Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 8/12/09

For my Blackest Night #2 review click here. Also I'll be reviewing Blackest Night: Batman #1 and Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 over at Rokk's Comic Book Revolution later this week so be sure to check those out later in the week.

Adventure Comics #1 (#504)

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapul (main story); Clayton Henry (back-up)
Colorist: Brian Buccellato (main story); Brian Reber (back-up)

Story – Superboy The Boy of Steel Part 1 (main-story); Long Live The Legion Part 1 (back-up)

Review
DC has always had a problem trying to get me hooked on their titles outside of Batman. It has only been recently with Sinestro Corps War that I started reading Green Lantern. While I have tried giving several different DC titles a shot I just have DC has never hooked me with most of their titles. This is especially true with Superman related titles. I have probably given Superman and his family of titles more chances to hook me than any other but I just have never read many stories outside of The Death and Return of Superman and the recent Brainiac storyline that I have actually liked. So coming into Adventure Comics #1 I wasn't very optimistic about this title even if I liked Geoff Johns run on Teen Titan
s and how he wrote Superboy.

With that said Adventure Comics was a solid start to the new Superboy comic. Johns does a very good job with his characterization of Connor and his relationships with Superman, Krypto, and Ma Kent. It was nice to see that Connor's death helped him realize that his life with Ma and Pa on the Kent Farm was much better than he originally thought.

Also I liked the mystery that Johns gave us with the swamp monster and how it is looking for Connor. I am not sure if this is a new threat or just an old Superman villain but I am interested to find out what the swamp monster wants with Connor.

With the mystery and Connor new outlook on life I am going to leave this title on my pull list for at least the Blackest Night tie-ins. The only negative about the main story was that not much really happened in this issue as this the main story was more about establishing Connor back to the present which is not such a bad thing.

Now I only wish the back-up was as good as the main-story. I not really too familiar with the Legion of Superheroes but the back-up really did not get me interested in the cast of characters. Overall nothing really happened in the back-up as it was only an introduction to the characters and I didn't really get a good
sense of who the characters really are. And since I am going to be getting the rest of this up to at least the Blackest Night tie-ins I hope Johns does a better job with the Legion story

Issue Rating
Story: 7.3/10 – Geoff Johns did a solid job with the main story with Connor but the Legion
back-up story he wrote wasn't very good.
Art: 8.4/10 – Francis Manapul's artwork for the main story was gorgeous. Too bad that Clayton Henry's artwork wasn't as good as his artwork was just average.
Overall: 7.85/10 – Adventure Comics #1 was a solid start to this new Superboy title and it was enough for me to at least pick up the next few issues of this title.


Amazing Spider-Man #602

Creative Team
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Barry Kitson
Inkers: Barry Kitson and Rick Ketcham
Colorist: Jeromy Cox

Story – Red-Headed Stranger: Tenth of September


Review
The last time Fred Van Lente wrote Amazing Spider-Man was back in the one and done story involving The Spot, which was also his first issue as part of the Spider-Man Brain Trust. In that issue he showed a great sense for Spider-Man and that his writing style is a great fit for Spider-Man. But now after that one and done story he did Van Lente finally gets a shot at writing a multi-issue Amazing Sp
ider-Man arc. And this first issue of this new Chameleon story arc was a good, but not great, start to the latest Spider-Man story.

In truth this wasn't a great issue of Amazing Spider-Man there really isn't anything wrong with this issue. Van Lente provided plenty of solid dialogue and Barry Kitson did a good job with his artwork and keep the look of the issue consistent.

I liked that Van Lente continued to show Harry is in worse shape than he was before the "American Son" arc. Though I am not really excited to see Harry fall into another state of depression and alcoholism I like that Van Lente used Harry's problem as a way to get Peter and MJ together to help out a friend.


I also liked the new job Peter got in JJJ's office. It is a new setting for Peter as he will not be able to wisecrack his way through this job as he won't be allowed to mess around as much as he did back in the Daily Bugle.

