AICN COMICS REVIEWS PART ONE: BATMAN! ROTTEN! PUNISHER MAX! 27 SECOND SET! & MORE!
|Issue #22||Release Date: 9/14/11||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BATMAN #1
ALL NEW ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1
RED LANTERNS #1
ROTTEN VOL.2 TPBK
Advance Review: ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #1
NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS Vol.1
PUNISHER MAX #17
27: SECOND SET #1
Advance Review: GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
Advance Review: In stores this week!
BATMAN #1Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Brilliant…and I don’t just mean Snyder’s writing. While the individual titles in the new DCU have the kid in me stoked with a fervor akin to the aftermath of the last CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the adult in me becomes more and more impressed each week with the meticulous brand homogenizing and market targeting with which this new universe has been architected. Yeah, I know I’ve been gushing about the new DCU like a thirteen year old winning Justin Bieber’s used underwear, but don’t think my euphoria has suffocated my objectivity. Have there been some missteps? Hells yes--I’m looking at you, JLI. But BATMAN #1 and the other titles I’ve chosen to anoint with an hour of my time (half hour read, half hour write) represent the best of the new mold and serve to bring a solid cohesiveness to a universe that seemed irreparably fractured only a few months ago.
To understand why BATMAN #1 is so good, we have to go back. Back to an interview I did a couple years ago with Mike Uslan. For those that don’t know Mike, Google him. You’ll see he’s well versed to speak on the business of comics. Mike and I were talking Archie comics, but I wasn’t going to let him off the hook without getting a little comic business and BATMAN conversation on the table. When I asked Mike if there was room in the Archie universe for a married Archie and a high school Archie, he used BATMAN to frame his response. Basically, BATMAN for years had been a fragmented brand, with BATMAN BEYOND hitting the kiddies, who inevitably became twenty-somethings, to the regular BATMAN titles serving the aging fanman base. While I respected Mike’s words, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the possibility of bridging the books that satiate the fanboy, fanman and the unwashed masses of comic voyeurs all within one collected universe that lived unto themselves, but also worked to serve the greater whole.
BATMAN, DETECTIVE and BATMAN AND ROBIN are all engaging puzzle pieces which can each be observed and enjoyed on their own, serve drastically different fan bases, yet all come together seamlessly in the end. DETECTIVE: definitely for adults, but can be equally enjoyed by comic noobs and those of us versed in BATMAN lore. BATMAN & ROBIN: not for new readers to comics and DC, but can be digested by all ages. While not as dark as DETECTIVE, BATMAN AND ROBIN really required specialized knowledge about the relationship between Bruce and Damien (or lack thereof) to truly be enjoyed. BATMAN is the baby bear, the just right equalizer. Longtime fans will enjoy the crispness with which Snyder handles the obligatory exposition, especially because we know that to truly introduce BATMAN, you must also introduce the characters in his life and the character that is Gotham City. New fans will be treated to everything they know about the Dark Knight from cartoons and movies, delivered by one of the best writers scribing superhero lore today.
This is not the morose black dawn of twenty years ago built on the big shoulder pads of Frank Miller’s black leather jacket. No bells, no brooding. This is a modernization of Silver Age optimism replacing camp with today’s dialogue expectations of introspection and smart wit.
I was surprised to see Snyder on this title given its all ages/new reader mantra, considering his success on the far more adult AMERICAN VAMPIRE and last week’s SWAMP THING (which I definitely put in the deep knowledge category for true enjoyment). However, he handled his traditional craftsmanship of deep characterization with an air of playfulness I’ve yet to see. He spirals into the character of BATMAN by first starting on the outer rim of the funnel, Gotham City. In a mere two pages, Snyder uncovers the despair of Gotham’s denizens and her one dark ray of hope. Using the device of ferretting out a mole from within Arkham Asylum we also get a quick introduction in one action packed sequence to Batman’s rogue gallery.
Then, just to show that he isn’t done with his meticulous plotting, we meet the three Robins as well as Bruce’s alter ego Bruce Wayne as they get ready for a black tie event. Again, never one to waste panels we learn all we need to know about the three Robins in less than a few pages. Snyder also leverages some really cool new gadgetry for call-out bubbles to give each young man a name and new moniker labeling. Here is where I truly noticed the refresh of the new universe. I would say everyone has had five to ten years shaved off from their prior incarnations. Dick is definitely now in his late teens or maybe just at drinking age. Tim has clearly reverted back to his early to mid High School years. I guess just Damian remained untouched by Father Time’s reverse-o-meter simply because applying the same math would make him a crimefighting zygote.
Snyder introduces us to Gotham’s finest by entwining readers in the ongoing mystery that will drive this first arc. The banter between Batman and Gordon was expected; the banter between Batman and Bullock, though, was pure comic gold. This was probably the only part of the book where I paused for a second by the concept of the kid demographic reading this book. The adult in me, though, loved the gruesome gear shift of a body hanging on the wall juxtaposed to the far cartoonier style Capullo delivered through the rest of the book. Don’t get me wrong, it was good—great, even. Just unexpected.
I won’t spoil as to where the first clues lead, but it is completely unexpected and altogether enticing to see how it will unravel.
