Comic Capsule Reviews 7/10/2009

Green Lantern #43: I know this is the week everyone is supposed to be talking about Wednesday Comics, and I will too, but really this issue, the “prologue” to Blackest Night and origin of Black Hand, including his role as the Avatar of the Black Lanterns really was the best book in a relatively small week for me. In fact…this is my favorite single issue since Morrison/Mahnke’s collab on Superman:Beyond. What really worked for me here, and usually I am very critical of vulgar gore in my capes is how well tonally the book is put together. Both the writing and art are pitch perfect.

Geoff John really does a great job constructing Black Hand into a layered character. Johns has a knack for this kind of development. He did it over the last few years with Sinestro. Johns walks us through Hand’s life long fascination with death and the macabre. And you see it play out wonderfully in stages and how his cookie cutter family is affected along the way. His mother’s distance, his brother’s disdain and finally even at the end his father’s futile hope. All of this added to a super villain origin and character insights through first person narration. Finally Johns pushes the limits by melding an almost Tales from the Crypt vibe to Black Hand’s final decent into the arms of his beloved death and accepting his role as the first Black Lantern and avatar of Death. Great writing and pacing, and really sets a tone for the elements we may see as Blackest Night finally dawns on the DCU.

I really cannot put to words what Doug Mahnke brought to this book. To says its perfection is an understatement. The best way to put is..every page as you look and read it is flawless. The elements of super heroics are splendid, the horror elements I truly believe could not have been delivered at this level by any other artist. Even the mundane family life of young William Hand is beautifully put together as if Mahnke deliberately channeled 1950’s Americana. I can’t imagine a more perfect artist to handle this event. He pushes the horror and gore to the forefront without making it obscene or vulgar. There’s artistry in every line, expression and panel. Not to over do it, but Mahnke should really get an award here, and the inker and colorist did a  flawless job as well. Nice slick inks and great colors, you can see the colorist restrained the use of flares, and burns and other digital efx that just kill the line art. I am very impressed, and I am sure the best is yet to come. Johns and Mahnke are the creative force to watch at DC…based on this I would buy anything these guys do together. 10 out of 10

Guardians of the Galaxy #15: I am almost really liking this book. The reason I say almost is that despite Abnett and Lanning’s clever, witty take on characters like Rocket Raccoon, Vance Astro and Drax…none of the characters seem to ever do any thing useful or good. So much of the time I am left wondering what I like about the book. Because it’s really not the team. I like the stories. I don’t know if that makes any sense. As an example. This issue features both the Inhuman Royal Family and some Imperial Guardsman descending on the Guardian’s base in Knowhere. It’s a nice pile up as no one is particularly effective, but Abnett and Lanning showcase their ability to move quickly between action and witty character moments and interactions. Black Bolt rescues his Cousin Crystal and they are gone. And then the Guardians rip into the Imperials. And by the end they are somewhat victorious, yet its short lived with half the team kidnapped by the newly awakened Starhawk and called to action by a screaming Celestial head. So much goes on it sweeps you into a frantic symphony of action. There some interesting moments. Like Warlock turning from his golden color to a purplish Magnus colored as he rips apart some Imperial soldiers. I wonder what that was about? My favorite parts though are bits of brilliant dialogue by Starlord, and Cosmo on his back being licked by Lockjaw asking, “are you God?”  The art is very nice. Walker is very good. Its weird it’s like Angel Medina and Frank Quitely had an artistic love child. The guy is really good if somewhat raw. He really does wonderful work with expression, action and driving home the drama. I really love the splash of Black Bolt coming right at me on the second page. Great stuff, i’ll stick around for a while more. 8 out of 10

