Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Review for 9/30/09

Green Lantern #46

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

Story –

This is what I am talking about. Even though I have probably been the biggest critic of Blackest Night it is not because I don't want to like the event but that it is not up to the quality I expect from the event and of Johns. The story has been slow and pondering on the same position it has been since the first issue. But if this issue is an example of where the event is going it looks
like the series will finally be moving forward for the first time instead of backwards.

So far the tie-ins to Blackest Night have been much better and more effective in telling a more compelling story than the main series itself and Green Lantern #46 was another example of this. I think the thing that is making these tie-ins to Blackest Night better than the main series is that the writers are free to focus on the story than trying to make the stars of the DCU stand out above others, specifically the Black Lanterns JLA. This issue is an example of this as he is able to focus not on only the Black Lanterns and the threat they present to the universe but also on other members of the various Lantern Corps than just Hal Jordan.

And as this issue also shows Hal is an interesting character when he is interacting with characters like Sinestro, Carol, and Indigo-1 who each have their own distinct personalities and
not a similar like Barry has. Johns did a very good job balancing the dialogue between the four characters as each one plays of the other very well. The dialogue was what carried the first half of this issue and kept things moving at a great pace as we entered the main event of this issue.

What was interesting to see is how we already have four of the seven main characters of the Green, Violent, Yellow, and Indigo Lantern Corps members together very quickly. It was stated that one of the other Lantern Corps members is needed to mix their "light" with the Green Lantern "light" to destroy the Black Lanterns and it was fun seeing it being shown with Hal and Carol combining their powers. The next main Lantern Cops member that will probably join the group of Hal, Sinestro, Carol, and Indigo-1 will be Saint Walker. That is if Sinestro stays with the group. It will be interesting to see if Agent Orange and Attrocius will join the ranks since those
are the two that will be hardest to convince that they must join forces to defeat the Black Lanterns.

The best thing about this issue was of course the last half of the issue that gave us the main event fight of Sinestro vs. Mongul. The fight was properly brutal and epic as it has been built up to be in Tomasi's "Emerald Twilight" story arc that happened just before Blackest Night. Even though Mongul dominated most of the fight the fight really showed why Sinestro is a badass character. The way the fight ended was awesome and is another example of why Sinestro has become one of the best and most interesting characters in the DCU.

The only problem I had with this issue is how slow and little attention is being paid to John Stewarts sub-plot that has been running through Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Each issue of GL and GLC for the past few months have only given us a page or two showing us what John is doing and it is getting very boring. Personally with how little attention Johns, Tomasi, and other writers have paid to John this past year he has become the least interesting of the four
Earth Green Lanterns as I haven't found a reason to care what happens to the character.

Doug Mahnke's artwork was again spectacular. He gives this issue the big event feel that Ivan Reis is giving the main series. The fight between Sinestro and Mongul was the highlight of the issue and Mahnke perfectly captured how epic the fight between two titans was. The only problem I had with the art is the inkers by committee this issue had. There were a few panels that had some inconsistent art.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.4/10 – Johns does a great job with all the dialogue in this issue and I hope we get more quality dialogue and storytelling like we got in this issue in the main series that Johns just has not provided.
Art: 8.7/10 – A few minor inconsistencies aside Mahnke's artwork was phenomenal. Mahnke's artwork did a nice job helping Johns dialogue by carrying the last half of the issue with the big fight we were given.
Overall: 9.1/10 – Green Lantern #46 was a great read. This is how Blackest Night should be written. We got some great dialogue and artwork that moved the overall story forward more than the main series has so far. Hopefully Johns carries this quality storytelling ability to the main series.

Teen Titans #75

Creative Team
Writer: Felicia D. Henderson (main story); Sean McKeever (back-up)
Artist: Joe Bennett (main story); Yildiray Cinar (back-up)
Inker: Jack Jadson (main story); Julio Ferreira (back-up)
Colorist: Rod Reis

Story – Wyld Thing

After a great arc by Bryan Q. Miller we get yet another writer change for Teen Titans. Even though McKeever was on this title for a while before Miller and now Felicia D. Henderson came onto this title, Teen Titans has had a problem with major inconsistencies with the stability of the team. And I think that was one of the best things about Miller's story arc as it felt that we finally had a permanent Teen Titans team.

For her part Henderson did a nice job carrying what Miller started. This is Henderson's first comic book writing job with having previously only written for TV shows Fringe, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters and other shows. While she does not blow me away with her writing in this issue she definitely showed potential for growth as she transitions to being a comic book writer.

Henderson did some nice writing with the team chemistry as we see Aquagirl and Bombshell's antagonistic relationship, Blue Beetle and Static showing themselves to be the stand outs of the team, and what looks like Miss Martian having a new crush. There were moments where the dialogue wasn't very good but overall Henderson has a nice handle of each member of the team. The best writing Henderson provided was for Blue Beetle and Static as both continue to grow as their own characters with Blue Beetle especially standing out in this issue with the lecture he gave to Beast Boy at the end of the main story.

The problem Henderson faced in this issue was with re-visiting the Raven being controlled by her father or some demon. This storyline is old and has been told before and it feels like every time Raven appears this is the way a writer introduces the character to a title. Though the one part of this story I did like was Joe Bennett's artwork as he was able to flex his muscle with some crazy things to draw.

Also I did not like how Beast Boy was written. If Henderson is trying to convince the reader that he is the new leader of this team she needs to portray him as a much more confident individual, which he showed a few times in the issue. Beast Boy came off as an immature school girl with how he acted anytime someone said something about Raven.

The Ravager back-up for this issue was probably the best we have gotten so far. McKeever showed why Ravager is a badass character. While I am not sure what this will do for the overall character.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.2/10 – While Henderson did not blow me away with the dialogue it definitely showed potential. The only problem I had with her writing was how she wrote Beast Boy.
Art: 7.6/10 – Bennett provided some solid artwork with the best being the dinosaur, tiger, gorilla, bull, hawk, and wolf hybrid monster.
Overall: 7.4/10 – Teen Titans #75 was another solid issue with the new creative showing some potential on this title. The only problem this story arc faces is it feeling "been there, done that" with Raven being possessed for the hundredth time.

Wolverine: Weapon X #5

Creative Team
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Jason Keith

Story – The Adamantium Men Part 5 of 5

After the last issue giving us one of the most entertaining Wolverine issues we have gotten in a long time it was hard to see how Aaron and Garney would top what they did. And the truth is that this issue doesn't reach that level which is a bit disappointing.

Even though this has been an action centered story arc this issue disappointed as it felt like the Aaron tried too hard to finish the story quickly. I would have much rather preferred it if we saw more action with Wolverine and Maverick fighting the rest of the Adamantium Men. The way Wolverine took them out with a helicopter felt to quick and not up to the standard set before it.

What I did like about this issue is that Aaron continued some strong characterization of Wolverine and giving us a strong supporting cast for the character that aren't just the X-Men. Wolverine does come off the badass he should always be and the one person you do not want to piss off. While I didn't like that the story was ended to quickly after thinking about it I did like how Wolverine took the methodical approach to take out the people after him instead of risking certain death in a fight that he probably would have lost.

Also this approach he took was made better because Aaron took Wolverine's healing factor back to basics. His healing factor has become ridiculous over the years with how fast it is as he has become almost invincible. And I like that with his fight in the last issue Aaron showed Wolverine's healing factor does have a limit again. Hopefully this limit is used more as Wolverine gets involved in bigger fights in this series.

