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Deadpool Team-Up #899 [Review]

Merc With a Myth

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Paul Acerios
Assistant Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Cover: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

While a THIRD Deadpool title does seem a bit much, this debut issue is great fun. Given that each of the titles so far seems to maintain its own identity or feel and the character himself is somewhat timeless and archetypal, I don’t really have a problem with it. I’m enjoying following all three titles, even though one could really pick and choose which one of the three or any combination and still get a fun “Deadpool experience.”

This issue sees Deadpool teaming up with Hercules. After dreaming about fighting some ultimate opponent, Deadpool soon finds himself trapped in a labyrinth where he meets up with Hercules. It’s soon revealed that the two are dealing with a couple of classic (yet, I never would’ve thought I’d see them teamed up) Marvel villains who have trapped the both and pitted them against their own nightmares. Hercules faces a legion of offspring claiming to be his own children; Deadpool faces an embodiment of the two voices in his head as the entity tries to kill him. Deadpool takes fairly extreme (yet, for him, sorta typical) action to solve the problem, and our ‘heroes’ then face their true foes.

I really like the done-in-one nature of this issue–I assume the series in general will consist of done-in-one issues or at least shorter-than-6-issues arcs. That’s a great selling point for me, as it means that while following the “mainstream Marvel Universe” adventures of Deadpool in the core title and the other adventure in Merc With a Mouth, there are also these full stories coming out that start and resolve quickly.

Unlike most of the comics I follow these days, I’m really not familiar with any of the creative team here. While that’s not something I’m used to, it works to the benefit of the title, I think, as I’m more focused on the character and story without concerning myself with how it stacks against the writer or artist’s previous work. I enjoyed the story, and the art fit the story, making for an overall enjoyable issue whoever’s involved in creating the issue.

“Fun” as the first two titles have been, this seems likely to be the breakout Deadpool title for me. If you’re interested in Deadpool OR Hercules, and don’t want commit from the get-go to lengthy seemingly-structured-for-collected-volumes arcs, this is definitely the issue for you (and for Deadpool in particular, this would be the series for you).

As with Deadpool #900, I actually find some amusement–or at least, appreciate the humour in–the numbering. The irreverence of the numbering lends itself to the timelessness of this title–who cares what the NUMBER is? The specific stories–particularly as one-off issues–should be the draw.

Highly recommended.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

Donald Duck and Friends #347 [Review]

Doubleduck

Written by: Fausto Vitaliano
Art by: Andrea Freccero
Editor: Aaron Sparrow
Assistant Editor: Christopher Burns
Translator: Saida Temofonte
Letterer: Jose Macasocol Jr.
Cover A&B: Andrea Freccero
Designer: Erika Terriquez

I do believe that this is the first-ever “new” issue of a Donald Duck comic I’ve bought. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this purchase, but after years of having to pass on Gemstone’s Duck comics for pricing, I wanted to pick this up to at least give it a look-see. As usua. I’m not thrilled at the use of variant covers, but at least both ‘regular’ covers were in stock on the lunch hour I used to visit the comic store, so I was afforded a choice between the two (hint: I went with the one you see with this review).

Glancing inside the issue, the interior art is vastly different from the cover art–the cover actually gives Donald an “edgy” sort of look, kinda like what you might expect of a comic called “Donald Duck Extreme.” The interior visuals seem rather soft and simplistic by comparison. However, while the art was really pretty “standard” I liked it. The characters seem to be depicted in what I imagine could be compared to the “house style” for the Archie characters; the “generic” style works well in keeping everyone recognizeable and I could almost visualize character “templates.” One character put me in mind of Herb from Darkwing Duck–I could hear that voice as I read the character’s word balloons.

The story itself is fairly ridiculous: Donald falls asleep at a James Pond movie, so Daisy gets upset and goes off with someone else for the rest of the night. Donald is recognized as “Double Duck,” and eventually comes to find himself with an unlikely situation–and a choice to make.

Though the potential for a lot more violence is there, things are really pretty toned down. This reminds me very much of what I’ve always enjoyed with a lot of the Disney characters, especially the classic “Disney Afternoon” shows: that simple, classic characters can be retooled into other roles that are interesting and yet maintain the essential “character” that draws you to ’em.

That “347” on the cover makes this feel like what it is: a leap into the depths of the lake to see how the water is there. It’s a first issue without all the trappings of a traditional debut issue; it’s simply a story per likely standard fare; the reader is assumed to be able to pick it up and enjoy it without it having to be some fresh start.

