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Detective Comics #851 [Review]

Batman: Last Rites – Last Days of Gotham part 1 of 2

Writer: Denny O’Neil
Art: Guillem March
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Guillem March & Tony Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue seems to introduce a new character–at the least, I am unfamiliar with this character, not having read this title much in a lotta years. This character has elements dating back to the Gotham Earthquake (Batman: Cataclysm), and also has Two Face back in action, even as a doppleganger apparently is running around using his name. As the last guy to really deal with Two Face and with Bruce missing, Nightwing answers the call of duty and goes into action.

There’s something to the art in this issue that makes me think it’s got some manga influence, as the visual style puts me in mind both of that and some sort of adaptation of some cartoon I can’t think of. The art’s far from bad, though it being a bit stylized turns me off to it somewhat. Characters that I believe are intended to be recognizeable are, while other characters seem to look as they should based on what I get from the story’s context.

The story itself is something I really wanted to like, given this brief return by Denny O’Neil. Unfortunately, this issue just didn’t work for me, and I found myself having to force myself to read each page instead of skimming over to get to more interesting stuff. This feels like a fill-in; whether it is or not I don’t pretend to know; though the fact that it’s to be continued in an upcoming issue of Batman is rather telling. If you’re a longtime fan of O’Neil and steeped in Bat-lore from around the Cataclysm stuff and are a fan of Two Face, you’ll probably enjoy this. I came in as someone fresh off Batman: RIP interested in seeing the impact the absence of Batman himself has on everyone, and just was not engaged by the story.

All in all, a fairly disappointing issue for me, though I hope I’ve contextualized that above. The cover is what I must credit with drawing me in, combined with realizing O’Neil was penning the story–this cover image would make a great poster, I think.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Action Comics #872 [Review]

New Krypton part seven: Brainiac Lives

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson (variant by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Guy Major)
Publisher: DC Comics

Superman continues to interact with his cousin, aunt, and uncle over the recent strikes launched against his various enemies, which resulted in the death of a number of humans and the banishment of numerous bad seeds to the phantom zone. Plans are revealed to restore the other “bottle cities” as well that had been captured by Brainiac. While Luthor continues attempting to tap the knowledge/repository that is Brainiac, some militant Kryptonians continue pushing their agenda. As things spring into motion, some “Creature Commandos” are woken in a time new to them (as they were last seen during World War II, it seems). Finally, a strike by Reactron and Metallo shows that not even Kryptonians are safe on Earth.

This is probably my least-favorite chapter of this story so far. I think stuff is starting to wear a bit thin, or is just developing too slowly, somehow. I was particularly turned off by the “startling return of the Creature Commandos”–I don’t mind a “back-door pilot” here and there, but I cared nothing for these characters going in, and care nothing for them now–they seem very out of place and more suited for a period piece set in World War II, not waking up during this arc and taking some of the focus away from the Kryptonians dealing with life on Earth.

The art–while not confusing characters or anything and clearly showing what’s going on–seems also like a letdown after being spoiled with Gary Frank’s art the last number of months. It’s a real change, and the style doesn’t work all that well for me, at least not in this particular outing.

This is the seventh chapter of however many will make up the New Krypton arc. I find myself ready to see things wind down if this is how my attention’s going to be. Whatever it’s lacking, though, this is still quality stuff…just not as high as earlier chapters to the story.

Story: 6/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Final Crisis #5 [Review]

Into Oblivion

Script: Grant Morrison
Art: J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy, Jesus Merino
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Lettering: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: J.G. Jones (sliver by Pacheco, Merino & Sinclair)
Publisher: DC Comics

Green Lantern Hal Jordan is tried for apparent deicide, though it turns out someone has corrupted an Alpha Lantern–something that is not supposed to be able to happen. Meanwhile, as the dark gods revel in their victory and the nearly-awoken Darkseid, certain heroes band together to strike back as the world falls apart around them.

There’s a lot going on in this issue, which makes it feel somewhat choppy as we jump from point to point to point to point. This is going on, that’s also going on, this other thing’s happening, someone’s doing this other thing over here.

The art felt rather choppy as well with multiple artists covering different parts of the story. I’m hard-pressed to think offhand of an example of multiple artists detracting from a story for me, but this might be a first.

