Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 8/26/09

Batman and Robin #3

Creative Team
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quietly
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story – Batman Reborn Part 3: Mommy Made of Nails

After a short delay we finally get the final chapter to Morrison and Quietly's first story arc of Batman and Robin. Batman and Robin #3 was a fun read. These are the type of stories that I expect from Morrison.

No other writer in Marvel or DC does high concepts like Morrison. Even though his stories tend to be a hit or miss his work in these first three issue are a nice reminder why Morrison is so highly praised for his off the wall ideas and storytelling. This issue is dark, funny, disturbing (mostly coming from Pyg's over the top bad guy personality) and sweat all in one.

Morrison does a great job with Dick and Damian's dynamic not being the typical Batman and Robin dynamic we are used to. These are two very different characters who see their roles as very different. For Dick he sees that in being Batman he needs to balance out the dark persona he has to show to the bad guys with some of the sense of humor he had as Robin and Nightwing or he will turn into a clone of Bruce. As for Damian we see him take the role of Robin more seriously than previous Robin's as he acts more darker and brooding since he sees Robin as a stepping
stone to becoming Batman. This leads to an interesting dynamic as Morrison shows that it is Batman who has to try and show Robin the lighter side of things than the other way around.

Also I like that Morrison is continue the storyline from his Batman RIP story with the new Batman and Robin taking down Le Bossu. Even though I have admitted to not being the biggest Batman RIP fan I am interested to see Morrison continue his Black Glove storyline as he didn't really finish it yet.

And what really helps Morrison's story is Quietly's artwork as it is just plain phenomenal. Quietly's artwork in this issue is something you won't find in any other comic as his style is very distinct with a great balance between the dark and humorous moments. Though it is to bad Quietly can't continue to be the ongoing artist in this series as Phillip Tan steps in next issue to take over the art duties. Good thing is he will return for what is said to be the Joker arc later in this series.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.3/10 – Morrison continues to tell a deep read that is very enjoyable to read. I like how he writes the new dynamic between Dick and Damian.
Art: 9/10 – As with the previous issues Quietly's artwork here is phenomenal. Quietly does a very good job being able to tell a story with his artwork alone.
Overall: 9.15/10 – Batman and Robin #3 was a spectacular read and a good way to cap off the first story arc of this title and begin the second arc. I am looking forward to seeing what Morrison has in store for the new Dynamic Duo with a new duo stepping on their turf.

Blackest Night Titans #1

Creative Team

Writer: J.T Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Inkers: Rob Hunter, Jon Sibal, and JP Mayer
Colorist: Hi-Fi Design
Story – When Death Comes Knocking

Yep you read it right I picked up Blackest Night: Titans #1. As seen with my previews for this week I did not have this issue on my list of comics to get but when I went to my LCS and flipped through this issue I liked what I saw and decided to get it. And I got to say I am surprised that this was actually a good read. While it is not as good as the Blackest Night: Batman issue this was still a solid addition to Blackest Night and another case for the tie-ins to the event being better than the main book.

With all the characters involved in Blackest Night the Teen Titans is one group that it actually feels like they need to have a mini-series to tie into Blackest Night. They have had the most losses in their team members out of all the teams running around in the DC Universe. J.T. Krul definitely did a great job showing the rich Teen Titan history, both good and bad. His characterization of all the various Teen Titans members, past and present, were spot on.

Ed Benes excellent artwork helped Krul's story immensely in this issue. While Benes does overdue it with the model like poses of the female characters I liked how much emotion he brought into this issue through his artwork alone. The characters were all well designed and Benes was ab
le to capure the dark part of the story while not going overboard with making the issue feel too dark that it takes away from the story.

I especially liked how Krul wro
te Starfire and Beast Boy with each one providing an argument for Terra being considered either a villain or hero. I have always liked the Beast Boy and Terra relationship and it is nice to see a writer address the relationship. With Terra being back as a Black Lantern it should provide Beast Boy and Geo-Force, who had a non-speaking cameo in this issue, with plenty of drama as they are sure to be the center of this mini-series.

The other main part of this story involving Hawk and Dove was just as interesting. As we saw in Blackest Night #2 the original Hawk was revived as a Black Lantern while Dove was not. And in this issue we got another clue to why Dove is not brought back with the current Dove having a white aura that is unreadable. After thinking about this for a bit I am starting to think that this white aura that Dove had and the reason the original Dove was not brought back is not because of their heroic acts being unselfish but that they are characters in full control of their emotions from the time they were alive and when they died. And it would make sense that white would stand for serenity since that is what Dove stands for and it will be interesting how this concept affects what happens in the main series.

