Kevin’s Two for one Tuesday


52 Week Thirty-Seven
DC Comics
Writers: Rucka, Morrison, Johns, Waid
Artists: Giffen & Olliffe

The reveal of Supernova was about as under whelming as it was predictable. This reviewer called his identity during his initial skirmish with Booster Gold. And nothing ever really threw that into doubt in the successive weeks and months. Rip and Nova’s battle with Skeets was interesting enough, despite not elaborating on why the robot had gone haywire in the first place. The mayoral interlude seemed unnecessary, but the fall of Star City is a big enough deal OYL to rate panel time here. And of course Animal Man isn’t going to be the series’ casualty. Therefore, an energetic if by the numbers plot, combined with a direct and unobtrusive art style gives this book a bit of a push out of the average.

Score: B-

The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1
DC Comics
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Shawn McManus

“And now for something completely different”… like a talking chimp that solves mysteries. This book was odd, hysterical, intelligent, and well plotted to boot. While the attraction of mystical artifacts never really makes sense for the simian detective (even in Shadowpact) this examination of what mystical power might mean to one of his character was well done. While the Helmet of Fate isn’t meant to be with our primate protagonist, its effects on him were worth a story on its own. The only real strike against the issue was that the art was too cartoony in places. The repetitive structure of most of the male faces was especially distracting. It seemed odd that an artist that could credibly render a chimp in the backseat of a hackie couldn’t come up with a few different male face shapes.

Score: B+

52 Week Thirty-Eight
DC Comics
Writers: Rucka, Waid, Johns, Morrison
Artists: Giffen, Bennett, Jadson

This week of 52 focuses mainly on the neglected Island of Misfit Scientists and Montoya’s mountainous quest to save the life of her new mentor. The reveal of what the scientists were building is a bit trite, but it links well with the religion of crime subplot and the upcoming third world war readers have been promised. The end of the Question, though thematically far less well done than the New Year’s Eve issue, is redeemed by Montoya’s turmoil at his passing. The art certainly suits the story this issue. The cantankerous contraptions created on the island are rococo to the extreme while the lonely alpine atmosphere highlights the plight of Renee Montoya.

Score: B+

X-Factor #15
Marvel Comics
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pablo Raimondi

Peter David’s X-Factor is again becoming the best mutant title in the Marvel imprint. His characters are all three-dimensional, interact believably, and are very rarely bogged down in the company crossover du jour. This issue spotlights the dupes of Jamie Maddrox, the multiple man. Jaime was kidnapped and temporarily brainwashed by HYDRA. He got himselves out of it. In a very strange bit of business, Jamie absorbed his SHIELD dupe and somehow maintained the dupe’s appearance instead of his own. Whether that is a clue to his current instability or a continuity lapse remains to be seen. The subplot involving the overseas shopping bonding of Theresa and Monet ends in an international incident, despite all intentions to the contrary. This is the book where innovative and interesting things happen every issue, including this one. Combining all that with an art team that finally isn’t swapping from one issue to the next and this book really is firing on all cylinders.

Score: A-

Checkmate #10
DC Comics
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Jesus Saiz

The most complex book of the OYL period, Checkmate routinely contains double crosses, political intrigue, covert and overt power struggles. This arc has been all about Checkmate’s attempt to place a mole in Kobra, the reptilian oriented terrorist group that is the perennial threat to the governments of the DCU. The involvement of the Shadowpact was an interesting wrinkle (even though they’re the only team in the company’s canon I don’t even remotely understand the appeal of) if only for their occult roundtable a third of the way into the book. The machinations behind the switch were a bit too tough to follow, but the climax was straightforward enough. The story ends on a discordant and bittersweet note, something regular readers ought to be getting used to by now. Another thing the readers have learned to tolerate is the occasionally amazing and intermittently lackluster art by Saiz. Checkmate agents really need to look less like their opponents for the non-verbal plot elements to be lucid.

Score: C+

She-Hulk #15
Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Rick Burchett

This month’s episode is another of those pesky Civil War ripples, with Jen a deputized/drafted member of S.H.I.E.L.D. She fights the Abomination and ruminates on where here cousin Bruce is (little does she know where her supposed allies have shifted him). There’s some interesting self-analysis of our protagonist as well as a few antagonistic Achilles’ heels exposed. It’s a fun issue, but it’s still a huge sidestep for the series, which began as a single female lawyer superhero book. It’s still fun, but nowhere near what the long-term readership is used to. Still, the emotive and upbeat work by Burchett helps sell the story.

Score: B-