Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 10/7/09

Batman Annual #27

Creative Team
Writer: Fabian Nicieza; Derek Fridolfs; Mandy McMurray
Artists: J. Calafiore; Dustin Nguyen; Kelley Jones
Inker: Mark McKenna
Colorists: Nathan Eyring; Michelle Madsen

Story – The Eighth Deadly Sin; Off Rogue Racing; Darker than Blood

It has been a while since the Batman Annuals have delivered. These annuals haven't been completely horrible they have been forgettable stories. And this annual is no different.

I am going to admit that I have never been a big fan of Azrael. Just something about the character has never clicked with me and I don't really care about his return. While Fabian Nicieza tries his best to make the character interesting I just don't see his return as a big deal and still unusure if this new Azrael can carry the series.

What I did like about the story is Nicieza continuing the development of Dick and Damian's relationship as he builds upon what Morrison, Dini, and Winnick have been doing with the new Batman and Robin. This was actually the first time we see the two go on an undercover mission together and Dick teaching Damian some detective skills. It was good that Nicieza picked up on the development of the new dynamic duo as we see Damian slowly growing respect for Dick.

Also it is interesting to see the different approach Dick has with his willingly working with the
Gotham City Police Department which is the opposite approach Bruce used to take in his undercover mission. It continues to show that while we have been seeing Dick adopt a much darker and direct approach in his transformation to fully adopt his new role as Batman he still has much more people skills and is willing to work with others to catch the bad guy.

Now the real reason to get this issue, for me anyway, is the Lil'Gotham back-up story. While it was only one spread page Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen it was still a very fun little, pun intended, story that could be a fun mini-series by the two. The race between Batman and all his villains had a very funny ending and I can't wait to see more of this concept.

Also I was surprised that I did end up enjoying the second back-up that involving Barbara solving a case with a mysterious killer. The story was something I was expecting from The Oracle: The Cure mini-series as it does more of an effective job using Barbara's skills and showing how she is just as capable by herself as when she working with others.

Issue Rating
Story: 7/10 – While the stories individually weren't that great put together this is was a nice collection of three stories with each writer doing a nice job developing the two part story.
Art: 7.4/10 – The art for this issue was average with Dustin Nguyen artwork for the Lil'Gotham story as being the stand out with its unique style.
Overall: 7.2/10 – Batman Annual #27 was a good issue to start this two part story that will conclude in Detective Comics Annual next week. While the main story involving Azrael didn't really interest me in getting the new ongoing series involving the character I did like seeing the
development of the new dynamic duo and the Lil'Gotham story in this issue that made this issue from being a complete loss.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3

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

Story – The New World According to Peter Parker

After two issues of dodging the question of what exactly happened between Peter and MJ after Ultimatum we finally get some answers in this issue. Though Bendis does dodge the actual reason for the break-up he does a fantastic job as usual writing the two characters and showing that it was MJ that ended the relationship.

Even though it is annoying getting the Bendis speak pop-up in the New Avengers it is really at home here on Ultimate Spider-Man. This title has always been more about being a character driven title than just being about Peter's adventures as Spider-Man so Bendis is quick writing makes this a very fun title to read. The argument between Peter and MJ was just perfect way to show the drama that is a high school romance. And even though MJ does come off as a bit bitchy in that scene Bendis does an effective job using that scene along with an earlier scene in MJ's news club at school to show that she is a strong independent character even without Peter in the room by her side.

Also, while not as good as the fight Spider-Man had with the Bombshells in the last issue his fight with Mysterio in this issue was fun especially when Spider-Man faced off against the fake skyscraper size spiders. The way he discovered that the spiders were fake was hilarious. And I am really enjoying this version of Mysterio and Bendis did a great job reimaging the character for the Ultimate Universe. It shows when done right writers can make old characters that have been around for a long time into distinct characters in another universe that is just as interesting if not more in a new universe.

I also really liked how Bendis continues to seamlessly add more characters to Peter's supporting cast. In other titles having another big hero join the title of another big hero would usually feel forced somehow in this issue it only feels right that Johnny would join the cast of this book. Like Bendis did when he added Kitty to the supporting cast something about having Johnny around just feels like a perfect fit. Having him around should make things even more difficult for Peter which should lead to some fun character interactions.

Also the short scene between Peter and Sue Storm was great. It is one of those scenes were less is more as Bendis uses minimal dialogue to make what happens in the last page even more effective. Also it leaves the door open for the other Fantastic Four members to be recurring characters in this title.

David LaFuente's artwork was again spectacular in this issue. I continue to enjoy the anime/manga feel he gives this title. It gives this title a distinct look that separates itself from all the other titles on the market. His artwork gives Bendis story a lot of energy and does a great job with the facial expressions of the characters.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.2/10 – As has always been the strength of this title Bendis does a great job with handling all of the characters in this title and gives us some fun dialogue while also inserting some good action into the issue.
Art: 9.2/10 – LaFuente's artwork continues to be spectacular as he gives this issue a lot of energy in both the action and talking heads part of the issue.
Overall: 9.2/10 – Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3 was another great issue. This is one of the most enjoyable comics on the market. I highly recommend picking this series up either on an individual issue or trade paperback as it will read well in either form.