In the new DC Universe scheme of things, BATMAN rests only a small atom behind the goodness of ACTION #1. I give a slightly higher score to ACTION, simply because it came completely unfettered by the baggage of past continuity. BATMAN is clearly an introduction, but while noobs will know the name Vicki Vale, names like Tim Drake and Damian Wayne are steeped in geekdom along with their various personality quirks. I know none of the Batman books are playing the five before game like ACTION and JUSTICE LEAGUE, but BATMAN does carry the same brand resonance with the general public. Regardless, this is a nit. If I didn’t overthink these things and lived purely for my own selfish enjoyment, Snyder delivered a new BATMAN that refreshes the mythology by harkening back to a time before we all got CRISISED…and that’s any CRISIS.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
ALL NEW ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“We had to fight. Boys shouldn't have to fight the way we had to. You shouldn't have to see half the stuff we did. You—you learn. You study. And you make the world the way you want it to be, not the way it is.” -- Uncle Aaron
The media blitz over the “New” Spider-Man was something that caught my attention and made me interested in trying out this series. The thing about “reboots” and “alternate worlds” that appeals to me is that the conceptual rules should be able to be thrown out the window. When the Ultimate Comics line was first announced, I didn't like it because with the SPIDER-MAN book that kicked it off, there was not much changed in any substantive way as far as I could tell. In other words, from my point of view, it became a pointless appendage to the other SPIDER-MAN titles. If Peter Parker is essentially going to be the same person he is in the regular Marvel titles except that he's a little younger, I don't see the justification for the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic book. At least when THE ULTIMATES #1 was published, I began to get a better sense of Marvel accomplishing what they claimed to be doing with the Ultimate line of titles. But ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN's appeal continued to elude me throughout the years. It took them 10 years to get to a point with the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN title to pique my interest and that was the death of Peter Parker and now the relaunch of the title with a new youngster, Miles Morales, taking up the mantle of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe.
Finally, they are taking the bull by the balls and doing something that takes full advantage of the freedom inherent in an “alternate” universe and I am here to read it and fully expecting to enjoy it.
I've read it. Now, let's talk about it for a little bit.
Right off the bat, let me state Brian Bendis is clearly a talented writer and Sara Pichelli is a good artist and visual storyteller. However, I just have to say I can not seem to muster any appreciation for the way that Bendis structures and paces his stories. I've noted it before with other comics, but I find every Bendis comic I've read to be a ponderous chore to sit through. So, as a general rule, I tend to avoid them. Here, though, I was hoping that there would be an enthusiasm on his part in introducing his new character to the world that would be infectious and pull me in. There are some positive things about the comic, but overall I was underwhelmed and disappointed.
The basic gist of what happens, for those who want the spoilers, is the cover showcases the “new” Spider-Man costume. You open the comic to a scene from 11 months ago to show how genetically modified spider #42 got loose from its box in Norman Osborn's laboratory. Jump to current day and someone I assume from his costume to be the “Ultimate” Prowler is breaking into a vault at the abandoned Osborn lab to steal money and valuables when spider #42 hitches a ride in his bag. Jump to Brooklyn and meet middle school student Miles Morales, who is waiting with his parents to see if his lottery number, 42 (naturally), gets pulled granting him entry into a fancy schmancy charter school. I'll let you just take a guess about whether his number got pulled. Miles heads over to his ne'er-do-well Uncle Aaron's apartment to hang out. Aaron is apparently also the “Ultimate” Prowler and Miles goes snooping through his goody bag and gets bitten by spider #42, has a seizure, and passes out. Miles' dad comes over and lays in to Aaron, blaming him for whatever just happened to his son. Miles runs out of the apartment and then finds himself on the last pages standing outside but his body is, sort of, camouflaging itself against the concrete and graffiti and he looks at himself and says “Whoa.”
To be continued...
That's it in a nutshell. It ends rather abruptly, almost like you're watching a TV show or movie and the power goes out right in the middle of it. It didn't make any structural sense to end it like that and made me immediately go back and count the number of pages because I thought I must have missed something. Nope. 20 pages of story at $3.99 and cut it off right in the middle of the story. Now I understand why they wrapped the comic in plastic – so nobody could thumb through it and, y'know, know what they were buying. The rest of the comic was a 9/11 reprint.
That was a burn that makes it highly unlikely I will be picking up the next issue because not enough happened in this comic to make me actually give a damn about Miles Morales. In AMAZING FANTASY #15, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko pulled in the reader in 11 pages and made them care enough about Peter Parker to justify spinning the character off into his own title and now he is one of the most famous fictional characters in history. At the laborious Bendis-pace, there's no telling when we might come to care about Miles.
The art by Pichelli is good for what it is. Unfortunately, it's that dull, static, storyboard-style storytelling that Bendis seems to demand of his artists and I think this artist has the ability and the talent to really take this story up a notch in terms of drama and excitement if she wasn't so bound by these thick black rectangular borders that are restraining the action.
I'm not hating on it in general. Conceptually, I think the idea of a poor brilliant Brooklyn kid with an uncle who's a thief with a heart of gold is a good foundation for building a new twist on the Spider-Man legend. I didn't care for how it unfolded. I also thought the manner in which the spider escaped and got to Miles in the first place was especially hackneyed. I would've liked to have seen some better connection to Peter Parker than an Osborn spider that just happened to sneak out of a box because a scientist was distracted. I was imagining something more along the lines of a kid a bit older than Miles in this comic perhaps hacking his way into an online folder where Parker had kept an encrypted file with details about his biological transformation, blood details, formula for webbing, etc. Then watch this kid get to work and break the encryption and yada yada yada, driven by some plot device (family in danger, or something like that) to subject himself to, oh, maybe an untested spider-serum or something.
