Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 11/25/09

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I know I loved all the food. Too bad we didn't get great football to watch. Oh well, it was still a great day and hope everyone enjoyed that day as well.

Now I'm sorry I have really been falling behind on my reviews these past few weeks. But this past month has been crazy for me with all of the projects I have had to work on which has left me very little to no time to do anything. Luckily I gave my final college presentation and paper a few days ago and am mostly done with all of my projects so I can now relax a bit. All I really have left is finals in two weeks and that is it for college. After that graduation baby!

Enough of my self-promotion and time to hit this week's comic book reviews:

Amazing Spider-Man #613

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Colorist: Dave Stewart

Story – Power to the People: Part Two

The last issue started off the Gauntlet storyline, which is the big overarching story taking place in Amazing Spider-Man over the next few months. And the first issue of this story involving Electro did not blow me away as it was an average read. This week's issue was a big
improvement on the last one as Mark Waid handled both Spider-Man and Electro much better in this issue.

Now though this issue was an improvement the story of this story arc still feels weak with people turning against the Bailout. It feels as though it is not only to late but a very lame way to get people to hate what the government is doing. Also this story doesn't have much longevity since if I ever decide to pick up this issue again I will probably think of how 08 or 09 this story is and will just not hold up well with what Waid is trying to reference.

With that out of the way I will have to give Waid much more credit as he gave a much more believable reason for Electro to all of a sudden turn from no good thief to anti-government. The last issue it was hard to believe the 180 turn of the character but the reason for Electro doing so in this issue gave his turn a bit more validity and sort of stays true to who the character is. And I liked how his power-up made him a bigger threat especially with how Spider-Man ends up at the end of the issue. Though I am still not feeling this whole "Power to the People" thing he continues to have.

I did like how the Thinker was involved in this issue. He has been a rarely used character that
does have a lot of potential so I hope we see more of him in the future.

I continue to enjoy the Peter/Michelle dynamic especially with how Peter unintentionally pissed off Michelle by testing out his new device on their apartment's power. It paid off when we got to see Aunt May and Jay back from their extended honeymoon in a funny scene.

With all that said I continue to find Paul Azaceta artwork to just not be a good fit with ASM. His style would be much more fitting in a noir based character like Daredevil but not ASM. There is
actually nothing wrong with the art, it is just that Azaceta's artwork is not a good fit in this title.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.2/10 – Waid writing improved over the dull first issue of this story arc. He did a good job re-establishing Electro as a major threat to Spider-Man.
Art: 6.6/10 – Azaceta provide good artwork though his talents just do not fit in well with ASM.
Overall: 6.8/10 – Amazing Spider-Man #613 was a good read. While I can't recommend this issue to everyone, this was still a good solid issue that Spider-Man fans will enjoy.

Blackest Night #5

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

Story – Nekron Rises!

The best way I can sum up Blackest Night #5 in a few words is that this was both the best and most frustrating issue of this event thus far. The first time I read through this issue I was just confused with how all the Lantern Corps were already together when we have only been shown that the Green, Violet, Indigo, Yellow, and Blue Lanterns have teamed up. And honestly this
should have been an issue were Geoff Johns and Dan Didio had a small editors note on the first panel telling the reader this issue takes place after Green Lantern #48. Because unless you did read Green Lantern #48 before this one you would not really know what went on at the beginning which also makes me actually wonder how Blackest Night will be collected in the future as the Green Lantern issues are mandatory to read Blackest Night.

Before I continue to talk about the negatives about this issue I will admit that this is the first issue of this event that I actually enjoyed parts of it. And were most, if not all my, enjoyment of this issue came from was when all of the main members of each Lantern Corps were on the page. Whenever they weren't I was not very interested in what was happening. Johns just did a great job writing each character and how each one of them sort of balances out the other. Even though Hal's inner monologue at the beginning of the issue was lame it was a nice way to introduce how they were brought together in a humorous manner, though I am not sure if that was Johns attention.

Getting to see all of the leaders of the Lantern Corps together also proves my point in that these are the characters who should have been the focus of this event from the beginning. I apologize to any Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Atom fans but those set of characters are just not what I
am reading this event for. And honestly they aren't as interesting as Sinestro, Carol, Atrocious, and the others because those characters really stole the show in this issue. It was just fun seeing them on screen after having to deal with characters that I could care less about with how dull their personalities together were.

And Johns did plenty of good character work with each one of these characters to show new readers why they are so interesting. Each character complimented the other and I will admit I
got a bit excited at seeing Hal, Sinestro, Carol, Indigo-1, Atrocious, and Saint Walker each reciting their oaths. What made it even better was that Larfleeze was in the background not saying anything as he is the only one without an oath. Even better was when Hal just forced his face into the Orange power battery.

It is too bad that Johns continued to focus on the Earth. While I understand the importance of Earth to the DCU it is not the only planet that is being affected by Blackest Night. But if you are only reading this main series you would not believe that to the case as Johns has yet to move this event from this planet and show the ramifications that the Black Lanterns and Nekron have to the universe. Thus far this has yet to show me why this event is nothing but a self-contained event that only affects Earth. Even though we saw all the leaders of the Lantern Corps on another planet that was a short scene that didn't do much but show us that they have all teamed up.

