Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Comic Reviews for August 10th 2011

Deadpool #41
Written by: Daniel Way
Art by: Carlos Barberi

You know your interest in a comic is waning if the only thing you really enjoyed was the cover. Make no mistake, Dave Johnson has been doing some great covers for this title. It's a shame that Deadpool has such an unnatural hatred because it makes people miss out on some brilliant work by Johnson. (Who I think keeps getting screwed out of Eisners for 'Best Covers') I think what makes this stand out is the use of bright blue for the background. It makes the surreal image of Deadpool riding his brain all the more interesting to look at. But again, outside of the cover, I found very little to care about this issue.

I feel bad typing that last sentence because Daniel Way is doing something with Deadpool outside of bad jokes. He's very subtly curing Deadpool of his problems because I completely didn't notice the narration boxes were non-existent until Wilson pointed it out early in the issue. I think it's interesting when Way goes outside the box and try to put a different spin on the character. He did it earlier when Ghost Rider showed us his true origins and he's doing it again here. But outside of that portion of the comic, everything else is pretty damn boring to read. I don't care about this nurse who is obviously trying to make Deadpool worse, or the Foolkiller who I know very little about, or just anything else in general. Also, it's hard to believe that Deadpool is in Britain since Way isn't doing much with the dialogue to point that out. And no Way, using words like 'blimey' or 'bloody' won't change that.

It doesn't help that Carlos Barberi, who is a very good artist, isn't given much to work with here. When the book is non-stop action then he does a lot to keep the visuals interesting. But since this entire issue is talking heads it's nothing but boring set pieces of Deadpool sitting around virtually doing nothing. It may look good on a practical level but it does nothing for me to keep me interested. Also, the head nurse helping Deadpool out seems to change her face every panel. It might be the Walden Wong inks because I didn't notice these types of problems until he came on board.

So outside the fact that Way is 'curing' Deadpool, everything else is a bore. The secondary characters are one-dimensional and boring to read. The art is good, but nothing stands out because it's just talking heads. Bottom line: This book has lost all of it's luster since its first issue way back in 2008. It pains me to see that the only consistently good Deadpool book is finally following in it's many step-brothers shoes as a mediocre title. But sadly that's what its become.

Batman and Robin #26
Written by: David Hine
Art by: Greg Tocchini and Andrei Bressan

Two things I want to express before I get to my review. First I think David Hine is a very underrated writer. I've enjoyed a lot of things he's written for the past couple of years with the recently ended 'Azrael' series or the 'Arkham Reborn' storyline to name a few. He's not the most perfect writer out there for DC but he gives out a lot of interesting ideas (some of them very dark) and for the most part each comic he works on is executed very well. It's a shame more people don't talk about him because he gets saddles to do 'interm' runs on books for other, high profile creators. (Like he did a short run on 'Detective' after Rucka/Williams III but before Snyder/Jock). Hopefully this issue will show people he can be suited for a bigger title in the future. The second thing I want to point out is that Greg Tocchini, easily the worst artist of 2011, is on this title. Which might hurt the fact that this was a very good comic to read but with horrible art to boot.

Let me explain a little further that last sentence. I very much enjoyed this comic from beginning to end on a story standpoint. You can just tell from the absolutely gorgeous Chris Burnham cover that this is gonna be a weird comic. That's what you get when a bizarre mix of French supervillains break out and cause mayhem at the Louvre. 'The Son of Man' is the villain that caused this entire mess and judging from his constant narration, he has a few screws loose. So right off the bat you got a bizarre head villain with a mix of other interesting villains like 'Sister Crystal', who can turn people to glass or 'Ray Man' who's like 'Vertigo Man' but much more fucked up. Pretty much this story is just a massive set piece with Batman, Robin, and Nightrunner (or as my Republican friends call him 'Enemy') fighting these baddies. It's not the smartest story in the world but it's a hell of a lot of fun to see these guys fight these guys and the end of it all is a true mind fuck. I thought Snyder was gonna give us something disturbing with the finale of 'Detective' this week but the end of this issue ends with the 'Most Fucked Up Moment of 2011' award for me.