No such luck. Instead we get what we got. Maybe it all reads better in the final trade collection, but as a first issue of an ongoing series it was a nice-looking package but wafer-thin on content and a truncated story. Definitely not worth $3.99 by any stretch, even with Bendis's HITCHHIKER gag use of the number 42 – the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life.” Ha.......ha.
Prof. Challenger was beloved by many, despised by a few, but always lived his life to the fullest. Never did he miss an opportunity to pet a puppy, kiss a pretty girl, or ignore a hobo. He is survived by a long-suffering spouse, 2 confused children, a ridiculously silly dog, and a pompous fat old cat. The things that brought him happiness in this life were his comics, his books, his movies, and string cheese. Had he passed from this plane of existence, he would expect the loss to the world to be severe. As it is, however, he has not passed and has no plans to pass for quite awhile. So visit his website at profchallenger.com and read his ramblings and rantings and offer to pay him for his drawrings. He will show his appreciation with a winning smile and breath that smells like the beauty of angels.
RED LANTERNS #1Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Ed Benes
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
Another week passes and we have a new batch of #1’s from DC. Personally, I have been anticipating RED LANTERNS #1 mostly out of curiosity to see how it would play out. The Red Lantern Corps are arguably the most one-dimensional of the nine (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, Black and White if you’re keeping score) different corps, so to see a series based solely on their exploits is interesting to say the least. I must say I was happy with the outcome as were given a great start to a series that has a ton of potential.
Peter Milligan has been tasked as writer of this book to not only tell the story, but more importantly to develop the identity of the Red Lantern Corps. He succeeds in this by introducing the idea that instead of just being a rage fueled, lava blood spewing version of the Green Lantern Corps, that they can actually become a force for justice (albeit violent justice, but still justice nonetheless) across the universe. There’s also a nice implied setup for the conflict Atrocitus is going to seemingly encounter when trying to convert the rest of the Red Lanterns (who are more mindless and animalistic in nature) to his newfound ideals. This book is actually all setup when I think about it, though I don’t mind it as I’m (maybe naively) optimistic looking forward to what some of the payoff will be. One thing that should also be mentioned is how this RED LANTERNS book apparently has not been affected by the relaunch in any way. It seems to pick up right where WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS left off, which seems to be the overall theme for all of the LANTERN titles at this point.
Ed Benes does an awesome job on the art for this issue as well as working on the cover. He delivers the look of the Red Lantern Corps perfectly and I love the power that emanates from every drawing of Atrocitus. Some artists might go overboard with the blood/gore when handling characters that spew blood pretty much nonstop but Benes balances it well. He also starts off with a bang and a two-page splash of fan favorite Dex-Starr which will have me personally unable to trust any housecats I encounter for a very long time.
I’m really excited to see where this series heads in the future and I hope it’s given the time to properly develop solid stories and characters. There is just so much potential for this book and what it could become. The best short description I could give to someone about my outlook for its future was “Think of it as a cosmic team of Punishers”. I think it would be great fun to see this book grow into its own strong series without always having to rely on the bigger GREEN LANTERN storylines to keep it going. From what we’ve been presented with in this first issue, I think it’s headed in the right direction.
You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
ROTTEN VOL.2: REVIVAL OF THE FITTESTWriter: Mark Rahner and Robert Horton
Art: Dan Dougherty
Publisher: Moonstone Books
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
The ROTTEN series is a complete work. Yes, they’ve assembled two trade paperbacks, but I mean “complete” in that it encompasses everything a good comic should. The writing is sharp, the artwork is cohesive and the story is well constructed and not just a slideshow of action sequences sewn together by a flimsy narrative. The highest compliment I can give this book is that it’s taken two tired genres, zombies and wild west, and married them into a tale that not only captured my attention, but held it across the span of 11 issues. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering I have the attention span of a two year old. I know what you’re thinking: “But Mr. Pasty, I too have been following ROTTEN and I only have nine issues, what’s with the two-issue deficit?” Fear not, loyal reader.
Issues 10 and 11 were previously unreleased but will finally make their debut in ROTTEN VOLUME TWO: REVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, the trade paperback expected to hit the shelves in early October. While normally this is the kind of double-dipping I love to skewer books for, unforeseen circumstances kept these two issues off the shelves, which is unfortunate, because they’re fantastic. For those of you just joining us, ROTTEN got my vote for “Best Ongoing Series” at the sixth annual @$$IE AWARDS -- and for good reason. Agents William Wade and J.J. Flynn, by the order of President Rutherford B. Hayes, must travel to the “wild” west and investigate outbreaks of the living dead, who, if they have their way, will convert everyone one to be like them. Sound familiar? It should, and to be honest, I don’t give a shit about the zombies or the gunslingers, I’m in it to watch Rahner and Horton walk the religious tightrope that has them balancing high above a pit of evolution and Darwinism. It really is an incredible journey if you know what to look for.
If you don’t, and all it takes for you to clap like a seal and balance a ball on your nose is a couple of reanimated corpses muttering “Argh!” or “Gurgh!”, well, you’ll find that here as well. ROTTEN is a true crowd pleaser because it should satisfy any reader no matter what the expectations are going in. Mine have been, and will continue to be, fairly high – and getting higher with each issue. And why not? They haven’t disappointed me yet. I can do without the zombie penis-sausage but don’t let my squeamishness be a deterrent to checking this one out. There is a reason it got my vote for the 2009 @$$IE’s, and why you’re likely to see multiple nominations for it again in 2011. Hopefully ROTTEN, like the zombies that litter its pages, continues to come back from the dead time and time again. I can’t get enough.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.
