Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for October 29, 2008

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns
Creative Team

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Shane Davis
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Nel Ruffino

Issue Rating
Story: 8.8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Overall: 8.65/10

Review: Rage of the Red Lanterns was a great read and a great prelude to "The Blackest Knight and introduction to the Red Lanterns who are going to be dominating the next story arc in the main Green Lantern title. The only problem with this one-shot is that it has no connection to Final Crisis and Final Crisis should be dropped from the title. So for anyone looking for something to expand on Final Crisis I would recommend just reading Final Crisis: Revelation which actually reveals more information about what is happening in Final Crisis than the main title itself. Rage of the Red Lanterns is purely for those reading Green Lantern and looking foward to "The Blackest Night."

I got to say about this one-shot is that this is a lot more of a bloody issue that isn't really the norm for DC Comics and really it surprising that DC allowed Johns to use so much blood in this issue. And I actually think it works with the Red Lanterns theme and gives the necessary differentiation for those characters that wear the Read Lantern costume are just Green Lanterns in red instead of green. Also it is great that Atrocitus, who was only shortly seen at the end of "Alpha Lanterns" story and the lead antagonist of the recent "Secret Origins" arc, is the leader of the Red Lanterns and that the location of the Red Lantern Power Battery is located in Ysmault the former prison world were the Green Lanterns placed their prisoners. And from this issue alone Johns was able to show that the Red Lanterns are 10x more vicious than both the Green Lanterns and Sinestro Corp. And probably my favorite out of these Red Lanterns outside of Atrocitus, and most vicious, is the cat Red Lantern. The scene were the cat just blows of the head of that Sinestro Corp member was bloody and awesome.

Though the Red Lanterns are a major part of this issue Hal didn't miss out on the spotlight in this issue. It is nice to see that Johns showed that Hal does have a supporting cast outside the Green Lanterns and his interaction with various characters was an excellent way to show the more human aspect of Hal instead of his more militaristic part of his character when he is a Green Lantern. It was interesting that Hal went to go ask Carol's opinion on Sinestro's execution and I wondering were Johns is going to take their relationship as "The Blackest Night" approaches.

Also I get the feeling that Johns may be building to Sinestro and his Corps become allies, at least Sinestro, from the conversation Hal and Sinestro had. And it is interesting that while Hal may not want to admit it but he doesn't believe Sinestro's execution to be the right thing to do. Also the appearance of the first Blue Lantern and his super charging of Hal's ring was a great hook ending and it will be interesting how Hal, and the rest of thee Green Lantern Corps, reacts to the Blue Lantern and his role in this story

It also looks like Sinestro has a mole within the Guardians with the Guardian with the scars from the "Sinestro Corp Wars." And it looks like this Guardian is not connected to the rest of the Guardians and is biding her time when she will betray the rest of her fellow Guardians. This may break the Guardians and have them become much more rigid with their rules when this happens. In any case I can't wait to see what role this scarred guardian will play in this war.

Shane Davis provided some great looking art in Rage of the Red Lanterns. Davis artwork definitely fits the cosmic setting of the Green Lanterns. And the opening pages were very impressive with the Red Lanterns as well as the all out battle between the Green Lanterns, Sinestro Corp, and Red Lanterns.

Nova #18
Creative Team
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Wellinton Alves and Geraldo Borges
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Guau Efx

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Review: Though I wasn't going to pick Nova up until after this Secret Invasion tie-in arc but my LCS told me to pick up this, and the previous two parts of this arc, due to the ending. And I am glad I did because this issue because this issue, and the previous two, were a blast to read. And even though I am not reading Secret Invasion the Skrulls in this issue don't much of a role other than being the villains our hero has to take defeat. And the Skrulls could have been replaced by any other villain and it would have not mattered since their is little mention of Secret Invasion in this issue outside of the Skrulls involvement.

