10 Capsule Reviews on Marvel and DC Comics from 1/19/11 (Green Lantern Corps 56, Iron Man 500, Wolverine 5)

1. Wolverine # 5 by Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes

Wolverine, in hell, meets his father. That’s the basic gist of the issue and, well, to be honest, it really helps if you’ve read Origin for that to matter much. Wolverine, in the end, knows he’s more killer than hero, but also hates that and fights it, eventually turning on his proud father and making an enemy. It’s really rather good stuff, between the Sabretooth fight, the talk with his father, and Ghost Rider, Mystique, and Hellstrom taking Wolverine’s body to free it of possession, there’s a ton of action to go with the great character moments and realizations Wolverine comes to that he is, indeed, a Logan. Adding in that he now sets off on a revenge quest on those alive who set this up, well, we seem to be sending Wolverine either entirely down the road to hell or, more likely given the earlier Nightcrawler stuff, a religious reconciliation. I usually hate the latter type of story, but in a world with this much supernatural stuff and Aaron’s great understanding of Wolverine, he might actually pull this off. 7/10

2. Superman/Batman #80 by Chris Roberson and Jesus Merino

How in the hell is this the same guy that wrote last week’s Superman? In a story clearly inspired by DC 1 Million and JLA/Wildcats, Roberson has a classic version of Superman, along with Batman and Robin, capture Epoch and send him through time to be re-captured by the 1 Million versions of the character. If you have any fond memories of DC 1 Million, you should really get this, although I’m not sure how interesting it will be to those who lack said memories, fun adventure romp though it is. Roberson ends the issue with some nice meta-commentary about those who only look to the past, *coughComicsIndustrycough*, and has had a really successful, fun couple issues on this book. 7/10.

3. Legion of Super-Heroes #9 by Paul Levitz and Yildiray Cinar

Well, speaking of books looking in the wrong direction. Legion continues to beguile me- I love these characters, but they all seem extremely cookie cutter and the storytelling is clearly of a bygone era. The Legion are still protecting the United Planets from whatever nonsense is going around and, unfortunately, Levitz appears unable to write a Brainiac Five as intelligent as he’s supposed to be. I find it impossible that people like this more than the either the reboot or threeboot Legion (the last of those being my favorite). At least the art is good and Cinar gets some good use out of the Durlans’ shape shifting. I’m dropping this again. 3/10

4. Dipping into the Back Issue Bin: Deadpool Max #1-4 by David Lapham and Kyle Baker

From an ongoing I’m dropping to a mini I’m adding, this is violent absurdity at its best. Completely over the top, this book is reminiscent of Ennis’ Punisher when he wanted to go all out. Lapham really writes an entertaining maniac in Deadpool, managing to put he and Hydra Bob in ridiculous and fun situations. The larger conspiracy plot with Cable, along with all the future nonsense and over-the-top bad guys just makes this a top notch comic, immature sense of humor or not. This is 90s excess done with a creative flair. 8/10

5. Young Justice #0 by Kevin Hopps Greg Weisman and Mike Norton

This takes us between scenes in the Young Justice cartoon to Wally and Superboy hanging out, awaiting word on their fate from Batman. This is a really fun kids comic and good for anyone who likes the television show without being quintessential reading. Pet peeve, though, why use Dick and Wally, then characterize them as Tim and Bart? 6/10.

6. A Writer I like, Character I don’t: Supergirl #60 by Nick Spencer, James Peaty and Bernard Chang

I have only really liked Supergirl (at any length anyway) in the threeboot Legion, and, as such, I don’t really usually enjoy her book. This is an exception, where Kara has to deal with a new iPhone/Droid App that gives out Superhero sighting information. The guy who started the App thinks heroes hold back humanity, after a manner much like Lex Luthor, and sells the information to villains so they can get rid of the heroes. All of this is an awesome set up that really takes Fraction’s Detroit Steel from Iron Man in another interesting direction. Supergirl, meanwhile, deals with fanboys who throw themselves off roofs to meet her and Lois uncovers a Cadmus plot. Nick Spencer can do no wrong and as long as he’s with this book, I will be too. This feels like an excellent set up to a ton of stories and, with the Spencer twist, they are sure to be standout. 8/10.

7. Thor #619 by Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry

Speaking of Fraction, this is the first of his two books on the list and, well, the other is far superior. Fraction has some weird void creatures, who just look like standard demons, ready to kill the Asgardians. While he’s done a good job of building these creatures, his work with Asgard leaves much to be desired. Tyr and Balder die here, confronting these creatures alone for no reason. Odin is casually brought back, then utterly fails to reclaim the throne (and you’d think there was a story in Odin’s return, but, nope, he’s just back) and kid Loki runs off. Meanwhile, we have the scientist guy trying desperately to matter even though Asgardians get the plot without him. This is just a pure miss. 3/10

8. Green Lantern Corps #56 by Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham

GLC is back on top of the Lantern books. Here we have Sinestro pissed that the Weaponer who made his ring would dare kidnap his daughter, so he sends his Corps to kill the planet. It’s actually a really good plan and leaves one to wonder just how far the Weaponer thought this through. Sinestro is characterized excellently here and Soranik and Kyle really do well struggling with helping the resistance while unable to outright fight the Sinestro group. This kind of story is why Sinestro has become the A-List villain of the DCU. 8/10

9. A Book I Don’t Usually Read: Amazing Spider-Man #652 by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli

Alistair Smythe, son of the builder of the Spider-Slayers has gotten a group together to kill J. Jonah Jameson’s father and son. Spider-Man is, of course, around when this happens for a big action scene. It’s standard Spidey fair, but it’s all very contrived. That it always seems to be the people in his life this kind of thing happens to is a bit much. I know, Parker luck, but it’s more like Parker Dues Ex. The characterization on Pete is great, although quite why you’d bring your ex of years to your new girlfriend’s roller derby (really, roller derby match), best friends or not, strains credulity. Worse, his new girl is somehow has Spider-Man as a best friend. As much as I enjoyed the characters, the logic flips required to go with this all occurring is just too much for me. It’s not bad, if you can get your suspension of belief where it needs to be. 4/10.

10. Book of the Week Invincible Iron Man #500 – by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca (along with a ton of guest artists for various spots)

This arc takes a really cool look at the future, a future where major Iron Man weapons allow Mandarin to rule the world, with an adventure in the present day where Stark and both Peter Parker and Spider-Man (he doesn’t know they’re the same guy) help stop the first to get their hands on the equipment. This leads to a failsafe put on all of Stark’s materials, done in a quite clever way. Different artists tackle the different periods to great effect, which is the major strength of the story. Also notable is how well this fits in with the current arc, with major Iron Man villains allying against him, and the amazing Iron Man Annual which focuses on the Mandarin. Fraction really gets Stark and makes sense of a guy who can be so smart and so dumb at the same time, while he also surprisingly writes a pretty good Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Having the modern-day would-be terrorists inspired by a certain D-List villain is a touch of inspiration that made me smile the entire issue, even while recognizing the stakes. Parker is an excellent choice here to play up as a guy Stark turned to for a technical issue due to amnesia, thanks to the irony of Peter also having self-induced amnesia, except only Tony realizes his. This is a great, great book and Fraction really is building quite the legacy for himself on it. 9/10.

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