Advance Review: In stores today!
ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #1Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Paco Medina
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
Ah jeez. Remember in ULTIMATE FALLOUT when Kitty Pryde, Bobby and Johnny vowed to live together in the Morlock Tunnels and never, ever, ever try to be super-heroes ever agai...whups, that's over.
I didn't read the first ULT X-MEN series all the way to the end, having gotten bored and dropped the book years before, but I kind of enjoyed ULTIMATE X despite its scheduling issues. I wasn't super impressed with Hickman's new ULTIMATES or HAWKEYE launches, but had hopes in this issue after reading last week's ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #1. Would UltCom X-Men live up to that, or would I be disappointed? Rest assured, dear readers of reviews of books you read, this issue was pretty snazzy. From the brutal and heart-wrenching start, this was a blast! It was, throughout, an engaging and suspenseful read.
It's recently gotten out that Homo Superior aren't a naturally occurring evolutionary jump for mankind, as we were led to believe, but were the result of America futzing around with human DNA (see ULTIMATE ORIGIN for further deets.) We get all our necessary exposition, ingeniously, in the form of a White House press event. The news is out and the American populace is less than pleased, and rioting has begun, as well as Mutant Containment Camps. We get to see how everyone is reacting to this, including Karen Grant and her team of X-babies (I love that Jean is still going under that identity, btw), Nick Fury, the President and of course, Kitty and Co.
Paco Medina does a fantastic job slappin' down the graphite. I wasn't really aware of him as such until his work on the X-Men title recently (the nonsense with the vampires, which was actually kind of fun), but he's grown as an artist even since then. His style is cartoony without going overboard, which would negatively affect the dramatic beats, I think, but he nails everything perfectly. His hands could use a little work here and there though. Sometimes they look like something out of John Carpenter's THE THING. Wow, this is my second Thing reference this week. Sorry, I just re-watched it last night. Classic film. Oh, stream of consciousness writing style, when will you end? Where was I? Oh right. Medina: good.
NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS VOL. 1Written by: Marv Wolfman
Pencilled by: George Perez
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: superhero
There are a couple of comic runs during my life that I consider to be historic in the way they shaped comics. One of them would be Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on the X-MEN. Another would be Frank Miller’s run on DAREDEVIL. Yet another would be Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run on THE NEW TEEN TITANS.
I don’t think that many younger readers can quite appreciate what a trailblazing book this was among DC’s comic book line when it first came out. I think that this was possibly the first DC comic ever to embrace serious character development and what some consider to be the more soap opera drama that would become the cornerstone of comics during the next thirty years or so. Up until this run of the Teen Titans most of the DC stable was filled with a very flat and dry stable of superheroes who were about as two-dimensional as the pages they were printed on. The Teen Titans were multi-faceted characters surrounded by a strong supporting cast who lived in a complex world. I think that it would even be safe to say that, years before John Byrne even thought about getting his hands on Superman, The Teen Titans were the first step that DC took toward Marvel-izing the DC Universe. DC Comics was a very different place in the late 70’s and early 80’s and The TEEN TITANS was the one small step for man that would help forge the future of the DCU.
This fantastically produced collection reprints the first twenty or so issues of THE NEW TEEN TITANS with the TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS miniseries along with a couple of other small stories that flesh out the beginnings of this run of Teen Titans. Obviously, this book was put together with a desire to make fans of this historical run of the book happy. While I think that much of what’s in here is as well done as the NEW TEEN TITANS SHOWCASE books that were published years ago, the dimensions of this volume blow the artwork up to a very impressive size indeed. This is a chance to see the early NEW TEEN TITANS expanded to a size way bigger than it’s ever been before and the result is just terrific. The artwork looks fantastic and there is a respect here for color reproduction that is not always seen with older material reproduced in newer formats.
To be fair, this is just the beginning of the NEW TEEN TITANS saga, so some of the stories can come across as a bit stodgy in their presentation. This is also George Perez at his earliest before his talent would explode in later issues as well as in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS years later. It’s obvious in the beginning of the series that Wolfman and Perez are feeling their way around, trying to see where they can go. Perez is definitely trying to adapt to some sort of DC house style that was popular at the time, so this isn’t the George Perez artwork that many modern readers would expect to see. But it’s fascinating to see an early Perez try and discover his own talent. By the end of the book we’re able to observe Perez’s style breaking out from the visibly imposed DC editorial restrictions.
I can’t recommend this omnibus enough, especially for DC fans that aren’t too keen on the new DC 52 reboot. There are some terrific old school superhero stories with touches of depth and characterization that were rarely seen in DC Comics books at the time they were made. That statement shouldn’t scare you off, though. THE NEW TEEN TITANS is just as entertaining today as it was back then. I loved this collection and I’ll be pre-ordering the next NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS as soon as I’m able to.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
PUNISHER MAX #17Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel MAX
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Hobo With A Shotgun…
The MAX line, while never the Vertigo quality Marvel intended, has been very good lately. PUNISHER remains the most entertaining MAX title, and Jason Aaron kills in this book. This issue continues to incorporate the main Marvel Universe into the series and, even though the last issue included a frantic escape from a prison riot, the book somehow picks up speed in this one.
