Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Week in Comics 5/30/12

Ah, the dreaded 5th Wednesday. A day when there is so few comics, at least from DC. From looking at Marvel's list, they have like 5 X-Men books out today. I am pretty sure I'd go bankrupt if I started reading all the X-Men stuff instead of Batman stuff each week. I guess I have broadened my horizons beyond Batman since I started this blog. Anyway, SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

Animal Man v2 Annual #1
By Jeff Lemire and Timothy Green II
     The cover to this issue is trolling a bit. While there is A Swamp Thing inside, it is not the one we know and love. While that is kind of a bummer, I really liked this issue. I'm a pretty big sucker for the history of the DCU and this issue doesn't fail to deliver a nice dollop of that. I now wish there was a Swamp Thing and Animal Man team-up series set back in time somewhere. I would read that so hard. I also find it interesting that the rot isn't always evil, and that there has been times when the Green or Red got too greedy. I really hope there is a flashback to one of those times.
     I was hoping for a little more development of the current Animal Man arc, but I can see why an Annual kind of needs to be a one shot. I can't really fault it for that since the Batman Annual did the same thing and I didn't think it was a negative there. I had a bit more of a problem with the art. It was still in that great really crazy, dark-inked style, but some of the proportions were weird. Especially on Maxine.

Batman v2 Annual #1
By Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Jason Fabok
     The reboot was strong with this annual. I am going to have to spoil the twist on Mr Freeze's origin, so you've been double warned. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this. Freeze was previously defined by the Paul Dini origin from Batman The Animated Series. And it was a damn good origin. It took a pretty lame villain and gave him depth.
     So, now most of that has been kept intact, but twisted. While I am absolutely for the stuff with Victor Fries' mom, I am not so sure how I feel about the change with his wife Nora. I feel like it kind of removes some of what made Freeze special. He was driven by love for his wife, to the point of madness. He wasn't totally defined by his obsession with his gimmick until he get covered in the chemicals that changed him. While I do kind of like the twist that he became obsessed with Nora while she was frozen, I'm not so sure about the idea that Fries is more obsessed with snow than her. Maybe Batman was just wrong about him, I'll have to reserve total judgement until later.
     Other than all of that stuff, I really liked the rest of the issue. Like everything I've read of Snyder, I thought it was well written and constructed. The twist definitely played off of my assumptions of the character, but there seemed to be enough buildup to it to surprise even a new reader. The only other stuff I've read from James Tynion IV is the solid backups in Batman, which as far as I can tell that's all he's ever done. The art was solid, although Freeze's little hair tuft looks kind of hilarious in a was I don't think was intended.

Ravagers #1
By Howard Mackie and Ian Churchill 
Honesly, I planned to skip this issue when I first heard about it. I really don't want to read it, but I've done all the other Second Wave issues, and there is not many comics this week. It ties into Teen Titans and Superboy, both of which are abysmal. It has pointless retcons like making Beast Boy red, everyone has Tron costumes, and it was just... meh. I kind of wish this was worse so I could write SOMETHING about it, but I can't.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Week in Comics 5/23/11

Some exciting changes this week. David Finch no longer writing Dark Knight, Jeff Lemire on Justice League Dark, and most of all, the GLORIOUS return of Batman Inc. I have taken a break from killing zombies and running from other players in DayZ so that I can read what I hope are all good comics. As always, SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS

All-Star Western v3 #9
By Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat

Backup by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Patrick Scherberger

     I was going to say that I mentioned in my last issue review that I wondered how the Owls would tie in when there was an entirely different story going on, but apparently I didn't mention that last review. Well, I did wonder that, apparently to myself, and this issue answered with "it doesn't really." The story from the last arc wraps up in a couple pages, then cut to owls for a couple pages, then cut to the next story arc.
     It seems like this series would've been better off without Night of the Owls. All the history I was enjoying in this series, and the other Owls tie ins, is missing. It's just a bit of fighting and then they move on. The issue feels like 4 short stories and not a full issue. Pretty disappointing.

