Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weekly Comic Book Reviews for 12/16/09

Amazing Spider-Man #615

Creative Team
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Javier Pulido
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez

Story – Keemia's Castle

Amazing Spider-Man #615 was another solid issue from this series that has been very consistent in providing good reads almost all of 2009. There have been very few times I have been disappointed by an issue of Amazing Spider-Man which is great for me as a Spider-Man fan. And what I like about this issue in particular is that Fred Van Lente reminded the reader that Peter does have a science background with Peter using his brain to figure out the mystery of this issue, creating some new web fluid to fight Sandman. Also it was cool seeing Spider-Man using the web parachute that I haven't seen used in a while.

Though the mystery of this story arc is pretty obvious of who did the crime's and is setting up Carlie to take the fall Van Lente did provide a good mystery for Peter having to use his brain instead of just going into different places and punching people to get answers. It has become rare to see Peter actually solving a mystery using his science background and Van Lente did a solid job showing that Peter is a guy with a master's degree in bio-chemistry. I especially liked him using specific web fluid to battle Sandman as it is something that I am surprised is not used more often in all the different situations he is in as Spider-Man.

Also I liked how he Van Lente wrote the various interactions of Peter and his supporting cast in this issue whether he was working or as Spider-Man. The interaction between Spider-Man and Betty as an interesting little development seems to be happening with Betty and her starting her own "newspaper" by using a her own blog and using Bugle old information data banks. It will be interesting to see where this is taken in the long-term for Betty as a character as I originally thought she was just going to join Peter by working at the Frontlines but I am digging this new development for her character.

My favorite interaction for this issue was between JJJ and Robbie. These two always have great interactions with one another and it is always great to see them have scenes together. Van Lente did a solid job in the scene between these two in the aftermath of the Daily Bugle being destroyed.

Javier Pulido provided some very good stylized artwork in this issue. The issue had a more old school look to it with the issue being drawn in a similar style to the early Amazing Spider-Man issues. I especially liked Pulido drawing Spider-Man wearing some winter clothes because of the time of the year. It was a very nice touch to set up the time of the year the story is taken place in.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – Van Lente provided a solid mystery to re-introduce Sandman into the series as well as providing some great character interaction.
Art: 7.7/10 – Pulido gave some very good artwork with this issue having an old-school Amazing Spider-Man look to it.
Overall: 8.45/10 – Amazing Spider-Man #615 was another solid issue of this consistently fun
series. If you're an Spider-Man fan this Gauntlet story arc is a great way to get back into the series as the Spidey Brain Trust are doing a solid job so far introducing characters like MJ, Black Cat, Electro, and Sandman back onto the Spider-Man universe.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #7

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko
Artists: Dustin Nguyen and Cliff Richards
Inkers: Derik Fridolfs and Art Thibert
Colorists: John Kalisz and Nick Filardi

Story – The Bleak Midwinter; Face Off

Paul Dini returns with this issue after Chris Yost filled in with a good filler two-part story and Dini continues what he was doing with the first story arc by continuing the story arc with Zsasz and the man in the trench coat. Dini just continues to provide his excellent characterization in this issue with Batman (Dick Grayson) and the cast of this series.

And what is shocking about Streets of Gotham is how much emotion is out into this issue. This was a very emotional issue with the scene we get between Batman, Robin, and Humpty. That scene was very touching and revealed a side of Damian we have not seen before. I will even say that Dini gives us the best version of Damian out there.

As has been the case since Dick became Batman the interaction between him and Damian continues to be the standout of every issue where both characters are together on the pages as Batman and Robin. Though the relationship is suppose to have a mentor and protégé feel I like
that Dini is adding the fact that both of these characters are brothers and is portraying Damian as the snobby younger brother while Dick is the more experienced and educated big brother. And the scene with Humpty's "orphanage" was great in developing both characters and humanizing Damian especially.