R.E.B.E.L.S. #6: I’m going to start with the art to get it out of the way. St. Aubin is has had better days. This issue is his worst. Large amounts of it come off amateurish and rushed. Giving much of it an unfinished unprofessional quality. I expect better from a book from DC or Marvel. Art like this can tank a book fast, and I am sad to say I may have to drop this after the Starro arc. ST. Aubin’s art in the first few issues seemed much better crafted and deliberate then what we get here. The lack of detail and inconsistency is very distracting. Even with all that, he still manages to tell a decent story. Unfortunately this is not a level of quality that DC should have on a book. I hope St. Aubin can pull it back together next issue. The story by Bedard continues to impress me. He has done amazing work re-imagining Starro and introducing some elements of the cosmic DCU. I really enjoy his scripting and how he writes Vril Dox. Its is very engaging and I would certainly love to continue reading this book and see where Bedard takes us. You know I can’t help but think some one like Pete Woods could catapult this book into the stratosphere. Any way, I am conflicted. On one hand great writing, on the other amateurish art. 6 out of 10

Uncanny X-men: First Class #1: I prefer this book infinitely to anything X-related I have read in the last 5 years. Sure its basically Marvel Adventures X-men recast with the Giant Size X-men era team but what I enjoyed about it is its a fast, fun read with classic comic book plot. Scott Gray starts the ball rolling effortlessly setting up Kurt’s feeling out of place among humans, and given the chance to visit the Inhuman’s city where he will not be a freak outcast he jumps at the opportunity. Of course, once he gets there, although fascinated by the wonder of it all, goes bats#!% crazy when the Inhumans take children and expose them to mutating Terrigen Mists. Of course all this happens after we get a nice visit between the two genetic groups at the X-mansion. I really enjoyed the danger room sequence and interaction between Wolverine and Gorgon. It is fun read, and without all the baggage and event driven mania of current X-continuity. The art was nice and clean by Roger Cruz. He does a great job with the characters and costumes and brings a freshness to the X-men and Inhumans without over doing the characters in extreme stylized caricatures of the era he is drawing from. The coloring is nice, although the white shiny dots need to go. Over all I really enjoyed it. These are the version of the characters I like. I don’t mind seeing new stories with them like this. Especially since the X-books have lost their moorings  years ago that this version seems much more authentic and interesting then the forced drama of the current X-crap. I think this book would have been better, if they launched the title with a more team-centric story rather then focusing on the elf. My hope is they BND the entire X-verse to right before the Siege Perilous. 7.5 out of 10

Wednesday Comics week #1: I have to really applaud DC for experimenting with this format. For those who don’t know, Wednesday Comics is a new weekly series of strips featuring several characters including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in their own stories not necessarily tied to continuity or in the familiar comic book version fans may be used to printed on newspaper stock and size. I am very impressed by the line up of creators and over all quality of each of the stories. I love the oversized newspaper presentation and the texture of paper really brought me back to a different place. DC managed to not only give me a great visual and reading experience by the best in the biz. But also a great sense of wonder as I unfolded and turned the pages and felt it beneath my fingers.  I grade the entire book 9 out of 10. And I recommend it to everyone.

Here are the individual strips.
Batman: Great art and tone. 9 out of 10
Kamandi: Suspenseful, beautiful. 9 out of 10
Hawkman: Bigger then life, authentic. 7 out of 10
Deadman: noirish and stylistic. 8 out of 10
Green Lantern: pitch perfect. 8 out of 10
Superman: Wow. Wonderfully presented. 9 out of 10
Metamorpho: 60’s era zaniness by Allred and Gaiman. 10 out of 10
Teen Titans: This is what the comic should be like. 9 out 10
Strange Adventure: Who knew I would ever be interested in Adam Strange? Great art. 10 out of 10
Supergirl: Super cute. 8 out of 10
Metal Men: Funny, great art, clever. 9 out of 10.
Wonder Woman: Not what I expected. Different. 7 out of 10
Sgt. Rock: More please, was way too quick. 7 out of 10
Flash: Better then Flash has been in years. I love it. Beautiful art too. 9 out of 10
The Demon/Catwoman: Stylish and wonderful. Fun. Want more. 9 out of 10

I really hope this book sells hotcakes and picks up new readers along the way. I want more, the industry needs more innovation and quality content like this. Please support it.

Finally I am again frustrated my comic shop really does a lousy job of showcasing the new releases. I am so disappointed I missed New World of Krypton, I will make sure to get it next week. It is consistently a great read and has the BEST art. Pete Woods is amazing (and has laser beam eyes!). I highly recommend every one pick it up.

Tags: ,