Though I do have one problem with this issue and that is that there is way too much going on. With the original Hawk's, Terra, Lillith, Donna's husband and son it seems that Krul is going to be juggling a lot as we will most likely see other dead Titan related characters return like the original Ravager and the recently deceased Kid/Red Devil. Krul is going to have to pick and choose which characters to return as Black Lanterns because if he doesn't this three issue mini-series may be dealing with the problem Geoff Johns is having in the main Blackest Night series with too many characters to juggle.

Issue Rating
Story: 7
.5/10 – J.T. Krul impressed me with his storytelling abilities. His strong character work in this issue was what sold me two pick up the rest of this mini-series.
Art: 8.2/10 – Ed Benes provided plenty of his solid artwork and he did an especially good job with giving plenty of emotion to this issue through his artwork.
Overall: 7.85/10 – Blackest Night: Titans #1 was a solid read and even though I was not originally going to pick up this mini-series Krul and Benes combined to tell a very good Blackest Night story that I will read the rest of this three issue mini-series.

The Flash: Rebirth #4

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Brian Miller

Story – Flash Facts

Another Geoff Johns book released this week that showed signs of improvement and some actual plot progression. Unlike this week's issue of Green Lantern though we didn't get much development until the last half of the issue as the first part of the issue felt more like a recap
than an actual story. Though for his part Johns writing in this issue is the strongest it has been this whole mini-series.

While Barry still came off as having a one note personality what helped make this issue better than previous three is that Johns was able to balance the Barry scenes with scenes that involved the whole Flash family. And that has really been one of the biggest problems facing this mini-series, as well as Blackest Night. While this issue still has that "Barry is the greatest" theme going it is good to see that Johns did not forget that Wally was the one that took the Speed Force to the level it is at right now since he did things with the Speed Force no one before him did.

Also I liked that the characters weren't just mopping around like they have been for three issues and actually did something about the strange actions of the Speed Force. That is definitely one thing that made Professor Zoom's appearance even better as he was his appearance made the story move forward and had the heroes act like heroes, yeah I know weird concept right.

And the dramatic moment when Zoom appeared in Wally's house where his kids and Linda were was great as I was on the edge of my seat since I did not know if Johns would actually kill Wally's family in order to show Zoom is the badass he says he is. I glad Wally's family did not die as killing a main character's family members has become too much of a cliché in comics now in order to darken up the character(s). For the first time in this series I was actually rooting, in my head of course, for the heroes when Bart and Jay showed up to save Wally's kids as it was great to see them save their (extended) family.

I also liked the parallels Johns used with having both Wally and Barry run towards one another without the other knowing how close they were to one another. Along with the Zoom battle going
on this made the issue tenser and dramatic as both characters were thinking of what makes them get out of the Speed Force's is their loved ones. And it was great that it was Barry that helped Max find his lighting rod to get out of the Speed Force since it was the first time Barry did not act like a sad and depressed loner and showed a sign of hope.

With that said there were aspects of this issue that really keep it from being a home run. The first thing is that I
don't really like or understand the concept of Barry being the Speed Force. While it puts Barry above all the other Speedsters it makes the Speed Force an overly complicated concept that can become over convoluted. Because since all the Speedsters basically derive their powers from Barry does that mean how fast they can run depends on how powerful Barry is at that time? Also if Barry is the Speed Force were exactly does Barry get his powers? Does Barry's power level depend on his emotional state similar to how the Lantern power rings work? Or is it something else? While it is interesting if mishandled Johns can turn the Speed Force into a very convoluted power source.

The other thing I did not like about this issue is that the first half of the issue felt more like a recap than actually moving the story forward. A lot of Zoom's and Barry's dialogue at the beginning felt forced and unnecessary. And all of the dialogue made the first part of this issue boring that I almost stopped reading the issue halfway through because of Johns overuse of the dialogue.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.5/10 – Johns finally stepped up his game in this issue. While he still had some of the same problems from the previous issues this was a much better executed story than previously
Art: 9.2/10 – Ethan Van Sciver's art is as strong as it has always been. Sciver's art has really been the strength of this series and this was some of his best work as he finally was able to draw
some action that turned out great to look at.
Overall: 8.35/10 – Flash: Rebirth #4 was the strongest of this mini-series and is what saved this series from being classified as one of the worse stories of the year. Hopefully Geoff Johns can carry the momentum from this issue into the last two issue of this mini-series.