The problem with this entire issue though is that the visuals has to balance the bizarre goings on of the issue. It doesn't help that you have the 'Worst Artist of 2011' Greg Tocchini to do these visuals for you. (At least for the first fourteen pages) While there are shades of brilliance within these pages, like having a filmstrip on the edges of 'The Son of Man's' flashbacks or the massive group of people fighting Damien, it's all very rushed and uneven throughout. I mean look at the first page of this comic if it's on you. Look at Dick at the bottom of the page: Just what the fuck is wrong with his mouth? It's like he's Freddy Kruger or at the very least a minor burn victim. Huge mistakes like that are peppered throughout the comic which almost destroys the ideas Hine puts into each page. Sometimes characters are standing the wrong way, or the flow of action between panels make no sense, or the fact of the matter is that some panels look downright unfinished. Again there are times where I am a bit impressed with how Tocchini somewhat puts Hine's ideas on the page. But at the end of the day it looks grossly embarrassing that this is considered 'A' material for a big comic company. However, the final six pages are done by Andrei Bressan and it begs the question: Why the fuck couldn't Bressan do these last four issues let alone the final one!? I'm sure these pages are rushed but the huge turn in quality goes up once his pages start. Hell his pages involve the most disturbing moments of the entire issue so big props for him for drawing a seriously fucked up ending. Makes no sense why he couldn't do this issue....

So at the end of the day we have this going for the comic: Big ideas, good execution by the writer, but the art spoils everything. If Andrei Bressan did the entire issue, then I think this would've been a fantastic issue to end the first volume of Batman and Robin. Plus it would've done justice to the great script by David Hine. But sadly Greg Tocchini ruins the entire issue by his rushed and unfinished pencils for the majority of the book. Hopefully that man never gets a job again after this horrible run on the title. On the flip side, let's hope we see a lot more David Hine in the future because he's a name to look out for.

The Red Wing #2
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Nick Pitarra

I would love to somehow go into the mind of Jonathan Hickman for one full day. A Being John Malkovich approach if you will. Because I have a distinct feeling that Hickman knows exactly what's going on in each title he writes even though it never feels like it when reading it. It's a bit awkward to point this out but.....I have no idea what's going on in this title.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the issue by no means. Hickman goes somewhat philosophical with this issue, especially in the beginning with the unnamed pilot stuck in Mayan times explaining the concept of War to his new friends. It's an interesting discussing and I like how those pages turn into almost full text with only one image by Pitarra accompanying them. The rest of the issue though, it feels like stuff is happening behind the scenes and Hickman doesn't want to show us them. When reading the issue I think to myself 'Well okay these characters are talking' but then I think 'Why should I care?' Other then this Time War being mentioned I can't see why these particular group of characters are who we should be following. Add in the twist at the very end of the issue and you got yourself even more confusion on top of the confusion I already had.

What isn't confusing is the absolutely gorgeous artwork by Nick Pitarra. I said it again last issue but he's got the fully detailed style of Frank Quitely but the bizarre layouts of Seth Fisher. The sequences in the past are the biggest highlights of the comic because the scope of Pitarra's details are in each panel. It's like Pitarra literally went into the past, got some pictures, and got an actual portrayal of the land and the people at the time. While I'm not saying the stuff involving the present (or in this case the future....) doesn't look great too, it's the coloring once again spoiling an otherwise flawless artist. Rachelle Rosenberg's colors are way to muted for what's going on in the pages. It seems to be fine enough during the Mayan sequences but the stuff involving the cadets at the training camp is too dull of colors. Maybe the future is going to be a sterile environment but if the brightest color you can use is beige then we got a problem. The coloring also seems to smush the characters sometimes, with case in point being the unnamed soldier in the past. His face changes so many times because of the coloring I got confused at the end who that was.

Aside from the messy coloring, this is a pretty damn good looking book. Nick Pitarra is a great new(ish) talent that everyone should look out for in the future. These pages are so detailed but also so wacky it's a great mix to give us some gorgeous pages. However, the story is so far non-existent so just like Hickman's other book, SHIELD, this book is definitely a must buy for art first and the story second.

Detective Comics #881
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Jock and Francesco Francavilla

It's a bit cliche but I kept thinking of the song 'The End' by The Doors whenever a book is ending. While 'Detective Comics' is far from over, it certainly feels like it with the end of Scott Snyder, Jock, and Francesco Francavilla's run on this title. Its had some massive highs and some disappointing lows for me, but for the most part I think this is one of the best runs the title has ever had. This title has basically went from a random mix of stories of Batman fighting his rouge gallery to one of the scariest titles on the market. This run, in my opinion anyways, has signified Scott Snyder as 'THE' best writer at DC (even with some disappointing issues as mentioned earlier). So with an oversized ending and both of the artists at play, just how is Snyder going to end this magnificent run?