The story itself and the visual style with numerous panels on every page made for a much more satisfying read, with more story than many other comics these days hold.

This is the first of at least 2 parts, which is a little unfortunate–picking this issue up, one will need to invest in at least one more to complete the story. At the same time, this issue is enjoyable enough that I fully intend to snag the next issue to see where things go.

Recommended.

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

Stumptown #1 [Review]

Written by: Greg Rucka
Illustrated by: Matthew Southworth
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Design by: Keith Wood
Edited by: James Lucas Jones
Published by: Oni Press

This comic begins on some high action, much like many made-for-tv movies I recall from my youth…and from the initial climax we’re taken back to a day or so earlier where the story really begins, and follow events through to the opening pages, and then on to the rest of the issue’s story.

We’re introduced to Dex, a private investigator with a gambling issue. Having racked up plenty of debt, she’s offered a job that–rather than her being paid she’s to take in exchange for her gambling debt being forgiven. She’s sent to find the granddaughter of a powerful woman; and quickly discovers that there are other interested parties.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but figured it’s the first issue of a new series, so why not? I’d give it a look-see. I’m no fan of the $3.99 price point, but I found myself toward the later part of the issue turning each page expecting to see the first page of a lotta pages of ads. Yet, to my surprise, the story just kept right on going up to the 2nd to last page in the issue. So while this carries that $4 price, it’s a lengthy read, which is quite satisfying.

THe art has a very stylistic feel to it. The color and linework is a bit gritty, and there’s a lot of color shift for tone throughout the issue. Flipping through it, there are multiple page segments that have an overall blue tone or a green, or black and white, and what-have-you. I didn’t really notice it as I read, but this shifting played a nice role in setting scenes apart and setting the mood in each.

The character and her immediate supporting cast come across as fairly stereotypical and formulaic; the situation she finds herself in is also rather cliche.

But somehow, I don’t really have a problem with that. I was pulled into the story, and as with most things: a foundation must be put in place to build upon. This issue has the introduction to the characters and settings, and sure they’re generic right now–but I’m confident from past enjoyment of Rucka’s work that there’ll be more information in the next few issues to make these characters unique and move them beyond mere stereotype.

While I often use the comparison, this was like both a made for tv movie in structure…but works quite well as a pilot episode, introducing things, posing questions to the audience, and leaving me interested in what comes next.

If you like this sort of PI drama, or Rucka’s work, or the art, or any combination of those I highly recommend this. As-is on its own it’s a decent piece of work, worth the $4 cover price to check it out and decide your own feelings on the issue.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Haunt #2 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley
Publisher: Image Comics

I’m actually enjoying this series. We’re only two issues in, and there’s still a lot of questions about the main characters, and I still have to look back into the issue to remember character names and such. But it’s a pot brewing a good deal of potentil to come.

The brothers from the previous issue must literally work together to stay alive and protect their friend–the dead brother takes control of their “merged” body and explains to the living brother that he can do what needs done, but needs to not be fought.

Father Kilgore–the surviving brother–is none to pleased at the current state of affairs and wants to be left out of things. As his brother makes clear, though, he’s already involved. They wind up fighting a mercenary who seems to almost be played for dark humour more than actual threat. Finally, the brothers–as “Haunt” (though I don’t think the name’s been given yet for their merged form) begin to move toward some answers, with a fairly cliche sort of cliffhanger.

As said, there’s a lot of potential here. Backstory to both of the brothers and their friend will be interesting to discover in coming issues. Seeing how the cliffhanger will likely add greatly to the status quo, and that development will be cool.

And whether the visual style and tone or something else, I can’t help but be reminded somehow of both Spawn and Spider-Man; though this character seems like he’s much more at home in a Spawn world, obviously. He could also almost work in an Invincible sort of world. (Though as yet, I don’t believe there’s anything to say this takes place in one, the other or either).

Taken as a whole, the writing and visuals make for an interesting issue, and I find myself intrested in and planning on pickin up the next issue to see how that one is.

For now, especially if you can still get ahold of the first issue, I recommend this for fans of McFarlane, Spawn, Kirkman, or Invincible…and casul fans somewhere in between.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8.5
Overall: 7.5

Captain America: Reborn #4 [Review]

By: Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Covers: Hitch, Guice and Mounts; John Cassaday and Laura Martin, Joe Kubert and Laura Martin
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer and Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I’m not 100% certain I bought/read issue 3 of this, offhand. Even if I not only read issue 3 but also reviewed it, I don’t at present recall issue 3. Despite that, it’s almost an irrelevant point as this issue finds Cap still bouncing through time, the Skull and crew still getting things assembled, and Cap’s allies still playing catch-up.