The ending was very good as it set-up future plotlines with Maverick and Wolverine going against Norman Osborn. Aaron wrote a great Norman Osborn and it would be interesting to see Wolverine go up against him and the Dark Avengers which we might get in the Dark Reign: The List –Wolverine which is also written by Aaron.

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10 – Though Aaron does not reach the level he did with the story from the last issue his characterization of Wolverine was again very strong which made up for the lack of action.
Art: 8/10 – Garney's wasn't given much action to draw in this issue but it was still some solid artwork. His artwork is a great fit for this title.
Overall: 8/10 – Wolverine: Weapon X #5 was another solid read. This title feels like the old school Wolverine stories we used to get. Aaron and Garney have brought back the character to being the awesome and less convoluted character he once was. I definitely recommend any Wolverine fan and fans of action oriented titles to pick up Wolverine: Weapon X.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Previewing the Week’s Releases: 9/28/09 – 10/4/09

Amazing Spider-Man #607 – I first issue of this two part story with the Black Cat was great. I can't wait to see were Joe Kelly takes the Spider-Man/Black Cat relationship and how MJ's reaction to the big kiss will be handled.

Blackest Night: Titans #2 The first issue of this three part mini-series surprised me with how food it was. The first issue had some nice old Teen Titans nostalgia for me and it should be interesting to see what other dead Teen Titans come back as Black Lanterns since there are hundreds of them.

Green Lantern #46 I haven't been the biggest fan of Geoff Johns work on Blackest Night so far but I did enjoy the last issue of Green Lantern. This issue is suppose to add the Mongul subplot along with what is going on with Sinestro and Carol so this should be an interesting issue.

Teen Titans #75 I liked the last story arc of this title but I am not sure about how well Felicia Henderson will do on this title since she has only co-writing credits on TV shows. But hey she may be a hidden talent DC has found, which they desperately need.

Wolverine: Weapon X #5 This has quickly become one of my favorite titles. This is how a Wolverine title should be writer. Aaron and Garney are doing an excellent job on this title and this final part to the Adamantium Men should a fun conclusion

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Jeph Loeb's work on Superman/Batman was the last work of his that I enjoyed and Public Enemies was his best arc on the title. It should be fun to see how DC Animation adapts this story arc that was honestly built to be an animated feature. DC Animation has done a good job so far with their animated movies so far so this should be another fun movie by them.

Video Games
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days I love the Kingdom Hearts franchise. And I just recently finished playing Re: Chain of Memories for PS2 and it was a great game. This time around we are going to see the story being told from Roxas, Sora's nobody, point of view and what he did in his time with Organization XII. I am interested to learn more of Roxas backstory of his days in Organization XIII since it felt underdeveloped in KH 2. And it will be interesting to see how Square Enix works around the limitations of the DS game cards as this series has been known for some great graphics and music to go along with the story.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 9/23/09

I will be posting Amazing Spider-Man #606 and Guardians of the Galaxy #18 reviews over at Rokk's Comic Book Revolution later this week were so be sure to catch them there. Onto this week's reviews.

Fantastic Four #571

Creative Team
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Paul Mounts

Story – Solve Everything Part 2

I love the first issue of Hickman and Eaglesham's run on the Fantastic Four and this issue continues the momentum from the first issue as they combine to deliver another fantastic (pun slightly intended) issue. One of the things many writers have forgotten about the Fantastic Four is that they aren't a typical superhero team. This team is more about the grand adventures the group has in locations that can only be seen in a reader's imagination. And many writers have forgotten this Fantastic Four has not been the same since Waid and Wieringo's run on this title. But Hickman and Eaglesham are able to tap into this aspect of the Fantastic Four and show why when done right this is one of the most fun comics on the market.

What I love about what Hickman is doing is that he is exploring more of what makes Reed Richard's tick as we see him deal with the decision of leaving his family to join The Council to help all universes or stay in his universe with his family. For a man like Reed that likes to be able to solve all the world's problems this is one of the hardest decisions he can make since he wants to
help make all worlds a better place but at his heart is a family man. And it was great to see the exploration of these ideas especially all of Reed's conversations with his other versions from the other universes. Hickman allows his imagination run wild in these scenes which is great to see as it is something not normally done anymore by comic book writers.

Also I really enjoyed how Hickman broke down the relationship between Reed and Susan. Out of all the couples in comics this is the strongest relationship we have. Hickman does a nice job showing that no matter what Reed and Susan know each other better than anyone else so they know when something is off with the other one. The conversation the two have in this issue makes Reed's choice even more interesting as we see how conflicted Reed really is without him telling Susan everything.

I also did enjoy the scene between Johnny and Franklin. I love that Hickman continues the sub-plot that Dan Slott set-up in the Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series by showing Franklin as a fan of Spider-Man which pisses his Uncle Johnny off. The banter between the two was spot on and injects some much needed comedy to a very high concept issue.

Eaglesham's artwork in this issue was phenomenal. It was even better than his work on the first issue he did on this series. Though I wish Eaglesham would tone down the muscular look he is giving the 616 Reed there is no doubt his artwork is phenomenal. I love how Eaglesham portrays the different Reeds and all the different worlds. His artwork does a wonderful job bringing Hickman's story to life.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.1/10 – Hickman again delivers a strong issue. He has a great understanding what
makes each character in this title great especially Reed.
Art: 9.7/10 – Eaglesham's artwork is great yet again. He does an excellent job bringing Hickman's wild story to life.
Overall: 9.4/10 – Fantastic Four #571 was another phenomenal read. This title is quickly becoming one of the best comics on the market. If you haven't read these first two issues of Hickman and Eaglesham's run I highly recommend picking them up as you will not want to miss out on what should be a awesome run.

Nova #29

Creative Team
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Kevin Sharpe
Inker: Nelson Pereira
Colorist: Bruno Hang

Story – Starstalker

Since the beginning of this series Nova has been one of the most consistently entertaining comics I get each month and this issue is no different. DnA continue to do a great job developing Richard Rider as a A-list superhero who no matter the situation is able to handle everything that comes with being Nova Prime.

What is fun to see is how Richard interacts with the new Nova Corps members as everyone in the new corps are still rookies. Even though the group he takes with him on the mission to
survey the aftermath of War of Kings have some experience they are still rookies to the Nova powers. And it is great to see Richard being shown to be a great leader as he continues to have the aura that has earned him the respect of those around him.

And I like that we are seeing Robbie becoming much more mature and trusting with what his brother has to do. At first Robbie was a very annoying character who I thought would die in the last story arc but now I am starting to like the character. It is nice to see him tell the other Nova Corp members in the control to trust that Richard knows what he is doing.

I liked the ending of this issue as it came to a surprise with how quickly everything happened. It is clear DnA have a wealth of stories to tell spinning out of War of Kings and this issue is a perfect example of some of the great ideas they have in store for Marvel's cosmic characters heading into Realm of Kings.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.5/10 – DnA continue to make this a fun read as they have a strong grasp of all the characters involved in the story.
Art: 7.8/10 – Kevin Sharpe's artwork did a very good job with the cosmic environment for the story. The only thing keeping the art from being great is some minor inconsistencies.
Overall: 8.15/10 – Nova #29 was another fun read. With everything that has happened with War of Kings and the aftermath of the event this is a great time to jump onto Nova, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy, as the stories are only going to get better.

Superman: Secret Origins #1

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Story – Book One: The Boy of Steel

Originally I was not going to pick up this mini-series but after being convinced by my LCS to read it I must say I am glad I picked it up. Just as the work Johns and Frank's did in the Brainiac arc last year the team combined to tell a great Superman story.

