Gregg Hurwitz. Read Each issue of Batman twice or something.

The Flash v4 #7
By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
     I really liked this issue. It was pretty much just wall to wall character moments, which I am totally for. Anything that takes Barry Allen away from his milquetoast existence is a plus. It was also kind of nice to see some playing around with previous continuity. It feels like it's using previous continuity to kind of nudge the reader instead of just tossing it all out.
     Of course the art is just amazing. This is one of those artists like J.H. Williams III that I hope stays on their series for as long as possible. It really elevates the book and enables a lot more visual storytelling, which I am all for. Might as well use the medium to its potential.

I, Vampire #7
By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino 
     You might want to skip ahead to my JLD review and read that. This is just a continuation of that story and has some similar issues. I did like the hint that Demon Knights would be fighting this same threat but years in the past. Beyond that, the issue was just alright.

Justice League Dark #7
By Peter Milligan, Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere 
     I have said before, any comic that has both Batman and Constantine in it is a great comic. So, I pretty much have to call this a great comic.
     That isn't to say it is faultless. As much as I love Bat-Family cameos, I really don't see why they picked Gotham to have this story in. None of the other books are referencing this massive vampire build up and it kind of kills the whole shared universe thing for me. It comes off more as a ploy to sell issues than to tell a good story.
     Also, the book hasn't really become a cohesive whole yet. I know that the team has to be played up as reluctant and argumentative, but it comes off like nothing has been accomplished in seven issues. So far this could be a miniseries where some magic people team up and go their separate ways. There's been  some teasing at Xanadu needing to keep them together, but I haven't seen a good reason and it's been seven months.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Week in Comics - 3/21/12

I think the problem with writing more about each comic is that I have a really hard time describing why something is good. I can write forever on why I hate something, but when I encounter great comics I struggle to come up with words. Anyway, SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

Batman v2 #7
By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
     This is one of those times I mentioned in the opening paragraph. This comic is just so good that I am having trouble putting onto paper why it's good. It just is. But, I suppose I should try.
     First off, one of the things I have really enjoyed about Snyder's Batman, and even back to Detective, is the way he finds new ideas in classic stories. Bringing back Jim Gordon's son was a great idea, and an idea that used existing stories instead of retconning. The opening to this issue does a very similar thing with the "Yes father..." scene from Batman: Year One. It takes one element of that moment and not only applies it to Batman in an interesting way, but also to the Talons. It's like you can tell that Snyder cares about these classic stories and really wants to pull every possible element from them to make new and interesting things. Which I don't want to spoil, but oh man.
     My only complaint would be the art, and only a small section of it. I really think Capullo has been doing a great job on this series, the parts in the maze were really great looking. My problem is some inconsistencies. The faces are all kind of samey, but also somehow inconsistent. Bruce grew a serious chin somewhere between this issue and the first. If you look back at issue #1 Dick is way smaller than he is drawn now. These are kind of minor annoyances, but it does take me out of the story.
     Overall, this is one of the best comics of the New 52, if not all of comics. If you are even REMOTELY interested in Batman, which you probably are if you are reading anything on this blog, this is a must read. Scott Snyder is going to go down as one of those writers who everyone uses as a comparison to whatever new issues are coming out.

Birds of Prey v3 #7
By Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz 
     I may have dropped this series too fast. The first couple of issues definitely didn't make an impact on me. But, I've been reading it outside of these reviews and it's definitely improved. At least enough to warrant coming back on as a comic I read on Wednesday.
     This issue finally tells us WHO Black Canary supposedly killed, but not what happened. Which is nice since that plot point has been coming up for the last 7 months. Judging by the "NEXT ISSUE" teaser thing at the end, we'll finally get to see what the deal is with that whole situation. But, Dinah isn't the only one to be a murderer in this story. I'm glad to see they finally addressed the fact that they have a villain and a woman who carries a sword on the team, and what that means to people they fight.
     I'm also glad that Batgirl is hanging around a lot. One, because it plays off the relationships of the old Birds of Prey comics. Two, because it means I get to read a Batgirl comic that isn't a total circle-jerk. If only the Huntress would show up and complete the team. Although, I do like this lineup plenty.

Catwoman v4 #7
By Judd Winick and Adriana Melo 
     Remember how I said, "I think that Catwoman works better as a fun series"? Well it happened. After a seriously dark last issue, now it's fun out of nowhere. This is what I think of when I think of Catwoman. Having a blast stealing things and being a bit too impulsive, which leads to trouble. But, now instead of jewels it's cars now.
     One thing I am worried about is Spark. Catwoman has had a lot of supporting cast and characters over the years and none of them have stuck. She's had all manor of partners and sidekicks, but no one really memorable. Except Katrina Falcone, but I only remember that because of the absolutely horrible costume she wore.