The disappointment I was talking about earlier is a bit weird to some I'm sure. While I think each arc of this run (sans the random one-shot) have incredible beginnings and 2nd issues; the finales of each arc were a bit lacking. That isn't the case here as Snyder writes (and boy does he writes) one hell of a finale for his run. It's a bit of a cheat that it's one long, MASSIVE monologue to get James to explain everything about how he was integral to every storyline and how it all boils down to this final confrontation. It's a bit hokey that James is 'that guy' in a comic to explain his entire massive plan and get the hero (Barbara) to run away, but Snyder writes it in a way where it's chilling to read. James is just one messed up individual and his back and forth dialogue with Barbara and with Dick later is pretty damn entertaining to read. Everything about this issue is tense and if anything Snyder is the master at setting the tone and making everything tense to read. I was chomping at my fingernails if Snyder was going to off Barbara just in the hindsight that a writer could do anything just because the reboot is coming soon. I also think Snyder handles the finale pretty well with Jim finally giving us the hint that he knows all along about Dick, Bruce, and everyone else. But also it's a nice summary of the arc and how even when the heroes win, it's never going to end for these characters.

As mentioned earlier both Jock and Francavilla get halfsies of the finale, and while I'm not sure the reasoning behind what pages they do, it's a gorgeous looking book. Francavilla handles most of the pages with James talking to Barbara and Dick and Francavilla also knows how to handle mood too. It's really all in the coloring to how Francavilla achieves this. A great mix of reds and purples somehow gives me the sensation that something chilling is going down. And I like the small touches of detail like doing a panel of Barbara's eyes as James pulls a knife out, or you can see the information on James medical bracelet. Jock handles the more action packed sequences with Dick trying to save Barbara or the great finale involving Jim. I especially loved the small Bats the followed Dick as he was on the rooftops of Gotham early in the book. Basically it's everything you loved about these two guys in one setting. What's not to love?

So, aside from the very lengthy explanation by James, I found everything about this finale to be perfect. Snyder sets the mood perfectly and James interaction with Barbara and Dick are the highlights of the issue. Add in some gorgeous artwork by Jock and Francavilla and you got one memorable finale here. It's a shame that this particular run by Scott Snyder is now over. But considering his ideas for his new Batman run with Greg Capullo, I'm certain we got one hell of a second Batman run with Snyder coming up.

Hellboy: The Fury #3
Written by: Mike Mignola
Art by: Duncan Fegredo

Characters dying in comics is nothing new, but you gotta admit that 2011 seems to be the year of 'Death' for comics. First we got Johnny Storm, then Ultimate Spider-Man, and a lot other minor characters throughout the year. This time we got another major character seemingly coming to an end with Hellboy possibly going six feet under. But if you read every single Hellboy comic like I have, you know there has to be much more then just Hellboy flat out dying. I will say this about this particular comic: I want all comic book deaths to be this amazing to look at!

This issue of 'The Fury' is all about the art, let's be honest. I'm not saying the dialogue within these pages are bad but it's definitely not what your going to be noticing in this issue. Although small touches like bringing characters back from 'The Wild Hunt' and referring to the lillies from the great one-shot 'The Nature of the Beast'. But other then those slight nods, it's mainly a silent issue.

To do another cliche today let me say that the art for this particular issue ended up going to 11. Duncan Fegredo pretty much sealed the deal of getting nominated for an Eisner with this issue. Each page is non-stop with action and the amount of explosions and fire effects feel like they're going to leap out of the comic into the real world. London is burning to a crisp while Hellboy is duking it out with a massive dragon. I mean the amount of detail in each panel is staggering. From seeing individual bricks from a castle fall to the ground, to the amount of corpses flaying on the ground; you need to look at every panel closely to enjoy it all. Hell Dave Stewart also sealed another Eisner nod with the amazing colors he uses. I've never seen so many reds, oranges, or yellows in a comic nor have I seen so many shades of those colors used brilliantly. Hellboy's red looks different from the red blood, to the fire of a dragon looks different then coming from a burning London. He uses uses a great shade of grays to show the aftermath of the big battle and it brilliantly shows the destruction of London afterwards too.

The story might be a little light in terms of dialogue but you get your money's worth (and then some) with the art. Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart (who should have a bigger font to his name as colorist) just outdid themselves with this issue and has help draw one of the most gorgeous looking comics this year. But I tell ya what got me most excited of all with this comic and that would be the final page. It hints at something that excites me to no end for the future of Hellboy (sans the inevitable bad puns to come from it) But also just seeing the only single credited name for the creative team: Mignola. Holy hell, 2012 can't come quick enough if we're going to be seeing some Mignola pencils for the future.

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