Writing: (4/5) Aaron takes PUNISHER in a unique direction, and spends much of the issue further selling the legend. During the course of the issue, the idea that the Punisher is more of a terrible urban myth amongst New York is pushed further. He's a figure that even organizations from other nations take notice of. Three little bastards peddling talking about the possibility of the Punisher makes for a surprisingly brilliant way to reintroduce Castle into the criminal element. It moves quickly, showing off the three clearly before resolving the scene with a fantastic Punisher introduction.
The Hand, as with Bullseye, surprisingly works extremely well in the MAX universe. The Hand representative has a certain creepiness to him; an unsettling feeling that this man is someone even Fisk shouldn't antagonize. His scenes with Elektra, Fisk, everyone reads with a level of cold confrontation that is genuinely unsettling.
The only downside to the issue (and it could even prove to be as great as Bullseye) is the introduction with Elektra. While her introduction is well done, Elektra doesn't really do much in terms of being a presence in the story. Give it time, but as of right now, she's not terribly engaging yet.
Art: (5/5) Dillon is fantastic. The Punisher is a great fit for him. He's able to convey so much brutality is such simple designs. Faces are fantastic, conveying so much emotion. I know I really never talk much about the art and usually go to this line, but the art really is just great. The framing, the light, the designs. It's just really good.
Best Moment: The opening pages.
Worst Moment: Elektra isn't that great yet.
Overall: (4/5) PUNISHER MAX continues to be fantastic.
BATWOMAN #1Writer: J.H. Williams III/ W. Haden Blackman
Art: J.H. Williams/ Dave Stewart
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s been a long time coming but issue 1 is finally here!
I’ll admit my expectations were astronomically high, thanks mostly to J.H. Williams’ other Batwoman work with writer Greg Rucka. To me BATWOMAN: ELEGY was one of the finest comics of the 21st century so far, presenting a hero for a new generation with brilliant dialog and art. With various Bat-people now patrolling all over Gotham City and the world at large, where’s an ex-military lesbian vigilante to find work? Why, the supernatural department, of course!
This arc continues the occult interests explored by Greg Rucka in his DETECTIVE COMICS run (#854-863). In fact, readers of Rucka’s earlier run will get the most out of this first issue, since it continues many of the threads from the previous arc, like Kathy Kane’s relationship with her father and sister. It still works as a first issue to establish the new status quo, and it’s not as disappointing as some readers may expect. The writing is fairly good, although the dialog has a notable lack of punch, but there are still quite a few potent character moments. One panel in particular shows Batwoman Kathy Kane’s relationship with Renee Montoya in a manner that is simple an nuanced; I wish other writers could communicate such big ideas so succinctly.
J.H. Williams’ art is still just as stunning as it ever was. I particularly liked how the art went from hazy, thin lines to thicker, defined lines for Kathy Kane, and the layouts are as fantastic as ever. Dave Stewart also deserves special recognition for his color work, which is both warm and creepy when it needs to be. The palette is almost psychedelic as it moves from bright reds to eerie greens.
Also, suffice it to say any fans of the comic CHASE should keep an eye on this series in the coming months. Altogether, this is the prettiest package coming out of DC’s New 52, and so far it’s definitely the comic I most look forward to reading next month.
Highly recommend for Bat-fans in general.
27: SECOND SET #1Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Renzo Podesta
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Second Verse, same as the First. The first volume of 27, I thought, was a nice little piece of genre bending fiction. The thrust of the story carrying over into this self-branded SECOND SET was that of a fallen from grace rock god, Will Garland, down and out and desperate to reclaim his place in the rock echelon after a nerve condition destroys his guitar playing ability. Between a combination of determination and arrogance Will found himself in a lot of odd spots as Soule played with sci-fi, supernatural, and even superheroic conventions. This all really fleshed out some interesting themes and set up plot threads, characters, etc. that brought Will to borderline contentment and falling back on that determination/desperation that kicked off all of volume one’s hijinks. But as that opening line was meant to allude to, Will is back to being Will.
As I mentioned before, there was a lot of genre mish-mashing in volume one of 27 that really puts a hamper on Will’s life and comeback in this new chapter. The main sci-fi element was a device that becomes implanted in his chest and that gives him a temporary power every time it is activated, which starts as a blessing and becomes a curse as events play out. Because of some really primordial forces behind the scenes of these developments that will claim him if he uses the device too often, Will sucked it up and went back at it the old-fashioned way: he broke down everything he knew and built it back up by learning to play guitar lefty. The Will we’re reintroduced to here is anything but a rock god again, but he’s got his craft back and is working and producing music, a path that – as we learn – is not good enough for Will fucking Garland and really shows off the dynamic of the character. He has the heart and grit and brashness of a protagonist you want to get behind, but my god can he be a dick. He’s a rock star through and through.
So because of all that, he’s back on the hunt. Or at least he wants to shake up his life again and see where that falls. Really, if there’s anything about 27 it’s that, while having taken the time to come up with some really interesting circumstances to put Will in, it’s his personality traits that keep coming through. The arrogance, the melodramatic tortured artist BS and then the willingness to own up to how much of a jackass that makes him to others before he lowers his head and charges forward in life. It’s that gamut that really makes this issue a great delving back into the story. The personality elements combined with some more fleshing out of the plot points as Will’s new sidekick Eric tries to scientifically break down what exactly the device is doing. There’s lots of interesting material here to work with and Soule is balancing it all out very well by keeping a veil of mystery around all the circumstances as Will “ogs the center light.