Skull and crew arrive in Latveria at invitation of Doctor Doom. Doom fixes their time device, while Cap’s allies are finding out what happened with Sharon and how she–and her blod–hold the key to what’s going on with Cap.

As Doom’s device is activated, things come to a bit of a head as a body is present, though all may not be quite as promising as it appears.

The art’s easily the best part of this story. Hitch draws a great Doctor Doom, and I found myself enjoying the visuals even as the story sped through its own pages. Brubaker’s done a great job overall with the Captain America saga. This series seems just a bit much, though, and something feels a bit “off” from what I enjoyed in reading the first omnibus and the 1.5-year saga following up on Steve’s death and Bucky’s installation as the new Cap.

If you’re specifically a fan of Brubaker’s work you’ll probably enjoy this; ditto if you’re a fan of Hitch’s art. If you’ve been following this mini thus far, probably worth finishing out the story. Otherwise, you’re probably just as well holding off for a collected volume.

Plus, with a collected volume…you won’t have two different titles for the same story (three, if we count the fact that this essentially IS the Captain America title right now, outright replacing the main title for its duration).

Story: 5.5
Art: 9
Overall: 7

Doom Patrol #4 [Review]

Dead Reckoning; The Coming of…The Clique!

DOOM PATROL
Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Justiniano
Inker: Livesay
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Guy Major
Cover: Justiniano, Andrew Mangum, Guy Major
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein

METAL MEN
Plot: Keith Giffen
Dialogue: J.M. Dematteis
Art: Kevin Maguire
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein

It took me 3 attempts to make it all the way through this issue. The first two, I got hung up in the main feature. At the third attempt I managed to get through the main feature, and then all the way through the co-feature with no trouble at all.

I’m not entirely sure what was going on in the main story. To my knowledge all the characters are new to me–none of them rang any bells for me. We’re introduced to a bunch of characters contextually, though to be honest–I’m not sure if those are characters that are part of the current book, or references to the previous incarnation of this title, or what.

But as standard in Blackest Night comics so far, we see dead rise to elicit emotional response from the living, the aim being to ripen a heart with strong emotion before the subject is killed to power up the Black Lanterns.

The art’s quite good, to keep it simple. Though I’m unfamiliar with the characters, there’s no trouble telling them apart nor in following the action. And nothing to the visual style gave me any pause to contemplate quality.

The story itself was not enjoyable for me. I was not interested in the concept of this Doom Patrol before, and I’m not now after reading this issue. That’s not to say the story itself is bad–it’s not–but it doesn’t appeal to me.

This reminds me a bit of my early days in reading X-Men comics: being entirely unfamiliar with the characters and having no real sense of continuity, who characters were, and so on. While the story structure seems good, it just doesn’t interest me. However, for sake of following the entire Blackest Night event, I still intend to pick up the next issue.

If Doom Patrol’s your thing, this’ll be well worthwhile I think. If not…it doesn’t seem like it’s going to–from this issue, at least–add much to the Blackest Night event. Moreso the other way around–the event’s inserting something into this title’s story.

The Metal Men co-feature has nothing to do with Blackest Night, and seems quite timeless. A group of “female” robots have been activated by an arrogant creator seeking to outdo Magnus’ Metal Men. These girlbots proclaim themselves The Clique, and stir up trouble that gets the Metal Men involved (though they were quite happy enough to begin with, shopping with Magnus for a birthday present to give Tina–aka Platinum.)

I’m somewhat familiar with Magnus from 52, as well as the Metal Men from same as well as elsewhere around the DCU. They’re hardly my favorite characters; basically a take ’em or leave ’em situation. However, something about this story kept a sense of fun about things with some goofiness and the fantastic.

I was more engaged by this story than the Doom Patrol, and while I find The Clique to be a stupid/stereotypical element, it still works overall.

As a whole, I’m not entirely satisfied with the purchase as just a comic. In addition to simply being a Blackest Night crossover issue–the first tie-in of the event that’s not a Green Lantern book or mini-series–this issue is the first of several that are part of DC’s “ring promotion,” wherein retailers could order a bag of rings for every X number of copies of this issue they ordered. This issue came with a Yellow Ring. My inner fanboy was almost giddy at receiving the ring at no additonal cost–and for sheer enjoyment of starting a collection of the colored rings, this issue was more than worth its cover price to me.

Doom Patrol
Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10

Metal Men
Story: 6/10
Art: 7/10

Whole: 6/10

Superman: World of New Krypton #9 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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