Before I continue I will say that this issue, and most likely the entire series, does not add anything to Superman's origin. The truth is Superman's origin isn't anything new and an origin that does not need to be retold. Superman's origin is one of the simplest origins in comics and is the one most fans and the general public knows.

The good thing is that this is the only weakness of this issue. Johns does a solid job telling Clark's origin and presenting it in a very intriguing way that both Superman fans and non Superman fans, like me, to enjoy this mini-series. The greatest complement I can pay to this issue is that it very much feels like what Bendis and Bagley did with Spider-Man's origin in Ultimate Spider-Man. And the truth is after reading this issue I wouldn't mind it if after this mini-series Johns and DC Entertainment somehow used this to launch their own Ultimate Universe. Something like this is very much needed to get new readers into the DCU just like the Ultimate Universe did to re-invigorate the Marvel 616-Universe.

What also helped to make this a great read is that at no time does Johns try to make it feel like this is the first time the reader is reading Superman's origin. Instead he is just trying to make Superman's origin fit in with what has happened in today's world, like Ultimate Spider-Man did to Peter's origin. This is not the campy version of Clark's origin instead we see a Clark who is vulnerable and yet to have the confidence he has in the current DCU as Superman one of the greatest heroes ever.

And even though he does have these amazing powers this issue grounds Clark's origin much more and makes him much more relatable than the God like figure he becomes in the future. What helped this story more was Clark's interaction with Lana. It is fun seeing Clark's early relationship with Lana before Lois ever came into the picture and both characters have some nice chemistry.

The same goes for the interaction between Clark and Lex though for different reason. It is interesting to see the two meet and how they don't even know what the future holds with one another and how their lives will be in the future.

What really sold me with this series though is Gary Frank's artwork. His artwork in this issue is just plain phenomenal. He does a great job with all of the various emotional expressions of the characters in this issue. I also love the Clark vs. the Tornado where we see Clark save Lana in his first time using his super flight.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.2/10 – Johns does a very good job retelling Superman's origin and grounding the character as he is still a confused teenager trying to figure out who he is.
Art: 9/10 – Frank's artwork is phenomenal. Frank is my favorite Superman artist. This is how a Superman book should look like.
Overall: 8.6/10 – Superman: Secret Origins #1 was a great read. Johns and Frank combine to tell a fun story about what Clark was like before becoming Superman. Even though I am not a fan of Superman Johns and Frank have me very interested in reading the history of the character. I highly recommend picking up this mini-series even if you are not a Superman fan.

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNiven
Inkers: Dexter Vines and Mark Morales
Colorist: Morry Hollowell

Story – Old Man Logan: Conclusion

After a long delay the conclusion of "Old Man Logan" is here and what an ending it was. Even with all the delays this was well worth the ending that we got here. Millar and McNiven combined to give us a kick-ass ending.

The only negative this issue has other than the long delay is the $4.99 price tag Marvel placed on this issue. But that is more about what Marvel did as this supposed Giant-Size issue didn't have many good extras since the extras was basically a collection of all the covers for this story arc and some sketches. They were very lame extras for the price this issue had and would have preferred it if the whole page count was more of a continuation of Wolverine vs. Hulk since the fights seemed shorter than it should have been.

With that out of the way I must say I enjoyed the hell out of this issue. This was just a spectacular ending to this epic story Millar has been telling. What I liked that Millar did most in this issue is that he kept all the dialogue to the minimum. He knew that he had to let McNiven tell the story with his artwork. And man no one tells a story like McNiven. His artwork is just phenomenal and just an example why it is worth the wait to let a great artist to take his time with the artwork. McNiven is one of the only artist in the industry I am willing to wait to get an issue/series with his artwork as his artwork is just phenomenal with how much detail he puts in his art.

As for the story Millar told in this issue I like that he decided to end the story with Wolverine vs. Hulk. Even though the story of both these characters fighting one another has been told before I must say this is the best fight I have seen the two participate in. The fighting was just brutal and seeing Wolverine kill each member of Hulk's incest created family was incredible and not for the squeamish. It was fantastic thing to see as it is not something seen in comics often. It showed us the Wolverine that is the best at what he does and not the PC version of the character we have often gotten lately in the X-titles and New Avengers.

I also like that Millar had Hulk be the one responsible to bring back the Wolverine side of Logan. Wolverine's origin will forever be tied with the Hulk as he made his first appearance back Incredible Hulk #180. And having Logan take the last surviving member of Hulk's family to raise for himself brings everything full circles as we see one of his greatest enemies baby and turn him into a force for good to fight side by side with.

And much credit to Millar for the ending. While the whole riding into the sunset is a bit of a cliché it is one of the harder endings for a writer to pull of successfully. But Millar pulls it off as Logan sets of to bring the law back to a lawless country. Hopefully if Marvel ever comes back to the Old Man Logan world it is Millar and McNiven as the creative team for the sequel as it would be hard for any creative team to follow-up what has been done with this world they created.

Issue Rating
Story: 10/10 – Millar does a great job with all the dialogue and it is great to see a writer know when to allow an artist to tell the story. Millar did a fantastic job giving us the best fight between Wolverine and Hulk we have ever had.
Art: 10/10 – McNiven's artwork was just breathtaking. His artwork brings the story to life and no one does epic stories like McNiven.
Overall: 10/10 – Wolverine: Old Man Logan #1 was a phenomenal read. I love the world Millar and McNiven has created as being very rich and detailed. I highly recommend picking up this story when it comes out in hardcover next month.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Previewing the Week’s Releases: 9/21/09 – 9/27/09

Amazing Spider-Man #606 So far this title has been on a role and has not disappointed me any time I have picked up the series in the past six months. But really the big reason to pick up this comic and story arc is because of Black Cat's return and the fantastic J. Scott Campbell covers we are getting.

Fantastic Four #571 The first issue of Hickman and Eaglesham was fantastic. It feels like this series is finally returning to the glory it once had which is great for Fantastic Four fans like myself.

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 This series continues to be one of Marvel's best series and the last issue's ending with Adam Magnus making an appearance was awesome. Can't wait to see where DnA take this new development.

Nova #29 Just like GotG this is one of Marvel's best series and a title everyone should be reading. The last issue finally established the Nova Corps again and now we will see how Richard
and the Nova Corps deal with the War of Kings aftermath.

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size #1 Been waiting for the finally of the "Old Man Logan" story and finally it is here. This is the comic I am most looking forward to and I can't wait to read what Miller and McNiven have in store for the end of this arc.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 – This was a very underrated show that was hurt by constantly changing time slots especially in its second and final season. It is too bad we aren't going to get another season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles but at least we got the box set to look back on to see how good the series was in its short life and think what might have happened if it continued.

Surrogates Originally I was not going to watch this movie but after reading the trade paperback that this movie is based on I have become interested in this new Bruce Willis film. Still unsure if I am going to watch it but definitely recommend picking up the TPB as it was a good read.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 9/16/09

I already reviewed Batman and Robin #4 over at Rokk's Comic Book Revolution so be sure to read so check out my review. Now time for the rest of this week's review.

Amazing Spider-Man #606

Creative Team
Writer: Fred Van Lente (Story 1 and 2); Brian Reed (story 3)
Artists: Javier Pulido (Story 1); Luke Ross (Story 2); Yanick Paquentte (Story 3)
Inkers: Rick Magyar (Story 2); Mark Framer (Story 3)
Colorists: Javier Rodriguez (Story 1); Rob Schwager (Story 2); Nathan Fairbairn (Story 3)

Stories – The Girl (Story 1); Models Stink (Story 2); Match.Con (Story 3)

If I were to sum up Amazing Spider-Man #606 in a few words it would be that this is just another solid issue of Amazing Spider-Man. I know that a lot of Spider-Man fans were turned off by the whole One More Day and Brand New Day thing, but I am here to say that it is time to forgive Marvel for those two storylines and return to this title. Amazing Spider-Man has really returned to the form it once was back when I first started reading this title as it continues to turn in one good read after another. I would even say that for the past 6 months I have not read one issue of this series that I did not like.