To bring this to a finish, it would be wrong to not praise the source of that light in Renzo Podesta’s drawing hand, which is far from crippled like Will Garland’s. It’s a bit of an abstract style is a good way to put it, with figures that tend to be comprised of somewhat angular features, particularly in chins, jaw lines, noses and other facial features, but it’s VERY expressive--in this case very aptly, like our main character. Great use of shading abounds and it gets very colorful and downright surreal when events in the book get, well, colorful and surreal. It’s a great, well-layered art package that compliments a story that is also executing well on layering itself. While not necessarily a great jumping on point despite being a brand new number one (there’s a lot of ‘splainin to do as my tangents above might have keyed in on) it wouldn’t take much to catch up on the events of 27 and I highly recommend the effort given how well this opening number of SECOND SET performed. Like any good act Soule and Podesta are throwing out some quality material, but you can tell the best jams are yet to come. Cheers…
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
The GREEN LANTERN ‘verse and BATMAN were meant to be more seamless than a high quality sex doll. Batman, while recognizing his “death” and the subsequent year after, still feels very very fresh and new even in a title like DETECTIVE.
GREEN LANTERN, RED LANTERNS and GREEN LANTERN CORPS however haven’t seemed to miss a beat from the old universe. Yes, there’s a ton of exposition, but it’s counter-balanced with the old story in such a way so new readers can come on in and sit down and the rest of us fangeezers don’t feel like it’s being spoon fed to us like our tapioca pudding. It’s more akin to catching up with long lost friends on FaceBook versus meeting a cavalcade of new faces during an 8 Minute Dating event like some of the other number ones.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS is the pinnacle of this balance. I’ll fully admit, I find the RED LANTERN title unnecessary and a bit silly. RED LANTERNS are like character actors; their one-note personas make them fine fodder for a few minutes at a pop, but when on screen for too long become grating in their simplicity. As much as I love Hal Jordan, to be truly vested in the inaugural issue of GREEN LANTERN there’s a certain amount of knowledge required about Hal’s relationships with Carol, and especially Sinestro. GREEN LANTERN CORPS, though, took a very different approach in its baptism. Tomasi canned the concept of the WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS and simply decided to check in on John Stewart and Guy Gardner as they struggle to define their lives both inside and outside of the Corps.
For years John Stewart has lived in relative obscurity compared to his GREEN LANTERN brethren. No one has really known what to do with him other than having him slay the occasional planet from time to time and serve as the sad sack no one understands. For those of us that are old enough to remember MOSAIC though, we understand that this marine turned architect turned space cop is one of the most complex and multi-faceted of not just the GREEN LANTERNS, but all of earth’s heroes.
I’m glad to say Tomasi not only recognized this fact, he clearly relished the opportunity to right the wrongs of writers past. We finally once again get a glimpse into the men that John Stewart and Guy Gardner are, but also who they want to be. The first time we see them in this issue, both are trying their damndest to find regular average human day jobs despite their famed status as Earth’s “out of the super hero closet” ring wielders. Neither finds luck, but both for very different reasons. Guy is a character of simplicity, a visceral beast that simply wants to once again be a molder of young men on the football field. Stewart is trying to use his knowledge of architectural design and the living super computer on his ring finger to make the world a better and more moral place. Different means to the same end of once again simply becoming human. It’s also nice to see a superhero putting their immense abilities towards the betterment of our daily lives, instead of just saving us from impending doom.
Tomasi writes some of the most humanistic moments out of any of the new DC rebooted titles. Within a scant 22 pages, you feel who Stewart and Gardner are as men instead of just the required reboot knowledge to hook you into issue 2. There’s not an ounce of this book that feels rushed or like I didn’t get my money’s worth.
To make things even better, that’s only one half of the book.
The is the CORPS, baby--space battles and epic scale have defined this title and Tomasi lives up to this by delivering the mother of all galactic murder mysteries to snap Stewart and Gardner out of their collective “you can never go home again” malaise. A planet is attacked, successfully; the soulfulness of Pasarin’s pencils affected me more with this murder than the deluge of death that has been dealt to the Corps over the past few years.
I also want to thank Tomasi and I guess the ultimate architects of the new DC Universe, Johns and Lee, for allowing some of my beloved characters of yore to retain their maturity and not revert back to reflections of their former selves. I truly expected a douche-nut Gardner from the reboot. But he’s not the same Guy that used to call out characters like Batman and Martian Manhunter in a show of testosterone and stupidity. He has truly retained the brash, yet learned demeanor that I have watched mature over the past thirty years.
Do I think the universe could use a Douche-nut like old Guy, hells yes, it’s a staple in any ensemble. But I’m truly glad that it’s not Guy. GREEN LANTERN CORPS will definitely remain on my pull list and quite frankly my top read right now in the GREEN LANTERN pantheon of titles.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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Sept. 21, 2011, 8:53 a.m. CST
by V. von Doom
Eat DOOM's gauntlet blasters, peasants!
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:34 a.m. CST
...folks who clearly want to SOUND like they understand/appreciate the John Stewart character. (Even if they do not.) These same "fans" always seem to be completely ignorant of the Wein/Englehart runs that DEFINED Stewart and his eventual relationship with Katma Tui. Honestly, GL readers, issue #s 172-200 (of the first Silver Age series) make up the finest GL comics ever produced. Period. There is simply no debate. (Funny though, how all of these "fans" DO seem to recall reading Alan Moore's Mogo, Abin Sur, and Katma Tui stories at the time... *shaking head*) In addition, I have to say OD's writing style really grates (especially his ridiculous analogies). But I guess I'll try to be somewhat nice and say I can also appreciate his ... enthusiasm.