Green Lantern #45

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Maghnke
Inkers: Christian Alamy, Doug Mahnke, and Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Randy Mayor

Story – Love Hurts

I have been one of the biggest critics to Geoff Johns recent work especially what he has been doing with Blackest Night. It is not that I am don't want to like Johns work, specifically Blackest Night, but just like Bendis and Brubaker in Marvel I hold Johns work at a higher standard than all other DC writers. Johns has done such a fantastic job for the past few years to get me into reading other DC books other than the Batman titles that the past few months of his work on Green Lantern and Blackest Night have just not been at the level I expect from him.

But finally in the fourth Blackest Night related issue that Johns has written we get an actual story that is not a bunch of senseless action scenes with deaths that I could care less about. While there wasn't much plot progression in the overall story being told in Blackest Night what Johns
was able to do in this issue is finally makes this event feel like it has universe ramifications and not just another event that affects Earth and its heroes. This is really the first issue where I felt that the threat of the Black Lanterns is really a danger to the whole universe especially since there is a war that is spanning across the universe making the Black Lanterns arrival even less unwelcome to all the characters involved.

Also I am going to say this knowing I may piss of fans of these two characters but I believe the reason I liked this iss
ue more than the two Blackest Night issues and the other Green Lantern tie-in issue Johns wrote is because Hal and Barry weren't in it. While I like those two characters they aren't characters who have very dull personalities and when they are together they are even more dull which is what has hurt Blackest Night so far. Which is why this issue stands out as we get a bunch of different characters interact with one another with each having their own distinct personalities. If Johns wants to make me enjoy the main series more he needs to mix in characters like Sinestro, Attrocius, Gathet, Carol, and all of the different Lantern Corps along with presenting the War of Light to give the story more balance.

I also liked how Johns introduced the Black Lantern homeworld in this issue as a living planet just like Mogo. While this wasn't a big part of this issue it was a nice introduction at the beginning of the issue a good way to introduce more of to the Black Lanterns than just that they are characters risen from the dead. It should be interesting to see how Johns takes this plot line that he should pick up on in the main series.

As I said before the best thing about this issue was the involvement of the various characters that Johns has developed over the year. The stand outs of this issue were Sinestro and Carol. I have never seen these two fight before and their fight and back and forth dialogue was very
interesting. These are two characters that have a long history with Hal and it is an interesting argument they each share with their views of what roles they and all the other Lantern Corps have in the War of Light. Also it was interesting seeing that one of Sinestro's greatest love was Abin Sur's sister and makes me wonder if she is Soranik's mother or if it is another person.

And the interaction
of this character as well as all the various battles going on made the reveal of Abin Sur and the rest of the Black Lanterns rising across the universe more dramatic. With the constant hectic battles going on the appearance of the Black Lanterns should pose as an interesting challenge for all the Lantern Corps since they were in the middle of the War of Light and now they may have to put the war on the back burner to fight the Black Lanterns. The best of the Black Lantern attacks was when they went to where Larfleeze is and his reaction to the Black Lantern rings appearing in front of him.

Also I like that the Indigo Lanterns were mentioned as being the most mysterious of the Lantern Corps since they are the only ones yet to make an official appearance along with the other Lantern Corps. This adds more mystery to the Indigo Lanterns as we still do not know what position they will take in the War of Light and the battle against the Black Lanterns as well as the powers the Indigo rings have.

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10 – Johns does a very good job balancing the War of Light along with the threat presented by the appearance of the Black Lanterns that Blackest Night finally feels like the big event that has been advertised.
Art: 9/10 – Doug Mahnke art is incredible in this issue. Mahnke gives the War of Light and the Black Lantern reveal the big epic feel that Ivan Reis has given the main series.
Overall: 8.5/10 – Green Lantern #45 was a big step up from the first three issues of Blackest Night related comics that Geoff Johns has written. With this issue I am finally excited to see what happens next in the event as Johns has built a solid foundation to pick up on in Blackest Night #3.

Guardians of the Galaxy #17

Creative Team
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Inkers: Victoy Blazaba and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Jay David Ramos

Story – Adam Magnus

After a weak issue last month Guardians of the Galaxy returns to form with this issue that deals with the aftermath of War of Kings. With everything that went on in War of Kings DnA do an excellent job continuing the story as this issue is a natural progression of what went on in the event.

What is great about this issue, and all of DnA's work on Marvel's cosmic universe, is that this is a team that embraces having a large cast in their titles. Team books seems to be the hardest type of titles writers to write in the modern era of comics as they it is hard for them to juggle a cast of 7 to 10 main characters. Which is why I love this series and this issue as we do not only get the Guardians of the Galaxy but also the Inhumans play a big role in the issue as well.

