Kevin's Text-only Saturday Reviews

52 Week Eleven:
DC Comics
Writers: Waid, Morrison, Johns, Rucka,
Artists: Giffen, Bennett, Nauck, Jadson, Alquiza

This week in 52 focuses on the Ralph Dibny/Montoya and the Question plots. Montoya gets more characterization in two pages here than she has gotten this whole storyline and her actions suddenly make much more sense. The first full appearance of Batwoman (as well as the double reveal) make her a player in the missing year very quickly, which is very unusual for this book. The frantic tactics of the Widower Dibny and the final page of this installment make very odd bookends indeed. Overall, a well-illustrated, solidly plotted chapter heightens the mystery of 52 while giving readers a bit more to chew on. And the awful back-up story is finally over, which pushes the grade up a bit too.

Score: A

Checkmate #3
DC Comics
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Jesus Saiz

The end of this arc gives me a lot of hope for the series. It doesn’t seem to be pushing towards a steady state at all, which seems appropriate for a book involving international espionage. A nice surprise this issue involved learning about and actually relating to the Chinese meta-humans seen only in this arc and one installment of 52. It’s a hallmark of great writing to make both sides of a conflict sympathetic, and Rucka totally pulls it off here. The recent exit of a lead character was also very well executed and sensible. That readers won’t get any idea of his replacement for two months seems intolerable, considering one of this book’s lynchpins is the interaction among the higher “pieces”. Regardless of the plot’s direction, the art seems to be improving as the issues accrue. Saiz’s backgrounds and layouts are much cleaner in this issue and each character has distinctive traits; that’s an improvement from the muddled vibe of the first two chapters of this first tale. This title might become the sleeper OYL hit for DC among its more demanding readers.

Score: A

The Flash #2
DC Comics
Writers: Bilson and Demeo
Artist: Ken Lashley

And here is the opposite end of the continuum. The first issue was a foot badly placed in the wrong direction. This segment moves a bit less clumsily, but it still isn’t a sensible direction for the characters involved. I can’t see Bart being successfully deceptive to anyone for very long, let alone to his current guardians for a year. Combine that with a put-on reluctance to be a hero when he realistically knows no other life, and more maturity than even the post-library Kid Flash ever had, and this book is just a reboot trying to attain approval or validation. The supporting cast doesn’t spark much interest either, pardon the pun. Combine that with the Image-esque sort of half decent art (what’s up with the noses all looking like flutes?) and this book can’t get axed soon enough.

Score: D

She-Hulk #8
Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Paul Smith

This issue of She-Hulk is pretty much hijacked by Civil War. And while some titles have used the company wide crossover to put new life in their plots and characters, this just seems very bogged down and sluggish. There are less funny moments, less of the regular supporting cast, and almost no courtroom action. The gamma-changer issue is resolved, and that’s something. The proposal that occurs would feel a bit more genuine if an emotional manipulator hadn’t been a major part of the last few issues. I expect more laughs and a run-away-Shulkie scenario in the future. The art just doesn’t suit the straight-laced story either.

Score: C

Justice League of America #0
DC Comics
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: About every one ever born…

This issue takes place in multiple timeframes with only three characters, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. The real problem is that all it offers is vignettes to various eras in the Justice League franchise. There’s absolutely no narrative at all. The art styles alter to suit the aesthetics of each period, but that’s a hook that gets old quickly. It’s not really a teaser for a new series, or a lead-in to an arc as much as it’s a greatest hits collection. It isn’t a story, just dialogue suspended in time. This issue is alternately nostalgic and clever, but nothing happens. Odd.

Score: C