Also as mentioned previously I still continue to find Barry and all of the Earth's heroes to be the most boring part of this series. After five issues of seeing them battle the Black Lanterns I have become bored of them and the Black Lanterns. Both sets of characters just aren't interesting enough to follow for another three issues as that has been the whole focus of this series. And honestly after Final Crisis I am not up for the mood to see Barry outrun death yet again.

I also don't understand what the meaning of seeing Lex Luthor in the last issue and not getting to see him at all in this issue. While it was a short one page scene I thought it was going to be picked up on in this issue in order to give some variety to seeing heroes vs. Black Lanterns. Actually seeing the villains of the DCU go up against some of the people they have killed or were responsible for killing would have probably been more interesting than seeing the rehash of the same thing we have seen for what is now five issues straight.

And even with the appearance of Nekron the Black Lanterns are not anymore interesting than they were in the previous four issues. As someone not to familiar with who Nekron is other than his Wikipedia entry I don't really see why he was picked for being the main villain over say
Anti-Monitor. And honestly I do not see the difference between him and Black Hand, who is much more of an interesting character.

Speaking of something that had less impact than it should have (Spoiler Alert) Bruce's appearance did not feel as important as it should have. One of the reasons for this is because we see all of the heroes who have appeared in the Blackest Night tie-in issues, Superman and Titans, but we do not see anyone from the Batfamily in the scene. I honestly do not understand the reasoning for having Bruce appear and leave out Dick and Tim, especially Dick as he is Batman now. While having some of the big guns of the DCU and also some of the smaller characters but not include the person who is the new Batman in the issue. Honestly I do not understand it because having Dick along with Superman and Wonder Woman would have been much more impactful to Bruce's return than seeing a bunch of characters who were not even close to Bruce other than Superman and Wonder Woman.

Also Bruce's appearance in this issue also contradicts what Morrison is doing over in Batman and
Robin. Just a few weeks ago Morrison showed at the end of the Red Hood arc that Dick has Bruce's body hidden under the bunker with no one's knowledge. And that story arc does take place before Blackest Night since the next story arc in Batman and Robin is suppose to tie into Blackest Night so I don't know how the hell Morrison and Johns are going to explain Bruce's body appearing in two different locations at the same time.

Now I can continue to rant about the problems I had with this issue but honestly if you have read my reviews for the previous issue all the problems with this event that I have pointed out are still around. Though I am going to say that the ending of this issue was the first time I actually liked the hook ending of Blackest Night as I am interested to see what happens next issue. It is just too bad that this issue failed for the most part to keep my interest like that last
page did as it faced the same problems as the previous issues. So far this event is nothing but DC's version of Secret Invasion especially with how heavily Johns is relying on other titles to tell the complete story of Blackest Night.

On the positive side Ivan Reis's artwork continues to be the best thing of this event. Reis along with his inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado and colorist Alex Sinclair provided some breath taking artwork. And honestly if it wasn't for the art I probably would not have put down this issue before finishing it because Reis and his crew are just doing an awesome job making this event look important though the story Johns is writing doesn't make it sound that way.

Issue Rating
Story: 5.6/10 – Though this issue was better than the previous four entries it was only because of the great first four and last pages. Everything after that Johns failed to capture my interest as he continues to rehash the same thing that has happened in the first two issues.

Art: 9.5/10 – Reis continues to be the bright spot of this event. He really makes the story feel epic even with the weak story that is being told.
Overall: 7.55/10 – Blackest Night #5 was an improvement over the previous issues of this event but it was still a disappointing read as Johns continues to move the story very slowly even after
reaching the halfway mark. And it does not help future issues that the villains of this series continue to be as dull as dirt. Hopefully things will change with that final page.

Fantastic Four #573

Creative Team
Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Neil Edwards
Inker: Andrew Currie
Colorist: Andrew Currie

Story – Adventures on Nu-World

After the stellar debut story arc by Jonathan Hickman I am sort of disappointed with this one-shot story that followed up that first story arc. Though this was still a good read it was missing some of that greatness of the first issue. I think the biggest disappointment is that we didn't get the fun story on Nu-World that we were promised by the solicit and the cover for this issue.

Nu-World was a very interesting concept that Millar and Hitch introduced and Hickman continued that good development of this world. Hickman did a nice job showing that this is a world that is still very much underdevelopment as the people of the world still have a ways to go before they can establish a proper society. It is understandable that there would be chaos in the way the Nu-World is run as it is still a very young planet.

And Hickman provided plenty of solid character work for Johnny, Ben, Franklin and Valerie as he continues to show he has a great handle on these characters. Each one was well handled though it was sort of a basic approach to these characters and Hickman doesn't flesh these
characters out as much as he did with Reed in the first story arc.

Now, though the story in Nu-World was good I will say that it was not as interesting as I thought it would be. There wasn't much in developing this world other than showing there is still work to be done on this world. The characters that inhabit this world were not really shown to be as interesting as the Fantastic Four who traveled to the world. This brief visit really did not help
flesh out the world and felt more like a filler issue until the next issue dealing with Franklin's birthday.

