Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Comic Reviews for September 28th 2011

Daredevil #4
Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Marcos Martin

It's funny how sometimes I can be really impatient when a book doesn't come out on time. Whether it's because the book is late for creative reasons, or if my LCS doesn't get the issue on time; it really bugs me. Now the latter is not really my store's fault but it still bugs me to no end that Diamond will shaft my store. So this brings to this particular issues of Daredevil, which practically contradicts everything I just said before. Because not only will I be willing to wait forever for another issue but I would be willing to pay any type of figure for an issue of this series. (Note: This last sentence does not reflect on higher cost prices Marvel)

Mark Waid is just doing magical things with this series and to be honest he hasn't done too much. Yes the tone is different, which is for the better, but the overall theme or storyline for his run really hasn't kicked in. It's almost reading one-and-done stories of Daredevil enjoying life and fighting super villains. This issue in particular is more of Murdock getting used to his new practice of letting the victim helping themselves and some kick-ass action sequences thrown in for good measure. What makes this issue stand out is that Marcos Martin is drawing the issue. Normally someone replacing an artist, especially in this case for Paolo Rivera, is a dicey move but you can't complain at all with Martin's pencils. There is a weird balance of complex ideas within the pages but it all looks so simple to look at. The one panel in particular of Foggy's office struck me because on paper it's just a simple office room. But then you look at the enormous detail within such as the careful placement of Foggy's hat on the bust, I can tell it took him some time to figure out how to put the hat there. Also, the opening sequence should be noted for the brilliant panel layout. You don't see 3x5 panel grids in comics often but he totally made it work for Daredevil trying to quietly sneak by some lions.

This comic is more of the same, but its a good thing. Or a great thing in this case for Daredevil. Mark Waid is doing wonderful things for this book and he's doing it by doing very little. Also, Marcos Martin coming in to do some more brilliant artwork is never a bad things and he knocks it out of the park. Maybe I was overreacting on my opinion on waiting for this title. But if each issue, no matter who draws it, took forever to come out I really don't think I would care that much. If each issue is this perfect then why complain?

Journey Into Mystery #628
Written by: Kieron Gillen
Art by: Whilce Portacio

I have been a huge supporter for this title since it came back so many months ago. Kieron Gillen has been able to tell his own stories involving Asgardian lore without getting bogged down into Fear Itself. Sure that has been the anchor for this entire story, but most of the time it's just a passing reference and Loki's schemes don't seem to tie into the Serpent all that much. That pretty much all changes with this issue as Loki is now going into a full on assault into the Serpent's lair. How does this bode for the series that now is a full on tie-in to a mediocre event?

Surprisingly very well for the most part with this issue. This part of the story does delve deep into Fear Itself, but again Gillen tries very hard no to make it feel like a burden. The overall plot for the issue is 'storming the castle' per say as Loki uses all of his allies to get to his goal. The Disir sisters are used cleverly to get rid of the guards, Tyr is the big muscle in it all, and The Destroyer is just....well Destroying things. The story does get a bit muddled towards the end because I am bit uncertain what Loki is trying to do at the end. Maybe that's the point to some degree because Loki motivations has been unclear for months now. I'm sure next month, which is the finale of this arc, will reveal all to the readers.

What made this issue a bit more confusing is the art by Whilce Portacio. Now I'll be perfectly honest here: I have never seen a comic with Portacio art. I know he is well regarded by a lot of fans, but something about this didn't seem right to me. It's a little uneven at times because Portacio character models are so uneven from page to page. The Disir sisters are the best example, with most of them having different heads and figures throughout the book. Hell, Loki looks like a middle age man at times too. There are some good pages here with the action, like Tyr or Destroyer breaking things. But other times I can't tell what is going on. Maybe Portacio had to rush to get this issue done, because normally Braithwaite would be doing the issue here. Either way it's a bit too uneven to really recommend it.

Even with this story now going full force into Fear Itself, Gillen manages to still tell 'HIS' story without an event tying him down. It's just a shame that the fill in art by Portacio is uneven at best, and down right rushed at worse. I still think this issue is another solid outing for what has been a very great story arc, it's just a shame the art couldn't stay consistent for two straight issues to keep it strong.

Secret Avengers #17
Written by: Warren Ellis
Art by: Kev Walker

Who would have thought that a writer who doesn't like mainstream comics at all could write the best run of a mainstream comic? The first issue of Warren Ellis's run on Secret Avengers was the kick in the butt the series needed. His idea of making each issue a one shot of sorts each month is a great idea. Because it won't be bogged down too much into continuity and we can get six separate, action packed issues. This month we have the second issue of Warren Ellis with artist Kev Walker taking the reigns. Can this title go 2/2?