Batman Incorporated v2 #1
By Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
     It's good to see that Morrison gives no fucks about the relaunch and new readers. I didn't see a single editor's note explaining the references to any of the previous stuff. As nice as being new reader friendly is, this series was never going to be, so I'm glad they didn't try. The only way I could tell that this wasn't a pre-Flashpoint comic was through the costumes.
     The plot was surprisingly pretty straightforward. I was expecting some full on Morrison insanity right out of the gate, but maybe it's a good thing to break readers back in slowly. It'll be interesting to see if any other series even try to connect with this. I have my doubts that Batwing is going to be pretending to be dead in his own comic. Robin is definitely different than the one in Batman and Robin.

Batman: The Dark Knight v2 #9
By Judd Winick and David Finch
     This is probably the first issue of this series that wasn't outright terrible. COINCIDENCE? No. It's not. David Finch's tyrannical reign over the writing is over, and we get Judd Winick. I would say that this is the second strongest of all the Winick written tie ins, out of three. Definitely better than Catwoman. Although the art was a bit hit and miss. Unless Tim Drake has been injected with giraffe DNA in Teen Titans or something.

The Flash v4 #9
By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato 
     I am having a hard time coming up with things to say about this. Like the previous issues, it was good. It doesn't blow my mind every week, but it's definitely one of the better comics I read.

I, Vampire #9
Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino 
     Now that the Justice League Dark Crossover is over this series is back to feeling like a Vertigo book that happens to be in the DCU. This issue was pretty short. something like 16 pages of comic, so that is a bit disappointing. I am, however, super excited to see Vampires vs the league of Van Helsings. Even if I hadn't been enjoying the series, which I have, that sentence alone is amazing enough to get me to read the next issue.

Justice League Dark #9
By Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin
     This really felt like a relaunch of the series. Sure, it mentions some of the previous stuff, but it's very different in tone and style with Lemire on. Even the reason the team gets together, and the line up, is different. Not that these are bad things. I liked the Milligan stuff, but it felt kind of slow and meandering. This is a lot tighter of an issue and does a solid job of re-establishing the series. Now if this book could get a new artist it'd be amazing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Week in Comics 5/16/12

So much Night of the Owls this week. I am almost tempted to toss Red Hood and the Outlaws in here, but I don't I want a headache today. Also not on the list is Justice League. I'm pretty sure if I had to actually think about both of those I would have an aneurysm. As always, SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.  

Batwoman #9
By J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, and Trevor McCarthy 
     I think when this arc is over I'm going to read all the bits in chronological order and see if it is any better or worse. I'm having a hard time telling if this chopped up style is keeping me from a good story or is obscuring an average story. It also makes it kind of hard to gather my thoughts on since it's purposely broken up and hasn't shown all of the setup. It's a bad sign that I'm waiting for this arc to be over so I can have one of my favorite series back.
     The new artist is doing a pretty solid job. It's a little odd that Batwoman has this halftone shading going on, when even Amy Reeder kept the grayscale look. The Layouts are cool and change with the mood and theme of the scenes pretty well, but a couple of the more crazy ones were arranged in a way that was hard to follow.

Birds of Prey v3 #9
By Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman
     Travel Foreman is a weird choice for this book. His art was a lot more suited to something like Animal Man than it is to Birds of Prey. Something that's not strictly a superheroes go around punching stuff book would be a lot better suited for the style. I'd love to see him on Justice League Dark. Maybe It'll just take some getting used to.
     For the story, I liked it. It wasn't amazing, but it was not the worst Owls tie-in I've read. It was interesting that the Talon was putting the team into roles he could cope with. It helped play up the idea that this dude was from a very different world than the one with superhero teams.

Catwoman v4 #9
By Judd Winick and Guillem March 
     This was a pretty solid issue. It did a good job building the Talon's character through the history and current events. I really like that all the Talons have gotten a bit of development and aren't just faceless killers.  And it's nice to see a bit of anti-hero Catwoman instead of just stealin' Catwoman. Plus, even though it's pretty cheesecakey, I really like Guillem March on art, so it's nice to see him back.