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST
Downloaded the first ish, thought it was a great parody/homage of Nick Fury as well as tossing around some classic Grant Morrison-era Doom Patrol vibes. To me the best Nu52 books by far are Frankie and Animal Man, both Jeff Lemire-penned, btw. Just my two pesos, natch.
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:47 a.m. CST
Frankenstein is what you expect it to be. a fucking abortion. a lame rip off of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. no soul, no art, no story. no wonder you want Snyder fired. you have no taste, sir. and I´m just kidding. to everyone what he likes.
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:51 a.m. CST
...I have to say I'm a little unsettled at someone else using a Grant Morrison concept. The Frankenstein chapters of the Seven Soldiers maxiseries were phenomenal (probably some of the best of the lot). And having a different writer pick up where Morrison left off just seems a little disconcerting. For those of you who've read the 1st issue? Did it read like "Morrison-Lite?" Or did Lemire take it into a new direction? Or what?
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:53 a.m. CST
it reads like crap. sorry to say. it´s the worst issue I have read yet from DCnU. totally sucked.
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST
by Righteous Brother
Is that still Dick and Damian? ala Grant Morrisons run? And the new Batman - is a reboot, like the new Action Comics? Is that correct? If so, its a bit confusing for new fans starting over with Batman and then picking up Batman and Robin as well isn't it?
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:29 a.m. CST
If it's anything like the original version, we won't see the character in costume until about issue #5.
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:52 a.m. CST
On the GL subject. Whew. Great review of Batman, OD. I like the metaphors: they're an effective way to capture the nuances of your subject.
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:54 a.m. CST
You probably didn't count the Daily Bugle newspaper page, which looks like an ad.
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:54 a.m. CST
One of the top five books of the new relaunch so far, easy.
Sept. 21, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST
and yes my style is grating to some folks hence why we have a wide open @$$hole clubhouse of writers
Sept. 21, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST
by maxwell's hammer
1) thank you for reviewing the new Ultimate Spider-Man based on its merits as a comic book, as opposed to other more...arbitrary criteria. I disagree with your opinion, but its refreshing to see an opinion (for this book, anyway) based on things like story, writing, and artwork. 2) I'm pretty sure there was a crime-fighting zygote somewhere in Grant Morrison's 'New X-Men- run.
Sept. 21, 2011, 11:11 a.m. CST
I'm too young to be well versed in SILVER AGE material, but if it's a good John Stewart story I'll go back and check them out.
Sept. 21, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST
Good job, Prof, despite the fact that I disagree with you, I appreciate your review for being about the comic itself.
Sept. 21, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST
This two part review thing is bullshit. Basically the first part will get ignored here after a few more comments and everyone will be on part two. Why the split?
Sept. 21, 2011, 12:41 p.m. CST
I'd always thought of the 80s/90s as post-Silver Age. Hmmm. Regardless, yeah, give those 80s GL comics a spin. Hyperbole aside, they truly are great reads. And most everyone who is familiar with Englehart's run on GL does indeed consider it to be the pinnacle of Lantern lore. Also, please know that just because your writing style is difficult for someone like me (who suffered through YEARS of snarky, "immature" Wizard articles as my only source of comics news/reviews), I'm sure it appeals to others. These days, I just appreciate a more focused review that, you know, loses some of the tongue-in-cheek references to sex dolls and whatnot. Ha.
Sept. 21, 2011, 12:51 p.m. CST
...in the parentheses. I was just trying to keep everyone from getting that run confused with the series that started with Hal Jordan and ended up with Kyle Rayner. Anyway, Len Wein had Jordan quit the Corps in order to be with Carol. Stewart comes in as the replacement, but kinda sucks. The Guardians send Katma Tui to straighten him out. Under Englehart, the two fall in love. Guy Gardner is then awakened from his coma and starts causing trouble. The Crisis happens. Predator. Star Sapphire. Sinestro. The return of Hal Jordan. Etc. Good, good stuff.
Sept. 21, 2011, 1:10 p.m. CST
by Roger Moon
and 1985 to the present is considered the Shit Age
Sept. 21, 2011, 2:26 p.m. CST
My Parents wouldn't let me read super hero comics until I was 10. My first one -- CRISIS 1.
Sept. 21, 2011, 2:32 p.m. CST
Not that I want the site to lose a reader, but we all tend to dive bomb into the snarkitude. I would say if you want to skip the color commentary - IGN and CBR seem to take a more journalistic than an editorial column approach to their reviews. Hey, we all love comics and the Internet is a wide wonder of different strokes for different folks. Hope this helps you find your comic nirvana man.
Sept. 21, 2011, 7:40 p.m. CST
And I'll say it a million times--I have never geeked out over a comic as I have with Batwoman: Elegy. The art was fantastic. Seeing Rucka plot out his fantastic dialogue and story was also fantastic. Think about it this way: Rucka and Williams took one of the WORST elements of the disastrous trainwreck that was 52 (aside from that stupid alligator), and transformed the Batwoman character into a 3-dimensional personality that was engaged in a compelling narrative, topped with incredible artwork. They literally turned shit to gold, I kid you not. I don't own many TPBs at all, mostly because I can't afford to spend too much on nonessentials--so if I have copies of comics and such, then it basically means its fantastic. And on my shelf, I have a copy of TDK. The first volume of O'Neil/Cowan's Question. All volumes of Blade of the Immortal. And last but not least, Batwoman: Elegy. I'm not too sure if the new Batwoman run will be as fantastic--especially since Rucka is MIA--but now that the first issue of the comic's out, I think I'll be heading down to the comic shop this weekend. Hot damn.
