Before this week’s reviews get started, a word of warning. There are heavy, heavy spoilers here. Normally I shy away from them as a reviewer, but this week’s impressively high body count rather necessitates it. Read on, at your own risk.
Secret Six # 2
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Brad Walker
Villains written by Gail Simone are pretty darn close to the best characterization in mainstream comics. This issue contains major developments for Scandal, Ragdoll, and certainly Cheshire and Blake. But the star of the issue has to be Deadshot. He has several zingers, and stands in for the maudlin team member who can’t pull the pin on the B-list villain who killed (or is it merely maimed?) her lover. Combine all that with a zany guest spot by the Mad Hatter and an interlude where Dr. Psycho poses as a circus midget in an ICU, and this is fabulous and innovative stuff. The art soldiers on, a bit ahead of the general curve, but can’t detract from the powerful concussive storytelling.
JSA # 87
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Ordway & Ross
Well, JSA is over and not a moment too soon. This issue contained tinny dialogue, a ham-fisted conclusion, a couple of virginal vignettes, and at least two wrecked buildings and several dozen ghosts. It was plot-by-the-numbers at the height of drivel. There was no awe, no snap, no verve, and even the jokes were unfunny. And the Ordway art has that inert, over-lined thing he gets when he’s inked carelessly. I’m so glad the creative team is changing after the relaunch.
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Renato Guedes
This is an interesting first salvo. On the one hand, the story could have been told in half the number of pages due to the extended search interlude. On the other hand, the end of the issue intrigued. The host of the last OMAC is a petty Gotham thug. Brother Eye is alive in some form in NORAD? And the setting swaps over to Las Vegas next issue. If ever a setting fit the giant blue lightbrite that is the modern OMAC soldier, that’d be it. The art in this issue has many strengths. The characters all have a finished unique look. The tech featured in the issue veers from realistic to science fiction verisimilitude. The one problem the art seems to suffer from time to time involves layout. The POV changes often enough to confuse the flow of events; a more straightforward approach would be much more effective in the future.
52 Week Nine
Writers: Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid
Artist: Giffen, Moll
This week, the tÃƒÂªte-ÃƒÂ -tÃƒÂªte between the elder and younger members of the Irons clan comes to a property-endangering head. Lots of stuff is busted up just to prove that Natasha’s new abilities trump her guardian’s. The thought occurs to this reviewer that if John Henry had simply confronted Luthor on his clandestine meta-gene injection, Natasha might have seen Lex for the conniving slime he is rather than defend him. But that would have been less exciting. Speaking of less exciting, Montoya and Vic Sage meet face-to-face-to-face this issue, and while it may reestablish some trust in their partnership it doesn’t advance their subplot much. The Adam Strange, Animal Man, Starfire alien subplot inches forward a bit (they might get off the unidentified planet soon) but while they’re hanging upside-down and making snappy patter, a reference to 52 just sort of drops in the reader’s lap. Whether it has to do with the seemingly insane rantings of Rip Hunter is unknown, but it’s worth mulling over. The art still shines in its ability to add nuance to several plots without sacrificing detail or impact
B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine # 4
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: John Arcudi
Another installment of UM gifts readers with awesome digression stories, a tense stand off for the lives of its all too human agents, plus at least two different sets of cool monsters! While this issue didn’t hit the pathos or revelation buttons as heavily as the previous two did, it’s still great storytelling. And while the main plot barely moved, the weird werewolves surrounding a phone booth scene certainly raised the stakes. The art continues its irreverent combination of cartoony lines and weighty subjects; the depiction of Liz Sherman’s reanimated barbequed family (including the dog!) typifies the strange vibe that this miniseries has consistently beamed out. It’s not your average monster book because it’s more well-written and far less formulaic.
Exiles # 83
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Casey Jones
This issue is such a downer, it ought to be packaged with anti-depressants! The Exiles have their first breather in years and they spend it… mailing the corpses of fallen comrades back to their home realities. Oof. That sound you hear is all the joy in this book being sucked out of the issue. The book ends with simultaneous bereavements! Oh, this was heavy. And this is the only issue where a fill-in artist (Mr.Jones) couldn’t possibly effect the outcome; his art was below Calafiore’s very high bar, but no illustrative wonderment could possibly save this plot.