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.