Sept. 21, 2011, 9:51 p.m. CST
Just because people only discussed the race issue of my review doesn't mean I didn't review it on it's comic-merits. Eeesh >(o)< nipplepinch!
Sept. 22, 2011, 1:10 a.m. CST
Considering what you consider fantastic (and I agree), you should check out Brubaker's Criminal (any and all) and Jason Aaron's Scalped if you haven't already. Criminal is a complete story in each trade, like a great noir flick, while Scalped builds and builds to the point that I'm torn between wanting to see how it ends and hating the fact that it will soon be over.
Sept. 22, 2011, 1:29 a.m. CST
I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. I was really apprehensive of the title because of the Didio as co-writer bit but dayum was it fun. I'm reading all the new 52 titles and was dreading having to read this one so I swallowed hard and read it first and kept what I was expecting to be the best for dessert. And WOW! just a great and fun read. Giffen's faux-Kirby art is awesome and they're really delving deep into The King's wild corner of the DCU. Sure a couple of week 1's titles were better but Omac's the only one I read twice.
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:14 a.m. CST
by mark mackner
Another great review, Poptard! There wasn't enough self-loathing racism in it, though ;)
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:45 a.m. CST
Loved the art. The red hair is incredibly striking. Thought the plot of some obsessive religious cult was uninteresting and too remote from the concept of fighting "real" crime. If that's where the reboots going, I don't think it'll hold well.
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:57 a.m. CST
I enjoyed it too. It's getting these terrible reviews and I don't quite understand why. Sure, not a lot happened the first issue, but it was a hoot, and the art was as dynamic and exciting as anything I've seen in years.
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:58 a.m. CST
...was nasty. Check out Starfire's new 'fuck toy' personality. Roy Harper's 4th super-hero codename is now 'Sloppy Seconds.'
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:59 a.m. CST
Thanks Gash-face! Though if you go over to PART TWO of the column, you'll see that now I hate cross-dressers and Wonder Woman's "athletic shorts"! Oh, internet.
Sept. 22, 2011, 10:35 a.m. CST
Really? That's disappointing, the art looked like it might be fun.
Sept. 22, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST
by foree forehead
love me some morrison - how is this particular one? worth picking up a tpb if one exists? i tend to start reading morrison and the tend to not be able to stop but i'm wary of picking up even more... yet to find doom patrol # 2 TPB and am just about to finish his animal man run. haven't tried invisibles yet. long story short: not sure if s. soldiers is fit-inable.
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:14 a.m. CST
And the first five pages or so are good too. Then, this is one of the most awkward out-of-left-field things I've seen any new 52 book do: it's revealed that Starfire doesn't even remember her romance with Dick Grayson or her friendship with the Teen Titans (it all happened, she just doesn't remember it). Why? Because humans are like animals to her, she doesn't really remember them or tell them apart. Then, having spent the issue as Jason Todd's fuck-buddy, she asks Roy if he wants to have sex. Sure, he says, and they do. Now Jason Todd and Roy Harper are tag-teaming Princess Koriand'r. Two guys sharing one chick. What a superteam.
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:42 a.m. CST
Personally, I think it's one of Morrison's better superhero projects (the others being his much-loved JLA run and All-Star Superman). The Frankenstein bits are hugely entertaining, but you'll be surprised at how much fun you'll also have reading about the Manhattan Guardian and Klarion, the Witch Boy. And the art - throughout - is excellent.
Sept. 22, 2011, 1:44 p.m. CST
The really unsavory aspect of the three-way thing is that it comes on the heels of Roy and Jason having spent a few pages oggling Starfire in her swimsuit, drawn in a variety of cheesecake poses, with the dialogue being something like: Jason, "Dude, I did her. A bunch. The cool thing is that she doesn't even remember stuff. Go ahead, ask her about Dick or the Titans." Roy, "Whoa." Jason, "She'll fuck you, too, bro." And then she does. I bet DC is saying this is getting a lot of 'buzz' on the internet, but it's not 'want to read the second issue' type buzz.
I hate to say, but I'm totally going to check it out, just for the sheer assholery of it. Also
Sept. 22, 2011, 4:01 p.m. CST
Seven Soldiers is great, but non-morrison-heads might say that it loses its way at the end. Here's a list of great stuff: We3 All-star Superman Invisibles His JLA and X-men run Those are all good and fun. His Animal man and Doom Patrol are also great, but if you're not used to his particular... idiom... you might not enjoy them as much.
Sept. 22, 2011, 7:14 p.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2011, 9:49 p.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:46 p.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:50 p.m. CST
Stop spending your time picking fights with us useless pompous internet reviewers and do something you like doing...like, I dunno..researching pictures of athletes wearing panties, and leave us alone. Oh, and get a thicker skin.
Sept. 23, 2011, 12:13 a.m. CST
I love that you're spending time on an Internet Review site despite your hatred of Internet Reviewers. The End
Sept. 23, 2011, 11:48 a.m. CST
Just like Simpsons Comic Book Guy! "Oh Aquaman, you can't marry a woman from the surface, you're from two different worlds!... I've wasted my life."
Oct. 19, 2011, 6:45 a.m. CST
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