Nightwing v3 #9
Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows and Andres Guinaldo 
     I wonder if the connection between this book and Batman is intentional on a meta-story level. Nightwing definitely feels the most closely tied to Batman, which is interesting since most of Nightwing is about not being Batman. The Talon in this story even makes mention that Nightwing is a "second-rate imitation" of Batman. But, that is what I think makes this series and Batman even stronger. They are connected in a way that doesn't require reading of both, but rewards it. It's like an example of what can be done with shared universes.
     This feels a hell of a lot more connected to Batman than even Detective Comics does. Night of the Owls, I think, is a good exercise in shared universe events. Not everything needs to be a year long event, or have it's own mini-series, other books can just tie into one story. It doesn't really need to be an entire issue either. Nightwing and Batman have made little mentions and hints at each other's plots the whole time, without doing the same story. And like I said earlier, I think that strengthens both series.

Wonder Woman v4 #9
By Brian Azzarello and Tony Akins 
     The mark of a good superhero comic, in my opinion, is that there can be an issue where no one punches anyone else, and it's still interesting. That is what this series has in spades. The story and the characters are way more interesting than punching, and there is conflict that doesn't revolve around fights. Not to say punching is bad, but if a series is just a fight an issue, it can get pretty boring. This series just feels more mature. And not the tits-and-violence definition. It reads like a Vertigo book in the DCU. It feels like Azzarello trusts the reader to understand the story, instead of talking down to them like other comics.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

World's Best Comics #1

Cover: Fred Ray

The Witch and the Manuscript of Doom
Writing: Bill Finger
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks: Bob Kane and George Roussos
Letters: George Roussos
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Week in Comics 5/9/12

I found out recently that I am going to have to move soon. This means there may be an even bigger gap in podcasting than normal. I'm going to try and get an episode or two out before the move, but after that I'll have to play it by ear. Maybe it will work out for the best and I'll have a broader recording window. As always SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK'S COMICS.

Batgirl v4 #9
By Gail Simone and Adrian Syaf
     Unlike Batman and Robin, which you can read about below, I would say this is probably the strongest issue of Batgirl so far. The stuff with the history was interesting, but that may be because I love WWII. Although, I do have a minor complaint on how a date was written in kanji, but that is a bit nitpicky. There was some pretty good stuff done with the court that made them seem really like an organization beyond the talons, which a lot of other tie ins have failed to do. This may be my last issue fo this comic. I don't think i can take the new villain, KNIGHTFALL next month.

Batman v2 #9
By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Backup by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque
     This felt like a pretty quick read, but that might have been because I was super excited to read this issue and just blew through it. And it did not disappoint. Batman is in full on bad-ass mode for the entirety of this issue. Usually books that are all fights can be kind of boring, at least to me, but this feels earned. Snyder seems to have have Batman moving through his different aspects with each part of the story. It started with crime-fighter, showed a bit of that stubborn solo Batman, moved into detective and showcased his allies, and is now onto total bad-ass. I've said before that Snyder has written some of my favorite Batman stuff of all time, and this is just adding to that with every issue.

Batman and Robin v2 #9
By Peter J Tomasi, Lee Garbett and Andy Clarke
     Not the greatest issue. In fact, I would say that this wasn't very good. The fighting wasn't that interesting, the part about the owl's history was too short, the writing just felt off. Overall I would say this was the weakest issue of this series so far. There is none of the Father/Son relationship stuff that made this series interesting to read. It came off as bland, and just fell flat from what it tried to do.

Demon Knights #9
By Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha
     So much setup was set up in this issue. It really felt like that opening part of a DnD session where the DM is trying to tell you the plot, but you keep making jokes and insulting royalty. Maybe that only happens in games I've played, but that's what this reminded me of. Lots of talking and explaining. I look forward to seeing how this story plays out, so it wasn't bad setup.

Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #9
By Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli 
     I'm not sure of the point of this issue. The tie in to Animal Man is nice, but seems unnecessary and doesn't really go anywhere. There is a small dab of character development, a hint or two about upcoming story lines, but that was it. I feel like this issue could be skipped and no one would know the difference.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Week in Comics 5/2/12

Finally back on my feet after battling an illness. Now I don't really have an excuse for not posting podcast episodes, but I'm sure I'll think of one. But now it's time to take a look at some comics, including the first week of the New 52 Second Wave. As always, SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEKS COMICS.

Animal Man v2 #9
By Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh
     This comic is just Brutally good. Reading this just makes other comics feel mediocre. I can't even come up with enough new ways to praise it each week to fill a paragraph. Add John Constantine and it's just unfair to other series. Where things like Justice League had made me take breaks to stop a headache, this comic makes me take breaks to lower my expectations for whatever I read next.