And as always the thing that puts this issue above most books is the strong character work DnA do with the two teams involved in the story. Even characters like Phyla, who is the only character in this series that I have not liked, was well written as she could be seen as the antagonist of this issue with her confrontations with Medusa, what she did to Warlock, and her fight with Gamora.

While I had to make a quick trip to Wikipedia to understand the ending with the alternate future stuff with Adam Warlock I thought it was a cool twist DnA threw in at the end of the issue. With
the appearance of Adam Magnus along with what is happening in the aftermath of War of Kings the Marvel cosmic universe looks to get a lot more chaotic which translates to being fun for us.

Also I can't do a review of Guardians of the Galaxy without mentioning how awesome one of my favorite comic book characters was in this issue. Rocket Raccoon was as awesome as he always is and I loved his interaction with the Inhumans specifically Crystal as they talk about Maximus and Groot. And I loved how Maximus basically says the Groot doesn't say "I am Groot" but is actually talking but we are to dumb to understand him as he is a higher lifeform than us.

As for the artwork this was some of Brad Walkers strongest work to date. Walker is really a hit or miss artist on this title with how inconsistent his art is from issue to issue. But here Walker does a great job making this issue have an epic feel in the aftermath of War of Kings. Though he still had some inconsistencies in his art when it came to some character faces which I overlook because of the great action and ending he illustrated.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.7/10 – DnA continue to make Guardians of the Galaxy a blast to read and their strong characterization of the GOTG and Inhumans in the aftermath of War of Kings was great.
Art: 8/10 – This was some of Walkers best work thus far. He did a really great job with everything going on in this issue with only a few minor inconsistencies. Hopefully he can carry this quality into the next issue.
Overall: 8.35/10 – Guardians of the Galaxy #17 was a great read. With what happened at the end of this issue and all the problems falling out of War of Kings the Marvel cosmic universe
continues to get more and more interesting and fun.

Teen Titans #74

Creative Team
Writers: Bryan Q. Miller (main story); Sean McKeever (back-up story)
Artist: Joe Bennett (main story); Yildiray Cinar (back-up story)
Inkers: Jack Jadnson (main story); Julio Ferreira (back-up story)
Colorists: Rod Reis (main and back-up stories)

Story – Child's Play Part 3:….We All Fall Down (main story); Fresh Hell Part 3 (back-up story)

Bryan Q. Miller has been doing a great job with this story arc and this final issue did a great job finishing up this fill in story arc. And this arc was one of the strongest story arcs this series has had since Johns work before Infinite Crisis. For the first time the Teen Titans felt like the Teen Titans as they worked well as a team and not as a bunch of individuals trying to work together.

As has been the case with the first two parts of this story arc were Miller excelled at in this issue is his strong characterization of the members on the team. The only character I still do not like is Bombshell, but of course I have never liked the character in the first place so it did not hurt this issue. All the members of the team were given great moments to show off their power levels and how close they became.

This was especially shown with the death of Eddie/Red Devil. While I never liked Eddie it was great to see Miller give the character a heroic moment to die in and not just some lame death that characters of his level in the Teen Titans usually gets. It is the first time that I felt the character was a hero and I like that in his death the team came closer together as they realize the risks they take as an official team.

The Fearsome Five came off as a very strong and competent challenge for the Teen Titans to face. Miller did a very good job building up the members of the villainous group to be the threat they once were to the original team. I hope that we see this group again as there are plenty of story possibilities with this team of villains. And the ending with the Calculator makes it look like this story isn't over with yet and we will see him and the Fearsome Five again.

And the back-up by Sean McKeever was much stronger in this issue than the previous installments. Even Yildiray Cinar art was stronger in this issue. I love seeing finally kick some ass and hopefully this is a sign the back-up to Teen Titans is actually going somewhere.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – Miller did a fantastic job with this filler arc. His strong characterization in this arc will make it tough for Felicia Henderson follow Miller's short run. Also McKeever's back-up story was very well written than the previous installments.
Art: 8/10 – Bennett and Cinar's artwork in the main and back-up stories, respectively, was well done and did a very good job carrying the action packed issue from both the stories in the issue.
Overall: 8.5/10 – Teen Titans #74 was a great read. This was definitely a step-up from the stories we were getting in this series from the past year or so. Henderson has some hard shoes to fill after this arc by Miller.


Markus said...

I definitely enjoyed Batman and Robin #3. I agree with Damian being more serious but in addition, I'd say this is also the most arrogant Robin I know. Haha! Its really interesting to see how far could Dick be patient with him.

Kevin said...

@Markus: And that is what sets Damian apart and stand out among the three former Robins. He is definitely one of the test Dick has to face as Batman.