Short answer: Yes

Long Answer: What I like about this particular issue is how Ellis made this completely interesting with very little explanation on what's going on. All we know is that someone is kidnapping innocent civilians in an Eastern European country and the Secret Avengers are the only one's that can stop them. Most of the issue is just Cap N' Steve and his crew getting chased by 'Meat Robots' and fighting them off to get the the bad guys HQ. While there isn't much in terms of characterization there is a lot of entertaining moments peppered throughout the book My favorite thing about the book is how the 'Meat Robots' talked. In general this felt like a toned down issue for Ellis, and no sign of his wacky dialogue. But then the robot piloting the fighter plane gets a line or two and it just lost me. That was basically 'Nextwave' writing in that panel and it made me laugh so hard when I read it. The issue does end kinda flat though. I mean we get an explanation of the plot...sort of. Felt like Ellis didn't know how to end it properly with just one page.

The art by Kev Walker though is pretty great. If you loved him on Thunderbolts you'll love him here. Heck Moonstone is in the issue which is.....wait I'm being told that's actually Sharon Carter. Okay, so that's a bit of a problem with this issue with Walker clearly using the same models from some characters in Thunderbolts for this. But it's a tiny issue when you got so much great layouts and action sequences in here. We get another great two page spread with the Quincarrier breaking in half. It might not be as epic in scope as McKelvie's Moon Knight two page spread from before but it's a great highlight for the issue.

I'm not sure why Marvel didn't think of this sooner with Warren Ellis taking over the Secret Avengers. Yes he despises writing for mainstream comics but let's face it, he's really good at it. This was just an action packed, entertaining issue through out. This comic has become that mindless action series it was labeled in the first place. Let's see where the book takes us next time with David Aja.

FF #9
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Steve Epting

Here's the one thing I'm pondering about this run so far by Hickman: Why the hell isn't there a Doom series?...I mean a GOOD one, not that lame 'teenage' Doom mini we're getting. This run by Hickman has proved that he might be the best writer to write Doom in forever. I'm not saying the previous writers of Fantastic Four never did a great job, but they almost pale in comparison to his Doom. So cue this issue right after the big end of Doom on the ropes with his 'allies' last month. Oh and there's apparently a big war going down too.

Most of this issue does deal with the War of Four Cities and the Inhumans taking over the battle. But the best parts of this for me was Doom fighting everyone in this. The opening two pages of him taking out Diablo was some of the best writing so far on this series. Doom is so angry, but calm enough to realize he needs to do one thing but he's too 'Doom' to listen to anyone. Then the final pages with him and the alternate Richards was interesting and I didn't see it coming. It looks obvious right now where that's heading but I think this storyline is going to prove why the 616 Doom is the best there is. Back to the Inhumans section, they weren't bad but it didn't hold my interest as much as the Doom. Especially the final pages of Reed, Nathaniel, and Spider-Man going into this time portal-thingy. That just came out of left field and I didn't understand what was going on. But it's still interesting to read so it's not like it was boring at all. Like most Hickman stories a tiny more explanation could have been nice.

For the art it really is hard to think of new things to talk about because Steve Epting has been so brilliant on this series. Let me just say that it's more of the same. Epic layouts with enormous detail within each. The effects should be noted here as well because there are some fantastic fire effects in here. Doom, once again, particularly looked great in the opening two pages.

So my love for Dr. Doom took over this review, but his moments are the best parts of this issue. Not to say again that the rest of the comic was bad, it was just a smug less interesting then everything else. Still this was yet another solid issue from this series and it's nice not to worry about the future of this series with the art back on track. It looks like we got some big action sequences coming down for the next few issues. Can't wait to see just where Hickman is gonna take us in the next few months.

All Star Western #1
Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by: Moritat

Yes I am one of many people who did not read Jonah Hex in issue form. So many people praised the series for so long, I wondered why I never delved into DC's Old West before. A year ago I started buying the Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray series in trade and I am so glad I did. Each issue of Jonah Hex is filled with so many intriguing stories, characters, and a wealth of artists that it feels like every issue was it's own separate comic. Now with the new DCU, DC is still willing to give the Old West a try (even with low sales from before) with All-Star Western. Old, lovable Jonah Hex is along for the ride too. But shockingly, he's going to be taken to a place we would never expect: Gotham City.