Justice League v2 #7
By Geoff Johns and Gene Ha
Backup story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
     If I had to pick one scene out of all of Justice League that showed why I hate Geoff Johns' style, it would be the one where the JL just stand around and do a Q&A with Cyborg over their plan. It has everything. Unnatural dialog, no room for the reader to infer anything from the art or story, bad jokes, and a whopping dose of "isn't Hal Jordan cool?"
     All of which is followed up by just more of everything I hate. Hal and Barry scenes that try to have witty dialog. A horribly forced, beat you over the head with the point, couple of scenes about how the people are SO INSPIRED that they want the League to run the government, but the government is afraid of them. Because THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T HANDLE THINGS THEY DON'T CONTROL! AND THEY ARE SO CORRUPT THAT THEY ARE SCARED OF THE PURE GOOD OF THE JUSTICE LEAGUE!
     Honesty, I have to stop myself at this point from just going through each scene and saying why it's bad. There is just not a single thing enjoyable about the plot, dialog or characterizations in this comic. The only thing I can say positive about it is that the art is alright. Not great, just alright. 
     Oh, yeah, the backup. Billy Batson is a prick and Captain Marvel looks angry. So, really no hope at all in this being remotely good. Why not just make a legacy hero if you want to change everything about a character?
     I don't know if I can even do this anymore. I have a policy about only reviewing comics I buy. I do read a lot more of what comes out each week than I review here, but I figure I'm not really entitled to an opinion on something that I don't pay for. As much as I really want to shit on this comic each week, I feel HORRIBLE that I am contributing to this pile of garbage. I really don't know if I will review the next one. I have been broken by this comic. This comic spent 6 issues wearing me down, and now with #7 it has picked me up and snapped my spine over its knee.

Nightwing v3 #7
By Kyle Higgins, Eddie Barrows and Geraldo Borges
     It was very interesting to see the same scene from Batman #7 show up in this issue. The two issues are pretty interconnected, but I was expecting a "Continued in Batman #7" type ending. I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It was a big moment for Nightwing, and the ending of the issue kind of relies on his reaction, but at the same time it feels like I got gypped out of a few pages. I guess if you were only reading Nightwing this would help flesh out the upcoming event, so I can't really fault it for helping readers along.

Wonder Woman v4 #7
By Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chang
      I am having a hard time coming up with things to talk about for this issue. Ir read pretty quickly and felt like an in between kind of story. Just setting up for the next arc in the underworld. There was some interesting stuff about the Amazons, but that was about it. Nothing really struck me about this issue.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Batman #5

Cover: Bob Kane

The Riddle of the Missing Card
Writing: Bill Finger
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks:Jerry Robinson and George Roussos
Letters: George Roussos

Book of Enchantment
Writing: Bill Finger
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks:Jerry Robinson and George Roussos
Letters: George Roussos

The Case of the Honest Crook
Writing: Bill Finger
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks:Jerry Robinson and George Roussos
Letters: George Roussos

Crime Does Not Pay
Writing: Bill Finger
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks:Jerry Robinson and George Roussos
Letters: George Roussos
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If you enjoy this show please check out Tom vs The DCU, who was a big inspiration

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Week in Comics 3/14/12

Oh, Podcasting. You are a harsh mistress.I keep making promises in these little paragraphs, and rarely keep them. So here is a promise I can keep. I am going to write out all of my thoughts on the comics each week and not try to keep the reviews short. This is OK, because no one reads these anyway. These longer reviews may come with more SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

Batgirl v4 #7
By Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf and Altha 
     Seriously, what is up with Gail Simone ladies calling dudes by their full names? Dick is Richard and Jim is James. I don't know if its supposed to be an endearing trait or what, but it doesn't work for me.
     Speaking of things that don't work for me, the entire rest of this comic. It reads like fan fiction that changes details because the writer didn't like them. Barbara Sr got messed up in Detective Comics? Not anymore. Barbara had a character arc that led to her growing as a character? Not anymore. There even seems to be the implication that Barbara Sr is Barbara's real mother, which if true, is about the most pointless retcon in history.
     I don't get it. Simone was great on Birds of Prey and did a ton with the character. What's even worse is that Black Canary shows up and says all the things that are wrong with the comic. It's like Simone knows what she's doing is weird, and is doing it anyway. And doing it with this in your face swagger that comes off more as a desperate plea for acceptance rather than confidence. There have been positively Geoff Johnsian moments throughout this series. And that is not a good thing to me.
     Add on top of all that, lame villains, weak emotional beats, and iffy art, and you get a comic that is just unenjoyable to read. I'm less mad and more disappointed. I'm fine with Barbara being Batgirl again, but not fine with the way it's being handled.