This issue was a nice epilogue to what Fred Van Lente did with The Red Headed Stranger. Van Lente tied up some loose ends with this issue, mainly Peter's relationship with Michele, in the second story which was a nice story of Peter trying to ignore Michele the entire time. I will say
that when Peter revealed that it was Chameleon, who was impersonating Peter at the time, that Michele actually made out with was very funny. And it was interesting that Van Lente left the relationship open between the two so that they may end up going out later on.

Also while the Raptor story in this issue was interesting I will say I am going to pass on the "Who is Ben Reilly?" arc that is going to happen after the Black Cat arc since I am not too interested in revisiting the Clone Saga again. And this is one of the nice things about this series right now as I am sure that I can skip this story and pick it up again for the Deadpool one-shot story and The Gauntlet.

The first story also did a nice job with answering some of the questions of what happened between Peter and MJ and what lead to them breaking up. I am glad that the Van Lente showed it wasn't simply the deal Mephesto that broke them up but that it was Peter continuing his life as Spider-Man that was the cause of them breaking up. By doing this it helps make the break up between the two more grounded and realistic as it is belivable that MJ would be frustrated by keeping Peter's secret of being Spider-Man and unable to deal with the constant worry of Peter's disappearances.

Also I liked that MJ got have a heroic moment in this issue as she showed she wasn't just some damsel in distress and was the one to save her then boyfriend. It was cool how Van Lente parallel MJ keeping Peter's secret with her boyfriend asking to keep his addiction to MGH a secret from the cops which lead her to breaking up with him.

The final story was my favorite out of the three. Brian Reed, in his first job as part of the Spider-Man Brain Trust, did a fantastic job mixing some great drama, comedy, and action in this series. And it actually was not an easy thing to do since the final story was yet another story about Peter and Harry's friendship and them trying to get some dates which has been told plenty of times the past year.

What made the story stand out was that it was more of a Peter Parker story than a Spider-Man one as the Spider-Man part of the story played a small part and used to inject some action into the story. It was great seeing Peter luck not working for him as he struggles to get a girlfriend, which nicely parallels his break-up with Michele. Also this nicely sets-up Black Cat's return as she is sure to cause even more trouble in Peter's love life.

Also I got to give Javier Pulido, Luke Ross, Yanick Paquentte for each providing some great artwork for each story. Javier Pulido had a nice Marcos Martin look to his artwork while Luke Ross art felt similar Phil Jimenez Spider-Man artwork. Though the stand out of the three is Paquentte who provide some of the best artwork I have seen from him. It was just great and kudos for all the great artwork the three provided.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.5/10 – Van Lente and Reed did a great job with the writing for their stories. The writing was a great mix of the drama, comedy, and action you expect from an Amazing Spider-Man issue.
Art: 8.8/10 – Pulido, Ross, and Paquentte all provide some great artwork that fit the feel of each story. Hopefully each one of these artist are given an Amazing Spider-Man arc in the future as they are a great fit for this series.
Overall: 8.65/10 – Amazing Spider-Man #606 was another solid read. If you have yet to give Amazing Spider-Man a try I highly recommend picking up this series up as this series has been solid for the past six or so months.

Batgirl #2

Creative Team
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Lee Garbett
Inkers: Trevor Scott and Sandra Hope
Colorist: Guy Major

Story – Batgirl Rising: Point of New Origin Part Two

Just like Red Robin I want to like this series. But unlike Red Robin this Batgirl is not a badly written series. Bryan Q. Miller has a good handle of all the characters involved especially Stephanie. The problem with this series is that the story is just average and it doesn't feel like much is going to happen other than Stephanie becoming and being accepted as the new Batgirl.

Even though Miller tries to show that Stephanie can carry her own series I just don't think Stephanie is that type of characters as she is more of a supporting character than a star of a series. Miller did do a good job trying to give Steph a supporting cast but so far none of them seem to be characters that will stick around.

Also I didn't like that Steph went in not asking any questions after her friend was given spiked punch. Instead Steph just took out her torn up Batgirl costume and took out the guy she thought was the one who drugged her friend without any serious backing to prove he was the person. Instead we see that she was completely wrong and it was Scarecrow who provided the drug. Steph needs to develop more detective skills as she is seriously lacking in that department.

The thing I did like about this issue was Steph and Barbara's conversations throughout the issue
. I am starting to like the idea that Barbara has to mentor Steph even though she may not want to risk the life of another teenager. It puts Barbara in an interesting parallel to Dick's current situation with Damian as they both have to mentor someone who does not want to be mentored. I hope that as the series progresses Barbara starts letting people in as this whole distancing herself from people can get annoying, that is if I stay on this title long enough to see it. ;)

Issue Rating
Story: 6.3/10 – Miller provided some solid dialogue but it was nothing that convinced me of the longevity of this series.
Art: 6.7/10 – Lee Garnett provided some good artwork, though it was inconsistent in certain points of the issue.
Overall: 6.5/10 – Batgirl #2 was an average read. While fans of Batgirl and Stephanie specifically will enjoy this issue I am not sure this series has enough to draw in your casual fan yet.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #4

Creative Team
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: John Kalisz

Story – Business

Paul Dini is really showing to be one of the best Batman writers as he has made Streets of Gotham the best out of all the Batman books currently published. Which is what makes it sad that Chris Yost will be filling in with the writing duties in the next issue as it feels like it kills the momentum of this series. But thankfully Dini will be back in December.

As for this issue this was my favorite comic book of the week. Dini continues to show that Batman does not have to be around the whole issue to make a Batman issue interesting. Like Morrison pointed out in this week's Batman and Robin Gotham City is a living, breathing city were something is always happening somewhere in the city. And Dini does a great job exploring this issue as he gives focus to Hush, The Great White Shark, Zsasz, and a new character in The Broker.

Even though Dick did not appear until the end of the issue as Batman it made his appearance in the issue feel more special and keeps to the whole keeping in the shadows thing Batman has going. It was great seeing Batman at the end of the issue to beat the snot out of The Broker to make him know that Batman knows what he is up to. Very good scene to show that Dick is becoming adopting more of the aggressive ways of doing things like Bruce used to do while also making him a different Batman than Bruce was.

All the villain scenes in this issue were great and I especially loved Hush part of the story with the Creeper watching him. They had a great interaction with one another. The only thing I wished was that we got to see Zsasz vision again.

The only real weak part of this issue was the Manhunter back-up. After the last back-up showed that the story had promise I thought this one was just average. I am still hopeful this back-up
will get better.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – Paul Dini gave us another excellent issue of Streets of Gotham. Dini does a great job showing the challenges Dick faces now that he is Batman.
Art: 8.2/10 – While I am not a big fan of Dustin Nguyen I have to say he did do a very good job with the main story of this issue. His art did a nice job fleshing out this issue that was mostly a talking heads issue.
Overall: 8.6/10 - Batman: Streets of Gotham #4 was another phenomenal read in what is the best Batman title on the market. If you have yet to pick up this series I recommend picking up this initial arc on trade paperback.