Now the best part of this issue was the Chameleon. Van Lente did a great job making this new and improved Chameleon a much more menacing threat than he was before. I liked what Chameleon did to his victims after he stole their faces. It gave Chameleon a Batman villain feel with how violent it was.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.6/10 – Van Lente writing style is a great fit for Spider-Man as he did a great job giving this issue a nice mix of humor and drama.
Art: 8/10 – Kitson did a good job with the artwork. Hopefully he is given a little more action to illustrate in the next few issues.

Overall: 7.8/10 – Amazing Spider-Man #602 was a solid read that did a good job starting the new Spider-Man arc.

Batman #689

Creative Team
Writer: Judd Winnick
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Rob Hunter
Colorist: Ian Hannin


Story – Long Shadow Part 2: New Day, New Knight


Review
I feel a bit bad for Judd Winnick because out of the three Batman titles (Batman and Robin, Streets of Gotham, and Batman) the work he has been doing on Batman feels average when compared to the work Morrison and Dini are doing on over on the other two Bat-titles. This isn't
a bad thing as I am enjoying the work Winnick has done so far but so far he hasn't done enough to set this title apart from the other two Bat-titles. So far Batman has given us good but not great reads, and this issue is no different, which is why this title is third among the three Batman titles.

With that said I did enjoy Batman #689. While I have not liked any of Winnick's recent work over the past few years I actually like what he is doing on Batman. I am actually surprised that Winnick hasn't really written anything that has made me hate his writing.

What I like about what Winnick is doing on Batman is e
xploring the relationship between Dick and Alfred now that Bruce is gone. Dick and Alfred were the closest and most trusted allies to Bruce both in his personal life and in fighting crime as Batman. And while Morrison and Dini have briefly touched upon how both these characters are handling Bruce's death Winnick is fully exploring this aspect of the characters. And it is actually good to see that both Dick and Alfred are having a hard time with the aftermath of Bruce's death and that each one of them is helping the other person ease the pain of losing a father and son, respectively. It gives Batman a nice family feel as both Dick and Alfred are showing how close of a family they were with Bruce and that these two characters have a nice father/son relationship that is similar to the one Bruce and Alfred had.

Also it is good to see that Winnick isn't trying to force Dick to become like Bruce when he puts on the cowl. It makes sense that Dick would be a different Batman in his early adventures as Batman. As of right now he still seems to be acting as he did when he was Nightwing just in the Batman costume. While he will have to adopt more of the darker aspects that made Bruce successful as Batman even in his later years I like that we are seeing a transitional phase with
Dick going from being Nightwing to Batman.

And I like that Winnick is using Two-Face as one of the main villains that Dick will have to face in his first adventure as Batman. If done right
Two-Face could really become the new Joker for Dick as Batman. Tomasi did a great job in his final arc showing that Dick and Harvey share a long history with one another and it is good to see that Winnick picks up on this fact as it looks like Harvey knows that Nightwing is now the one under the cowl.

As for the art Bagley does a great job with the artwork in this issue. Bagley's artwork is a great fight with this title as he gives plenty of energy to the fights that Dick's acrobatic fighting style should have. And I especially liked the scene were we the Batmobile transformed into its flight mode and I look forward to seeing how he illustrates the big fight that was set up in the final page of the issue.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.5/10 – Winnick does a good job exploring more of the emotional aspect of Dick taking up the cowl but has yet to set his story apart from the one Morrison and Dini are telling in their books.

Art: 8.3/10 – Bagley's art continues to impress. He gives this title a lot of energy and does a good job illustrating the dark scenes as much as the more light and action heavy scenes.
Overall: 7.9/10 – Batman #689 was a good solid read. While it is nothing special it does do
a good job giving the reader their money's worth.

Green Lantern Corps #39

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman and Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Randy Mayor

Story – Fade to Black

Review
While I have not been enjoying much of Geoff Johns work on Green Lantern and Blackest Night over the past few months I have been immensely enjoying the work that Peter Tomasi has been doing on Green Lantern Corps. And this issue of GLC does a great job not only developing the whole dead are rising aspect of Blackest Night that Johns has been focusing on in the first two Blackest Night and one Green Lantern issues he does an even better job developing the other aspects of the story by giving attention to what is going on with the Sinestro/Mongul Corps, the people in Daxam having powers, and the reaction of the whole Green Lantern Corps to the Black Lantern rings bringing back the dead.

