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Justice League of America #39 [Review]

Reunion

Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Bagley, Hunter & Pantazis
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m not familiar with the “Detroit League,” and don’t really have much interest in it offhand. However–as with many of the other Blackest Night tie-ins–that doesn’t really hamper the story in this issue all that much. Certainly there are some subtleties that are lost on me for lacking background knowledge of certain characters. But at its heart, ultimately, this is still a good, solid story involving a character with “history” rising to cause grief with those still living.

While Red Tornado, Zatanna, Dr. Light and crew arrive on the sattelite to see what happened, they’re confronted by Vibe (of the Detroit League), Zatarra (Zatanna’s father) and Dr. Light (the guy who raped Sue Dibny, and got his mind mucked with for his trouble, ultimately leading to Identity Crisis and whatnot). The individual confrontations are fairly interesting, though the most disturbing is the meeting of the Drs. Light, and what has befallen Firestorm’s girlfriend. Though it got incredibly annoying trying to read the backwards-speak of Zatanna and Zatarra and I was taken out of the story entirely by the thought, I had a good chuckle when I realized their battle had all but come down to a “yo mamma” spitting contest, their magic given power by what they said: “Disregard what she said!” “No, disregard what HE said!” “No, disregard what SHE said!”

It seems obvious that Robinson knows these characters well, and has a good handle on them–whatever my feelings of the various “eras” of the JLA and such, he crafts an engaging story. Particularly with Zatara, it’s obvious that his fullest potential as a Black Lantern can’t be allowed to be reached and that he’s–like Psycho Pirate–perhaps one of the greatest weapons in the Black Lanterns’ arsenal.

The art is also quite good, and though I’m not yet all that used to Bagley’s art in the DCU, I like it already–and somehow, it reminds me just a bit of Dan Jurgens’ work, which is certainly a plus in my book.

This issue’s by no means an essential part to the core Blackest Night saga…but it’s still a solid read and well worth getting if you’re interested in the Drs. Light or the Detroit League, or just seeing Robinson/Bagley’s take on ’em.

This feels like a very stand-alone sort of story within the title, where it could almost be Blackest Night: Justice League of America #1 rather than #39 of the ongoing series. Though buying the issues for the tie-in to Blackest Night, I’m not convinced there’s enough here to truly, properly “sell” one on the title itself. But as this is only the first of a two-part story, there’s no telling what the next chapter may do.

Recommended.

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

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Teen Titans #77 [Review]

A Family Affair

Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Jack Jadson & Ruy Jose
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Bennett, Jadson, & Reis
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics

This seems like another one of those stand-alone stories that–while it takes a couple issues in the actual title could work just as well as its own double-issue mini-series. Come to think of it, this would do better to be Blackest Night: Deathstroke the Terminator moreso than an issue of Teen Titans.

Deathstroke faces his still-living daughter who he has tried to help in his own way, though she still hates him for perceived LACK of caring from her point of view. The two are menaced by Black Lantern versions of Grant and Wintergreen–Deathstroke’s son and former close ally/advisor respectively. Fighting ensues, and someone else shows up at the end who fits quite well into the mix.

Overall, this was a solid issue–the writing worked well, as we’re able to “get” where the various characters are coming from. Though I’m not terribly familiar with them all, there is PLENTY of context to fill one in, making this a very accessible issue even if one has never read the title before (I think the last issue of the title I’d read was the final pre-One-Year-Later issue).

The art is good as well…no real complaint there. The only thing that really jumped out at me was that there were a couple of points where Deathstroke reminded me very much of Deadpool, only with a different costume.

This doesn’t seem to have ongoing threads as if the title were interrupted, so it seems likely that regular readers of Teen Titans could safely skip this if trying to avoid Blackest Night. By the same token, one following Blackest Night ought to be safe picking this up without being mired in the ongoing story.

I don’t think I even knew this issue was going to be a tie-in until I saw it listed as such on Diamond’s list of this week’s comics and again seeing it for myself in the store. It’s a $3.99 book, but seems to have foregone its cofeature to give the Blackest Night stuff more pages. This is well worthwhile overall, but doesn’t seem essential. It plays out the impact of Blackest Night on these characters, but does not itself seem to have anything of influence back to Blackest Night.

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

Blackest Night #5 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Green Lantern #48 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Superman: Secret Origin #3 [Review]

Mild-Mannered Reporter

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Covers: Frank w/ Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics

While I generally enjoy stuff Johns does, my feelings toward this series have been trending toward the negative. Initially, I thought it was sorta cool that elements from the various versions of Superman were being incorporated into this. But as this series has progressed and I consider it further, it seems more of an amalgamation than something definitive. It’s like a “PC” version of Superman intended to offer these little bones to as many readers as possible, without giving any one group a clear Superman.