Captain America: Reborn #3

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice
Colorist: Paul Mounts

Story – Reborn part 3

This is the first issue in this mini-series that I actually enjoyed. The first two issue have been okay but they have never been up to the quality that an Ed Brubaker written Captain America. While this issue wasn't at that level yet is was still a fun issue.

What made this issue better than the first two is that was the first time were I felt for Steve and his predicament. I am actually starting to wonder what Steve will do once he reaches the point when he is arrested and is taken to court. It will be an interesting choice that Steve will have to make most likely in the next issue.

Also I really liked everything that happened with Bucky in this issue. They were some nice scenes. I especially liked how Ant-Man got involved. And with the ending things should get interesting for Steve and Bucky.

What made this a good issue was how Brubaker explored some of the major events in Captain America's life during his life as part of the Avengers. What made these scenes great was Bryan Hitch's artwork which was the best it has been in this series. It was just phenomenal artwork that we got in this issue. This issue makes me hope that whenever Marvel has their next big event that they consider Hitch to be the artist as he provided some great artwork for the big Avengers events.

Credit also has to go to Butch Guice who helped give this issue a similar grounded look that Captain America has had throughout Brubaker's run. This issue makes me hope that whenever Marvel has their next big event that they consider Hitch to be the artist as he provided some great artwork for the big Avengers events.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.3/10 – While still having some rough moments Brubaker delivered a much better read in this issue. All the dialogue was really solid in this issue.
Art: 9.5/10 – Hitch and Guice combined to deliver some incredible artwork in this issue. They are giving this mini-series a big event feel to it even though Marvel is saying it isn't.
Overall: 8.4/10 – Captain America: Reborn #3 was a very good issue as the story begins to move and sets things up for the final two issues to be great.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1

Creative Team
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Steve Kurth
Inker: Jeff Huet
Colorist: Guru eFX

Story – Ultimate Armor Wars Part 1

Just as Warren Ellis showed in the Extremis storyline a few years ago he writes a great Tony Stark. And with everything going on with the 616 version of the character it is great to read the Tony I have been reading since I was kid. This is the Tony that is most interesting. I just don't know why 616 Tony can't be like Ultimate Tony because this is the version of the character everyone should be reading.

Now this first issue of the newest Ultimate Comics series, though just a mini-series, was mostly a set-up issue. But Ellis does a fantastic job setting up all the pieces for the story to make this mini-series a fun action packed series. What I liked most about this issue is how Ellis gives this series feel like I am reading a big budget movie and is almost Bond-esque in how it is set-up. We meet the love interest, an enemy is quickly shown, an important artifact is stolen and our hero will save the day while having a drinking martini.

Steve Kurth provides some great artwork in this issue and he makes this feel like an Iron Man book as he does a great job drawing all the tech and the various characters involved in this series. And with this being the first time I see Kurth's artwork he really impressed me with how well he drew everything and am wondering why I've never seen his artwork before. Also credit to his inker and colorist Jeff Huet and Guru eFX, respectively, for giving his artwork a nice clean look to it.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.6/10 – Ellis did a fantastic job setting up the pieces for his story. He writes one of the best Tony Starks around and he really nails the character in this series.
Art: 8.8/10 – Kurth did a great job on the artwork for this issue as he gives this mini-series a big blockbuster feel to it.
Overall: 8.7/10 – Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 was a great read. I highly recommend picking this four issue mini-series up as it looks to be a highly entertaining mini-series. Now if only Invincible Iron Man could be this good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Super Hero Squad Show Episode 1 and 2 Review

Instead of reviewing the episodes separately I will be reviewing these first two together to get an overall impression of the show.

Ep. 1 "And Lo? A Pilot Shall Come" and Ep. 2 "To Err is Superhuman!"

I finally got a chance to watch The Super Hero Squad Show and I have to say that the show is a highly entertaining show. Even though this is a show aimed at kids there is plenty for long time fans of the characters.

The main characters for this series on the heroes side are Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, Hulk, and Wolverine. And for the villain side of things Doctor Doom along with MODOK and
Abomination round up the cast. Also this show will have guest heroes and villains in every episode.

The thing that impressed me the most is the star studded cast the creators of this show have. The voice cast stars: Tom Kenny (Spongebob), Charlie Adler (Transformers 1 and 2), Steve Blum (Wolverine and the X-Men, Hulk vs.), and Grey DeLisle (Fairly Oddparents and The Replacements). Also the guest voice cast includes: Wayne Knight (Seinfeld), LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl, 17 Again, Buffy), Greg Grunberg (Heroes), Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 300), Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), Tricia Helfer (Battle Galatica), Jennifer Morrison (House), Tamera Mowry (Twiches and Sister, Sister), Robert Englund (Nightmare on elm Street films), and Stan Lee as the Mayor of Super Hero City.

My favorite choice out of the voice cast is Steve Blum who is currently the voice of Wolverine. It is just funny hearing him voice a light hearted version of the character. Everyone of Wolverine's line in this episode where great mix of the tough gruff sound he would usually have but in a much lighter voice.

Now before people start complaining that this is the first sign of Marvel being Disneyfied this show has been in production for about a year. Also this new cartoon is based on the Marvel Superhero Squad toyline Marvel and Hasbro created two years ago. So if you think this show is a sign of things to come from Disney acquiring Marvel. Don't, this is a Marvel Animated Studios show produced before that happened.

Back to the first two episodes of this new show I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of this show. Did this cartoon have some lame jokes? Yes. But it is the type of comedy that isn't aimed at adult fans but at kids and fans who still have that little kid in them. And you know even though I know I should have laughed at the jokes in these two episodes.

What I loved the most of these two episodes is the campy boy scout version of Captain America. He had some great lines in these episodes and I especially liked his line about the president calling. It was just a great line.

Also what I love about the style of this show is the chibi characters we get as extras in anime collections. These characters aren't kid versions of themselves but instead are just chibi versions. And the animators do a fantastic job using the anime influence and having all of the action in this series being fast paced. And as a fan of those shorts I liked the choice to embrace the anime nature of this show as it makes this show stand out from all the other comic book cartoons we have had.

Overall I thought these were two very good episodes. If you have a kid I highly recommend watching this show with them and even if you don't I say you should watch it anyways and allow the little kid inside of you come out and enjoy this show. The only complaint I have is that Spider-Man looks like he going to be left out the first season of the show. But with Marvel cutting a new deal with Sony have the rights to use all things related to Spider-Man on TV back I expect we will be seeing Spider-Man in the second season.

Episodes Rating – 8.6 out of 10

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blackest Night #3 Review

I'll have the rest of this week's reviews done on the weekend but I thought I would do a single post for the latest issue of Blackest Night.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Oclair Albert and Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story – Blackest Night Chapter 3

While I understand why some people may think I don't want to like Blackest Night because of what I said in my review for the previous issue the truth is I really want to like this event. This is an event I have looked forward to since reading Sinestro Corps War, which was my first exposure to the Green Lantern franchise outside of the JLA. Geoff Johns did a very good job building up this event and making the Green Lantern mythos one of the most interesting parts of the DC Universe. But I think that is where the biggest problem Johns faces with this series.

Johns has been building up to this event not just for a few months or a year but since the start of Green Lantern: Rebirth which makes this event five years in the making. With such a long build up Johns has built such a great cast with not only the Green Lantern Corps but also all the Lantern Corps he has introduced in his run. But now that the event is finally here he is largely ignoring the great cast he has built up in favor of two of the blandest personalities in the DCU in Hal Jordan and Barry Allen.

