CAPSULE REVIEWS DC Week 26 2008

Short and Sweet this week, with only 8 titles from DC. Big premiere for Madame Xanadu and James Robinson’s Superman, curtain close for Mike Carey’s Crossing Midnight – and me going ga-ga over Kelley Jones! Can’t Miss!

BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT #2 (OF 12)

(Steve Niles / Kelley Jones)

How did i ever miss the first issue of this? The Twin Masters of Horror themselves Niles and Jones working on Batman at the same time?

In my mind there’s few other artist who can surpass Kelley Jones’ horrific take on the Dakr Knight and the city of Gotham. Here he’s at his career’s best, expertly playing with the shadows and the light, inking his own work and sweating over every detail of his composition and style. Niles of course gives him all the space he needs to breathe and do his own thing, although Jones can expertly make even your standard dialogue scene in a police office shine with a moody use of light separations.

Yes, I do have the hots for mr Jones, move along now!

8/10



CROSSING MIDNIGHT #19

(Mike Carey / Jim Fern / Jose Villarubia)

Final Issue. Mike Carey’s epic story of a twin brother and sister divided and set against each other by the traditional Gods of blades and inanimate objects reaches its conclusion here with the ending of the war and the ultimate confrontation between the siblings.

Carey had set up a remarkable drama machine here: pitting the amnesiac assassin sister against her brother, making her believe he’s really a face-stealing murdering spirit – you know that can’t end well. The ending Carey chose is even more tragic than I was expecting, really shocking me into focus, as elements from throughout the series crystallise. The series was canceled before its time, but Carey managed to wrap things up impressively without any sense of haste seeping into the script. He surprisingly leaves things a bit open ended to a potential sequel, so let’s hope the trade sales and word of mouth help this title make an eventual return.

9/10

MADAME XANADU #1

(Matt Wagner / Amy Reeder Headley)

The newest young hopeful launch from the legendary Vertigo imprint attempts a return to the family’s roots, with a mature readers look at a forgotten C-rate DC character. Matt Wagner (Mage, Grendel, Trinity) writes, with a young artist bringing a mainstream Manga aesthetic (hey I hate using that incorrect term too, but it paints the picture easily).

We don’t actually follow Madame Xanadu (who is hardly even mentioned in this opening issue, leading to much confusion), but a young(ish) nymph Nimue in the time of Camelot, who leads a merry life, talking to trees, hanging out with her flying smurf friends, visiting her nasty Queen sister Morgana and -ahem- spending ‘quality time’ with an evil necromancer?

Nothing has grabbed me so far; the title feels more like a mainstream DC take on Camelot than a true Vertigo take – it’s not the violence, it’s more the feel of the art and the quality of the plot. I hope i’m proven wrong next issue, but this isn’t a title i’m willing to follow just yet.
6/10

FINAL CRISIS #2 (OF 7)

(Grant Morrison / J.G. Jones)

I don’t feel I can do this multi-layered super-drama justice through a capsule review (well, not even through a normal review. Check out my boy Joel La Puma’s very detailed and insightful review of the issue here.

I’ll just say, I’m enjoying this book a lot, it is certainly more complex than what is going on in Secret Invasion, but it still lacks on one crucial Summer Event factor: excitement/f-anticipation.

Sure i’m enjoying this, and I’m sure Morrison is going to wow us by the end of the story and we’ll be looking back and rereading this for decades, but… I don’t find myself eagerly waiting the next installment, I still haven’t had a wow moment (especially with Barry Allen’s return spoiled by an online press release following DC Universe #0 2 months ago), it’s not rocking my world the way Infinite Crisis did 2 years ago.

p.s. what is up with the blacked-up cover to this issue? The original white background looked so sexy, the one that got published looks like a-nother bad hack job like the Trinity covers (yeah, I’m not feeling the Chipp Kidd love right now)

8/10

GREEN LANTERN #32

(Geoff Johns / Ivan Reis / Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira)

‘Secret Origin’ part 4.

Geoff Johns continues the Ultimate-style retelling of Green Lantern’s origin, infusing it with hints on his current and upcoming plans for the myth of the Lanterns. This issue, we bear witness to the birth of the villainous Hector Hammond, and Hal Jordan’s first meeting with (the still legendary heroic at this point) Sinestro. Johns excells at painting a clear portrait of Sinestro’s importance and experience in this juncture and planting the seeds for his future enmity with Hal through their early subtle differences in attitude and philosophy. As a rookie Green Lantern fan, this story is the best jumping-on point to the very hyped run.

8/10

THE HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE #4 (OF 6)

(Ivory Madison / Cliff Richards / Norm Rapmund)

I may be getting exhausted with this book. Even reading it in bi-weekly increments, it’s easy to lose track of the crime bosses and the love affairs coming in and out of focus, while Helena tries out her new spandex threads and weapons against the mob bosses. Certainly a book that will read better in trade form.

This issue had more o the flair and memorable quotes of the first issue, along with an early meeting between Helena and her future ‘boss’ Barbara Gordon and (finally) the move to Gotham City.

Cliff Richards is sufferering from the strain of the deadline, his lines becoming more and more sparse with each issue, only occasionally springing some important panels or moments into focus and detail.
6/10

SUPERMAN #677

(James Robinson / Renato Guedes / Wilson Magalhaes)

‘The Coming of Atlas’ part 1. he rightfully-so acclaimed James Robinson begins his run on Superman’s monthly title with a bang whimper… Oh wait, what?

The story opens with Superman kicking back and hanging out with his pal Hal Jordan and playing catch with his dog… in space. Robinson puts his stamp on the character, focusing on his wide-eyed optimism and revealing strong-standing elements of that all-american farmboy naivete that he can never lose (and really sets him apart from the other major superheroes).

Fine and dandy so far.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant to last, as halfway through the issue, Superman completely disappears from the page, and we’re instead treated to the first issue of ‘Metropolis Science Police’, following the narration of the forgettable force leader and getting introduced to every last generic armoured jetpack cop on the beat. -Yawn-


Sure, cops can be interesting, if handled in their proper environment and genre (Gotham Central is one of my favourite DC titles ever), but take a handful of them, prop them in face-concealing uniform armours and throw them up against a super-villain… Well, they just become badly-dressed sci-fi super-heroes – and where’s the appeal in that?

7/10


TRINITY #4

(Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza / Mark Bagley, Mike Norton & Scott McDaniel / Art Thibert, Jerry Ordway & Andy Owens)

Wonder Woman and Superman continue to manhandle the brutish Konvikt with the JLA running damage control, while Batman tries to detective his way into a solution. Meanwhile in the back-up story, the young Tarot character dreams of Despero fighting Kangar Ro?

This would be really fascinating stuff, if there was even the slightest amount of mystery about any of the situations. Instead, I find I really don’t care either for Tarot, Morganna’s shady plot or the forgettable Konvikt and his generic threat. Although the writing and art are enjoyable, the main plot keeps on moving at such a snail’s pace, it’s tedious even on a weekly title…

6/10

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