Richard Rider feels like a combination between Hal Jordan and Kyle Raynor from Green Lantern. Richard personality reminds me much of how Hal and Kyle use to be before their current gloom and doom personalities. Not saying that Hal and Kyle's current portrayals are bad, on the contrary, but it is refreshing reading a comic were our main hero is positive and actual looks like he is having fun playing the superhero. While Richard shows that he is a true leader by giving orders to Quasar and Darkhawk he isn't the hardass most leader are portrayed in comics now. The banter between Nova and Darkhawk was great and didn't feel forced and shows that these two have bee friends for a long time without having known their history.

And DnA did some great work with showing Richards reaction to Worldmind rebirth to a physical body and the return of the Nova Corps at the end of the issue. The five Nova Corps members appearance at the end of the issue makes for some interesting developments in the future. It looks like DnA are setting up Richard to take up the leader role of the whole Nova Corps, ala Hal Jordan.

Wellinton Alves and Geraldo Borges provide some great art work for this pure action issue. I love the bright and shiny look this book has that fits the hectic battle Nova is in. And the character designs of the five Nova Corps members in the last page were some great designs.

Superman/Batman #53
Creative Team
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Artist: Rags Morales
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Nei Ruffino

Issue Rating
Story: 6.7/10
Overall: 7.35/10

Review: While I enjoyed the last two issue of Superman/Batman my enjoyment for those two issues was due to the little JLA and not Batman or Superman. And this issue just felt like I have read this story before many, many times. In general I have never been a big fan of stories were two superheroes trade powers. This story feels like more of a story I would enjoy if I were 10 or 11.

When done right these type of stories can be pretty good but usually they turn out to be boring and predictable. But I will give it to Green and Johnson on do a good job with the reactions of Superman when he is losing his powers and Batman realizing he is invincible. It was a good move by Green and Johnson to start the issue by showing Superman and Batman in each others city and how each character does feel out of their element in the others city. I thought that Superman reaction of how much crime their is in Gotham and how with even with his super speed, Nightwing, and Robin he still is unable to stop all the crime. This opening scene helps this issue be new reader friendly and show how different these two characters are without using the whole issue to do it.

Though the Superman realizing he is losing his powers was actually the boring and predictable part of this comic. Also the Superman dialog felt forced especially when he was losing his power. But I will say I did enjoy Batman's half just because when I am thinking of Batman's age I put him at about 38 or 39 and to see Batman out running Robin was actually kind of funny since Batman doesn't realize he is doing it. Still while I enjoyed Batman's half of the issue I feel that the next issue will have Batman using Superman's powers to easily kick all of his villains asses which is something that I am not looking forward since that would weaken his Rogues. Still I may be wrong and Green and Johnson may take this story another direction but still this predictability to the story lowers my excitement for the next issue.

I am a big fan of Rags Morales art and it is great seeing him drawing Batman and Superman. His Batman in particular looked really badass especially in the last page of the issue were he fly's to were Superman is his heat ray activated. The only problem I had with the art is the scene at the charity party, both Bruce and Clark looked a little to stiff in this issue. But still Morales art was still great overall.

Teen Titans #64
Creative Team
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Rod Reis

Issue Rating
Story: 5.4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 6.2/10

Review: Teen Titans #64 was yet another disappointing read. While I enjoyed McKeeven initial arc all the issue since has been nothing but average to bad. One of the major problems with Teen Titans is that the team now only has four members. While this may be fine for a team up book like The Brave and the Bold but this is suppose to be an official team and when a team doesn't have at least six members the team really doesn't feel legitimate. Case in point with Teen Titans because right now with its four members it is really showing that outside of Robin, and maybe Blue Beetle, neither of these characters are interesting and you understand why they don't have their own individual books. Both Wonder Girl and Red Devil have become really annoying since Ravager left the team to join the Terror Titans. And it has affected Wonder Girl's character more because we don't get to see Wonder Girl and Ravager bounce off one another when they are getting into their arguments.