Now I am not going to say that Hal and Barry are uninteresting characters but it is more that I am just tired of seeing these two together. Between the Flash: Rebirth, Blackest Night 1-3, and Green Lantern #44 these two continue to have the same conversation and I have become disinterested in their conversations since they all run the same lines of "Why am I back? There has to be a reason. Is this the reason?"

Yes there is more to their conversations but this is the bare bones of their conversations. Having these conversation and beating the reader over the head with it is just bad writing when you take into account this event does not affect only these two characters but the whole universe. When Hal was about to leave the battle field to save his ex-girlfriend that he has not been together with for years and we had Barry talk some sense into Hal I really did not care and just wanted to flip the page as it is just the same drawn out conversation we have heard before between the two.

The other problem with not just this issue but the series in general is that I still do not have a good sense by just reading this event that the Black Lantern threat truly has universal ramifications. Johns has purely focused on what is happening on Earth with a few panels dedicated to everywhere else in the universe. I would have understood this move if Johns made the focus of the Black Lanterns attack on Earth because it was going to become the planet for the Black Lanterns, since later issues say the Earth is evacuated, but that is not the case as we already saw the Black Lanterns have their own planet somewhere else in the universe. So really there is not much of a reason why Earth should dominate 99% of these three issues since there is not much reason for why Earth is more important than say Oa or one of the other Lantern Corps planets since they are needed to defeat the Black Lanterns.

The only interesting part of this issue is that the Indigo Lanterns finally made their appearance. The Indigo Lanterns appearance is really what save this issue as we finally get answers of who the Black Lanterns are and what is needed to defeat them. And just like many people thought, myself included, it is the White Light that is the combination of all the Lantern Corps power that is able to wipe out the Black Lanterns. Maybe that is to simple but when I heard that White Light explanation I could not help but think of this from my childhood. Still I hope that with the appearance of the Indigo Lanterns we will get to see more of the universal impact of the Black Lanterns appearance that just being told they are a big threat since this is a comic book after all and it is as much a visual form as it is the writing.

Also I did think it was cool to see that Ray (The Atom) felt compassion throughout the issue even when he was almost killed. It was a cool thing to add to the character and I kind of hope that we see him become an Indigo Lantern.

Now going back to the problem this issue faced I found myself again caring less and less about all the action of that was going on. As someone who is not familiar with Firestorm I can say I did not care about Jason's scenes with his girlfriend as it was incredibly predictable that she was going to die since that is all Johns has done in these three issues (i.e. Hawkman and Hawkgirls death in issue #1 and Tempest death in issue #2).

And that was this issue in a nut shell since everything that happened in this issue is like we are just going around in circles in terms of story progression. I can honestly say that we have seen more story progression in the tie-ins to Blackest Night than we have in this series. And this reminds me of a series that just came out not to long ago. What was it called again? Oh yeah: Secret Invasion.

While I know some people may not see it that way but Blackest Night is turning out to be DC's version of Secret Invasion. Almost nothing is happening in the main series and if a reader wants to get a good sense of what is going on and how big of a threat the Black Lanterns are Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are doing a much better job at this.

I really wish Johns would stop focusing on characters that he seems to be forcing us to like such as Mera, Firestorm, and Barry Allen and let us see the characters that are truly interesting and will play a big role in stopping the Black Lanterns such as Sinestro, Carol Ferris, Attrocius, Saint Walker and so on. Now maybe I am underestimating Mera, Barry, and the other non-Lantern Corps members involved in the series but sadly other than them seeming to be Johns pet characters I don't see them playing a huge role in stopping the Black Lanterns other than Hal since he seems to be the "chosen one."

Now even though I have mostly complained about the story of this issue and series I will say the biggest positive for this series has been Ivan Reis gorgeous artwork. Reis artwork in this issue, like it has been in this series, is just incredible. Along with his inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado and colorist Alex Sinclair the artwork is really what is saving this series from being worse, which it could be. Reis artwork throughout the issue does a great job making the issue feels like there is some true suspense even though many of the things that happen in the issue were predictable.

Issue Rating
Story: 4/10 – The story for this issue was saved from being a complete loss because Johns finally introduced the Indigo Lanterns. Johns really needs to pick up things up and move on from taking a methodical approach to the series since this event has had five years of build up.
Art: 9.6/10 – Reis artwork was phenomenal. It is really what saved this issue from being a complete loss.
Overall: 6.8/10 – Blackest Night #3 was another disappoint read. While I can see why many fans are enjoying this event Johns story has yet to click with me. So far this is nothing more that Secret Invasion Power Ranger style with the different color Lanterns. I am still hopeful that Johns can turn things around with the next issue but I am starting to doubt he can.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Previewing the Week’s Releases for 9/14/09 – 9/20/09

Amazing Spider-Man #605 For the past few months Amazing Spider-Man has been turning in one solid arc after another. The Red Headed Stranger was an above average arc. Fred Van Lente did a solid job with his first arc on this title. Though this is supposed to be an epilogue issue to The Red Headed Stranger but we already got an epilogue at the end of the last issue. Should be interesting what happens in this issue especially with Black Cat around the corner.

Batgirl #2 The first issue with Stephanie as the new Batgirl was an okay start. I'm still not sold that Stephanie can carry her own ongoing series and if this series belongs on my permanent pull list. But I am willing to see if Bryan Q. Miller can prove me wrong and turn in a good second issue.

Batman and Robin #4Morrison has been doing a fantastic job with Batman and Robin so far. This is the most fun
I have had with reading a Morrison penned series. I'm interested to see what Morrison has in store for Batman and Robin with the Red Hood making an appearance.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #4This has been the best out of all the Batman titles. Dini has been doing a fantastic job with this series. Though I'm sad that he will hand over the writing duties to Chris Yost for the next arc I am glad that he is returning in the arc after that, as Matt Ampersand
from Weekly Crisis reported. Looking forward to seeing how Dini ends this Zsaz and Hush arc and if Hush actually believes Dick will go through with his threat from last issue.

Blackest Night #3 –
I have been one of the biggest critics of Geoff Johns work on Blackest Night, much to the hate of everyone who is loving this series. While I don't want to give too much away from my review for Green Lantern Corps #40, which should be up tomorrow, I do want to say that I am already sick off the Black Lantern Corps. At this point I have seen more than enough of the Black Lantern Corps but hopefully Johns can work his magic on this third issue and make me start to like this book.

Captain America: Reborn #3 This has been one strange mini-series involving the return of Steve Rogers. Brubaker is using a lot of sci-fi elements to bring back the character which goes against the more grounded approach this series has been known for. I am hopeful that Brubaker can recover with issue and turn in a quality read.

Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil #1 Originally I was only going to get the Spider-Man and Wolverine issue of Dark Reign: The List but after Daredevil #500 I decided to give this one-shot a try as it suppose to serve as a continuation of Matt being the leader of The Hand. I'm interest to learn what Andy Diggle has in store for Daredevil with the new status quo for the character Brubaker has left him.

Invincible Iron Man #18 The last issue of Invincible Iron Man was very disappointing. As an Iron Man fan I am still optimistic that Fraction can turn in a good end to this arc. Hopefully we see these final two parts turns up the action as these past few issues have been lacking any sort of action.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 Warren Ellis + Iron Man = More money for Marvel from me. Ellis is always money when it comes to writing Iron Man. And I have enjoyed most of Ellis work so I sure to love this mini-series involving Ultimate Iron Man.

Dragon Ball: Season One While this anime has sort of become a joke within anime fans, specifically DBZ and DBGT, I will admit that Dragon Ball is the series that introduced me to the world of anime and manga. While I did not like the later parts of DBZ I really enjoyed the original Dragon Ball were we followed a young Goku around in his search, along with Bulma and others, for the Dragon Balls. While I would like to get this box set right away I will probably wait a while till I get some more money to buy it. Still if you are a Dragon Ball fan this is a DVD you should pick up.

