Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 10/14/09

Batgirl #3

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 3

Batgirl #3 is more or less the same as the previous two issues. Bryan Q. Miller is doing a solid job on the writing but it is just not impressive. And most of that falls on Stephanie as a character and not the writing of this series. After three issues it just does not feel that Stephanie as the new Batgirl is enough to carry an ongoing title.

Even inserting Barbara into the title in the mentor role hasn't helped. In many ways this series feels like a Birds of Prey re-launch but with just Batgirl in the group. But it just feels that Stephanie is not enough to keep this title from lasting more than a year since she feels like more of a supporting character than a star of her own book.

As a fan of these characters I think what this series needs is more of a supporting cast to make it more interesting as the Stephanie and Barbara dynamic isn't enough to carry this book. I think this title needs characters like Huntress and Misfit to play recurring roles on this series to give it something extra and keep it from going stale.

Now I will say that Miller does do a solid job with creating a nice master and student dynamic with Barbara and Stephanie. In many ways Stephanie is like how Barbara was in her early days of Batgirl. Miller does a good job paralleling the two characters in this issue, while showing how Barbara has changed.

With her battle with Scarecrow in this issue it is clear Stephanie has a long ways to go before being capable as a solo hero and Barbara should help her become her own character than just being known as Tim's girl. Though I think the whole candle ceremony thing was a bit much and should have just been Bruce and Dick's thing as it was special to the dynamic between Batman and the first Robin.

Issue Rating
Story: 6.6/10 – Miller provides some solid dialogue as he shows he understands both Stephanie and Barbara as characters. But supporting character feel of the star, Stephanie, makes the story feel very average.
Art: 6.7/10 – Lee Garnett again provides some solid artwork but nothing to impressive.
Overall: 6.65/10 – Batgirl #3 was an average read. While I would like to continue to read this series to see if Miller can make this a better read but with things like Realm or Kings and Siege coming up I am dropping this title. Still if you are a fan of Stephanie and Barbara this is the title for you as Miller has done a solid job setting up this title to improve with later storylines.

Blackest Night: Batman #3

Creative Team
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi

Artist: Adrian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Nei Ruffino

Story – Who Burns Who: Conclusion

In what has so far been the best story of Blackest Night, Peter Tomasi does an excellent job finishing up Blackest Night: Batman with this final issue. The thing that has been killing Blackest Night is that the story has been very thin with every ones reaction to the Black Lanterns has been "Oh no it's my dead friend. What do I do? They are about to kill us if we don't do something." That has been Blackest Night as a whole, save for Green Lantern #46, which has made the story a thin and boring read.

And while that theme is in this issue what really separates this issue and mini-series from Blackest Night is that we are actually seeing the emotional toll it takes on the characters, in this case Dick Grayson and Tim Drake. Tomasi perfectly nails how these characters would react to seeing their parents back alive. It is something that hasn't been shown in Blackest Night as all the characters reactions so far to the Black Lanterns has been the statement I said before.

I like how in the beginning Tim thought seeing his father again was his second shot at saving them and Dick tried to be the voice of reason telling Tim that they weren't his parents. Then when Dick looked into his father's eyes he let himself go in the moment just like Tim and was the twelve year old kid who performed in the circus with his parents again. This paralleling of Dick and Tim is a good reminder how similar these two brothers are and how their history is similar
to Bruce's tragic history with his parents.

Then the scene were Dick and Tim come face to face to the ones responsible for the deaths of their parents was great as it is a very different way of having characters reach an emotional breaking point as Dick and Tim were filled with rage. It is much different to how other Blackest Night titles have used to make the characters reach their emotional breaking point.

Adrian Syaf helped make these scenes especially more powerful with his artwork. He showed a great range to illustrate emotion in the scenes with Dick and Tim seeing their parents. This is the first time I am exposed to his Syaf's artwork and he impressed me very much. I hope I see his artwork on something like Batman again as he has a good style to fit with Batman.

