Detective Comics #854: I know I was going to like this, but I had no idea how much. This was great. Rucka gives us a perfect first issue. Establishing tone, giving us some nice personal exploration, and setting the board for where the story is gonna go. The Religion of Crime has a new boss and she’s come to Gotham. Well Batwoman has some history with the Religion of Crime and she’s gonna bust them up good and figure out why they seem so interested in her. Some very nice moments with Batman and the introduction of Alice, the suicide girl boss of crime. It’s all very interesting and paced very well. A fine first issue. The art by Williams is quite literally on a whole other level. Wonderfully designed panels and beautifully crafted pages. Williams works magic with unique layouts, but where other arts fail by destroying storytelling, his designs enhance it 100 fold. I also love the transition of styles from painterly ethereal to open lined detail when Batwoman changes into her alter ego. It’s simply a beautiful comic. And Williams does awesome work with the action, expression and shadow. Perfection. We are then treated to the Question ongoing co-feature. Again Rucka instantly establishes the tone, and effortlessly gets characters interacting and the ball rolling. Very nice. Cully on art chores is perfect. Wonderful clear storytelling, and expressive unique faces and body types. He shows an ability to capture ethnicities beyond what is normally found in capes books. And it should be noticed Cully does amazing work on establishing shots, interiors and props. The colors are marvelous and clean by Laura Martin. She compliments Cully perfectly. 9 out of 10.
the Last Days of Animal Man #2: Another enjoyable issue and exploration into Buddy who is aging, perhaps past his prime, and unwilling to accept that his powers may be failing. It’s a nice piece. Interesting additions to the story. The interaction with the new Green Lantern (it’s a BLUE WHALE!) was fun. And I love the classic approach Conway uses to introduce characters like the villain Prismatik and explore what’s going on in Animal Man’s head. Narrative and flashbacks. I also like the ending. Animal Man got into that beating, brutal, Prismatik is fortunate the JLA showed up. Chris Batista shines this issue. Really great clean layouts. Great action. And most of all impressive gesture and emotion from the characters. I love Animal Man’s mood swings and how Chris is able to give us insights to Prismatik’s attitude through posture and expression. I really love the splash page at the end. Nice angle on Supes and Powergirl in the sky. That’s a really nice cliffhanger. 8 out of 10
Thor #602: Exciting. JMS is doing magic here. Thor gets Mjolnir back, but at great cost. He invests the Odinforce into healing the hammer so he can use it to save Sif. Great use of Doctor Strange, that works nicely. And nice addition to the connection between Thor and his hammer. Also JMS gives a look at what’s going on with the Asgardians in Latveria. And a very ominous answer from Heimdal when asked by Balder about what he sees. This book is awesome. The art is very good. I can’t complain about Djurdjevic. Great storytelling and drama. But the book is slightly diminished without Coipel’s stylistic interpretations and dynamism and Morales slick inks.
8 out of 10
Justice Society of America #28: A solid end to the two-parter. Ordway did an excellent job of portraying the characters and using some of the All-star history to good effect. Great use of Spectre and I think some nice character stuff to boot. I wonder how the bit with Atom-smasher will play out. That guy has no luck at all, but I think Alan, Jay and Ted mentored him correctly and in the end, walking away from the under age Stargirl was the right thing to do. Also it was nice to see Spectre in the roll I have always seen him in and interacting with his old team. I hope there’s more of that in the future. Ordway delivered on art chores as well. The issue is a great example of classic capes comics and really brought me back to my old All-star Squadron days. If only they did a story with Baron Blitzkrieg. Next issue the new creative team comes on board. Can’t wait. 7.5 out of 10
Invincible #63: Glorious. Kirkman delivers an unparalled superhero battle. Blazing across the planet, leaving a path of destruction everywhere. It’s a big fight, but satisfying on every level. You get lots of emotion and drama, and really strong character interactions. I really didn’t see that death coming. No way. That was a surprise. And certainly Invincible has his hands full, despite the anger and hate and vengeance in his heart it may not be enough. THIS Viltrumite is tough. Ottley is amazing. Beyond amazing. He really doesn’t skimp at all with his pages. I would say right now he is unmatched in this kind of big planet spanning dynamic super-carnage and violence. You can see the emotion in every expression and feel the pain of every punch, kick or chop. There is lots of gore and destruction. All beautifully rendered and inked. And the coloring is off the charts good. Plascencia is amazing. Perfect selections and use of painterly effects for bruises. Really appropriate tones for backgrounds and nice special effects. Another solid issue by Kirkman and co. 8 out of 10.
Superman #689: I had just about given up on this book. I liked the idea but felt things have been taking too long, but Robinson really pulled it together this issue. Letting Mon-El explore his role and the world he’s no tasked with protecting. Fantastic work with the little vignettes of Mon-el’s romp teaming up across the globe. I also enjoyed the use of Edge and James Harper. And of course the developments continue with General Lang pulling strings from behind the scenes. The eventual confrontation between Harper and Assassin should be awesome. Curious also to see what becomes of the cliffhanger ending. Considering how Superman fared what chance does Irons have against Atlas? The art was tremendous. I am not the biggest fan of Guedes. But this issue was his best work so far. Beautifully illustrated throughout. I really enjoyed the splash pages and two page spreads and the wonderful expression and gesture. Even the normally washed colors on this book looked more vibrant. Excellent job. 8 out of 10.