Though I am disappointed that Dale Eaglesham was unable to provide the artwork for this issue Neil Edwards provided plenty of quality artwork. His artwork was very similar to Eaglesham that I barely noticed it was a different artist. Edwards did a very good job in this issue and I hope I see his artwork in other issues down the line

Issue Rating
Story: 7.2/10 – Hickman provide a good one-and-done story but it felt like to much of a filler story.
Art: 8/10 – Edwards provides some very artwork as he does a nice job filling in for Eaglesham in this issue.
Overall: 7.6/10 – Fantastic Four #573 was a good read. While not as good as the first story arc by Hickman it was still a good read though not required reading. If you are FF fan you will enjoy this issue but if you are not you may not enjoy it as much but still a solid effort by Hickman and Edwards.

Green Lantern #48

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

Story – Gimme a Break!

After reading this new issue of Green Lantern I am amazed that the same writer is writing both series. There is a clear difference in Geoff Johns writing in Blackest Night and Green Lantern as I get the feeling he is more free to tell his own story the way he sees fit and is not mandated to write in Flash, Superman, and all the other DCU characters. Johns just seems to be restricted with Blackest Night but in Green Lantern he is telling the story he wants to tell as he allows the characters that should be the center of this event take the center stage in this issue.

Hal, Sinestro, Carol, Atrocitus, Saint Walker, Larfleeze, Indigo-1, Sayd and Ganthet all get their own moments to shine which is how Blackest Night should be like. Each character has their own voice as they show why they are so interesting which goes to the credit of Johns talent as a writer of building so many great characters. And what is great is how each character balances out the other to show how different each Lantern Corp is as the difference between all of them is not just the color.

Johns created some showed off the interesting dynamic the various characters share. The best one was the scene between Hal and Sinestro. These two long time rivals have not hidden the fact that they don't like each other and this issue just reinforces that fact. Sinestro telling Hal that he is the reason everything has happened reinforces the fact Hal is suppose to be the main hero of this event. And Johns also used this short scene to also build up some future drama after Blackest Night as Hal tells Sinestro upfront that he will not be following the Guardians anymore.

The other interesting dynamic was with Larfleeze interaction with Atrocitus and Saint Walker respectively. Larfleeze really shined in this issue and was a better written in this issue than he was in the Agent Orange story arc. He was fleshed out much more and it will be interesting to
see what happens to him especially with what happened towards the end of the issue.

Doug Mahnke artwork continues to be great. He did a lot of work to give this issue a big event feel even if it is not the main book. His art especially shines when it comes to drawing action scenes. The last page was especially well done with the various Lanterns appearing on it.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – Johns writing in this issue was very strong and is much better than what he has been doing in the Blackest Night main series. He showed he has a great understanding off each of the characters in this issue.
Art: 9.3/10 – Mahnke artwork continues to impress. It is great to be treated to Mahnke's artwork on a monthly basis.
Overall: 9.15/10 – Green Lantern #48 was another great read. This was the best issue of Blackest Night related material that Johns has written so far and I highly recommend picking this issue up if you reading the event. Both the writing and art are top notch.

Guardians of the Galaxy #20

Creative Team
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Wil Quintana

Story – Fault Lines

After all the death that happened in the last issue of Guardians of the Galaxy DnA slow things down a bit in order to give the surviving characters some time to reflect as well as get some much needed rest. DnA provided plenty of solid character work for all of the Guardians. As has been the case with DnA's work with the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe even the slower issues have a very good pace that does not feel slow or fast. And this issue also did a solid job being new reader friendly especially with the first page that served as the recap page with Brad Walker providing different images of what has happened in the previous few issues.

There really isn't much I can say about this title that I have not said before. This issue was just a lot of fun to read as DnA prove that there are plenty of stories to be told in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. Even with everything that has happened it is clear there is still a wealth in potential stories to be told with these characters.

The characters each have their own unique voices. Even my favorite character, Rocket
Raccoon, was given some solid character work even though he did not spout out any awesome jokes in this issue. After all the intense stuff this group has been through it was fun to just see them take a moment and just have some drinks like friends and not just figuring out what they need to do next with defeating their enemy.

Also DnA did a great job fleshing out Moondragon out in this issue. Before this issue she wasn't a very interesting character as she wasn't given many scenes to show herself off as a character worth following. But now with the cast being cut down and her being the only psychic on the team it seems more attention will be given to her character. And this issue proved she is a character with plenty of potential.

It was also good to have Brad Walker back in this issue. Walker provided some good artwork that works well with this title. I hope that he stays on this title on a permanent basis as he does a good job with both the talking head and action scenes.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.3/10 – DnA continue to prove they have plenty of stories to tell and they have begun a nice foundation for future issues after what happened in the previous issue with the team.
Art: 8/10 – Walker provided solid artwork throughout the issue to complement DnA's writing.
Overall: 8.15/10 – Guardians of the Galaxy #20 was another fun issue. DnA continue to do a wonderful job with all the Marvel cosmic titles and GOTG is no different. If you haven't tried this series out yet pick this issue up as this is a nice jumping on point to this series.