Dustin Nguyen provided some great artwork. While I am not a big fan of Nguyen style I have started to come around and am enjoying his art style on this title much more than I did in the first issue. He does a great job capturing the mood of this title and I especially like how he drew the last few pages that lead up to a very horror-esque image of Zsasz.

The Manhunter back-up to the issue continues the solid job that Marc Andreyko and Cliff Richards have been providing throughout Streets of Gotham. The battle between Manhunter and Two-Face was good and I will be interested to see how Batman and Robin factor into the story.

Issue Rating
Story: 8.6/10 – Dini returns to provide another good issue of Streets of Gotham. Andreyko was also a solid back-up to Dini's story.
Art: 8.1/10 – Nguyen artwork in this issue was great and perfectly captures the mood of the story Dini is writing.
Overall: 8.35/10 – Batman: Streets of Gotham #7 was another great read. If you haven't picked up Streets of Gotham yet than do yourself a favor and pick this series up if you are interested in reading a Batman title as it is the best one on the stands right now.

Daredevil #503

Creative Team
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Inker: Marco Checchetto

Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

Story – The Devil Laid Low Part 3

For the past year I couldn't think of an ongoing title that has been better than Daredevil. And Andy Diggle is continuing the work done by Smith, Bendis, and Brubaker on this title and just continuously progressing the character to his limits both physically and mentally. Diggle's work so far on this title has been very impressive so far and issue #503 continues that strong start from the previous two issues.

What I am enjoying the most that Diggle is doing is how he is taken a slow burn approach in order to show us the new status quo of Matt. Daredevil is one of those titles you do not need a bunch of action at the beginning and Diggle understands this. Everything he is doing on this title is setting things up for future stories where we will no doubt get a lot of action. And as a long time fan of Daredevil I really appreciate this approach from the new creative team as the changes that have happened to Matt and his whole supporting cast are huge and they need to take time to develop everything.

These first three issues specifically have been a great study of Matt's mentality as he is continuously questioned by those around him how far he is willing to go as the leader of The Hand. Tarantula and White Tiger do a great job presenting both sides of the argument for what Matt should do and you can see that at times being The Hand's leader is taken its toll on Matt. It is great thing to question as it is still unclear where everything is going to go which adds a great
suspense to what is going on that does not exist on many titles.

And as always the standout scene of this issue is between Matt and Master Izo. Izo is has really
become the standout character of this series as his ominous words to Matt are always great to read. He is a character that you never know what side he is on as he could be manipulating every character in the series and we will not know until the end of the story.

The scene in Kingpin's place was perfect. It is just awesome to see how Wilson Fisk is getting back his empire by manipulating the current situation of Norman Osborn being in control to his gain. Wilson is really going to be a character to watch after Siege because it really seems that Diggle is setting up the character to have a much bigger presence within the Marvel Universe after Dark Reign ends.

Roberto De La Torre artwork continues to improve with each issue. De La Torre is perfectly capturing the noir aspect of this title and Daredevil has never looked better. He is just able to breathe so much life into each scene, whether it is outside in a pier, in Kingpin's office, or The Hand's secret lair, it all looks great.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.4/10 – Diggle continues to be a great follow up to all of his predecessors. The story of Matt being in control of The Hand feels original and fresh while still having the same noir this title has had for a very long time.
Art: 9/10 – De La Torre artwork is just freaking awesome. His art style is just a perfect fit for Daredevil.
Overall: 9.2/10 – Daredevil #503 was another phenomenal read. Diggle and De La Torre continue to make Daredevil one of the best comics on the market. If you haven't given this title a try yet do yourself a favor and pick up this title from #501 as there are some great stories being told on this title.

Green Lantern Corps #43

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman and Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Randy Mayor

Story – Red Badge of Rage

As has been the case with Green Lantern Corps for the past year this issue continues to explore the concept of the War of Lights and Blackest Night much better than the main title and the main event. In everything Geoff Johns has failed to do with Blackest Night, the main mini-series, Peter Tomasi is able to do with Green Lantern Corps. Reading this issue gives me a great sense of how big this event is and how far it reaches where Blackest Night only makes you believe the even affects the Earth.