This issue picks up with Clark’s (or should I say Kal’s?) early days in Metropolis, with a sinking Daily Planet where he’s been hired to replace someone else. From the country-boy-in-the-city bit to getting his briefcase stuck in the door to sliding into the parasitic elevator man, this is a Clark Kent far too much like the silver age “Clark-is-the-mask” persona put forth than I care for. There’s also a distinct feeling of Christopher Reeve’s presence here…it’s easy to hear his voice in the character.

Arriving in the office itself of the Daily Planet, Clark meets Jimmy, Ron, Steve, Perry, and of course Lois. Cat Grant is present, looking very much like she does in the current “present-day” story, which seems to do away with all the great characterization from her introduction through the mid/late 1990s–as if that version of the character never even existed.

Lois takes to clark just fine from the get-go…just another reporter for her to break in. The two head to a Lexcorp technology demonstration, where Lois uses Clark as “bait” to distract the guards while she slips by (apparently anyone from the Daily Planet are expressly not welcome around Lexcorp). Lois winds up falling of the building in an attempt to avoid getting squished by a helicopter that malfunctions, leading to a duplication of that scene from 1978’s Superman film in which Superman arrives on the scene, catching the falling Lois and a helicopter as his first public act. (Though people surrounding him and Lois demanding favors and askins salvation is kept, to give him something to go home and think about).

The art, truly, is the best part of this book. It’s just a bit much, though, that it’s so easy to see Christopher Reeve…that’s the primary problem I have with the visuals. It’s not that one shouldn’t be able to see Reeve, but that this Superman is then tied to that vision of the character, anchored in a past rather than freed to grow into the future.

The writing in and of itself is not bad, by any means. Johns certainly knows his stuff, working in subtle elements of the various Superman origins/backstory through the years–the films, the silver age comics, Byrne’s revamp, and presumably a bit of Birthright and Smallville (though if so, the latter two are over my head at present). It’s great that recognition is given to all the different visions…but it’d be better if there’s just one definitive version, rather than this bastardization of so many takes on the character.

Ultimately, this is a good issue in and of itself…just that the reworking of the character to bring so much of the silver age and films into the comics seem to rob the character of so much development that was accomplished over the past 20-some years.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8/10

Tales of the TMNT #64 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Superman/Batman #66 [Review]

Night of the Cure

Story, Art & Cover: Scott Kolins
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s not really a whole lot to this issue, when you get right down to it. Black ring commands Solomon Grundy to Rise; Grundy goes off to kill. Meanwhile, Kirk Langstrom is yet again fighting the whole Manbat thing, and has a run in with Bizarro. And by issue’s end, they’re both facing Black Lantern Solomon Grundy.

Needless to say, I’m not too fond of this issue. Kolins’ art isn’t bad…it’s got a distinctive style that I like for the most part. Plus, I’ve gotten used to Bizarro’s appearance coming off differently with practically every artist who does the character lately. So no real complaint with the visuals.

The story itself, though just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m rather tired of the over-use of Bizarro the last few years; I’ve never been particularly fond of the character, and especially not when he/it shows up every other month or so. The Manbat bit is also rather tiresome and seems like any other Manbat story I can think of; there’s nothing new added to my understanding of the character, and nothing to show the character has moved forward at all; just the standard “every knows this basic original status quo” sort of take on the character, as I read this. Solomon Grundy being chosen by the Black Ring makes sense–he dies and comes back to ‘life’ all the time, so is one of the major offenders of Death.

As an issue of Superman/Batman, this issue is certainly mistitled: neither Superman nor Batman make any appearance here. The logo on the cover is more Manbat-ish and the S is backwards to represent Bizarro, so that part at least shows the difference…but this seems like it ought to have been its own special or mini-series.

As Blackest Night goes, this is one of the weaker tie-ins, and I’m confident the only reason for me to pick up the next issue is that I decided before Blackest Night began that I was going to follow the ENTIRE event/story. (Of course, I had no idea how huge it would become as it’s gone on!)

This is definitely one of those ancillary books that doesn’t seem to have any real bearing on the main story, and ties in due to the Black ring raising Grundy. If you’re interested in Grundy, Bizarro, or Manbat…you’ll probably enjoy this issue much more than I did. Otherwise, the only reason to get this is if you’re determined to follow Blackest Night into every last tie-in.

Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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