The Big Bang Theory: Season Two The Big Bang Theory is one of my favorite shows on TV. This is just an awesome TV show. If you haven't given it a try then do yourselves a favor and pick this show up as it is hilarious nerd comedy.

X-Men: Volume 3 and 4While Spider-Man and Batman were the first comic book characters I was exposed to it is the X-Men that started my fanaticism with comics and made me go to the comic shop every week. And the reason for that is the 90s cartoon of the X-Men. For me this was my favorite cartoon as a kid because it had so many interesting characters
that I could relate to. This series captured everything that was great about the X-Men and made me want to hunt down every issue of the X-Men, along with Spider-Man and Batman comics, that I could find as I wanted to learn more about these characters. These two DVDs are a must for any fan of this series and the X-Men in general. Personally, I'm looking forward to watching the "Dark Phoenix Saga" again as it was one of my favorite episodes of the series.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine This first movie of Wolverine was a good action summer blockbuster. But nothing more. For the most part this movie while centered around Wolverine was mostly used as a catalyst to start a bunch of X-Men related movies. Will probably get it since I already have the first three X-Men movies. Damn me and my completist nature.

The Informant I've always like Matt Damon's movie and this new movie looks like it could be a good one. It should be interesting to see Matt Damon in a comedy role as he has done a lot more series action roles than comedic ones.

Video Games
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 I enjoyed the first Ultimate Alliance game. I am unsure about this second one though. It looks like it could be a fun game with all the Fusion abilities to play around with but I will probably rent it before buying it just to see how it is.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 9/10/09

Sorry for my lack of updates the past few weeks. I have been getting back into school mode as my summer ended three weeks ago. But now that I am back to getting my school work load in order I should be updating my blog more often. Though my reviews will probably start coming out on Fridays or Saturdays with the Legen—wait for it—dary Comic Book Highlights going back to being posted on the Wednesday after the comics are released. I will try to post them sooner but don't hold me to that. Also be sure to catch my reviews over on Rokk's Comic Book Revolution like my Batman #690 and Invincible Iron #17 reviews from this past week. Now time to get on to this week's comic book reviews.

Amazing Spider-Man #604

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

Story – Red-Headed Stranger: The Ancient Gallery

While this storyline isn't as good as the previous two stories we have gotten on Amazing Spider-Man with American Son and Amazing Spider-Man #600 this was still a very entertaining Spider-Man stories. It is stories like Red-Headed Stranger why even though how much I hate how Marvel executed the "reboot" to Spider-Man with One More Day/Brand New Day I have accepted the new status quo. This is just a fun Spider-Man story that we probably wouldn't have gotten if Marvel didn't have the balls to change things up with their biggest character.

What I like about this issue is all of the character work Van Lente did in this issue. And it is really a credit to Van Lente's writing in this arc that I was looking forward more to Peter's reaction to what Chameleon did to his personal life last issue than the big superhero vs. supervillain fight. Even though I did want to see Spider-Man take Chameleon I am glad we didn't get it as Van Lente has made Chameleon, a very underrated villain, cool again and the truth is the conclusion of Chameleon's plan wasn't the greatest.

And it is great that Spider-Man did not catch Chameleon and that the character will be appearing in the near future as part of The Gauntlet. It helps build interest for the next big Spider-Man story following American Son. As we saw in the preview of things to come for the next half year to year in Amazing Spider-Man one of the things we know is that some of Spider-Man's villains will be hunting down Spider-Man and/or themselves. This small build up helps to show that even though there is a rotating team of writers that the Spider-Man Brain Trust does have long term plans for the character and his supporting cast.

I loved how Peter discovered all the things Chameleon did to his life while Chameleon took his identity. I thought it was hilarious seeing Peter think how he should hire Chameleon to be him more often only to learn he is now in a relationship with Michelle. Peter's reaction, along with what he said to Michelle when entering his apartment and what she was wearing, was very funny.

Also I like that we finally got the "big" conversation between Peter and MJ. Van Lente did a very good job with the execution of the first conversation between the two. I like that Van Lente didn't go all melodramatic on us with the two finally meeting and showed us that these two are in much better terms than we originally thought and that MJ does in fact know Peter is Spider-Man. Though I did get the feeling the reason they aren't together is because of Peter spending too much time as Spider-Man. Just a feeling.

The only thing I didn't dig to much was Harry moving in to Aunt May's house. After everything that has happened to Harry the past year I would have liked to see Van Lente use the opportunity of Harry being at such a low point to take him off the table to give more attention to the rest of the supporting cast. I am just kind of bored of the character and I really don't want to see more of Harry's problem with alcohol and drugs which has been hinted at because of what happened in American Son.

As for Barry Kitson's artwork, I did enjoy most of his artwork for this issue. Kitson style is a very good fit for a character like Spider-Man. The only thing about his artwork for this issue was that there were some inconsistencies in a few panels, but that is the only negative to his artwork.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.6/10 – With some solid character work and nice action Fred Van Lente did a very good job in his first arc on this title.
Art: 8/10 – Minor inconsistencies aside Barry Kitson did a fine job with the artwork in this issue.
Overall: 8.3/10 – The Red Headed Stranger ends with a very solid issue. This is a fun Spider-Man story that takes the character and his supporting cast back to basics with the story having an old school Spider-Man story feel to it. I recommend picking this up for any Spider-Man looking for a fun Spider-Man story.

Blackest Night: Batman #2

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Nei Ruffino

Story – Who Burns Who

I really enjoyed the first issue of this three issue mini-series. Peter Tomasi just knocked it out of the park with the first issue of Blackest Night: Batman. Which would be surprising in the hands of any other writer trying to tie-in all of the street level characters that encompasses the Batman universe but this is Tomasi and he just understands this universe especially Dick Grayson.

This issue continued were Tomasi left of in the last issue and it was just a blast to read. Tomasi has a great understanding of these characters. I love how he shows that Dick, along with the rest of the Batcharacters, is still adjusting to his new role and just how much Dick has to juggle in the beginning of his career as Batman. With having to deal with Hush impersonating Bruce, a new Black Mask trying a mass takeover the gangs in Gotham, Two-Face, and Red Hood the addition of him having to deal with the Black Lanterns only adds to the pressures of the mountain of problems he has had to deal with.

And what I liked about it is that even with the knowledge of all the dead rising from the dead and knowing his parents would be members of the Black Lanterns, Dick was able to push through it and only think of what his, Damian, and Tim's next move should be. This helps to show that Dick is even in the face of all the problems he has to deal with is showing us that he is not crumbling under all of the problems he has to face and is the right person to take the mantle of the Batman. A good example of this is the difference in reaction between Dick and Tim when they each saw their parents. For Tim he became completely stunned at seeing his parents while Dick was only worried about what they should do next and decided to crash the Batplane in order to escape being killed by the Black Lantern Drakes and Graysons.

I also liked how Tomasi wrote Dick's relationship with Damian and how he is still learning things about his new protégé. Damian has shown to be a handful as Robin for Dick. And I like that slowly Damian is slowly showing respect to Dick since before he only showed respect to his father and would careless about anyone else's opinions.