Batman and Robin v2 #7
By Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
     I've mentioned before how I feel like the New 52 stuff has been kind of compartmentalized. Characters only make appearances in other books when it's a big deal that they show up, and often it seems like the cameos are just to have cameos. Damian is one of those characters I feel is trapped in a series. He's shown up in other series, but not as much as a Robin should. I don't really get the sense that Batman and Robin are a team in any other series.
     And really, I don't get it much from this one, but I think that is the point. This definitely feels less like the Dynamic Duo and more like a father really struggling to teach his son. What I really like is that both of them come off as flawed. Bruce has always had trouble opening up, but the previous Robins all dealt with that in different ways. Damian just takes it as disapproval and becomes angry. This feels like actual characterization instead of just relying on the tropes of the characters.
     I enjoy this series. It's not amazing like Batman, but it's miles above Dark Knight and 'Tec. It's just some solid comics. Which is really all I ask for.

Batwoman #7
By J. H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder
     I get the feeling that this arc is going to read a lot better in trade. Jumping characters is interesting, and jumping time is interesting, but together I get the sense that I'm missing something. Which I am pretty sure I'm actually not. The plot seems fairly straightforward, which makes me wonder why mixing it was necessarily at all. It feels like trying too hard, and would probably be a perfectly good story without all the messing around. 
     Still, I love this series. I've talked a bit about characterization in the previous reviews this week, and this series probably has the strongest. I guess because the characters are fairly new, there is a lot that can be done with them to establish their personality. It doesn't feel as set in stone, despite using all of the elements that have come before it. Which is nice. This is a series where I am always looking forward to the next issue.

Demon Knights #7
By Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha
     Demon Knights is just a fun book. It's got that same feel as a crazy D&D game you play with your friends.  Sure there's plot and stuff, but you just want to crack jokes, fight and do ridiculous things. Even when things get a bit more serious, it's still a fight between a cross-dressing knight and a mage. It doesn't take itself too seriously and that makes it an absolute joy to read.

Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #7
By Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli 
     Like Demon Knights, this is a series that is good because it's completely self aware. As much as I want to say more about the comics each week, I just can't. It's fun. And if you like fun you'll like this.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Week in Comics 3/7/12

The next episode of the podcast is recorded, I just need to have money to pay the hosting so I can upload it. Could be Friday, could be Monday. In the mean time I am going to drop some SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

Animal Man v2 #7
By Jeff Lemire, Steve Pugh and Travel Foreman
     It's nice to be back to the plot I care about and not some filler issue about a movie. This issue was a little light on plot, but did a good job with character development while showing the rest of the world interacting with the events of the previous issues. There's a pretty great father-son moment tucked in the middle.
     The shared universe stuff also worked pretty well. I like that there is small mentions to other comics without totally relying on those comics for a team-up. I also like that John Constantine is slowly appearing in everything.

Batwing #7
By Judd Winick and Dustin Nguyen
     FINALLY we learn what the Kingdom did. And I can see why the team broke up because of it. I liked the mixing of flashback and current plot, I don't think either story would have totally held up for a full issue. Now they just need to confirm my suspicions about Massacre.
     Also, seeing most of the Bat-Family working together is cool. They feel kind of segmented right now. Like they can only have one other character cross over to another book at a time. It was kind of cool to see Dick and Damian working together, even if it was only a couple panels. And definitely cool to see Barbara working in a kind of Oracle capacity, instead of totally abandoning that part of her life like in Batgirl. Although, this issue furthers my sadness that Tim Drake is trapped in the black hole that is Teen Titans.

Detective Comics v2 #7
By Tony Daniel

Huntress v3 #6
By Paul Levitz and Marcus To
     This issue really felt tacked on. The first half was an anti climactic wrap up, and the second half was some hints at the plot of the new World's Finest. Which I am looking forward to like crazy so I can't really complain about that. Overall I'd say this series wasn't great. It wasn't bad either, but it just didn't do much besides have the Huntress in it. Hopefully in a few months I can have more Huntress and a good story.

Swamp Thing v5 #7
By Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette 
     Scott Snyder is just too good. I can't handle it. This issue actually felt like a pretty quick read, but there was definitely some important plot in there. Now that Swamp Thing is finally ramping up to fight the rot, maybe Animal Man can move on and they can have their crossover.
     Yanick Paquette is absolutely killing it on art. Everything from the layouts to the art inside the panels is absolutely great. The amount of detail in the nasty gore of the rot is seriously impressive. This dude needs to stick around with the 'Dark' DC books.