Green Lantern #42: What a great story, diminished some what by the chaotic unfinished and poorly laid out art. I am being harsh because this book deserved better. Stylistically I have enjoyed Tan’s work in the past. Here the style is overcome with an unfinished quality that makes much of it harder to follow and much less enjoyable then it should be. I understand the frenzied nature of the action. I get that. But unfortunately the art by Tan here is not executed at the level to make it work. Worse, there is an almost random use of different coloring style and poor use of page space with oddly sized panels that make it even more distracting to read. If not for the strength of the story I would rate this book very low. Fortunately the book features pages by Barrows. Who is amazing. Clean crisp storytelling. Great style and power. The perfect comic artist in my estimation, he is like a mix of Pacheco and Reis. He beautifully illustrates Agent Orange’s decent on the Blue Lanterns and the discovery of the Black Battery. I mean beautiful stuff. Please get this guy back on Action Comics. He is gonna be big. As I said this is a fantastic continuation on the march towards Blackest Night. I loved that the Guardians continue to make bad decisions and treat their Corps like children. I like the teaser premonition Hal had..what could that mean?, I wonder? Why would Sinestro say that to Hal? I love that Agent Orange was set loose on the Blue Lanterns, he must have the BLUE RING!! And two Lanterns happen upon the Black Power Battery and the beginning of the end. Who will be the Black Guardian? I am guessing Nekron. It can’t be the Anti-monitor since it seems he is actually in the battery and powering the corps. Looks like the already hot GL books are going to really start heating up now. 8 out of 10 (this should have been a 9, but the messy art blew a point)
Incredible Hercules #130: This has been the weakest issue by far in the run. Pak and Van Lente have done magic on this book, unfortunately this one lacked the magic and tone necessary for the scope of the issue. Essentially Hercules in Mythic Hades to rescue his father Zeus who is being placed on trial while captive by his brother Hades. This should be epic, but due to the jokes and actually some of the scripting comes off silly. This was the issue to make the book a little more serious. Zeus doesn’t curse, sorry that was simply a bad touch. It isn’t horrible, the issue doesn’t feel right. I will say it is enjoyable but not up to expectations. Although you are treated to some action it is largely an awkwardly scripted rant on how bad Zeus is. And Zeus’ more awkward rebuttal. Hopefully the cliffhanger surprise leads to a kick ass issue. Another big problem was the spelling of Herakles. There is no “C” in Greek. It’s Herakles, with a “K”, screw spell check! The art was utilitarian. Nothing impressive, but certainly did a good job with the storytelling. Straight forward. There were a few nice high points, especially the panel flashbacks of the gods vs. the titans or giants. 6 out of 10
New Avengers #54: Gotta hand it to Bendis. The guy is writing the hell out of this book. This issue was great. Nice introduction of the new Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Voodoo, excellent team up with Strange and Son of Satan to prevent Domrammu from getting a hold of the Eye of Agamotto and getting a foot hold in the Earth Dimension. All down with great dialogue, wonderful pacing, some nice flashes of color and characterization and even setting up some foreboding through Hellstrom’s speech to the team about the end of days being upon then. And then you have some nice bits as the debate between Clint and Osborne heat up, with Clint coming to the realization he may have to kill the bastard. This issue, this entire arc was rock solid. I am even going to pick up the Doctor Voodoo series on the strength of his appearance here. You know, I should be pissed Bendis left Mighty Avengers, but it’s hard to hate the guy when month in month out he does a bang up job with this book. Tan did an amazing job on art chores, except from small crowded panels it’s beautiful, energetic and dynamic. With nice bits of character and action. He really sold the fight between the heroes and the Hood/Dormammu. Some really great pages of Loki coming to Parker Robin’s side at the end I think he inked himself. Those few pages were gorgeous. He should do that when ever he gets the chance. 9 out of 10
Amazing Spiderman #598: I am going to say it. Best storyline of 2009. Joe Kelly is doing wonders with not only Spidey, but all the support characters, the Osborns(including Lily) and the “Dark” Avengers. Last week it was Dakan this week Bullseye is put to great use. Spidey joking before the torture was excellent. The story is incredibly dramatic and intense with great character development and pacing. It is a great ride. One of my all time top 3 favorite Spiderman stories. Harry Osborn is really going to lose it. I mean his life just went to hell in a hand basket…at least he got some powered armor out of the deal. And Norman…he is worse now then he ever was as the Green Goblin. The art is beautiful. Checchetto is a goldmine of great expression and storytelling. Wonderfully dramatic scenes and great action. And he can draw some hot chicks. I love how he does Harry and Norman Osborn. And I love his Lily and Menace. This guy should never ever be allowed to leave this book. Heck I will say it. I would follow this creative team anywhere they take me on Amazing Spiderman or what ever other stories they have to tell. 9 out of 10
I missed Secret Six! Damn the way my local comic shop displays new books!!!
Tags: Avengers, Batman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), JSA, Spider-Man, Superman