The only thing I hope that we get in the final issue is to get Deadman involved more in it. As he showed in this issue and the first Deadman is a nice source of comedy for what is a very dark story involving the Black Lanterns. Hopefully we see more of him and more information of why his body did rise from the grave even though his soul is not a part of his Black Lantern counterpart.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.4/10 – Tomasi knocks it out of the park again. He does a very good job integrating Batman's world into Blackest Night.
Art: 8.7/10 – Adrian Syaf does a solid job with the artwork as he gives this issue the creepy vibe that Blackest Night has had with all the dead rising from the grave. The dark look of his artwork, much credit to his inker and colorist, to go along with what is going on in the story.
Overall: 9.05/10 – Blackest Night: Batman #2 was another great read. So far I have been enjoying all of the tie-in work much more than the actual series so far. And this issue is just a fun read as we see Batman go up against zombie versions of dead characters from all of Batman's history.

Red Robin #4

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

Story – The Grail: Conclusion

The most frustrating thing about reading Red Robin is that series really does have a lot of potential to be a very good comic book. I really do want to like this series as I grew up with Tim being Robin and really like the character, though Dick Grayson is my favorite Robin. But sadly the execution of the story from both a writing and artistic perspective is just horrible. And this fourth issue of the series is the same as the previous three.

While I have been asking for an answer to why Tim thinks Bruce is alive the way Yost chooses to make Tim's feelings right is just sloppy storytelling that you can read from a fanfiction. Instead of showing us different clues and/or hints to why Tim feels that Bruce is alive we go straight to the caves we saw Bruce drawing the Batsymbol on. Even though as a reader we know that Bruce is the one that drew them we are never told why Tim believes it is Bruce and not just some random drawing. And if we are suppose to believe that Tim is the great detective he has shown himself to be than just one drawing should be the only thing he discovers to confirm his feeling for Bruce being alive.

Also it does not help that Tim went through a similar thing when Connor and Bart died. All of this having Tim dealing with his grief in the wrong way is just getting old. It has been such a long time since we have seen more of the character that was supposed to be the next Batman that the Tim we are getting now is a shell of himself. And how he continues to push people away, as shown by his confrontation with Dick in this issue, is very boring and Tim almost becomes unlikable with how paranoid he is with thinking that Dick, Stephanie, Cassie, the JLA, and everyone he knew are against him. I really hope all of this leads to something that will be positive development with the character other than Tim going to everyone and basically saying "You all thought I was crazy? Who is the crazy one now?"

And all the flashbacks just kill any momentum we may get in the issue. I will say that I did like moments like Dick and Tim's confrontation and the final few pages with a new villain but they did not carry much impact as the flashbacks kill all of these moments. The constant shifts in the past and present is done horribly and very amateurish.

Issue Rating
Story: 4.1/10 – Yost does a very sloppy job with the storytelling in this issue. Yost isn't moving the plot much and the revelation in this issue felt very forced
Art: 5/10 – Ramon Bachs artwork continues to be very inconsistent and rushed. His artwork only makes this issue story even more dull than the writing was already making this to series to be.
Overall: 4.55/10 – Red Robin #4was another disappointing read. All of the constant flashbacks give the story a very uneven read. Even the revelation of Tim finding a clue to Bruce being alive is horribly done. Hopefully this improves in the next issue as I do want to like this series.

The Marvels Project #2

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

Story – Chapter Two

As I said in my previews for this issue the first issue was not a great read but it did a nice job capturing my interest in this mini-series. The main problem with the last issue was a very slow and methodical approach Brubaker took with the issue was a bit boring. And even though this second issue does carry the same slow and methodical approach Brubaker usually takes with his books this was a very enjoyable issue with a lot of depth.

I think one of the greatest things about this mini-series is that it feels like an organic story that has grown from Brubaker and Epting's run on Captain America. Even though I know how this story will turn out in the end it is funny learning more about the history of the Marvel Universe in comic book form. It was one of the fun things about Captain America as Brubaker and Eptings as they showed us some of the past history of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. And here we are learning much more about those flashback scenes and learning more about the characters that shaped the current Marvel Universe with the original Angel and Human Torch, Nick Fury, and Dr. Ersktine.

What makes this story a much more layered read is that it has a real world feel with the setting being in WWII. The use of historical figures along with the Marvel characters is very well done and does not feel forced like it sometimes does when Marvel tries to use real world examples in their books.

Steve Eptings artwork adds much more to this story. No one draws dark and gritty stories like Epting as he perfectly captures the mood of the time with his artwork. Epting's artwork also makes him a perfect fit for this series and makes this story much more importance as it connects to the story being told in Captain America and Captain America: Reborn.

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10 – Brubaker methodical approach to this series makes this a very textured read as he develops characters that I never knew much about like the original Angel and Human Torch into very interesting characters along with long time characters like Nick Fury.
Art: 9/10 – Eptings artwork continues to be phenomenal as his style is a perfect fit for this mini-series.
Overall: 8.5/10 – The Marvels Project was a very good issue that has me hooked to see what Brubaker and Eptings have in store for this story, while predictable in the ending. Though if you have not picked up these first two issues I recommend getting this mini-series when it comes out in trade paperback as it will read even better in TPB form.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #2

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inkers: Danny Miki, Dexter Vines, Crime Lab Studios, Martinez and Olazaba, and Chism
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Story – The Next Generation Part 2 of 6

Just like the first issue Ultimate Comics Avengers #2 was just a blast to read. Even though I can question if the price jump to $3.99 as being the right thing to do especially since Marvel does not increase the page count Millar just knows how to make the reader feel they got their money's worth. Just like his Ultimates 1 and 2 this series is just some high-octane action/adventure blockbuster movie that gives you characters to love.

Millar does an awesome job balancing quality character work with some great action. The best of his character work is with Captain America. He does a fantastic job showing that this is not the 616 version of the character as he has a much more take no shit attitude than his 616-counterpart. This Cap is much more of an badass as he does what he thinks is right and does not allow anyone get in his way. And I like how Millar shows that Cap is constantly learning and that he truly is one of the most dangerous person in the world.

Also Millar does a great job with his characterization of Nick Fury and Hawkeye. Both these characters are very well written and remind me why these characters were so awesome during his run on Ultimates. And I love the addition of Tony's older brother, who isn't as nice as his younger brother, and a new Black Widow. It will be interesting to learn more about these new characters and how Nick will use them in his Project: Avengers.

Maybe the best character work by Millar in this issue is Ultimate Red Skull. He just does a fantastic job wasting no time showing us the origin of the character and makes him into a badass villain and a viable threat for Cap and the rest of the Avengers to face. And I am glad that Ultimate Red Skull is Steve's son who is a mercenary for hire than just a Nazi villain. It is a nice change to the character to breathe new life into the character. I look forward to seeing more of the character and seeing how the father vs. son angle goes down between Cap and Red Skull.

Carlos Pachico artwork is fantastic in this issue though his artwork suffers from having an inker by committee that gives the issue a bit of an inconsistent look. But just as a fan of Pachico I am glad to see Marvel properly use Pacheco and not just let him do a bunch of covers like he was in DC. When given the opportunity Pacheco is one of the best out there and it is great to see him get some high profile work to show why he is so great.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.8/10 – Millar does a fantastic job with all of the character work in this issue and I am glad that Miller wasted no time in telling us the origin of the Ultimate Red Skull.
Art: 7.6/10 – Carlos Pachico does a fine job with the artwork for this issue though his artwork does suffer from having an inker by committee set-up in this issue.
Overall: 8.2/10 – Ultimate Comics Avengers #2 was just a blast to read. Millar and Pacheco combine to deliver a comic that has a big blockbuster movie type feel that will not disappoint in how much you should enjoy it. If you can spare the $3.99 price tag this series has I definitely recommend picking this issue and series up.