The story leaves me scratching my head–both for trying to get to an understanding of what’s actually going on in the bigger picture sense as well as the execution. As a “contained” story limited to just this mini and some tie-in minis, I don’t feel any great sense of urgency or crisis…this reads simply like some alternate unverse where Darkseid wins, and not the main DC Universe I’m supposed to actually care about.

This may read much better in a single volume when all the pieces are on the board to be read at once, and we actually see how events play out in the main DCU whenever the let this affect other books. Until then, it is a huge disappointment for me and is far less enjoyable than Rogues’ Revenge, Revelations, and Legion of 3 Worlds have been.

Worth getting if you’re following the event for the event’s sake, and if you’re enjoying this title thus far. If you’ve not been getting it so far, you’re probably better off catching up through wikipedia and if you’re so inclined, snag collected volume.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6/10

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 [Review]

Final Crisis: Revelations part four

Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Lettering: John J. Hill
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Covers: Tan, Glapion & Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics

Opening where the previous issue left off, we see a horribly wounded Spectre at Savage/Cain’s mercy, while the spirit of Mercy finds herself unable or unwilling to act, as Montoya and the Huntress seek just to survive this encounter. Retreating to a church to regroup, theology is debated as things spiral downhill for the heroes. The Spectre continues to be a powerful figure at the heart of this story’s conflict, with potentially vast repercussions to come as Savage/Cain makes his move.

I’m not entirely sure what to think on certain points in this issue. I can say that while it can be good to see some stuff brought up here–we don’t see characters discussing actual religion and theology all that often–I personally find a lot of faulty stuff here that–while it may work in context of the DCU–puts me off a bit.

It’s interesting to see the development of Mercy here; I’ve long been aware of and somewhat familiar with the Spectre; seeing a counterpart does make sense based on what I know of the Spectre character. At the same time, given the apparent scope of this story, it feels almost like THIS should have been the core book–this feels much more like some unverse-impacting crisis situation than what I’ve gotten out of the main Final Crisis book.

The art in this issue is quite good….I have no complaint with it. I like the way the Huntress and Question are portrayed here, and all the characters carry a certain detail that works quite well in giving visuals to the story.

All told, this is a nice, solid issue and as with some of the other tie-ins, I found this far more enjoyable and satisfying than the main title. Whether you’re reading Final Crisis itself or not, this is well worth picking up if you’re following the Spectre or Question characters, or have been following this series anyway.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Justice League of America #27 [Review]

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inkers: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund & Drew Geraci
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue shows the Shadow Cabinet in action, attempting to do their thing without bringing down the wrath of the Justice League…unfortunately for them, their acting with (the female) Dr. Light doesn’t go smoothly, and the Justice League is pulled into things. Meanwhile, other interactions are going on between certain characters, apparently moving their stories forward; particularly an awkward moment between Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, as well as Black Canary confronting the “Big Three” about their upper-level clique compared to the rest of the League.

I really can’t complain about the art. Benes has a certain style that really works for me, with plenty of detail and not too much in the way of being ‘stylistic’–the visuals are straight-forward and clear, easy to follow and nice to look at (though there’s a bit of gratuitousness I could definitey do without). Visually, this is a high-quality book.

I’m fairly mixed on the story. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read an issue of this title, so I’m understanably outta the loop–there are things going on here that either pass me by or just come outta the blue, I’m sure, given my not being “up” on the book. I really don’t get a sense who any of these Shadow Cabinet characters are, though. I know that this is apparently their introduction into the DCU and that the Milestone characters are being integrated as if they’ve always been present–all that meta-textual stuff I’m clear on. I just don’t feel that in-story there was much of anything to give a good sense of the characters’ individuality; for all I’d otherwise know, they’re generic charcters made up to throw some conflict at the Justice League. At the same time, this is an issue that’s gotta focus on the title characters–the existing members of the Justice League involved in the ongoing story arcs; we’re also introduced to the members (I count seven) of the Shadow Cabinet…making for a huge cast of characters.

I bought this issue for the Milestone characters. I remember picking up some of the Milestone books back in the day, particularly the Worlds Collide crossover with the Superman books at the time (I don’t recall if they crossed with other DC books or not). My expectations are probably higher than could really be reasonably delivered by a standard-sized single issue; I was excited, though, to learn this past summer that the Milestone characters would be returning, integrated as part of the DCU, and have looked forward to this since.

