Tim Stevens' Reviews

Opinions on the Work of People Far More Talented Than I

Only three books reviewed this week. (American Virgin was also released. I liked it, but I’ve decided to hold off on reviewing the next few issues until I can get a better hand on it.) This week’s 52 has inspired me to introduce +’s and –‘s into my letter grades. I’m not supposed to, but hey, I’m almost the boss around here, so I’ll do whatever I damn well please.

Just”¦shh”¦don’t tell anyone. Especially not Daron. I can’t bear another beating from that Missouri tough guy.

52 Week 10

“Stop the Press”
Published by: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdows: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Chris Batista
Inkers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Jack Jadson
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Clark Kent is having a hard time dealing with life without superpowers, 10 weeks after he lost them, and it is effecting every aspect of his life”¦especially his job. So he makes the smart choice and steals a page from Lois’s playbook, saving his job and reinvigorating himself in the process.

The first time one of the big three step onto the 52 stage achieves what is probably the best issue of 52 to date. Clark’s characterization is an excellent peak into what happens when Superman ends up shellshocked.

The secondary story this week, that of Black Adam’s evolving coalition of non-American superheroes is intriguing as well, but still very much in its infancy. The third plotline, which we catch nary a glimpse of, concerns the disappearance of the DCU’s mad scientists and more of Magnus and T.O. Morrow talking to one another through glass. It’s a lot cooler and more interesting than my description would suggest. In fact, it is easily my favorite part of this issue.

Grade: B+

Squadron Supreme #5

“Blood and Sand” Part II
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Gary Frank
Inker: Jonathan Sibal
Colorist: Christ Sotomayor

Three more issues. That’s what I am giving JMS and co. to turn this title around. What was once a totally absorbing title has denigrated into a flat, uninvolving title of filled with people of varying personalities and opinions who all still seem to end up either acting like jerks, incompetents, or whiners. Only Emil Burbank, bringing a wicked wit to the table, gives this title any sort of heartbeat.

Who knew that we wouldn’t just lose all the breasts and foul language in the move to Marvel Knights?

Grade: C-

Ultimate Spider-Man #97

“Clone Saga” Part 1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inkers: John Dell and John Sibal
Colorist: Richard Isanove

There’s a twist in this story that you can probably see the moment Spider-Man starts fighting the Scorpion (making his Ultimate debut here). Actually, if you try, you might even be able to guess it before you read word one of this comic.

And you know what? It is still good. Very good in fact. Even knowing the “twist” in advance, the story is still enjoyable. It is the best kind of “twist” story; the one that is left undiminished by the reveal.

This issue you get further Peter and Mary Jane reconciliation, the first hint of problems in the Peter/Kitty romance (Kitty being the new sheriff of Crazy Town), a good bit of superpowered fisticuffs, and a very surprising kidnapping (and no, that’s not the twist).

It is undeniable that Bendis’s stock has taken a tumble since he ascended to the throne of Marvel’s Golden Boy. If that’s because his storytelling has diminished or it is simply a natural byproduct of being very popular and busy is debatable. What is not debatable is that Ultimate Spider-Man, issue in, issue out, remains his most reliable and satisfying work on the stands. 97 issues in, I doubt you could find a dozen or so issues in the bunch that don’t “work.”

Grade: B+