It was cool seeing Etrigan involved in this issue as Dick had Deadman go get him for back-up. It was an effective plan and shows that Dick knew that the situation he and Tim were in was not something they could get out of alone. Also we got to learn that there are certain magical creatures that don't register on the Black Lantern radars. Hopefully this means Etrigan plays an integral role in taking down Black Lanterns but he probably won't from how Geoff Johns has been telling the Blackest Night story and the characters he is using.

Also it was good to see Dick take up more of an aggressive approach with Damian as he made Damian listen to him and not try to act on his own. It is a good way to show the master/student relationship the two are having with Dick finally taking the role of the master while trying to make the cocky student, Damian, listen to his instructions.

It was also interesting to see that the Black Lanterns can't see people unless they have some emotion as they could not see Dick and Tim in front of them since they froze themselves. It adds another wrinkle to the Black Lanterns concept as works similarly to how infrared vision works as they need people to show some sort of feelings in order to see them or else they don't see those people, even if they are in front of them. I hope that this means that Batman will play a bigger role in Blackest Night as it would be good to see how Dick as Batman handles the first big Crisis as Batman and stands side-by-side with Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – Tomasi again shows why he should be helming a Batman title as he writes the best version of Dick Grayson and the entire Batfamily. I am hopeful DC wakes up and sees how great a story he wrote here, and with his Nightwing work, and actually gives him a one of the Batman titles starring Dick Grayson as Batman to write.
Art: 8.5/10 – Adrian Syaf provided some great artwork in this mini-series. He did a great job with all the action and the wide range of emotion that the characters in this issue showed.
Overall: 8.75/10 – Blackest Night: Batman #3 was a great issue and ending to this mini-series. This mini-series has so far been the best story from Blackest Night and I hope that with what was learned of the Black Lanterns is used soon in the main series and it is not pushed to the side. If you are looking for a fun action packed story with some emotional depth than I recommend picking up Blackest Night: Batman as it is a solid three issue mini-series by Tomasi and Syaf.

Green Lantern Corps #41

Creative Team
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman, Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen

Colorists: Randy Mayor and Gabe Eltaeb

Story – Hungry Heart

In another Tomasi written Blackest Night tie-in Green Lantern Corps #41 continues the current battle between the Green Lanterns and the Black Lanterns on Oa. For the most part Tomasi presents a very well told story. Still there seemed something off about this issue.

Before I get into that I will admit the thing that Tomasi effectively presents here is the chaos that the Black Lanterns appearance has on the War of Lights. In many ways Tomasi shows why the stars of Blackest Night should not be the heroes on Earth but the various Lantern Corps especially the characters we have gotten to know through GL and GLC titles like Kyle, Guy, Killowog, Arisa, and Soranik. Even if we have seen a lot of battles with the Black Lanterns already happen in Blackest Night it feels like the Black Lanterns pose much more of a threat when battling one of the members from one the Lantern Corps.

And similar to what he did in this week's Blackest Night: Batman issue the thing he nailed in this issue is the emotional toll the dead rising from the grave as Black Lanterns. It was great how we were shown Guy, Killowag, and Arisa each overcoming their own battles with the Black Lanterns. It drives home why they are part of the Green Lantern Corps as they push through anything that is thrown at them and have the willpower to overcome even their dead loved ones.

What helped these battles out was Patrick Gleason's great artwork. He continues to do a great job on this title and making each battle feel epic and bounce of the page. And the scene with the
Black Lantern children was effectively creepy.

Also I am interested to see were Tomasi takes Kyle and Soranik's relationship after their battle with Black Lantern Jade. It looks like Kyle may be in the dog house after Blackest Night is over.

Now the thing that keeps this issue from being great is that it suffers from the pitfall that has made Blackest Night into a boring read which is that the Black Lanterns are dull and uninteresting villains. This isn't really the fault of Tomasi but more the execution in which the Black Lanterns are presented. Other than being different dead characters all the Black Lanterns are the same. There isn't much of a difference from the dead heroes, villains, and characters loved ones coming back as Black Lanterns. They all have the same personality.