Not having followed this title, I can’t speak to the issue in context of the overarching ongoing stuff; but I was definitely left underwhelmed having picked this up to see the Milestone characters interacting with the DC characters–looks like that’ll come next issue, with this more as a bit of setup.

Worthwhile if you’re following the title, but if you’re picking this up for the Milestone stuff, it looks like you’d be better off waiting til issue 28 to really see the characters interact.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

What If..? Fallen Son #1 [Review]

What If? Fallen Son: What If… Iron Man Had Died?

Writers: Marc Sumerak
Artist: Trevor Goring
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Production: Joe Sabino
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue derives its story from the intent of answering the question “What if Iron Man had died [instead of Captain America]?” Opening with a recap of events we already know–the heroes’ Civil War, Captain America’s surrender, the bullets on the courthouse stairs–we see the outcome of the trial and where events could have gone had Cap not been assassinated. It is then that Tony Stark falls to events also tied back to the heroes’ war, and we see the world deal with Stark’s death, with snippets we get to check in on tied to the stages of grief. Without Stark to keep things moving as he’d tried, we see that certain more recent events are likely to have played out much differently.

While an interesting concept, I found this issue to be rather weak. I don’t know if that is the writing, or simply the amount of space to play with. We lose several pages to moving events forward without Cap’s death to get to Tony’s…and THEN cram in elements to tie to each of the grief stages, which makes things feel rather forced. Additionally, it seems that one ought to be up to date on subsequent Marvel events to fully appreciate certain moments here to fully appreciate the depth of this story’s events.

The art’s not bad, though not wonderful; it does the job and fits the story.

In addition to the main story, we’re treated to a brief story segment detailing the answer to the question “What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?” (Written by C.B. Cebulski, Penciled by Patrick Spaziante, Inks by Victor Olazaba, Colors by John Rauch, Letters by Jeff Powell, Production by Joe Sabino, Assistant Editor Michael Horwitz, Associate Editor Chris Allo and Editor Justin Gabrie)

This is a four-page story segment; I don’t have the context nor the interest in it, and would have preferred the few extra pages to have been available to the main story. The art here is not bad, but the story seems a complete waste without having the earlier chapter and not having (nor intending to get) the later chapters. If this story is really worth telling, it should have gotten its own issue and not simply be broken across however many of the What If? issues we have this year.

For me, this issue was a real disappointment, only really redeemed by the fact that against general trend, it is a mere $2.99 cover price, so at least I didn’t waste my money on the new “in” price of $3.99.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 5.5/10

Green Lantern Corps #31 [Review]

Sins of the Star Sapphire part three: Empty-Handed Heart

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Rebecca Buchman
Color: Randy Mayor
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Adam Schlagman
Cover: Gleason & Nei Rufino
Publisher: DC Comics

The Guardians approve a Third Law to add to the Book of Oa–banning physical relationships and love between Green Lanterns. We then shift scenes to the ongoing situation at least partially responsible for the enactment of this law, as several Lanterns are tracking a Sinestro agent who is killing off Green Lanterns to steal their babies. There are also checking-in-on’-em scenes with Mongul as well as the new “Sapphire Lantern” Corps. based on the love just banned for the GLs. At issue’s end, yet another victim seems ready to be claimed in the ongoing GL/Sinestro Corps. animosity.

I’ll be honest–I don’t “get” the Star Sapphire stuff. I don’t think I’d even heard of the character (?) prior to this story, and I just don’t have any interest in the character. I know this story is fleshing things out and showing another fledgling Lantern Corps as we head toward Blackest Night, but other than that element, I’m just not that engaged. The story is somewhat interesting–touching on the subject of an antagonist striking at heroes through families–seen here not as some potential threat but an active and ongoing actuality.

The art doesn’t thrill me….There’s something to it that just doesn’t really do it for me. It clearly shows the characters, yes, and it provides a decent look at some fairly alien characters (and a rather creepy main antagonist)…I’m just not a fan of the style. As tastes do indeed differ, I’d suggest peeking at the art before buying–if you’ve no obvious complaints with it, you’ll probably enjoy this with little trouble.

All in all not a bad issue, keeping things moving forward. I’ll be glad to see this arc conclude and hopefully move on to more interesting territory.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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