With this new run on Jonah Hex, the boys have decided to move Hex East to Old Gotham. Even before Batman existed this was pretty much a hell-hole with a ton of criminals and lowlifes populating the streets. I think Palimotti and Gray did more then enough to prove that with endless amounts of bar fights and alleyway scenes to show it. I think the guys also did a good job, at first anyways, using Amadeus Arkham as the central narrator for the piece. It would've been simple to just use an omnipresent narrator like before, but it's clear the guys have big plans for Arkham. While it was a great issue all around, it did feel like the guys had TOO MUCH to work with on the first issue. It was interesting that they advertised back-up stories for the series yet there is none to speak of here. Maybe the guys felt they needed to explain the plot with all the pages available. But after a while it did get overbearing, it must be said. We didn't need that many narration boxes to explain why Hex is who he is. We could have gotten just as much information for new readers without saying much.

Now we have a completely new artist taking the reigns for a Hex book with Moritat. He has been loved for ages with Elephantmen and recently with The Spirit (that I want to read) but this is the first time I'm seeing his art. It's a weird style that I can't quite pin down. It's certainly has a cartoony style to it, but not too cartoony to make it stand out. If there is anything I can really say about the style is that it is a mix of Chris Bachalo with Rafa Garres. (With the case for Garres it's not as ugly as his style but it's similar. I particularly love the coloring in this which sets the tone right off with the first page. Normally a book filled with mostly browns wouldn't look good. But it fits with the 19th Century setting of Old Gotham, which looks remarkably like Old England of the same century. (Heck people in Gotham talk like the British too) I do like some of the nice touches throughout the book. Like how the Police Chief slowly turns red as he gets angrier. Overall it's an interesting style that takes some getting used too but it's a solid start for the title.

So it is safe to say with me that I am now going to read a Jonah Hex monthly. Palmiotti and Gray do a great job reintroducing Jonah Hex while also starting a political murder mystery in the process. Sometimes the narration goes a bit overboard towards the end, but at the end it's not a deal breaker. The art by Moritat does take some getting used to but it's a style I grew to love. It's dirty, but really beautiful at the same time (if that makes sense). I do want to see the backup stories come into play next time though, which we should get with Jordi Bernet next month!

Aquaman #1
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ivan Reis

If you're life leads you with questions/
Seek advice from under the sea/
Dear Aquaman, Dear Aquaman/
Send your advice to me, Aquaman!

Here's another confession for me this week: I know very little about Aquaman. Yes I've watched Justice League cartoons, I've listened to Tom Katers, and I've read the Morrison JLA issues. But when it gets right down to it I just know nothing about the guy. Maybe it's because he has had more reboots then Hawkman which is a good start. But here's another big problem with the guy: He's silly. This is a guy I could never get around too because he's been a big joke for so long. Everyone's tried to make him relevant over the years but with no success. So now DC needs to bring their expert when it comes to making things relevant once again. Enter Geoff Johns.

It's as much as a surprise for me as it is to you but: This was my pick of the week. Let me explain if no one agrees with this sentiment (which I'm sure will happen). I loved this opening issue because Johns immediately goes for his ultimate problem of being silly and lame. Heck we even get a character saying point blank why no one likes the guy. This type of meta writing works for me in this case because it tells me Johns knows of the criticism and is ready to make it all go away. The people think he's silly, the criminals think he's silly, hell even the cops are embarrassed to admit he helped them. But what makes it work for me is how Arthur is trying real hard not to get angry at these criticisms. I love the scene of Aquaman coming in to have a bite to eat, fish no less, but he gets asked a million questions. It feels real that a superhero of his caliber would be egged on. Johns balances the issue with these creatures coming out to land which I must admit are pretty creepy. I have a feeling Johns is going to make this an uncomfortable opening arc once Aquaman starts fighting these things.

I didn't even get to the better part of the issue which is Ivan Reis drawing this. He has been a mainstay for DC for a long time and if you haven't loved his art before then you must be crazy. I believe this is the first time that he is being inked by Joe Pardo (but don't quote me on that). The inking definitely stands out as these pages, while you can easily tell it's Reis, does look slightly different. Again it's only slight, but Reis pencils look a bit looser cause of the inks....kinda has a Neal Adams feel to it. But there is such great detail in these panels it's amazing to think he can do this monthly. Not sure if I wanna see more of these creatures because how disturbing they are, but I doubt this won't happen.

It's a shock to me how much I love this issue because of Geoff Johns recent track record. His events have been pretty dull lately and his first issue of Green Lantern this month was pretty poor. But Geoff Johns keeps this simple by giving us a meta intro for the character. Tell us flat out why this character doesn't work in principal is the first start to change him. I have no doubt Johns will have some ridiculous big event tied to Aquaman in the future. But for now he ignores the really big picture and is going to give us a strong start to make Aquaman relevant again. It certainly doesn't hurt to have Ivan Reis gorgeous artwork to make it all the more better to read. Considered me prepared to be a full time Aquaman fan for the future.

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