And this is very bad for Blackest Night as we haven't even reached the midway point of the event and the main villains of the series are already becoming stale. It makes me question the choice of making the event eight issues long even more. With how Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are proving to be important tie-ins to Blackest Night I think the main series should only have been issue long as there isn't enough material to justify eight issues.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.4/10 – Tomasi continues to do a superior job in telling the Blackest Night story than what Johns has been doing over in the main Blackest Night book. With that said the story suffers from the main villains of the story, the Black Lanterns, being dull and uninteresting characters.
Art: 8.2/10 – Gleason along with his inking crew, Rebecca Buchman, Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen, and colorists, Randy Mayor and Gabe Eltaeb, do a great job presenting the chaotic feel
of the Black Lanterns presence in the War of Lights, which had already thrown the universe into chaos.
Overall: 7.8/10 – Green Lantern Corps #41 was a very good read though it suffers from the main villains of the event being very boring. It would have been better if we could have seen other Lantern Corps members involved in this issue other than just the Green and Black Lanterns.

The Marvels Project #3

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

Story – Chapter 3

In what has been the surprise of the year, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting continue to tell a very enjoyable and intricate story of the origins of the Marvel Universe. The reason I choose to pick up this mini-series was only because of me being a big fan of Brubaker and Epting's work, specifically Captain America. But I did not expect to enjoy reading the beginning of the hero age in the Marvel Universe as much as I have been.

The big factor that is making The Marvels Project such a wonderful read is that Brubaker and Epting aren't telling a parody story of the early age of the universe that is now filled with super powered individuals. Most of the time that is where most writers do, they try too hard to imitate the way people spoke during that time period making it hard to take the story seriously making it feel like a parody of that time period.

But Brubaker and Epting aren't necessarily trying to imitate the time period. Instead they are taking a serious look at the 1940s and how people acted in a time of uncertainty and fear due to the war and the first super powered individuals appearing out of nowhere. It is really an amazing look as Brubaker nails the tone of that era in our history making this story feel like an extension of the story that he was telling in Captain America.

Brubaker is able to show both the wonder and fear in the people's eyes as they witness the first battle between super powered individuals in Namor and the first Human Torch. That is where Eptings fantastic artwork comes into play as his artwork perfectly captures the mood of the time period and also making the battle between Namor and Human Torch feel like an epic showdown. Even though we have seen similar and even bigger fights happen in both the Marvel and DC Universe this battle feels like it has more of an importance as it is the first recorded battle between two super powered individuals.

And the tone of the time period is not the only thing that Brubaker nails but also all the dialogue in the various scenes we get. Whether it be Human Torch, Namor, Angel, Nick and his crew or the people on the streets all of the dialogue has a natural flow to it. Nothing feels like it being forced in for dramatic effect. It is just great character with the development of the early stages of what shaped what we know now as the Marvel Universe.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.3/10 – Brubaker continues to do a great job building the origins of the Marvel Universe and making me care for characters I had very little knowledge of before this mini-series.
Art: 9/10 – Eptings artwork is continues to be incredible. His artwork for the Namor vs Human Torch scene was especially well done as the inking and coloring for the scene make it stand out from every other scene in the issue.
Overall: 9.15/10 – The Marvels Project #3 was another great read. This mini-series continues to be one of the best written comic book on the market. Brubaker and Epting continue to build a wonderful tale of the beginning of the Marvel Universe. I highly recommend picking up this mini-series when it comes out in trade paperback format as it will read even better in TPB form than in individual issues.


SK said...

Have been enjoying Tomasi's writing. Waiting for a Blackest Night to build up more though.

Kevin said...

@SK:Tomasi has been great. Makes me wonder why DC doesn't just get a clue and give him the Batman ongoing series with Dick starring as Batman.