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The Rest of the Stack: Week of November 16, 2011

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The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

BATMAN #3

batman003I still can’t get over how great it is to see that Bruce Wayne–the man UNDER the Batman cowl–is actually being treated as a useable, viable character again. After so many years of being a virtual non-character, here we see that yeah, Batman is a huge part of him…but there’s still SOMETHING to Bruce Wayne. And his life AS Bruce Wayne, as a Wayne, plays into his life as Batman. This issue sees Bruce/Batman learn more about whatever this stuff going on with the Owl imagery is, including a costume that (well ahead of me reading this issue, I saw over at Bleeding Cool with that site’s comment on the costume being obviously like Owlman from Watchmen) I agree would have at least put me in mind of Watchmen, though having it spoiled I don’t feel like going to actually look up the comparison. I like the dynamic between Bruce and Alfred…Snyder definitely has a good feel for this character, and builds a story that doesn’t feel like I turn two pages and find a to-be-continued. There’s more substance here, it seems, than a lot of other comics…though this still feels rather short. At least the issue is only $2.99, and does NOT include one of those stupid 5-7 page “previews.” The art continues to also be quite good…and I’m coming to very much enjoy Capullo‘s take on these characters. I was curious if this week’s issue would change my mind at all, but this issue keeps me interested enough that Batman will survive a likely culling of my already-limited pull-list in the coming weeks. (8.5/10)

GHOSTBUSTERS #3

ghostbusters003I’m really tired of variant covers in comics today. I can understand, possibly even condone variants in actual special circumstances…but not on every freaking issue. Combine that with a $3.99 price point, and the physical package of this issue has a lot going against it in my mind, with a good dose of grouchiness before I’ve even opened the issue to read it. Shaky ground on principle, that. But actually reading the issue…I’m enjoying the story. I like the story itself, and I like the visual style. This feels like the story is firmly rooted in the movie continuity, and yet is delving deeper and building from there. Yeah, elements come FROM the films…but this is not trying to BE the films, nor is it trying to be a third film. This is something that is working well as a continuation of that universe and its characters…and for now, I’ll stick around. At present, even if I would drop this title…it would be a statement on IDW‘s constant use of variant covers every single issue and the price point, and not at all due to the quality of the content itself. (8/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3

justiceleague003I hate Darkseid. Offhand, I cannot think of one single story involving Darkseid that I’ve particularly enjoyed…except perhaps Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, wherein Darkseid was giving quite a beating by the beast that had killed Superman. For me, the Fourth World stuff is a huge bore–I won’t debate that a lot of people enjoy it, and I’m not speaking on its technical merits. I just don’t enjoy it. So the Fourth World elements to this story do nothing positive for me. Wonder Woman feels like a caricature here with little/no depth. And if this first arc is only 5-6 issues, we’re at least halfway through now, with no room for actual, deep character development…which as such makes it feel so pointless to have just this one story to “introduce” these characters, especially with the title launched as “the” flagship title of the New 52. That there are 22 content pages is diminished by the splash pages. And the back matter neutralizes it as well–put the darned sketches and such online, instead of wasting pages with them in-print…or save them for the collected edition or inevitable “Absolute” edition. The History of Atlantis pages are not at all cute–if they were on top of a 30ish content-pages story, sure, the effect would be kinda entertaining. But wasting time with a “cover,” a library-card page, a dedication, a table of contents (of stuff we won’t even get to see) and so on feels like a complete waste of space, padded out to fill this thing to claim it justifies $3.99. Johns‘ characterization is missed on this book, and Lee‘s art–while not bad to look at–doesn’t seem his best, and doesn’t begin to make up for the steep cover price. (5/10)

WALKING DEAD #91

walkingdead091Something about this issue felt a bit more substantive than usual for a single issue. We check in on several different plot points and character groups, moving stuff forward. And there’s some definite development between Rick and Carl…somehow, feeling like Carl shows more personality here than I can recall for years of reading this title. The art of course is the usual high quality; zero complaints there. And given we’re 91 issues in and Kirkman‘s still at the helm of his creation…zero complaint there as well. I’m pretty sure this is the first issue of a new six issue sequence, so is as good a jump-on point as any. And the entire rest of the series is available in-print through 14 TPBs (15th coming next month, I believe) as well as a couple different hardback formats, and a 48-issue compendium edition. So…I’m probably not going to change your mind yay or nay on this title. But I enjoyed this issue…and continue to enjoy the series even after 90 issues. This isn’t perfect…but I don’t expect it to be. 90+ issues and I still want to keep reading. Not every comic series has that going for it. (7.5/10)

Thor #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average, but there’s still potential.
Story Title: Untitled

Thor returns.

thor001Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Olivier Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Asst. Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Warren Simons
Editor-In-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover Art: Olivier Coipel, variants by others.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue–and by extension, the series–holds a lot of potential, and seems to have some good ideas to give us, as readers. The execution seems a bit off, though, and despite some good conceptual ideas, just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

I’ll be one of the first to stand up and complain about “decompression” and generally dragging stories out unnecessarily across multiple issues…but this issue felt like it actually should be at least 2, if not 3 or 4 issues in length.

The issue’s story–boiled down–is fairly simple: we as readers are introduced to Thor, his alter ego, shown how he returns, and follow his alter ego into a “new neighborhood,” so to speak.

The way the title character is first encountered seems to go against his last appearance, from what I recall (given 2 1/2 years’ separation from my last reading of that story). The way he returns has the potential of some epic, legendary thing that could bring a lot to the character…but is over so quickly that one may wonder why it’s taken so long (both in real time and comic-time) for this to happen. There’s some good setup that leads me to assume we’re meeting some new supporting cast, and we’re introduced to what solicitations lead me to believe will be the new regular locale for the book, which will nicely separate it (I hope) from being “just” another super-powered entity operating in New York City.

The art is good…I have no real complaints with it. I like the look of the characters, and can follow what’s going on visually. I also really, really like Thor’s new get-up. It has a much more realistic look, more practical for a “warrior” and somehow evokes more of a feel that Thor has Norse ties (if only through popular cultural depictions of Norse stuff). To me, it also makes the “classic” costume look fairly hokey.

This issue moves quickly along, going from lack of a title character to his return to setup of a new status quo, all in one issue–something that almost seems a feat in itself, in an age when title characters sometimes don’t show up until the final page (if even at all) of their own debut issues.

This is far from a perfect issue…and taken alone, I’m not entirely enamored with it. However, there’s still a lot of potential that I can see…and so I’ll give a couple more issues for Straczynski to kick his magic into gear and really hook me before I bail on this title.

Ratings:

Story: 2/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

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