First and foremost Blackest Night is a Green Lantern event and the Green Lantern Corps and the other six Lantern Corps have yet to appear in the event much less react to the Black Lantern threat. And Peter Tomas
i does a great job showing that the Black Lanterns are a threat to the whole universe and not just one planet (cough*Earth*cough).

And that is what I have been complaining about with Blackest Night so far as Johns has yet to convince me this is an event that affects the whole universe. Tomasi doesn't even show us the
War of Light but what he does do is show us that the universe is about to go through one of its worse disasters in history by showing us how the Black Lanterns are already starting their attack on Oa.

I also liked that Tomasi continued to develop the Daxam storyline and Mongul's takeover of the Sinestro Corp. What made those two scenes even more powerful by Patrick Gleason's artwork. Gleason does a great job giving all the characters plenty of emotion and knows how to use light and darkness in scenes to make them more powerful.

The only thing I would have liked is that we would have gotten this issue before Blackest Night #2 as this issue, just like Blackest Night#1, felt like a set-up to the event. This issue would have benefited much more by being released before Blackest Night #2 as by now the dead rising from the grave isn't the "WOW" feeling it had in Blackest Night#1.

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10 – Tomasi continues to tell a superior story than the one Johns is telling and he did a great job showing us how big Blackest Night really is.

Art: 8/10 – Gleason's artwork is as great as it has always been. He does a great job capturing the sci-fi feel of this book.
Overall: 8/10 – Green Lantern Corps #39 was another solid issue by Tomasi and Gleason. GLC #39 did a much better job convincing me that Blackest Night is a big epic event that threatens to destroy the whole universe and not just one planet.

Red Robin #3

Creative Team
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Ramon Bachs
Colorist: Guy Major

Story – The Grail Part 3

Review
Out of all the Batman: Reborn books out Red Robin has shown itself to be the weak link in the bunch. Yost has not made me invested in the story that Bruce is alive and that Tim is not crazy for believing it. So far Yost hasn't made me believe that Tim is not crazy as he has yet to show the reader that there is one shred of evidence for our protago
nist, Tim, to believe it other than he has a gut feeling. Even in this issue Yost tries to use that it may have to do with when Tim was infected with the Anti-Life Equation that he feels this way which is still not believable.

The Tim I am reading in Red Robin just does not look or read like the Tim Drake that has been written before this series. Tim continues to say that no one is trying to help him other than Ra's but we have seen in these first three issues that Dick, Stephanie, and Cassie are trying to reach out to help him. Tim isn't showing himself to being one of the best detectives around. Instead Tim just comes off as a very crazy and unstable person.

Also what doesn't help Yost story is that the character already went through a similar storyline after Infinite Crisis when he became depressed and reclusive after Connor, and later Bart, died. And with both of his best friends back I don't see why Tim is really pushing everyone one away and only trusting Ra's. If anything Tim just seems like another version of Jason Todd, who also
used the Red Hood name to cross lines that Batman and the Batfamily couldn't cross. Yost really needs to give the reader more than just pure gut feeling by Tim to believe that this is a useless adventure that will only lead the character to become worse.

Issue Rating
Story: 4.7/10 – Yost story does far has been very thin read. He has yet to make me believe that Tim's journey to find Bruce holds any logic to it.

Art: 5.5/10 – The art for this issue doesn't make matters better. Red Robin #3 wasn't a very good looking book as most of Ramon Bach artwork is very inconsistent through the issue.
Overall: 5.1/10 – Red Robin #3 was another weak read. So far out of all the Batman: Reborn titles this has been the weak link in the group.

The Marvels Project #1

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Dave Stewart

Story – The Beginning

Review
When a series has the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting you do not need much to convince me to get the series. The team of Brubaker and Epting has been just money on Captain America. What makes this story of the same team telling the story of the Golden Age characters from Marvel's history is that they have already been exploring some of the Golden Age throughout their run. And just looking at Captain America it
can be said that they have been setting up to tell this story for a while on Captain America.