Speaking of Wonder Girl I have to say that this story of her losing her powers isn't very interesting. And really ever since "Titans Around the World" arc Wonder Girl has become one of the most boring characters in the book. And this story of her losing her powers feels little to late since it should have happened around issue 45 instead of now. Because now that this story is finale being told by McKeever, or any writer for that matter, it feels forced and underdeveloped.

Another bad part of this issue, and story, has been the use of Bombshell in this story and what looks to be her being the new member of the Teen Titans. It is general rule of mine that I will give a writer two issues to win me over with convincing me a character is worth being part of a book and if not than it is most likely that the character will just drag the book down. And after two issues were McKeever has already written Bombshell's backstory the character has proven to be uninteresting and boring. I think McKeever made a bad choice with involving Bombshell in this story and she could have been easily been replaced by another former Titan with a much more interesting backstory and power.

Dagnino art in this issue was just average and did nothing to help McKeever bad story telling in this issue. At times during the issue Dagnino art was really inconsistent in some pages. But still I did like the scene were Wonder Girl went into the past to witness that battle to be a nicely drawn battle and was really the only highlight of the issue for me.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3
Creative Team
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Lafuente
Colorist: John Rauch

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Review: While this annual is not as good as the first Ultimate Spider-Man annual this was still one of the best annuals I have read. In the hands of any writer this issue focusing on two main characters talking about having sex could have really turned out to be bad but this is Bendis were talking about and it is these types of stories were he excels at. While I have have made no bones about it that I have not liked what Bendis is currently writing in the regular Marvel Universe with Secret Invasion and Avengers I still think Bendis is a talented writer but feel he is more in his elements when writing a solo book like USM or Daredevil and not a team book like Avengers. Ultimate Spider-Man has been one my favorite titles since the first issue since this title really plays to Bendis strength as a writer and I have enjoyed the previous two annuals of USM, with the first being one of my favorite issues of USM period, this third one is no different.

'Sex' is always a tough topic for any writer to tackle and it is understandable that Marvel, or DC, would allow a writer to write an issue dealing with 'sex' especially when the story involves arguably one of the most popular characters in comics. But Bendis did the smart by not having the topic of 'sex' take over the whole annual, instead he uses this annual to returns to the more character-centric story involving Peter and his supporting cast and only using the plot involving Mysterio as a break from the melodrama so that it doesn't start to get boring and drawnout to long. And I much rather prefer this type of story telling that dominated the early issues of USM than the current symbiote arc any day.

Bendis was very careful with dealing with the "will they, won't they" issue for Peter and MJ relationship. Considering that Peter and MJ are about 16 in USM it was smart that they ended up putting it off until they are older at the end of the issue. This topic did lead to some fun dialog especially when Kitty and Kong were nagging Peter if he and MJ had a fight. Kitty's dialog was hilarious and it is nice seeing her being used more since she and Peter bounce of one another nicely. And also when Peter is explaining the Mysterio situation to MJ it was fun seeing MJ turn into investigative reporter mode to help out Peter with finding out who Mysterio is and Peter exclaiming that she is his new supervillain was a great scene.

Unlike most annuals that usually have no consequence with what happens in the main book Bendis has used these USM annuals to lay the foundation of future storylines in the main book. One story development he sets up is with Jessica Jones, the head of broadcast club in Peter's high school, wanting to find out Spider-man's identity. It places MJ in a tough spot as shown during her conversation with Peter in the lunch room that they will have to much more careful were they talk about Peter's Spider-man adventures now that Jessica is looking closely at Peter. And the mystery of who Mysterio is should lead into the next USM story after the "Ultimatum" crossover is over.

While I wasn't familiar with David Lafuente's artwork before this issue I actually enjoyed his manga-style art. I'll admit that it did take a couple pages to get used to Lafuente's art but as the issue went on his art really added to the Bendis character-centric story in this annual. I actually wouldn't mind Lafuente to do some fill in issue in USM since his the character exagerations fit in well with this title and kind of makes the case that Spider-man could make a good manga if they made it be similar USM.