Batwing #9
By Judd Winick and Marcus To
     This is the first evidence I've seen that Night of the Owls isn't stealing one issue away from every series. Not that I thought it would, but you never know. Despite being tied into a mini event, this issue definitely kept on track with where the series was going beforehand. It added a bit of character development and connected a few books in the universe, which is great. One of the things that I really love about comics, and what drew me to them away from Anime and Manga, is the connectivity. Looking forward to more of this series and more Owls all this month.

Dial H #1
By China Mieville and Mateus Santolouco
     I'm really not sure how I feel about this series. On one hand, it's dark and weird. On the other, I think that's all it has going for it. The stuff of just normal people talking was kind of odd. I don't think the art fit very well, and the dialog felt like it was trying too hard to be natural. The "hero" stuff didn't really grab me, and that all adds up to a story that missed. I don't think I'll be checking out the next issue. If I do it'll probably outside of this column.

Earth 2 #1
By James Robinson and Nicola Scott
     I am really, really going to spoil this one, so you've been double-warned. I really didn't enjoy the first 3/4ths of this issue. Thanks to World's Finest, I'd had the major plot spoiled, so that wasn't my issue. The problem was the dialog. It was ROUGH. Dialog like "The Gods? My gods are dying? No!" had me cringing pretty hard. I feel like some of it could have been saved by breaking it up into connected word balloons and not cramming it all into one. It was like a bad Frank Miller impersonation, and I wasn't feeling it. Even the deaths of Supes, Wondy and Bats hit a little less hard because I was too busy wondering what the hell was wrong with the writing.
     The last 4th of the issue was interesting enough to save it for me. At least enough to get me interested in the next issue. I was expecting the entire issue to be GRRR 90s based on the preview and solicits, but the ending changed that up nicely. It had a more heroic view of what happened in the first half and a world without the big 3 is an interesting idea. So I'll probably at least check out issue #2.

G.I. Combat #1
(I'm going to split this review into two parts, because the two stories are totally different in quality)
     First up: The War That Time Forgot, by J.T. Krul and Ariel Olivetti. Holy crap was this not good. The plot is generic army dudes and OMG DINOSAURS. Basically a B movie from the 50's. Which isn't a bad thing, just kind of played out and boring. Topped off with absolutely terrible art. Well, not the people, but everything else looks like something I could whip up in photoshop. If this is the feature of the series, this is getting canceled FAST.
     Second: The Unknown Soldier, by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Panosian. I've probably mentioned this before, but I really like war comics. Mostly WWII era, but with the genre as dead as it is, I'll take what I can get. This was a lot more along the lines of a comic I'd want to read than The War That Time Forgot. One bad-ass soldier taking on the enemy. There is quite a bit more complications that come with modern war, so I'm hoping that this expands out into the unknown soldier being a special agent and traveling all around, and not just a dude who shoots lots of brown people. It's hard to justify picking the next issue of this up with half of it being terrible, so I'll play it by ear next month.

Swamp Thing v5 #9
By Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy
     This, like Animal Man, is just too good. Both Paquette and Rudy absolutely kill it on art, and the writing is absolutely top notch. I thought this comic was a must read months ago, and it's even better now. I don't even know what to call a book that is better than a must read. Fucking fantastic is all that comes to mind.

World's Finest v3 #1
Paul Levitz, George Perez and Kevin Maguire 
     I've mentioned in the past that I love the Huntress. I also liked the Amanda Conner Power Girl stuff, so when this book was announced I was super psyched. Here we are months later and it's... alright. I'm hoping this is a series that takes a couple issues to really pull me in and isn't going to be as bland as issue #1 as it continues. I am interested in what's going on with Earth 2, but that might be because, as of writing this portion of the review, I haven't read Earth 2 yet. Which is kind of a bummer since this issue comes straight out and spoils it.
     One thing I really hope changes is the art. The art in the flashback was passable, but not great. The art in the current day is just bad. I know George Perez is a legend, but fan expectations of comic art, and comic art in general, has changed a lot. The art was nagging at me the whole time, and took an issue that might have been good into one that was not great. I feel like I am going to pick the next issue up, even though I don't want to, just for the characters. I am a terrible comic fan.