For a first issue Brubaker and Epting do a good job hooking me into this story. While this first issue was a slow start to this mini-series I really enjoyed the narrative focus on of this issue being told mostly from Thomas Halloway, who is the future Angel. It is an interesting choice made by Brubaker and for this first issue it works as an introduction to the WWII setting of Marvel's Golden Age.

There isn't much to say about this issue other than it was just good solid story telling that sets up the rest of this mini-series. And really that is all this issue was, as it works as a set-up for the rest of the series to introduce all the heroes of Marvel's WWII stories in Captain America, Human Torch, Namor, Angel, and others.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.7/10 –Brubaker used this whole first issue to set-up the rest of this story. He provided plenty of solid dialogue to establish the main players of this mini-series.
Art: 9.2/10 - As always Epting's artwork is very impressive in this issue. He does a great job giving The Marvels Project #1 a very grounded and gritty look that feels like we are going to be in store for a great espionage story.

Overall: 8.45/10 –The Marvels Project #1 was a solid start to the re-telling of Marvel's Golden Age. If you have been enjoying Brubaker and Epting's run on Captain America than this series is definitely worth checking out.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #001

Creative Team
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David LaFuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Story – A World According to Peter Parker

Review
There isn't anywhere else I can start this review for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #001 than by saying that this was another quality issue by Bendis that this series was known for throughout the 133 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. In truth, while this series has been renumbered with a new #1 this issue very much feels like issue #134 of Ultimate Spider-Man.

This issue is everything I expect an Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man penned by Bedis to be like. It has great humor, action, drama and solid character dialogue. It is an interesting dynamic that Bendis gave this issue as Spider-Man is seen as a hero and well liked by New York City but is having trouble with his new job. It is a interesting change from were Ultimate Spider-Man used to be as before the 6 month time skip Peter was actually holding down a solid job at the Daily Bugle and was hated as Spider-Man by the city.

And Bendis does a great job building up Ultimate Mysterio as a credible threat already with the actions he took at the end of the issue. Even though Bendis introduced to the character back in the third annual we never got to really see Ultimate Mysterio as a viable threat. But with the actions the character took in this issue it looks like Peter will be having his hands full in later issues

There were only two complaints I had with this issue. The first is the $3.99 price increase. We aren't getting anymore content than we did when this series was simply called Ultimate Spider-Man. What I recommend Marvel to do to make the price increase not seem as bad is instead of publishing a four Ultimate Comics title is to put back-ups for the Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Men, or other ultimate characters in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man to make up for the price increase.

As for the issue itself I really did not like the new Peter/Gwen relationship Bendis introduced in this issue. It just doesn't feel since Bendis have always shown these two characters to share a brother-sister relationship and the new relationship just feels wrong.

Now as for the art David LaFuente artwork kicked ass in this issue. I loved his artwork for this issue. LaFuente inserts plenty of energy into every scene. The manga/anime style that LaFuente gave this issue does a good job giving this Ultimate Comics Spider-Man a much different look than most comic books Marvel and DC published that is refreshing to see.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.4/10 – Minor complaint aside Bendis provided some great mix of humor, drama, action and character work that this series has been known for.
Art: 9.2/10 – LaFuente provide some great artwork and his manga/anime style gives this series a great look that is different from most comics.
Overall: 9.3/10 – Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #001 was just a great read. Bendis was able to make this issue very reader friendly while still not missing a beat from his run on Ultimate Spider-Man. It is great to see that after going through the horror that was Ultimatum that this title continues to be one of the best titles being published right now.

2 Comments:

Doug said...

When I saw the Peter/Gwen things, I was like...WAIT, wait, wait, WAIT! Is that like a famiy kiss? NO? that's pretty passionate.
I then I got mad at Peter. He just seems dirty now...(I've never liked Ultimate Gwen, she seems boring)
i loved the Kitty/Peter thing, and I can learn to like the Peter/MJ thing..but this is wrong.

Kevin said...

@Doug: Yeah, I had the same reaction. Hopefully Bendis explains the new relationship in the next issue though I don't think I can except the relation as I just find it to be wrong in the Ultimate Universe.