Tomasi's continues just to show that characters like Kyle, Guy, Soranik, and others are just so much more interesting than Barry, Mera, Atom, and all the other DCU heroes that are dominating Blackest Night. Guy's transformation into a Red Lantern would have been an awesome moment within the event and Tomasi proves that this development is much more interesting than anything we have gotten over in Blackest Night so far. Seeing Guy tear up the Black Lanterns and the Sinestro Corp member was insanely fun to read and watch. A lot of credit has to go to Patrick Gleason for that scene as it just felt like an epic moment.

And though it feels like it was too quick to bring back Kyle I am glad he is back to lead the charge of all the secondary Lantern Corps members from the other Corps. His return also helps to further validate his relationship with Soranik is not just a quick fling but is a real relationship. I just hope that his return does not mean Guy will not be a Red Lantern anymore as it was a very interesting development and no character better fits in with the Red Lanterns than Guy.

Issue Rating
Story: 9/10 – I don't know what else I can say about Tomasi's writing on GLC that I have not said before. Tomasi is just telling the story of Blackest Night in a far superior way than the main mini-series.
Art: 8.8/10 – Gleason's artwork continues to be superb. He does a good job capturing the big event feel of Blackest Night.
Overall: 8.9/10 – Green Lantern Corps #43 was a phenomenal read. If you are reading Blackest Night GLC is a must read. It has been far superior than the main mini-series that everyone should be reading the great work Tomasi and Gleason are doing on this title.

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2

Creative Team
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Pablo Raimondi
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Adriano Lucas

Story – High and Mighty

Though I have been mixed on Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard I loved the first issue of Realm of Kings: Inhumans. This second issue of Inhumans continues the fantastic story DnA started in the first issue. DnA just understand how the Inhumans tick and giving us a great look at the politics behind the Kree and Inhumans post War of Kings and Black Bolt's disappearance.

And what is great about DnA's writing is that unlike most other writers who become intimidated with a large cast of heroes DnA relish in it and even bring in more heroes to write into their stories. Even though I am not reading Mighty Avengers DnA did a very good job catching me up on why they are in this issue. Having the Avengers appear also help to give the reader a new point of view to show that the Inhumans are not the Inhumans of old. Instead they are a race of powerful people that have more power and control of their lives than they have ever had.

Hercules and Gorgon's interaction at the beginning of the issue in the big brawl did an effective job showing this. Hercules barely recognized Gorgon even pointing out that Gorgon seemed different. And It was fun seeing the two characters busting heads of the attackers of the Kree homeworld.

Another great interaction in this issue was between Crystal and Pietro. The scenes with them added a nice closure to the relationship of the two and showed that Crystal is much happier being with Ronan. It also helps to reinforce the fact that Crystal is not the shy scared woman she used to be and is now a very brave and strong woman. I am interested to see what Luna has to say about her mother as she seemed to want to speak up when she saw her mom and dad talking.

But yet again the standout character of the issue is Medusa. DnA have been doing a great job writing Medusa showing that she is a very powerful and imposing figure. Her interaction with Hank Pym showed that she is not messing around anymore and that Black Bolt's disappearance has affected her in becoming a much more cold character than she was before. Medusa is really becoming my favorite among the Inhumans as she has a lot of things going on in her head than just the cold stare she has been giving everyone. It will be interesting to see her interaction when she finds out the Kree have found a sign that Black Bolt may still be alive in the Fault.

Issue Rating
Story: 9.2/10 –DnA continue to weave an excellent story filled with action, strong characterization, and politics. They are really building up the Inhumans into great A-list feeling characters with the empire they have built for themselves.
Art: 8/10 – Pablo Raimondi artwork was very good in this issue. He provides very consistent art and does a great job with both the action and the talking head moments in this issue.
Overall: 8.6/10 – Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 was another great read. This title is doing a great job in the aftermath of War of Kings. If you have been enjoying the Marvel cosmic titles than pick this issue up as DnA continue to work their magic on the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe.